Obama Encouraging Children to Succeed

Obama's school speech

Should school children be allowed to listen to Obama's speech next week?

  • Of course they should hear his speech. The children can listen, discuss and learn. He is only trying to encourage them to do better in their studies so they can become informed citizens.
  • Ain't no way I'll allow him ta...Nobody's gonna tell my kid to do good 'n school. Why should they have better learnin' than me did.
See results without voting

When did "intelligence" become a bad word?

I've been reading people's response to President Obama addressing our nation's school children September 8 and it is appalling how fearful our more impressionable population has become after following the Fox News crowd and the Republican Party's negative campaign. They call him communist because he is talking to all the children. They call him names because he is trying to encourage children to find their own answers to choices they make about their future.

Has anyone actually gone to the official White House website as opposed to simply listening to some right wing nut case whose only purpose is to create unrest and spur on the commission of treason by making the public fearful? And when did it become a bad thing to have an education and set goals for oneself?

Obama's "Back to School" message

On the White House website, the president's back-to-school message will, "Help get America’s students engaged! On Tuesday, September 8 — the first day of school for many students — the President will talk directly to students across the country on the importance of taking responsibility for their education, challenging them to set goals and do everything they can to succeed."

If you look at the lesson plans offered schools from the White House site after the president's chat, you'll notice the questions ask the children to think for themselves. I know the idea of thinking for oneself is difficult for Fox News supporters to comprehend after mindlessly repeating the talking points of riot ringleaders like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Addressing that audience, I must insist it's not such a terrible thing to encourage children to remain in school and achieve something more than a high school education. I'm not exaggerating when I say, a few friends who actually admit they don't care if their children go to college happen to be republican.

Not only is getting an education (preferably, college level and beyond) good for our country's children--including my own--but it's also good for our country as a whole to have an educated, well-informed populace. An uneducated population makes for a weak country. When you meet grown Americans who don't know how many branches of government exist, who think Hawaii is a different country and can only back up the question of why they don't like Obama with a mere "I just don't like the guy" instead of some factual points, it frightens me to think where this country is heading. It frightens me to think that this intelligent leader's reputation is denigrated on a regular basis by the right-wingers as a means to stir up shit while creating hysteria and anarchy. They call him a communist and worse fabrications. They say he wants to control your children. The only "control" going on is with these antagonistic right-wing announcers who support a path to keep our population stupid so people will blindly believe their propaganda. Are they all vying to be like Joseph Goebbels so they can claim the title as the new Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda?

Instead of ruining the schools with programs like "No Child Left Behind" that cut out too many good programs and forced teachers to "teach to the test," Obama, an educated man, is reaching out to our nation's children to inspire them to want to learn; to inspire them to achieve great things. Kennedy may have wanted to inspire our nation's citizens to educate our children so we could invent the necessary engineering and machinery that would take us to the moon, but now it is Obama's task to recover our schools' ability to teach our children after too many programs were stripped away during the reign of our nation's village idiot, G.W. Bush, who opted instead to throw mountains of money into Iraq and into the laps of his business buddies in the form of no-bid contracts.

Just as I encourage my own children to set goals, find activities and interests about which they are passionate, just as my republican husband and I discuss issues with them about the world they live in, it is important to this administration to return the importance of a strong education to our schools and our children. If we can't think for ourselves, certainly there is another country that will use this weakness against us to gain control.

With parental support and encouragement, children do well in school

"All children can do well (in school) as long as they have the support they need," said President Obama in an interview about what he was going to say to school children next week. He explained, when you place higher expectations on children, they will try harder and achieve more. He added, "The best thing young people can do is to do well in school," and when they are done with that, they can help others in their community which makes their country stronger. This request to serve in your community isn't communism or socialism, it's community and caring for your neighbor as a way of building trust and preventing anarchy. I suggest you don't use those political labels until you understand their true meaning--you can learn about this in school. Try taking some political science courses in your local college or university if you don't have a clue about what these terms mean (there are more nuances in their meanings than you can find on dictionary.com or in the catch-all phrasing offered by conservative propaganda machines).

I'm glad our President is making a connection with our nation's children. I'm glad he is encouraging them to study and achieve; to set goals and expect more of their future opportunities. I'm glad he is a role model of excellence and effort. If his conversation with our nation's children inspires youngsters to do well in school and become better citizens, then how can that possibly hurt our nation? Are people so afraid that a black man can successfully lead our nation to a position of strength in the world? People will still have an opportunity to disagree, discuss and yes, argue the issues. But at least they will be better informed and make a decision that reflects their own ideals and not those of ratings-hungry right-wing fear mongers (I was going to say pundit, but that assumes they are experts).

I'm baffled by anyone who believes the president's message will corrupt children

 (The following was copied directly from the official White House website. Read his remarks before lambasting him for sullying children's minds and accusing him of turning our young population into communists.)

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.

Comments 3 comments

Leta S 7 years ago

That thread in the political forum was ridiculous--as are most these days. I think we are seeing the last gasp of the neo-cons, in part, actually. What is unbelievable is that so many people actually take the likes of Glenn Beck and Limbaugh's word as gospel truth. It is quite enough...it IS disingenuous propaganda. And to call it political discourse or discussion when clearly, for anyone rational, it is NOT, would not be telling the truth. Period. Thanks for your hub.


RooBee profile image

RooBee 7 years ago from Here

Thank you for this! Thank you so much. Hey, there's an Ann Coulter ad for those who disagree with you to click on. lol


Joelle Burnette profile image

Joelle Burnette 7 years ago Author

Thanks! I find the discussions about these "issues" ridiculous and frustrating. It's amazing we can get anything done in this country when we are confronted by too many sheep who make their decisions based on fear. And you're right, Lita...they think the word of the right wing hate mongers on radio and tv is gospel. If they had put a little more effort into their education or staying aware of issues (more importantly, the facts surrounding those issues and didn't focus on propaganda speaking points), they might be able to make an informed decision. Educating yourself or listening to the president speak doesn't make you a communist or a socialist, rather it makes you a participant in the democratic process.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    More by this Author


    Click to Rate This Article
    working