President Barack Obama told U.S. governors attending a luncheon Monday that they are cutting too much funding for education and need to make reforms while continuing to invest in the future of America’s students.

While acknowledging the tough economic climate for state governments, Obama cited the need to prioritize the long-range significance of a strong education system.

“We’ve all faced some stark choices over the past several years, but that is no excuse to lose sight of what matters most, and the fact is that too many states are making cuts to education that I believe are simply too big,” Obama told a White House gathering with the National Governors Association that included some of his harshest Republican critics.

“Nothing more clearly signals what you value as a state than the decisions you make about where to invest,” Obama said, “Budgets are about choices, so today I’m calling on all of you: invest more in education, invest more in our children and in our future.”

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