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Obama unveils American Graduation Initiative

Today, at Macomb Community College in Michigan, President Barack Obama outlined a plan to reform the nation’s community colleges, calling for an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020 and new initiatives to teach Americans the skills they will need to compete with workers from other nations. He outlined initiatives to increase the effectiveness and impact of community colleges, raise graduation rates, modernize facilities, and create new online learning opportunities.

Following are excerpts from his remarks:

Time and again, when we have placed our bet for the future on education, we have prospered as a result – by tapping the incredible innovative and generative potential of a skilled American workforce. That is what happened when President Lincoln signed into law legislation creating the land grant colleges which not only transformed higher education, but also our economy. That is what took place when President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped educate a generation – and usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity…

That is why, at the start of my administration I set a goal for America: by 2020, this nation will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world…Today, I am announcing the most significant down payment yet on reaching this goal in the next ten years. It’s called the American Graduation Initiative. It will reform and strengthen community colleges from coast to coast so that they get the resources students and schools need – and the results workers and businesses demand. Through this plan, we seek to help an additional five million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade….

Not since the passage of the original GI Bill and the work of President Truman’s Commission on Higher Education – which helped double the number of community colleges and increase by seven fold enrollment in those colleges – have we taken such a historic step on behalf of community college in America. And let me be clear: we pay for this plan by ending the wasteful subsidies we currently provide to banks and private lenders for student loans, which will save tens of billions of dollars over the next ten years. Instead of lining the pockets of special interests, it’s time this money went toward the interest of higher education in America….

…[W]e also know that in the coming years, jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience. We will not fill those jobs – or keep those jobs on our shores – without the training offered by community colleges.

Tags: Government, School/College


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