Monday, September 7, 2009

President Obama's Speech to the Schools

The full text of President Obama's upcoming speech is below, taken directly from It was released early to hopefully quiet the .... I'm sorry, I don't know what to call the rambles of the illiterate; the shrieks of the insane; the fake outrage of the right wing media; the obvious bigotry; the clear cut hatred; the lack of respect; the pathetic fears of the ignorant; the sinister fake fears of the hateful.

Indoctrinate our children. That's what many of these hysterics say. Indoctrinate them into what? Learning? Self-esteem? Responsibility?

Then there are the ones who say that the President shouldn't talk to their children without them present. What is he? A crack dealer? A pedophile?

I'd love to know how many of these righteous parents ever watched a Presidential address with their children. Any President.

These "parents" - and it saddens me that they are parents - are teaching their children that if you disagree with someone you shouldn't listen to them; if someone is different from you then you should fear them.

Shame on every single parent who forces their child to ignore current events. Shame on every asshat who whipped up the frenzy. Shame on every self serving politician and pundit who further polarizes our country.

It is a sweet and friendly and benign speech.

I wonder how many of these "parents" will read it? I wonder how many of them can read it.

Shameful. This is the kind of single minded, fearful, dark, oppressive crap that happens in countries the USA invades in order to set them free.

One more painful reminder of how much work needs to be done here before we dare act as though we are morally superior to any other country.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: 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.


gabrielle said...

Who in their right mind would deny their children the message "I believe in you" Thank you for printing the entire text of Obama's back to school event. It is a hopeful and encouraging message, respectful in its expectations of reciprocity.

Jeni said...

I read the speech on my Facebook as one of my fav bloggers who is also on Facebook had posted the whole thing. There had been a small debate yesterday there about kids watching or not watching the speech and one lady -a teacher -said for him to do this speech is using the children as a means to advertise himself. (I'm paraphrasing there, but that was the basic drift of her complaint.) Truthfully, I do think having kindergarten aged kids view/listen to this is a bit over the top, as their attention spans probably aren't up to this caliber. But as to the content of the speech, be darned if I could find anything socialistic about it, nothing touting any specific program of the President's -other than that he and his staff are working hard to provide what all the children in the country need to succeed in school -aside from the effort which they themselves must bring forward and use!
But I suppose someone will spot something in this speech and make a big stink about it. Sometimes, people can really be so damned dense, ya know!

Hilary said...

I'm glad you posted the full text. I hadn't read or heard it.. just heard how controversial it was. I just can't see why.

Matt-Man said...

I read it as well. It's Socialist drivel. I have just posted a rebuttal. Damn Commie...CheersSexy!!

Jay said...

When I was in school we got taken out of class a couple of times every year to go and listen to a speaker. Each yea the speaker wanted to talk to us about his or her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I bet none of the people screaming "indoctrination!" would have any problem with proselytizing to kids in public schools.

Which is more indoctrinating? Obama's speech of self-sufficiency, hard work and never giving up? Or teaching Christian doctrine to kids? Amazing.

A Stitch In Thyme said...

I was supportive before I knew the content and now I'm more supportive. The hysteria in this country over supposed "socialism" has to stop. The hysteria of his freedom of religion have to stop. His being black is not a barrier. His having mother in law at the big house is not a threat. MY GOODNESS.. PEOPLE.... STFU and listen. Just listen to the man. When you do then say what you need to say. Good grief.

ghwace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ghwace said...

thanks for posting this! my sister was searching for this on the net!


Kerry said...

I saw this this morning. You know what else I saw this morning, on This little tidbit, all but buried in the story, about the Hero of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan:

"In November 1988, President Reagan delivered more politically charged remarks that were made available to students nationwide. Among other things, Reagan called taxes "such a penalty on people that there's no incentive for them to prosper ... because they have to give so much to the government.""

Riiiiight. That's SO MUCH less partisan, and more acceptable than the content of Obama's speech.

Mimi said...

I agree with you 1000%, yes, 1000. I blogged about the same thing today. I am so sick of FOX news (is it really news?) and the right-wing-nuts doing all they can to get the lunatics in our country all stirred up. I fear greatly that something horrible is going to happen as a result of their fear mongering. Glen Beck, Limbaugh, et al, should be fired for lying; however, it is better press to let them spew their venom...sigh.

Jackie said...

Spot on Dianne, from this side of the Pond I've been horrified (and mostly completely and utterly perplexed) as to why people are getting their knickers in a knot about this. Good grief.

Rob Inukshuk said...

Opens mouth...closes mouth...shakes head!

the walking man said...

I wish the left would quit caving in to the shrieking right. He should have refused to preview his speech.

Arkansas Patti said...

Thank you for posting his speech.
Can see nothing in it to upset anyone. In fact, it made me want to go back and finish college.
It was purely encouraging education. What is radical about that?
I just can not fathom the thinking of the far right and I guess that is our problem today. Neither can understand nor even wants to understand the other.
God help us.

Dianne said...

gabrielle - it does say I believe in you! and what could possibly be wrong with that!? I was upset about the furor before I read the speech and then after reading it I was even more upset because it is such a sweet, kind message and he will deliver it as he delivers everything - intelligently and clearly
I think American children need more of that

jeni - I don't understand the "advertise himself" crap, he can be on TV any time he wants, why would he use children and a speech that says NOTHING political to advertise himself
that line of thinking smacks of racism to me, I truly believe there is a large group who do not want their children to respect a black President
I agree that the little ones will most likely lose interest but a good teacher can handle that

hilary - it became controversial simply because he was going to do it and it is one more way for the zealots to spew
anything he does is automatically given sinister undertones by this lot
hell, I hated Bush with all my heart and even I couldn't muster this much continous rage and he broke the law and started a war!!!!

matt-man - will you be delivering your rebuttal to school children? I'll travel with you as security

jay - oh come now, you know the Christians are always right, after all they're Christians and isn't that all that matters
poor God, endlessly used by assholes
the school here had a 9/11 memorial a couple of years back, my neighbor's son invited me as his grandma since his own couldn't be there - one of our county officials told the children that anyone who didn't support the President was a terrorist !!!!

stitch - and hysteria is what it is and it's frightening

ghwace - you're welcome :)
it was hard to find at first since it was just posted yesterday afternoon

kerry - yes well, if Ronnie said it it must be OK, after all he was an actor LOL
my son was in school for Papa Bush's speech and he swears he remembers him talking about war in the Mid East
I haven't had time to research that
I do remember not having a cow over my son hearing a President speak, even one I despised
Jeffrey says he remembers me telling him to be respectful and to try to learn something

mimi - the continued division of this country is frightening and saddening
Glenn Beck calls Obama a racist and the "patriots" all cheer
Kanye West says "George Bush hates black people" during a Katrina event and everyone lost their mind
I think a side effect of being right wing is havng amnesia

jackie - I shudder at what Americans look like to the world
shrieking at town hall meetings, turning on one another, standing around meetings holding guns and signs where they can't even spell what they're protesting

rob - if I shook my head any harder I'd pass out ;)

walking man - I agree!!

Dianne said...

patti - I can understand a lot of what the right believes in, I don't agree but I can understand
I just can't understand the endless crazy over every little thing Obama does
and I can't deal with the violence and the spewing and the self righteous behavior

Daryl said...

I wonder how many of these ignorant people called those who didnt care for President Bush's actions - he started a war based on nothing but innuendo among other things - called those of us who didnt agree with him Anti or Un American and claimed we were on the side of terrorists ....

Now the shoe is on the other foot and the Democrats are once again playing nice ... its time to stop playing nice ... even the moron in Florida who started all this has now admitted he was wrong ...

Raven said...

Well said. I really don't get the idea that it's dangerous to listen to someone you disagree with... and hopefully the faces of all the loonies who were in hysterics about this speech are red. Probably not. They seem to be a pretty shameless lot.

I think it was a great speech. How cool. A President speaking to - and not speaking DOWN to - the children of America. Yippee!

Akelamalu said...

How could anyone complain about that speech? Some people are so narrow and closed minded (shaking head).

The Peach Tart said...

I can't agree with you more. It troubles me that people would not want their children to hear an uplifting message from their President who has beat all odds himself.

Travis said...

I'm beginning to feel sorry for people who are so afraid of those who are different than they. It seems such a sad way to be.

Jeff B said...

Ignorance breeds fear, which in turn can lead to hysteria. Insert the media into this mix and we're in for one hell of a mess.

I think you hit it spot on when you said you wondered how many of the parents who were so opposed to this speech actually took the time to read it.

Jacob said...

Today, Di, I'm too tired to say much. The insanity is just so sick. I'm not sure we'll ever get well.

It's a great speech. Thanks for posting it!

CrystalChick said...

Thanks for posting this. My son did not see it in school or have the opportunity to read it. I'll print it for him.
Wonderful speech and great message.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I so appreciate you printing Obama's speech, Dianne. It was wonderful and inspiring! So beautifully spoken!
Your earlier comments about these 'asshat's' were well taken. It frightens me how these people want Obama to fail--at any cost. As you said, these are the kinds of thngs that go on in other country's....HOW did it get so horrifically bad here? Well BIGOTRY is surely an enormous part of it---and maybe at the true basis of all of the lies and hatred. When will this truky change? When?

I love Obama and I love our country and I want to see him succeed because he is fighting for ALL the people, not just some.

Sparkling Red said...

I agree with you completely. I bet most of those parents don't monitor all of their children's exposure that carefully. I'm sure most of them watch the usual many hours of violent television and brainwashing advertising as everyone else. This whole issue is a red herring.

Linda Reeder said...

Oh, Dianne, I love to read your rantings. You are so right on.
My new phrase is "the willfully ignorant". I heard it somewhere and I'm claiming it. To me it includes all who choose to be stupid, who choose to lie and distort, who spread falsehoods and fear for the sake of power. Ignorance has always been my enemy. I can't fathom being willfully ignorant.

Liberality said...

Thank you for printing the text of Obama's back to school event. The entire speech was about encouraging education. What is radical about that?
Instead, it was an uplifting message from their President who acknowledges the problems our kids are growing up with. Too many of our country's children have these kinds of problems and it is a disgrace to this country that we allow it to be so.

Volly said...

I've lived down here in the south for 23 years and for the first time I'm seriously thinking that at some point I'll have to pack up and move back north. If you think there are wingnuts up there, Dianne, you'd have to get your jaw hoisted back into place with a crane if you heard some of the whackiness that pervades down here. It's getting really scary in this country, as though another anything-but-civil war were brewing. I'm grateful that in some parts of the US, reason still rules and the extremists are seen as just that -- a fringe element. Down here, they're the norm. People make the most insane, paranoid pronouncements, they're printed in the paper and nobody blinks an eye. At least up there, the right-wingers still have some education. Down here, education is disdained in many circles.
Volly ~shaking head~

Volly said...

Amended to add:
...printed in the newspaper, with grammar and spelling errors uncorrected...

Pagan Sphinx said...

I'm just needing to tune out this useless drivel from the right. They don't piss me off anymore. I'm too numb from all the years of American idiocy. I'm done responding. I'd rather focus my efforts on doing something and ignore the idiots.