US in Fight for Future with India, China, says Obama

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Oct 6 (IANS) Saying that the United States was in a fight for the future with countries like India and China, President Barack Obama has taken strong exception to opposition Republican move to slash the education budget.

He strongly disagreed "with the economic plan that was released last week by the Republican leaders in Congress, which would actually cut education by 20 percent," he said Tuesday addressing the White House Summit on Community Colleges, attended by educators, business leaders and officials.

It would reduce or eliminate financial aid for 8 million college students, said Obama. "Think about it. China isn't slashing education by 20 percent right now. India is not slashing education by 20 percent."

"We are in a fight for the future-a fight that depends on education," said Obama. "And cutting aid for 8 million students, or scaling back our community-our commitment to community colleges, that's like unilaterally disarming our troops right as they head to the frontlines," he said.

Noting that the US has fallen from first to ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees, Obama said: "As far as I'm concerned, America does not play for second place, and we certainly don't play for ninth."

"So I've set a goal: By 2020, America will once again lead the world in producing college graduates. And I believe community colleges will play a huge part in meeting this goal, by producing an additional 5 million degrees and certificates in the next 10 years."

The Republican plan instaed would help pay for a $700 billion tax cut that only 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans would ever see-an average of $100,000 for every millionaire and billionaire in the country, said Obama. "And that just doesn't make sense-not for students, not for our economy."

Describing community colleges as the "unsung heroes" of the nation's education system that "provide a gateway to millions of Americans to good jobs and a better life," he announced that the Gates Foundation is starting a new five-year initiative to raise community college graduation rates.

"This is critically important because more than half of those who enter community colleges fail to either earn a two-year degree or transfer to a earn a four-year degree."


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