Impact Feature Issue on Postsecondary Education and Students with Intellectual, Developmental and Other Disabilities
Postsecondary Education: A National Priority
President Obama, in his February 2009 speech to the Joint Session of Congress, laid out his administration's goals and vision for postsecondary education participation in America. Among his comments were these:
In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite. Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish. This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career...
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make [our educational] system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American.
Excerpted from the Address to joint session of Congress, Tuesday, February 24th, 2009. Washington DC: The White House.