Obama’s Speech to America’s Students

I just finished watching the President’s speech tonight and I liked it.  I think the first part was a little weak but toward the end it had some real substance.  I don’t know if it had much impact in student’s lives overall but I also don’t think it hurt anything either.  I loved the examples at the end regarding failure.  Everyone is going to stumble at one point in their life and you aren’t always going to be good at everything you try.  I think people give up on things too easily.  I had a preacher in Oregon who didn’t teach me much (sorry but you didn’t) but the one thing that did stick is every Sunday he would tell his congregation to “stick and stay and make it pay”.  What he meant by that is you are going to get your feelings hurt at one point or another but if you let others take you away from your true purpose you will lose out on learning and fellowship.

Let’s take a look at America’s education system:

  • American 12th graders rank 19th out of 21 industrialized countries in mathematics achievement and 16th out of 21 nations in science. Our advanced physics students rank dead last.
  • Since 1983, over 10 million Americans have reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. Over 20 million have reached their senior year unable to do basic math. Almost 25 million have reached 12th grade not knowing the essentials of U.S. history.
  • In the same period, over six million Americans dropped out of high school altogether. In 1996, 44% of Hispanic immigrants aged 16-24 were not in school and did not hold a diploma.
  • In the fourth grade, 77% of children in urban high-poverty schools are reading “below basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
  • Average per-pupil spending in U.S. public schools rose 212% from 1960 to 1995 in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) dollars.
  • In 1960, for every U.S. public school teacher there were approximately 26 students enrolled in the schools. In 1995, there were 17.
  • The average salary of U.S. public school teachers rose 45% in real dollars from 1960 to 1995.
  • In 1996, 64% of high school seniors reported doing less than one hour of homework per night.

My article with sources at the bottom of the page: http://www.freedomworks.org/

My Notes from President Obama’s Speech:

  • Unless you show up, education doesn’t mean anything
  • Put in the hard work it takes to succeed
  • Education is the responsibility they each have
  • Everyone has something they are good at and you have responsibility to yourself to find what that is
  • You can’t drop out of school and drop into a good job
  • Nobody has written your destiny, in America you make your own future
  • You won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try
  • Some of the most successful people in the world are those who had the most failures
  • You can’t let your failures define you, you have to let your failures teach you
  • Asking for help isn’t the sign of weakness isn’t a weakness, it is a strength
  • Even if people give up on you, don’t ever give up on yourself

Everyone has been super quiet in “commentland” these days, what did you think of the speech?