President Obama in his inaugural speech Tuesday put the focus on schools and education. Here’s from a story in Education Week (by subscription only) by Alyson Klein:

President Barack Obama today cited the shortcomings of the nation’s schools as one part of the broader economic crisis and called on Americans to come together to tackle the country’s challenges in a spirit of public service and personal accountability.

“Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many,” Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address as the 44th president of the United States. “Everywhere we look, there is work to be done. …We will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

The president did not offer details, but the fact that schools made such an early appearance in the speech suggests that he sees education as a policy priority, said Paul Manna, a professor at the College of William and Mary who has studied the role of politics in education.

“It was headlined right at the beginning along with the economy and energy,” he said. Still, Mr. Manna acknowledged that the economy and health care, not the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, are pressing priorities for the new administration.

“What is required of us now,” President Obama told the nation, “is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

The issue of reforming and improving schools and education is of course very much a part of the needed emphasis on workforce readiness. Available on our Corporate Voices website is a copy of our comprehensive position paper, Strengthening America’s Economic Competitiveness: Public Policy Strategies to Improve Workforce Readiness.