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Obama Calls on Nation to “Protect Our Most Precious Resource”

Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig who hid her students in a bathroom during the shooting (at right) sits next to Dr. Jill Biden during the State of the Union address last night.

Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig (at right), who hid her students in a bathroom during the shooting at her school, sits next to Dr. Jill Biden during the State of the Union address last night.

President Obama addressed a range of issues in his State of the Union speech last night, from the economy and jobs to Medicare to tax reform to immigration to education, but it was the president’s remarks on Newtown that elicited the most emotional response from his audience.

The president said,

It has been two months since Newtown.  I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence.  But this time is different.  Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun.  Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals.  Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

More than 25 victims of gun violence and their families watched the speech from the House gallery. Most were the guests of House and Senate members.

Among the guests of the Connecticut Congressional delegation were Carlos Soto, the teenage brother of Victoria Soto, the Slain Sandy Hook first grade teacher; injured Sandy Hook teacher Natalie Hammond; Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra; and Newtown first responders Jason Frank and Dan McAnaspie. Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig who hid her students in a bathroom and kept them quiet during the shooting, sat in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box.

Obama said, “Tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.”

Focus on early-childhood and higher education

The president’s comments on education concentrated on pre-K and higher education. Obama called for colleges to keep tuition rates down and said his office will today release a new scorecard to help students and families make informed decisions about universities.

On early-childhood education Obama proposed that the federal government work with states to make high-quality preschool available to all children.

Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.  In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own.  So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.  Let’s give our kids that chance.

Making education and students a priority is an economic imperative. How would universal high-quality early education help students in your classroom?

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