The President: Strengthening education, an “economic imperative”

President Obama addressed the issue of education this week, tying it to the country’s economic prospects as Americans fight for jobs in an increasingly global economy:

“At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education; when countries that out-educate us today will outcompete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education possible is an economic imperative.”

The President listed several initiatives such as Skills for America’s Future, eliminating the middle-man of subsidies to banks for student loans, and America’s Race to the Top program. However, President Obama also argued that Republicans in Congress would have cut education by 20%:

“And yet, if Republicans in Congress had their way, we’d have had a harder time meeting that goal. We’d have had a harder time offering our kids the best education possible. Because they’d have cut education by 20% – cuts that would reduce financial aid for eight million students; cuts that would leave our great and undervalued community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future.”

Though he acknowledged the need to make tough decisions regarding our national deficit, the President argued that such concerns should not be used as an excuse to cut funding for education:

“Now, it’s true that when it comes to our budget, we have real challenges to meet. And if we’re serious about getting our fiscal house in order, we’ll need to make some tough choices. I’m prepared to make those choices. But what I’m not prepared to do is to shortchange our children’s education. What I’m not prepared to do is undercut their economic future, your economic future, or the economic future of the United States of America. Nothing would be more detrimental to our prospects for success than cutting back on education. It would consign America to second place in our fiercely competitive global economy. But China and India aren’t playing for second. South Korea and Germany – they aren’t playing for second. They’re playing for first – and so should the United States of America.”

President Obama’s Weekly Address:

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