President Obama urged American children to stay in school while he delivered his controversial back-to-school speech this afternoon.
Although it was met with much criticism, the speech was still delivered at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia and students from Kindergarten to 12th grade were there to see him speak live on what for many was their first day of school.
He told the kids that he’s holding everyone from parents to legislators accountable for the education of the country’s youth, but he made the audience aware that the greatest responsibility lies with them as students.
“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,” the president said, “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.”
While he acknowledged that it wasn’t always easy to keep one’s head in the books, he said that students must try their very hardest to stay dedicated to their education because there is more at stake than just a few grades on their report cards.
“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,” he impressed upon students watching his address.
And if that didn’t get their attention, President Obama gave the students a wake up call, voicing arguments that have always been uttered by the community at large when discussing the state of America’s children and their dreams of success. He said that although many dream of easily becoming stars in sports, music or reality TV, that few will ever see those visions come true.
“Chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. But the truth is being successful is hard,” the president stated. He went on to explain that being good at anything in life always requires hard work and that that is what will bring them the success they desire. Part of being successful, President Obama said, is failure. He advised everyone to take each setback as a learning experience and an opportunity to get it right next time.
“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, “ the president said in closing. “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.”
To read the full speech click here.
— Sonya Eskridge