On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama reviewed his administration’s achievements and presented his vision for the future of the nation in his State of the Union address. While Obama addressed many pressing issues, he also covered topics of interest to University students. Among those topics, Obama discussed his efforts to improve the educational accessibility for all students, make higher education more affordable and a plan to assist a bankrupt Detroit. Stating these issues is one thing, but we must hold Obama to his word as he goes forward in his second term.

During the address, Obama made a noteworthy reference to the White House’s College Opportunity Summit, saying, “150 universities, businesses and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education — and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus.” The main aims of the conference — fairer standardized tests, making college more affordable and increasing opportunities for low-income students — were warmly received by over 100 colleges and universities, whose presidents pledged to further the summit’s goals. Among those institutions were Massachusetts Institution of Technology, Georgetown University, The University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. The University of Michigan did not sign in support of these efforts. The White House’s efforts to make college more accessible are clearly commendable, and seemingly coincide with the University’s claims to want to foster both socioeconomic and racial diversity. The University should support these actions by the White House. Furthermore, Obama should publicize these actions outside the SOTU, and make the push for accessibility a more public cause.

For years, Obama has championed higher education as a tool of upward social and economic mobility. In his recent speech, Obama mentioned Congress’ efforts to “redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers” so that all American children will have a better chance at attaining a college education. Momentous changes have in fact been made with the nation’s highest high-school graduation rates in over 30 years. However, statistics are not enough. In a 2013 report from ACT, Inc. nearly one third of students met zero of the four college-readiness benchmarks. Only 39 percent of students met three or more of the benchmarks. Similarly, nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover they are not ready for postsecondary education and must take remedial classes. If Obama continues to champion the American Dream of a college education, the administration must find practical and successful ways to help students transition from a secondary to postsecondary education.

In his speech, the president also discussed the auto industry, specifically referencing Detroit manufacturing. The president introduced an initiative for the country’s training programs to “train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.” Detroit is a city sorely in need of skilled labor. Obama’s proposal is one that could fill the open job market in Detroit and assist the city in its path back to prosperity. Similarly, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has laid out a plan to supply an extensively trained workforce by bringing immigrants to the city. Snyder aims to work with the U.S. State Department to grant visas to skilled immigrants to satisfy the needs of Detroit employers.

While an obstructionist Republican-controlled House of Representatives makes it difficult to expect sweeping reforms in the president’s second term, students can at least expect Obama to accomplish some of his goals through executive orders and directing the federal agencies to focus on alleviating the challenges facing young Americans. His rhetoric is a welcome acknowledgement of many of the issues facing the nation, but only bipartisan proposals and action can remedy them.

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