President Barack Obama called on Congress Friday to increase investments in hi-tech education initiatives, like the Brooklyn high school from where he spoke.
"The question can't just be how much more we can cut," said Obama, who was joined by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio at the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, known as P-TECH.
"It should be how many more schools like P-TECH we can create," Obama said.
In his appearance at the 2-year-old high school, Obama revisited a theme of his State of the Union address this year.
In that speech, he cited cooperation between New York City public schools, the City University of New York and IBM that has allowed hundreds of P-TECH students to simultaneously earn high school diplomas and associate degrees in computers or engineering -- putting them in a better position to quickly get well-paying jobs.
About 100 students were enrolled in the Brooklyn school's inaugural class that began in September 2011. Officials said they expect that to grow to between 400 and 450 students by next fall.
"We need to give every American student opportunities like this," Obama had said in his State of the Union address.
On Friday, Obama said Cuomo is attempting to replicate the P-TECH model at schools around the state, and that other cities, such as Chicago, were following the same blueprint. Companies including Verizon and Microsoft also are considering similar public school collaborations, the president said."This is a ticket into the middle class, and it's available to everyone who is willing to work for it," Obama told the crowd of about 600 people at the campus. "That's what public education is supposed to do."
Obama said the federal government is working to connect 99 percent of American students to high-speed Internet at their schools within the next five years. But he said Congress needed to work with him to fund other educational investments.
He pitched closing corporate tax "loopholes" to raise the needed revenue. He said other countries were gaining ground in producing the educated workforce necessary for today's global economy.
"If you think education's expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs," Obama said, referring to the recent government shutdown, which he said took billions of dollars out of the economy. "Don't tell me we can afford to shut down the government and we can't afford to invest in our education systems."
In his 23-minute address, Obama also urged Congress to invest in more scientific research, roads and infrastructure, which he said would help create more middle class jobs.
Earlier, Obama quipped that Brooklyn, where he once lived, had exploded in popularity and vitality in the decades after he departed.
"When I was living here, Brooklyn was cool -- but not this cool," he said.
Also Friday night, Obama spoke at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser and was scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.
At the DCCC fundraiser at an Upper East Side residence, Obama contrasted the optimism he said he saw at P-TECH with the recent government shutdown, calling the partisan clash an "episode that stressed Washington's dysfunctions."