The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 25, 2009
Inspiring kids the Obama way

Here's an idea for a three-and-a-half minute video to show in U.S. classrooms.

 

Combine three segments of President Obama's 54-minute Address to Congress.

 

1. Where he explained why Americans need more than a high school diploma (30:46 to 31:50):

 

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity - it is a prerequisite.  Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma.  And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education.  We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation.  And half of the students who begin college never finish.  This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know that countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.  That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education - from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

 

2. Where he made a ringing call to every kid in the nation to stay in school as a matter of self-respect and patriotic duty (33:25 to 33:44):

 

Every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.  And dropping out of high school is no longer an option.  It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country - and this country needs and values the talents of every American.

 

  1. Where he highlighted the can-do spirit of a young student from South Carolina (49:41 to 51:56):

 

And I think about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina - a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters."

We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

This president can do much to use the bully pulpit to reach kids and inspire them to achieve their potential for themselves and for their country. And schools can take advantage of it when he does.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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