REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
IN CHARACTER EDUCATION EVENT
The State Dining Room
Listen to the President's Remarks
3:12 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Mr. Secretary, thank you very
much. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much for being here. I'm glad to see you.
And I'm glad to see the Superintendent. I appreciate you all being here. This is
not the first time I've been with the Mayor, nor with the Superintendent, both of
whom are doing a fine job for Washington, D.C. I'm proud to call this place
home, and I'm proud to have you all leading the city and the school district.
I want to thank the members
of the Young Gentlemen's Club, and
I'm looking forward to shaking your
hand after the discussion. And
thank you all for making the right
choices in life. I want to thank our
panelists. I look forward to hearing
from our panelists.
I want to start the discussion
by quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.,
who said this: "Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character, that is the
goal of true education." So we're here today to herald character-building
programs. We're here today to recommend that throughout America we teach
values to our children; that we not only teach our children how to read and
write, but that we be bold enough to teach them the difference between right
and wrong, as well. And we've picked a pretty darn good school as an
By the way, I found this, that one of the keys to success in our public
education is to have good strong principles. So, Andy, thank you for being
here. I'm looking forward to hearing from you. One of the keys to success is
to have role models not only live a quality life, but be willing to take time out of
their lives to share their experiences. So I'm pleased to have a star basketball
player with us here.
One of the keys to success is to find people who are willing to use their
intelligence to rally people of compassion to serve as mentors and role models
for children, young ladies in this case. And so I'm pleased that Elaine Bennett is
here. One of the keys to success is being a good mom. And so I'm so thankful
you're here, Nicole. One of the keys to success is to be willing to listen to what
the adults say. And so, Isaiah, thank you for being here, as well.
And finally, it is an honor that
Mr. Bob Howard is with us, a
person who has taken time out of
his life to make sure that the Young
Gentlemen's Club flourishes.
Parents have a tough battle in
America today. Their children
sometimes receive conflicting
messages. And what public
education ought to do is stand on the side of parents, and be willing to reinforce
the values that parents teach their children. And the Young Gentlemen's Club
does just that. And so I'm looking forward to hearing the stories. I'm looking
forward to hearing how best I can help.
One way we can help, by the way, is to have our budgets reflect our
priorities. And the budget I submitted to Congress triples the amount of
character education money available for public education. The budget I
submitted to the Congress increases the amount of money available for
abstinence education programs. And the money and program I've submitted to
the Congress encourages after-school programs to be run by faith-based and
community-based programs that exist because they've heard the universal call
to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be loved themselves.
We can make a huge difference in the lives of America's children. It
starts recognizing that society's changed one child at a time; one heart, one soul,
one conscience at a time. And this program, the Young Gentlemen's Club,
does precisely that.
So thank you, Mr. Secretary, it's an honor. And thank you all for
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say one thing, Mr. Secretary. To prove
principal's point, they use a Stanford Nine here in the District of
Columbia. Many of you know that I'm a strong advocate for accountability. If
you don't measure, you don't know. And so, under the leadership of the
Superintendent, there's a lot of measuring that goes on. It's really important to
measure, by the way, and I hope the Congress gets the message how important
it is that in return for more money, we need to have strong accountability
systems developed at the local level.
School, on the Stanford Nine, is on
partnership with affluent local
suburban districts. In other words,
it's not just talking the talk, the
results have improved significantly
as a result of character programs,
and focus on each child.
And I want to thank you for
your hard work, Madam Principal, and the results bear out what you just
said. There is a connection between good character and good education. And
we've got to remember that in this country. That's why it's important to spread
character education programs throughout America.
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: I think we've got a perfect gentleman here.
about your program, Isaiah, can you?
Q Yes. The program teaches us how to be -- how
to respect women
and how to control our attitude.
THE PRESIDENT: And when do you meet? How often do you meet?
Q When I was there we used to meet in the afternoons.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh,
good. And so who is -- teaches
you how to respect women? Is that
what you just said? And is it
Q Yes. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: How
THE PRESIDENT: You listen to your mom?
THE PRESIDENT: I listen to mine. (Laughter.)
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Is he studying?
Q He's studying hard. He's very --
THE PRESIDENT: That's great.
Q -- excited about his school work, and all that he does.
THE PRESIDENT: He's going to college, isn't he?
Q That's right. Yes, he is. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Have you got anything to add to that, Isaiah?
* * * * *
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to thank our panelists. I believe
America can conquer any problem we're faced with, I truly believe that,
because this is a loving country, because a lot of people really care about
members of the Young Gentlemen's Club, whether it be at Cleveland
Elementary or any other elementary. There are a lot of people who really care
about their neighbor in this country.
All of us have got to do our part. The federal government can put
up, but we can't make people love one another. And that's something we've
just got to understand in our country. That we can fund programs -- and we
will -- there will be a lot of discussions about what gets funded and what
doesn't get funded, and this, that, and the other. But the truth of the matter is the
issue is bigger than budgets. The issue is about whether or not loving people in
America want to help somebody in need.
And I think so. And to the extent that you all are helping, I want
you from the bottom of my heart. One of my missions is to encourage
mentoring programs all across the country. One of our missions is to make sure
that boys and girls whose mother or dad may be in prison finds a mentor,
somebody to love them. One of our missions is to teach -- is to help teach
children right from wrong so that they can enjoy the great fruits of the greatest
country on the face of the Earth. And to the extent you're helping, I thank you
from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you all for coming. I look forward to getting to shake hands
the members of the Young Gentlemen's Club, if that's okay with you. God
3:34 P.M. EDT