Monday, September 7, 2009

Read Obama's speech to schoolchildren

On Monday, the White House posted the text of the speech President Obama is expected to deliver to students in Virginia on Tuesday. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The speech — which has proved controversial, with several conservative organizations and individuals accusing Obama of trying to pitch his arguments too aggressively in a local-education setting — will be broadcast live at noon Tuesday on C-SPAN and on the White House Web site.

The White House has also enlisted NASCAR stars to help promote the speech. See the video here:



Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

29 comments:

I love children. said...

OMG, that's evil stuff there! We must remove our children from schools! Won't someone think of the children?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, even scarier than I thought it would be!

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr. President! Parents taking their children out of school should be ashamed of themselves.

Anonymous said...

Our President--get used to it. Respect the man and respect the office. He is here to straighten out this country. There are some people who hate him. They say that he's a socialist or that he's a fascist, but they have no basis. The real reason they hate him is because he is not like them and he represents all people, including people who are not like them.

Anonymous said...

The people who are pulling their kids out of school for this should be ashamed of themselves. They need to read this speech and reflect upon the "real" reasons that they hate Barak Obama and then perhaps explain to their children why they hate him so much.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the "haters" out there can read this speech and explain how is helps to advance the socio-fascist doctrine of Obama and his "czars". Who the hell are his "czars" anyway? I haven't figured that one out yet. Hasn't he just appointed members of his executive branch just like any president.

Larry said...

If you think people are concerned about what he is saying in this first speech then you are missing the point.

The fact is, once you establish the precedent, he then has the right to speak to children any time he sees fit, and about any subject he see fit in the future.

In fact he could empower others to speak directly to the students and all of this would be regardless of what the parents wishes were.

What right would the schools and you have to dispute future broadcasts?

So if you are appeased with the text of his first speech that is great. Just remember the parents are fighting for their basic rights to be the center of their children's education needs and direction.

Funny how when your rights as parents are taken by the State they make you feel like you are unpatriotic, or the one that is really popular to stop any discussion in this country, racist.

Until we get real dialogue about ALL our hidden agendas out in this country, we will never really move forward.

First we need to stop those groups who make billions off of keeping racism the front burner issue, and start working on the real problems in this country of education and lack of a family core. Also dependence or a vocation of living off of government resources should be a major part of working out the many problems.

Funny how the media just looks under every rock to find a racist story. I wish I could write for the Observer for a year. I would do it for free. what do you say Observer, why not get the REAL agendas out in the open?

Anonymous said...

Let them keep their children home and they can all wallow in their ignorance.

Anonymous said...

Yet the same parents who object to Obama would have no trouble with some illiterate goon from the Panthers, or the Bobcats, come to their school and say something akin to, "Yo, yo, yo, word, lil' peeps. This how it is, you know what I'm saying, word, be cool and like, stay in school an' shit. Peace out, word."

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is his first speech, blah, blah, blah. Maybe his next speech will be to encourage black guys to date your white daughters. And then the next one will be about giving reparations to all black people. And then the next one will be to let Mexicans have a free education at Harvard. And the next one will be to drill it into your head how evil rich white people are. And the next speech... yeah Larry, this is scary stuff and it doesn't have a thing to do with race in America.

Larry said...

"Perhaps the "haters" out there can read this speech and explain how is helps to advance the socio-fascist doctrine of Obama and his "czars". Who the hell are his "czars" anyway? I haven't figured that one out yet. Hasn't he just appointed members of his executive branch just like any president."

Members of his Cabinet have to be approved by the congress.

These are people who he wants to give special power to.

If you think just because they can issue reports and direct the government employees with approval from the White House is not that important, then what do you do when you get a letter from the IRS?

Anonymous said...

We endured 8 years of Bush. I have a friend who criticized Bush on a talk radio show and the Secret Service was knocking on his door and interrogating him less than an hour later. I didn't hear any of the people like Larry whining when our constitutional rights were being abrogated one by one under the Bush administration. We "liberals" sucked it up for 8 years when we really should have had a revolution. But we had a peaceful revolution and it is a new day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe ought to appoint Bill Clinton as a czar. Y'all hated him, too. Of course, the best 8 years in the history of the country despite your efforts to tear him down the whole time he was in office. All of you "haters" are simply shills for the insurance industry and other powerful interests who continue to screw you over and make you believe they love you.

Larry said...

"We endured 8 years of Bush. I have a friend who criticized Bush on a talk radio show and the Secret Service was knocking on his door and interrogating him less than an hour later. I didn't hear any of the people like Larry whining when our constitutional rights were being abrogated one by one under the Bush administration. We "liberals" sucked it up for 8 years when we really should have had a revolution. But we had a peaceful revolution and it is a new day."

Give me details and I will use what happened to that person to show the Government is misusing their power.

But if we are going to start making up horror stories, then maybe we should say it the lighting flashed as the clock stuck midnight. Bush was standing in the shadows of the trees.... see how much better it sounds?

Larry said...

"Yeah, maybe ought to appoint Bill Clinton as a czar. Y'all hated him, too. Of course, the best 8 years in the history of the country despite your efforts to tear him down the whole time he was in office. All of you "haters" are simply shills for the insurance industry and other powerful interests who continue to screw you over and make you believe they love you."

Are you angry at the insurance industry which employs millions in this country or what? Hey I will bet the majority of you do not realize that your 401K and IRA's are heavy into the medical field.

So when you get angry at the oil and medical industry then remember mainly educational and non-profits are the owners of these stocks along with the average mom and pop.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you apparently spend an inordinate amount of your time thinking up conspiracy theories and being angry at everybody. Your delusional paranoia is getting the best of you. But you love being miserable and want to make everyone else miserable too. Keep your kids home tomorrow and drag them down with you.

Human Remains said...

"We endured 8 years of Bush. I have a friend who criticized Bush on a talk radio show and the Secret Service was knocking on his door and interrogating him less than an hour later. I didn't hear any of the people like Larry whining when our constitutional rights were being abrogated one by one under the Bush administration. We "liberals" sucked it up for 8 years when we really should have had a revolution. But we had a peaceful revolution and it is a new day."

Give me details and I will use what happened to that person to show the Government is misusing their power.

But if we are going to start making up horror stories, then maybe we should say it the lighting flashed as the clock stuck midnight. Bush was standing in the shadows of the trees.... see how much better it sounds?"

Yes, because creating a horrifying vision for the future with no platform or evidence is a lot better. When we start thinking in outlandish hypotheticals, I'm pretty sure we're heading down a "slippery slope" toward a uber-paranoia and jingosim. Jeeze dude... it's a speech about doing your homework, simmer down.

Anonymous said...

Can we not respect the office of
the President of the United States?
Obama is certainly not the first
President to make a speech to the
children of America. I think he
is asking the children to stay in
school, to get an education, and
to take responsibility for themselves. How can that be wrong?

Anonymous said...

Keep Politics out of schools PERIOD!..Ronald Ragen and George H. Bush had "NO" buisness doing what they did and obama certainly has no buisness sticking his nose where it doesn't belong either.On a side note...Stop with the race card already.Seems everytime someone stands against this man's views they are automaticly deemed a racist.All i see on here is a bunch of ignorant ass kissers!

Mary said...

Very Republican of him to tell the kids they are responsible for themselves. No matter if they're poor, their fathers left them and they're discriminated against.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous September 8, 2009 4:30 AM said.. Keep Politics out of schools PERIOD!."

So when is having the President of the United States speaking to students just "politics"? I didn't read anything political in his speech.

It's an even sadder day, when the elected leader of our country can't speak to the children of our country. I didn't vote for him, but he is our President, and the position deserves respect. Don't like him?; Get out the vote for the opposition next time. But outside of an obvious political slant, he has every right to speak to our youth.

Anonymous said...

I hope Obama's "people" listen to this message and get themselves on track....would do us all good.

nice speech.

Anonymous said...

First off- white, black or purple our President or anyone with the educational background that Obama has can and absolutely should speak to our youths about the importance of education. I agree that race should not be an issue but it is. For people who get upset that our President is "black" - you need to remember that he is just as much white as he is black and it is 2009 not 1709...

Anonymous said...

i don't care what color he is, but i am worried about what he is doing to this country.

breaking us big time. stop the spending good sir.

Anonymous said...

I think the whole controversy was positive and, like in may other areas, the right has kept the administration in check. But I agree that keeping your kids out of school for this is silly and actually politicizes it more than the President is doing. The positive thing was that the talking points were dropped and that's important for two reasons - one is the tone of the talking points that continued focus on Obama, the Personality, not Obama, the President of the US. The second is that we should be teaching our children to think for themselves and to come to their own conclusions.

Of course, I shudder to think what the reaction would have been if Bush had done this.

Anonymous said...

mandingo

CJ said...

God Bless America. This man is a good man and one who has a story that our kids can relate to. Stand up and continue Mr. President. The nay sayers will be marginalized if you keep on doing the right thing.

Web Design Company said...

Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck! Web Design Company

RFA52S said...

Thanks you. Very good post.Unless they can offer a really compelling reason for users to come back, it will be the next Bebo, MySpace