Archive for Saturday, January 10, 2009

Students have ideas for Obama

January 10, 2009


During his frequent travels in the past 24 months, President-elect Obama always paused long enough to solicit views from his audiences. He seemed to thrive on difficult questions and comments that revolved around education, the environment, global affairs, war, poverty, equity, energy and immigration.

He was especially receptive to the young voices who often spoke with deeply held views and emotions, and he admitted to being energized by the diversity of thought.

The College Board’s National Commission on Writing will soon issue a report to the president and Congress highlighting student voices. These have been drawn from a National Writing Project and Google site that asked middle and high schools students to write “Letters to the President” raising their concerns, offering advice and talking about life in their communities.

More than 6,600 students responded, an amazing number.

Equally amazing is the insight these students displayed. Here are some excerpts from a handful of the letters. I have noted first names and locations.

“In case you didn’t know, last year there were over 5.7 million people infected with HIV in South Africa … If you were to ask me, I would say we haven’t done nearly enough.” — Claire, Iowa.

“As young Americans, we are the future of our country … Many students have (education) dreams and goals they want to achieve, but some don’t have the checkbook for it.” — Anthony, Nebraska.

“Congratulations on becoming the leader of the great United States, don’t panic!” — Adam, Oklahoma.

“I am writing to inform the government of the lack of organ donors in the U.S. and how the number of organ donors can increase if the U.S. government helped to promote the significance of becoming a donor.” — Surabhi, Indiana.

“To space, I say! There, colonies will be built, on the Moon and elsewhere, and whole asteroids can be mined for the natural resources we humans crave. There, we can study new sights and sounds, new phenomena not yet explained, and perhaps even new life.” — Steven, Colorado.

“I would like to know why 12 states have no state-funded early education.” — Casey, Indiana.

“Every time someone drives their car, burns coal or oil, leaves their lights on, idles their car for more than 30 seconds, they are slowly helping to char the earth and all life on it … But I’ve got a ladder for you, renewable alternative green energy. So grab hold and climb up.” — Lauren, Washington

“So maybe you could come into different schools and survey kids of different age groups asking us how we would change something. Who knows, maybe one of us will find the answer to world peace!” — Ashley, Wisconsin.

Without question, many, many important views emerged from the comprehensive project which seemed to span the globe.

These young people are well informed about the myriad of issues that face our nation, and they care deeply about their country. They also hold high expectations for it and believe by working together the United States can indeed realize its dreams and hopes, which form the foundation of the Republic.

All of us associated with the undertaking — the National Writing Project, Google and the College Board’s National Commission on Writing — were refreshed and reassured by the thoughtfulness of the many and varied responses. One day, these students may well find the answers to our most perplexing problems.

— Gene A. Budig is the former president/chancellor of Illinois State University, West Virginia University, and Kansas University and past president of Major League Baseball’s American League. He also is a member of the College Board’s National Commission on Writing.


SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 5 months ago

Shocking that the vast majority of our indoctrinated students made suggestions that the government somehow get more involved in our lives, spend more of our money, do even more things not enumerated in the Constitution. Sad.

FSHSkillsbraincells 9 years, 5 months ago

I totally agree with you. The complete lack of personal responsibility that the american people so nonchalantly call "liberalism" is disgusting. Since when have the people become so lazy and scared that they will gleefully hand over their rights to the government and consider their actions worthwhile and good for "society as a whole". For people to still be thinking that electing someone and having "hope" will change things, just goes to show that things haven't changed.

denak 9 years, 5 months ago

Unlike some posters, I find their students responses to be thoughtful.The purpose of the letters was to communicate with President-Elect Obama about what these individuals felt were important issues.Just because they are not your most pressing issues do not make them invalid nor does it show a lack of personal responsibility on the part of the writers.I'm sure some of you are the same individuals who line up and decry what they see as the ever increasing apathy of the younger generation.Dena

sks6cf 9 years, 5 months ago

I think the HIV comment was great. I think Americans are being quite selfish right now in thinking that our world is crashing down around us over the economic crisis. Most of us still have food to eat and in general our lives are pretty cushy in comparison to many other parts of the world. If we start having a more giving attitude instead of over-spending and racking up debt, our stress level will probably go down. Not to mention the blessing of helping our brothers and sisters in other nations who are suffering ten times as much as we are.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

"He seemed to thrive on difficult questions..."Well, at least when he has a compliant media and the state of Ohio's thugs to back him up.

jaywalker 9 years, 5 months ago

Playoff system for college football, if you please, President Elvis Obama. And the creation of a new position for each state: Minister of Common Sense. Person could eliminate pork from bills, dismiss frivolous lawsuits, etc.

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