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September 07, 2009

Text Of Obama School Speech

Consider it a follow up to Gabeís post (which I agree with).

There are some minor quibbles I have and allusions to political issues that most kids probably wonít get.

That said, itís pretty much innocuous stuff. Some excerprts below the fold.


Maybe you could be a good writer Ė maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper Ė but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor Ė maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine Ė 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 Ė I guarantee that youíll 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? Youíre going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You canít drop out of school and just drop into a good job. Youíve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

ÖI 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, youíre not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You wonít love every subject you study. You wonít click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you wonít necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

Thatís OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones whoíve had the most failures. JK Rowlingís 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."

ÖThe story of America isnít about people who quit when things got tough. Itís about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

Itís 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.

On the plus side, he actually talks about the military as a career and gives some nods to traditional American values. No, I donít think he believes them but at least he says them.

Do most kids really care about this? I really doubt it. I know people hate talking about this but it may resonate more with black kids. No, Obama is not the post-racial President he claimed he would be but I donít think we can entirely discount the impact on black kids (who have significant drop out and achievement gaps) of seeing a black man as President.

Yes, yes, I know, white mom, raised by white grandparents and all that. The fact is most kids arenít going to know or care about that. If some find comfort and support in seeing someone like them achieve (especially in a non-sports or entertainment field), then thatís good.

Still, Gabe is right. Itís a matter of trust. Personally, Iím not sure this speech would have been the same had there not been the furor and that original lesson plans were awful. The focus this administration has placed and encouraged on Obama the man and not the President is really astounding and a danger to small Ďrí republican values.

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posted by DrewM. at 01:14 PM

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