Sen. Barack Obama promised to improve the education system Saturday when he brought his presidential campaign to the East Los Angeles school immortalized in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver.”
The Democrat spoke to about 200 students, teachers and others at Garfield High School, one of the social and cultural touchstones of the city’s largely Hispanic, working-class East Side.
Obama stressed the importance of early childhood education and called for more money for schools, adding that educating students should be the work of the entire community.
“It’s time to stand up and deliver for America’s urban poor,” Obama said.
He expressed concern about high dropout rates among Latinos and blacks, saying the U.S. needs educated workers to keep its economy strong.
If “black and brown students are dropping out of school … our work force is not going to be competitive in the world,” he said.
He also urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign the Dream Act, a bill that would make illegal immigrant students who graduate from high school eligible for college aid. Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar measure last year.
The legislation would make sure “more students can see that a college education isn’t a faraway dream,” Obama said.
Obama returned to California after a brief visit to Nevada, where he told an audience that his opponents could not accuse him of flip-flopping on support for the Iraq war because he never supported it.
He revisited that theme Saturday at Garfield High, drawing enthusiastic applause when he said his first act as president would be to call a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and tell them, “You’ve got a new mission and that’s to get our troops out of Iraq.”
Obama, the son of a black father and white mother, joked about recent claims by Lynne Cheney that he and Vice President Dick Cheney are distant relatives.
“We’ve been trying to keep that hidden,” he said to cheers and laughter. “He’s the black sheep of the family.”
Obama visited Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer’s Malibu mansion Saturday morning for a fundraiser whose sponsors included actresses Alfre Woodard and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
The film “Stand and Deliver” chronicled a math teacher’s real-life success in teaching calculus to the school’s diverse student body.
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