Our Top Stories
Nikki SuttonApril 21, 2011
05:27 PM EDT
Last week, as part of the Champions of Change series, highlighting people making a difference, parents who are impacting their communities through their involvement in education came to a roundtable at the White House. During the roundtable they shared their experiences and ideas on strengthening our schools.
Some of the participants were also delegates to Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress's Education and Learning conference earlier that week. Catherine McManus from Parenting Magazine shares her experience:
After spending four days with some of the most passionate voices for improving our nation’s schools at Parenting Magazine’s Mom Congress on Education and Learning conference, it seemed a fitting conclusion to our time together in Washington, D.C. to culminate the experience with a roundtable discussion at The White House among the true “Champions of Change” fighting for better educational opportunities for our nation’s children: their parents.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in his confirmation hearings that education is the “civil rights issue of our generation.” Parenting has had the honor of gathering outstanding mom education advocates from all over the country to exchange ideas with Secretary Duncan on how to most effectively work towards his goals for improving our country’s school system at the Mom Congress conference, and this year’s event left attendees inspired by his words: “Children don’t vote. They don’t have lobbyists. They don’t have unions. You’ve got to be that voice.”
Each of those all-important voices at the White House roundtable – whether from one of our amazing Mom Congress delegates or a local PTA leader working towards improving DC-area schools – proved that the most powerful movement in education reform can start with one mom raising her hand and speaking up about what’s best for her child.
Learn more about the parents that lent their expertise to the Champions of Change roundtable on education and listen to their tips on how you can get involved in winning the race to educate our kids. If you know someone who is doing extraordinary things to make a difference in your community, nominate them to be a Champion of Change.
Nancy SutleyApril 21, 2011
02:12 PM EDT
This week, people all around the globe will come together to honor and appreciate our environment. Since its establishment over 40 years ago, Earth Day in America has given us the opportunity to renew our commitment to protecting and preserving the natural treasures and resources vital to our health and prosperity. The investments that make the water we drink and the air we breathe clean and healthy, and protect the health of the lands on which we work, farm, live, and play will continue to pay immeasurable dividends for generations to come.
As I travel across the country visiting communities, students, educators, businesses and innovators building the path to winning the future, I am reminded of how interconnected a robust economy and a thriving natural environment are. Our clean energy economy will harness and protect the power of the sun, the wind, our waters, our resources, and our Earth. To ensure their success we must also play our part.
Secretary Tom VilsackApril 21, 2011
02:06 PM EDT
As gasoline prices continue to rise across the country, USDA is working with farmers and entrepreneurs to secure our nation’s long-term energy future and give Americans more choices about where to spend their gas dollars: at home or abroad.
For the past two years, USDA has worked to support the research, investment, and infrastructure necessary to build a nationwide biofuels industry that creates jobs in every corner of the country.
USDA has a long history of helping Americans with their energy choices. Our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has helped thousands of rural businesses and farmers improve the efficiency of their equipment or produce their own renewable energy by installing solar panels or wind turbines.
Now we are helping people understand that this popular program can also help gas stations install special pumps to provide biofuels to motorists across the county.
April 21, 2011
02:00 PM EDT
Last Friday, I attended the Department of Education’s fourth and final regional community college summit at San Diego City College in San Diego. These summits were held across the country to follow up on the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges hosted by the President and Dr. Biden at the White House last October. As Dr. Biden said then, the White House Summit was only the beginning of our national outreach and efforts to demonstrate how community colleges are critical to educating the best, most competitive workforce in the world.
The San Diego summit focused on the ways community colleges are supporting and educating veterans and members of the military and their families. Summit participants heard from several veterans about how their military service prepared them for college, and about some of the challenges they encountered transitioning from the military into the classroom. Many community college leaders and students discussed how veterans have become leaders on their campuses, strengthening classroom discussions and advocating for other students and veterans. In San Diego and around the country, we have a special obligation to make sure our veterans and military families can move into promising careers and thrive after their years of service and sacrifice to our country.
The summit came on the heels of the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s Joining Forces kickoff tour. Joining Forces is an initiative to raise public awareness about military families and veterans who live in communities throughout the country, and encourage all Americans to do their part to show their appreciation and support. Community colleges are uniquely-suited to meet the Joining Forces challenge, and they set an example for all sectors of society to use their strengths and expertise to expand opportunities for our veterans. Community colleges have always responded to the needs of their communities. They educate and train the people who live and work around them to meet regional and national economic needs. And when their students are veterans, that becomes a very special mission.
Kirsten White is the Policy Director to Dr. Jill Biden
April 21, 2011
11:17 AM EDT
Our country’s safety and prosperity relies on the everyday commitment and sacrifice of our nation’s military members and their families. That’s why the U.S. Department of Education is proud to join agencies across the government in participating in First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative, which seeks to mobilize all sectors of society to better support service members and their families.
Military families face unique challenges. They and their children often deal with high rates of student mobility, as well as emotional and personal stress caused by deployments and other military assignments. Our Department has taken steps to better meet these needs by providing important guidance to states and districts and by working to better direct the flow of federal resources.
To provide military members ample time with their families before, during and after deployment, some school districts have developed policies and practices for excused absences while maintaining high educational standards. We want to encourage schools to be flexible in balancing educational needs with family responsibilities, which is why we’ve provided guidance to all school district superintendents and chief state school officers on effective practices related to military-connected children and public school attendance policies.
Jesse LeeApril 21, 2011
11:11 AM EDT
We noted after the President’s town hall in Virginia that the questions he got from the crowd mirrored almost perfectly the issues that are being debated right now in Washington, and that the philosophical differences guiding that debate will have profound implications for the lives of virtually every American throughout their lives. And so while a Facebook Town Hall on our fiscal future might seem an odd fit at first glance, the President explained in his opening remarks why a platform like that was important:
And historically, part of what makes for a healthy democracy, what is good politics, is when you’ve got citizens who are informed, who are engaged. And what Facebook allows us to do is make sure this isn’t just a one-way conversation; makes sure that not only am I speaking to you but you're also speaking back and we're in a conversation, we’re in a dialogue.
The questions came from a number of sources, from Facebook employees in the room to Facebook users across the country who had opportunities to ask questions live or days ahead of time. As it happened, a Facebook employee raised in Detroit asked a question we hear a lot on all of our channels online, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to WhiteHouse.gov:
Melody BarnesApril 21, 2011
08:00 AM EDT
Do you remember your high school commencement speaker? Neither do I.
This year, one lucky high school will have an unforgettable commencement speaker – President Obama – and we need your help to determine which school it will be.
As part of the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge, public high schools around the country submitted an application earlier this year that describe 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. Each school produced a short video with help from the Get Schooled Foundation and essay. You can review and rate each school on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) between today and 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.
Check out this video of President Obama asking for your feedback on the Commencement Challenge finalists, and then head over to WhiteHouse.gov/Commencement to rate each finalist.
The Commencement Challenge gives public high schools a chance to demonstrate how their school best prepares students for college and a career, helping America win the future by out-educating our competitors and achieving President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
Each of the six finalists schools are an excellent example of the best America’s public schools have to offer. Take a moment to watch their videos, read their essays and rate each school.
Nancy-Ann DeParleApril 20, 2011
05:46 PM EDT
Last week, the President outlined a framework for reducing our deficits and debt that is based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity. We know we can’t reduce our deficit without reducing the growth of health care spending. But we also cannot bring down health care cost growth by simply raising costs for seniors and States and ending Medicare as we know it. That’s why the President opposes any plan that would simply place the burden of deficit reduction on seniors and undermine Medicare.
The President’s framework instead builds on the improvements made by the Affordable Care Act. It tackles Medicare fraud and excessive payments for prescription drugs, proposes a stronger Federal-State partnership in Medicaid, and includes a series of health care reforms that would save $340 billion by 2021, $480 billion by 2023 and at least an additional $1 trillion in the following decade.
Kori SchulmanApril 20, 2011
04:51 PM EDT
Will.i.am is Joining Forces to support America's military families. Joining Forces is a national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are asking all Americans to get involved in any way they can.
"No act is too small" Will.i.am said in a video message. Watch the video and join Mrs. Obama, Dr. Biden and Will.i.am to recognize, honor, and support our military families. Visit JoiningForces.gov and learn how you can involved.
April 20, 2011
04:20 PM EDT
For twelve hours on Monday, April 25th, the South Lawn of the White House will play host to the 133rd White House Easter Egg Roll.
30,000 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia won tickets through this year’s ticket lottery. With this year's theme being "Get Up and Go!," in collaboration with the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative, guests will have the chance to enjoy entertainment and activities that go far beyond the traditional Easter egg hunt and egg roll. Some of the highlights include:
- Rockin’ Egg Roll Stage - Live musical performances for all ages. Artists include Colbie Caillat, Greyson Chance, Willow Smith, Sesame Street, and more.
- Storytime Stage - Celebrities bring books to life. Readers include Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos and family, John Lithgow, John Bemelmans Marciano, Kristi Yamaguchi, Geena Davis, and more.
- Hop To It!- An instructional dance party on the South Lawn! Get up and go jump rope, hula hoop, dance and more.
- Eggtivity Zone Obstacle Course- A series of obstacles and drills, including soccer, football and baseball obstacle courses.
- Basketball and Tennis- Get hands-on training from basketball and tennis pros on the President’s court!
- Yoga Garden- Come enjoy a session of yoga from professional instructors.
- Eggspress Yourself- An arts and crafts workshop filled with egg dying, egg decorating, face painting and more.
- Play with your Food- Family Farmer’s Market, Kids’ Kitchen, Make-your-own Garden, Buzzing about Bees, and more led by the White House chefs and celebrity guest chefs. This activity center is built around the White House Kitchen Garden.
Each activity will have exceptional special guests, from John Lithgow and Sesame Street doing songs and stories, to athletes like Ryan Zimmerman of baseball’s Washington Nationals, tennis stars Chris Evert and Brian Vahaly, and the Harlem Globetrotters. The world-famous U.S. Marine Corps Band will perform as well.
All of the Easter Egg Roll festivities will be live-streamed on WhiteHouse.gov/Live so all Americans and audiences around the world can participate. Check in again on the morning of April 25th to get a full viewing schedule!
April 20, 2011
01:33 PM EDT
Today, President Obama will visit Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters for a town hall conversation on reducing the deficit (you can watch the town hall live at 1:45pm PT, 4:45pm EDT at www.facebook.com/whitehouse). The Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity town hall hosted by the President will be followed by two panel discussions, one focused on the Startup America initiative to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship, and one focused on the role of Women in Technology. These panels will include the announcement of a new entrepreneurial alliance organized by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Today, I am also proud to announce that my company, Geomagic, will serve as as an anchor member of this alliance, which will give high-tech startups the research, practices, and community they need to create and maintain a gender-diverse technical workforce, right from the start.
Research shows that tech companies with a higher representation of women in their management teams have a higher return on investment; that startups run by women use less capital and are more likely to survive the transition to established company. Research also shows that including women in a group is more likely to increase its collective intelligence, helping it solve problems better and faster than homogenous groups.
Yet the reality is that there are comparatively few female leaders in the business world, and even fewer in IT.
Secretary Janet NapolitanoApril 20, 2011
11:00 AM EDT
Ed. note: This was originally posted on the Department of Homeland Security blog.
In today’s threat environment – more than ever – we know that our security is a shared responsibility and the best security strategy is one that gets the public involved. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is focused on strengthening our country’s defenses by getting all stakeholders – including the public – the information and resources they need in order to play their part in helping to secure the country.
We’ve begun a great deal of this work by building the capabilities of fusion centers, launching the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, and expanding the “If You See Something, Say Something,” campaign. Now, we are taking another major step forward through the new National Terrorism Advisory – or NTAS – system. This new system –which will be fully implemented on April 26 – counts on the American public as a key partner in securing our country.
NTAS is built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you – the public – we will tell you. We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.
Melody BarnesApril 20, 2011
09:37 AM EDT
President Obama remains deeply committed to reforming our immigration laws to meet our 21st Century economic and security needs. In his State of the Union address, the President asked Republicans and Democrats to work with him to take on this issue. While we all know the debate will be tough, the American people expect their leaders in Washington to tackle difficult issues. The President cannot fix our broken system on his own.
Yesterday, I joined the President at an important meeting with a broad group of business, law enforcement, faith, and elected leaders from across the country. The President was joined by several members of his Cabinet, including Secretaries Janet Napolitano, Hilda Solis, Ken Salazar, and Attorney General Eric Holder, all of whom have been actively engaged in the Administration’s efforts to advance legislation to improve our system in the key areas that they oversee.
Austan GoolsbeeApril 20, 2011
08:46 AM EDT
This afternoon at Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley, following the President’s national town hall on Shared Responsibility and Shared Prosperity, I’ll join a group of entrepreneurs for a livestreamed panel on Startup America, the White House-led initiative to encourage and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship across the country.
This initiative is a top priority for President Obama. Entrepreneurship is a key ingredient to economic growth. Startups all across the country play a crucial role in job creation, since these companies generate the lion’s share of net new jobs. Startups are also responsible for developing breakthroughs in industries such as information technology, biotechnology, and clean energy that will allow the United States to compete and win in the global economy.
The Obama Administration is doing its part to create the right environment for high-growth entrepreneurship. We are reducing taxes, streamlining and eliminating burdensome regulations, increasing access to capital, expanding opportunities for high-quality mentorship and entrepreneurial education, and speeding up the commercialization of federally funded research.
Here are some highlights of our progress to date:
Katelyn SabochikApril 19, 2011
06:06 PM EDT
Update: The time for this event has been changed to 4:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 21. The post below has been updated to reflect this change.
In honor of Earth Day, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, are hosting a special Open for Questions event live from the South Lawn of the White House.
If you’ve got questions about what the Obama Administration is doing to protect our air and water or how we’re building a clean energy future, be sure to tune in:
- When: Thursday, April 21 at 4:30 p.m. EDT
- Where: Streaming live from the South Lawn of the White House at WhiteHouse.gov/live and Facebook
- Who: Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal, and YOU!
- Get Involved: You can submit your questions via our Facebook chat application during the chat or submit them in advance on our webform.
Macon PhillipsApril 19, 2011
03:34 PM EDT
Today, we're announcing two new developments for the White House's mobile apps.
Now, with the newly upgraded White House iPhone app, you can get an alert that President Obama is about to speak, then watch it live, right in the palm of your hand. Over 400,000 people have already downloaded the app, so if you don’t already have it make sure you do.
That’s not all. When we first released the iPhone app, we heard from a lot of Android owners who wanted something for their devices, too. So we’re excited to announce the White House’s new official mobile app for the Android operating system.
With both of these mobile apps, Americans can get alerts directly from the White House, check out behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and read the latest news from the blog or the Briefing Room.
As a reminder, WhiteHouse.gov is also optimized for any mobile phone’s browser. Take a look at http://m.whitehouse.gov/ to check it out.
According to the numbers, more and more of you are using mobile devices to access content on WhiteHouse.gov. In the last two months, 6.6% of visits to WhiteHouse.gov came from the iOS or Android operating system - nearly double the share of visits over the same period last year (3.6%).
We’re constantly working to make it easier for the American public to connect with the Administration. Please give us feedback on these new apps, the mobile website or anything else related to the White House online program’s technology.
Jesse LeeApril 19, 2011
02:00 PM EDTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
Watch the President's full remarks here.
As the President answered questions at a town hall at Northern Virginia Community College, it was clear that the concerns people have outside Washington are directly related to the debate over our budget and fiscal future that will be playing out over the coming months. People were rightly concerned about getting our deficits under control, but they were also concerned about our future in education, clean energy, and Medicare. Read the full transcript to see his detailed answers, but his summary of his plan and the choices ahead of us in his opening remarks made clear that we can address both issues:
Secretary Eric K. ShinsekiApril 19, 2011
12:48 PM EDT
Some of the most important programs our department provides are mental health services. I am pleased to announce that VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) have launched the PTSD Coach – our first in a suite of jointly developed mobile smartphone applications (apps) for mental health.
When speaking with Veterans living with PTSD, we were told that they wanted and needed a convenient way to learn more about the services and resources available to them, as well as an app that could help them manage symptoms of PTSD at any given moment. The PTSD Coach is a cutting edge app which provides information and tools that Veterans and service members can use to cope with their PTSD symptoms any moment of the day—24/7.
Cass SunsteinApril 19, 2011
11:00 AM EDT
Every day, the Federal Government is engaged in communication with the American public. When Federal agencies are explaining how businesses can comply with legal requirements, or informing people about Federal services and benefits, they should write clearly and avoid jargon. But far too often, agencies use confusing, technical, and acronym-filled language. Such language can cost consumers and small business owners precious time in their efforts to play by the rules.
The good news is that relatively small efforts to communicate more clearly can minimize that burden. Take this example: the Federal Communications Commission used to receive so many questions from the public about its requirements for ham radio operations that five full-time employees were needed to provide answers. After the requirements were written in plain language, questions dropped off so dramatically that all five of those employees could be reassigned to more pressing activity at the Commission.
In short, writing in plain language can make a huge difference. That is why President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 into law last October. By improving government communications, the Act will not only save money but also facilitate two-way communication between agencies and the public and make it is far easier for people to understand what they are being asked to do.
Jesse LeeApril 19, 2011
10:07 AM EDTViewing this video requires Adobe Flash Player 8 or higher. Download the free player.
Watch the President's full remarks here.
At his Easter Prayer Breakfast this morning in the East Room with Christian leaders from across the country, the President kept his remarks brief but still made a point to note the tough times in one area of the country right now: "as some of you know, obviously, North Carolina was ravaged by storms this past weekend, and our thoughts and prayers are with all the families who have been affected down there."
Yesterday the President also spoke to two North Carolinians on the devastation. One was Michael Hollowell, manager of a Lowes home improvement store hit by a tornado in Sanford, North Carolina, whose swift action saved lives and made him a hero across the country. The second was David Crabtree, of WRAL in Raleigh, where the first questions in the interview were naturally about the storms: