For the first time in our nation’s history, the majority of Americans don’t believe their kids will have the same opportunities they had to lead a happy, healthy, and prosperous life. And, when Americans no longer believe in the American Dream, it’s time to reclaim our heritage. As the President spoke to the nation in his State of the Union address, this rallying cry couldn’t be more readily apparent: “From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.”

Win the future.

What will it take to “win the future” for our children and our nation? There are three specific topics mentioned by the President that seem particularly pertinent to our children’s future: education, immigration reform, and our national debt.

Education was a clear focal point of the President’s address, and I truly commend him for it. Our education system must continue to be improved, the future of our children and our country depend on it. The President described our current outlook eloquently, “Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school.” Between highlighting the importance of community colleges, and giving an incredible “call to arms” for the teaching profession — it’s reassuring that the President has called on Congress to make education a national priority.

Additionally, as the President discussed his goals for education, he also stressed the need to make sure that every child in America has the ability to achieve his or her potential –including those children who may not be American citizens, but who have excelled in our schools and love this country as their own. He acknowledged that children in immigrant families, including those that are undocumented, will play a vital role in ensuring America’s future prosperity. Reforming an immigration system that needlessly closes the door on talented young people, to quote the President, “makes no sense.” I couldn’t agree more. They should be allowed to fulfill their “dreams” and contribute to our country.

Finally, the topic of deficit reduction was broached by the President in his address. It was also the main focus of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) who gave the Republican response to the President’s speech. I agree with both the President and Chairman Ryan — there must be something done about the national debt. Our children’s future prosperity depends on it. However, as the President spoke about deficit reduction, he urged Congress to make sure that “we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.” In fact, now is not the time to roll back the clock on investing in our nation’s children. They may only be one-quarter of our population, but they are all of our future.

In his closing remarks, the President noted that Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker John Boehner both rose from modest circumstances to be where they are today. As Speaker Boehner said on 60 Minutes about the next generation, “Making sure these kids have a shot at the American Dream like I did is very important.” America has always risen to the challenge of ensuring a brighter future for our children. To paraphrase the President, it’s time we rise to that challenge again.

Originally posted yesterday on The Huffington Post.