Katelyn SabochikApril 27, 2011
11:07 AM EDT
Have you rated the six finalists in the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge yet?
Thousands of Americans have already weighed in, but if you haven’t yet, head over to WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement now to tell us what you think. Each school produced a short video with help from the Get Schooled Foundation and wrote an essay explaining why their school should win.
Check out some highlights from the videos then submit your ratings for each school.
As part of the Commencement Challenge, public high schools around the country submitted an application earlier this year that described how their school is preparing students for college and a career. We’ve narrowed down the schools to six finalists and now it’s your turn to weigh in. You can review and rate each school on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) before Friday April 29 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Your ratings will help us narrow down the pool to three finalists and President Obama will select the winning school from one of these three.
Dan PfeifferApril 27, 2011
08:57 AM EDTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
In 2008, in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. The state sent the campaign the President’s birth certificate, the same legal documentation provided to all Hawaiians as proof of birth in state, and the campaign immediately posted it on the internet. That birth certificate can be seen here (PDF).
When any citizen born in Hawaii requests their birth certificate, they receive exactly what the President received. In fact, the document posted on the campaign website is what Hawaiians use to get a driver’s license from the state and the document recognized by the Federal Government and the courts for all legal purposes. That’s because it is the birth certificate. This is not and should not be an open question.
The President believed the distraction over his birth certificate wasn’t good for the country. It may have been good politics and good TV, but it was bad for the American people and distracting from the many challenges we face as a country. Therefore, the President directed his counsel to review the legal authority for seeking access to the long form certificate and to request on that basis that the Hawaii State Department of Health make an exception to release a copy of his long form birth certificate. They granted that exception in part because of the tremendous volume of requests they had been getting. President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate can be seen here (PDF):
At a time of great consequence for this country – when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President’s hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.
April 26, 2011
08:28 PM EDT
Last October, at the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges, President Obama announced the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a new, privately-funded prize to recognize, reward, and inspire outstanding outcomes in community colleges nationwide.
Yesterday, Dr. Jill Biden and Secretary Arne Duncan congratulated the 120 community colleges that – due to exceptional student outcomes – were selected by the Aspen Institute to compete for the inaugural $1 million purse. In Round Two, the Aspen Institute will invite these 120 eligible institutions to submit applications containing additional detailed data on completion rates, labor market outcomes (employment and earnings), and student learning outcomes. Eight to ten finalists will be named in September and – following campus visits by Aspen in the Fall - prize winners will be announced in December.
Excellence in community colleges is critical to reaching President Obama’s goal that the U.S. lead the world in college graduates by 2020 and to preparing the American workforce to compete in the global economy.
April 26, 2011
07:45 PM EDT
Yesterday, the First Family hosted a record number of people on the South Lawn in their backyard for the 133rd White House Easter Egg Roll. 30,000 people from around the country embraced this year's theme "Get Up Go!" -- a part of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids. Highlighted by blue skies, amazing performances, healthy activities and eating -- the event was a huge success!
Check out all of the action and fun from this year's event:
Opening the 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll
President Obama Reads "Where the Wild Things Are"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Carla Hall Reads "The Giving Tree"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos Read "Robot Zot!"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: John Lithgow Reads From His Books
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Kristi Yamaguchi Reads "Dream Big Little Pig"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: John Bemelmans Marciano Reads "Madeleine"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Geena Davis Reads "When Dinosaurs Came with Everything"
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with First Lady Michelle Obama
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with Carla Hall
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with Howard Helmer
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with Jacques Pépin
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with Spike Mendelsohn
2011 White House Easter Egg Roll: Play with Your Food with the White House Chefs
President Barack Obama cheers on kids taking part in the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama hits a tennis ball during a sports clinic set up as part of the Easter Egg Roll activities on the South Lawn of the White House, April 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
First Lady Michelle Obama participates in the "Play With Your Food" station with Jacque Pepin,right, Kelly Ripa, left, and Al Roker, second from left, at the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House, April 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Many thanks from the White House Visitors Office to all of the volunteers and everyone that attended to help make this one of the best Easter Egg Rolls ever!
April 26, 2011
05:50 PM EDT
As the bitter chill of winter retreats, the vibrancy of spring beckons us outdoors reminding us of the inextricable link between the natural world and our daily lives. In striving to meet the President's challenge to win the future by out-educating the rest of the world, we must cultivate the environmental health of our learning spaces and our students’ understanding of their environment to enable them to meet the challenges of the future. Today, the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality came together to launch the Green Ribbon Schools Program. This program plants the seeds to move toward educational excellence for the future by recognizing schools that are creating healthy and sustainable learning environments - both inside and outside the classroom, teaching environmental literacy, and increasing environmental health by reducing their environmental footprint.
Led by the Department of Education, in close partnership with the EPA and CEQ, the Green Ribbon Schools program will incentivize and reward schools that help to ensure that our students receive an education second to none by improving the health and environmental footprint of nation’s schools. To prepare our children for the clean energy economy of the future, Green Ribbon schools will be those that incorporate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and environmental stewardship into their curricula.
Kori SchulmanApril 26, 2011
05:14 PM EDT
Following the launch of Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden traveled throughout the country, celebrating the service of military families and the communities, businesses and non-profits working to support them every day. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society to ensure military families have the support they have earned. At each stop, the First Lady and Dr. Biden encouraged Americans to get involved in any way they can.
Visit www.joiningforces.gov to find opportunities to support military families in you own community.
Jesse LeeApril 26, 2011
01:06 PM EDT
This afternoon the President wrote a letter to leaders of both parties in Congress on the subject of tax breaks for oil companies. The President's letter comes a day after Speaker of the House John Boehner said that eliminating those tax breaks is "certainly something we should be looking at," adding that, "We're in a time when the federal government's short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share." It comes a few weeks after the President included the proposal as part of his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future.
The full text of the President's letter is below:
Dear Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, and Representative Pelosi:
I am writing to urge you to take immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and to use those dollars to invest in clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Jesse LeeApril 25, 2011
04:06 PM EDT
The White House Photo Office just released their latest batch of behind-the-scenes photos, this time following the President from town halls across the country to the Situation Room to a moment alone reading on the patio outside the Oval Office. As always, they've come up with some never-before-seen angles to help document this time for history. See a thumbnail gallery below or check out the full-size gallery at our White House Flickr photostream.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusApril 25, 2011
12:27 PM EDT
Helping every American with autism achieve their full potential is one of this administration’s top priorities. At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we continue to strive to meet the complex needs of all people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families. While there is no cure, early intervention is critical and can greatly improve a child’s development.
Perhaps the biggest step we’ve taken to support those affected by autism and their families happened over a year ago, with the signing of the Affordable Care Act. Now, new insurance plans are required to cover autism screening and developmental assessments for children at no cost to parents. Insurers will also no longer be allowed to deny children coverage for a pre-existing condition such as ASD or to set arbitrary lifetime or annual limits on benefits.
April 25, 2011
11:22 AM EDT
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Seattle area businesses and discuss ways we can work together to strengthen our nations clean energy economy. With the General Service Administration’s portfolio of nearly 10,000 federal buildings and influence over 400,000 federal vehicles we are uniquely positioned to move our government towards this goal. But we can’t do this alone -- that’s why GSA is working to facilitate conversations with private sector leaders that foster an exchange of ideas.
On my first stop in Seattle, I took part in a roundtable conversation with representatives from business, construction and design and academia to discuss the business case for green building. With GSA’s 370 million square feet of facility space it is imperative for us to invest in innovative clean energy technologies that make our buildings more cost and energy efficient for the American taxpayer. Conversations like this roundtable allow GSA to work with the private sector and share best practices so we can make informed decisions on implementing innovative building technologies.
While in the Puget Sound area I also had the opportunity to speak to building managers, urban planners and local government officials at the Bellevue City Hall for a workshop on electric vehicle charging stations. I spoke with attendees who are leading remarkable initiatives to create and support infrastructure for plug-in vehicles. As part of our efforts to make the federal fleet more efficient, GSA will be launching an EV pilot program to purchase 100 plug-in electric vehicles. To make electric vehicles an integral part of our federal fleet we must take steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure exists, including charging stations. The workshop attendees I met with are ensuring we are on track to meet President Obama’s goal of having one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
I’d like to thank my hosts in and around Seattle, and I look forward to continuing the conversation with our partners in sustainability.
Kori SchulmanApril 25, 2011
06:00 AM EDT
The 2011 White House Easter Egg Roll is here, and you’re invited! Today, the Obama’s will host 30,000 people from all 50 states in their backyard for an Easter Egg Hunt and the traditional Easter Egg Rolling, as well as live musical performances, storytime readings, healthy cooking demos, sports and more. This year's theme “Get Up and Go!” focuses on promoting health and wellness, a central part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative to raise a healthier generation of kids.
Join the First Family and people from around the country for the 133rd White House Easter Egg Roll on WhiteHouse.gov/live.
View the full live stream schedule below:
Jesse LeeApril 23, 2011
05:30 AM EDT
The President lays out his plans to address rising gas prices over the short and the long term, from a new task force to root out fraud and manipulation in the oil markets to investments in a clean energy economy.
Kori SchulmanApril 22, 2011
07:13 PM EDT
Your quick look at the week that was on WhiteHouse.gov.
Town Hall x Three: This week, President Obama traveled the country to hold a series of town hall meetings. In Virginia, he stopped by Northern Virginia Community College to talk about the importance of education in a 21st century economy. Then it was on to California, and Facebook headquarters, where he answered questions about fiscal responsibility. On the way back to Washington, the President stopped in Reno, Nevada, to meet with workers who are manufacturing tomorrow's clean energy technologies today.
Celebrating Earth Day: To celebrate Earth Day, Nancy Sutley and Heather Zichal, two of the President's top energy and environment advisers, hosted a live chat on the South Lawn of the White House. Energy.gov launched a special Earth Day page, and the EPA shared stories and video of activities around the country.
Your West Wing Week: "My Old Number, Twenty Three"
Kori SchulmanApril 22, 2011
06:28 PM EDT
President Obama just released the following statement on Syria:
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now. We regret the loss of life and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims, and with the Syrian people in this challenging time.
Administrator Lisa P. JacksonApril 22, 2011
01:37 PM EDT
Each year when Earth Day rolls around, we’re given an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come in protecting the health and the environment of our communities. This Earth Day, EPA under President Obama's leadership is proud of all the progress we’ve made in just two years to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, and the communities where we build our homes, schools and businesses.
In protecting our air, we’ve marked some historic “firsts”: setting the first joint fuel efficiency and emissions standards with the Department of Transportation that will make American cars and trucks more fuel efficient than ever before, as well as establishing the first new standards for sulfur dioxide in forty years.
And just last month, we set another first: the first national standards for mercury, arsenic and other air pollution from our nation’s power plants. These standards require power plants to use proven pollution control technology at their facilities, a change that will help prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks a year. For our young people, the new standards will help prevent 120,000 incidents of asthma symptoms and about 11,000 fewer cases of acute bronchitis among children.
We’ve also taken major steps to revitalize America’s waters. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is setting a new standard of care for the source of 95 percent of America’s surface freshwater. On the Chesapeake Bay, historic efforts are underway to protect waters that touch the lives and livelihoods of 17 million people. And one year after the Deepwater Horizon BP spill that hit the Gulf Coast and my home state of Louisiana so hard, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, which the president asked me to chair, is developing a plan – not just to continue the important recovery from the largest oil spill in U.S. history, but to take on issues that have plagued the region for years. All that is happening at the same time we are collaborating with local communities to revitalize urban waterways, working with schools and small businesses to lead the world in the next generation of clean water technology, and helping communities put in place green infrastructure and other cost-effective tools that work with mother nature to filter and reduce pollution.
As we protect the water that flows through our communities, we’re also protecting the ground these communities are built on. We’ve been cleaning up communities through swift implementation of the president’s Recovery Act, which funded Brownfields and Superfund cleanups across the nation. To make certain every community – including low-income and minority communities that often face disproportionate environmental challenges – have a seat at the table, we’ve stepped up to expand the conversation on environmentalism. We've revitalized our Environmental Justice office at EPA, issued agency-wide guidance on incorporating environmental justice into our decision making and, with my good friend Nancy Sutley, Chair of the president’s Council for Environmental Quality, reconvened the leadership of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice for the first time in over a decade.
Our outreach has not stopped there. We've spoken to farmers, clean energy innovators, clergy, teachers, students and environmental entrepreneurs. I've also been able to keep in touch with the next generation of leaders by achieving yet another "first": the first EPA Administrator with a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. Today there are voices calling for protecting our health and our environment that were not part of this discussion two years ago. They know that this EPA serves them. They know that their concerns are our concerns. And they know that we’re going to make sure all Americans get the protections and opportunities they need and deserve.
These are just a few examples of our efforts over the last two years. We’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go to strengthen protections for American families, foster more innovation and safeguard the environment we will leave to our children and grandchildren.
Lisa P. Jackson is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
April 22, 2011
01:15 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Learn more about the Attorney General's efforts to protect consumers at StopFraud.gov.
Over the past few years, American businesses and families across the country have suffered the effects of the worst financial crisis in generations. Today, although our economic recovery is gaining steam, it remains critically important that we continue to use every available tool and resource to safeguard consumers against additional – and unnecessary – financial burdens.
For many, rapidly rising gasoline prices pose a serious concern. And while some factors – like regional variations and other lawful reasons for increased prices – may be beyond our control, it is imperative that we take action to identify and address potential cases of fraud and manipulation that may harm families and businesses.
Yesterday, I announced the formation of an Oil and Gas Price Fraud Working Group to help identify civil or criminal violations in the oil and gasoline markets, and to ensure that American consumers are not harmed by unlawful conduct. Since last month, at President Obama’s request, I have been directing efforts to increase cooperation between the Department of Justice and other groups with relevant authority, including federal agencies and state attorneys general. I am proud to say that this Working Group will enable us to formalize these partnerships, share monitoring information, and exchange ideas about what works – and what doesn’t work – at the state and federal level.
Secretary Steven ChuApril 22, 2011
12:58 PM EDT
Earlier this month, I asked the public for feedback on energy policy as part of the White House’s “Advise the Advisor” program. Specifically, we asked for your comments and ideas about President Obama’s goal of reducing the amount of oil we import by a third in a little over a decade, along with the need to both increase our domestic energy production and reduce energy waste.
Thousands of you offered suggestions on how we can be more efficient and rely more on America’s clean energy resources. Here is a summary what we heard from you:
April 22, 2011
10:38 AM EDT
In recognition of Earth Day 2011, Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair, and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, answered your questions on the environment and energy policy in a live chat from the South Lawn of the White House. See what they talked about with the American people, from what everyday folks can do to go green, to what the federal government is doing to make a clean energy economy a reality.
And be sure to check out the Federal agency Sustainability and Energy Scorecard results on the CEQ website, which enable agencies to target and track the best opportunities to lead by example in clean energy; and to meet a range of energy, water, pollution, and waste reduction targets.
Arun ChaudharyApril 22, 2011
12:00 AM EDT
Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that's happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This week, President Obama held townhalls in Northern Virginia, California, and Nevada, to speak directly to the American people about his vision for reducing our debt and bringing down our deficit based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity.
Jesse LeeApril 21, 2011
05:55 PM EDT
In his third of three town halls this week on getting our deficits under control through shared responsibility for shared prosperity, the President spoke at ElectraTherm in Reno, Nevada, a small renewable energy company. There have been a lot of differences in the two approaches to our fiscal future, and at each stop he has focused on one in particular in the context of the bigger picture. When he spoke at a community college on Tuesday, he touched on the need to continue investments in education; at Facebook HQ on Wednesday he talked about promoting innovation; and today he talked about the need to continue supporting clean energy.
But as he said, while the biggest thing we can do to avoid having our kids go through the same endless cycle of gas prices bouncing up and down is to create a clean energy economy here at home, there are also some important steps he's taking right now to curb the strain on families:
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