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January 29, 2014

President Obama tackles climate change and education in 2014 State of the Union address

In his annual speech before both chambers of Congress last night, President Barack Obama challenged the country to address climate change, pledging to develop the natural gas and solar power industries.

“Climate change is a fact,” he said. “And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

In June, the president unveiled his climate change plan, which included curbing carbon dioxide emissions and investment in climate change adaptation for farmers and coastal residents, and loans for renewable energy and fuel efficiency projects.

The president also laid out his commitment to education, emphasizing efforts to provide affordable early childhood education and college tuition, and raise the standards of education in America.

“Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculum and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test,” the president said. “But it’s worth it — and it’s working.”

You can watch the full speech below, which includes President Obama’s call on Congress to make 2014 a “year of action” by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, funding infrastructure projects to fix old roads and bridges and setting higher fuel efficiency standards for trucks.

“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” the president told lawmakers. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Warm up questions
  1. What is the State of the Union address? Why is it important? Who is its audience?
  2. What are 5 big topics President Obama cares about most?
  3. What are the topics most important to you?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. Outline President Obama’s plans to improve education and then appraise his proposals.
  2. Choose one part of his plan for education and argue either for or against it in terms of effectiveness of cost, functionality and ability to change the current state of education.
  3. Construct your own mini State of the Union address on education. Outline your own points and then compare and contrast them with the ones President Obama presented.
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