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The President speaks

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When all was said and done, the speech President Barack Obama gave to school children across this country Tuesday proved to be more hype than substance — less political and more traditional.

    School systems around the country were faced with the decision of how to handle the speech, which some claimed to be a political ploy to garner the support of this nation’s children apart from their parents’ input.

    The President’s real trouble began when the suggested lesson plan associated with the speech became known, including a section in which students were encouraged to write a paper stating how they could support the President. That, opponents claimed, stepped across the line into politics and the Department of Education agreed and removed that from the work suggestions. As for the speech itself,  President Obama shared his own personal story of overcoming difficult odds and making the most of his educational opportunities with the students. In the end the speech did what it should have done in the first place: encourage students to stay in school and do their best.

    Here are some excerpts:

    • “...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.”

    • “...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. ...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.”

    • “...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.”

    • “...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.”

    • “...I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. ...Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.”

    • "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.”