"I think there are areas like education where some in my party have been too resistant to reform and have argued only money makes a difference. And there have been others on the Republican side or the conservative side who said, 'No matter how much money you spend, nothing makes a difference, so let's just blow up the public school systems.' And I think that both sides are going to have to acknowledge we're going to need more money for new science labs, to pay teachers more effectively, but we're also going to need more reform, which means that we've got to train teachers more effectively, bad teachers need to be fired after being given the opportunity to train effectively, that we should experiment with things like charter schools that are innovating in the classroom, that we should have high standards."
"I visited a school down in South Carolina that was built in the 1850s," Obama said.
The statement seemed to be a response to GOP lawmakers—and some Democrats—who say that the proposed stimulus package working its way through Congress pumps too much money into schools, without enough strings...
...Obama made it clear that he also considers federal funding of school construction to be a key economic stimulus and investment in the future, even though a huge chunk of the funding for school facilities is slated be stripped out of the Senate's bill as
part of an agreement forged by moderate lawmakers to win passage of the measure.
"Kids are still learning in that school, as best they can. ... It's right next to a railroad. And when the train runs by, the whole building shakes and the teacher has to stop teaching for a while. The auditorium is completely broken down; they can't use it. So why wouldn't we want to build state-of-the-art schools with science labs that are teaching our kids the skills they need for the 21st century, that will enhance our economy, and, by the way, right now, will create jobs?"