President Obama took a shot at Republicans on Friday during a speech focused on education, arguing that the right’s obsession with cuts to programs that boost the middle class has stymied economic growth.
At the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn, N.Y. the president pushed for high-quality pre-K education for every 4-year-old child in America, a budget that invests in young people–and for the construction of more schools like P-TECH.
“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs,” Obama said. Congress is slated to kick off budget negotiations next week with a mid-December deadline just around the corner.
He took a jab at the GOP’s “obsession” with cutting domestic spending rather than investing in programs, like education, that help the middle class. Those cuts, he said, have not “helped our economy grow. It has held us back.”
Obama also criticized lawmakers who fail to acknowledge the country’s deficit has been halved since he took office. “I just sat in on a class called Real World Math,” he said, joking that it “got me thinking whether it’s too late to send Congress here for a remedial course.”
P-TECH, which opened in 2011, has a six-year program in which students enter in ninth grade and stay until they’ve earned an associate’s degree. It launched in partnership with the city’s Department of Education, City University of New York and IBM.
Obama praised the school as a forward-thinking model of education earlier this year during his State of the Union address, saying students there will “graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering,” adding, “We need to give every American student opportunities like this.”
The president lauded the school in his remarks on Friday, too, saying, “This is a ticket into the middle class, and it’s available to everybody who’s willing to work for it…That’s what public education is supposed to do.”
This week Obama has faced criticism over the federal health insurance website for his signature Affordable Care Act, which has been plagued with problems including delays, receiving error messages and users getting the Spanish-language version of the site. White House officials promised on Friday that the website will be fixed by the end of November.
Before heading back to the White House, the president is scheduled to attend two campaign fundraisers at private homes in Manhattan on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.