There was an air of excitement in Nashville when the news came that President Barack Obama would be visiting Nashville. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-5) spoke of the honor of having a sitting President to come for a visit. “It’s always an honor to have a sitting President visit Nashville. I welcome President Obama wholeheartedly and want him to see why the Nashville area is so popular,” he said.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner shared that he looked forward to the President’s visit. “We need to do more as a country to expand economic opportunity and build our economy from the middle-out. We look forward to hearing the President’s goals and vision to grow the economy in a way that rewards hard work and allows everyone to live the American dream.”
The visit was doubly exciting because in the President’s State of the Union Address he mentioned Tennessee. The President said, “Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums 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. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.”
The President walked on the “soil” of Tennessee, Thursday, January 31, 2014, only two days after his address. Air Force One landed at Nashville Airport; and President Obama was welcomed to Nashville by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and Metropolitan Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Regrets were sent from Gov. Haslam who was scheduled to be there, but another meeting detained him.
When the President arrived at McGavock Comprehensive High School, more than a thousand people awaited his arrival. There were students, teachers, clergy, business owners, college presidents, and more. On the podium with him was also students of McGavock.
The President said that he wants to “encourage more schools to do what their school is doing.” McGavock, one of the largest high schools in Tennessee, is one of a number of Metro Nashville Schools with an Academies Program.
The President said that Tennessee won the competition as one of the fastest improving state’s regarding education in the nation. He said, “… boosted graduation rates 29% in a decade.”
President Obama said, “Young people are going to do better when they are excited by learning … young people also do better when they can make a connection between school and what they do.”
However, the President was well aware of the shooting of a 15 year old McGavock student that was killed before his arrival. He shared that he and Michelle had been praying for that family as well as the students who had been affected by that incident.
It was a great day for many people in Nashville, even those that were not able to be in the venue with the President. There were hundreds of people gathered across the street from the school, who were there to support the President as well as those there to oppose him. There were people voicing their concerns about government spying on citizens, the continuing torture in Guantanamo, and the militarization of the country and the world. “It is not that we hate Obama,” says Elizabeth Barger. “It’s that we want him to live up to the changes that will make this country free and prosperous again. “Many people have noticed the wealth … Jobs that pay a living wage are needed if our nation is to sustain a healthy society,” she notes.