Higher education is an asset Americans must continue to invest in and protect — not only for future generations, but also for citizens living around the world, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.
"There is still, as of March 2014, no substitute for the kind of learning that happens in a well-taught classroom, full of engaged and thoughtful peers. But with the right tools, any place in the world can become a hub of learning and knowledge," she said during her speech at the globalized education conference in Irving, Texas.
"Only through education will people feel confident enough, empowered enough, to stand up for themselves, and for a larger, better vision of where their society can go," she said.
Former Republican Gov. of Florida Jeb Bush invited the former Democratic senator to the two-day event, marking their third appearance together this year. More than 250 leaders of both U.S. and international universities will continue to meet through Tuesday to discuss the potential American higher education has to serve millions of students around the world. Clinton was among the 15 speakers, who also include former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Neither Clinton nor Bush, who co-hosted the event along with Hunt, have declared their intent to run in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton remains coy about her political plans, despite continuously scheduling trips to various parts of the country. Last weekend she visited Arizona State University, where an audience member requested she represent women in 2016.
"I am very much concerned about the direction of our country ... obviously thinking about all kinds of decisions," Clinton said in response.
Additionally, Clinton recently spoke in New York about her memoir, due in bookstores by June.
Bush, who joked last fall about a possible match-up with Clinton, has said he will decide about taking a second look for a presidential bid by the end of the year. Previously, he laughed off criticism from his mother — former first lady Barbara Bush — who told the TODAY Show's Matt Lauer, "We've had enough Bushs."
Bush has long been focused on education since his time as governor, and he continues to defend the Common Core Standards for reading and math, unpopular among conservatives. The Tea Party has criticized Bush for his support for the education standards.
Clinton led Bush 51% to 37% in a recent Quinnipiac University poll that asked Iowan responders about possible 2016 candidates. Iowa kicks off the presidential nominating contest with first-in-the-nation caucuses. The former secretary of state also beat other GOP contenders, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.