MIAMI (CBS4) – President Barack Obama arrived in Miami Friday afternoon and spoke to students at Miami Central High School to praise them for their hard work and show the country that it is possible to turn a school around.
Miami Central is one of hundreds of low-performing schools across the nation that has received money from the Education Department to help turn the school around.
“It’s inspiring to think about where you were a few years ago, and where you are today,” President Obama said to the students. “You came together to turn this school around, and I think the rest of us can learn something from that.”
President Obama was introduced to the students by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has made education one of his focuses after leaving the governor’s office.
“Aside from being a great governor, Jeb is known as the brother of Marvin Bush,” Obama said to laughter. “Apparently, the rest of the family did some work in Washington back in the day. We are so grateful to him for the work he is doing on education.”
President Obama said the nation is at “a pivotal turning point,” when it comes to nation’s future.
“In today’s economy, companies are making decision about where to locate and who to hire based on a few key factors,” Obama said. “They’re looking for a commitment to education and most of all, highly-skilled, highly-educated workers.”
The President said that students “can’t even think about dropping out,” and that the students across the country are going to need to continue their education past their senior year.
“More than ever before, companies hire where the talent is,” Obama said. “Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education past a high school degree.”
But the President also said that times are tough because “we’re in a difficult fiscal situation.” But, President Obama said what the nation can’t do is “cut back on investments like education, which will help us grow our economy.”
“When we sacrifice our commitment to education,” Obama said, “we’re sacrificing our future.”
President Obama said that he chose to come to Miami Central High School because the students, faculty, and parents are doing what he challenged the nation to do when he took office. Obama highlighted the school’s turnaround several times and gave sobering stats about some of the worst high schools in America.
“Right now, there are about 2,000 high schools in America that produce nearly half of the young people who drop out of school,” Obama said. “Money alone is not going to do the job. We also have to reform how things are done. It isn’t easy to turn an expectation of failure and turn it into an expectation of success.”
“I’m not willing to give up on any child in America,” the president said. “I do not accept failure here in America.”
President Obama said that it was time for everyone to come together across the political aisles and in schools to help bring the nation’s educational system back.
“The good news is that we know what works,” Obama said. “We can see it in schools and communities across the country every day. School’s not supposed to easy; nothing worthwhile is easy.”
The president also said that his administration would continue pushing school improvement grants and trying to reform the systems from the bottom up. He said that he wants the country to recruit and prepare a new group of teachers, “including 100,000 new math and science teachers and we want to get them in the classroom.”
Florida has been the recipient of praise from the White House including winning Race to the Top money that could mean hundreds of millions could be headed to the Sunshine State with a pledge to beef up education standards.
Florida does face a major obstacle and roadblock in education reform. Governor Rick Scott’s budget could cut billions out of Florida education if approved.
Teachers are upset about the budget proposal and say new teacher accountability proposals which would tie pay to student performance don’t take into account the varied, often difficult issues they face with students.
The president later went to two Democratic fundraisers: one at the Fountainebleau Resort in Miami Beach and the other was at a private residence. At the Fountainebleau, the President took a jab at Governor Rick Scott for rejecting the high-speed rail deal.
“Yes, we could use some faster trains. That, by the way, has some bipartisan support in the Great State of Florida. A little editorial there,” said President Obama.
He also said he was not willing to cut back on education, science, technology, or infrastructure.
“We need those things to win the future of America,” he said.