President Obama’s text from the speech he is giving to America’s school children, from Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA has been posted at The entire speech can be found HERE.

Here is an excerpt from his speech:

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.

I orginially posted the speech. It was just too long, so I went back and linked to it. Please take the time to read it, especially if you have children in school. I can’t think of a better message to give to any kid on that first day.

It is the first day of school that really sets the stage for those other 180 days. If you miss the first day, its like buttoning up your shirt not matching the right button with the right button hole. You have missed the beginning.

I applaud President Obama for taking the time to welcome the kids back to school and for acknowledging the importance of doing well. The first day of school is the best time for such an address. In my opinion, he hit a homerun with this one.


The speech reportly lasts around 18 minutes.

29 Thoughts to “President Obama’s Address to Students on the First Day of School”

  1. Thanks for posting the link, Moon. I wonder what student reactions will be.

  2. DiversityGal


  3. Emma

    See, we don’t always need carne roja to respond. I thought it was well done–no pun intended 😉

  4. El Guapo

    I’ve given that same speech to more than a few kids. I’m sure hearing it reinforced by the president is going to motivate them.

  5. JustinT

    Wow. I wonder if.a speech like this would have been better for me to hear at age 10 than the Presidential Badge for Physical Fitness test.

    I was a bit of a slacker at school until college when I realized I wasn’t big enough to play football for a living. After that I felt like I was always catching up to the “smart” kids I used to look down on. Most of the smart kids weren’t able to get the Badge, but I did.

    I wonder what would have happened if Presidebt Reagan had tried to get us to apply ourselves at school, to find out what our skills were and how we could best contribute to society and fulfill our responsibilities. Would there have been a huge backlash with newscasters going nuts and Democrats keeping their kids home from school?

    I probably would have benefitted from a speech like that, but Reagan probably just didn’t want to deal with the partisan hatred and paranoia that would have arisen if he asked America’s children for more than push-ups and a fifty yard dash.

  6. Moon-howler

    Good one, Emma 😉

    Many kids, especially minority kids, look up to President Obama. Even if he changes a few lives, and I believe he will, then it is time well-spent. Justin, I seem to remember President Reagan addressing school kids but perhaps I am wrong. He was very appealing to many people.

  7. kelly3406

    It’s okay. One gets the impression that the speech is not really for K through 6th graders, so it makes me wonder what purpose it serves. After about five minutes, the kids are going to hear blah, blah, blah … Xbox, blah, blah, blah, …. basketball. Even so, the message is a good one.

  8. Poor Richard

    Oh, Dear God! Run for the hills! Set your hair on fire!
    President Obama said something! Save us FOX NEWS!!!! Ahhhhhh!

  9. IWK Manassas

    Glad to have the opportunity to read the text, thanks to MH for posting. I think his message is a great one for kids and teachers to hear as they head BTS. He even fits a handwashing reminder in there, he covers all bases! Regarding President Reagan addressing school kids, I was talking to a friend about this today and we both recalled it happening at least once. Having the leader of our country reach out to our school children is a good thing, and I hope it is a tradition that continues.

  10. ShellyB

    Do we have anyone on this blog brave enough to admit they were driven to panic, hate, and hysteria over this speech when blindsided by Fox “News” propaganda? And then felt stupid for giving their brains away so easily now that they read the speech?

    Since you are anonymous, I don’t see the harm in being honest just this once? Anyone?

  11. I’ve never read such horrible, indoctrinating text in my life.

    That’s it. I’m pulling my kids out of school and throwing away my television and my computer. While I am at it, I will make sure my kids never study history so they won’t be exposed to such horror.

    (In case you missed it, I am being sarcastic.)

  12. Rebecca

    It would just never occur to me that a president would be using kids to infiltrate and indoctrinate.

    The speech was as I thought it would be. Shame on those tried to scare people through their kids. It is natural to want to protect your kids. Someone played dirty using that human trait of wanting to protect your kids.

  13. Rick Bentley

    Yeah, it’s great. We should be pulling together on it. It’s a message that conservatives should be wildly applauding.

    But the political damage on this is self-inflicted. The supplementary materials showed a partisan mentality.

  14. Emma

    I never had a problem with the speech per se. I said very clearly in an earlier thread that my children would listen respectfully. No hysteria here, just my take on why the president has managed to sow so much distrust. And I didn’t see anyone else exhibit “hysteria” on these pages.

  15. Poor Richard

    Parents should remember a good way to get kids to pay attention
    to something is to tell them to ignore it.

  16. Moon-howler

    I don’t think Anti contributors have been hysterical. I have seen a lot of hysteria on TV though. Anti people have been fairly open minded, regardless of position on the political spectrum.

    Rick, the materials show typical Dept of ED/VDOE/ED TV mentality on any subject. I saw no indoctrination attempt.

  17. ShellyB

    M-H, it’s good to know that no one on this blog completely fell for the latest “Why We Hate” propaganda piece. It’s a testiment to the effectiveness of this blog that even people who are very much to the right of the spectrum are pulled a bit to the center just by being confronted with a different point of view on this blog. If only the rest of the Fox “News” audience was inquisitive enough to want to engage with the outside world. Our nation would be in a much better place. So, kudos to all you Fox “News” watchers who maintain your ability to think for yourselves! We need more of that on the right.

    Perhaps this whole embarrassing episode for right wing extremist TV and radio will sober people up and break the fever. It has to happen some time. Once your realize Glenn Beck and Fox “News” lied to you about whether the President of the United States should or should not be able to address school children, maybe you would realize they generally lie to you every 2 minutes or so. That would be good for our country as well.

  18. ShellyB

    Pinko, did your mother get hysterical when Bush the First and Reagan addressed the nation’s school children? What’s the difference?

  19. Moon-howler

    DiversityGal, I have always felt that Laura Bush was a totally class act also–a very gracious lady. I was most impressed with both she and President Bush during the transition. Both acted with a great deal of class. Thanks for posting that.

    Pinko, you are kidding. Your mother was hysterical over the President addressing school children?

  20. Shelly, no. My mother liked Bush. She loathes Obama and fears for our country.

    MH, my mother believes Obama is trying to turn us into a Socialist, baby-killing nation and that Obama is trying to get kids involved in politics. She said “politics doesn’t belong in the classroom” and spouted off on the workbooks and how kids shouldn’t write how they will help their president. She has other things against him as well–courtesy of Fox and company.

    There are some things I can’t discuss with my parents, and politics is one of them. Let’s just say there is a certain closed-mindedness accompanied by ranting whenever politics comes into the conversation. When they bring up politics, I tell them I don’t wish to discuss it.

    Mom was so hysterical tonight, I told her if she didn’t stop talking about it, I would hang up. It was quite nice to discuss other things after that.

    Please don’t misunderstand–my mom is a wonderful lady and I love her dearly. Same goes for my father. However, when one grows up around extremism, one has options. One can become an extremist in the same way, an extremist in the reverse, or something else. I’ve become something else–an independent.

  21. Moon-howler

    Oh Pinko. That explains a great deal. Can you just shut FoxNews off at the road and keep it out of the house?

    They are lucky you didn’t head up 😉

  22. @Moon-howler
    Heh heh. Doesn’t it?

    My older brother, mom and dad are seriously right-wing ranters who never really let you get a point in edgewise. My younger brother is an extreme lefty. Dad and older bro live north. Mom and younger brother live south. That leaves me exactly in the middle geographically and politically. And I am also the middle child.

    When they visit, I try to make my home Switzerland. But since we’re so close to D.C. it’s kind of difficult to do that.

    I bet they would feel better if I headed Moveon. They wouldn’t really “get” what it was, so I might be safer 🙂

  23. Second-Alamo

    It was a great motivator. I wonder if the speech was rewritten at all based on voiced fears of what it might have contained. It was that statement about supporting the president that sent everyone off. Glad to see it is harmless and motivating!

  24. Note, younger bro never rants.

    SA, Mom kept saying the speech was re-written, but there’s no documentation proving it. Until I see the proof, I’m not jumping to conclusions here.

  25. Rick Bentley

    I don’t take it for granted that the speech might not have been slightly different without the furor.

    I note the emerging story that Arts Commissions have had teleconferences which included participation by federal officials where they spoke of “leveraging federal dollars” to promote art that was in confluence with Obama’s priorities. The correct phrase for that is “government-sponsored propoganda”.

    I also note the high praise for this guy Van Jones who is a partisan nut case.

  26. Rick Bentley

    If you ask me, Obama’s Administration, like the one before it, is rather shameless about breaking down and disrespecting checks and balances.

  27. Moon-howler

    Rick, no one here has praised Van Jones, to my knowledge.

    How do you feel about the Patriot Act and Gitmo? That is the ‘other’ side’s bugaboo on checks and balances.

    I don’t have strong feelings either way, with either of them.

Comments are closed.