In a Mr Smith Goes to Washington Moment, Obama Stands Up For Students


obama weekly

President Obama can at times have shades of Jimmy Stewart’s sort of straight-laced, honest-engine approach to life. Nothing brings this quality out more than when he’s talking education. He’s a firm believer that everyone should have a fair shot at the American dream if they are willing to work hard.

In his weekly address, Mr. Smith went to Washington and the President encouraged returning students to get ready for education beyond high school. He laid out some of the reforms his administration has undertaken to make college more affordable for middle class and underserved students, including reforming student loans, making student loan repayment more manageable and expanding grants and college tax credits. The administration has also issued a direct call to action to colleges to encourage them to bring their costs down as part of the President’s Year of Action (that he can take while Congress sleeps).


Watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington President Obama sounding like he came from the generation of “hard work will get it done” here:

Watch here:

Transcript via the White House:

Hi, everybody. Over the next couple weeks, schools all across the country will be opening their doors. Students will suit up for fall sports, marching band, and the school play; moms and dads will snap those first-day-of-school pictures – and that includes me and Michelle.

And so today, I want to talk directly with students and parents about one of the most important things any of you can do this year – and that’s to begin preparing yourself for an education beyond high school.

We know that in today’s economy, whether you go to a four-year college, a community college, or a professional training program, some higher education is the surest ticket to the middle class. The typical American with a bachelor’s degree or higher earns over $28,000 more per year than someone with just a high school diploma. And they’re also much more likely to have a job in the first place – the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree is less than one-third of the rate for those without a high school diploma.

But for too many families across the country, paying for higher education is a constant struggle. Earlier this year, a young woman named Elizabeth Cooper wrote to tell me how hard it is for middle-class families like hers to afford college. As she said, she feels “not significant enough to be addressed, not poor enough for people to worry [about], and not rich enough to be cared about.”

Michelle and I know the feeling – we only finished paying off our student loans ten years ago. And so as President, I’m working to make sure young people like Elizabeth can go to college without racking up mountains of debt. We reformed a student loan system so that more money goes to students instead of big banks. We expanded grants and college tax credits for students and families. We took action to offer millions of students a chance to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income. And Congress should pass a bill to let students refinance their loans at today’s lower interest rates, just like their parents can refinance their mortgage.

But as long as college costs keep rising, we can’t just keep throwing money at the problem – colleges have to do their part to bring down costs as well. That’s why we proposed a plan to tie federal financial aid to a college’s performance, and create a new college scorecard so that students and parents can see which schools provide the biggest bang for your buck. We launched a new $75 million challenge to inspire colleges to reduce costs and raise graduation rates. And in January, more than 100 college presidents and nonprofit leaders came to the White House and made commitments to increase opportunities for underserved students.

Since then, we’ve met with even more leaders who want to create new community-based partnerships and support school counselors. And this week, my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, announced a series of commitments to support students who need a little extra academic help getting through college.

This is a challenge I take personally. And to all you young people, now that you’re heading back to school, your education is something you have to take personally, also. It’s up to you to push yourself; to take hard classes and read challenging books. Science shows that when you struggle to solve a problem or make a new argument, you’re actually forming new connections in your brain. So when you’re thinking hard, you’re getting smarter. Which means this year, challenge yourself to reach higher. And set your sights on college in the years ahead. Your country is counting on you.

And don’t forget to have some fun along the way, too.

See? Even a geek moment at the end pushing making new connections in our brains. He actually sounds like the real life Jimmy Stewart, who told his daughters as they were leaving for college, “Be nice to people.” Character matters.

This week, the President announced the next phase of operation help the low and middle class with the American dream (aka, upward mobility) via higher education. To assist those students who need a little academic help, this year’s December 4th Summit will (per a Fact Sheet provided by the White House), “focus on building sustainable collaborations in communities with strong K-12 and higher education partnerships to encourage college going, and supporting colleges to work together to dramatically improve persistence and increase college completion, especially for first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students.”

Republicans mock the President for wearing a bike helmet, which is the same quality that makes him a bit of the earnest Jimmy Stewart. Sure, a geek of high character pushing brain connections and higher education might seem a little boring or dated, but just recall the modern day Republican party’s contempt for education and suddenly President Obama’s consistent support for it is the height of cool. A nation full of greedy predators or a nation full of geeks making brain connections? Yeah.

2 Replies to “In a Mr Smith Goes to Washington Moment, Obama Stands Up For Students”

  1. Still proud of my 2 votes for this man … While Teapubs are trying to make Rome BURN with all their fiddling, Obama has been trudging along through their shit, getting things done in the gaps he can find in their obstruction.

    History will be kind …

  2. “President Obama can at times have shades of Jimmy Stewart’s sort of straight-laced, honest-engine approach to life.”

    Have you been living in a box, cut off from all civilization and culture? Or are you just too lazy to proof-read THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE?

    This has become more of a problem of late, and I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to journalists working on deadlines, but if you, or Politicus can’t find someone to proofread your entries you’ll alienate readers who view good grammar and usage important to the presentation of any story, and they will go elsewhere. I’m not singling out Politicus. All the sites I read are having the same problem, and it’s getting worse. Some of the posts are so garbled it takes as much time trying to decipher the writer’s meaning, as it normally would reading the whole piece. Is this a trend we can expect to continue, given the necessities of for-profit journalism? I certainly hope not.

    And it’s “Honest Injun.”

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