President Barack Obama delivered a message of inspiration and perseverance today to thousands of students across New York and America.
Sounding familiar themes in a dynamic way, Obama urged students to be active participants in their educations. "I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down - don't let your family, your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it."
He put his call for consistent student effort in the context of the commitments he's made to the nation's schools. "I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working where students aren't getting the opportunities they deserve ... 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."
Obama acknowledged that many students listening to his remarks come from difficult situations, where the achievement gap is an ongoing challenge every day for students and for the educators who've committed their careers to them.
"Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you will end up. No one's written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America," the president said.
A variety of resources are available for students and educators to deepen their understanding and commitment to the principles he outlined. Go to www.whitehouse.gov for the full text and suggested lesson plans. The National Education Association, one of NYSUT's national affiliates, has resources available at www.nea.org/backtoschool .