The following is an excerpt from his address (full transcripts at CBS news). Video of the address is also likely to be readily available. For more details, visit www.whitehouse.gov and see the president's agenda on education.
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 pre-requisite.
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. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education - from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.
Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children's progress.
But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be 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. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
While I could nitpick at some of the issues he brought up (the notion of reform as a guaranteed means of improvement, is the first that comes to mind) I'll keep this post short and leave it at that, for now.
Other links of possible interest:
- Revisiting Lifelong Learning for the 21st Century from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's Institute for Lifelong Learning.
- Some commentary and insights on education and the economy from Alan Greenspan.
- Some countries in Europe, as well as the U.S., have also recognized the need for adult education. For a few examples of how others have put "post-compulsory" education into practice, check out the Wikipedia page on lifelong learning.
- U.S. Department of Education Home Page which includes information on US Department of Education Funding Opportunities.
- National Center for Education Statistics and some of their annual reports on particular topics.
- University Continuing Education Association.
- The National Center On Education And The Economy.