WASHINGTON (CBS WASHINGTON) — In an interview addressing the education issues facing the country’s education issues, President Obama managed to criticize both his Republican adversary’s reform ideas and his own student work ethic.

The president couldn’t join the live Education Nation discussion at New York Public Library Tuesday, but did a pre-recorded interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

Obama stated that Democrats can’t just sit on the status quo and say that money is the only issue – reform is also very important to the party.

“We’ve got poor kids and some kids who have deep troubles at home, but there’s no doubt that we can step up our game,” Obama said. “And this is a big argument and a big difference that I’ve got with Governor [Mitt] Romney in this election, because they talk a good game about reform, but when you actually look at their budgets, they are talking about slashing our investment in education by 20 percent, 25 percent.”

He went on to say that too many people defer to “teacher bashing” instead of having serious, non-partisan discussions of America’s education system.

Guthrie listed data that pointed to the US’s poor worldwide rankings: 25th in math, 14th in reading, and 17th in science despite spending per pupil being as good as the best countries in the world.

She concluded by asking the president how his own past student work ethic could compare to that of his two daughters. He called himself a “mediocre student” and a goof-off. He went on to admit that he “only studied night before exams” when he was his daughters’ age.

Obama also discussed college tuition and joked about students’ low expectations for college dining when he was a student. Reports say that the cost of a college degree in America has risen 1,120 percent in the last three decades.


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