NEA supports AJA

 Posted by at 20:22  economy, Politics
Sep 292011
 

The National Education Association is running this ad in support of the American Jobs Act in Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. (I can attest that it is indeed running in Texas.)

Call your Congressman/woman and Senators today. Let them know that you want them to support the American Jobs Act. Just do it.
 

Back to school 2011

 Posted by at 17:04  entrecard
Sep 282011
 

President Obama visited Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington, D.C. this morning to deliver his third back-to-school speech. It was transmitted to schools all around the country. Most all of the schools here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area offered the speech to students with the option to “opt out.” I’m not quite sure what the opt out option is all about or what message it sends to our young people other than “You don’t have to listen to the President of our country because he’s a Democrat and black to boot.” It definitely is not the way to teach our young people respect for our country or its leaders. But, anyway…

Here is a bit of the President’s message. The full transcript follows the break.

It starts, obviously, with being the best student that you can be. Now, that doesn’t always mean that you have to have a perfect score on every assignment. It doesn’t mean that you’ve got to get straight As all the time — although that’s not a bad goal to have. It means that you have to stay at it. You have to be determined and you have to persevere. It means you’ve got to work as hard as you know how to work. And it means that you’ve got to take some risks once in a while. You can’t avoid the class that you think might be hard because you’re worried about getting the best grade if that’s a subject that you think you need to prepare you for your future. You’ve got to wonder. You’ve got to question. You’ve got to explore. And every once in a while, you need to color outside of the lines.

That’s what school is for: discovering new passions, acquiring new skills, making use of this incredible time that you have to prepare yourself and give yourself the skills that you’re going to need to pursue the kind of careers that you want. And that’s why when you’re still a student you can explore a wide range of possibilities. One hour you can be an artist; the next, an author; the next, a scientist, or a historian, or a carpenter. This is the time where you can try out new interests and test new ideas. And the more you do, the sooner you’ll figure out what makes you come alive, what stirs you, what makes you excited — the career that you want to pursue.

Continue reading »

May 082011
 

Ever wonder why the first thing the Republican legislature in your state always seems to want to do is cut funding to public education? Rachel Tabachnick has the answer right here: “The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education.”

You now have your Sunday reading assignment. It is a must-read this week. It really will answer a lot of your questions about why Republicans hate public schools as much as they do. Here’s just a bit…

The decades-long campaign to end public education is propelled by the super-wealthy, right-wing DeVos family. Betsy Prince DeVos is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the notorious private military contractor Blackwater USA (now Xe), and wife of Dick DeVos, son of the co-founder of Amway, the multi-tiered home products business.

By now, you’ve surely heard of the Koch brothers, whose behind-the-scenes financing of right-wing causes has been widely documented in the past year. The DeVoses have remained largely under the radar, despite the fact that their stealth assault on America’s schools has the potential to do away with public education as we know it.

I hope you’ll click through and take a few minutes to read the entire article.
 

Education interview

 Posted by at 17:41  Politics
Sep 272010
 

President Obama granted a 30-minute interview to Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today Show. It aired this morning. The topic was education in America…


 

Back to school remarks

 Posted by at 11:36  Politics
Sep 072009
 

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Well, here it is. Here is the talk that President Obama is going to give to the students of the United States tomorrow. It is presented here so that all you “concerned parents” who were so distraught about the President of the United States “indoctrinating” your little wingnuts can read it and decide for yourselves if it really warrants the frenzy into which you all have worked yourselves. Be careful as you read, though. You may be brainwashed and find yourself with a strong and undeniable desire to vote Democratic in every election for the rest of your life. You have been warned.

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

President Obama
President Obama

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Now, honestly, is that a terrific and inspirational speech? Was it really worth all the fuss? Are you still planning on keeping your kids home from school tomorrow? Feeling just a little foolish right now, are you? I could go on, but I think you get the picture…

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P.S. I have to share this with you. It comes from the comments that are being attached to this post and it shows how deranged and desperate our right wing friends really are…

Begging your pardon Len, but that is not the speech he had planned to give before all the fuss! The fuss was successful in causing the Dear Leader to modify his remarks to our children.

I’m still laughing.
 

Silly Stuff

 Posted by at 16:47  Politics
Sep 062009
 

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Here’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talking on CBS’ Face the Nation about all the silly stuff emanating from the right about the President’s speech to students this coming Tuesday…

I think it’s good that our right wing Republican friends are showing the stuff they’re really made of. I hope they continue to do so. It’s opening the eyes of a lot of people.

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Back to school

 Posted by at 18:54  Politics
Sep 052009
 

Don’t forget:

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The transcript of the President’s address to the students will be posted on Monday so that if you find yourself in the same boat as the poor fellow in that cartoon you can [hopefully] read it for yourself in advance.

(You can click on the cartoon to make it bigger.)

P.S. Raw Story has video of Ronnie Reagan talking to students in a nationally broadcast speech way back in 1988. (You’ll have to scroll down past the video of the right wing lady crying about President Obama talking to her kids.) The kids that made up Ronnie’s audience back then may well be some of the parents who are now complaining the loudest about our current president “indoctrinizating” their kids. Think about it.
 

Back to school message

 Posted by at 15:48  Politics
Sep 032009
 

Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and Juan Pablo Montoya:

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UPDATE: The transcript of the President’s address will be released on Monday (24 hours before he delivers it) so that [right wing] parents can read it and decide if it is appropriate for their children to listen to the President Of Our Country talk about the importance of education, setting goals and taking personal responsibility for one’s future.

Perhaps it would make them feel better if the schools would let their kids bring their semiautomatic guns and assault rifles to school that day. You know, so they shoot anybody who disagrees with them.

Some people really need to get a grip. Seriously.
 

Multitasking

 Posted by at 20:34  Democrats, Politics, Republicans
Mar 102009
 

President Obama addressed the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce this morning. His topic was education. You can read his speech here, or watch it here (courtesy of MSNBC).

If you paid attention at all during the presidential campaign, you could probably have predicted most of what he had to say. He favors merit pay increases for teachers, longer school days (and years) and believes strongly in the important role education has to play in improving our economy and our standing in the world community.

My favorite part of the speech, however, was at the very beginning when he reminded our Republican friends (who became too accustomed to a one-track president in George W. Bush) that he is capable of dealing with more than one issue at a time…

Every so often, throughout our history, a generation of Americans bears the responsibility of seeing this country through difficult times and protecting the dream of its founding for posterity. This is a responsibility that has fallen to our generation. Meeting it will require steering our nation’s economy through a crisis unlike any we have seen in our time. In the short-term, that means jumpstarting job creation, re-starting lending, and restoring confidence in our markets and our financial system. But it also means taking steps that not only advance our recovery, but lay the foundation for lasting, shared prosperity.

I know there are some who believe we can only handle one challenge at a time. They forget that Lincoln helped lay down the transcontinental railroad, passed the Homestead Act, and created the National Academy of Sciences in the midst of Civil War. Likewise, President Roosevelt didn’t have the luxury of choosing between ending a depression and fighting a war. President Kennedy didn’t have the luxury of choosing between civil rights and sending us to the moon. And we don’t have the luxury of choosing between getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term.

It’s kind of fun having a competent and intelligent leader in the White House, isn’t it?