In his annual back-to-school address, President Obama urged students to study hard and earn a higher degree because the country is counting on them for America’s future prosperity.
“I don’t want to be another adult who stands up and lectures you like you’re just kids, because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. You’re young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you,” Obama told students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in D.C.
In a subtle pitch for his $447 billion jobs bill, the president also said that he’s “taking every step we can to ensure that you’re getting an educational system that is worthy of your potential.”
“We’re working to make sure that you have the most up-to-date schools with the latest tools of learning. We’re making sure that this country’s colleges and universities are affordable and accessible to you. We’re working to get the best teachers into the classroom as well, so they can help you prepare for college and a future career,” he said.
Promoting the American Jobs Act across the county in recent weeks, the president has argued that increased spending on schools will help increase America’s global competitiveness. Last week Obama also offered states waivers from requirements of “No Child Left Behind” in exchange for enacting certain reforms, including adopting college and career-ready standards and creating an accountability system that reports the lowest-performing schools and the largest achievement gaps.
Noting that the U.S. is now ranked 16th globally in the proportion of young people with a college degree, the president encouraged students today to pursue a higher degree so that “you guys will have a brighter future and so will America.”
“I want all of you to set a goal to continue your education after you graduate. And if that means college for you, just getting into college is not enough. You also have to graduate. One of the biggest challenges we have right now is that too many of our young people enroll in college but don’t actually end up getting their degree,” Obama said. “So I don’t want anybody who’s listening here today to think that you’re done once you finish high school. You are not done learning. In fact, what’s happening in today’s economy is, it’s all about lifelong learning.”
Obama told students to “work as hard as you know how work” but said “that doesn’t always mean that you have to have a perfect score on every assignment. It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to get straight A’s all the time — although that’s not a bad goal to have. It means that you have to stay at it. You have to be determined and you have to persevere.”
“I want you to think of this time as one in which you are just loading up with information and skills, and you’re trying new things and you’re practicing and — and you’re honing, all those things that you’re going to need to do great things when you get out of school. Your country is depending on you, so set your sights high,” the president concluded.