Obama visits Brooklyn school, praises NY for education reform

President Obama delivering his speech at Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
President Obama delivering his speech at Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Credit: William Alatriste

A helicopter carrying President Barack Obama touched down in Prospect Park Friday afternoon, as local Brooklyn politicians and educators gathered at Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights in anticipation of his visit.

P-TECH is what’s called a 9-14 school, a public high school where students take high school and college-level classes and graduate after six years with both a high school degree and a diploma. Though the school is only in its third year and has not yet had a graduating class, the president referenced the school is his State of the Union speech this year as a model other education systems around the country should follow.

In his speech at the school, the president commended Governor Andrew Cuomo multiple times for opening schools like P-TECH statewide, and hailed Bloomberg as having been “an extraordinary mayor for this city.”

He also gave a shout-out to the city’s Democratic candidate for mayor, who he referred to as “my friend, Bill de Blasio.”

The apparently enthralled crowd remained standing for a several minutes, until the president realized they had chairs, and urged people to sit.

“Unless you don’t have a chair, because then you’ll fall,” he joked.

Obama seemed quite taken with P-TECH’s principal Rashid Davis for his “cool” dreadlocks and “yellow kicks.”

A math teacher at the school, Brian Lewis, later said the mention of Davis’ sneakers cracked the school’s staff up.

“I thought it was hilarious because we always laugh about those sneakers,” Lewis said. “I was surprised to see him wearing them today.”

Obama also joked about how “cool” Brooklyn is, noting that it was cool back when he lived near Prospect Park — where he landed his helicopter today — and is even cooler now.

But he also spoke of the borough as a place “where generations of immigrants came in search of opportunity.”

“I want us to do everything we can to give every single young person the same opportunity this country gave me,” he said, insisting repeated that “this country should be doing everything in our power” to get more students into schools like this one.

But Obama got some jabs at Congress in as well.

“Just sat in on a lesson called Real World Math, makes me wonder if it’s too late to send Congress here,” the president wisecracked.

He later asked Senator Chuck Schumer to bring House Republicans to the school on a field trip.

Since the president mentioned P-TECH in his State of the Union speech, schools like P-TECH have been popping up around the city, state and throughout the country. Bloomberg noted in a short speech before the president’s arrival that the city opened two more schools with the same model as P-TECH this year, just last month, and three more are set to open next September.

“Since President Obama wisely challenged the country last January to create more schools just like P-TECH, we’ve helped lead the way,” Bloomberg said.

Obama agreed, praising New York for ground-breaking progress in education, noting that schools like P-TECH are being opened in Chicago now as well.

“You’re starting something, all across the country,” Obama said to the students and staff of P-TECH.

“It’s not easy,” he added. “[But] you should stay at it.”

Third-year P-TECH student Guy Burnham, 16, said the president’s speech left him feeling “highly motivated.” A Crown Heights resident himself, Guy said he wants to be a mechanical engineer.

“For the president to come to my school, and say such great things about my school,” Guy said, emphasizing the “my.” “It just motivated me to the highest level.”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.