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General: What are your thoughts on President Obama's State of the Union address?

Comments: 119

Let's just hope it gets translated into action. Teacher education programs need to be revamped and strengthened, particularly in math and science. I am not against merit pay, either-but have never seen a fair way to apply it, as the measure has always been test scores, and as we all know, we can't accurately determine a teacher's worth that way. I'd like to hear him say something to parents about being more involved and responsible for their children's education, also.

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Valerie Davisson
Irvine, CA

I liked Obama's speech, for the most part, but he needs to be educated as to the motivation of teachers. The concept of bonus pay for some teachers is not realistic. Teachers do not teach for monetary rewards. Bonus pay could be divisive and subject to misuse by some administrators. I also didn't like Obama's emphasis on getting rid of teachers as opposed to helping them become more effective.

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Barbara Wilson
San Francisco
San Rafael, CA

Finally!! We needed this! Enough is enough with the bashing of teachers. Maybe we can finally move on to be the America we were meant to be....a country built by the workers.

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Cathy Rienth
SACHEM CENTRAL TEACHERS ASSOC.
Farmingville, NY

The President said many of the right things. However, it remains to be seen whether he will hold firm to policies that benefit the working people of America. The Republicans will continue to obstruct and demand that their interests be served in order to vote for anything that benefits the rest of us. He has to act as boldly as he spoke.

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William Settles
1600 CCCTU
Chicago, IL

President Obama 's speech was right on target. He knows exactly what the country needs to do right now. We need to put partisan politics aside and move forward. I particularly agree with supporting the middle class, we have carried the financial burden for a long time. The President has worked so hard to undo mess that Bush left. He has my support.

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Andrea Farris
Detroit Federation of Teachers
Northville, MI

I liked his comments and message on education but it is unfortunate the message doesn't match the policy. In Florida the right has used RTTT to eliminate due process rights, test every subject, and every grade, link teacher evaluations to the pay of teachers, increase private vouchers, charters, and virtual schools. I know that the president can't control what the right does but at the very least it would be nice if he stopped empowering them. Not to mention when he goes to Florida and pals around with Jeb Bush. Don't get me wrong, I support him and will vote for him but many educators here are not happy. Hope this helps.

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Brian Phillips
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I was grateful to hear the "no bashing" comment, but I would like the President to recognize the data that we have in education. We know that: American children not in poverty have the highest PISA scores in the world. Teachers ARE doing an excellent job when children have their basic needs met. The achievement gap is well developed by the time a child gets to school. Our country has the highest number of poor children of any advanced nation. Poor children in our country do better than poor children in other countries. Please heed the research. It will be the beginning of true improvement in education.

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Linda Johnson
NEA Retired
Long Beach, CA

The President's speech was very powerful. His message was positive, strong and easy to understand. He gave good employment ideas, tax suggestions and realistic education solutions.

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Sharon Weiner
UFT
scarsdale, NY

Being a public school teacher for over twenty years, I have seen the progressive movement of standardized testing. It was suppose to start as a tool to help schools identify education needs of the students. It has now turned into a tool to destroy public education. The state uses it to pit one school against another. The cost of making these tests, administering these tests and grading theses tests are outrageous. That money used for testing has been taken away from the schools themselves. President Obama recognized this and that is why he says we should stop teaching for the test. I applaud the President for this.

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jeffrey trifari
NBFT 1060
ridgefield, NJ

The blueprint for improving our economy was very well thought out. I wish everyone believed as he does. The world would be a more peaceful place to live. Correcting the inequities of taxes, retraining in fields that need workers, finding the loopholes so the top 1% pay their fair share, bringing companies that went overseas back home, and bringing military home with jobs and a place to live, rewarding them for their sacrifice are all things that I believe our country needs to do to be the Nation standing for the Good of all.

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Darlene Swartz
(Associate Memeber, retired)
Spearfish, , SD

It was great to see President Obama out there supporting teachers. He now needs to get out there and support other public service employees such as firefighters and policemen who are being attacked continuously by the GOP. The unions built this country and the GOP is now trying to dismantle them so the rich can get even more numerous and even richer.

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Dan Blattenbauer
Bemidji, MN

If all people listened with open ears then what they heard was not a state of the union but rather a campaign speech. Not at all what I wanted to hear!!

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Deborah Wood
Goose Creek Federation of Teachers
Baytown, TX

I'm taired of all this BS. I'll be straight to the point. Less talk and more doing as 'Actions speak louder than words!' This applies to everything.

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Carmen Orozco
UTLA
Hacienda Heights, CA

We are all looking for ways to improve education. Without a doubt increasing education funding and providing world class media and information availability would be a big help. But there is more that needs to be done. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE need to make their children getting a world class education a top priority. It must start with the students understanding what a blessing an education is and that it is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO GO AFTER IT. Getting an education has to be everyone's top priority in this country; not just politicians and teachers. We all need to invest financially and with our, sincerest best effort to be successful

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Rick Murphy
Flower Mound, TX

I would rate the speech as one of his better ones. Stating that teaching to test is not going to help students is right on. In California, we have too many furlough days, too many testing periods! The teachers who are Union members need to speak louder and encourage their boards to make noise at the state levels [the superintendent of schools and the governor]. Too often the teachers just accept a mandate and never question it. Morever, parents must become more involved with their child's education and not expect the educators to be the caretakers of their child's future.

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Darlene Johnson
OFTSE1273
Port Hueneme, CA

As a teacher for the past thirty years, I have seen many children grow up in the United States as undocumented immigrants. The DREAM Act is essential for the future of these young people as Americans. It was not their choice to come to the United States. They have grown up in our schools and graduated with honor and distinction. They are 'Americans' in every sense of the word. Let's give them the future they deserve by passing the DREAM Act. As far as immigration reform, this is the place to begin, with the children. President Obama, I implore you as a teacher, a mother and a proud American, to keep your promise to help.

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Rita L Fischer
Elba Central School
Elba, NY

I support him and in general thought the speech was good, however am not sure about what his plans are when he says great teachers should be paid more. Is this merit pay?

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Sharon Reed-Erickson
RFT
Rochester , NH

President Obama's expression of support for creativity in our profession was a positive sign, but his reference to dismissing teachers who don't measure up was unnecessary and insulting. The space to be creative and independent attracted me to the profession, but in recent years I have been demoralized by the emphasis on testing and scripted, restrictive curricula. I work at a school that made AYP for the first time in years last year, and the vast majority of my colleagues and I work very hard for our students. Pres. Obama did us a disservice by pandering to teacher-bashers with his comment, and avoided bigger issues of social justice.

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Erica Darken
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Philadelphia, PA

As usual, President Obama said all the right things. I don't believe him. Where was he last year when teachers and workers in Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin were raked over the coals by their own states. He said nothing. I bet he will be more than happy to take our money at campaign time.

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Trish Foley
Northwest Coop
Crown Point, IN

President Obama needs to put actions behind his words! When he says this and supports the mass firing of teachers in Rhode Island, doesn't include teachers in his education summit, and does not place a lifelong professional educator into the position of Secretary of Education how are teachers and education profession to believe him? He provides the type of "High Quality" education that he publicly advocates for his daughters, but not for my children who attend Public schools!

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Kenny Blankenship
United School Employees of Pasco
Land O Lakes, FL

I felt encouraged by the President's speech. Although I knew he favored more creative ways of meeting objectives rather than simply teaching standards to be tested, I haven't actually heard him verbalize it. I would like to know his immediate plans for moving away from such strict testing practices and how the Department of Education can be reformed to drive states toward this new direction.

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Yonna Fogle
Fairhope, AL

His Race to the Top is a stark intensification of the Bush NCLB regime in which teachers are systematically scapegoated. It's all well and good for him to say that they should stop bashing teachers, but he and Arne Duncan are the prime culprits - and continue to be. Did he not also call for "increased competition" to insure better schools? Code for testing and firing. I'm not impressed. It's too bad AFT seems so happy. Nothing has changed and we are getting laid off by the thousands. Go peddle your rah-rah BS somewhere else!

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Hobie Hukill
AFT Local 2260
Dallas, TX

I thought the president's speech was clear and powerful.I wonder if he can answer why the State of Illinois is planning to cut pension benefits of the hard working teachers and administrators.In Chicago,we are being "kicked to the curb"by the very people we put there!

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Carl Wanzung
Chicago, IL

I appreciate much of what President Obama said, and it is no question he is a luminary compared to every Republican in the race. But there is one thing that saddens me. Because President Obama has advocated charter schools and corporate educational ventures, and has not defended the teachers' unions, he has actually contributed to the climate of teacher-bashing. Has anyone else noticed that the Republicans in the debates have publicly praised him for only 2 things: killing Osama Bin Laden, AND 'taking on the teachers' unions.' That's a sad commentary.

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Nancy Meacham
Nancy Meacham
Swampscott, MA

I think his comments about more testing as a way to improve teaching is not helping teachers in poor areas. They don't test well. Also Spanish speaking students. He should fire Arne Duncan he's just a rerun of NCLB. I like his approach to immigrants and a clear path to citizenship.

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peter hatch
PVFT
aptos, CA

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