A quality education is paramount, Obama said. He suggested that federal spending on education is one area where he would not compromise.
"What I'm not prepared to do is shortchange our children's education," Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Obama has spent much of the past two weeks contrasting a GOP proposal to cut spending, presumably including on education, with the billions of dollars he's investing to improve learning from kindergarten through college. That includes money for public schools, community colleges and to help make it cheaper and easier for families to afford higher education for their children.
This week, Obama announced a new public-private sector partnership to help match community college graduates and businesses with jobs to fill. The White House also held its first-ever summit on the state of community colleges.
In his weekly message, Obama acknowledged that the country faces tight fiscal times, but he said a good education is too important to the country's future prosperity to do it on the cheap.
"At a time when most of the new jobs being created will require some kind of higher education, when countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, giving our kids the best education is an economic imperative," he said.
Republicans devoted their weekly address to what the party says are Obama's broken promises on jobs, the economy and health care.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., touched on the high unemployment rate, holding at 9.6 percent, and criticized Democratic leaders for sending lawmakers home for the Nov. 2 congressional elections without voting on a series of expiring Bush-era tax cuts.
Obama wants to keep those tax cuts for families and individuals with incomes below $250,000 and impose higher tax rates on everyone else, including the wealthiest Americans. Republicans want to extend all the Bush tax cuts.
"The Obama tax hikes are yet another job killing burden that the American people and American employers cannot afford. Raising taxes on anyone in the middle of a recession is the worst thing we can do," Barrasso said, although the recession technically has ended.
"Our problem is not that we are taxed too little," Barrasso said. "The problem is that Washington spends too much."