The Biggest Priority for Young People Should be Climate Change? Really, Mr. President?

“First of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama chided. “You should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

This was a quote from President Barack Obama, as reported this week by Politico. It was in response to questions about the legalization of marijuana and how such a move was what many young people today are seeking.

When I first read the article, Eduflack though, “good for President Obama.” But that feeling quickly left when I re-read the President’s priorities. The first thing out of his mouth that young people should be concerned about is climate change? War makes the top four?

Anyone notice what is missing there? No, President Obama made no mention of the biggest priority for young people being their education. With all of our efforts on ensuring all kids are college and career ready, with all of the work to have the highest percentage of college graduates in the world, with all of the focus on college affordability, somehow education and learning and school doesn’t quite rank on the President’s priority list for today’s youth.

If we extend the logic, are we saying that EPA and the Treasury Department, and the Departments of Labor and Defense have greater impact on the lives of today’s young people than the Education Department should?

Color me disappointed. A perfect opportunity to refocus the next generation’s thinking on what is important, and the President swings and misses. It is any wonder they grow up into voters who don’t see education issues as a reason to cast a vote?

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