Senator Obama Tells BHS Students Change is Needed in Government
Thursday, April 20, 2006
BY TOM JOHNSTON
Sen. Barack Obama said he was glad to see so many students attend and ask questions at a town hall meeting held Monday afternoon in the Barrington High School Auditorium.
After all, many of the problems currently facing the United States, from its nearly $9 trillion national debt to its ailing health care system, will fall into their laps unless lawmakers and youth start making changes now, Obama said.
The state of the country is such that children are now faced with the threat of becoming the first generation to experience a lower standard of living than their parents, Obama said.
When asked by a student what he plans to do to prevent that from happening to her generation, Obama said, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do, then I'll tell you what you're going to do," eliciting applause from a lively audience.
Obama said he's going to try to: help reduce the deficit, which swallows funding for vital public services; help improve the nation's health care system; restore spending on basic research and science to improve the nation's economy; and help "wean" the country off its dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
"The bad news is you're going to have to work harder," Obama told students in the audience. He said youth culture is one of "watching TV, playing video games and avoiding tough classes in school."
Obama said the nation's education system has to be revamped so that more emphasis is placed on learning math and science, because the country's economy will depend on competing with the technological advancements of other countries.
"If we continue on a course where we rank in the bottom five percent of industrialized countries in math and science tests and know our economy is going to be based on how we compete technologically, we're going to be out of luck," he said.
Other topics discussed in Monday's town hall meeting, Obama's 48th in Illinois since he took office in January 2005, were the Iraq war, immigration, homeland security, senior citizens' quality of life, and bipartisanship in government.
In addition to high school students, the audience was made up of Barrington-area residents, educators and dignitaries, including state Rep. Mark Beaubien (R-52nd), Barrington Village President Karen Darch, South Barrington Village President Frank Munao, Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud, Cuba Township Supervisor David Nelson, and Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D-8th).
Bean introduced Obama, a fellow Democrat. She said she and Obama both have two daughters, and their children remain the motivation for their government service.
"What we have to weigh is how the pieces of legislation are going to better both the opportunities and security for our daughters, all of you young people, and all of the young people around the nation," Bean said. "Young people are the nation's future."