For Crying Out Loud, Read The Speech!

Filed in National by on September 7, 2009

Here is a copy of President Obama’s speech for Tuesday.  Scary stuff, I can see what all the outrage is about.

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.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

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  1. Video Of Obama’s School Speech : Delaware Liberal | September 8, 2009
  1. say what? says:

    Speech looks great! Would love to have seen the 1st draft instead of the final.

  2. rationaljew says:

    yes, its a masterpiece of narcissitic drivel. thx for posting it.

  3. callerRick says:

    The uproar wasn’t about the speech (initially), it was about the Dept. of Education ‘teachers guide’ (or whatever they called it), which intended to dictate student response (sort of like they do in North Korea). The reaction to this initial DOE plan morphed into a general anti-speech avalanche.

    The luster has worn off.

    (If platitudes and aphorisms meant anything, I’d give BO an ‘A’)

  4. cassandra_m says:

    And the revisionist history begins.

    And, as advertised, the speech is about talking to kids about working hard and staying in school. Completely in line with the usual rah rah on the same subject given to kids on way too few occasions.

    But the wingnut brigade will either claim: 1) that is was about the quite optional lesson plan or 2) that they made him change the text of the speech from whatever communist ravings being channeled through their tin foil.

    And,of course, it means that the wingnuts have been shown to be had by their corporate handlers who gave them a message that made them look really stupid. Again.

  5. I agree with Rick, it had almost nothing to do with the speech. You all are pretending that it did. It is interesting he mentions I or my about 4 dozen times and this is all there was about America’s heritage.

    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.

    I like his speech. It is a worthy exercise, but I wish that someone would bring Americanism back to the schools.

  6. HA HA– He is really Indonesian not Kenyan. LOL I see a revision coming. That is the one downside to being President, every word has meaning.

    Anyway Cass, I don’t think you are talking about many of the people here. Most of us had no problem with the speech except one commenter who opposes all Presidential speeches to schools. Our problem is with the federal encroachment on education including the lesson plans.

  7. Some nuts are already pushing the Indonesian thing, David.

    I think the wingnuts should look away from the speech, lest they be brainwashed into becoming socialists.

    cR, the outrage wasn’t about the optional lesson plan, which in itself was innocuous. It was about the president speaking to schoolchildren, that was it. The tinfoil hatters got secret signals telling them that it was going to be about socialism or something.

  8. callerRick says:

    “…the outrage wasn’t about the optional lesson plan, which in itself was innocuous. It was about the president speaking to schoolchildren….”

    Wrong. It all started with the DOE ‘materials.’

  9. callerRick says:

    “…the outrage wasn’t about the optional lesson plan, which in itself was innocuous. It was about the president speaking to schoolchildren….”

    The ‘lesson plan’ wasn’t ‘innocuous’ at all, and that’s what started the furor.

  10. Delaware Dem says:

    Yeah, all it included language asking students to write letters, just like President George H. W. Bush and President Reagan. That you criticize the President of the United States for doing the same thing as his Republican predecessors is hypocritical, and I wonder if you have other motives.

  11. Delaware Republican says:

    If I heard one single reference to why Obama wants to kick poor minority students out of a school choice program maybe I would care about the speech.

    Like I said any parent who would listen to Obama about education needs an education. Students will yawn, text and look at the clock.

    The speech is just that, a speech. The entire education system in this country fails to develop every student’s talents or address every student’s needs. No rah rah speech will change that fact.

    Mike Protack

  12. Geezer says:

    “Our problem is with the federal encroachment on education including the lesson plans.”

    No, your problem is that when they had the chance to change federal encroachment, Republicans went the “me too!” route (same as with the Medicare drug benefit) to deny Democrats a campaign issue — just as this administration is trying to do on every issue it’s afraid the right might demagogue. This happens with both parties to anything on either end of the political spectrum — the call for reform is used to scare the 80% in the center, center-right and center-left into opposition.

    I point it out in the hopes that people like Republican David and Mike “FU, IPOD” Protack will search their dim, cluttered minds long enough to remember back oh, five years or so, to when the shoe was on the other foot.

  13. cassandra_m says:

    Our problem is with the federal encroachment on education including the lesson plans.

    This would be, of course, bullshit. And part of the revisionist effort now that the speech is published. But the only way to get to some “federal encroachment on education” would be if the lesson plans were mandatory. Which — like instructional materials on all kinds of extra-curricular stuff — they were definitely not. So peddle that crap on your own blog, where people won’t know any better.

  14. Geezer says:

    “The entire education system in this country fails to develop every student’s talents or address every student’s needs.”

    And the No Shit Sherlock Award goes to the pilot with too much downtime on his hands. Notice, please, that this statement is based on such hyperbole that it could not fail to be true at any point in this nation’s or any nation’s history, past, present and future. As long as one child in this country isn’t getting the best, this statement would be true.

    What kind of person intones such gas-filled nonsense? That’s right, friends — the kind that runs for office, over and over and over again.

  15. Delaware Dem says:

    Seriously, would you assine hypocritical freaks get your talking points straight?!? First, you did not want him to speak to students because he was going to push some political agenda. And now Protack wants the President of the United States to talk about his policies (or at least Protack’s distorted and delusional view of them) in the speech to children.

    Perhaps you need to go back to school, Protack. Your brain is misfiring again.

    It is just a speech, but to you freaks it was the worst scandal in the whole world. It is only just a speech now that you liars have been proven such. You said he would indoctrinate children with a policy speech. That was a lie, everyone knows it now, and I can call Michael Protack a liar. Although I could do that before….

  16. Geezer says:

    “The ‘lesson plan’ wasn’t ‘innocuous’ at all…”

    Yes, it was innocuous.

    Now I have provided just as much evidence as you have, and I must be right, because my comment is the more recent.

  17. pandora says:

    …federal encroachment on education including the lesson plans

    Blah, blah, blah. What a lie. You guys jump on this nonsense with the same zeal as you jumped on “OMG, Obama put mustard on his burger!” and “OMG, Michelle Obama wore shorts in the summer!”

  18. Here’s my take on the speech:

    It adds nothing to what, for my students, is the third week of school — and detracts from what we ought to be doing in my classes.

    Last month, my district gave me a rather detailed calendar of what I am supposed to be teaching and when. It maps out day by day what should be going on in my classroom. And do you know what? Nowhere does it include spending a class period listening to a speech unrelated to my subject matter. But in an already shortened week, I’m now expected to do that with each and every one of my classes — and yet still be on target for the district-mandated test that is based upon that original calendar, and which is used to evaluate, in part, how effectively I am teaching my students.

    Now don’t get me wrong — I don’t object to the president speaking to students in our nation’s schools. I would just prefer that it was a speech relevant to what is supposed to be going on in my classroom. Want an example? Several years ago, Senator Robert Byrd (D-KKK) pushed through an unfunded mandate that all schools teach about the Constitution on September 17. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, instead of the presidential pep talk that the kids will get this week, students were instead given a lesson on the Constitution by a man who has, after all, taught Constitutional law? Imagine the opportunity for discussing different views of the Constitution, the role of the presidency, or individual liberties! I’m sorry to say it, but what we are getting instead is a missed opportunity for real learning.

  19. Progressive Mom says:

    “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, instead of the presidential pep talk that the kids will get this week, students were instead given a lesson on the Constitution by a man who has, after all, taught Constitutional law?”

    Oh, yea, RWR, let’s have a President whom, according to the latest poll, the conservatives have convinced at least 50% of Kentuckianans was not born in the U.S.; whom Limbaugh, et al say daily is a Socialist/ Marxist/ Communist; who wants to “hand out” health care to all Americans, which we know isn’t in the constitution — yeah, let’s ask him to give a lesson on the Constitution.

    yeah, that’s much less controversial than a “presidential pep talk.”


  20. Delaware Dem says:

    RWR… if the President gave anything other than this speech, namely a lecture on Constitutional law, for example, then the right wing would have criticized him for that, for they would say he was giving his view of the Constitution and that would be an indoctrination. Can you image the vitriol from people like you and David Anderson if the President of the United States talked about a right to privacy in a constitutional law lecture to children? You would all self immolate in front of your computers.

    You can’t have it both ways. The right cannot attack the President of the United States for giving a political speech to children, and then when it is revealed that he is not giving a political speech, criticize him for not giving a speech with more substance.

  21. Frankly, I think you would be surprised at the reaction you might get from conservatives.

    Oh, and those who keep talking about Reagan’s speech, have you actually read it? The speech is about America, not politics — and at the end, kids asked questions about political issues and he answered them. That is a bit different from the way it has been characterized here, as being a speech about his policies.

  22. pandora says:

    Let’s face it… Obama could give a speech on abstinence and cutting taxes and the right would still freak-out. Because, like I said earlier, it’s not about the speech, it is – and always was – about Obama.

  23. Delaware Dem says:


    You are implying that conservatives would applaud something the current President of the United States does, and we all know that is a complete and total lie. That they would attack this nonpolitical speech is only the latest evidence of their pure hatred of the President and disrespect for his office.

    Conservatives have proved that they are nothing if not dishonest.

  24. Delaware Dem says:

    For example, if President Obama declared tomorrow National Apple Pie Day, conservatives would declare Apples to be communist.

  25. I respect the office — I don’t respect the occupant. Isn’t that the argument you folks made for 8 years? Now if you want to question my honesty and my patriotism, feel free — but realize that in doing so you deny your own.

  26. Geezer says:

    Well, most of them are red. The rest are green or yellow. Not one true-blue apple out there.

    And being against the occupant of the White House is as American as apple pie.

  27. Delaware Dem says:

    No one questioned your patriotism. I do question your honesty, constantly. And you can detest the occupant of the office all you want and oppose his policies, but to create a scandal over a nonpolitical speech to children and then politicize it has more to do with disrespect for the office. My parents are diehard liberals and I can still remember watching every speech Reagan gave in our home and in our school, especially when the Challenger exploded. I remember Reagan’s school speech too. My parents did not forbade me to listen, because at least President Reagan was still the President, no matter their disagreements with him.

    What conservative parents have done this week is the opposite of that. That is disrespect for the office. Not the man holding it.

  28. Funny you should bring the matter of folks opting out into the discussion. Here’s what I’ve said on my site about it about it.

    Will the speech be shown in my classroom? Yes, it will — in each of my classes on Thursday. Our district won’t let us all show it at the same time for fear of crashing the district servers if we all try to get it live (the speech is a webcast, not a television broadcast). I have a spot in my lesson plan where I can wedge the speech without too much disruption on Thursday, so we’ll do it then. Other social studies teachers in the district will do it Wednesday or Friday, as best fits their schedules. But we all know that the bungling in Washington means we will have students whose parents opt them out of the showing of the speech — an unfortunate yet understandable response to the mishandling of the entire matter in our nation’s capital.

  29. The speech was not mishandled except by conservatives who want to make a scandal out of everything that Obama does. Republicans have gotten themselves so tangled up in knots they don’t know their ass from their elbow anymore.

    Well, at least we’ve got them on record opposing speeches about staying in school and studying hard. Yes, Republicans are against the American dream.

  30. anon3 says:

    Our problem is with the federal encroachment on education including the lesson plans.

    Instead, we want to teach them Christianity and the bible.

  31. I beg to differ with you — the thing was bungled as soon as that lesson plan went out.

  32. John Manifold says:

    Notice how we’re drawing a lower grade troll these days? G Rex last week, now rationalsemite.

  33. Delaware Dem says:

    So now the Obama Administration is responsible for even the right wing lies about the Obama Administration, so says RWR. LOL. This would be a comedy if it weren’t so serious.

  34. No, the Obama Administration is responsible for putting out a flawed lesson plan and bypassing district administrators by going directly to school principals to get the speech shown.

  35. jeffkramerak says:

    Send the kids or don’t send them…either way, they will find out what was said…with the media and people talking, it will get out…

  36. Lisa says:

    Students should be able to listen to the President’s speech

  37. And I don’t disagree — but the DoE and the Administration should have handled the thing better from the beginning.

  38. anonone says:

    “Instead, we want to teach them Christianity and the bible.”

    Thanks, Anon3 – you hit the nail on the head.