President to speak to students

President to Address Students

From the website: President Obama will deliver a national address to students on Tuesday, September 8 at noon ET. He will challenge students to work hard, set education goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

The speech will be broadcast live on the White House Web site ( and on C-SPAN at 12:00 p.m., ET. The Department of Education offers educators a menu of classroom activities—created by its teachers-in-residence, the Teaching Ambassador Fellows—to help engage students in the address and stimulate classroom discussions about the importance of education.

To learn more, please see the following:

To further encourage student engagement, the U.S. Department of Education is launching the “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8, we will invite students to respond to the president’s challenge by creating videos, up to two minutes in length, describing the steps they will take to improve their education and the role education will play in fulfilling their dreams.

We invite all students age 13 and older to create and upload their videos to YouTube by October 8. Submissions can be in the form of video blogs, public service announcements (PSAs), music videos, or documentaries. Students are encouraged to have fun and be creative with this project! The general public will then vote on their favorites to determine the top 20 finalists. These 20 videos will be reviewed by a panel of judges including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The panel will choose three winners, each of whom will receive a $1,000 cash prize.


My comment: While I hope that many students do have a chance to listen to the President, I also wonder about the mixed messages we send to children and teachers. “Take responsibility” …but all we care about are test scores. “Work hard” … but only on what we say is important.

Telling students to take responsibility without the opportunity and support to do so is worthless. It’s like putting a kid on a sailboat and telling him that if he blows hard enough, it will sail. Students must actually be able to take responsibility by being given important things to do, things they care about. They need to be able to contribute to society as individuals–supported by adults who care about them, not test scores.

I love the idea of the President speaking directly to students. But as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. I hope the Department of Education’s actions start matching the President’s words.


PS Isn’t it ironic that the video contest asks students to upload their videos to YouTube, which is blocked in most schools.