Education is treated as a wholly separate category from the rest of these topics, yet by its very nature education operates tangentially to each. What good is the economy without a learned population speaking a common language and operating at a high level? What good are human rights without a populace that knows the existing law and understands the cost/benefit analysis of change? How can we have a legitimate discussion about tax policy if the majority of Americans do not understand where cuts would be coming from and how they would affect their lives? How can we spark change in the financial sector if the average citizen does not understand loans, interest rates, and basic budgetary planning?
To be perfectly honest, I don't see how a speech writer could possibly construct a narrative of the health of a nation and not lead off with education. To assess how we are improving, we necessarily must first address how we are learning. The entire speech itself is simply a lecture from our Professor in Chief to his 300 million students/citizens, plus countless international viewers. It's the ultimate MOOC, really.