Dad, did you have to?

November 4, 2009

USA/There are certain upsides to life as a first daughter — travel on Air Force One, White House sleepovers, your new dog Bo — but there are definitely downsides, like when you are 11 years old and your dad tells the world about how you got a C on your science test.

Parents could imagine the groans when President Barack Obama veered away from his prepared remarks during a speech at a Wisconsin middle school on Wednesday to talk about his own sixth-grade daughter and her 73.

“So Malia came home the other day.  She had gotten a 73 on her science test,” Obama said.  “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.'” 

For our international readers, in most U.S. school systems, 90 percent and above is an A, the highest mark; 80 to 89 percent is a B, considered “good;” 70 to 79 percent is a C, for work deemed merely average; 60 to 69 is a D, for “just passing,” and below 60 is an F, for failure.

Malia, the elder of Obama’s two daughters and a student at an elite Washington private school, came home with the 73 more recently, Obama recalled.

“So she came and she was depressed,” he said, and then recounted a conversation in which he asked his daughter what happened and she explained that the study guide the teacher had handed out had not conformed to the material on the test.

“So what’s your idea here?” the president asked.

Obama told the story of how Malia had taken her setback to heart, by deciding on her own not to rely on teacher’s study guides, but to study the entire chapter. “I’m going to change how I study, how I approach it,” she said, according to her father, who added, “So she came home yesterday, she was — ‘I got a 95′ – right? – so she’s high-fiving,” Obama said.

“But here’s the point,” the proud parent added, using the conversation to make his point that children must succeed on their own, but need their parents’ support.  “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.”

The crowd in Madison, Wisconsin, cheered, but maybe somewhere a certain middle-schooler was wishing dad had stuck to his text.

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. President Barack Obama is welcomed by his daughters Sasha (L) and Malia, who is holding their dog Bo, on his return to Washington after a day trip to Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he participated in labor and economic rallies, September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Theiler


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I guess if Malia promises her father to make up for the C grade, she’ll have a whole year to do it…or maybe four years.

Posted by i,robert | Report as abusive

Well, despite the low grade at least SHE accomplished something…

Posted by i,robert | Report as abusive

“she explained that the study guide the teacher had handed out had not conformed to the material on the test.” The It was the teacher’s fault! Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Posted by hughglass | Report as abusive

I thought the Democrats favored public, not private education. Evidently public schools aren’t good enough for the First Daughters. Sounds a bit hypocritical to me. Of course, the god**** Republicans are no different; they all send their little tyrants to elite private schools, all at our expense, as well. America’s so-called leaders are no different than the monarchs of centuries past, and all deserve the same fate.

Posted by Mufaso | Report as abusive

I have a feeling the unnamed teacher is more unhappy about it than Obama’s daughter. You and I may not know her name, but I’m sure her school is not pleased that the president just insulted her teaching ability.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive