Barack and Michelle Obama: Making Education Cool
Barack and Michelle Obama were set forth as examples of what can be accomplished with a good education at a January 19 rally held by the Education Equality Project at Cardoza High School in Washington, DC. The rally turned into a who’s who of education when big names like John McCain, incoming Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg, Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, and UNCF President Michael Lomax showed up to explain why our educational system is in a state of crisis. Presenter remarks can be found at the bottom of this post.
1. Diverse leaders are coming together over what is considered to be a crisis in our nation: The public education system.
2. Most speakers consider this crisis to be the predominant civil rights issue of our generation.
3. Parent, grandparents, educators, families, neighbors, and friends were encouraged to tutor, join the PTA, and make their voices heard.
The Education Equality Project states on its website, “Barely half of African-American and Latino students graduate from high school, with African American students graduating at 55%, Latinos at 53%, and their white counterparts at 78%.”
Below are some paraphrased quotes from the event.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan (Incoming)
Our challenge and our huge opportunity is to take those pockets of excellence and make them the norm and not just the exception. Look at President and Michelle Obama – they are making education cool… They didn’t have a lot of money, but look at what they have become… Public education is the civil rights issue of our generation.
Chancellor, DC Public Schools
People often tell me, “You’re trying to move too fast.” And I reply, “It is not possible to move fast enough.” DC is the only city on alert status by the US Department of Education…Warren Buffett told me it’s actually easy to fix public schools. All you’d have to do is outlaw private schools and assign kids to public schools by public lottery. We’d see a very fast re-allocation of resources.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
The Obamas are moving in with their 2 children and Michelle’s mother. They show that families can do it. When I look at my grandkids, I want them to go to college, not to got to prison. I want them to get the best job with the best pay. If you look at the history of Barack and Michelle Obama it is a childhood filled with education and filled with parents and grandparents committed to preparing them with that education. We should have a simple yardstick: Is every child in America getting what they need to live a full life?
Dr. Michael Lomax, President and CEO, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
Our kids need preparation so that they are prepared to do the work in college…A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
How can we claim to be a great nation when we don’t educate a large percentage of the population?…We are not the America we say we are. I am in the mood for a movement in America, not more excuses… As a democrat, we have not always been right on education. I am no longer concerned with right or left, I am concerned with moving forward.
As far as the economic crisis, there’s been a depression going on in urban areas for years…The same children in the same communities have been failing in record numbers…If we’re going to do something about this issue, we need to do it now. In the past there has been no penalty for the adults who have failed our children. They continue to work while our children go to jail.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg
New York, NY
We will recover from the economy. We’ve done that before. What we haven’t done is fixed public education. Mayors know what we need in this country. They are the ones parents yell at. You need to tell legislators you’re not going to take it anymore so that they our children are true Americans and have real civil rights.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings (Outgoing)
On No Child Left Behind, “I don’t care what we call it. It is about not giving up on any child.”
Mayor Adrian Fenty
When you say, “All that matters is kids’ test scores and whether they go to college or not” some people get pretty upset. But, that’s the direction we’re heading.
Mayor Kevin Johnson
There are more black men in prison than in college. In this day and age we are allowing the color of their skin and the zip code they live in to impact [our children's] level of educational attainment.
Chancellor, New York City Schools
I grew up in public housing. My dad never made it through high school. I understand the value of an education…The defenders of status quo are not necessarily going to defend our children. But, whoever’s fault it is, our children didn’t get us there. Everyone of you when you leave here, you go and talk to your neighbors.
Other speakers included: Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Former DC Councilmember Kevin Chavis, Al Sharpton, DC Councilmember Marion Barry, Eli Broad, and representatives from the Aspen Institute and the Latino Education Alliance.
Entry filed under: Educators, Parent, Uncategorized. Tags: Adrian Fenty, Al Sharpton, Arne Duncan, Arnie Duncan, Aspen Institute Latino Education Alliance, Chancellor Joel Klein, Dr. Michael Lomax, Education Equality Project, Eli Broad, John McCain, Kevin Chavis, Margaret Spellings, Marion Barry, Mayor Kevin Johnson, Michael Nutter, Michelle Rhee, Mike Bloomberg, Newt Gingrich.