President Obama touted that America’s high school graduation rate has risen to 83.2 percent, but emphasized more work lay ahead in improving the nation's public education system, including addressing cuts in government funding to state university systems.
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“I just want to be honest with you: We've still got more work to do," the president said on a visit to a Washington, D.C., high school.
"As I go, I'm giving you kind of a final report card, transcript on what more we’ve got to get done,” Obama said. “There are still too many states that are cutting back on public education. And part of the reason tuition is going up is because states aren’t putting as much money into state education, universities, community colleges as they used to. That’s why, if you’re 18, by the way, you’ve got to vote to make sure that the folks who represent you actually deliver.”
Obama visited the capital's Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, which boasted a 100 percent graduation rate for its seniors last year.
“One hundred percent. It's been awhile since I did math, but 100 percent is good,” he said, drawing laughter. “You can't do better than that.”
As he prepares to leave office early next year, the president said young people like those at Banneker give him a sense of optimism.
“There’s magic in each and every one of you, and we just have to help you unleash it and nurture it and realize it,” Obama said. “I’ve met so many young people around the country whose energy, and excitement, and how you treat each other, with respect. That gives me a lot of confidence, a lot of faith for our country.”
The White House said new education data show that the average four-year graduation rate in 2014-2015 was 4 percent higher than in 2010-2011, when a new method for calculating graduation rates was adopted, with progress across all student demographics and in every state, and with Washington, D.C., recording the greatest improvement.