(CANBERRA, Australia) -- President Obama, meeting with high school students in Canberra, Australia to discuss the future of U.S. education, couldn’t escape Bieber Fever -- even Down Under.
One of the questions Obama took was from a student named Meg who wanted to know if Obama had “ever thought about teaming up with a high-profile celebrity such as Justin Bieber to appeal to more people?”
After some laughter, Obama replied, “I interact a lot with celebrities. They end up coming to the White House for a pet cause, or some of them were very supportive of me during my campaign. But generally speaking, hopefully if I’m going to be successful, it’s going to be because of the ideas I put forward and not because I’m hanging out with Justin Bieber. Although he is a very nice young man, and I’ll tell him you said hi.”
Obama has been asked about the pop star several times before and Bieber was a performer at the White House earlier this year at the annual Easter Egg roll. Perhaps most movingly, the White House contacted Bieber in May on behalf of a girl whose father was killed on 9/11.
The original purpose of Obama’s visit was to tell the students about his plans for the U.S. education system.
“How do we reform the system overall?” the president asked rhetorically. ”A lot of it starts with early childhood education. A lot of poor children don’t get the support that they need when they’re very young, so by the time they get to grammar school, they’re already behind.”
“So working with programs that are geared to young people -- or very young children, when they’re toddlers and infants, to give them a head start, that’s pretty important,” he said.
He also said increasing teachers’ salaries and training would help make for better teachers.
“The most important thing for every grade level is the quality of the teachers. So we’re spending a lot of time thinking about how do we train teachers more effectively, how do we pay them more so that they have fewer worries about supporting themselves and can really focus on the work that they do,” he said.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio