February 19th, 2010
08:46 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama issues challenge to high school seniors

One lucky high school class will get President Obama to speak at their graduation this year, the White House announced Friday.
One lucky high school class will get President Obama to speak at their graduation this year, the White House announced Friday.

Washington (CNN) – One lucky high school class will get President Obama to speak at their graduation this year, the White House announced Friday.

The first annual "Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge" competition invites public high schools across the country to show the White House what sets them apart from other schools in academic excellence and college preparedness. Obama will address the commencement of the winning school.

"Public schools that encourage systemic reform and embrace effective approaches to teaching and learning help prepare America's students to graduate ready for college and a career, and enable them to out-compete any worker, anywhere on the world," Obama said in a video released on the White House Web site Friday. "This is your opportunity to show me why your school exemplifies the best that our education system has to offer."

Schools must fill out an application form available through the White House Web site by March 15. Six finalists will then be featured on the White House Web site where the public will have an opportunity to vote for the three schools they think best meet Obama's goals. An ultimate winner will then be selected. The six finalists will be selected by the White House and the Department of Education according to a statement from the White House.

Obama has made education reform a centerpiece of his domestic agenda. In his budget for fiscal year 2010, Obama proposed adding an additional $1.35 billion to continue his $4 billion Race to the Top Challenge for the nation's public schools.

The initiative calls for states to submit applications outlining how they would improve student performance, reward and retain teachers, and turn around low-performing schools.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. aproudmemberoftheunpatrioticmob

    He really ought to challenge the education system to dump all NEA contracts and start really educating Americans rather than providing a dumping ground for union protected slime.

    February 19, 2010 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I think this is wonderful. This President is HIGHLY respected, intelligent, and sought-after. It would be an honor for ANY high school to have him as their commencement speaker. What a novel idea. I wonder why previous presidents have restricted themselves to commencement speeches at colleges ONLY. IMHO having a respected president speak at your high school commencement would have a lasting impact on someone ON THEIR WAY to deciding what they wanted to become in life.

    February 19, 2010 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. Enough is Enough

    Everyone would agree that we need to improve our education system. If Obama is truely serious about improving our education system he must take on the teachers unions. We all know there are many outstanding teachers teaching we also know there are teachers who are not fit to watch my dog. So why are these unfit teachers in the class room? Its because the teachers unions are so strong they protect all their employees good and bad. Obama must decide whats more important, our childrens future or employment for life for people unfit to be in a class room.

    February 19, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. Andy

    If you can not get a hollywood actor to speak,get the next best thing,Obama,same thing an actor except he must read his lines off a teleprompter.

    February 19, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  5. indy

    It doesn't seem fair to exclude private schools from the competition. What about Charter Schools? What about religious based schools? Why can't they have a chance? My child is only in elementary school at this point and he's in public school, so my compaint is not for my child's opportunity. I do know people at other schools who would at least like to have a chance. Wouldn't every graduate like to be able to say that the President spoke at their graduation (whether you agree with his policies or not)? Obviously he can't be at all graduations, but at least they could all have the opportunity to compete for his attendance.

    February 19, 2010 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Gil Oberdas

    How refreshing to now have a president who motivates, challenges and excites, rather than one who puts down, starts wars and helps only the rich. Go Obama!

    February 19, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. If I was crazy, I'd be a conservative too

    Conservatives continue ti tear down the country, and Obama continues to make it better.

    February 19, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I like this initiative. I guess we can count S.C. high schools out of the running sicne they are so under funded. Just ask Gov. Sanford.

    February 19, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  9. all the news that's fit to omit

    DON'T DO IT HIGH SCHOOLS if you want to succeed.

    His speaking on behalf of or for anyone is the kiss of uh, uh, uh, uh, uh death!

    I'll make a deal with you o'coward in chief, you can speak at my towns High school IF you release your college grades and papers for all to see (and Shelly's as well).

    Why would he be the ONLY President to ever seal his and hers???

    If the first year of his "presidency" is any barometer, WE smart folks KNOW WHY.

    February 19, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Johnny DC

    I thought it wasn't about "out-competing"... it's all about handouts for the undeserving. Stop pretending you aren't out to give everyone a piece of the pie instead of those who earn it.

    February 19, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  11. all the news that's fit to omit

    We have spent TRILLIONS on union hack schools and an education system that has NOT worked and he wants to just throw more good money at bad.

    His kids go to a great school, OWEBAMA cut the funding for POOR kids to go to that same school last YEAR.

    What's that, you sheep didn't know that or see that TRUTHFUL REPORTING on my part?

    Exactly, that is why you are sheep.

    February 19, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  12. Andi

    Good on you, Mr. President! I'm sure this will get spun as 'socialist indoctrination', tho. I can't believe people seriously believe that crap.

    February 19, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. Candi

    He can tell them that he is living proof they can be anything they want to be.Look at him,he has never had a job,could not run a kool-aid stand in the desert,is so lost he needs a GPS to find his way around,must read off a telepromter,and was elected president.

    February 19, 2010 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  14. Conservative Voice

    don't agree with him on much. but really admire his proactive transparency on education.

    February 19, 2010 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. Urziel

    While it is a nice idea to attempt to encourage high school students to excel the vast majority just don't care about school, education or a career. The amount of apathy coming out of the younger generation is downright appalling. I should know, being a graduate of the Class of 2000 It was prevalent back then, and its only gotten worse.

    February 19, 2010 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  16. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    This is no joking matter, our children are falling behind in the worst way. Catchup may be possible in a classroom but not when children in other countries are still moving ahead.

    February 19, 2010 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. buckeye

    Merely a few billion to schools at home and mucho trillions to wars on the other side of the earth. Countries that invest in war thousands of times more than in education are on their way to termination, even if caesar delivers the commencement address.

    February 19, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  18. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    President Obama had better be careful talking to high school seniors..the far right will say that he is trying to instill his sociolist agenda into their young minds.

    February 19, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. Fair is Fair

    Armageddon must be close.

    I've found myself agreeing with 2 things this man has done in the past 2 weeks – this and firing up a couple new nuclear power plants.

    The betting window is open now. The early favorite at 2-1 odds is a high school in Chicago.

    February 19, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Big John

    How dare President Obama challenge our students to excell... I can see all the "teabaggers" and conservatives now telling their children to stay home and forget anything Obama says. Fail kids, Obama wants you to succeed, you can show him! ... Morons

    February 19, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. Jake

    He could tell them that due to democratic liberalism they could just drop out of school and live "on the liberal government",became welfare queens and kings and do not work at all.He wants to "distribute the wealth".Why work?

    February 19, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  22. Stacie

    I think this is wonderful! I sure hope the nay-sayers and haters don't think there is something wrong with the President of the United States challenging high school students to study harder and do better.

    February 19, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. Joseph

    The president does not realize that someone like him does not need hard work, good SAT scores and outstanding extracurriculum achievements to go to a good college. If you want to enourage student excel, the best thing for the president to do is to completely abolish Affirmative Action policies. Affirmative Action policies do not reward excellence in education and work. Many outstanding students in this country who work extremly hard and are very smart and high-achieved in their high school education are deprived of their opportunity simply due to these unfair policies.

    February 19, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  24. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Thanks Mr.President,its time we improved education for our children after years of being dumbed down enough to vote for a republican for anything.

    February 19, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. Chas in Iowa

    With all the cuts to education from both the State and the Federal level it's a bit hipocritical to get up and give grandious speeched about education excellence.
    I have a high scholl senior with a straight 4.0 cumulative average that may not be able to go to college.
    These speeches are seeming to be a bit hollow.

    February 19, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
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