Education Funding News in Brief

Obama Tells Memphis Grads Their Success Inspires Him

By The Associated Press — May 24, 2011 1 min read
President Barack Obama greets graduating students, some overcome with emotion, before the Booker T. Washington High School graduation ceremony on May 16 in Memphis, Tenn. The school won this year's Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Barack Obama hailed the transformation of a once struggling but venerable Memphis, Tenn., high school last week, telling its graduates: “You inspire me. That’s why I’m here.”

Booker T. Washington High School won the White House’s second annual Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge, securing a graduation address from the president by illustrating how it overcame a history of disciplinary problems and high dropout rates to graduate 82 percent of its students and turn into a sanctuary for troubled teens.

Its innovations in recent years have included separate freshman academies for boys and girls and a greater choice, not only of advanced-placement classes, but of vocational studies as well.

“You’ve always been underdogs,” the president told the cheering graduates in Memphis on May 16. “Nobody’s handed you a thing. But that also means that whatever you accomplish in your life, you’ll have earned it.”

“You’ve shown more grit and determination in your childhoods than a lot of adults ever will,” Mr. Obama said.

Dating back to 1873, the school was the city’s first to educate black students. Among its graduates are former NAACP Executive Director Benjamin Hooks and evangelist and songwriter Lucie Campbell.

Valedictorian Alexis Wilson said that by winning the contest, her school had become a “beacon of hope” for other inner-city schools that face the same circumstances as Booker T. Washington.

“The school has become an indirect spokesperson for all the underdogs in the country,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the May 25, 2011 edition of Education Week as Obama Tells Memphis Grads Their Success Inspires Him

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Feds Pump $1.5 Billion Extra Toward Schools to Address Cafeteria Food Shortage
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced funds to help schools more easily purchase U.S.-grown foods amid widespread supply shortages.
1 min read
Empty school cafeteria
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Education Funding Letter to the Editor More Money for Schools Isn’t the Answer
The real problem is not funding but demands that teachers do more than just teach their subject, writes Walt Gardner.
1 min read
Education Funding Opinion Manchin Just Downsized the Dems’ Massive Education Spending Plans
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin may have blown a gaping hole in the education community’s hopes for supersized new federal outlays.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Education Funding Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week