Obama extols education, middle-class strength in UCM speech

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WARRENSBURG, Mo. -- President Obama gave a speech focused on the economy at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg Wednesday afternoon. He touched on strengthening the middle-class in addition to bolstering education funding on a day where he also gave a speech in Galesburg, Illinois.

President Obama started the speech by talking about the gains that the economy had made, but was quick to say that there was still work to be done.

"We did this together, because Americans are gritty, resilient and work hard. We've been able to to clear away the rubble from the financial crisis," Obama said. "We can start building and economy where everyone who works hard can get ahead. We're not there yet."

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) gave a speech on the senate floor in response to Obama. He cited that a survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce showed a majority of small businesses still had plans to fire workers, which opposed Obama's more positive tone on the economy. He also cited a Gallup poll that claimed a majority of Americans said that the economy is still the biggest problem facing the United States.

Obama went on to speak about gains from immigration reform and the urgency of the impending budget passage. Education was the focus of the rest of the speech. Obama praised a education initiatives at both UCM and Lee's Summit Schools

Among his key points on education were:

  • More focus on early childhood education so children were equipped better for kindergarten
  • High speed Internet at all schools within five years.
  • More emphasis on math, science and technology for high school aged students so they may enter the work force with skills to meet new age demands.
  • Reform the cost of higher education, student loans and reform state funding for higher education

This was the first time a sitting president has spoken at UCM. The university did host President Bill Clinton long after his term expired in May of 2011. President Clinton received an honorary doctorate and spoke at the commencement for the School of Graduate and Extended Studies.

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