In a speech on education to the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, March 10, President Barack Obama linked economic recovery with educational reform. But he also called for students and parents to be accountable. Here are some excerpts:
“Of course, no matter how innovative our schools or how effective our teachers, America cannot succeed unless our students take responsibility for their own education. That means showing up for school on time, paying attention in class, seeking out extra tutoring if it's needed, and staying out of trouble. And to any student who's watching, I say this: don't even think about dropping out of school. As I said a couple of weeks ago, dropping out is quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country, and it is not an option – not anymore. Not when our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past thirty years. Not when high school dropouts earn about half as much as college graduates. And not when Latino students are dropping out faster than just about anyone else. It is time for all of us, no matter what our backgrounds, to come together and solve this epidemic.
So, yes, we need more money. Yes, we need more reform. Yes, we need to hold ourselves more accountable for every dollar we spend. But there is one more ingredient I want to talk about. The bottom line is that no government policies will make any difference unless we also hold ourselves more accountable as parents. Because government, no matter how wise or efficient, cannot turn off the TV or put away the video games. Teachers, no matter how dedicated or effective, cannot make sure your children leave for school on time and do their homework when they get back at night. These are things only a parent can do. These are things that our parents must do.
I say this not only as a father, but as a son. When I was a child, living in Indonesia with my mother, she didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school so she supplemented my schooling with lessons from a correspondence course. I can still picture her, waking me up at 4:30 in the morning five days a week to go over some lessons before I left for school. And whenever I'd complain or find some excuse for getting more sleep, she'd patiently repeat her most powerful defense – "This is no picnic for me either, buster." And it is because she did this day after day, week after week, and because of all the other opportunities and breaks I had along the way, that I can stand here today as President of the United States. And I want every child in this country to have the same chance that my mother gave me, that my teachers gave me, that my college professors gave me, that America gave me.
For in the end, your dream is a dream shared by all Americans. It is the founding promise of our nation. That we can make of our lives what we will; that all things are possible for all people; and that here in America, our best days lie ahead. And I truly believe that if I do my part and you, the American people, do yours – then we will emerge from this crisis a stronger nation and pass the dream of our founding on to posterity, ever safer than before. Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. ~ White House Press Release, March 10