The President was in South Florida today at Miami Central Senior High School, kicking off a month focusing on education. Miami Central has received more than $750,000 in federal School Improvement Grants, implemented profound reforms, and has seen dramatic results: a 40-point increase in writing achievement, a 60-point increase in math, and almost doubling its graduation rate.
The President was joined by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In his remarks at the school, President Obama talked about this crucial moment in America's economic recovery:
We are at a pivotal turning point. We just came through a tough recession that’s taken a big toll on families here in Florida and all across the country. And to accelerate our recovery in the short term we took some essential steps to spur hiring and economic growth, including tax cuts that are making Americans’ paychecks bigger and letting businesses write off their investments –- and I am proud -- I'm proud that Republicans and Democrats came together to get that done.
And you're already seeing those steps make a difference. This morning we learned that the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years. (Applause.) Our economy added another 222,000 jobs in the private sector. (Applause.) That's the 12th straight month of private sector job growth. So our economy has now added 1.5 million private sector jobs over the last year. And that's progress. (Applause.)
But we need to keep building on that momentum. And in a world that’s more competitive, more connected than ever before, that means answering some difficult questions
As the President said in his State of the Union, continuing our recovery on the short term and winning the future in the long term is going to require continuing our commitment to America's schools and students. The President's goals for improving American education will be focused on achieving reform, promoting responsibility, and delivering results. He acknowledged that hard work lies ahead:
Now, turning around these schools isn’t easy. A lot of people used to argue, well, all they need is more money. But money is not alone going to do the job. We also have to reform how things are done. It isn’t easy to turn around an expectation of failure and make that into an expectation of excellence. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you can do. And there is always plenty of naysayers out there who will say it’s not even possible. Who say that turning around a failing school means just throwing good money after bad. Who say too many of these schools are beyond repair. Who say we ought to give up on those schools and focus on places that have more breaks and have a little more going for them.
Here’s what I say. I say I am not willing to give up on any child in America. (Applause.) I say I'm not willing to give up on any school in America. (Applause.) I do not accept failure here in America. (Applause.) I believe the status quo is unacceptable; it is time to change it. And it’s time we came together -- just like Jeb and I are doing today -– coming from different parties but we come together not as Democrats or Republicans, as Americans –- to lift up all of our schools -- (applause) -- and to prepare students like you for a 21st century economy. (Applause.) To give every child in America a chance to make the most of their God-given potential.
Programs like Race to the Top, and School Improvement Grants like the ones used at Miami Central, are at the heart of the President's plan for improving education. Through smart investments in solutions that come from parents and communities instead of bureaucrats and politicians, President Obama expressed his confidence in our ability to make great schools and a quality education a reality for all Americans.