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ConnectED: A Year of Action for American Students and Teachers

White House Blog - Fri, 06/13/2014 - 3:00am

President Barack Obama delivers remarks detailing progress toward his ConnectED goal of connecting 99% of students to next-generation broadband and wireless technology within five years, at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland, Feb. 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

One year ago, President Obama unveiled his ConnectED initiative to empower students and teachers with technology in the classroom. The President called on businesses, states, districts, schools, and communities to support this vision, and through the power of his pen and phone, he is building momentum and we are seeing results. 

Over the past year, the President has worked with the private sector to catalyze impactful commitments of free hardware, software, educational content, and wireless connectivity — amounting to over $2 billion in value for American schools. 

On top of that, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler has pledged to invest an additional $2 billion to connect 20 million more students to fast broadband and wireless in their classrooms over the next two years. Taken together, this represents more than $4 billion in public and private support starting this calendar year.

This investment is the shot of adrenaline our schools need to surge into the 21st century. It is a major down payment on providing every child in America with the high-quality teaching and technological skills that they deserve, and the economy demands. 

And we are keeping our foot on the accelerator.

Today, we are announcing that the 10 companies who have made ConnectED commitments are making those private funding resources available to schools across the country, and information about these and other resources will be accessible through a new ConnectED Hub. 

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Categories: Obama Administration

In Case You Missed It: #LunchWithFLOTUS Twitter Q&A on Healthy School Lunches

White House Blog - Thu, 06/12/2014 - 2:59pm

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Twitter chat to discuss school nutrition and the White House Kitchen Garden, in the First Lady's Office in the East Wing of the White House, June 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Millions of kids across America are eating healthier school meals because of new nutrition standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Today at 2:30 p.m. ET, the First Lady held a Twitter Q&A to help raise awareness around the importance of our kids eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need.

Check out the First Lady’s answers to your questions on school nutrition here or at Storify.gov/FLOTUS, and learn more about the First Lady's initiative to encourage healthy eating at Letsmove.gov/eat-healthy.

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Categories: Obama Administration

President Obama Gives the Commencement Address at Worcester Tech in Massachusetts

White House Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 4:44pm

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This afternoon, President Obama traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts to deliver the commencement address at Worcester Technical High School.

In his remarks, the President congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments, letting them know that they stand out among other high schools across the country:

I’m here today because there is nothing ordinary about Worcester Tech or the Class of 2014.  You have set yourselves apart.  This high school has set itself apart. 

Over the past four years, some of you have learned how to take apart an engine and put it back together again.  Some of you have learned how to run a restaurant, or build a house, or fix a computer.  And all of you are graduating today not just with a great education, but with the skills that will let you start your careers and skills that will make America stronger.

"The thing I really want to do," he said, "is make sure that what we've learned here at this high school we can lift up for the entire nation. I want the nation to learn from Worcester Tech."

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Categories: Obama Administration

A Step Toward Cleaner Air and Healthier Communities

White House Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 2:14pm

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a vital component of the President’s Climate Action Plan – proposed common-sense carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Since air pollution from power plants can worsen asthma and other breathing problems, EPA’s guidelines will help protect the health of vulnerable Americans, including children and the elderly.

In a big step forward, yesterday the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates, a body representing more than 500 medical associations and organizations, voted to formally reaffirm their support for carbon pollution standards for power plants and committed to submit comments on the EPA’s proposal underscoring the need to keep strong standards that protect public health. AMA’s vote puts them alongside other public health organizations that have taken leadership on this issue, including the American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association.

In addition to cutting carbon emissions from the power sector by about 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, EPA’s plan will also decrease that sector’s emissions of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by about 25 percent. From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan, American families will see up to $7 in health benefits.

In the first year that these standards go into effect, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and up to 2,100 heart attacks will be prevented. These standards will also help more kids to be healthy enough to show up to school – with up to 72,000 fewer absences in the first year. The benefits increase each year from there.

It’s a big step toward cleaner air and better public health.

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Categories: Obama Administration

President Obama: "There's No Advanced, Developed Country on Earth That Would Put Up with This"

White House Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 12:36pm

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During yesterday's Tumblr Q&A at the White House, the President answered a question on the epidemic of gun violence in America.

"My biggest frustration so far," he said, "is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage." Talking about the increasing frequency of school shootings across the country, the President noted that the U.S. is the only developed country where this is routine.

"The country has to do some soul-searching about this," President Obama said. "This is becoming the norm, and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me."

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Categories: Obama Administration

#LunchWithFLOTUS: The First Lady's Twitter Q&A on Healthy School Lunches

White House Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 9:30am

Today, millions of kids across America are eating better school meals because of healthier lunch standards from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Thanks to the hard work of school chefs and food service workers around the country, 90 percent of our schools are now meeting modern nutrition standards -- and the USDA is working to provide greater flexibility and more assistance to help the remaining schools catch up.

As part of her Let's Move! initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama has helped raise awareness around the importance of our kids eating healthy and getting the nutrition they need -- and now she's taking to Twitter to answer your questions.

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 12, at 2:30 p.m. ET, join the First Lady for a Twitter Q&A on school nutrition and healthy school lunches on her Twitter handle, @FLOTUS.

Here are the details:

  • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #LunchWithFLOTUS
  • Follow the Q&A live through the @FLOTUS Twitter handle
  • If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/whitehouse

Learn more about the First Lady's initiative to encourage healthy eating at Letsmove.gov/eat-healthy, and then join the First Lady for a Twitter chat on @FLOTUS on Thursday, June 12 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Categories: Obama Administration

Thoughts on Fatherhood in the 21st Century

White House Blog - Wed, 06/11/2014 - 7:36am

This was originally posted on the Huffington Post, and is part of a series of essays about the issues facing working families in the 21st century, leading up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23, 2014.

You can learn more about the Summit and how you can get involved at www.workingfamiliessummit.org.

Growing up, if I wanted to play catch, I often had to play it alone. Sometimes I'd even aim at a tree for lack of person with a glove at the other end of the yard. I admit, the tree wasn't a very good replacement. But when you're a kid -- and you don't have a dad to play catch with -- you'll toss a ball at anything. Even if that thing is a 40-foot-tall oak and unlikely to toss the ball back.

In this respect, I'm probably not unique. Far too many children grow up without a dad in their lives, like I did. And for many, the effects cut deeper and last longer than being forced to have a one-way game of catch.

I'm a father now. My daughter was born 10 years ago, and my son soon after. And one of my greatest challenges, having never grown up with a father myself, is figuring out what a dad is supposed to do. I got the memo about taking out the garbage. And I change more light bulbs than Thomas Edison. But when it comes to preparing your kids for the slings and arrows of life, that's something I've only learned about fairly recently.

And here's the key: I only learned about it because I was able to make the time.

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Categories: Obama Administration

President Obama Signs the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, and Honors the "Borinqueneers"

White House Blog - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 5:36pm

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It was a busy morning at the White House today, as President Obama signed two bills into law — the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), and the 65th Infantry Regiment Congressional Gold Medal.

In his remarks, the President first explained how the Water Resources Reform and Development Act will "put Americans to work modernizing our water infrastructure and restoring some of our most vital ecosystems."

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Categories: Obama Administration

In Case You Missed It: President Obama's Very First Tumblr Q&A

White House Blog - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 3:59pm

President Barack Obama participates in a Tumblr event with David Karp, Tumblr founder and CEO, in the State Dining Room of the White House, June 10, 2014. The President delivers remarks and answers questions from Tumblr users on the importance of education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, live from the White House State Dining Room, President Obama took to Tumblr to respond to some of the thousands of questions that Americans across the country asked via Tumblr about all things education.

The event followed the executive action the President took yesterday to make student loan debt more affordable and manageable to repay, and covered a broad range of topics, from college access to student loans, and the steps the President is taking to make it all a little easier to manage.

(And, naturally, a GIF came out of it.)

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Categories: Obama Administration

Watch Live: President Obama Answers Your Questions on Tumblr

White House Blog - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 7:44am

As part of his year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, President Obama is taking steps to make student loan debt more affordable and manageable to repay. And today, for the first time ever, President Obama is taking to Tumblr to answer questions that you -- Americans around the country -- asked him about all things education.

You can watch the President answer those questions today at WhiteHouse.Tumblr.com.

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Categories: Obama Administration

My College Story Can Be Yours

White House Blog - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 6:45am

Ed. note: The full version of this op-ed is posted at Education Week. Read the full version here.

As first lady, I've spent a lot of time talking with young people all across the country about education. I've heard about their hopes of going to college, getting good jobs, and one day starting families of their own. And I've also heard about the challenges they're facing—the rising costs of tuition, their overstretched school counselors, and the insecurities and fears that come along with being first-generation college students.

My message to these young people is that while all of us adults—teachers, administrators, and policymakers—have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves.

That means going to class every day, setting their goals high, and working like crazy to achieve them. That's been the story of my life and my husband's life, so when I talk to these young people, my hope is that they see that our story can be their story, too—as long as they're willing to dedicate themselves to their education.

Early last month, I officially gave this effort a name and an aspiration—my Reach Higher initiative. And that's really the goal: to inspire young people to reach higher to complete their education beyond high school so that they can own their futures. We're focusing on things like financial aid, college counseling, academic and summer planning, and college visits. Our objective is to ensure that every student in this country understands how to pursue and complete their education, whether it's at a traditional four-year college or a community college, or via a professional certificate or degree.

Read the First Lady's full op-ed here.

Categories: Obama Administration

"Why I Was at the White House Today"

White House Blog - Mon, 06/09/2014 - 4:14pm

Earlier today, the President signed a memorandum to make federal student loan debt more affordable and manageable to repay.

After the signing, Andy MacCracken, who introduced the President, sent the message below to the White House email list, explaining why the President's action was meaninful for him.

Didn't get the email? Make sure to sign up for White House email updates here.

Hey, everyone --

I owe more than $75,000 in federal student loan debt -- and that's before you count interest.

So, as you might imagine, the action President Obama took today to make debt more manageable for millions of Americans is very personal to me.

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Categories: Obama Administration

President Obama on Student Loan Debt: "No Hardworking Young Person Should Be Priced Out of a Higher Education"

White House Blog - Mon, 06/09/2014 - 3:59pm

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More students than ever before are relying on student loans to pay for their college education. 71 percent of students earning a bachelor's degree graduate with debt, averaging $29,400. While most students are able to repay their loans, many feel burdened by debt, especially as they seek to start a family, buy a home, launch a business, or save for retirement.

That's why, as part of his year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, President Obama is taking steps to make student loan debt more affordable and manageable to repay.

Earlier this afternoon, the President signed a memorandum directing the Secretary of Education to propose regulations that would allow nearly 5 million federal direct student loan borrowers the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. The memorandum also outlines new executive actions to support federal student loan borrowers, especially vulnerable borrowers who may be at greater risk of defaulting on their loans.

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Categories: Obama Administration

The NCAA Champion UConn Huskies Visit the White House

White House Blog - Mon, 06/09/2014 - 3:22pm

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This afternoon, President Obama welcomed the NCAA Champion UConn Huskies to the White House. UConn's men's and women's basketball teams both won the 2014 NCAA Championships — so in an effort to "eliminate waste and cut out duplicative programs to make things more efficient," the President concurrently congratulated both of them. But "this may be carrying things a little too far," he joked.

In the President's remarks, he highlighted the well-known legacy of UConn basketball. This is the ninth national title for the women, while it's the men's fourth title in the last 16 years. And only once before, in 2004, has one school won both the men's and women's Division I titles. That team was — you guessed it — UConn.

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Categories: Obama Administration

The Changing Role of Fathers in the Workforce and Family

White House Blog - Mon, 06/09/2014 - 10:39am

As part of the lead-up to the White House Summit on Working Families, we’ve been exploring policies and best practices that help both families and businesses manage the increasingly complicated interaction between work and family-life. Today, Administration officials hosted a discussion—the first of its kind at the White House—on the state of working dads and how businesses can create a win-win culture to enable these fathers to be more involved parents and better employees.

The need to rethink workplace policies to work better for parents is not just about working moms or women—working fathers are a key piece of the story as well. As the data compiled by the Council of Economic Advisers on “The Economics of Fatherhood and Work” show, the role of fatherhood has been changing with fathers taking a more hands-on approach to raising children. This change is both cultural and economic, with families responding to the reality of women’s increased role in the labor market. Nearly two-thirds of children now have either two working parents or a single parent who is working, contributing to the trend of father’s increasingly caring for children. Today, one in fourteen fathers with kids under 18 are single parents—a striking seven-fold increase since 1970—and dads are increasingly staying at home when their wives work.

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Categories: Obama Administration

Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou

White House Blog - Sat, 06/07/2014 - 4:58am

Dr. Maya Angelou, whose timeless works such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings encouraged and stirred the souls of millions of readers, passed away last week at the age of 86.

Dr. Angelou's family arranged a private memorial service in Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

The First Lady, who has called Dr. Angelou one of her "she-roes" as well as a friend, spoke at the service.

You can watch Wake Forest University's video of the service below or read the First Lady's remarks here.

Categories: Obama Administration

Weekly Address: Supporting America's Students

White House Blog - Sat, 06/07/2014 - 3:00am

In this week's address, President Obama underscored the importance of helping to lift the burden of crushing student loan debt faced by too many Americans and highlighted the efforts he’s taken to ensure we uphold America's commitment to provide a quality education for all who are willing to work for it. While the President will continue to take action on his own, he urged Congress to do its part and commended Senate Democrats for working on a bill that would help more young people save money.

Transcript | mp4 | mp3

This Tuesday, June 10, the President is hosting his first-ever Tumblr Q&A -- and he's taking your questions about education, college affordability, and reducing student loan debt. Ask your question here, and be sure to watch at WhiteHouse.gov/Live at 4 p.m. Eastern.

President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., May 30, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Categories: Obama Administration

Weekly Wrap-Up: POTUS in Europe, OK Go, Power Plants, and More

White House Blog - Fri, 06/06/2014 - 3:26pm

There was a lot of action this week, both in Washington and overseas. President Obama traveled to Europe, we announced the first-ever White House Maker Faire, the EPA proposed a rule to curb climate change and make our children healthier, and more.

Check out what else you may have missed in this week's wrap up:

President Obama Heads to Europe

President Obama traveled to Europe this week, visiting Poland, Belgium, and France. It was a busy four days overseas, and we have all of the highlights here.

Finishing off the week, the President traveled to Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day -- and narrated a behind-the-scenes video in honor of the event.

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Categories: Obama Administration

Day 4: The President Commemorates the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

White House Blog - Fri, 06/06/2014 - 2:42pm

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Earlier today — the last day of his current trip across Europe — President Obama traveled to Normandy, France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

After meeting with World War II and post-9/11 U.S. veterans, the President attended the 70th French-American Commemoration D-Day Ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial at Omaha Beach. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the American and Allied forces who fought during the D-Day landings in June of 1944.

"I’m honored to return here today to pay tribute to the men and women of a generation who defied every danger -- among them, our veterans of D-Day," President Obama said. He went on to thank the people of France for their generosity to Americans who have come "over the generations — to these beaches, and to this sacred place of rest for 9,387 Americans."

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Categories: Obama Administration

West Wing Week: 6/6/14 or, "Dispatches: Europe"

White House Blog - Fri, 06/06/2014 - 8:51am

This week, the President embarked on a three country tour which took him to Poland, the G7 Summit in Brussels, Belgium and then onto France where the President reaffirmed the United States commitment of support for the people and government of Ukraine, announced broader efforts to strengthen and modernize NATO, highlighted our work to diversify European energy security, and deepened our negotiations around the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

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Categories: Obama Administration
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