State of the Union and Big Block of Cheese Day: Education Priorities in 2016

Top-line Information

Earlier this week President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address and a group of White House all-stars took part in a social media conversation that included a discussion on the Administration’s education priorities for 2016 known as the Big Block of Cheese Day. Though the SOTU lacked specifics on education priorities, themes relevant to the great work happening in education were mentioned—outlining priorities that—if implemented—could impact the work of numerous education organizations. The same goes for the social media conversation that happened via the hashtag #BigBlockofCheeseDay.

Why This Matters to Your Organization

  • The White House’s priorities tied to education, if followed, stand to impact your work. When viewed from the 30K foot level, the majority of non-profit education organizations stand to gain from having education as a top priority in the Administration. At the end of the day, regardless of the issues education non-profits focus on, most share a collective goal: to improve our education system for the sake of our kids and our economy. Thus, placing emphasis on supporting any education issue could result in improvements to our system as a whole and trickle down to support a non-profit’s individual goals. 
  • In addition, regardless if the individual priorities outlined by the Administration tie directly to your work, those that do become an actual focus could have an impact on the funding streams available from the department of education. Injecting more $$$ toward supporting your work!

Common Themes that Popped Related to Education

  • At the SOTU: High-quality education is crucial to earning a good-paying job, including increasing access to high-quality early childhood programs, lifting graduation rates, gaining more graduates in STEM fields and recruiting more great teachers into the field and making college affordable.
  • On Big Block of Cheese Day: Following the State of the Union, the White House and federal officials held their annual digital Big Block of Cheese Day (inspired by President Jackson’s 1837 open house featuring a 1,400-pound block of cheese, and made famous by The West Wing television show). Education messages that appeared in the discussion include: enhancing equity under ESSA as well as the opportunity under the new law for states to focus on the whole child. According to John King that would include: “social studies, science, arts, social/emotional.” 

Worth Noting: Guests of the First Lady

In addition to content of the President’s speech, the guests of the First Lady highlight the Administration’s priorities. Three guests had ties to education related to the importance of STEM learning and access to community college. Read more about these guests here.

What’s Next

President Obama and cabinet officials began visiting states across the country today to continue the push on State of the Union themes. President Obama stopped at the University of Nebraska early Thursday and then flew to Louisiana. Acting Secretary of Education will be doing his own tour in the coming week. He will visit El Paso and Houston, TX, Washington, D.C., Orlando, FL, Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE.

Stay Tuned 

We’ll be watching how education priorities play out in the coming months and send you updates on how we can work together to achieve our collective goals!

Please Share with Your Followers

  • Learn about #education messages in @WhiteHouse #SOTU & #BigBlockofCheeseDay. @Collaborative_ breakdown: @chbrenchley
  • .@chbrenchley explains the importance of #BigBlockofCheeseDay and #SOTU in a recent @Collaborative_ blog post
  • #BigBlockofCheeseDay & #SOTU matters to your edu organization, @chbrenchley explains in a @Collaborative_ blog post