1) "Investing in early childhood initiatives" like Head Start;
2) "Encouraging better standards and assessments" by focusing on testing itineraries that better fit our kids and the world they live in;
3) "Recruiting, preparing, and rewarding outstanding teachers" by giving incentives for a new generation of teachers and for new levels of excellence from all of our teachers.
4) "Promoting innovation and excellence in America's schools" by supporting charter schools, reforming the school calendar and the structure of the school day.
5) "Providing every American with a quality higher education--whether it's college or technical training."
As the President rightly pointed out:
The source of America's prosperity has never been merely how ably we accumulate wealth, but how well we educate our people. This has never been more true than it is today. In a 21st-century world where jobs can be shipped wherever there's an Internet connection, where a child born in Dallas is now competing with a child in New Delhi, where your best job qualification is not what you do, but what you know -- education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success, it's a prerequisite for success.
He stressed a number of points that I believe are critical, including a commitment to innovation in the educational process and life-long learning. Too long we have made live-long learning a meaningless buzzword -- on everyone's lips but not in their pocketbooks. In this context, the President talked about "working with all our universities and schools, including community colleges -- a great and undervalued asset -- to prepare workers for good jobs in high-growth industries; and to improve access to job training not only for young people who are just starting their careers, but for older workers who need new skills to change careers."
This is important. But that is only part of the equation. True life long learning takes place not when a fired worker needs new skills to get a new job, but when a worker continually upgrades their skills. And life long learning is not confined to the classroom -- but happens in everyday activities.
It is good that we are starting to see that worker training is part of the education activity. But we need to go further to breakdown the silos between "education," "worker training," and "learning."
Maybe, in few years, the President can make another speech -- a speech where he can talk about all that was accomplished under his "education agenda." And a speech where he can then challenge the American people to take the next step and support his "learning" agenda. For that should be our end goal -- not a nation of "educated" people, but a nation of learners.