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President Obama visits Pathways in Technology Early College High

Nayaba Arinde | 10/31/2013, 12:51 p.m.
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His plan as he enters the second year of his second term, Obama suggested, “is having the federal agencies moving forward on a plan to connect 99 percent of America’s students to high-speed Internet within five years.”

Congress needs to get an interest in “passing a budget that reflects our need to invest in our young people,” said Obama. “What a budget does is it sets our priorities. If we don’t set the right priorities now, then many of you will be put at a competitive disadvantage compared to other countries.

“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs.” The audience applauded. “So we’ve got to invest.

We need a budget that is responsible, that is fiscally prudent, but a budget that cuts what we don’t need, closes wasteful tax loopholes that don’t create jobs, freeing up resources to invest in the things that actually do help us grow—things like education and scientific research, and infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports. This should not be an ideological exercise, we should use some common sense.”

He praised as a great example 11th-grader Leslieanne John, 16, who sang the national anthem, and has “already taken eight college classes, which is about as many as I took when I was in college. She knows she has a great opportunity here; she’s working hard to make the most of it. Eventually, she plans to become a lawyer. And Leslieanne is clear-eyed about the challenges that the students here face.

“She said, ‘We see a whole bunch of craziness going on in the streets of Crown Heights sometime.’ But being here at P-TECH taught her something important: There’s more for us than just the streets … At the end of the day, we’ve got to make something of ourselves.”

He urged a sense of responsibility and working harder than hard so that “you can go to college even if you don’t have a lot of money. You can start your own business even if you didn’t inherit a business. Making something of ourselves, that’s what we do in this country. That’s a message worth sending to Washington. No more games, no more gridlock, no more gutting the things that help America grow, and give people the tools to make something of themselves. That’s what this is about. That’s what P-TECH represents, that’s what Brooklyn represents.”

At P-TECH, nine to 14 students can earn a six-year education and graduate with an associate college degree in engineering and computers, as well as with job prospects at IBM.

Leslieanne John, 16, sang the national anthem when President Barack Obama visited her P-Tech High School on Friday

Radcliffe Saddler, 16, told the AmNews. “I am introducing the president to the stage, so I am a nervous, but I am excited too.” After giving him a bro hug on stage, Obama sang his praises.

Asafa Reid is a third-year Howard College-bound student. He sat on the dais behind the president. “I feel very inspired, “he told the AmNews. “I am going to try and do better. Try for greatness and really excel in my work.”

Asafa Reid’s mother, Tracey, could not keep still. She was beaming. “I feel like I am in the clouds!” she said with a giggle. “Inspirational. The whole thing was really motivational. I was just glad to be able to shake the president’s hand. It is one of the greatest moments in my life. It will inspire my son to get even greater scores in his college courses.”

John not only sang the national anthem, but the president also referenced her as a fine example of a P-TECH student too. She told the AmNews that she enjoyed her school because of “the opportunities we are afforded. The faculty and staff are so caring. The principal is like a second father to me, and at 16, I have 21 college credits.”