If You Can Read This…

This must be some kind of a record.  Two posts where I reprint something out of what is fondly (and sometimes not so fondly) referred to as The Paris Snooze in a very short amount of time.  A friend and former teacher sent this letter to the editor and I think it bears repeating and sharing.

Frances – YOU ROCK!

Letters to the Editor
September 17, 2009
“Every time you walk through that classroom door, make it your mission to get a good education. Don’t do it just because your parents, or even the President, tells you. Do it for yourselves. Do it for your future. And while you’re at it, help a little brother or sister to learn, or maybe even Mom or Dad. Let me know how you’re doing. Write me a letter — and I’m serious about this one — write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals. I think you know the address.”

Words from a president to schoolchildren across America, meant to inspire learning, meant to encourage children to stay in school and complete their education. But if I understood The Paris News columnist Charles Melton correctly, certainly not words that any president should ever utter at any time.

The interesting thing about the above quote? It is from a speech given on Oct.1, 1991, by then-president George H.W. Bush to students at Alice Deal Junior High School in the District of Columbia, and broadcast live to schools across the nation by CNN, PBS, and the NBC Radio Network.

Or, what about this? — “We’re entering one of the most exciting times in history, a time of unlimited possibilities, bounded only by the size of your imagination, the depth of your heart, and the character of your courage. More than two centuries of American history — the contributions of the millions of people who have come before us have been given to us as our birthright. All we can do to earn what we’ve received is to dream large dreams, to live lives of kindness, and to keep faith with the unfinished vision of the greatness and wonder of America.”

That’s from a speech given by Ronald Reagan on Nov. 14, 1988, to a group of schoolchildren in the White House, also broadcast live to schools across the country on C-SPAN and the Instructional Television Network.

Apparently, as does President Obama, our previous presidents have seen the value in speaking directly to students. After all, what better way to promote the value of education, of patriotism, of setting high expectations for oneself and one’s community, than by speaking directly to the part of our citizenry who will be responsible for our country in years to come? Students who are at risk of dropping out of school, of not taking their education seriously, or simply need some sort of encouragement might well be inspired by the words of a president, whether those words come from Reagan, Bush or Obama.

Indeed, a terribly sad, defeatist philosophy was expressed by Mr. Melton in his opinion column: “The children who do not stay in school and earn the free education offered by local districts do so because that is their choice. Most of the drop outs have been raised through the welfare system and feel that the government is going to provide for them anyway, regardless of education.” Wow.

Thankfully, here in Lamar County and across the whole span of our nation, parents, teachers, community leaders — and even the President of the United States — refuse to give in to such a defeatist attitude. Hopeful, caring, committed people believe that all children are capable of learning, that all children are capable of rising above their circumstances, that all children — regardless of their socio-economic status, their race, or their religion — need to be encouraged by adults who have their very best interests at heart.

“This isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.”

That’s a quote from Barack Obama’s speech of Sept. 8, 2009. And I think that’s a message that even Fox News ought to be able to get behind.

Frances Reed


1 thought on “If You Can Read This…

  1. missalister

    Holy smoke, Frances does indeed rock! What a well thought out and put together letter. It certainly is a pretty shot taken from the same angle I’m looking at. Thanks to Frances for stepping up to the task and to Dee for passing it on : )

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