PHILADELPHIA Nov 8 U.S. President Barack Obama
visited a Philadelphia pre-school on Tuesday to make his case
for education reform in a state that could be important to his
re-election prospects next year.
On a trip to the 2012 battleground state of Pennsylvania,
Obama unveiled new standards for Head Start, an early childhood
education program that aims to better prepare poor children to
He said education centers would be regularly evaluated
against "clear, high standards" and lower-performing programs
would have to compete for federal funding rather than
automatically receiving it.
"I firmly believe that Head Start is an outstanding program
and a critical investment," Obama told a few hundred people in
a school gymnasium, saying kids participating in the program
were less likely to repeat a grade and more likely to graduate
from high school.
With the United States now competing against China, South
Korea and European countries for companies as well as jobs,
Obama said it was important to do all possible to help the next
generation of U.S. workers.
"Right out of the gate it helps prepare our kids for a
competition that has never been tougher, a competition for good
middle-class well-paying jobs," he said of Head Start. "We know
that raising the bar isn't always an easy thing to do but it's
the right thing to do."
The change is part of a series of executive actions Obama
is rolling out under his "we can't wait" campaign. He said
education reform should not be delayed because of congressional
wrangling, calling it "an economic imperative."
By taking actions on the economy and domestic issues that
do not require congressional approval, Obama wants to pressure
Republican lawmakers because of their resistance to his $447
billion jobs package.
Obama and Republicans have been sparring over funding for
Head Start, with the White House seeking to shield it from