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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Obama speech released

Monday, September 7, 2009

President Barack Obama
The text of President Barack Obama's speech to students nationwide, planned for Tuesday, was released Monday afternoon.

The following is the speech in its entirety:

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Va.,

Sept. 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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Dang socialists. Indoctrinating our students to work hard!

What is all the controversy about? I don't get it.

-- Posted by exbrazilrez on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 4:52 PM

I think that most of the controversy sprang out not knowing what was going to be said. Frankly, after reading what the President is planning to say, excepting his examples about specific people; he is not saying anything that I have not been saying for years.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 5:22 PM

Don't you get it? He's black! No way there would be a controversy if this was George Bush.

-- Posted by guesswho? on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 5:23 PM

It dose not matter, he is our president and we need to have respect for him. Any body can watch or not watch, This is up to each and every one of us. There will always be controversy in our so called human behavior. It always seems like there are more people that comlpain then there are people that voted. I always vote, we all need to vote, if we don,t vote we need not complain. And yes I did vote for him, not at first but I did. In the primary was a different vote and I was proud of that vote.

-- Posted by garyodavis on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 5:58 PM

Think of this, We still dont know what he is going to say, we just know what they say and write what he plans to say.

-- Posted by garyodavis on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 6:06 PM

Thanks for throwing the race crutch out there...

-- Posted by michael.galloway1 on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 8:02 PM

guesswho, I don't really care if it was George Bush, Barrack Obama, or Abe Lincoln. I am concerned about the messages given to my children in school. I didn't denounce the speech, I wanted it to be released much sooner. In all fairness, aren't textbooks proofread, or screened in some way before being introduced into the curriculum. We shouldn't even point out the color of the President's skin. I want my child to respect the office of the president, and really didn't want anything said by him, to them, that I would have to disagree with if my child asks. In my opinion, his speech is completely appropriate, but what if the president wanted to speak to the children for an hour every day...with no release of what was being said, should I be ok with that? I want my child to view this speech now, but only after complete disclosure of subject matter.

-- Posted by almostfootballfree on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 8:09 PM

Like it or not there are people out there that don't like him because he is black. Everyone knows at least someone with that way of thinking.

-- Posted by guesswho? on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 8:46 PM


Who cares? If people dont like him cause he's black who cares? they are just ignorant. There are just as many people that like him only because he is black, which is just as bad. I do not support O'bama because of his political views. So I would like to see what he had to say prior to him telling my kids that. Parents should raise their kids, not the president.

-- Posted by The Crabb in AZ on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 10:19 PM

I see nothing wrong with the speech. I have been saying that for years to my own kids "Dont give up on yourself" Work hard in school , You Need a good education for a good job..... Heck My parents told me that when I went to school, So what is in his speech is nothing new.. May be comming from the president the kids may listen better to whats being said. Come on we all know parents dont know what they are talking about. Didnt you think that when You were in school?

-- Posted by pepsilady on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 4:31 AM


You said: "I am concerned about the messages given to my children in school."

No matter what person has contact with your child, teacher, playmate etc, all people are going to put some bias leanings in conversations. A teacher would have to be a robot and even not doing her job if he/she isn't putting compasion into his/her teaching. Some of their beliefs are going to be spilled over with that compassion. No I'm not saying they should be allowed to quote passages from the Bible or Quran, but the teachings of their faith are going to be there in that room if they are truly practicing their faith. That is what is called mentoring. From other classmates called peer pressure. Textbooks too have historically been notorious for rewriting history and being one sided in favor of what the government has done. They are not edited as carefully as you may have thought. History books have been slanted against Native Americans, black people, and women's rights in the past. Even outright mistakes are found in them. Several years ago one right here in Clay county said that the Statue of Liberty was made of bronze.

The important thing to get across to the kids is not to take everything that they are told as fact to regurgitate back out, but to use their mind to search out the truth from many sources. If you and the teachers have done their job, this is what your student will do. From what I read from Obama's speech last night, my kids will most likely roll their eyes and think that he is just repeating what I say all the time. Isn't it good that maybe some kids will get to hear it for the first time as so many parents are not truly parenting still in our country? The bad thing about this speech is that he has to make it because so many parents still don't get it.

Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 6:38 AM

In commenting on another article, I said that while he is President, Barack Obama is not Bill Cosby; meaning, that I have my doubts as to his effectiveness in addressing the large and varied audience that comprises this nation's K-12 students. Upon reading these planned remarks, I see some that could resonate through history as have John Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" and Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream!". It will depend on how the words are delivered verbally.

"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." (Isn't this true of all of us, whether we are still in school or not?)

"Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it."

"don't ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country."

"I want to ask you, what's your contribution going to be?"

These excerpts may well not be memorable in print, but depending on the delivery, each sentence could be.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 6:58 AM

I'm just glad that the White House released the text prior to the speech. I'm glad that it is about people instead of policy or politics.

Perhaps, a few children will be inspired to do better because of it. Isn't that why we have extra-curricular activities at school, to inspire a few children to do better? I think that the President's message that you are not going to go through life succeeding at everything and failing at nothing, but you should try anyway is inspiration rooted in reality. Not every child is going to make the team and you cannot count on the team winning every game.

I have to agree with almostfootballfree on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 8:09 PM, in saying "I didn't denounce the speech, I wanted it to be released much sooner" and "I want my child to view this speech now, but only after complete disclosure of subject matter" which pretty well concurs with The Crabb in AZ on Mon, Sep 7, 2009, at 10:19 PM "So I would like to see what he had to say prior to him telling my kids that" and pepsilady on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 4:31 AM "My parents told me that when I went to school, So what is in his speech is nothing new".

I'm going to tape it and if my grandson doesn't see it at school, he will see it at home.

Jenny Moore illustrated that people cannot fail to insert some personal bias into interaction. She did, however, miss an opportunity to state that within our high schools that the local teacher's bas has been replaced with an unknown programmer's bias with her comment of "A teacher would have to be a robot and even not doing her job if he/she isn't putting compassion into his/her teaching" by using the term "robot" instead of "computer"............LOL!

While I am concerned with some things that a person might learn from other people, I worry most about what students may learn from their peers, such as, you can take the NWEA evaluations in under two minutes by pushing the "A" key then "Enter" as fast as you can!!!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 7:44 AM

This may be a record for the most print on an article on the Times web site! I wonder if anyone keeps track of that? Anyway it all is a really interesting read. Thanks to all! I can't wait to hear my daughters impression of the speech if they watch it. I have said nothing on the subject to her so I hope to hear only her take on it.

-- Posted by michael.galloway1 on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 8:47 AM

I think that many people on hate radio have frightened the citizens against Obama and so they rile them up.

They said he had no business talking to our children and scared to death he would infuse politics to 'children', come on!!

Obama believes that the future of our Nation depends on the education of America. He is absolutely correct. We cannot climb out of our recessions and upheavals with derilicts and gangs that dropped out of school. He is inspiring youth to take up the challenge to be their best, contribute to society and that way we have less people depending on the system, and fixing the economy etc.

Thank you Obama, for helping these kids find their way. You are an example to all that no matter how hard it appears, doing your best is supreme. It makes you a better person, better parent, better American. That was a good speech.

-- Posted by Pearl2083 on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 10:11 AM


-- Posted by BONKATEBONK on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 3:14 PM

The concern I have is just another thing this administration is trying to take over. We are capable of telling this to our own children we do not need someone else. They are OUR KIDS!

-- Posted by Jolly on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 3:15 PM


We don't own our kids. So many forget that. they are not chattel. We have certain rights but we also have responsibilities to our kids that go along with that. The problem here is that there are too many parents are NOT telling this to their kids. We are bound to make sure that they are educated or we can be accused of educational neglect. Getting help from the President should be welcomed and not looked upon as an intrusion.

I don't understand why so many are upset about this. He's got kids himself. He knows how to talk to them.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 9:09 PM

Freedom of Speech?

If this was George W. Bush, the liberal Dems would have gone crazy.

When California voted to ban gay marriage, the protesters went after the proponents with such vile and nasty tactics that people felt they were in a 3rd world country with hit men potentially would go after them metaphorically.

We have to return to a country where we can debate our differences, we have to do this intelligently, and we have to have civility.

We have to have a forum in this country where we can discuss things.

We also have to have a country where people understand that there are consequences to our actions. We have to have folks who want to go to work, pass a drug screen test, and pay taxes.

Alot of folks have mistaken Pres Obama with a Free Lunch, there is no free anything. Except Liberty for the pursuit of happiness. That is earned by sweat equity, whether through your body or your mind.

-- Posted by classof1979bhs on Tue, Sep 8, 2009, at 10:38 PM

I'm glad the schools here didn't allow the children to watch Obama's speech. The government has pretty much taken away any religion from the schools due to different beliefs. So why should children be forced to listen to a president that is doing not so great of a job by some peoples belief? I guess if I were of a lesser financial situation, I would feel different about Obama. To me he just seems like a modern day Robin Hood. How many years are our children going to have to work to pay back all the money he has spent? They should just leave the presidential speeches for the evening time. That way the parents can decide without throwing the schools into to mix. Then there wouldn't have been such a debate. Many wouldv'e just changed the channel and watched something else anyways.

-- Posted by liarsalwaysgetcaught on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 6:08 AM


You sound a little confused by the separation of church and state. This rule is to protect you from having to be under rules of another religion that is not yours. for example if you went to school in Germany you would have a religion class. You would have a choice. Catholic or Lutheran. Both are Christian religions but each may use a different interpretation of the Bible or different translation. Still, your child would be learning a brand of religion other than yours. Worse yet, what if you weren't even Christian? Believe it or not there a good hard working people right in this community who practice other faiths. There are even more I'll bet who claim a faith but don't really practice it. Our school system is set up to protect us from having to listen to the rhetoric and preaching of a religious tradition we don't adhere to. The government hasn't taken anything away from us. It's given us the choice of not having to listen to someone talk about what they believe when we might not.

Though I am a Christian I want to be able to teach my children what I was taught in MY traditional faith. I don't want some one else coming in and giving their interpretation which may be totally different and opposed to what I believe. We need to protect this right that we've been given in this country even when the particular "brand" of religion which is the most popular in any given area happens to be our own as that is not the case in all areas of the US.

In Utah Latter Day Saints is the popular religion. In Some areas it's Catholicism. In others Judaism is the most prevelant among the population. You cannot just look at our own little community and judge that by the fact that most people are non denominational Christian as are you and think that it's ok to remove that right to have our educational system and religious preferences separated. It would set a dangerous precedent for all of us and take away the rights of the few who don't practice the religion of the majority; or even worse, the ruling party of government as it is in many countries. Would you like to be told that while in school you cannot eat meat of Fridays during Lent and on Ash Wednesday no lunch is served as it is a day of fasting. How about the days during Ramadan when no food is eaten from sun up to sundown? Then there is the no pork rule of both Judaism and Islam. There goes those pork fritter mystery meat things and sausage pizza...

What if the entire class had to break for prayer five times a day? What about not going to school on Friday as that is the sabbath but having to on Sunday? Once precedence is set, it could go anywhere. Let's keep it as it is with protections in place for all and teach our kids about religion at home and in our places of worship and those in school can act out their faith as good examples and not preach it. THAT is how Christ can be truly put in the schools if you want Him there.

Have a good day

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 7:06 AM


i disagree with you on his statement:

if we don,t vote we need not complain.

voting is a choice. If one choses not to vote , that is his vote. we all have the right to complain.

sometime voting isn't for whom you want , but the better of two evils.

it is the electorial votes that really count. not popular vote.

not sure but Bush lost the popular vote and won electorial vote and became president.

that is all on that.

about the president making a speech for kids to stay in school and work hard. There are x-cons giving speeches about not breaking the law, I think if anyone can help our kids work hard and stay in school Good for them.

Jenny Moore .

you are getting to deep.

-- Posted by Sand mann on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 9:06 AM

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