February 2nd, 2009
04:02 PM ET
6 years ago

First lady rallies education department staffers

The first lady spoke about her husband's plans for education policy during an event at the Education Department Monday.
The first lady spoke about her husband's plans for education policy during an event at the Education Department Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - In one of her first public speaking events as first lady, Michelle Obama told employees at the federal Department of Education on Monday to "roll up (their) sleeves" and prepare for "hard work" as the new administration seeks to expand education funding in the face of the economic downturn.

Watch: 'We have a lot of work to do,' first lady says

Obama also indicated that her meet-and-greet session with the department's staffers will be the first in a series of appearances with employees throughout the federal government.

"Barack and I want to say thank you for what you've done," the first lady said. "You have to build a team from the bottom up."

Greeting by thunderous applause after an introduction from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Obama declared that the country has "a stake in educating every single child" regardless of background or income. She pledged that the administration will push to upgrade more than 10,000 schools as part of a broad-ranging effort to boost educational opportunities for 5 million youngsters.

Among other things, she said, the administration will push to expand college Pell Grants and prevent teacher layoffs by using the economic stimulus package to boost federal aid to education.

Obama stated that she "wouldn't be here if it weren't for the public schools who nurtured me and pushed me along."

During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Barack Obama promised, among other things, to double charter school funding, boost support for math and science education, and promote merit pay for teachers.

"We have to remember that the children of this country ... are counting on us," Michelle Obama concluded. "Let's get to work."


Filed under: Education • Michelle Obama
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. PATC

    I am going to apply for a job with the Education Department. Wait I paid taxes so I can't work for the Obama administration. Oh well maybe next time.

    February 2, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. JR in PA

    As a teacher in an urban school – who has seen No Child Left Behind crush the life out of true education – I beg all Americans to get behind the Obama adminstration's efforts to improve the lot of our youngest citizens.

    We won't need terrorists to destroy our way of life if we don't better education our children; it will crumble from within.

    HG Wells said that "Civilization is a race between education and chaos." Chaos is gaining ground. Please push our leaders to do more to help our children – and, therefore, America itself.

    February 2, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. obama-mama

    I am sooooooooooooooo proud of my first family. Good Luck Michelle

    February 2, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Ray Ray

    Michelle Obama says,

    ""roll up (their) sleeves" and prepare for "hard work" as the new administration seeks to expand education funding in the face of the economic downturn."

    Hey Michelle – going to put your girls into the DC public schools?? Nahh didn't think so. You democrats always think MO' MONEY is the answer yet won't put YOUR kids in highest priced worst performing schools in American (DC Schools).

    How about you tell Ba-rock to get vouchers approved and let us PARENTS decide the best education for our kids!

    February 2, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. TCP

    While the idea of "hunkering down" and preparing to work hard gives a sense of hope to thousands of teachers across America, with imminent job cuts looming over so many households, the rhetoric is sadly no comfort to those who bear the tremendous weight of the recession!

    February 2, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. good2know

    People are selling their bodies at alarming rates in order to survive. This is not a joking and cowardly matter. The people of this country are facing foreclosures, bankruptcies, and other stress factors. While you remove these dollars, keep in mind that you will not need a stimulus bill to boost the economy, but a stimulus to bury the many people who will lose their lives because of the lack of support. You think Africa deserved a commercial, I hope we book airtime and missionaries from Russia and China for our sickly sooner than later. And to mention–having been working in Public Health for sometime these dollars keep people employed and services to keep people healthy. This is really unfair and I am so sick to my stomach to DEMS giving in. Grow some!

    February 2, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  7. Chelle in Fla

    TO PATC what a jerk!

    February 2, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Our children are our future and it is important we all do our part to stop the train wreck some of them are experiencing in the schools, homes and neighborhoods.

    February 2, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Shari, NY

    Let's put an end to inertia my dear First Lady, because right under GWB's nose, the children of DC have been unflattering labeled semi-literate (if not worse). How can this be in the nation's capital? I guess burning money in Iraq was more important.

    February 2, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. pakuna

    This is true( Chaos is gaining ground ) brought on by obama and his evil lies laced with honey.

    February 2, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Mike in Ca

    PATC you could deffinitely benefit from some education.

    February 2, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. ladyc

    get behind president obama to support the good of american people

    our children and grandchildren is looking at what we do people working togeher GOP need to stop acting like children and do what
    right

    February 2, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    You can teach them till the cows come home. Education begins at home. Its parents belief system that sets the foundation. No amount of education is going to change ebonics to civilized English ma'am. And the country voted only votes for one president at a time thank you very much. Get real. People all over the world come to America to get informal or informal education. Duh!

    February 2, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. maggie

    I like Michelle and I think she will be a great first lady...

    February 2, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Bob in Pa

    No child left behind was nothing compared to what’s to come. The Department of Education should be dismantled. The FDOE accounts for more waste in each school than any other single factor.

    The FDOE is part of the reason our kids no longer know what it is to "Win" on school Olympic days. We don't need mediocrity and feelings taught to them. The raising and education of our children should be decided by the parents. That's why when we shop for a place to live, we consider schools as part of our decision.

    February 2, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    You can teach them till the cows come home. Education begins at home. Its parents belief system that sets the foundation. No amount of education is going to change ebonics to civilized English ma'am. And the country only votes for one president at a time thank you very much. Get real. People all over the world come to America to get informal or formal education. Duh!

    February 2, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Ira Gomez

    How can the government expand funding for anything because of the economic downturn? Mored Obamaian blathering...

    February 2, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. James

    "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" - George W. Bush, Florence, S.C., January 11, 2000

    February 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. bibi

    Education is very important. When I read some of the comments on this blog I am amazed at the lack of knowledge some people demonstrate. They just repeat what people like Rush Limbaugh say. He is a man of limited education and he tries so hard to keep a fast majority of listeners ignorant like himself. A large proportion have no idea what the real issues are in Gaza. They have no clue about the history and make comments that are utterly incorrect. The US has supported Israel with billions. Do Americans really ask themselves where all their billions went. Previous presidents have been given a lot of money for their election campaigns by Israel so a lot of carrot had to be given back. Israel has infiltrated the US media and government. It is Israel that has been dictating what should happen in the US goverment for many years. President Obama received financial support from the American people. Maybe for once there will be an American Government in place that has not received bribery from anyone. Americans, open your eyes and check how Israel manipulates your goverments and other top businesses. It will be too late if you don't. Israel will bankrupt the US. Education is the way to learn and to find out facts and think for yourself. So invest in your education.

    February 2, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    Yes I agree, I can not wait for a time when the defense department has to have bake sales to get funding.
    The time is now, to fund education in America, education should be a lifetime journey, not just restricted to the young, but to everyone, in anytime of their life should have the right to go back and advance their education. An educated person is person who will achieve true freedom and liberty.
    Kudos to the First lady.

    February 2, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Griff

    What do you do when nothing is Happening? You go through the Motions and Pretend.... Playing Politics with no Substance....
    Three weeks of Dead-Stop... What a Leader!!

    February 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  22. laura

    PATC February 2nd, 2009 4:11 pm ET

    I am going to apply for a job with the Education Department. Wait I paid taxes so I can't work for the Obama administration. Oh well maybe next time.

    __________________________________

    Because of people like .......... WE had Bush. NOW that we need to be 'together' to help the country .... you come along with your silly comments. Geeeee great help.

    February 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. kathleen san juan

    The taxpayers pay people $130,000 a year to help parents decide which private school to send their children to. These positions are available through the US Dept of Education.

    Here's how you fix the public schools. Eliminate every private school, every magnet school, every religious school, every charter school, every alternative school and every home school. Every child goes to public school.The schools would improve by noon tomorrow.
    Merit pay? Give it to Wall Street. They can start at $28,000 a year,and earn more if the Dow picks up. I think you could get teachers to agree to a salary cap of $400,000.

    February 2, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. bibi

    Please google 'if only americans knew'

    February 2, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  25. Minnesota

    PATC February 2nd, 2009 4:11 pm ET

    I am going to apply for a job with the Education Department. Wait I paid taxes so I can't work for the Obama administration. Oh well maybe next time.
    ------------------------------
    Do you even know how any of this stuff works? The comment is childish and makes no sense if you actually take the time to understand what our country is trying to do to begin climbing out of the hole Bush dug for us.

    February 2, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
1 2 3