Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hey kids, stay in school!

To: School kids across the nation
From: President Barack Obama
"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." (sourse, Whitehouse Media Resources)

I thought his message was simple, well stated, and to the point:
Go to school
Stay in school
Do your best
You can be whatever you want to be
It doesn't matter who your parents are, it doesn't matter what your social background is, you are the one who controls your future.

Controversial message? I don't think so.


Shannon said...

NOT EVEN! I was in shock at the people who were NOT sending their kiddos to school because the schools were airing this speech. Worst part about it... those parents probably didn't even read the transcript that was available beforehand! I literally despised our last Pres, but would not have kept my kids home because he was speaking! I don't think either of them would say anything to "hurt" kids! Anyway.... thanks for sharing this!

Panamenos said...

And to respectfully to disagree a tiny bit, the great thing about America is that everyone is free to hold their own opinion. I had one parent tell me that she would keep her child home if I showed the speech and when I talked to her, I felt she had well thought out, legitimate reasons for her decision. The great thing about America is freedom of speech and our right to elect our leaders and to disagree with them. I wouldn't keep my kids home, but I respect others right to do so.

While obviously, I believe deeply in the importance and value of education, I don't think it is as simple as Obama presented it. It certainly DOES matter who your parents are and where you come from and what your social status is. As a parent, it's a little insulting to suggest that it doesn't. And as a teacher, I think it's just plain a lie. Kids with better home lives have a HUGE advantage over those who don't. Kids who aren't fed, who are homeless, who are beaten, whose parents are worried because they are here illegaly, whose parents are on drugs, kids with severe learning disabilities, etc., etc. simply don't have as much chance as kids from stable, middle class homes. To say they do is, I think, a lie or at least misleading. Of course, you can rise above your circumstances, but it is incredibly difficult to do. Of course, kids should go to school, study, do their best, etc. I can agree with that. But to say that just doing that will level the playing field simply isn't true. I think politicians try to take difficult social problems and simplify them in a speech and often do a poor job of really representing the truth. Sorry, but that's my opinion about Obama's speech. Do I think it was good for kids to hear him say those things? Sure! But do I think what he said is totally uncontroversial, as an adult, no. But I'll be honest and also admit that I'm not a huge Obama fan, and that probably feeds into my opinion as well.

Love ya Brandi! (And Shannon too!) Hope it's okay to disagree with you on this one.

Brandi said...

Jenny, of course you can share your opinions!!!!! I appreciate you taking the time to do so!

I agree with you that's it's wonderful to live in a country where we are free to have and vocalize (or type) our opinion!

I also agree that people who have better home lives have a MUCH better chance at succeeding. It's proven time and time again through statistics that children who have both parents at home have a better chance at succeeding. It doesn't take brains to figure out that someone who is abused might have a tougher time coping with school and life in general. Any person with more money and or a stable home life has a better chance at success than someone who doesn't. I don't think that's what Obama was trying to say. His exact words were "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."
What do you think people would say if Obama came out and said to all the schools "hey kids, you all have a chance to be great! Except for those who live in trailor parks, or those who's parents are on drugs, or are here illegally, or are low income, sorry guys, there's almost no hope for you. In fact, I have you have such a small chance in success, that we are no longer going to waist our time on improving your education."
I'm not sure that would go over well.
I think if the lady in your class had taken the time to read his speech, she would have seen that her concerns were not valid.
In 1991, President Bush senior gave a similar speech. Here is a link to some of his comments: granted it's from someone's blog, but you still can get the idea.

Panamenos said...

No, I understand what Obama was saying, and I think it is good to give kids hope. We all need that. I know Reagan and Bush gave similar messages and kids need to hear about the value of education...because it is the one thing that does give them a shot. Overall, I thought Obama's talk was fine. Not 100% truthful, but what politician is??? And hope is needed. I've been wishing that maybe I hadn't spewed my thoughts, because really I didn't have issues with his speech so much as just that life is so unfair for some kids. Some of them have very little shot in life. And of course they should stay in school and do their best and be respectful, but even if they do, we usually repeat the patterns we learned in our homes. I wish that weren't true. I truly wish, as a teacher, that I was a miracle worker and that I could make the world more fair for my students. I wish that they did have just as much chance at success as my own kids do. And while it is possible to overcome your background, it isn't LIKELY. That is what I was trying to say, I guess. Of course, Obama couldn't say that...

As for the parent, she really did have valid reasons that actually had little to do with the speech itself (we both agreed that speech was okay), but she did have reasons for her opinions.

Thanks for letting me a little bit disagreeable. :) Again it really had little to do with Obama or his speech ... just with how difficult it is for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to catch a break. We all like to believe in the "rags to riches" stories, but there really are very few real ones out there. Again, thank you!

Shill and Company said...

I couldn't believe that people were so upset about having their children listen to our President. He was the 4th president to address the children, but the first democrat. Humm...anyway, I thought that the message that he gave was superb. He is certainly a great example of coming from humble beginnings, seeking an education, working hard and making a difference with his life.