State of the Union – Access to better education is essential

Natalie Estrada

In the State of the Union address Tuesday evening, President Barack Obama challenged the American people to look beyond partisan lines and work together on issues such as clean energy, health care and of course, the economic status of our nation.  But the issue of education hit closest to home for me.

The United States needs higher standards for the performance levels of both students and teachers in our public school system and a strong, solid education should be available to everyone in the United States.

Education is a fundamental aspect of creating a prosperous and rich society.  As children we are told that we are the future leaders of America and this is still true today. Children need to have the hope that one day they will have the opportunity to attend college and make a difference.

Obama cited Race to the Top, a program created by the U.S. Department of Education that rewards quality and innovative teaching in public schools.  Struggling schools have shown vast improvements through this program and according to, it has already helped 25,000 schools and 13.6 million students. Because of these successes, the president is requesting $1.35 billion for the program in his 2011 budget.

We have all seen an increase of college tuitions across the nation, including here at CSUN, and Obama encouraged Americans to see the importance of funding education that meets the needs of every child in America. With the economic status of our nation, many Americans have had a decline in income.  During such difficult economic times it is unfair to place higher tuition fees on students.

According to “Trends in College Pricing 2010,” a College Board Report, there are many complicated factors associated with the total cost of attending a 4-year public university. Students at universities, who do not receive grants or tax credits “are paying an average of 7.9% more in tuition and fees…this year than they paid last year.”

Obama stressed that a college education “must be within reach for every American” in order for individuals to compete in our ever evolving, technologically advanced society.  Currently, the United States has fallen to 9th in the world in the number of college graduates.  Obama proposes we should be No. 1 in the world again by 2020.

Our government needs to put more funding into education.  Our public schools are a valuable asset to the success of our youth and indispensable toward the economic future of our nation. The United States was built upon the hopes and dreams of its people and our government needs to be held accountable for keeping those dreams alive by providing the best education possible for our kids.