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Obama defends education spending plans

By the CNN Wire Staff
President Obama told students and faculty at TechBoston Academy that cutbacks would ultimately prove self-defeating.
President Obama told students and faculty at TechBoston Academy that cutbacks would ultimately prove self-defeating.
  • Obama warns that education cuts will undermine America's economic future
  • The president praises a Boston-area school for successfully implementing reforms
  • Obama has proposed a double-digit increase for education spending in fiscal year 2012

Dorchester, Massachusetts (CNN) -- President Barack Obama insisted Tuesday that education spending needs to be spared from the growing drive for fiscal austerity, telling an audience of students and teachers in Massachusetts that cutbacks would ultimately prove self-defeating.

"We need to come up with a budget that forces government to live within its means," Obama said. But we "cannot cut back on job-creating investments like education."

The president stressed the need for blending public education reform -- including greater accountability -- and higher spending.

"We have a moral and economic imperative to give every child a chance to succeed," he declared. "A budget that sacrifices our commitment to education is a budget that sacrifices our country's future."

Obama delivered his remarks at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester, a largely minority urban Boston neighborhood with traditionally higher unemployment and other economic woes. The academy, which opened in 2002 as a partnership between the public schools, private business and philanthropists, boasts a graduation rate roughly 20 percentage points higher than schools in the Boston area as a whole.

Ninety-four percent of students from TechBoston's most recent graduating class went on to college.

The president praised the school -- which has a longer academic year and strict academic requirements -- as a model for the rest of the country.

Obama's proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 includes an 11% hike in federal education spending, to more than $77 billion. A number of GOP congressional leaders are seeking to reduce federal spending on education, with many arguing it should be primarily a state and local concern.

Among other things, the administration has made a pledge to prepare an additional 100,000 science, technology, math and engineering teachers by the end of the decade. The White House also is pushing to make permanent the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which is worth up to $10,000 for four years of college.

Obama has also asked Congress for $900 million for a new round in the Race to the Top competition, which rewards states and localities that meet the administration's standards for educational innovation and outcomes.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report