Kicking off his latest jobs tour at a high school in Texas, President Barack Obama told students that making quality education affordable and accessible was a key ingredient to jump-starting the U.S. economy.
Speaking at Manor New Technology High School in Austin to 400 students and teachers, Obama praised the school’s innovative education approaches, saying that both superior education and more policies to help the middle class were key to creating good jobs and attracting skilled workers.
“Thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, we’ve cleared away the rubble of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes,” said Obama, “We’re poised for progress.”
Speaking at a high school in Austin, President Obama says, "our economy can't succeed unless our young people have the skills that they need to succeed and that's what's happening here."
To “reignite the true engine of middle-class growth,” the president said, the country has to become a magnet for good jobs, help people develop the education and skills for the jobs, and ensure workers can “achieve a decent living.”
With a veiled jab at inaction in Congress, Obama said where he could, he was “just going to go ahead and take actions on my own” and later today would be issuing executive orders “that I'm convinced will spur innovation and help businesses create more jobs.”
Those two executive orders, first laid out in the president’s State of the Union address, will focus on strengthening manufacturing and ensuring government data is available in machine-readable formats.
Obama praised Manor Tech for the way it is working to equip its students. The school, focused on preparing students for STEM careers in science and mathematics, selects students each year through a blind lottery, and has won plaudits for its academic success since its opening in 2007.
The president pointed out how students had been putting their knowledge to work, pointing out projects he saw on his tour of the school, including building musical instruments from mathematics equations and the use of robots and other technology.
Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images
President Barack Obama greets students after speaking on the economy and job creation after touring Manor New Technology High School in Manor, Texas, May 9, 2013.
And, according to the president, too much public speaking can never be a bad thing. “While most high school students in America give a handful of speeches by the time they graduate,” he noted, “a student at this school might give as many as 200.”
Obama joked, “That’s a lot of speeches. I can relate.”
But, the president pointed out, one reason the school has been a success is that it has been available to all students, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
“The majority of students in Manor don’t come from wealth or privilege,” Obama said, noting the success the school had not only in keeping its students in school but helping them attend college.
“Folks around here are doing something right,” Obama added, “and I think the rest of the country can learn from what you’re doing -- because I’ve always believed that the best ideas usually don't start in Washington, they trickle up to Washington. So I’ve come to listen and learn and highlight some of the good work that's being done.”
“There are too many kids in America who are not getting the same kinds of opportunity through no fault of their own,” said Obama. “We can do better than that. Every young person in America deserves a world class education. We’ve got an obligation to give it to them.”
“We’re not just a collection of individuals, we’re one American family,” said the president. “If we follow Manor's example, if we give every child the chance to climb new ladders of opportunity, if we equip every American with the skills and education they need to succeed in the jobs of the future, if we make sure that hard work pays off and responsibility's rewarded, if we fight to keep America a place where you can make it if you try, then you're not just going to be the ones that prosper, we'll all prosper, and together we'll write the next chapter in America's great history.”
This story was originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 5:37 PM EDT