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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks With Education Stakeholders

First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks With Education Stakeholders

Earlier today, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech at the White House during a discussion with education stakeholders. Read the full speech below:

Thanks so much. (Applause.) The applause should go to all of you. Thank you. Welcome. (Applause.) You guys rest yourselves. You work hard enough. I don't want you to wear yourselves out clapping for me here in the White House.

It is truly a pleasure to welcome you all here today to the White House. I want to start by thanking Jen for that wonderful introduction, but also for her work as one of the millions of teachers out there who are doing their part to keep our kids on track. And as she said, it's not just her role as a teacher, but also as a mom, which is -- I say that all the time. In the end, it's the most important job we have, no matter -- whether you're teaching or serving in the White House, it's the first part of contributing to this society. So thank you for your work. Thank you for being here.

And I have to recognize my dear friend Miss Alicia Keys for her eloquence, and her foresight in seeing the value of this movie and investing in it, along with many other very smart people. I was telling Alicia that I saw this movie this summer and I wept, like I know all of you all did, because you can't help but weep and laugh and look in horror and cheer for these two young kids. Because they represent all of our kids.

And the minute I got through watching this movie, I said, I am going to screen this at the White House; I'm going to -- this is the movie that should begin the conversation that is already happening about what we have to do to invest in kids in this community. Because there are millions of Mister and Petes out there who are just struggling to make it. So I am thrilled that you could be here today. Get it done. Took a little second. Had a few things in the way, but we got through it and we're here. (Laughter.)

And I also want to thank the screenwriter, Michael. Michael -- where is Michael? Michael is here. (Applause.) Well done, well done.

And most of all I want to thank all of you for taking the time to participate in this screening and this discussion, and for the work that you're doing to move our kids forward and basically keep our country thriving and on top. And again, there's a reason why I invited you all here. We did this because for many of you, this movie isn't just a powerful story of -- or a great piece of art. For so many of you, it's the reality you see every day in your classrooms and in your communities.

This is not unfamiliar. Many of you work with kids just like Mister and Pete. You see them every day -- kids struggling against heartbreaking odds in neighborhoods torn apart by poverty and hopelessness, surrounded by gangs and guns and drugs. You see this every day. But, see, this is the thing, the beauty of this movie -- this movie isn't just about the challenges that kids like Mister and Peter are facing. And that's really why this movie was so powerful to me, because it's also about their courage. It's about their grit, their resilience. Those are three words you are going to hear me say a lot over the next three years -- grit, resilience, courage -- that these kids displayed even in the most hopeless circumstances.

Kids are living like this every day. And all of you see this firsthand every single day in your lives. And think of all the kids you know who somehow maintain that fierce commitment to their dreams just like Mister did. He was going to be an actor, right? (Laughter.) He was going to find a way to get to that audition.

Think of all the kids who show each other the kind of love and loyalty that Mister and Pete showed to each other even when they don't see it in their own lives. Even when they don't get it themselves, somehow intrinsically, they find a way to replicate it in their lives wherever they can find it. Think about all the talent, all the intelligence, all that drive that you see in every single one of these kids. You see it -- all that untapped promise, that vast, unfulfilled human potential; the frustration that comes when you have something deep inside of you, and you got nowhere to go with it -- nowhere to go.

And all of that is both the tragedy, and, more importantly, the opportunity that exists for millions of kids in this country. We all know that these kids could be the next generation of workers and innovators and leaders. You all know that. They could be building the businesses and making the discoveries and enriching the communities that will fuel our economies for decades to come. So when all of you are out there working to inspire and educate these kids, you're not just building a better future for them and for their families, you're actually building a better future for our country. That's the work that you do. You may not get credit for it, but that's what you're doing.

And that's really what drives me, and that is truly what drives my husband, your President. That's why he's set a goal that by the year 2020, our country would once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. He wants to get us back on top. And as part of that effort, tomorrow we are going to be hosting a White House summit of university presidents from all across the country, and we'll be challenging them to recruit and support even more underserved young students at their schools.


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