Obama to Congress: Act more “boldly” on education

President Obama waves as he arrives to speak at MacGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee on January 30, 2014.

Two days after delivering his State of the Union address, President Obama on Thursday traveled to one of the nation’s fast-improving high school to tout his education policies and to urge Congress to embrace the reforms he proposed in his speech.

“I’d like to see Congress act more boldly,” he said to students assembled at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee. In his state of the Union address, Mr. Obama repeated his interested in making pre-school universal.

“While Congress decides if it’d like to give every child that opportunity, we’re not waiting,” he said.

In 2010, Tennessee became the first state to win Mr. Obama’s Race to the Top initiative. Now, Mr. Obama said, Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the nation when it comes to education.

The president said he wanted to visit McGavock High School because of the great strides it’s made with applied learning techniques and partnerships with the business community that teach the students the value of their education. Over the past 10 years, the graduation rate has gone up 22 percent.

“The idea is simple but powerful,” he said. “Young people are going to do better when they’re excited about learning -- if they see a connection between what they’re doing in the classroom and how it is applied.”

Before the event, Mr. Obama met privately with the family of Kevin Barbee, a 15-year-old Nashville McGavock High School student killed in a shooting incident earlier this week.

“The past couple days have been hard a tested,” Mr. Obama told the assembled students. “Michelle and I have been praying for all of you in the community.”

The president also met with former vice president Al Gore who attended the event. Actress and Democratic supporter Ashley Judd also attended the event.