President Barack Obama stressed the importance of quality education in a speech Friday when he announced that any states willing to commit to higher standards of education can get a waiver from the No Child Left Behind law.

Obama said the measure, introduced by President George W. Bush in 2002, had “admirable” goals but that, in practice, “teachers are being forced to teach to a test,” and that important subjects like science and history have fallen by the wayside.

Obama also emphasized that improving and investing in America’s public schools is an important step to economic recovery. He promised that his jobs bill, should Congress pass it, would update 35,000 schools and put thousands of teachers back to work across the country. –BF

Bloomberg Businessweek:

President Barack Obama said improving the nation’s public schools is crucial to the U.S.’s economic recovery as he highlighted his decision to let states sidestep the No Child Left Behind law by raising education standards.

“Education is an essential part of this economic agenda,” the president said [Friday] in a weekly radio and Internet address that urged Congress to pass his $447 billion jobs plan that includes money for teachers and schools. “It is an undeniable fact that countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow. Businesses will hire wherever the highly skilled, highly trained workers are located.”

If the U.S. is “serious about building an economy that lasts” and strengthening the middle class, “we had better be serious about education,” Obama said. “We have to pick up our game and raise our standards.”

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