President Obama & Prime Minister Gillard Visit Wakefield High School

Uploaded by whitehouse on 07.03.2011

President Obama: Hey, guys! How are you?
Good to see you.
Nice to see you.
Well, the -- it is wonderful to be back at Wakefield.
Some of you remember I was here a couple of years ago, right?
It was a year and a half ago?
I know I had less gray hair the last time I was here.
We wanted to stop by because we have a very
special guest here today.
But before I do that, I just want to say -- I'm assuming you
guys are all aware that this is Ms. Fraley's birthday.
Students: Yes.
Student: Can we sing Happy Birthday?
President Obama: Should we sing Happy Birthday?
So let's -- I'll kick us off.
♪♪ (class sings Happy Birthday) ♪♪
President Obama: For those of you in the back, you should know that Ms. Fraley
was selected as one of the Virginia Teachers of the Year.
So we're very proud of that.
I was just talking to her.
It turns out that she's been teaching now for 10 years.
Before she was teaching, she was a journalist.
So she decided to make a change and get into something useful.
I couldn't resist. I couldn't resist.
Now, for our real order of business here,
we have a wonderful special guest.
This is Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
She has come all the way from Australia.
She will be addressing a joint session of Congress,
which is a very unique honor.
Few heads of state get the privilege of addressing a
joint session of Congress.
But the reason that she's been asked to do this is because we
have as close of an alliance with Australia as any country
in the world.
We have a shared democracy.
We have shared values.
Their football is a little different than ours.
But there are very few countries where we've got such a close
bond and such a unique bond.
And that dates back for decades.
But it's also manifest today where, for example,
Australia is one of the leading coalition partners in
Afghanistan, so our soldiers are fighting side by side.
We cooperate on a whole range of security issues
and economic issues.
The reason we wanted to stop by a school was in part because
Prime Minister Gillard used to be the minister
of education in Australia.
So she takes a great interest in how our young people are
developing and how we're preparing them for the
21st-century economy.
So we are thrilled to have her here.
Madam Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Gillard: Thank you very much.
I was saying to the President as we came here that I've been to a
Washington school before, when I was in Washington and was taken
to a school.
It was actually a primary school, much younger children.
And I was a few minutes into my address when one small boy
turned to the small boy next to him and said,
"Is she speaking English?"
So provided all of you understand me today,
I'm going to count this as a success.
But I thought I would come along today and just talk to you about
Australia and actually start by asking you a few questions,
a bit of a pop quiz about Australia.
You're looking --
President Obama: Don't embarrass Ms. Fraley.
Prime Minister Gillard: We've got some Australian journalists here,
so if you can't answer the questions then I'm sure
they'll be able to.
Anybody got any idea the population of Australia,
how many people?
Just a guess.
President Obama: Anybody want to take a stab?
Student: Twenty-one million?
President Obama: Very close.
Prime Minister Gillard: Very close. Twenty-two million.
President Obama: Do you have like an iPad over there?
That's pretty impressive.
Good job. All right.
Prime Minister Gillard: Okay, what about size? How big is it?
As big as America?
Student: As big as the United States.
Student: A little bit bigger?
Prime Minister Gillard: A little bit bigger?
Student: Oh, really?
Prime Minister Gillard: No.
You're giving us a little bit of extra terrain.
Student: A little bit smaller.
Prime Minister Gillard: It's a little bit -- there you go.
There are only two choices.
A little bit bigger or a little bit smaller.
Student: Maybe exactly the same.
Prime Minister Gillard: No, it's about 20 percent less in size than America.
But 20 million people, 20 percent less in size.
So that's worth knowing.
Who knows anything about Australian-rules football?
Student: Ask him.
Prime Minister Gillard: You do?
Student: I've watched a little bit.
Prime Minister Gillard: You've watched a little bit? And what do you think?
Pretty tough guy?
Student: It's hard to understand.
Prime Minister Gillard: Okay. I've been trying to describe it to the President.
It can be a bit hard to understand.
President Obama: She brought me an Australian football.
She was kicking it in my office.
Almost broke a bust of Lincoln.
It was really --
That's not true, guys.
Just making that up.
Prime Minister Gillard: Hand bowling in the office.
President Obama: I don't want to cause a diplomatic incident.
Prime Minister Gillard: We didn't break anything -- we were hand bowling.
So has anybody got a question about Australia?
Student: My family and I have been wondering for a little while,
what is Vegemite?
Prime Minister Gillard: Right.
This is also a little bit of a division between the
President and I.
I love Vegemite, and --
President Obama: It's horrible.
Prime Minister Gillard: It's actually a byproduct of making beer, apparently.
That's how the story goes.
It's a yeast paste.
I'm making this sound really good, aren't I?
It's black, and it's quite salty.
The beginner's error with Vegemite is to put too much
on a piece of bread or piece of toast.
You don't put it on like jam or anything like that.
You've got to do it very lightly, spread it very thinly.
And it's good.
President Obama: So it's like a quasi-vegetable-byproduct
paste --
-- that you smear on your toast for breakfast.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Prime Minister Gillard: But we'll get some sent over and you can have a try.
It's addictive.
Once you've had some when you were small,
you'll crave it when you're an adult.
President Obama: All right. Fair enough.
Prime Minister Gillard: You've got to start eating it when you're young, though.
Other Australian questions? Yes.
Student: What's the biggest difference between Australian schools and
U.S. schools?
Prime Minister Gillard: The biggest difference?
I think a lot of things are the same.
We've got about 9,500 schools in the country,
so a lot less than here, which is what you would imagine.
I think the things that we study and the way that we benchmark
standards are around about the same.
And one of the things we're both trying to do,
so President Obama is very focused on and I'm very focused
on, is making sure the schools that haven't been meeting the
right national testing results are getting boosted up,
because we don't want disadvantaged students
falling behind.
So I think if you went to one of our schools you'd see a
classroom pretty much like this one.
Student: How has the flooding affected education and
how kids get to school?
Prime Minister Gillard: Yes, it did stop kids going to school for a while,
so we had the flooding right through Queensland and then we
had the cyclone, which hit in North and Far North Queensland
after that.
Some of the schools they brought back a few weeks late because
kids couldn't get to school -- the schools were flood damaged.
But people are getting back into it and back
into normal life now.
A lot of the schools acted as relief centers,
so during the worst of the flooding that is where people
could go to pick up food supplies or to see someone who
might be able to help them with emergency cash or put them in
contact with a counselor if they were finding the strain
of it too much.
So schools were a real backbone.
But kids missed a few weeks of school.
Some of the kids I talked to thought that wasn't such
a bad deal --
-- missing a couple of weeks of school.
But everybody is getting back into it now.
President Obama: Now, the flooding area was about the size of Texas --
is that right?
The amount of land that was covered by the floods?
Prime Minister Gillard: It was huge.
We were -- the comparison we were doing was a bit like France
and Germany, that kind of size, so a huge area.
And I had the opportunity to go up in the air and see it a few
times, and just filthy floodwater,
because floodwater is filthy, as far as the eye could see.
And it was a sort of rolling crisis,
so we had flooding in places like Rockhampton,
and then it came down to some small places
like Dalby and Condamine.
So that was the first phase of it.
And then we had those very dangerous flash floods in
Toowoomba and into the Lockyer Valley that cost people a lot of
-- a lot of lives were lost because there was no warning.
And then Brisbane, which is one of our big cities, was flooded.
So we had a whole capital city closed down for a few days
because of the flooding.
And then when we'd gotten through all of that,
then we had a category 5 cyclone hit in the north and far north,
and that caused a lot of devastation in places like Tully
and Cardwell, which had been evacuated because the force of
the cyclone was going to be so strong.
So it's been a tough time, but Queenslanders particularly are
resilient sorts.
They breed them pretty tough in Queensland,
so they're getting on with it and rebuilding.
President Obama: Anybody else?
Student: Mr. President, when are you coming to Australia?
President Obama: I actually went to Australia.
Some of you know that when I was a kid I lived in Indonesia
briefly for about four years.
And Indonesia is sort of in the same vicinity as Australia.
So when you fly -- back then, at least -- now there are probably
more direct flights, but back then oftentimes you had to
fly through Australia.
So I ended up having a chance to get to know Aussies when I
was 8 years old.
And wonderful people -- and very similar to Americans in the
sense that -- very open, very friendly -- partly because -- we
were talking about this earlier -- they have a similar sort of
frontier spirit.
There's a lot of open space there,
a lot of people who obviously migrated there -- some by
choice, some --
Prime Minister Gillard: Some not so much.
President Obama: Some not so much.
Prime Minister Gillard: Early convicts. Not so much probably.
President Obama: But -- so you have a similar openness,
a great -- a premium on individualism and freedom.
So there's a lot that binds our two countries together.
Any other questions?
You guys can ask questions for me if you want.
Student: Do you play basketball in Australia?
Prime Minister Gillard: Yes, we do play basketball in Australia.
In fact, Secretary Duncan is over here -- your Secretary
of Education --
President Obama: Arne Duncan.
Prime Minister Gillard: -- and he played basketball in Australia.
President Obama: Played professional basketball in Australia.
Secretary Duncan: I was the leading scorer for four years.
President Obama: Were you the leading scorer in the league?
Secretary Duncan: No.
President Obama: Come on, Reggie. I might have believed him.
He's still got game, by the way.
Prime Minister Gillard: I went to a basketball game in Townsville earlier this year
-- they're the Townsville Crocs.
So they come with a mascot which is a man in a crocodile suit.
And anything can happen when that mascot is there.
President Obama: Anybody else? Don't be intimidated by these --
Student: How many of these Presidents can you name around the room?
President Obama: That's Lincoln.
And that's Washington.
Student: You're over there, in the back.
President Obama: How's that?
Student: You're over there.
President Obama: Nice, nice.