Obama starts Austin visit at Manor New Technology High School, promises executive orders

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President Barack Obama visited Manor New Technology High School today, kicking off his Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour.

Obama touched on the need to update America’s current high school system, the pressure to find affordable higher education and his plans to make more jobs available. He said he would make several executive orders today to help make that possible.

“Where I can I’m just going to take action on my own, like the actions I’m taking today that I am convinced will spur innovation and create more jobs,” Obama said. “We know what's possible when American are working together. When parents and teachers and business owners are working together, and that’s what we’re seeing here in Austin. We’re seeing people working together.”

Obama said he will focus on making America a magnet for jobs by helping develop the work skills needed for those jobs.

Obama said in the last three years in Austin, businesses have created 85,000 new jobs, including Apple, Visa and General Motors. He said the tech sector drives more than a quarter of the city’s economy.

“I’ve always believed the best ideas 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 being done,” Obama said. “Our economy can’t succeed unless our young people have the skills that they need to succeed and that’s what’s happening here at Manor New Tech.”

The high school accepts student applicants interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through a blind lottery, and implements project-based learning.

“We've got to start rethinking and redesigning America’s high schools,” Obama said. “That’s what is happening here, innovation that equips graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy, with hands-on learning. People aren’t just sitting at a desk reading. Young people doing not just listening.”

Obama said many of the aspects that make the high school different from most, including the student projects and learning environment, should be staples in every American high school.

“There is a reason why teachers and principals from all across the country are coming to see what you’re up to,” Obama said. “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.”

Obama said because of the struggle to afford higher education after high school, he began a college scorecard rating for colleges and universities to help students find the best value. 

“In recent years college costs have skyrocketed and that left too many students and their families saddled with mountains of debt,” Obama said. “We’ve worked to make college more affordable for students already. [We’ve] released the college scorecard to give parents and students the clear and concise information you’ll need to meet your needs but also gives you the best value.”

Clarification: This blog post has been updated to reflect the 85,000 jobs added in the last three years were in Austin.