Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Speech Last Night

In preparation for my speech, I went back to a longer speech I gave two years ago, which I posted at:

The City Lights Youth Theatre benefit last night was a wonderful event. Cory Booker and Joel Klein were brilliant and inspirational, which left me with a tall task of following them. I wrote out my speech, rehearsed it and had it down to the allotted 9 minutes -- and then spoke for 18! Those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear this -- LOL! What can I say? I'm passionate about this issue... At the end of this email is the long version of the speech I'd written out. Here's an excerpt:

So the problem is not too many bad kids, it’s too many bad schools. To give you a sense of the magnitude of the problem, four million children today attended a school that has been identified as failing for six consecutive years. Nearly all of them are low-income black and Latino children – the children who most need the best schools and teachers, yet get the worst. Again, I could bore you with statistics, but to summarize the data, every study ever done shows that schools with a high proportion of low-income and minority students are far more likely to have teachers who are inexperienced, did not major or minor in the subject they’re teaching, who failed the basic skills test on the first attempt, who went to a noncompetitive college, and who had very low grades and test scores in high school and college.

It’s hard for me to think of anything more fundamental to what this nation stands for than the idea that every child, regardless of income, ethnicity, or neighborhood, has a fair shot at the American Dream. We are not living up to that promise. If you’re a low income, minority child in this country, odds are very high that you attend a mediocre school at best, and most likely a failing school at which very little learning is occurring. This is deeply and profoundly wrong. It offends me and, as an American, it embarrasses me.

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