During his remarks at James C. Wright Middle School in Madison, Obama announced that his daughter Malia got a 73 on a science test.
Gee, Dad, thanks for sharing.
In his address on education, Obama was saying that both parents and kids need to set high standards for academic achievement.
Once when Malia got an 80 on a test, she was satisfied.
Obama said that wasn't good enough. He said, "Our goal is 90 percent and up."
He said that Malia internalized that message, so she was depressed about the 73. She got a 95 on her next test. Malia found personal satisfaction in gaining knowledge.
If the Obamas hadn't instilled that message in her, she might not be striving to do her best.
Bottom line: Parents need to be involved in their kids' education. They need to set expectations and teach their kids to want to learn and do well. Parents play an important role in their children's success in school.
What's wonderful about that formula for success is no government program is needed to accomplish it. Exercising personal responsibility doesn't cost the taxpayers anything, ever.
Here is the White House transcript of Obama's remarks.
OBAMA: These aren’t in my prepared remarks, but I think it's important to note that Malia and Sasha are just wonderful kids, and Michelle is a wonderful mother. But in our own household, with all the privileges and opportunities that we have, there are times -- look, there are times when kids slack off. There are times where they would rather be watching TV or playing a computer game than hitting the books. And part of our job as parents -- Michelle and my job -- is not just to tell our kids what to do, but to start instilling in them a sense that they want to do it for themselves.
So Malia came home the other day. She had gotten a 73 on her science test. Now, she's a 6th grader. There was a time a couple years ago when she came home with like an 80-something and she said, "I did pretty well." And I said, "No, no, no. That's" -- I said, "Our goal is" -- "Our goal is 90 percent and up." (Applause.)
Here is the interesting thing. She started internalizing that. So she came and she was depressed, "I got a 73." And I said, "Well, what happened?" "Well, the teacher -- the study guide didn't match up with what was on the test." "So what's your idea here?" "Well, I'm going to start -- I've got to read the whole chapter. I'm going to change how I study, how I approach it." So she came home yesterday, she was -- "I got a 95" -- right? -- so she's high-fiving. (Applause.)
But here's the point. She said -- she said, "I just like having knowledge." That's what she said. And what was happening was she had started wanting it more than us. Now, once you get to that point, our kids are on our [sic] way. But the only way they get to that point is if we're helping them get to that point.
So it's going to take that kind of effort from parents to set a high bar in the household. Don't just expect teachers to set a high bar. You've got to set a high bar in the household all across America. (Applause.)