Obama Encourages Students with a Back-to-School Speech

Esther Kim, Staff Writer

On September 8, 2009, at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, President Barack Obama delivered a “back-to-school” speech to students throughout the country. He advised students to stay in school, try their best to achieve their goals, and work hard for the future. During his speech, Mr. Obama related to the students by talking about his own experiences as a student. He also said that they may not like every class, enjoy every subject, or be fond of every teacher, but being successful is hard so they shouldn’t let failure stop them from pursuing their goals and that they should learn from it instead.

Many of the students who listened to the speech were inspired to work harder and set their own goals. Mr. Obama’s story of waking up at 4:30 a.m. every morning in Indonesia to be home-schooled by his mother motivated a fifth-grader from San Francisco, William Geist, to start waking up earlier (hosted.ap.org).

Many districts, however, did not agree with having the students listen to the speech; some of them stated that President Obama was merely trying to “promote a political agenda and is overstepping the boundaries of federal involvement in schools” (The Associated Press). In fact, some parents kept their children home from school in order to prevent them from listening to the speech. Other districts did not show the speech live; however, the districts became more lenient and let it up for the teachers and principals to decide.

On the contrary to the people who opposed Obama’s speech, there were also those who backed his notion. Some districts, in company with parents, favored the idea of having the president encourage the students to work hard in school and demonstrate commitment towards what they have to do. Former first Lady Laura Bush supported Mr. Obama in an interview with CNN, saying that it is important to respect the president.