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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 01/26/2011

Obama supports higher education, innovative research in State of the Union

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

Education was a major topic in President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, as he called for the nation to once again become an international leader in higher education and increase its number of college graduates. He also mentioned what he sees as the need to reform immigration laws so talented students are not kicked out of the country.

Obama asked Congress to support innovative research and called for an increase in the number of teachers who specialize in science, technology, engineering or math. And in a fact sheet released by the White House afterward, Obama also pledged to strengthen the Pell Grant program and make the American Opportunity Tax Credit ($10,000 for four years of college) permanent.

But what does that all mean? I bet that's a question a lot of college administrators (plus some students, faculty members and researchers) are talking about over their morning coffee.

Here are some thoughts floating around today:

The Chronicle of Higher Education
In its lead SOTU story, the Chronicle focused on how Obama said he would spare education and research from his proposed five-year freeze on discretionary spending on nondefense programs. The Chronicle also reported that Obama's budget for the 2012 fiscal year will call for spending on biomedical research, information technology, and clean-energy technology. "College lobbyists, not surprisingly, applauded the president's remarks." (Full article)

David Leonhardt, The New York Times
In his economics column, Leonhardt says that education is the "single best investment a society can make" and that increasing the number of graduates can help boost the economy. "But the status quo is not worth protecting. Both the federal government and the states spend money on higher education in terribly wasteful ways. They don't offer incentives for success, and they demand little accountability from colleges. Colleges that do a masterful job of graduating students receive no reward, and those that do a subpar job -- of which there are many -- go unpunished, giving them little reason to improve." (Full column)

Inside Higher Ed
IHE also focused on Obama asking to protect "federal programs most important to colleges and universities" and kicked off its main story with this quote from the president: "Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine." They point out that the speech lacked details on which programs would be shielded. (Full article)

The Daily Iowan
The University of Iowa's student newspaper led its SOTU story with Obama's call to make college more affordable. The paper interviewed University of Iowa political-science Associate Professor Cary Covington, who said tax credits could increase students' access to higher education. "Anything that helps defray the cost of college education is going to make it easier to stay in college," he told the DI. (Full article)

The Daily Reveille
A student journalist at Louisiana State University took a video camera around campus before the SOTU and asked students what they wanted to hear Obama talk about. One student wanted to know "Why we're so broke?" Others wanted to hear about foreign policy plans for the next couple years, how he will address state budget problems, education spending, "ending the war" and the crisis in North Korea. (Video)

William Browning, Yahoo! News Commentator
"He also talked about ushering in an era of allowing illegal-immigrant children to receive college degrees and remain in the United States. In the last Congress, it was called the DREAM Act. Obama sounds like he wants to re-introduce the legislation and, at the same time, give Republicans a way to tighten border security." (Full commentary)

What are people saying about the SOTU on your campus? Leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

Campus Overload is a daily must-read for all college students. Make sure to bookmark You can also follow me on Twitter and fan Campus Overload on Facebook.

By Jenna Johnson  | January 26, 2011; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  Louisiana State, Obama, University of Iowa  
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I think President Obama's 2nd 'State of the Union' speech describe his core political ideology, while masterfully disarming his critics:
-Ryan Colpaart
Founder, Editor-In-Chief
Double Dutch Politics

Posted by: RyanC1384 | January 26, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

obama's interest in degrees and citizenship for illegal aliens is in direct opposition to the will of the majority of Americans -- and it is a slap in the faces of all legal immigrants.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | January 27, 2011 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Pundits have been debating – even before the president’s speech – about whether this is a “Sputnik” moment for the U.S. But it’s clear to me, whatever we label it, that the U.S. badly needs a second-half comeback. In Arizona alone we face a $500 billion (+/-) – yes, billion – infrastructure bill. That’s just to repair aging sewers and treatment plants, keep our freeways from becoming parking lots, and get our telecommunications infrastructure somewhere in line with the 14 other countries that have drastically better systems. It’s all critical, because without fit-for-purpose infrastructure, how can we expect to attract and retain the best businesses?

Posted by: FutureofUSChinaTrade | January 27, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

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