Here is the full text, as released, of President Obama's speechon the University of Texas at Austin campus on Monday, Aug. 9,2010. Actual delivery of the speech may have variations.
Hello Austin! Hello Longhorns! It’s wonderful to be back.I love this town. I remember paying you all a visit during thecampaign. I toured the stadium with Mack Brown. Got a photo withthe Heisman. Even rubbed the locker room’s longhorns for goodluck. Just saying, might’ve had something to do with how theelection turned out.
I also remember the first time I came to Austin on the campaign.It was just two weeks after I announced my candidacy, back inFebruary 2007. My hair wasn’t as gray then. And few folksthought I had much of a shot at the White House. A lot of peoplecouldn’t even pronounce my name.
Then I came to Austin. It was a drizzly day – the kind ofday that usually dampens turnout. But when I got to where the rallywas, over at Auditorium Shores, there was a huge crowd of around20,000 people – people of all ages, races, and walks oflife.
And as I said that day, I knew you weren’t there just forme. You were there because you were hungry for change. Because youbelieved in an America where all of us, no matter what we look likeor where we come from, can reach for our dreams, and make of ourlives what we will.
That’s what we’ve been fighting for over the pasteighteen months. I said we’d end the Iraq war as swiftly andresponsibly as possible – and that’s a promisewe’re keeping. I said we’d make health insurance moreaffordable and give you more control over your health care –and that’s a promise we’re keeping.
And I said we would build an economy that can compete in the21st century. An economy that puts the American people back towork. An economy that’s built around three simple words: Madein America. Because we are not a country that plays for secondplace. We are the United States of America, and we play forfirst.
The way to do that is to recognize that in today’s world,we are being pushed as never before. From Beijing to Bangalore,Seoul to San Paolo, new industries and innovations are flourishing.Our competition is growing fiercer. And while our ultimate successhas and always will depend on the industriousness of the Americanworker, the ingenuity of American businesses, and the power of ourmarkets, we also know that we, as a nation, must do what it takesto make sure America remains number one.
That’s why I’ve set some ambitious goals for thiscountry. I’ve called for doubling our exports within the nextfive years. Doubling our nation’s capacity to generaterenewable energy by 2012. And producing 8 million more collegegraduates by 2020 so we can have a higher share of graduates thanany other nation on earth.
In a single generation, we’ve fallen from first to twelfthin college graduation rates for young adults. That’sunacceptable, but not irreversible. We need to retake the lead. Ifwe’re serious about making sure America’s workers– and America itself – succeed in the 21st century, thesingle most important step we can take is to offer all our kids– here in Austin, here in Texas, and across this country– the best education the world has to offer.
Now, I know some folks argue that as we emerge from the worstrecession since the Great Depression, my administration shouldfocus solely on economic issues. But as I said the other week tothe National Urban League, education is an economic issue. It maybe the economic issue of our time. It’s an economic issuewhen the unemployment rate for folks who’ve never gone tocollege is almost double what it is for those who have. It’san economic issue when nearly eight in ten new jobs will requireworkforce training or a higher education by the end of this decade.It’s an economic issue when we know beyond a shadow of adoubt that countries that out-educate us today will out-compete ustomorrow.
So, we know how important an education is in the 21st century– it’s a prerequisite for prosperity. And in fact, weknow what we need to do to offer our kids the best educationpossible. Because we can’t afford to let our kids waste theirmost formative years, we need to set up an early learning fund tochallenge our states to make sure our kids are enteringkindergarten ready for success. Because we can’t acceptanything but the best in America’s classrooms, we’velaunched an initiative called Race to the Top. We’rechallenging states to strengthen their commitment to excellence; tooutstanding teaching and superior schools, to higher standards andbetter assessments. And we’re already seeing powerful resultsacross the country.
But we also know that in the coming decades, a person’ssuccess in life will depend more and more not on a high schooldiploma, but on a college degree, on workforce training, on ahigher education. And so, today, I’d like to talk about thehigher education strategy we’re pursuing not only to lead theworld once more in college graduation rates, but to make sure ourgraduates are
ready for a career; ready to meet the challenges of a21st century economy.
The first part of our strategy has been making college moreaffordable. I don’t have to tell you why this is so important– many of you are living each day with worries about howyou’re going to pay off your student loans. We all know why.Even as family incomes have essentially flat-lined over the pastthirty years, college costs have grown higher and higher. Over thepast decade, they’ve shot up faster than housing, faster thantransportation, even faster than health care costs. No wonder theamount student borrowers owe has risen almost 25 percent over thepast five years.
This isn’t some abstract policy matter to me; I understandit personally. Michelle and I had big loans to pay off when wegraduated – and I remember what that burden felt like.That’s why I’m absolutely committed to making sure thathere, in America, no one is denied a chance to go to college, noone is denied a chance to pursue their dreams, no one is denied achance to make the most of their lives because they can’tafford it. We are a better country than that, and we need to actlike it.
Now, part of the responsibility for controlling these costsfalls on our colleges and universities. And some of them arestepping up. Public institutions like the University of Marylandand the University of North Carolina, and private institutions likeCornell are finding ways to combat rising tuition withoutcompromising quality. But too many others aren’t doingenough, and I want to challenge them to get a handle on spiralingcosts.
So, yes, college and university administrators need to do moreto make college affordable. But we, as a nation, need to do more aswell. That’s why we fought so hard to win a battle that hasbeen raging in Washington for years, and that is, how best toadminister federal student loans. Under the old system, we’dpay banks and financial companies billions of dollars in subsidiesto act as middlemen – a deal that was very lucrative forthem, but wholly unnecessary and wasteful. And because thesespecial interests were so powerful, this boondoggle survived, yearafter year, Congress after Congress.
But this year, we said, enough is enough. We simply could notafford to continue subsidizing special interests to the tune ofbillions of dollars a year at the expense of taxpayers andstudents. So, we went to battle against the lobbyists and aminority party united in their support of an outrageous status quo.And we won.
As a result, instead of handing over $60 billion in unwarrantedsubsidies to big banks and financial institutions over the nextdecade, we’re redirecting that money to make college moreaffordable for nearly 8 million students and families and upgradeAmerica’s essential community college system.
We’re tripling how much we’re investing in thelargest college tax credit for our middle class families. Thanks toAustin’s own Congressman, Lloyd Doggett, it’s now worth$2,500 a year for two years of college. And we want to make itpermanent so it’s worth $10,000 over four years of college.Because the value of Pell Grants has fallen as the cost of collegehas risen, we’re not only raising the cap on how much PellGrants are worth by over $800, we’re offering more supportfor the future so its value doesn’t erode with inflation. Andwe’re also making loan repayments more manageable for overone million more students in the coming years, so students atUT-Austin, and across this country don’t graduate withmassive loan payments each month.
And by the way, we’re also making information more widelyavailable about college costs and completion rates so students andfamilies can make the best decisions about where to go. Andwe’re simplifying financial aid forms by eliminating dozensof unnecessary questions – because it shouldn’t take aPhD to apply for financial aid.
If you’re married, you no longer need to answer questionsabout how much money your parents have. If you’ve lived inthe same place for at least five years, you no longer need toanswer questions about your place of residency. And soon,you’ll no longer need to submit information you’vealready provided on your taxes. That’s part of the reasonwe’ve seen a 20 percent jump in financial aidapplications.
So, college affordability is the first part of the strategywe’re pursuing. The second part is making sure the educationthat’s being offered to our college students – and inparticular, our community college students – is preparingthem to graduate ready for a career. Institutions like theUniversity of Texas are essential to our future. But so, too areour community colleges – a great, under-appreciated assetthat we should value and support.
That’s why we’re upgrading our community colleges bytying the skills taught in our classrooms to the needs of localbusinesses in growing sectors of our economy, not only givingcompanies an assurance that the workers they hire will be up to thejob, and not only giving students their best chance to thrive andprosper,
but giving America its best chance to thrive and prosper.And that’s also why we’re reinvesting in our HBCUs andHispanic Serving Institutions – like Huston-Tillotson, andSt. Edwards.
The third part of our higher education strategy is making sureevery student completes their course of studies. Over a third ofAmerica’s college students, and over half our minoritystudents, don’t earn a degree, even after six years. So, wedon’t just need to open the doors of college to moreAmericans; we need to make sure they stick with it throughgraduation. Community colleges like Tennessee’s ClevelandState are redesigning remedial math courses, boosting not onlystudent achievement, but graduation rates. And we ought to make asignificant investment to help other states do the same.
Lifting graduation rates. Preparing our graduates to succeed inthis economy. Making college affordable. That’s howwe’ll put a higher education within reach for anyone whowants it. That’s how we’ll reach our goal of once againleading the world in college graduation rates by the end of thisdecade. That’s how we’ll lead the global economy inthis century, as we did in the last.
At each and every juncture throughout our history, we’verecognized that essential truth – that the way to moveforward, in our own lives, and as a nation, is to put educationfirst. It’s what led Thomas Jefferson to leave as his legacynot only a Declaration of Independence, but a university inVirginia. It’s what led a nation torn apart by civil war toset aside acreage for the land-grant institutions to preparefarmers and factory workers to seize the promise of an industrialage. It’s what led our parents and grandparents to put ageneration of returning GIs through college, and open the doors ofour schools and universities to people of all races, broadeningopportunity, growing our middle class, and producing a half centuryof prosperity.
And that recognition – that here, in this country,education and opportunity go hand in hand – is what led thefirst President of the University of Texas to say, as he dedicatedthe cornerstone of the original Main Building:
“Smite the rocks with the rod of knowledge, and fountainsof unstinted wealth will gush forth.”
That’s the promise at the heart of UT-Austin, at the heartof our colleges and universities, and at the heart of our country– the promise of a better life, the promise that our childrenwill climb higher than we did. That promise, I suspect, is why somany of you sought out a college degree in the first place; why somany of your families scrimped and saved to pay for youreducation.
And I know that as we make our way through this economic storm,some of you may be worried about what your college degree will beworth when you graduate; about how you’ll fare in thiseconomy; about what the future holds. But here’s what I wantyou to know. When I look out at all of you – when I look intothe faces of America’s young men and women – I seeAmerica’s future, and it reaffirms my sense of hope. Itreaffirms my sense of possibility. It reaffirms my belief that wewill emerge from this storm and find brighter days ahead.
Because I’m absolutely confident that if you keep pouringyourselves into your own education; and if we, as a nation, offerall our children the best education possible from the cradlethrough a career; then not only will America’s workerscompete and succeed, and not only will America compete and succeed,but we’ll complete the improbable journey that so many of youtook up over three years ago, and build an America where each ofus, no matter what we look like or where we come from, can reachfor our dreams and make of our lives what we will. Thank you, Godbless you, and may God bless the United States of America.
Late Saturday night into early Sunday morning, a light band of freezing drizzle traversed the I-35 corridor eastward. With sub-freezing temperatures, even the light precipitation created major problems.
A 10-year-old was killed while standing outside a vehicle after the child's family was involved in a fender bender, DPS said.
Austin Police confirm they have located an 82-year-old women who went missing last night.
APD is responding to a 25 vehicle accident near the 5400 block of Ed Bluestein near Thurgood Ave.
A man is dead after being hit by several vehicles in the eastbound lane of Highway 71 Saturday night.
A representative at the Fayette County Sheriff's office said that Fayette County is effectively shut down due to icy conditions.