In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said improving the U.S. education system is an "essential part" of rebuilding the U.S. economy.
"It is an undeniable fact that countries who out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow," the president said.
"But today, our students are sliding against their peers around the globe. Today, our kids trail too many other countries in math, science and reading. As many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. And we've fallen to 16th in the proportion of our young people with a college degree, even though we know that 60 percent of new jobs in the coming decade will require more than a high school diploma."
Obama tied the need to improve education to his American Jobs Act he is trying to get pushed through Congress.
"As a nation, we have an obligation to make sure that all children have the resources they need to learn -- quality schools, good teachers, the latest textbooks and the right technology," he said. "That's why the jobs bill I sent to Congress would put tens of thousands of teachers back to work across the country, and modernize at least 35,000 schools. And Congress should pass that bill right now."
Obama also argued for reform of the No Child Left Behind education standards.
"While the goals behind No Child Left Behind were admirable, experience has taught us that the law has some serious flaws that are hurting our children instead of helping them," he said.