A Lesson From President Obama’s “Back-to-School” Speech

June 28th, 2018

By Dean I Weitzman, Esq.


Tuesday, September 8, was the first day of school for many children across the country. As the excitement of the new school year began, children from kindergarten to senior high had the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama speak on something important to us all ¾ education.

Unfortunately, not all schools and parents agreed that the message in Obama’s speech was beneficial to the younger generation, that it gave hope and inspired our children. Rather they turned it into a political controversy and demanded their child be excused from the classroom during the showing.

My question is: why? What in the speech made it so controversial that parents would refuse their child to watch it ¾ the fact that it encouraged children to work hard and stay in school? Is America really so polarized that we feel threatened by anything or anyone associated with the “other party?”

We are a nation dedicated to promoting equality and freedom throughout the world. We cheer when young girls are allowed to go to school in developing countries. Yet when it comes to our own education, we divide ourselves on encouraging children to take responsibility for their future.

I agree that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and has the freedom to express it. It is a basic right that too few people enjoy in this world. However, we need to take a step back and think about where our opinions and beliefs come from. Are we denying our children an important message because we are blinded by ideologies?

An excerpt from the speech reads:

“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.”

I believe this is a lesson for us all. The story of America should not be about taking kids out of school because you disagree with the President’s policies. It should be about encouraging our children and ourselves to work together for the common good, to share ideas that further our country and our world, and to reach for excellence in all that we do.

The preamble to the United States Constitution starts with “We the people…”  We pledge allegiance to our flag saying “…one nation.” We tell our kids not to be mean to other children because they “are different.” Perhaps President Obama should have addressed the adults. We could have learned a thing or two about unity and taking responsibility for the good of the United States and ourselves.

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