the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the President at Opening of Roundtable with Educators

Guilford Technical Community College
Jamestown, North Carolina

10:01 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hope you're enjoying the beautiful North Carolina day. We are here to talk to both teachers and soon-to-be teachers and folks who are training teachers, and talking about the importance of education to the economy.

I think all of us are aware at this point that, in this 21st century global economy, how well we do as a country is going to depend on how well we train our young people. And it starts early. So we're at a terrific early childhood education program here at the community college where people who are interested in training very young children are getting the skills that they need. But we've also got a couple of teachers -- one in 4th grade, one in 9th grade.

And so one of the concerns that I've had over the course of the last several months -- in fact, the last couple of years -- are the layoffs that we've seen in education and the cutbacks we've seen in education all across the country. States and local governments are under a big crunch. And at precisely the time when we need to be emphasizing education and putting our resources into education, we're seeing cutbacks all across the board. Teachers are losing their jobs. Schools are having to cut back on vital programs that are helping young people.

And the American Jobs Act, the bill that I put before Congress, would help to curb some of those trends. What we do is to provide $30 billion to make sure that we've got teachers back in the classrooms, to make sure that we're not seeing additional teacher layoffs; that wonderful programs such as the ones that are taking place here are properly and adequately funded; and to make sure that, at the same time, we're also rebuilding some of the schools around the country that are in a bad state of repair and where young people aren’t getting the kind of support that they need in order to achieve.

So I'm going to spend a little time having a conversation here with the teachers and soon-to-be teachers. They're going to talk about their experiences, what's working, what they're excited about, but also the concerns that they've seen in terms of cutbacks in education.

And I hope that members of Congress are going to be doing a little bit of listening to teachers and educators. We have a tendency to say great things about how important education is in the abstract, but we don't always put our money where our mouth is. And it's absolutely critical right now to make sure that we don't see the kinds of cutbacks that we've been seeing. If that becomes a long-term trend we're going to fall behind countries like China, Korea, Germany, that are continually making significant investments in teachers.

So I want to thank all of you guys for taking the time to join me. I very much appreciate what you're doing.

END
10:05 A.M. EDT