Thoughts on Obama’s School Day Address

September 8, 2009


If he did not refer to himself so many times (I counted 66 “I”s and “Me”s that were not quotes from someone else), I would not know this was from Obama.

He kept it apolitical (well, other than the hubris of using the presidential bully pulpit in such a way) and focused on personal responsibility. Of all the speeches I read though from Obama, this was by far the least offensive and most in-line with the American experiment. Here are some quotes:

“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 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.”

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.”

“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.”

“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 rightsand put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded GoogleTwitter andFacebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.”

Of course, I could be wrong. What’s your take?

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