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President Obama: We Need to Do Everything We Can to Prepare Our Kids for the Future

The American Jobs Act will create 21st century schools across the country
President Obama on the American Jobs Act in Denver

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd after addressing Abraham Lincoln High School, Denver, Colorado, Sept. 27, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama visited the Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver, Colorado to talk about how the American Jobs Act will help modernize schools like Lincoln High all across the country. The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure to repair and upgrade at least 35,000 public schools because, as he said today, “Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them. We can rebuild our schools for the 21st century, with faster internet, smarter labs and cutting-edge technology.” 

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded the United States a ‘D’ for the condition of our public school infrastructure and the statistics are grim. The average public school building in the United States is over 40 years old, and many are much older. Schools spend over $6 billion annually on their energy bills, more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined.  Forty three states reported that one-third or more of their schools do not meet all of the functional requirements necessary to effectively teach laboratory science, knowledge that is critical if we are to prepare our children for the jobs of the future. The Job Act’s school infrastructure funds can be used for a range of much needed emergency projects, including greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos removal and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and upgrade the technology infrastructure in our schools. The President’s goal is to create a better, safer learning environment for all students: 

So Lincoln has been adding new AP courses and new language courses, and the wonderful principal and administrators here have been making sure -- and the teachers here have been making sure that kids have upgraded computers and learning software that’s necessary to prepare all of you students for the jobs and the economy of the future. But you know what? Things like science labs take money to upgrade. The science labs here at Lincoln High were built decades ago, back in the ‘60s.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but science and technology has changed a little bit since the 1960s. The world has changed a little bit since the 1960s. So we need to do everything we can to prepare our kids to compete. We need to do everything we can to make sure our students can compete with any students, anywhere in the world. And every child deserves a great school -- and we can give it to them.      

We can rebuild our schools for the 21st century, with faster Internet, and smarter labs, and cutting-edge technology. And that won’t just create a better learning environment for students -- it will create good jobs for local construction workers right here in Denver, and all across Colorado, and all across the country. There are schools all throughout Colorado in need of renovation.  

But it’s not just in this state. Last week, I visited a bridge in Cincinnati that connected Ohio to Kentucky. Bridges need renovations. Roads need renovations. We need to lay broadband lines in rural areas. There are construction projects like these all across this country just waiting to get started, and there are millions of unemployed construction workers ready to do the job.  

So my question to Congress is: What on Earth are you waiting for? Let’s get to work. Let’s get to work. Let’s get to work. 

Why should our children be allowed to study in crumbling, outdated schools? How does that give them a sense that education is important? We should build them the best schools. That’s what I want for my kids; that’s what you want for your kids. That’s what I want for every kid in America. 

Under the American Jobs Act, Colorado could receive up to $265,100,000 in school modernization funds for K-12 schools to support as many as 3,400 jobs. The Denver County School District, which includes Lincoln High, could receive up to $75.5 million in funds. Tax cuts in the Jobs Act will save the average working family in Colorado $1,740 in taxes next year.