A statement from Muriel Howard, president, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), following President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Investment in education is critical for job creation, innovation and economic recovery. This message was delivered by President Obama in his State of the Union address last night, and AASCU strongly endorses this message.

At a time when the Congress faces difficult budget choices, AASCU applauds the president for making the case for continued investment in education to ensure the country’s economic future. The president called for making higher education more affordable for all families by making permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a $10,000 tax credit that can be used over the first four years of postsecondary education. Additionally, he called for increased investment in research and technology.

He reiterated his challenge that the country again lead the world in the proportion of college graduates. If we are to compete in the global economy, we must have a highly educated workforce. To meet that goal, in addition to making college more affordable, President Obama once again called for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the No Child Left Behind Act) by replacing No Child Left Behind with a new law that raises expectations, challenges failure, rewards success, and provides greater flexibility for schools to innovate. He called on Congress to send him a bill that ensures every student is receiving a rigorous K-12 education preparing them for college and career while being taught by high quality teachers.

AASCU applauds the president for calling for the passage of the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented students who came to this country through no fault of their own to attend college and pursue careers. AASCU has long advocated for this legislation and encourages Congress to take it up as a stand-alone bill or as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.

AASCU is eager to review the president’s proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which will further reinforce his commitment to the priorities he laid out last night. We encourage the president to prioritize education funding by investing in federal student financial aid programs, particularly the Pell Grant program; research; and university-based teacher preparation.

AASCU appreciates the education agenda the president laid out in his address, and we are eager to work with the administration and 112th Congress to increase student access to higher education, which in turn will support our nation’s economic prosperity.

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AASCU is the leadership association of 420 public colleges and universities Delivering America’s Promise through their common commitments to access, affordability and educational opportunity. Enrolling more than 3 million students, these institutions fulfill the expectations of a public university by working for the public good through education, stewardship and engagement, thereby improving the lives of people in their community, their region and their state.