When our educators are strong, our students are strong, and our nation’s union is strong.

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Graduation Rates SOTU“The state of our union is strong,” the President told the nation tonight.

It is strong in large part because our education system is successful, and our educators are the most hard-working advocates for student success. As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, “…our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.  Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high.  And more Americans finish college than ever before.”

It is an impressive record of success, and we should be proud. It was accomplished by the diligence and determination of educators, families, and the local communities in which they live.  We applaud the great work of all those involved with our schools who have contributed to this success, and we appreciate the President’s recognition of it during the highest-profile annual event in American politics.

Of course, notwithstanding such historic progress, there is always room for improvement. ASCD and its members are ready to accept that challenge. President Obama has put forth a bold new plan to make access to community colleges available to all who earn it so that, “two years of college becomes as free and universal in America as high school is today.”

We believe that only a whole child approach to education can best prepare students to be college, career, and citizenship ready. This means providing each student with comprehensive opportunities in all academic subjects, social and emotional learning, meaningful engagement with families, and safe and supportive environments.

The success of students is the success of educators. Teachers and school leaders are the two most important in-school factors that affect student achievement. In the year ahead, we hope lawmakers will honor and support the education professionals who play such a central role in the outstanding performance of our students.

Policymakers should do this by providing sufficient investments in both time and money for the ongoing professional development of educators, starting with their initial training to their board certification. Student growth is founded on the professional growth of the educators who lead them, and educator training must be a national priority. At ASCD, we commit to supporting each student’s success, and the educators who stand behind them.

When our educators are strong, our students are strong, and our nation’s union is strong.

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