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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get an Education

The other night I met Ty’Sheoma Bethea from Dillon, South Carolina while president Obama addressed the nation. She was inspiring. His comments and plans for a better educational system were inspiring and very very necessary. Ty'Sheoma wrote the President and Congressional leaders about her school situation and her dreams of getting an education. The bottom line was "she wasn't a quitter." This is a different message than one we have heard and are led to believe when we recall Bill Cosby's "Pound Cake Speech" or Juan Williams' words of discouragement in Enough. Obama was more gentle, not as angry as Cosby and Williams. I certainly understand the anger and frustration from the latter two; however, I appreciate the gentleness from Obama. I loved what I heard the President say about Education in his speech. This was the most powerful part of the speech for me:
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, 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. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Not quitting is the crucial part, not quitting on yourself. This is the most important part of the work we do so often as teachers. It's not about race, gender, or religion; it is about NOT QUITTING. I will be using this part of the speech in my class. My expectations are spelled out and my scholars know them well.

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