Full Text Obama Presidency June 11, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech at Worcester Technical High School Commencement Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Worcester Technical High School Commencement Ceremony

Source: WH, 6-11-14 

Worcester Technical High School

Worcester, Massachusetts

4:44 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Please, everybody, be seated.  Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  It is great to be back in Massachusetts, and it is great to be here at Worcester Tech.  (Applause.)

I want to thank Reggie for that outstanding introduction.  (Applause.)  I want to thank Naomi for those inspiring words.  (Applause.)  I want to thank your outstanding, fabulous principal, Sheila Harrity, who has done so much to make this school a success.  (Applause.)  Let me just say, when you’re the National High School Principal of the Year, you’re doing something right.  There are a lot of principals out there, and we could not be prouder of what she’s doing.

I want to thank your Mayor, Joseph Petty; your outstanding Governor and a great friend of mine, Deval Patrick; wonderful Congressman, Jim McGovern.  (Applause.)  And most of all, I want to thank the class of 2014.  (Applause.)  Thank you for allowing me to be part of your special day.  And you all look great.  And I want to thank all the parents and all the grandparents, and the family and the friends — this is your day, too.  Part of the reason I’m here is because I’ve got to practice, because Malia is graduating in two years.  So I’m trying to get used to not choking up and crying and embarrassing her.  So this is sort of my trial run here.

I have to say, I do not remember my high school graduation speaker.  I have no idea who it was.  (Laughter.)  I’m sure I was thinking about the party after graduation.  (Applause.)  I don’t remember the party either.  (Laughter.)  I’m just telling the truth here.  You will remember the speaker at this graduation because there’s a lot of Secret Service around, not because of anything that I say that’s so inspiring.

But I know this day has been a long time coming.  Together, you made it through freshman initiation.  You survived Mr. O’Connor’s English class, which I understand is pretty tough.  (Applause.)  Everybody has got to have, like, a Mr. O’Connor in their life just to kind of straighten you out.  And now it’s the big day — although I notice that none of you are wearing your IDs.  Rumor has it some of you haven’t been wearing them for years.  (Laughter.)  Today I’m exercising my power as President and granting an official pardon for all of you who did not follow the rules there.  Consider it my graduation gift to you.

I know a lot of folks watching at home today will see all of you in your caps and your gowns and they’ll think, well, maybe this is just another class of graduates at another American high school.  But I’m here today because there is nothing ordinary about Worcester Tech or the Class of 2014.  (Applause.)  You have set yourselves apart.  This high school has set itself apart.

Over the past four years, some of you have learned how to take apart an engine and put it back together again.  Some of you have learned how to run a restaurant, or build a house, or fix a computer.  And all of you are graduating today not just with a great education, but with the skills that will let you start your careers and skills that will make America stronger.

Together, you’re an example of what’s possible when we stop just talking about giving young people opportunity, when we don’t just give lip service to helping you compete in the global economy and we actually start doing it.  That’s what’s happening right here in Worcester.  And that’s why I’m here today.  I mean, I like all of you, and I’m glad to be with you, but the thing I really want to do is make sure that what we’ve learned here at this high school we can lift up for the entire nation.  I want the nation to learn from Worcester Tech.  (Applause.)

Of course, your journey is just beginning.  Take a look around at all the smiles from the parents and the grandparents and all the family members.  Everything your families have done has been so that you could pursue your dreams, so that you could fulfill your potential.  Everybody here has a story of some sacrifice that’s been made on your behalf.  And whether you’re heading to college, or the military, or starting your career, you’re not going to be able to take them with you now.  Some of your moms and dads probably wish they could hang onto you a little bit longer.  Some of you, maybe they’re ready to get rid of you.  (Laughter.)  Regardless, though, you are now entering into a stage where it’s up to you.  And what you can do is remember some of the lessons that you’ve learned here and carry them with you, wherever you’re going.

And I want to talk about three of those lessons, a couple of which have already been mentioned by the previous speakers.

First of all, I want you to remember that each of us is only here because somebody somewhere invested in our success.  (Applause.)  Somebody invested in us.  I know that’s true for me.  I was raised by a single mom with the help of my grandparents.  We didn’t have a lot of money growing up.  At times, we struggled.  When my mom was going to school at the same time as she was raising my sister and me, we had to scrape to get by.

But we had a family who loved me and my sister.  And I had teachers who cared about me.  And ultimately, with the help of a community and a country that supported me, I was able to get a good education.  And I was able to get grants and student loans, and opportunities opened up.  And all of this happened because people saw something in me that I didn’t always see in myself.  And that’s not just true for me, that’s true for Michelle, who grew up the daughter of a blue-collar worker and a mom who stayed at home and then became a secretary — never went to college themselves.

That’s true for Duval, who grew up initially on the South Side of Chicago and didn’t have a lot, and somebody reached out and gave him a hand up.

It’s true of this city.  This is a town that’s always been home to smart people with big ideas.  The Mayor mentioned Robert Goddard, the father of the modern rocket.  He was born here, performed some of the earliest tests on rocketry.

But Worcester has also prepared its workers for the jobs that those big ideas would bring.  And that’s why they opened a technical school here more than a century ago — with a class of 29 ironworkers and 23 woodworkers.  And that school became Worcester Tech.

Along the way, the economy changed.  Innovation made it possible for businesses to do more with less.  The Internet meant they could do it anywhere.  Schools like this were finding it harder to prepare students with the skills that businesses were looking for.

And then a guy named Ted Coghlin came along.  (Applause.)  And Ted is known as the “godfather” of Worcester Tech, because about 10 years ago he set out to make this school what he knew it could be — a place where businesses train new workers, and young people get the keys to a brighter future.

And he put his heart and soul into it.  And eventually, that’s what happened.  Ted helped raise money for a new building — and the state and federal government chipped in, as well.  And businesses helped create everything from an auto service center to a bank right inside the school.  And top-notch teachers got on board — led by Principal Harrity and the assistant principals here, and an outstanding superintendent.  And before long, Worcester Tech was on its way to becoming one of the best schools in this city.

And today, so many students want to come to Worcester Tech that there’s a waiting list more than 400 names long.  (Applause.)  The number of students scoring “proficient” or “advanced” in math has gone up 100 percent; in English more than 200 percent.  (Applause.)  Ninety-five percent of students now graduate in four years.

And just as impressive, many of you are leaving here with more than a diploma.  You’re already certified as nursing assistants and EMTs and home health aides and preparing to become IT associates.  (Applause.)  And with the credits that you’ve earned, some of you are already on your way to a college diploma.  And as Ted said, “Our students deserve the best so we can help them become the best — for their future and ours.”

The point is, a lot of people made an investment in you.  I can’t imagine a better investment.  But as you experience your success and as you experience setbacks, you need to remember everything that’s been put into making sure that you had opportunity.  Which brings me to the second thing I hope you remember when you leave here:  You’re going to also have to give back.  (Applause.)  This community invested in you.  You’ve got to make sure that you use those gifts.

When my Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, came to Worcester Tech earlier this year, he said he had never seen a school more open.  If you live near the school, you can come in and get your car detailed for a fraction of what it would cost someplace else.  So I’m giving a little free advertising to the detailing operation here.  (Laughter.)  You can eat a meal cooked by students in the culinary arts program.  (Applause.)  One teacher called the hair salon the “city’s best kept secret.”  (Applause.)  Your veterinary clinic cares for about 250 pets a month, so I could have brought Bo and Sunny here.  (Laughter.)  You guys would have taken care of them.

So Worcester Tech isn’t separate from the broader community.  You’re a vital part of the community.  So part of what you’ve learned here is that we are at our best, we are strongest when we are working together and when we’re looking out for one another and we have responsibilities towards each other, and all of us have contributions to make.  You’re giving back to folks who gave you so much.  And whatever you do next, I hope you keep giving back.  That may mean staying in Worcester and working for one of the companies that helped train you.  If it means going to college or the military, or using your skills to help more students get the same opportunities that you’ve had here, no matter what it is that you do, no matter what path you take, I want to make sure that you understand the incredible leadership that we now expect from you.

I understand that every year at exam time, you hear from a motivational speaker.  And one of them this year was Colin Powell, because when you’re getting ready to take a test it never hurts to get a pep talk from a general.  (Laughter.)  But the best part is that you decide to do the same thing for younger kids.  So this class — those of you in the National Honor Society — rolled out the red carpet for students at nearby Chandler Elementary.  And so those younger kids left here feeling fired up, inspired by your example — looking up to you, imagining that they could do what you did.  And they’re going to keep on looking up to you.

And there are going to be people across the country who are watching you.  And when they see you succeed, when they see you working hard, when they see you overcoming setbacks — that’s going to inspire them as well.

And that brings me to my final point, which is I hope you leave here today believing that if you can make it, then there shouldn’t be any kid out here who can’t make it.  (Applause.)  Every child in America, no matter what they look like, or where they grow up, what their last name is — there’s so much talent out there.  And every single child — as Ted understood when he helped transform this school — every single child should have the opportunity like you have had to go as far as your talents and hard work will take you.  I’ve seen you do it, so we know it’s possible.

Now, it’s a challenging time.  I think sometimes I worry that your generation has grown up in a cynical time — in the aftermath of a Great Recession, in the aftermath of two wars.  We live in a culture that so often focuses on conflict and controversy and looks at the glass half empty instead of half full.  And you’re graduating at a time when you’ll no longer be competing just with people across town for good jobs, you’re going to be competing with the rest of the world.

But when I meet young people like you I am absolutely certain we are not just going to out-compete the rest of the world, we are going to win because of you.  Because we are Americans, that’s what we do.  We don’t settle.  We outwork.  We out-innovate.  We out-hustle the competition.  (Applause.)   And when we do, nobody can beat us.

And that’s what you’ve shown at this school — not just helping a few kids go as far as their hard work will take them.  I want all of you to be part of the process of helping all our young people achieve their God-given potential.  And as President, my job is to make sure every child in America gets that chance.  And Deval Patrick’s job is to make sure that everybody in the Commonwealth gets that chance.  And the Mayor, his focus is making sure everybody in this town gets that chance.  Every community is different.  But if Worcester can bring teachers and business and entire communities together for the sake of our young people, then other places can, too.

And that’s why I’ve challenged high schools all across the country to do what you’re doing here — better prepare students for the demands of the global economy.  We’re getting started this year with a competition that pairs schools and employers and colleges to combine quality education with real-world skills.

As part of that initiative, I launched something called ConnectED, working with the private sector to connect America’s students to high-speed broadband and advanced technology, just like you’ve got here at Worcester Tech.  Already, companies have committed to donate $2 billion to this effort.  And starting later this week, schools and teachers and students will be able to go to WhiteHouse.gov and access resources in time for the new school year — because I want to encourage more schools to do what you’re doing.  You’ve set a standard.  You’ve set a bar.  More schools can do it across the country.  (Applause.)

If you’re going to college, I also want to make sure that when you graduate you don’t have a mountain of debt.   (Applause.)  So we’re not only working to make college more affordable, we’re working to help more students pay back their loans that they take out when they go to college.  It is not fair to students who do everything right to get saddled with debt that they have to pay off not just for years, but in some cases decades.   We can do better than that.  (Applause.)

And even though they had votes and they couldn’t make it, I want to give a plug to a couple people.  Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congressman John Tierney, both from Massachusetts, who introduced bills that would make it easier for students to repay their student loans.  (Applause.)

It’s the same idea we used to make it easier for your parents to pay off their mortgages.  Now today, that idea was defeated by Republicans in Congress, which was frustrating, especially —

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, don’t boo.  Just remember to vote.   (Laughter and applause.)  So I know that it’s frustrating for parents.  It’s frustrating for students who are working hard and doing everything right.  There are too many politicians in Washington who don’t have the right priorities.  We need to straighten them out.  And maybe they forgot where they came from and who invested in them along the way.  (Applause.)  And when a bill to help you pay off your college doesn’t pass, it’s a disservice not only to your generation but to our history as a nation that strives to put quality education within the reach of every American.  So we’re going to have to keep on putting pressure on Congress.

But in the meantime, where Congress won’t act, I’m going to do whatever I can on my own.  (Applause.)  So on Monday, I announced executive actions that are going to help students like you find the right options — and give millions of Americans who are already making their loan payments a chance to cap those repayments at 10 percent of their income.  Because a quality education shouldn’t be something that other kids get — it should be something that every kid gets.  And that has to be a priority for this country.  (Applause.)

I tell you all this not just because you stand to benefit from changes in laws, but because you’re going to have to be a part of helping to shape the law.  You’re going to have to shape public opinion.  You’re going to have remember everybody who invested in you.  You’re going to have to remember the experience of being part of this incredible community.  And then, when you go out into the world, whether you are a businessperson, or you are in the military, or you are an academic, or a doctor, or whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re also going to be a citizen.  You’re also going to be somebody who has a voice in how this country operates.  And you’ve got to push so that others get the same chance you did.

And making sure that every young person has the same opportunities you’ve had — it won’t be easy.  Progress takes commitment.  It takes hard work.  We have to fight through the cynicism.  It’s going to take work from parents and from teachers, and members of the community and from students, but I know we can do it — and I know it because of you.

If Melinda Blanchard can get so good at welding that a bunch of college kids ask her help building a solar-paneled house for a competition in China, I know that we can get more young people excited about learning.  (Applause.)

If Greg Carlson can help the robotics team at Worcester Tech win the world championship — (applause) — and still find time to mentor a robotics team at the middle school where he started out, then I know we can help guarantee every child in America a quality education.

If Derek Murphy can start his own web development company — (applause) — and graduate with 18 college credits, I know we can help more students earn the skills that businesses are looking for.

You’re already doing it.  You’re already blazing a trail.  You’re already leading.  You’re already giving back.  You don’t need to remember what I said today, because you’re already doing it.

And if it can happen in Worcester, it can happen anyplace.  (Applause.)  And if it does — if more communities invest in young people like you, if you give back, if we all keep fighting to put opportunity within the reach of everybody who is willing to work for it — America will be stronger, your future will be brighter.  There is no limit to what we can do together.

So congratulations, Class of 2014.  You’re going to do big things.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
5:10 P.M. EDT

 

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University Musings February 16, 2014: Obama puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight

EDUCATION BUZZ

EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS

EDUCATION HEADLINES

Obama puts the humanities vs professional degrees debate back in the spotlight

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Obama needs to look back at President Kennedy’s idealism to recognize the importance of the arts
The debate of the importance of the humanities, liberal arts and social science university degree versus a professional degree, or a degree…READ MORE

Full Text February 7, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at 2012 White House Science Fair

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Hosts the White House Science Fair

Source: WH, 2-7-12

President Obama Speaks to Samantha Garvey

President Barack Obama hosts the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country. The President talked with Samantha Garvey, 18, of Bay Shore, N.Y., about her environmental sciences project examining the effect of physical environment and predators on a specific species of mussel, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 7, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama hosted the second-ever White House Science Fair, featuring research and inventions from more than 100 students representing 30 student teams. From robots in the Blue Room to rockets in the Red Room to marshmallow cannons in the State Dining Room, projects showcased the talents of America’s next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors, and innovators.

President Obama Speaks to Taylor Wilson
President Barack Obama hosts the second White House Science Fair celebrating the student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competitions from across the country, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 7, 2012. Taylor Wilson, 17, of Reno, Nevada conducted research on novel techniques for detecting nuclear threats and developed an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and highly sensitive system capable of detecting small quantities of nuclear material. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

After viewing some of the displays and talking with students about their work, the President addressed students, parents, and teachers in the East Room.

“When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future,” said President Obama. “That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my Administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects.”

The fact is, not enough students are studying subjects like science, math, and engineering to fill the jobs of tomorrow. A report released yesterday by the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology found that one million additional graduates with so-called STEM degrees (Science, Technology. Engineering and Math) are needed over the next decade to fill the growing number of jobs that require these skills.

The President announced several new initiatives to increase the number of students studying STEM subjects, and to prepare the 100,000 math and science teachers we need to teach our future engineers, inventors, and innovators, including:

  • A priority on undergraduate STEM education reform in the President’s upcoming budget, including a $100 million investment by the National Science Foundation to improve undergraduate STEM education practices.
  • A new K-16 education initiative jointly administered by Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to improve math education
  • Commitments from private sector groups and coalitions to do more to get students excited about STEM-related
  • New policies to recruit, support, retain and reward excellent STEM teachers, along with an $80 million investment in the President’s upcoming budget tohelp prepare effective STEM teachers.
  • A new $22 million investment from the philanthropic and private sector to complement the Administration’s teacher preparation efforts.

For more information:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

White House Science Fair

President Obama invites bright young people from across the country to show off their skills at the 2012 White House Science Fair.

President Barack Obama demos Joey Hudy's Extreme Marshmallow  Cannon

President Barack Obama demos Joey Hudy’s Extreme Marshmallow Cannon, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 2/7/12

Remarks by the President at the White House Science Fair

East Room

11:53 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you, everybody.  Everybody have a seat.

Well, welcome to the White House Science Fair.  (Applause.)  It is — I just spent some time checking out some of the projects that were brought here today, and I’ve got to say, this is fun.  It’s not every day that you have robots running all over your house.  (Laughter.)  I am trying to figure out how you got through the metal detectors.  I also shot a marshmallow through a air gun, which was very exciting.  (Laughter.)

Science is what got several of our guests where they are today, so I just want to make a couple of introductions.  We’ve got a real-life astronaut and the head of NASA, Charles Bolden, in the house.  (Applause.)  We have the Administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson is here.  (Applause.)  The Director of the National Science Foundation Subra Suresh is here.  (Applause.)  My science — there’s Subra, over here — my science advisor, John Holdren, is in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got a couple of people who’ve dedicated themselves to making science cool for young people.  We’ve got Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy.  (Applause.)

Now, it is fitting that this year’s fair is happening just two days after the Super Bowl.  I want to congratulate the New York Giants and all their fans.  (Applause.)  I just talked to Coach Coughlin; I’m looking forward to having the Giants here at the White House so we can celebrate their achievements.  But what I’ve also said — I’ve said this many times — is if we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement.  If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well.  (Applause.)

Now I’m going to talk about how great all of you are in a second.  But before I do, I want to give the parents a big round of applause because they work hard to help you succeed, and I know this is their day.  They’re really proud of you.  As a parent, I know that seeing your kids do extraordinary things brings the greatest happiness that a parent can have.  So congratulations to all the parents of all these incredible young people.  (Applause.)

But parents aren’t the only ones who helped you get this far.  Every one of you can think of a teacher, or maybe a couple of teachers, without whom you would not be here.  So I want you to promise that the next time you see those teachers, that you give them a big thank you, not just for yourselves but also from me.  Because teachers matter.  They deserve our support.  And I want to make sure that we are constantly lifting up how important teachers are to making sure that not only you succeed, but this country succeeds.  So give teachers a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Now, as I was walking around the science fair, I was thinking back to when I was your age.  And basically, you guys put me to shame.  (Laughter.)  What impresses me so much is not just how smart you are, but it’s the fact that you recognize you’ve got a responsibility to use your talents in service of something bigger than yourselves.

Some of you, that means developing new products that will change the way we live.  So Hayley Hoverter — where’s Hayley?  There she is, right over here — invented a new type of sugar packet that dissolves in hot water.  It’s flavorless, it’s colorless, and potentially could save up to 2 million pounds of trash each year — and that’s just at Starbucks.  (Laughter.)   So MasterCard has already awarded her $10,000 to help turn her idea into a business.

Some of you are here because you saw a problem in your community and you’re trying to do something to solve it.  Benjamin Hylak — where’s Benjamin?  There’s Benjamin right here — was worried that folks at his grandmother’s senior center were getting lonely.  So he built a robot with a monitor and a video camera, so it’s like a moving Skype.  And it moves around the center, and it allows seniors to talk to their kids and their grandkids, even when they can’t visit in person.  So inventions like Benjamin’s could make life better for millions of families.

For some of you, the journey you took to get here is just as inspiring as the work that you brought with you today.  There’s a rocketry team from Presidio, Texas — where’s my team here?  Where are you?  Stand up, guys.  Stand up.  This is part of the fourth-poorest school district in the state of Texas.  And I was told that teachers cooked food to sell after church, supporters drove 200 miles to pick up donuts for bake sales, they even raffled off a goat — (laughter) — is that right?  Just so they could raise enough money for the rocketry team to compete.  And the majority of the kids at the school are ESL, English as a second language.  And the presentation they made could not make you prouder.  So way to go.  (Applause.)

There’s a group of young engineers from Paul Robeson-Malcolm X Academy.  And nobody needs to tell them the kinds of challenges that Detroit still faces.  Where’s my team from Detroit?  In the house — there they are.  Stand up.  (Applause.)  They believe in their city, and they’re coming up with new ideas to keep Detroit’s comeback going.

And there’s Samantha Garvey — where’s Samantha?  Just saw Samantha.  There she is.  Stand up, Samantha.  (Applause.)  Samantha spent years studying mussel populations in the Long Island Sound.  And when she learned that she was a semifinalist for the Intel Science Talent Search, when she found this out her family was living in a homeless shelter.  So think about what she’s overcome.  She wants to, by the way, work maybe for NOAA or EPA.  So this is Dr. Lubchenco, she’s the head of NOAA.  (Laughter.)  Lisa Jackson, right there, head of EPA.  (Laughter.)  You might just want to hook up with them before you leave.  (Laughter and applause.)

The young people I met today, the young people behind me — you guys inspire me.  It’s young people like you that make me so confident that America’s best days are still to come.  When you work and study and excel at what you’re doing in math and science, when you compete in something like this, you’re not just trying to win a prize today.  You’re getting America in shape to win the future.  You’re making sure we have the best, smartest, most skilled workers in the world, so that the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root right here.  You’re making sure we’ll always be home to the most creative entrepreneurs, the most advanced science labs and universities.  You’re making sure America will win the race to the future.

So as an American, I’m proud of you.  As your President, I think we need to make sure your success stories are happening all across our country.

And that’s why when I took office, I called for an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, math, technology and engineering.  Let’s train more teachers.  Let’s get more kids studying these subjects.  Let’s make sure these fields get the respect and attention that they deserve.

But it’s not just a government effort.  I’m happy to say that the private sector has answered that call as well.  They understand how important it is to their future.  So today, led by the Carnegie Corporation, a group of businesses and foundations is announcing a $22 million fund to help train 100,000 new science and math teachers.  A coalition of more than 100 CEOs is expanding innovative math and science programs to 130 sites across the country.  And other companies are partnering from — everybody from Will.i.am to Dean Kamen — to make sure we celebrate young scientists and inventors and engineers, not just at the White House, but in every city and every town all across America.

And many of these leaders are here today, and I want to thank them for doing their part.  We’re going to do everything we can to partner to help you succeed in your projects.  And I’m proud to announce that the budget I unveil next week will include programs to help prepare new math and science teachers, and to meet an ambitious goal, which is 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering and math over the next 10 years.  That is a goal we can achieve.  (Applause.)  That’s a goal we can achieve.

Now, in a lot of ways, today is a celebration of the new.  But the belief that we belong on the cutting edge of innovation — that’s an idea as old as America itself.  I mean, we’re a nation of tinkerers and dreamers and believers in a better tomorrow.  You think about our Founding Fathers — they were all out there doing experiments — and folks like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, they were constantly curious about the world around them and trying to figure out how can we help shape that environment so that people’s lives are better.

It’s in our DNA.  We know that innovation has helped each generation pass down that basic American promise, which is no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, you can make it if you try.  So there’s nothing more important than keeping that promise alive for the next generation.  There’s no priority I have that’s higher than President — as President than this.

And I can’t think of a better way to spend a morning than with the young people who are here doing their part and creating some unbelievable stuff in the process.  So I’m proud of you.  I want you to keep up your good work.

I’m going to make a special plea to the press — not just the folks who are here, but also your editors — give this some attention.  I mean, this is the kind of stuff, what these young people are doing, that’s going to make a bigger difference in the life of our country over the long term than just about anything.  And it doesn’t belong just on the back pages of a newspaper; we’ve got to lift this up.  We’ve got to emphasize how important this is and recognize these incredible young people who are doing things that I couldn’t even imagine thinking about at 5th grade or 8th grade or in high school.

And so pay attention to this.  This is important.  This is what’s going to make a difference in this country over the long haul.  This is what inspires me and gets me up every day.  This is what we should be focusing on in our public debates.

And as for all the folks who are here, don’t let your robots wander off anywhere.  (Laughter.)   All right?

Thank you, everybody.  Appreciate it.  Congratulations.  (Applause.)

END
12:07 P.M. EST

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