Obama’s Joint Sessions Speech: The Education Excerpt

I felt like talking to my homeroom class about the education excerpt of President Obama’s Joint Sessions speech so I ripped it and then excerpted it a little further. [entire education address; smaller excerpt]

I realize this is Pacific Standard Time and some of you are just finishing lunch right now on the East coast but how cool is it that our President delivered an enormous policy address in our nation’s capital last night and I can have the (middling-quality) video in front of my students for discussion the next morning. Obviously, everything is going to be just fine.

The excerpt we’ll be addressing, for good and bad:

In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.

So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself; it’s quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Thanks for uploading. I look forward to showing it to my students. I’m not expecting magical transformations, but most of them worship Obama, so maybe they’ll give the ol’ stay-in-school message a little extra thought if it comes from him.

  2. Probably a message lost on the kids. Why, I remember how I dramatically changed my world view every time the president spoke while I was in high school.

    When I heard this part, all I thought about was how uncomfortable how it must make many a teacher feel, what with the pressure and all to ‘learn something new’.

    Practicing what we preach is a tough, tough business.

  3. This was a rip from an HD YouTube file, which isn’t all that bad. Sometimes when this guy I know wants to pull stuff from broadcast television, he’ll download the torrent and then convert it from AVI to Mac-friendly QuickTime using Handbrake or FFMpeg. Not me, though. That’s wrong.

  4. I think we need as teachers need to be aware of government’s impact on our profession.

    I think a great idea would be to explore how to increase the quality of the environment in our schools now. By doing this, there may be more motivation to attend a school of higher learning and increase the tools we have to succeed once we get there.