CONTROVERSY: Michelle Obama Wants Kids to Go to College

Today in a speech at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C., Michelle Obama will kick off a new initiative that aims to encourage underprivileged youths to pursue higher education. The daughter of a working class Chicago pump worker, the First Lady — who eventually attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School — will draw from her own past with the hopes of inspiring disadvantaged teens to continue their education past high school.

"I want you to know that my story can be your story," reads an advance text of her remarks. "The details might be a little different, but so many of the challenges and triumphs will be just the same...You have got to do whatever it takes to continue your education after high school — whether that's going to a community college, or getting a technical certificate, or completing a training opportunity, or heading off to a four-year college."

Thus far, Michelle Obama's tenure as First Lady has mostly been defined by the "Let's Move" campaign, which aims to promote healthy eating. This new initiative, however, could signal that she's involving herself more deeply in policy — a shift some culture critics say could only happen now.

From Jennifer Steinhauer at the New York Times:

[Some] argue that Mrs. Obama has had to move cautiously and avoid taking on causes that might be seen as controversial or as beneficial only to certain segments of the population.

"She just could not have done this four years ago," said Catherine Allgor, a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside, who has written books about first ladies. "If she came out of the gate with something much more tied to policy, she would have been shot down. Just look at the reaction to her suggestions that people eat salad."

It's crazy to think that encouraging kids to go to college could be seen as controversial, but apparently that's the America — may God bless her amber waves of grain! — we're living in.

Michelle Obama Edges Into Policy Role on Higher Education [NYT]

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