Letters to the Next President

November 7, 2008 4:26:23 PM PST
As Barack Obama transitions into the role as president, he's going to receive a lot of advice. And some of it is coming from some local students. At the Robert F. Wagner Secondary School for Arts and Technology, educators have a very high priority on their students ability to write.

"We're trying to teach them that writing is a very important part of their development as young people," principal Bruce Noble said.

Wagner students were encouraged to write letters to the new president. Some 5,000 letters are posted on the Web site of the National Writing Project.

They include words like, "Many things are happening and they need your help. Only you have the power to help them."

But letter-writer Anas Rahman also has confidence in the president-elect.

"I think he's a great guy," Rahman said. "He'll make a great president and he'll fix all the problems we have."

The Iraq war was on the mind of a student whose brother is serving as a soldier there when he wrote, "Mr. Obama, you say that you will bring all the troops home from Iraq as soon as possible. I, however, respectfully disagree."

Eric Bauer explains his disagreement.

"He should pull most of the troops out, but also leave some there, because there are still some terrorist organizations that may want revenge," Bauer said.

"There should be a plan to lower health care costs, so it can be affordable," student Crystal Pang wrote. "The quality of the care should be more than decent, and cheaper."

Pang also wants the new president to focus on the environment.

"And I think that he should try to do more environment friendly gases or fuels so that America and the world will be affected," she said.

Project organizers have been impressed by the letters.

"You could see that they were all enthusiastic about the idea that their voices would be heard," said Joe Bellacero, of the New York City Writing Project.

And project directors are confident that to read any of these letters would be to receive good advice.

The home page of the Web site is Letters2President.org

More than 200 US schools participating. People can go online to find letters from students in their states.

For letters from students in New York, CLICK HERE.

For letters from students in New Jersey, CLICK HERE.

For letters from students in Connecticut, CLICK HERE.

Description of project from the Web site:

Letters to the Next President: Writing Our Future is an online writing and publishing project for students, ages 13 - 18, co-sponsored by Google and the National Writing Project. We invited young people to write about the issues and concerns that they feel are central to their future, issues they would hope our next president would act on. Topics were chosen by the students themselves to reflect their specific personal, regional, and age-related interests. Teachers and mentors guided students through the process of writing a persuasive letter or essay to the presidential candidates using Google Docs.


STORY BY: Education reporter Art McFarland


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