President Obama Speaks at Manor New Technology High School
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President Obama Speaks at Manor New Technology High School

The President:
Hello, Texas! (applause) Howdy, Manor. (applause) Go Titans! (applause) I hear that there’s a rule that
anyone who gives a presentation in front of the class
has to dress up, so I made sure to wear a tie. (laughter) I didn’t want to lose points. I want to thank Tevyn for the
very generous introduction. Give Tevyn a big
round of applause. (applause) I want to thank Principal
Zipkes for his great work. (applause) I want to thank Dylan and
Jahman for showing me around. Great job. (applause) We’ve got a number of other
luminaries here today. First of all, we’ve got Acting
Secretaries of Commerce and Labor, Becky Blank
and Seth Harris. There they are right there. (applause) Becky is going to be leaving us
to become the president of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. So if you all are interested
in cold weather, you can apply. (laughter) You’ve got the
hook-up right here. And she’s going
to do a great job. We’ve got Congressman
Lloyd Doggett, who’s here. (applause) We’ve got Mayor Jeff
Turner, who’s here. (applause) And it is Teacher
Appreciation Week. (applause) So all the teachers,
raise your hands. Everybody give them a
big round of applause. (applause) We appreciate you. Teachers work hard
every single day, and they don’t do
it for the money. They do it because of the
love of learning and love of their students. And so we could not
be prouder of them, and we are grateful
to all of them. And I want to thank all of
you for a Texas-sized welcome. Now, those of you who have
seats, feel free to sit down. Those of you who don’t,
you’re out of luck. (laughter) You got to keep standing. So this is the first stop that
I’m making on a tour of the Austin area today. And I chose Austin partly
because I just love Austin — (applause) — but also because there are
some terrific things going on in this area, in
communities like Manor. And there are terrific things
going on in communities all across the country that
are good models for all of America to follow. You might not know this —
because if you listen to all the doom and gloom in
Washington, in politics, and you’re watching
cable TV sometimes, you might get kind of thinking
nothing is going right. But the truth is there’s a
lot of reasons for us to feel optimistic about where
we’re headed as a country, especially after all the tough
times that we’ve been through over the last several years. And that should encourage us
to roll up our sleeves and work even harder and work together to
take on the challenges that are still holding back
parts of our economy. In a little over three years,
our businesses have now created more than 6.5 million new jobs. And while our unemployment
rate is still too high, it’s actually the lowest
that it’s been since 2008. But that’s not good enough. Now we’ve got to create even
more good, middle-class jobs, and we’ve got to do it faster
so that by the time you guys graduate from college
the job market is strong. Corporate profits have
skyrocketed to all-time highs. But that’s not good enough. We’ve got to make sure that
middle-class wages and incomes are also going up, because most
families haven’t seen their take-home pay rise
for years now. Our housing market is healing,
but that’s not good enough. We still need to help a lot more
families stay in their homes, or refinance to take
advantage of historically low interest rates. Our deficits are falling at
the fastest rate in years. But now we’ve got to budget in
a smarter way so it doesn’t hurt middle-class families or prevent
us from making the critical investments that we
need for your future. So a lot of sectors of our
economy are doing better. The American auto
industry is thriving. American energy is booming. American ingenuity and our tech
sector continues to be the best in the world and has the
potential to change almost everything that we do. And thanks to the grit and
determination of the American people, we’ve cleared away the
rubble of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes. So we’re poised for progress. All across America, Americans
are working harder and they’re living up to their
responsibilities, both to themselves and to one
another and to their communities — every single day. Part of our challenge, though,
is you’ve got to try to see the same kind of seriousness
of purpose in your leaders. From Washington to Wall Street,
all of us have to commit ourselves to doing better
than we’re doing now. And all of us have to rally
around the single-greatest challenge that we face
as a country right now, and that’s reigniting the true
engine of economic growth, a rising, thriving middle class,
where if you work hard — no matter what you look like,
where you come from — you can succeed. (applause) That’s what we’re fighting for. (applause) Now, there are three things that
we’ve got to focus on to create more jobs and opportunity
for the middle class. First of all, we’ve got to make
America a magnet for good jobs. Second, we’ve got to help people
earn the education and develop the skills they need
to do those jobs. And number three, we’ve got to
make sure that people who are working hard are able to
achieve a decent living. (applause) All right? That’s what
we’ve got to focus on. (applause) And I’ve sent Congress proposals
on a whole range of ideas that will help in these three
areas: creating jobs, helping families stay in
their homes, lifting wages, helping more young people
get a good education and afford college. But some of them have been
blocked in Congress for, frankly, political reasons. And I’m going to keep on trying. I’m an optimistic guy, so I’m
just going to keep on talking to members of Congress, because I
believe that America does best when we work together. (applause) I believe that. (applause) Every once in a while I’m going
to need your help to lean on your elected representatives
and say, hey, let’s do something about
this; even if don’t like it politically, if
it’s a good idea, let’s go ahead and support it. So sometimes I’m going to need
constituents to pressure their members of Congress
to do the right thing. But where I can, I’m just going
to go ahead and take action on my own, including some executive
actions that I’m taking today that I’m convinced will spur
innovation and help businesses create more jobs. Because we know what’s possible
when Americans — whether they’re Republicans or Democrats
or independents — are working together, and when parents and
teachers and business owners and local leaders come together. And that’s what we’re
seeing here in Austin. We’re seeing people working
together — not because of politics, not because
of some selfish reason, but because folks here
understand that when we’re all working together everybody
does better, everybody succeeds. (applause) So over the last three
years in the Austin area, businesses have created
85,000 new jobs. And companies like Apple and
Visa are getting ready to open new offices. General Motors is already hiring
at its new innovation center. According to one report, the
tech sector now drives more than one-quarter of Austin’s economy. And all of this has helped
to make Austin one of the fastest-growing
cities in America. (applause) So folks around here are
doing something right, and I think the rest of the
country can learn from what you’re doing — because I’ve
always believed that the best ideas usually don’t
start in Washington, they trickle up to Washington. So I’ve come to listen and learn
and highlight some of the good work that’s being done. This afternoon, I’m going to
go visit a local factory where workers are building
the equipment that makes cutting-edge microchips — all
those smartphones and iPads that you guys are using, a lot
of this stuff is made there. I’m going to have lunch with
some local families to talk about what they’re facing, the
challenges that they’re facing, and figure out how we can make
sure that people’s hard work pays off. But as you can see, my first
stop was Manor New Tech. (applause) That’s my first stop. (applause) And the reason is because our
economy can’t succeed unless our young people have the skills
that they need to succeed. And that’s what’s happening
here, right at Manor New Tech. There’s a reason why teachers
and principals from all over the country are coming down
to see what you’re up to. Because every day, this school
is proving that every child has the potential to learn the
real-world skills they need to succeed in
college and beyond. (applause) And you all are
doing it together. At Manor, a history teacher
might get together with a math teacher and develop a project
about the impact of castles on world history and
the engineering behind building castles. Or a group of students might be
in charge of putting together a multimedia presentation about
the moral dilemmas in literature as applied to World War II. Internships help students get
even more hands-on experience. And while most high school
students in America give a handful of speeches by
the time they graduate, a student at this school
might give as many as 200. That’s a lot of speeches. (applause) I can relate. (laughter) And I just had a chance to see
some of the incredible work that some of the young people here
are doing — folks who used mathematical equations to
build musical instruments, and tests on bungee jumping
with rubber bands and weights, and robots that were being
built, all kinds of great stuff. And you’re doing things a little
differently around here than a lot of high schools,
and it’s working. (applause) It’s working. (applause) And, by the way, the majority
of students at Manor don’t come from wealth or privilege. Some folks here might have
come from some pretty tough backgrounds. And yet, the vast majority of
students here stay in school, they graduate. Your test scores in most
subjects have been higher than the state average. Almost every member of the
recent graduating class went on to college, and about 60%
of them were the first in their families to do so. (applause) You should be proud of that. (applause) And you can see it when I
was talking to some of your classmates on the projects
they were working on. There were a couple of your
classmates who were studying how earthworms regenerate
when they’re injured. I saw solar cars. Your championship regional
“TEXplosion” robotics team — (applause) — competed in the world
championships a couple of weeks ago. And this program has only
been around for five years. So this is an impressive group. And the teachers here you can
tell are passionate about what they do and couldn’t
be more impressive, although some of them look
like they were in high school. (laughter) There were a couple
of them I met, I said, are you sure you’re a teacher? (laughter) No, not you. You look like you’re — (laughter) — I’m teasing. You really are a student. I know. (laughter) But it’s important to
remember that, every year, schools like Manor New Tech hold
blind lotteries to determine who gets in, because there just
aren’t enough spots for all the students who want to go
to a school like this one. There are too many kids in
America who are not getting the same kinds of opportunities
through no fault of their own. And we can do better than that. We can do better than that. (applause) Every young person
in America deserves a world-class education. We’ve got an obligation
to give it to them. And, by the way, that
helps the whole economy. Every business in America we
want to draw from the world’s highest-skilled and
most educated workforce. We can make that happen. But we’re going to have to put
our shoulder against the wheel and work a little harder
than we’re doing right now as a nation. So, number one, we’ve got to
start educating our kids at the earliest possible age. And that means giving every
child in America access to high-quality, public
preschool — something that I’m pushing for. (applause) Every dollar that we put into
early childhood education can save $7 down the road because
it boosts graduation rates, reduces things like teen
pregnancy and violent crime, helps young people succeed not
just in high school but beyond. So let’s make that happen. Let’s make every child’s
early success a recipe for long-term success. We can do that. We’ve also got to make sure that
we help more students at more schools get the kinds of skills
they’re getting here at Manor Tech to compete in
a high-tech economy. (applause) So that’s why we’re working
to recruit and train 100,000 new teachers in
science and technology, engineering and math; helping
our most talented teachers serve as mentors for their colleagues
so that they can help to push the great stuff that’s going
on here out to other schools throughout the state and
throughout the country. We’ve also got to start
rethinking and redesigning America’s high schools. That’s part of what’s happening
here is there’s innovation going on that equip graduates for the
demands of a high-tech economy. There’s a lot of
hands-on learning here. People aren’t just sitting at
a desk reading all the time. Reading is important. I’m a big reader. But part of what makes
this place special is, is that there’s all this
integration of various subjects and actual projects, and young
people doing and not just sitting there listening, so
we’ve got to reward schools like this one that focus on
the fields of the future — (applause) — schools that focus on
the fields of the future, use technology effectively
to help students learn, and are also developing
partnerships with local colleges and businesses so that
a diploma here leads directly to a good job. And finally, we know that
even with better high schools, if you want a good job and work
your way into the middle class, most young people are going
to need some higher education. Unfortunately, in recent years,
college costs have skyrocketed and that’s left too many
students and their families saddled with a mountain of debt. So we’ve worked to make college
more affordable for millions of students already and families
through tax credits, grants; more access to student loans
that go farther than before. We’ve reformed the student loan
process by putting students ahead of big banks, providing
options to make it easier for young people to
repay these loans. But even if we do all that, if
the price of higher education keeps going up, then eventually
there’s not going to be enough money to help young people. So we’ve got to figure out
how to reduce college costs. And that’s why my administration
has released what we’re calling a “College Scorecard” that gives
parents and students the clear, concise information that you’ll
need to find a school that best fits your needs but also
gives you the best value. (applause) Gives you the best value. It’s like a consumer report
for colleges — because you don’t want a lemon, and you
don’t want too much debt. And going forward, colleges that
don’t do enough to keep costs down I think should get
less taxpayer support. We want to support the schools
that are doing a great job giving good value to students. That’s what we want. (applause) And, young people and families,
you shouldn’t have to subsidize skyrocketing costs if the
colleges aren’t trying hard enough to keep costs
down and provide a high-quality education. So I could not be prouder of
what’s happening here at Manor. That’s why I wanted to come. Last month, students in a
digital media class made a YouTube video describing why
this school was so special. Some students talked about how
they’re looking forward to being the first in their
family to go to college. Others talked about
learning new skills, taking on more responsibility. And one sophomore summed
it up nicely when she said, “This school is a lot
more than just a school. It’s a family. And it’s filled with people that
are going to care about you and are going to help you.” Manor, that’s what
every school should be. That’s what our
country should be — (applause) — caring for each other,
helping each another, being invested in
each other’s success. (applause) We’re not just a
collection of individuals, we’re one American family. And if we follow Manor’s example
— if we give every child the chance to climb new
ladders of opportunity; if we equip every American with
the skills and education they need to succeed in the
jobs of the future; if we make sure that
hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded;
and if we fight to keep America a place where you can
make it if you try, then you’re not just going
to be the ones who prosper, we’ll all prosper. And together, we’ll write
the next great chapter in America’s history. (applause) So thank you very
much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (applause)

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