Obama: If we can afford shutdown, we can afford to fund education

President Obama on Friday afternoon visited a high school in Brooklyn, New York that boasts a unique partnership with IBM to urge Congress to invest in a new, modern education system.

After the "manufactured crisis" of the government shutdown, Mr. Obama said, he wasn't interested in hearing "the same old stuff" about prioritizing spending cuts over investments in education.

"Don't tell me we can afford to shut down the government, which cost billions of dollars, but we can't afford to invest in America's education systems," the president said at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) in Brooklyn. Mr. Obama mentioned the school in his last State of the Union address to push for investments in education.

Mr. Obama noted that he sat in on a "real-world math" class at P-TECH Friday afternoon, which prompted him to think "whether it's too late to send Congress here for a remedial course."

Official negotiations over the congressional budget start next week. Congress has until January 15 to negotiate before the government would shut down again. With bitter partisan divides tainting negotiations, both Democrats and Republicans have warned they won't reach any major budget agreements and will at best be able to lessen the negative impacts of the "sequester" budget cuts.

Mr. Obama told the P-TECH students Friday that a budget "tells us what we think is important and [what] our priorities are... If we don't set the right priorities now, then many of you will be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries."

The president commended the opportunities for students at P-TECH, such as taking college level courses, working with IBM mentors and graduating with a high school diploma and an associates degree. That kind of stepped up education is necessary in a globally-competitive market, he said.

"We can shrug our shoulders and settle for something less, or we can do what America's always done and we can adapt," he said.

Mr. Obama noted the steps he's taken to bring down the costs of attending college, pushed for universal preschool and said that schools should be redesigned "so that they teach young people the skills required for a high tech economy."

Before returning to Washington, Mr. Obama will attend two fundraisers in New York City, kicking off six weeks of fundraising for Democrats. The president will headline at least nine Democratic fundraisers before the end of November.

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