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September 8th, 2009
06:05 AM ET

Obama to students: Education key to future

(CNN) – The White House released the text Monday of a controversial back-to-school speech to students from President Obama. Many conservatives have expressed a fear that the address would be used to push a partisan political agenda.

In the text of the speech, however, Obama avoids any mention of controversial political initiatives. He repeatedly urges students to work hard and stay in school. Full Story »

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/07/obama.school.speech/art.obama.school.afp.gi.jpg caption="The uproar over President Obama's back-to-school speech led the White House to release the transcript Monday."]

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.


Filed under: Education • Politics
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. JEZEBEL58

    Bravo Michele and Patricia Robinson.How may people died in the twin towers and how many servicemen are dying everyday because of the hatred for americans.I watched the plane at 9:50 that day and was distressed all day and I am not even an american.This Friday is the eighth anniversary,what are you going to do, blame this president or if he asks for a moment of silence and for remembrance,ignore him.These hate mongers ABROAD are looking at the fact that you hate your own people and can't seem to get along and is ecstatic and can't wait for when the americans travel abroad to accuse them of spying and hold them hostage.This is your country and black or white you have to come together for the betterment of your country.UNITED WE STAND DIVIDED WE FALL..Too many have fallen because of hatred coming from the outside.

    September 9, 2009 at 9:00 am |
  2. al mackenzie

    No other democrat president has had to experience this intense level of questioning and innuendo that I can remember. I dont know if even Nixon, another lying Republican president...dont forget Bush2, had to endure this level of scrutiny over the watergate scandal. And this president has not been caught in wrong-doing. The rhetoric is so high and so intense...the only difference now is...he is black. Bill Clinton didnt have this level of garbage over the blue dress. As Obama tries to turn the US into a responsible member of the global community the Republicans shoot him down with the most outrageous accusations to try to stop him. They use the fear card over and over again. Fear over crime, fear over terrorism, fear over big government coming to take your money. Whats wrong with helping your neighbour? Citizenship comes with rights...but also with obligations. I think the US citizen has forgotten their obligations to their country. They are too concerned about themselves and their immediate families to care about the country as a whole. That tastes like anarchy...and the end of the UNITED states of america. They are so quick to believe the Fox propaganda that is so biased as to be laughable. But they swallow it. Head in the sand. My way or the highway. Remember the civil war? It started over money. The south didnt want to give up its free slave labour. Now, the insurance companies dont want to give up the billions of dollars they are currently making. They pay lobbyists to petition YOUR elected officials so they can continue to gouge the american citizen out of their hard earned money. And then drop them when they get sick. Not right. And they have even been able to convince Republicans that a public option is BAD for them. The sad part is....they actually believe it.

    September 9, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  3. jay m

    The Republicans don't want their kids to hear the speech so they can grow up to be ignorant like them.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Karen Ates

    I think this has been the most ridiculous thing that I have heard so far since President Obama took office. Crying wolf just because he wanted to encourage our students to stay in school. Anyone with clear eyes and ears should have known from the love and respect that he shows his own daughters that there was not any harm going to come to their children just from listening to the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES speak. And even more so if there was an assignment for them to do to help the PRESIDENT, they should have been told what an honor that would have been. Who knows some of these young people may have come up with a brilliant idea. They say "out of the mouths of babes". But no, this ugly creature called prejudice keeps rearing its ugly head against a man who is attempting to do the right thing. like many other comments, people in America ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you are prejudice, just say so and stop attempting to make the President look bad because you are.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm |
  5. Victoria

    I posted early this morning and was curious to see what went down subsequently. Thank you, Elisa S. – good job! B Edwards, I could not help but smile – you are very clever and I will try to verify for myself what you claim, as this assertion is what all the hoopla was all about in the first place and after reading all the comments, I think many people must not be aware of it. Can you direct me to the site you reference, please?

    To Eric Ceasar – the answers to your questions are a RESOUNDING YES!! It would have been VERY wrong if Obama had asked kids today to become democrats or support the health care bill. Maybe you were just kidding around. If not, you are missing the point of opponents entirely and saying it is okay to use children, very young children in kindergarden even, for political means. This is GROSS!! Thank goodness his speech was relevant and on point.

    However, even though Obama was elected, he didn't get 100% of the vote then and obviously 100% of the people don't have complete faith in him now. So what? I don't care if he's President or Jesus Christ incarnate – disagreeing with someone's thoughts and actions is not synonymous with disrespecting them. Some of you guys could use a history lesson – Reagan and Bush also got heat generated by the opposing political party for addressing students. The media (no matter which source you watch or read) is just another big business enterprise. Being contoversial is how they thrive – accept it, pick up what you can, and then do your own research and independent thinking. Finally, to every pig that brought up race as the reason some people opposed this speech – you are the very people dooming our youth to endure the mistakes our past and ensure bigotry remains part of their future. We all need to try very hard, as difficult as that may be, to move on!

    September 8, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  6. evelyn luchesi

    As a widow it's great to have a smart male role model for my 5th grader. Thank you Mr President. PS we do want healthcare.

    September 8, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  7. Patricia Robinson(Lifeteller)

    Of course Laura had praise she has been in those shoes.
    Shoes that dont feel so good when the opposition is making up lies about you. when the other side wants to make you look bad, and will do anything to make you look just like that. Even when you know within your heart of hearts you are doing the best you can. She know what it feels like to have your popularity so low it hurts. Obama isnt going to hurt any ones child. He doesnt want to give them fire for their guns. This hate that has formed from the fact a black man is president really hurts blacks and white, because knowledge isnt working its hate that is leading these blind people to believe the worse of the worse. In stead of the facts

    September 8, 2009 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Brian Davis

    It was wonderful that many parents kept their kids from listening to the speech. What is a greater motivator to any kid than telling them they CAN'T do something. Now many more students may listen to the speech on thier own volition, rather than feeling they had to...or were told not to.

    September 8, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  9. Dave in Des Moines

    The following are ideas to help parents manage their kids’ high tech gadgets (i.e. Facebook, cell phones.) It would be nice if parents could shut off these gadgets while kids are at school, doing their homework and/or while they are driving. Some cell phone companies have parental control where the text messages service can be shut off at predetermined times. This way at times when their kids are driving or doing their homework, for example, parents can shut off the text message service of cell phones or the internet for a given time frame through the parental controls’ software. CNN, will you please do a report on where to find and how to use this parental control software for both the Internet and for the cell text message services? I am sure many parents would appreciate this in order to help their kids to concentrate more on their homework...

    September 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm |
  10. Roy

    It is nice to hear Obama talk and not have some sort of political idealology behind it. I will give him credit...this was a good speech. I am not an Obama supporter at all. I disagree with much of his agenda. However, he is still the President and because of that I will respect the office. I do wonder though...how many of you on this board that are outraged over the "disrespect" of Obama were outraged as well when President Bush was being disrespected?

    September 8, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  11. Victoria Wolf

    Certainly a speech to all American citizens of any age.

    September 8, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  12. Ali Goktan

    What a great speech. I wonder what those people who started the controversy last week think about their action now. This is very inspiring and uplifting speech that I hope every K-12 student in the country had a chance to listen directly form the President. I cannot wait to get comments from my own 10th and 8th graders tonigth. What a wonderful example to mention Michael Jordan that failure is not the end of everything, contrary may be necessary for success. Well done Mr. President and please keep education on top of your agenda for our children.

    September 8, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  13. Sandy

    I watched it live on CNN. I thought it was an excellent and very educational speech. While I was watching it, I thought not only the students at school but everyone in the world should watch and listen to President Obama's speech. I wish I have heard a speech like today when I was in school and President Obama was right about learning from your mistakes and not think of as failures. I hope my nephew and niece get to watch and listen to the President Obama's speech today at school. If not, I will be sure to print a hard copy for them to read it and ask them if they learn and understand it. The bottom line.......it's a shame that there's still some Americans can't except the fact or truth. Today is no longer the past but it's the future. For those of you who still can't accept, please wake up and smell the coffee!!!

    September 8, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  14. Nina Swan

    As a college guidance counselor to high schoolers, I see the immense power and importance of encouragement – from wherever a student can get it. When the person who holds the highest elected seat in the nation (i.e. the President) takes time out to speak to pre-voters, a group that often gets little if any mention in political circles, I say, "Bravo." This is the kind of attention that can make a difference in these children's lives, and, the world beyond. All of us, of all political persuasions, have a story about something someone once said that stuck with us, and helped us stay strong, or inspired us; there is no doubt that President Obama's speech will touch many young people's lives in a positive way. That's good, right? (pun intended, "right")

    September 8, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  15. Janet Glazier

    Quoting -sandy-"BRAV0,BRAVO,BRAVO!!! I just finished watching our Presidents speech to our nation’s school children and all I have to say is any parent, teacher, or school who does not allow their children or students watch this speach, they have a real problem. He said everything that should be said to kids and he said it the right way. I hope my grandchildren listened to this man. He knows what it was like to struggle when he was young and I think some kids can relate to him. come on people, teach your child to have respect for the office of the President no matter who it is. I think some parents are breeding ill thoughts and actions into their children by the way they themselves act. Again, Bravo Mr. President.
    Totally agree!!!

    September 8, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  16. Michelle

    let us not kid ourselves here, the outcry over the Presidents Speech was based on RACISM, it was more about the MAN WITH THE BLACK SKIN IN THE WHITE HOUSE, than acutally thinking that he was going to INDOCTRINATE our Children.
    The lack of RESPECT for our President by thess people just enforces the fact that, America is still a Racist Country.
    Those parents who jumped on their high horses and came up with all the crap, are the same parents who cannot control their kids, the same ones who think that for their child to have a Cell Phone in class is more important than actually trying to learn something, the same parents whose kids either drop out early or who literally do not care about their future.

    And we wonder why the rest of the world hates America and Americans? well look no further, less we forget, the ENEMIES of this country do not view us in Black and White, when the terrorists reigned terror on 9/11, they did not care about how many black or white victims they would amass, their aim was to destroy America and Americans.

    we need to find solutions and pull together as a Nation, with a vast array of different people and cultures, that is what should make us beautiful.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  17. Matthias

    It is not important if you are comunist or extreme right, what is important is doing the right thing for the right reason, and that is what Obama is doing. As a student myself, I found Obamas speech inspiering, and i believe all students should read it. Anyone that tries to stop that is an ignorant.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  18. Leda Buller

    The President was addressing very specifically many of the challenges and situations faced by the underprivileged children in our public schools. It is clear that those who opposed this speech simply do not relate to the real problems of the disadvantaged. I really believe these people don't want the "more fair and and free" America to which the President referred.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Michael Nuss (Greenville, SC)

    One of the most important things an American President can do is motivate & inspire.

    Personally, I wish the address would have been even more specific and more direct than it was ! But, the message of HARD WORK and PERSEVERANCE was well-delivered and sorely needed in our America of today !

    Bravo, Mr. President ! Your own amazing example of how hard you work every day is, in itself, an inspiration (even to me ! ) ! ! ! ! ! !

    EVERY American – young or old – should be inspired from the address.

    Bravo, also, to the students of Wakefield HS ! You all did a GREAT job of listening and being attentive and respectful !

    September 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  20. Sammie-Joe

    Great pep talk.
    Could you tell me which World War America won?
    Maybe Mr. Obama should re take history!

    September 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  21. Patricia Robinson(Lifeteller)

    Children are People too
    The Question is Should Obama speak to our kids.
    These are the same kids we pushed to get involved in the election.
    Now we are questioning weather or not the man they walked for, wondered about.
    Should be able to talk to our kids
    From birth we as parents try to protect them the best we can.
    But for some people they cripple their kids. Making them slaves to what we believe.
    Slaves to a world not so kind, Because our world is weak and hateful.
    Making them weak as they reach.
    Scared to feel safety with their own steps.
    I think as a child grows we should let go of their hands.
    Give them space to stand, investigate, make choices.
    Instead we as parent are so blind in our own distrust.
    Our children find themselves mistrusting, what they are scared to question
    And as I tell my daughter, kids need to be able to get along
    Understand, what their next step is about. If we don’t allow that step how will they learn.
    A child should not have to look toward mom for their every breath.
    If mom isn’t their where do they find their truth.
    We have to give them the ability to answer if asked, question if confused.
    Now a few people are bringing up a negative about their choice for President.
    Blatant mixed signals. That its alright if its your way. If its not your way then no way.
    That is confusing to kids.
    Our excuses for what we do is, they are just children.
    Believe me that child knows how to push your buttons.
    From the first day he or she cried and he or she realized crying got what they wanted.
    Children are sponges and they soak in what we wet them with.
    If we moisten hate then they will hate.
    Their sponges are dry and eager to soak up everything.
    We as parents have to be more clear. Allow our children to make decisions for them selves.
    Allow them to listen, discuss, think, answer, feel, wonder, push reach. Children are people too.
    The question is should Obama speak to our kids.
    If we have done right by our kids allowed them to think, evaluate, explore, my answer is what your answer should be by all means yes! Let Obama speak.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  22. Tricia

    Well, I just watched the President's speech, the gist of which was to encourage students to work hard, take advantage of their educational opportunities, and become the best U.S. citizens they could be. He was absolutely inspirational.

    Now, if anyone still objects to the content of his speech, I can only assume that they wish the opposite for their kids–to be lazy bums, squander their time in school, and wind up a drain on this country. Seems pretty clear to me.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  23. Dan Hansman

    Tony misspoke this AM when he characterized the President's speech as controversial. There was no such thing before, during or after the speech. What was controversial was the comments and actions by people against the President speaking. It is insulting to the Office of Pres.,the President himself & the country he represents. These comments against the President's speech this time were not only UnAmerican but anti-American and if made by a US citizen is a despicable and shameful act.!

    September 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  24. Laura

    I just have to say, I was so excited when Obama was elected & we got a majority in Congress b/c I thought my party was finally growing a backbone. Yet so far Obama & Dems have backed down on everything. If he can't even stand up to conservatives re. the first draft of a speech to children, what will happen to health care reform? I guess we can say goodbye to the public option, or to anything meaningful for that matter. This is just Democratic politics as usual. Republican philosophy might be elitist, unrealistic & puke worthy, but at least they finish what they start.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  25. Mary Ann O'Connor

    President Obama gave a stupendous speech.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  26. sandy

    BRAV0,BRAVO,BRAVO!!! I just finished watching our Presidents speech to our nation's school children and all I have to say is any parent, teacher, or school who does not allow their children or students watch this speach, they have a real problem. He said everything that should be said to kids and he said it the right way. I hope my grandchildren listened to this man. He knows what it was like to struggle when he was young and I think some kids can relate to him. come on people, teach your child to have respect for the office of the President no matter who it is. I think some parents are breeding ill thoughts and actions into their children by the way they themselves act. Again, Bravo Mr. President.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm |
  27. M Baker

    The President spoke encouragingly and honestly about a student's personal responsibility to become successful.

    And in a day and time where so many people, young and old, pass off personal responsibility and are quick to blame others for their lack of success – in the class room, on the playing field, in personal relationships-I found the President's message inspiring and meaningful.

    How can we possibly argue or find offensive, ANYONE'S message that becoming all that we can be is up to each individual? Thank you President Obama.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:30 pm |
  28. Carolyn Ogren

    President Obama's speech to school children was exactly the right thing to say to kids. I hope their parents and teachers will reinforce the message at home and in school. This is true leadership.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  29. Barbara Herrick

    Obama's speech to students was just right. I'm glad he did that.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  30. Dillon Charles

    I think the Americans have it really good try coming to a country like Guyana where the Government dont even gives a rats ass some times matter a fact most times.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  31. S. Schaffer

    Excellent speech! As a retired teacher, I would have been thrilled to have my students hear such a motivational, but realistic, speech to kick off the school year. One of the best statements was: "Don't let your failures define you; let your failures teach you."

    September 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  32. laurie

    I believe that the parents who will not allow their children to listen to our President speak are afraid that their children will finally realize that our President is not such a bad guy afterall. If they were to allow their children to listen, they will then have to explain to their children why they have been telling lies to their children about President Obama. Those are the parents who will be responsible for hiding the truth from their children, and I only feel sadness for those children. THAT is the kind of behavior that is leading this country to communism.

    September 8, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  33. Ray

    So GOP poilitics has finally shown its true face. "Racism". They might not call it that, but the truth is, it is. Have you noticed that most likely the ones that didn't vote Democratic are the ones yelling the loudest about everything the President does. The media is feeding into their craziness by letting them share the lies with everyone. I know that the media tries to show everyone in denial as crazy, but they don't care. The GOP is already on shutdown mode. Nothing, but nothing can make them change their minds and they refuse to change. It doesn't matter to them. You could slap them with the truth and they talk to you as if you didn't even say a thing to them. If fact as you try to explain to them in plain English they talk over your talking point so that you don't make sense about what you are talking about. Shame on the media for letting the crazies make the Presidents speech as a propaganda speech. No other President has EVER had to fight to talk to students. Shame on those schools that chose not to hear the Presidents speech. Like the universities, don't they receive Federal money? A short speech will not hold a student back of anything and as parents well know about their children, they will do as they want and not as they are told to do so. Propaganda, what a fear tactic. Unbelieveable. The GOP has stooped to its lowest.

    September 8, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  34. Jin Yang Hun(in u.s, Yang Hun Jin)

    Race is not matter of this issue because many school principal is black.
    And even they doesn't want it.
    Just,
    the people who have supported current u.s president might be
    disappointed of such a decision and they seemed to lose courage.
    They should be very nervous,now.

    Sep-08-2009 Tuesday
    in library on Gst between 9th st and 10th st.
    am 11:50

    September 8, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  35. Jeneane M Herrera

    Though I am a conservative Republican, I was moved and proud of the President's speech. Though I differ with many of the President's policies, for many disadvantaged kids, he may be the only adult who cares enough to encouage and challenge them. I understand the qualms many had about the speech and its curriculum suggestions, which were also a concern to me. But publishing it in advance, altering the directed study questions, and giving parents a choice, were all good solutions to the problems. In the end, the speech brought honor our country, its opportunites, and our President's desire to see so many others achieve, as he has. More leaders need to do as President Obama has done, in this case.

    September 8, 2009 at 11:51 am |
  36. Victoria Wolf

    As I write this there were 97 responses so far on this subject .... was very heartened by many, who had no problem with listening/watching something, and making up their own minds. Was so glad that so many expressed that the president, once elected, is the president of all American Citizens, and as that head of nation has the right to be respectfully heard ... period.

    How can we be the representative government we say we are, if we do not educate ourselves to the facts/the truth, and effectively/honestly participate. The government is us! If we are not participating, under the agreed upon protocols, we really do not have the right to whine and criticize others. To make threats is totally not appropriate under our style of democracy. That some are promoting that 'liberals' and 'others' be exterminated is beyond this person's belief system, who was sure we had already left the 'dark' ages.

    You don't like what you see, there are legal/civilized avenues for you to take, examples for you to set, responsibility for you to accept.

    You know those statements and pledges that new Americans being confirmed have to study, repeat, and swear by??? By the nature of us being already citizens we already have sworn to uphold those certain principles of being an American.

    Hating your neighbor because of their beliefs does not factor in, nor does the promoting of violence toward others who think or look different ... not in our founding documents, or the religion(s) most express they are a part of.

    One nation ... under a 'God' of ALL, indivisible (when it really counts) ... with liberty and justice for EVERYBODY! .... with certain inalienable rights (check the dictionary if need be) ... and of course ... the sacred/blessed pursuit of happiness, i.e. individual freedom!!!

    Like I said, I was heartened by the responses of so many ... sane, caring, compassionate, thinking, patriotic Americans of all mind sets ... not robots, but people who allow themselves to examine the facts, and make an educated opinion about the issues that face all members of our 'created equally' society ... The United States of America.

    Victoria..

    (Personally, I wish we could give the whole country back to the Origianal People to manage, in their ancient ways of seeing their Creator in everything and offering due respect ... to live out my days in a tent under some nice tree, with just what I need for daily survival ... a tree I could hug now and then, which would hug me back ... birds to listen to, but considering the times my family is living in, I will continue to support my nation with all my heart to the best of my ability).

    "democracy requires participation"

    -–Original Message-–
    From: WordPress.com
    To: pyskie@aol.com
    Sent: Tue, Sep 8, 2009 3:50 am
    Subject: [amFIX] New Comment On: Obama to students: Education key to future

    There is a new comment on the post "Obama to students: Education key to future".

    http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2009/09/08/obama-to-students-education-key-to-future/

    Author: Vee
    Comment:
    There is no system of government in the world where it is sensible to cover your
    ears when the head of state speaks. If you live in a totalitarian society, you
    need to know what you’re expected to do and your leader will tell you. In any
    sort of adversarial system, you need to know what the other side is saying so
    that you can respond to it. If you live in a democracy, you need to listen to
    all points of view, formulate your own opinions and debate people with whom you
    disagree; in other words, democracy requires participation. I don’t even have to
    read the text of the speech to know that I need to hear it; it’s the President!
    Respect the office. How is it that so many American adults don’t know that? Let
    your kids hear the speech and then DO YOUR JOB, parents. Make it a “teachable
    moment.” Ask them what they heard, how they feel about it, what they agree with,
    what they disagree with. Then you tell them your opinion. Have a lively debate.
    That’s called parenting! Do
    you want to encourage your kids to stick their heads in the sand, to be
    uninformed and unable to formulate their own opinions, to be so rigid in their
    thinking that they are unable to tolerate even hearing a comment they disagree
    with? Is that the sort of adult you want running the country in 30 years? Is
    that the sort of adult you want taking care of you when you’re old and feeble?
    And if your only objection is that Obama is neither Republican nor conservative,
    try to remember that the first President Bush did exactly the same thing in the
    early ‘90s, including asking kids to write him letters. My only question is: How
    is that some schools are NOT airing the speech? Obviously they have lost the
    meaning of "education."

    September 8, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  37. Paul Mysza

    never have i heard so much commotion, as i have, since we have a black president. i am a white republican. we did not say a word about bush or reagan, when they spoke with our children. we did not say a word when bush put us in a war with iraq. we sat silently as we entered afghanistan. we never questioned the government listening to our conversations. we said nothing about our interrogation tactics that cheney allowed. we didn't do much about our govt. leaking CIA names. that is considered to be treason. the right wing sure likes to throw around terms like socialist and communist. read the manifesto, by engalls and marx. we already have socialist programs all through america: public education, welfare, medicaid, to name a few. remember back in george w.'s day, our frequent saying was "DON'T TASE ME MAN!" Give obama a chance.

    September 8, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  38. Adela Dautovic

    I just read Obama's speech to school children and I can't find anything wrong with it. In fact it's a beautiful message. I CAN'T UNDERSTAND SOME OF THESE PARENTS WHO ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS?? What's wrong with some people??

    September 8, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  39. Jenalb

    For Gods sake why do people have to consider this a race issue. It's definately not!! Do we not understand that President Obama is both white and black, his mother a white woman hello. This is about keeping our kids out the the government affairs. In due time they will have to deal with it. The speech today will not make a difference unless parents teach their children right from wrong and it is not going to change unless the adults change! It has to start at home

    September 8, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  40. Carolyn

    “If you quit on school you are not just quitting on yourself you are quitting on your country”
    President Barak Obama

    Growing up, I would have loved if my Prime Minister said those words to me and the country at large. It would have made such a difference to us. A lot of young people do not understand the importance of education so; they go to school and waste their time, the time of the teachers and the time of other students who could be learning valuable lessons. The aftermath of this is that they become school dropouts, having no jobs or income, some forming the dregs of society. But guess what, they still have to survive. What do they do? They become coke and crack addicts, rapist, and murders to name a few. All these illicit activities cause the country a lot of money. Money that could be spent improving the education system, providing better health care, and reducing unemployment, fighting terrorism.

    By telling students to stay in school and get an education, the President is trying to prevent all the illicit activities mentioned above. Parents should stop looking for ulterior motive behind Mr. Obama’s speech and try to come up with solutions has to how to keep their kids in school. Because ultimately if the future, (children), is uneducated then what hope does America has.

    Carolyn (Jamaica)

    September 8, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  41. jim vicalvi

    Well, ElisaS, I for one agree with you %100. You said things more eloquently than I could have. Yes, you have had your rabid leftwing,liberal democratic dead beats commenting against you.{I can profile and have opinions on you liberal, communists too!!}. If obummer did revise his speech, where is the first one? If I want to see pictures of my noble leader on the wall I will move to N. Korea or Chuna. Or, down where obummer's new best friend, chavez, resides. However, I live in the United States of America and as an AMERICAN have the freedom of speech and choice. I hear all this vitriolic diatribe and am reminded of the old saying that "opinions are like as--, everyone has one". You have my vote, ElisaS

    September 8, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  42. Constance Eves

    At age 79 I have seen and heard a lot of presidents speak. And heard a lot of public comments. But I can't remember ever hearing so much disrespect as I hear now. It seems to me for the most part to be racially motivated–a disgrace to our citizens–and, if one still wants to use what is to me a rather miserable term, politically incorrect. Altho I spent many years on the Republican side, because of their fiscal responsibility, I am horrified by the vitriol they are now displaying and have displayed over the last several months.
    Especially having read the President's speech to school children, I think it is a marvelous speech and hopefully inspiring to all the children who are allowed to hear it. Schools which are not showing it are certainly not living up to any education principles I ever knew.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  43. leonard

    The Republicans main agenda is to trash anything that Democrats want to do to help the middle class, hard working Americans have a better life. I actually feel sorry for the Republicans and I pray for them ever night. They know if this health care plan passes the American people will see through the smoke and mirrors of Republican talk. Republicans aren't very good creating bills to help the middle class Americans. Although they can talk a hobo out of is last drink of whiskey, because that's what they do best is talk. They're just not good at anything else. I pray to God to give them intellect. And to look at the big picture of humanity not just profit.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  44. jay m

    The party of hate and no will not support this President on anything.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:58 am |
  45. Harold Copeland, Retired Master Sergeant-U.S. Army Reserves

    Greetings CNN staff:

    I just want to briefly comment on President Obama's upcoming "Back to School Speech" scheduled for today at noon EST. Without reservation I believe this speech is one of the most important speeches since his Inauguration. President Obama's life has been more chronicled prior to and since his election than any President in history. He is an outstanding leader of the greatest country in the world. Based on his background, challenges, and triumphs in life, who better than he to speak to children all across America about the importance of obtaining a good education. During these trying times our children need positive encouragement from our leaders, especially our President. They need to see leadership at its best – strong, efficient, positive, and morally sound. I am very excited about this President and Commander-in-Chief because he represents that leadership and the best America has to offer. He cares deeply about ALL Americans regardless of race, age, gender, income, religion, educational background, physical or mental capacity. There is a racist segment of folks, both Democrat and Republican, in this country who have not accepted President Obama as President of the United States of America and will never accept him. That same segment have openly opposed everything positive he has attempted to do. They represent the ugly side of America. But I believe in Almighty God and I am proud of those truly great Americans of all races and backgrounds who have stood shoulder to shoulder in support of our wonderful President. These great Americans realize that all of our children's future is at stake and that we are all in this together. They, like myself, welcome President Obama encouraging our children to embrace education to help make America a better place FOR ALL OF US.

    God bless President Obama and the First Family, God bless all of our elected officials, and God bless America.

    September 8, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  46. BRIGITTE

    I am a supporter of The Presidents speach,
    and I am happy to say our school district will allow it's broadcast.
    There is no political conent in it and I think it's nonsense to argue
    about it. I'm glad my children are able to see it. A lot of times it takes
    more than just parents to educate their children. I appreciate all the
    mentors in my childrens lives such as, teachers, ministers and coaches. And I especailly appreciate the President taking time out of
    busy schedule to encourage my children. He has a genuine concern
    for all chidren of this country.
    Thank you President Obama

    September 8, 2009 at 10:28 am |
  47. Marcus Hackett from Fairfield, AL.

    Question, if former President Bush gave a speech today in front a group of kids in alternative school or a failing school, would he get the same comments as President Obama? America would all agree that the answer would be NO!! I'm a 22 year old college student without kids and I feel from a parent perspective they should be proud that somebody cares about their children and their education. Children are the key to the future; however, if the drop out rate raises ever year what future do we have to look foward to. I always believed that "it takes a villege to raise a child;" although, we are a big villege and the chief of the village wants to encourage the children of his tribe to do better in school and become successful. I commend the network of BET for a week dedicated to being successful and staying in school and also showing success story of children in different places who struggling and become successful in what they do. I

    September 8, 2009 at 10:15 am |
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