President Obama joked and took questions from teachers at Cascade High School before his upcoming speech in Dubuque, Iowa, per the White House pool report.
“I just wanted to say that first of all, I’ve been seeing a whole bunch of kids as I’ve been traveling around the state. They’re really enthusiastic that the summer’s over,” Obama said jokingly. "The main thing I wanted to do is just say thank you. ... I know how tough it is to be a teacher."
Obama took a question about No Child Left Behind and discussed his own education bill, which he said had stalled in Congress.
The first question came from Judy Callahan, a special education teacher, who asked about No Child Left Behind. Obama said his administration has been working to pass a new elementary and secondary education bill, but Congress “shockingly” hasn’t passed it.
The thinking with a new education bill “is to maintain the best spirit of No Child Left Behind … but we also want greater flexibility,” he said, before launching into a discussion of his administration’s NCLB waiver program.
Obama said he knew Iowa hadn’t gotten a waiver yet and asked the superintendent -- also in the room -- for details.
“This is a competitive world,” Obama said. “Businesses are going to be located based on how good the workforce is.”