Harvard Educational Review
  1. Summer 2009 Issue »

    Youth Voices

    What Will Barack Obama’s Presidency Mean for My Education?

    Sasha Ariel Alston
    6th grade, Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, DC

    On November 4, 2008, I was late for school. My mom said it was OK this time because she wanted me to go with her to vote for Barack Obama to become the next president of the United States. We arrived at the polling place around 6:30 a.m. and saw a long line that was wrapped around about two blocks. It was very cold outside and at first the line wasn’t even moving. To pass the time, my mom and I talked with the people in line and took pictures. Finally, after two hours and ten minutes, we made it inside the building, our neighborhood recreational center. They organized people by their last names. Then it was our turn. We decided to use the machine instead of a paper ballot. We voted by pressing the screen together for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. It was very exciting, and we both smiled real big after it was over. Then we received our “I Voted” stickers. I heard people cheering as we left the building. I will remember this day because it was an important election. We voted for the first black president, and I am glad I got to be a part of history.

    On January 19, 2009, it was the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. My family was visiting us from California for the inauguration. My mom said that we should do a service project for the Day of National Service. We decided to take the Metro to RFK Stadium to make care packages for the troops. There were
    a lot of people there. It was actually really fun. We went down a line collecting items in a bag, and after it was full, we would go through the line again. We did this for about an hour. After that, we wrote thank you letters to the soldiers and got a gift bag with brownies, water, and a thank you card. It was incredible
    that we helped assemble 100,000 care packages that day with great teamwork.

    On January 20, 2009, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to go attend the inaugural swearing-in ceremony of Barack Obama. We drove to my mom’s job near Union Station and parked in the parking lot. Then we walked about two miles to the Capitol. It was freezing cold. I had on a lot of layers and used hand, body, and feet warmers to keep warm. It wasn’t too bad except my feet were frozen. We had silver tickets so we needed to find where we should go to get in line. It was very crowded and there was some pushing and shoving. My stomach was queasy, and I wanted to leave but my mom told me to be a trooper because we were about to witness history. At one point, my mom and I sat on the ground, and I fell asleep on her lap. It got better when we started seeing people arrive on the JumboTron. We saw Senator Kennedy, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Diddy, Magic Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Dr. Martin Luther King’s sister, Oprah, and more. Finally, Barack Obama took the oath at about 12:04 p.m. Everybody was cheering. As soon as President Obama finished his speech, I was ready to go but my mom wasn’t. I had to pull her hand, and I even asked her, “Who is more important, him or me!” She just smiled. When we got home, she told me to write about everything that I remembered about the day. I didn’t feel like doing it, but I did. I am glad I did because the next day my teacher had me share with the class about what it was like attending the
    inauguration and I was prepared.

    On February 3, 2009, President Barack Obama and the First Lady visited my school, Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, DC. It was really exciting. It made me feel special that they took the time to come and read a book to the second graders. My mom told me that he said that my school is an
    example of how all schools should be. That made me very proud.

    So now I am ready to answer the question: what will Barack Obama’s presidency mean for my education? It means having a president who actually cares about me and my education even though he has never met me. It means having a president that will support my school and the teachers so that we can receive the best education possible. Having Barack Obama as president means there will be more opportunities for me to follow my dreams. It means that impossible things can come true when you work hard. And it means that my mom does not have to wait until I grow up for me to understand why she took me to vote, to volunteer, and to the inauguration because I already know.
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    Summer 2009 Issue


    Editors’ Introduction
    Note to Educators
    Hope Required When Growing Roses in Concrete
    Jeffrey M. R. Duncan-Andrade
    A Dialogue
    Our Selves, Our Students, and Obama
    Jennifer McLaughlin and Kim Kelly
    President Obama and Education
    The Possibility for Dramatic Improvements in Teaching and Learning
    Linda Darling-Hammond
    Promise and Peril
    Charter Schools, Urban School Reform, and the Obama Administration
    Charles Payne and Tim Knowles
    Reclaiming Our Freedom to Teach
    Education Reform in the Obama Era
    Megan Behrent
    Obama’s Dilemma
    Postpartisan Politics and the Crisis of American Education
    Henry A. Giroux
    Second-Class Integration
    A Historical Perspective for a Contemporary Agenda
    Vanessa Siddle Walker
    Equity and Empathy
    Toward Racial and Educational Achievement in the Obama Era
    Prudence L. Carter
    It Wasn’t Easy to Get Here
    Kathleen Mayse
    Obama, Where Art Thou?
    Hoping for Change in U.S. Education Policy
    Wayne Au
    Praise Song for Teachers
    A Call to Action
    Ariane White
    Educating Latino Immigrant Students in the Twenty-First Century
    Principles for the Obama Administration
    Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco
    Education for Everyday People
    Obstacles and Opportunities Facing the Obama Administration
    Gloria Ladson-Billings
    An Insurrectionary Generation
    Young People, Poverty, Education, and Obama
    Jay Gillen
    An Earned Insurgency
    Quality Education as a Constitutional Right
    Robert P. Moses
    Barack Obama and the Fight for Public Education
    William Ayers
    Coda: The Slow Fuse of Change
    Obama, the Schools, Imagination, and Convergence
    Maxine Greene
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