Tuesday, September 8, 2009
My favorite part:
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.
Inevitably, there's controversy surrounding this speech. Some are claiming that Obama is putting too much pressure on students to "fix" the country, but I saw this speech as a message of encouragement. Students are the future, and it's important to encourage them to see school as an opportunity to discover their passions and talents.
Also, conservatives are claiming that in addressing children, Obama was trying to "sell" his political agenda. Parents protested the speech, carrying signs with such phrases as: "Mr. President, stay away from our kids."
As far as I know, it is extremely common for presidents to address children and schools, and as far as I know, Obama didn't say the words, "SOCIALISM GOOD DEMOCRACY BAD" to the children, so where is the problem again? E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post says it well:
Upon Barack Obama's election, even my most conservative friends who supported John McCain said Obama could do a world of good for poor children in the country by stressing the importance of education, hard work, staying in school and taking responsibility. Yes, those are often thought of as conservative values.
But when Obama proposed to do just that on the first day of school, the far right -- without asking any questions or seeking any information -- decided to pounce, on the theory that everything Obama did should be attacked relentlessly as part of some secret and dangerous ideological agenda.
The Republicans must be terrified of Obama turning our children into zombies: