September 8, 2009


Obama delivered a speech to all school children today. The speech was awesome overall. It was all about personal responsibility, no excuses, not complaining about things not being fair, working hard even if you're underprivileged, everyone has a talent-find it and use it, stay in school and contribute to your own future and the future of the country, etc. In fact, it was a more conservative speech than I have heard conservatives give! So, I give an A+ on content.

But, unfortunately, Obama's actions do not line up with this rhetoric. Obama's actions are the opposite: we live in an unfair society, the rich take advantage of the poor and must be punished, greed drives most of society, we can't do anything on our own, we need the federal government to help us do everything, minorities can't get ahead without help, Washington has the solution to all our problems. So which is it Obama?!

Original controversy erupted on this speech because a politician (President or not) was forcing himself into every classroom. As President, he holds great power, we live in a country that has historically been very cynical of powerful political leaders (for good reason). Children at school can not vote, they have no choice, they can not change the channel, so many were afraid that there would be unwanted political tones. This is wise to be very cautious in allowing politicians to teach morality. After reading the speech, however, I thought it was a great message. But just because I personally like the message doesn't mean it is a good idea to let politicians speak directly to our children. This is not crazy, right wing fear mongering... it is common sense.

Below are a few excerpts from the speech:
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.
I will have to take his word for it here... but this seems like exaggeration to me. How often did he really have to get up at 4:30am to do extra school work growing up?! Call me a cynic ;-)

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.
Right on! And that is why this country is so great. Because we have the freedom to go out and use our individual talents to improve our own life. If one person is willing to work hard and better his/her life, and another is not, is it then "fair" to forcibly take money (under threat of jail) from the first person and give it to the second person?

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.
This is so true! The future of our country certainly hinges on the youth of today. So then what can be said of the fact that in 17 major cities in this country, OVER half of the students in public schools drop out before graduation! To me that points to a broken system. One in desperate need of change. This speech will not change that sad fact.

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.
This is a lot of liberal goo. At least he added build companies and create jobs at the end of this list. Your going to need someone to tax to pay for curing AIDS, protecting the environment, fighting poverty, fighting homelessness and discrimination, and making the nation more fair. Probably not what kids are thinking though: "I want to become a doctor/lawyer, so I can be taxed at over 50% of my income to help fight homelessness!"

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.
Barack Obama really has a great personal story. It shows how hard work and a determination to win can overcome every single obstacle. This is a rare thing in human history, and one that, while not exclusive to the United States, is concentrated here! So why does Obama travel the world apologizing for our country and his wife says she has only just been proud of it?

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.

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.

Over all, like I said, a terrific speech. A message I certainly HOPE sinks in to a few and they CHANGE for the better.
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