Statement from Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, on President Obama’s Address to the Joint Session of Congress
February 25, 2009
Phone: (202) 828-0828
On February 24, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress. In response to the address, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, issued the following statement:
“As President Obama moved from bailouts to dropouts, he clearly tied economic recovery to educational reform. And as Congress wrestles with failing banks and a falling stock market, it needs to remember that five years worth of high school dropouts will cost the nation over $1.5 trillion.
“Obama stressed that students who drop out of high school are not just quitting on themselves, they are quitting on their country. But just as America needs its high school students not to quit on it, the nation’s high school students need America not to give up on them.
“Today, approximately six million middle and high school students are at risk of leaving school without a diploma. In times of exploding deficits at both the national and state levels, and increasing competition for good jobs from abroad, America can no longer afford to lose the tax dollars or talent that these individuals bring to the table.
“We know who these students are; they are the ones who struggle to read at grade level, have low attendance rates, and receive failing grades in core classes such as math and English. We also know where many of them go to school. Around the country, approximately two thousand high schools (about 12 percent of American high schools) produce more than half of the nation’s dropouts. But simply knowing who these kids are and where they go to school is not enough to end the high school dropout crisis—we also need the political will to fix the problem.
“Last night, President Obama provided the political will when he made it perfectly clear that the United States can no longer tolerate high school dropouts and that the nation must set a goal of additional education after high school for every student. The Alliance for Excellent Education stands ready to work with President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the U.S. Congress to make this goal a reality for all of America’s students. The Alliance looks forward to the release of the president’s budget on Thursday and to the additional details it will provide on how he proposes to meet this goal.”
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.org.