Obama Unveils $100M in Grants to Make High School Less Boring, More Competitive

(Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama arrived at Bladensburg High School in Maryland today with a $7 million gift.

The school is one of 24 announced today as winners of the administration's Youth Career Connect grants, awarded to schools that proposed partnerships with employers and colleges to prepare students for jobs in high-demand fields.

"You guys are all coming up in an age where you're not going to be able to compete with people across town for good jobs; you're going to be competing with the rest of the world," Obama told students.

"I'm confident you can match or exceed anything they do, but we don't do it by just resting on what we've done before. We've got to out-work and out-innovate and out-hustle everybody else. We've got to think about new ways of doing things," the president said.

The $100 million grant program administered by the Departments of Labor and Education is meant to encourage a revamping of curriculums that haven't changed much since the "1940s, 50s and 60s."

"The idea behind this competition is, how do we start making high school in particular more interesting, more exciting, more relevant to young people?" Obama said. "We want to reward the schools that are being most innovative."

Ahead of the speech, the president toured Bladensburg High's microbiology classroom, where students in protective goggles were using pipettes to place drops of a clear liquid onto clear lenses.

"This is serious here," Obama joked as he walked in. "I'm not going to catch anything am I? What are we looking at?"

Bacteria, he was told.

"What kind of bacteria?" he inquired. Students explained they were conducting a hypothetical experiment where they diagnose patients displaying symptoms of illness.

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