by William Croyle
The Kentucky Enquirer
COVINGTON, Ky. (AP)—Ten-year-old Na’Dreya Lattimore is not happy with the country’s education system, and she let President Barack Obama know it.
Last Thursday, the president shared her sentiments with the nation.
|SPECIAL LETTER—Na’Dreya Lattimore, 10, of Covington, Ky., holds a copy of the letter she sent to President Barack Obama, as well as his letter in response, July 28.
Na’Dreya, a fifth-grader at Sixth District Elementary School, wrote the president a letter in December. She received a hand-written response from him in May, and he referred to her letter at the end of his education reform speech during the National Urban League Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C.
“My school called me this morning and said they heard he mentioned me,” Na’Dreya said outside her Covington apartment. “I thought it was pretty cool to be mentioned on TV by the president.”
Na’Dreya, a straight-A student, asked her grandmother last year what the No Child Left Behind Act was. Her grandmother said it basically means all children are entitled to the same education.
That upset Na’Dreya, who did not think it was working.
“She just decided one day she was going to write him a letter about it,” said her grandmother, Cindy Sebastian. “She said all the adults in this country were making the decisions, but don’t really know how the kids feel.”
“Nobody is getting the same education,” Na’Dreya wrote to the president. “Sometimes I think if you are really smart you get punished.”
She referred to students who disrupt class and take away her learning time, and students who fall behind and force other students to learn at a slower pace.
“That’s why I feel like I am being punished for being smart,” she wrote. “Can you fix this so that everybody can be in the rite (sic) class? I know you are busy, but I could really use your help on this.”
Obama replied on a post card with a hand-written note and his signature at the end:
“Na’Dreya, thanks for the letter. I agree with you that we have to do a much better job on education, and we are trying to help states improve their schools. I can tell you are a very smart young lady, so keep working hard. Your future is bright!”
“At first I thought he’d be too busy to even read it,” Na’Dreya said. “I was real excited that he wrote me back, and I thought his response was good because it sounds like he agrees with me.”
Her mother, Lisa Lattimore, was very excited, but not totally shocked that her daughter was able to get a response from the president.
“She’s very smart, and has always been very mature for her age,” Lattimore said.
Obama closed his speech by referring to Na’Dreya’s letter.
“You need to look at us differently,” he read from the letter. “We are not Black, we’re not White, biracial, Hispanic, Asian or any other nationality. We are the future.”
Her words drew applause from the crowd.
“Na’Dreya, you are right,” the president continued. “And that’s why I will keep fighting to lead us out of this storm.”
Na’Dreya said she wants to be a forensic scientist when she grows up.
“That’s why I’m trying to keep my grades up and get straight As every year,” she said. “As long as you work hard and you want it, you can do anything.”