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Asked and Answered: Matthew's Letter to the President

Matthew's letter — and the President's response — is the first post in Asked and Answered, a new series of exchanges between the President and an American who wrote him.

This post marks the beginning of a new series, in which we'll periodically feature an exchange between the President and an American who wrote him. Check back soon for more — and if you'd like to write the President yourself, you can do so here.

Every day, the President reads 10 letters from constituents all across the country. Sometimes, he chooses to respond to a letter personally. Matthew's was one of those letters.

Matthew, a varsity basketball player at South Gate High School in South Central Los Angeles, wrote the President to tell him about an away-game at a high school in Beverly Hills. He and his teammates caught a glimpse of a classroom full of iPads and other tools for the students to use, and were struck by the lack of resources at their own school.

"I really feel that school supplies such as computers, classrooms, even pencil and paper, should be equally distributed to all schools, no matter the district or location."

This is what Matthew wrote to the President:

Read Matthew's letter to the President

Transcription of the letter:

    My name is Matthew Tyrone Pointer and I am a varsity basketball player for South Gate high school, located in South Gate California. This is my first year at South Gate high school. I recently transferred from our town rivals, The South East Jaguars. The reason I transferred was because of basketball. It keeps my grades up and in the long run I know it'll make me a better person as I grow. The basketball program is great here, we go to many gyms located in many different cities and sometimes even in different counties. I can say the most amazing school/gym I visited was Beverly hills high school, when my team and I were walking around the campus looking for the gym, we all happen to notice this one classroom. The reason for that was because the classroom was filled with ipads, for the students of course. All of us basketball players coming from South Gate high school, were very shocked and just amazed. While we were stuck on talking about how we wished we had the supplies these Beverly Hills students have, a Beverly Hills student walked by and looked at us, we were all in our South Gate attire so that led up to him asking us where South Gate was located, we all replied "by South Central, on Firestone and State St." the student had no idea what we had just said but we all understood why. He just proceeded to wherever he was going.

    Well now to express the way I feel on being treated unfairly with equal access of school resources/supplies. Schools like Beverly Hills high school and Redondo Union have great electronic resources and pretty neat school supplies, that us lower class schools like South East, South Gate, and Huntington Park don't have.

    I dont know if its because we're a minority as a community or maybe because of our location, but I really feel that school supplies such as computers, classrooms, even pencil and paper should be equally distributed to all schools no matter the district or location. What makes those schools like Beverly Hills and Redondo union better than us? Is it the students? I hope you get the point I'm trying to make Mr.Obama, I just want equality within every community and imm only talking about school wise. To some kids, school is the only thing that can help them make it out of where their stuck in. You want change?, well give us a chance and we'll do our part by doing our job in school. I dont really care if l get a response back after writing this letter, as long as somebody hears me out and understands im trying to do better for our community.

The President wrote back to Matthew, letting him know that his generation deserves an education system that lets them dream as big as they can, and told him he's fighting for the necessary investments in that system every day.

"Playing basketball in high school taught me about who I was and what I could do, and I'm glad it's played a positive role in your life as well."

Here's the letter the President sent back to Matthew:

Read President Obama's response to Matthew

Transcription of the letter:

    Dear Matthew:

    I’ve been meaning to write since I read the letter you sent some time ago. Playing basketball in high school taught me about who I was and what I could do, and I’m glad it’s played a positive role in your life as well. You’re right — education is the key to success, and whether students live in Beverly Hills or South Gate, they all should have a world-class education with access to the resources they need to reach for their dreams. Your generation deserves a system worthy of your potential, and every day I’m fighting to make that vision a reality. Thank you for your message -- your passion to lift up your community is admirable. Keep up the hard work, both on and off the court, and know I expect big things from you.

    Sincerely, Barack Obama

Every student in this country deserves the opportunity to rise as far as their hard work and initiative will take them -- and a strong K-12 school system is an economic imperative for working families and the middle class.

Preparing our kids with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete in the global economy demands an interactive, personalized learning experience. The President's ConnectED initiative will, within five years, connect 99 percent of America's students — kids like Matthew — to next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries. We’ve already made major progress, including helping to inspire $2 billion in commitments of free technology to American classrooms, billions in new funding from the FCC, and a community of nearly 1,800 districts around the country committing to make this change real in their schools. Learn more about the progress of the ConnectED initiative here.

Read three more letters to the President about the importance of investing in our schools and teachers. Then, learn more about what we need to do to make sure every child has access to a great public education.


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