Prepared Remarks of Barack Obama:Back-to-School Event

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 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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Obama’s message to GMA

Obama’s message to GMA
http://www.newsbreak.com.ph
Monday, 27 July 2009

If President Arroyo has read Barack Obama’s books and if she has been following his speeches, she’ll know what to expect during their meeting in Washington D.C. this week. And she may find discomfort in Obama’s rhetoric and ideas.

It’s because GMA’s visit to the US comes at a time of public doubt about her true plans past her term in 2010. Dangling in the air are two options, both aimed at extending her stay in office: amending the Constitution through a constituent assembly, and setting up a “transition council” which she will lead and which will preside over the changing of the Constitution.

Clearly, in these two scenarios being peddled by her allies, she’s bypassing institutions and violating the Constitution.

Obama, who taught Constitutional law for 10 years, is a believer in institutions. He sees the building of institutions as the key to success of any country.

What Obama told Africa, in his speech in Ghana early July, may as well be his message for the rest of the developing world. Democracy, he said, is “more than just about holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections.”

Listen to this: “No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims off 20 percent off the top or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of…bribery.”

Obamas focus is on four critical areas: support for strong and sustainable democratic governments; support for development that provides opportunities for more people; strengthening of public health; and peaceful resolution of conflict.

Obama said that the US government will increase assistance to responsible institutions that promote good governance (parliaments that check abuse of power); rule of law (equal administration of justice); civic participation; and concrete solutions to corruption (automating services, protecting whistleblowers to advance transparency and accountability).

Thus, the issues of rebellion and terrorism in Mindanao, US aid to reform the military and strengthen anti-corruption programs, US investments in the Philippines are specifics that are best addressed, in Obama’s view, by democracies with “capable, reliable, and transparent institutions: strong parliaments, honest police forces, independent judges, an independent press, a vibrant private sector, a civil society.”

Can GMA make the case for strong institutions in the Philippines? That will be tough.

‘Obama’s new media tack can work in RP’

by Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak | 07/25/2009 3:46 AM

MANILA – It is no secret that US President Barack Obama won partly for using new media in his 2008 campaign.

New media is defined by Obama New Media Operations Manager Mary Joyce as a media message created, produced and read by the people. This means media found on the internet, and text messages via mobile phones.

Social networking sites have linked internet users to Obama’s webpage in order to know his policies and actively participate in discussions. But there is one key aspect the Obama campaign team is most proud of: getting online donations for the campaign that amounted to $500 million.

So what if they paid a dollar to the Obama campaign?

Joyce told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that the psyche behind donating money is that they feel they belong to the campaign. Joyce is also co-founder of digiactive.org, a volunteer organization helping activists around the world to use Internet and mobile phones to increase the impact of their message.
“Our marketing mantra was ‘own a piece of this campaign,’” she said. In turn, Obama supporters felt they had a say and the power to promote their candidate, and they felt more entitled to voice out what they feel and need.

Recognizing the importance of people’s donations, Obama even mentioned in his November 7, 2008 speech that his victory was built by working men and women who donated small amounts–from $5-$20–to the cause.

Joyce said that Obama did not have access to funds from the traditional elite of America so, “we had no choice but to campaign online, asking for donations from Middle America.”

Obama supporters, Joyce said, felt that Obama was accountable for what he promised because their money was used for their campaign. This way, they felt empowered and wanted him to win.

Donating Online to Organizing Offline

Obama’s campaign also encouraged his supporters to put up their own events at home, or wherever convenient, and invite their friends or family, whatever their political background.

Supporters could ask help from the Obama team in organizing their political-awareness event by filling up a form in their website, and the team would announce the event through the website.

“The objective of this was to get more Obama supporters,” Joyce said.

Organizing online with supporters to create their own event was a cost-efficient way of getting new supporters.

New Media and Old Media

Because of the innovations done to the Obama campaign, they were constantly being followed by the press, said Joyce.

She added that whatever achievement or new idea they introduced, they would send it to publications and make news out of their innovation.

“Without intending to, the Obama campaign was in tune with the concept of hope for change. We gave something new,” she said.

Since not everyone is familiar with online, it is also good to publicize these in newspapers, broadcast centers and radios.

Possible in the Philippines?

“Yes! It can happen,” Joyce said, imitating Obama’s tone when he says his popular ‘yes, we can’ slogan.

Contrary to popular belief that internet penetration is very low in the country, Internet World Stats, as of March 31, 2009 there were 20.65 million internet users in the country. This was 21.5% of the Philippines’ population. The country was 7th in top internet user countries in Asia. China was the highest.

Promoting causes

Promoting causes and actively campaigning for elections through new media can now be an influential tool, said blogger, journalist and activist Tonyo Cruz. Cruz spoke at the “New Media: A Powerful Tool for the 2010 Elections” forum organized by Computer Professionals’ Union (CP-union) at the Sofitel Hotel Friday.

Citing Nielsen and Yahoo’s internet penetration survey done in 2008, Cruz said that even those in social class C2 (63%) and DE (21%) have internet access.

“Most of them are 15-19 years old, they are first time voters, as well as housewives and the employed,” Cruz said.

In the same survey, it said that internet content has more influence in terms of inculcating values than television, print and radio. It also showed that internet penetration is highest in urban areas, and in vote-rich areas like Pangasinan.

New Media Challenge in RP

But unlike Obama’s campaign, Rick Bahague of CP-union said that it might be hard to ask for donations in the Philippines from the middle class and lower class.

“Large political parties are dependent on the Philippines’ traditional rich donors,” Bahague said.

On top of this, Cruz said political parties don’t need the people’s money because they think they’re not accountable to them. And with their resources, they could already manufacture votes that they need to win.

Party-list groups to benefit from new media

Since party-list groups cater to a specific, marginalized target group, new media is a good avenue to promote their cause and make people feel like a part of their team, said Joyce.

Because they are accountable to the groups who support them, party-list groups, especially those which do not have machinery for campaigns, ask for donations, just like what Obama did.

Filipinos have a hard time trusting monetary transfers via internet. Thus, Bahague suggested that mobile companies could monetize small-value prepaid cards for subscribers to donate, which party-list groups can then monetize.

In the US, Joyce said that company Act Blue was responsible for monetizing political donations of Obama, as well as other democratic candidates.

“Donating could be a symbol of commitment (from the supporters and the accountability of the party-list group),” said Bahague.

It is possible, he said, for the marginalized to feel as empowered as Obama’s supporters in the 2008 US presidential elections.

as of 07/26/2009 11:44 AM

Obama, Asia, and Muslims

On the 12th of June, American Presidential candidate Obama sent his warm greetings to Filipinos, joining us in our celebration of independence day. Should Obama win the American Presidential elections, then we will have a U.S. President with deep ties to Asia. His step father was an Indonesian – a Muslim which is something that I, as a Filipino Muslim, find positive – and he spent some years of his childhood in Indonesia. Hopefully, his ties with Asia will mean even better relations with the Philippines.

Obama-Yes We Can!

Here’s a creative way to express idealism and nationalism. Why don’t our artists, which the Philippines is in great supply of, do something similar? Yes, we can!

OBAMA – JUST WORDS AND MAKING POLITICS COOL AGAIN

Like Obama, we want to make “politics cool again.” “Cool”, in this context, translates to meaningful, hopeful, and inspiring. Watch this video and tell me, if you could vote in the U.S. elections, that you would not vote for this guy.

– Atty. Adel Tamano