Obama rebuts criticism he’s an education ‘snob’

Santorum defends non-degree work

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President Obama used his speech Monday to the National Governors Association to again make the case for more spending, not less, on education — and to take a swipe at former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has called Mr. Obama a “snob” for suggesting that all American children should attend college.

Even though Mr. Obama didn’t mention Mr. Santorum by name, the comments were clearly aimed at the Republican presidential contender’s derision of the president’s higher-education goals.

“When I speak about higher education, we’re not just talking about a four-year degree,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re talking about somebody going to a community college and getting trained for that manufacturing job that now is requiring somebody walking through the door handling a million-dollar piece of equipment.”

“They can’t go in there unless they’ve got some basic training beyond what they received in high school,” he added.

While campaigning in Detroit over the weekend, Mr. Santorum, arguing that plenty of Americans work hard and contribute to society without earning a degree, criticized the president for calling for all students to have at least some post-secondary training.

“President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob,” the former Pennsylvania senator said. “There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor to try to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.”

During his speech Monday, Mr. Obama said he wants to make higher education — whether it be a full four-year college or a certificate in a technical program — more accessible to Americans from all economic levels.

“We’re talking about somebody going to a community college and getting trained for that manufacturing job that now is requiring somebody walking through the door handling a million-dollar piece of equipment,” he said. “And they can’t go in there unless they’ve got some basic training beyond what they received in high school. We all want Americans getting those jobs in the future, so we’re going to have to make sure they’re getting the education they need.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney also pushed back during a briefing with reporters Monday.

“I don’t think any parent in America who has a child would think it’s snobbery to hope for that child the best possible education in the future and that includes college,” he said.

Mr. Obama was pitching his education plan at the annual governors meeting in Washington in an attempt to win support for his policies, including the White House’s No Child Left Behind waiver program, which gives states the right to apply for exemptions from many of the most stringent requirements of the Bush administration’s education law.

Ten states have been granted waivers and New Mexico has applied for one.

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