If President Barack Obama had heeded the suggestions schoolchildren offered him four years ago, this nation might be a very different place today.
Sure, he got some of the usual advice, like stop the wars and protect the environment. But that’s not all. One letter he got as part of the Mail to the Chief initiative urged him to stop bullying in schools. Another suggested he lower prices at a local supermarket. A third suggested shrinking the school day to just one hour. Another? “Don’t wear holey jeans to work.” Indeed!
Well, with the president soon to begin his second term, it’s not too late to deliver on some of those suggestions. And he’ll get plenty more advice, including a new batch of letters. Mail to the Chief, an initiative sponsored by the company Handwriting Without Tears, begins a second round of amassing letters to deliver to the White House. The company, which offers a K-5 handwriting curriculum, says the effort seeks to get kids interested in government, and to promote writing by hand. (A recent EdWeek article spotlighted the push by champions of handwriting to keep it in schools, arguing that it plays a vital role in the learning process.)
So far, hundreds of schools and families have signed up to have their children write the president. In 2008, the organization reported some 35,000 students putting pen (or pencil) to paper just as the president prepared to take office.
“Share your hopes for the future, words of wisdom, good wishes, the only requirement is that the letters be handwritten,” the Mail to the Chief website explains. Letters must be sent to Mail to the Chief by Jan. 15.
And now for the fun part of this blog post. I took the time to read some of the letters students wrote Obama in 2008 that were highlighted by Mail to the Chief. I found some that are sure to amuse, and others containing some real pearls of wisdom. So without further ado, enough from me. I’ll let the kids have their say.
- “If I were president I would try to remember what I needed as a kid and then try to give every kid I know what they need so they have happy lives.” (Kayla in Delaware)
- “You should get a group of scientists to try to make a flying car that runs on air.” (Ryan in Delaware)
- “Always be truthful. You will avoid trouble.” (Ainsley in Rhode Island)
- “Can you stop the racism and stop the wars? Make people remember their manners.” (Victor, 4th grader in North Carolina)
- “Sometimes I hope schools will have better food. Sometimes it looks like it expired a long time ago.” (Joel in Arizona)
- “I would like for you to change the Food Lion to have lower prices.” (Mirian, 4th grader in North Carolina)
- “If reporters are asking you questions, just smile and answer one at a time.” (Sophie in Nebraska)
- “I think you should help poor people get food. You could show them how to fish.” (Yohan in Arizona)
- “I hope you are good to people from Mexico who come to Phoenix like my family.” (Diana in Arizona)
- “Bullies should be arrested and go to jail.” (Eden, 2nd grader in Indiana)
- “I know you’ve heard of global warming. Everyone has, but most people aren’t doing anything.” (Alana, 5th grader in Tennessee)
- “My advice I’d like to offer you is to lower taxes. Also, if you are getting a dog, you should get a beagle. They are really cute!” (Julia, 3rd grader in New York)
- “I think you should stop the wars and don’t let your dog break anything.” (Ben, 1st grader in Massachusetts)
- “Please work with other presidents and kings. Meet with them and become their friends. Then we can all get along.” (Abigail in Wisconsin)
- “Be firm. I know that making a big decision that would change our country big time could be very difficult and you might be a bit shaky at first. But being firm is sure to be a great start.” (Varshini, 5th grader in Illinois)
- “You know there is mother, father and grandparent’s day, right? I think there should be kids day.” (Izel, 5th grader in Maryland)
- “You shouldn’t let your work eat you up and not spend enough time with your family. You don’t want to miss those moments that every dad should have with his kids.” (Jessica, age 10 in Illinois)
- “Never doubt or be scared, for you are the president of the U.S.A.” (Evan in Michigan)
And now for my personal favorite, from Meghana in Maryland. “I am very happy that you are my president. My baby brother keeps taking my toy cats. Can you pass a law?”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.