Monday, September 13, 2010

The Associated Press: Obama to students: Work hard, focus on education

The Associated Press: Obama to students: Work hard, focus on education
Obama to students: Work hard, focus on education

WASHINGTON — In a pep talk to the nation's students as they settle back into school, President Barack Obama will tell them that nothing is beyond their reach as long as they're willing to dream big, work hard and stay focused on learning.

Obama will deliver that message Tuesday during his second back-to-school address, this time from a Philadelphia school.

"Nobody gets to write your destiny but you," Obama says in the speech, which the White House released a day early so people could read the president's remarks beforehand and judge the contents for themselves.

"Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing — absolutely nothing — is beyond your reach. So long as you're willing to dream big. So long as you're willing to work hard. So long as you're willing to stay focused on your education," he says.

After the White House announced last year's speech, some conservatives accused the president of trying to foist a political agenda on children. Some parents said they'd pull their children from class to keep them from hearing Obama's remarks.

But that type of outcry is largely missing this year.

In both speeches, Obama urged students to stay in school, study hard and take responsibility

Remarks of President Barack Obama -As Prepared for Delivery - Back to School Speech | The White House

Remarks of President Barack Obama -As Prepared for Delivery - Back to School Speech | The White House

Remarks of President Barack Obama -As Prepared for Delivery - Back to School Speech

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

September 14, 2010
As Prepared for Delivery—
Hello Philadelphia! It’s wonderful to be here. Today is about welcoming all of you and all of America’s students back to school – and I can’t think of a better place to do it than Masterman. You’re one of the best schools in Philadelphia – a leader in helping students succeed in the classroom. And just last week, you were recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School for your record of achievement. That’s a testament to everyone here – students and parents, teachers and school leaders. And it’s an example of excellence I hope communities across America embrace.
Over the past few weeks, Michelle and I have been getting Sasha and Malia ready for school. And I bet a lot of you are feeling the same way they’re feeling. You’re a little sad to see the summer go, but you’re also excited about the possibilities of a new year. The possibilities of building new friendships and strengthening old ones. Of joining a school club, or trying out for a team. The possibilities of growing into a better student, and a better person, and making your family proud.
But I know some of you may also be nervous about starting a new school year. Maybe you’re making the jump from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school, and worried about what that’ll be like. Maybe you’re starting a new school, and not sure how you’ll like it. Or maybe you’re a senior who’s feeling anxious about the whole college process; about where to apply and whether you can afford to go.
And beyond all these concerns, I know a lot of you are also feeling the strain of these difficult times. You know what’s going on in the news and your own family’s lives. You read about the war in Afghanistan. You hear about the recession we’ve been through. You see it in your parents’ faces and sense it in their voice.
A lot of you are having to act a lot older than you are; to be strong for your family while your brother or sister is serving overseas; to look after younger siblings while your mom works that second shift; to take on a part-time job while your dad is out of work.
It’s a lot to handle; it’s more than you should have to handle. And it may make you wonder at times what your own future will look like; whether you’ll be able to succeed in school; whether you should set your sights a little lower, and scale back your dreams.
But here is what I came to Masterman to tell you: nobody gets to write your destiny but you. Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing – absolutely nothing – is beyond your reach. So long as you’re willing to dream big. So long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education.
That last part is absolutely essential – because an education has never been more important. I’m sure there will be times in the months ahead when you’re staying up late cramming for a test, or dragging yourselves out of bed on a rainy morning, and wondering if it’s all worth it. Let me tell you, there is no question about it. Nothing will have as great an impact on your success in life as your education.
More and more, the kinds of opportunities that are open to you will be determined by how far you go in school. In other words, the farther you go in school, the farther you’ll go in life. And at a time when other countries are competing with us like never before; when students around the world are working harder than ever, and doing better than ever; your success in school will also help determine America’s success in the 21st century.
So, you have an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you to make sure you’re getting the best education possible. And making sure you get that kind of education is going to take all of us working hand-in-hand.
It will take all of us in government – from Harrisburg to Washington – doing our part to prepare our students, all of them, for success in the classroom, in college, and in a career. It will take an outstanding principal and outstanding teachers like the ones here at Masterman; teachers who go above and beyond for their students. And it will take parents who are committed to your education.
That’s what we have to do for you. That’s our responsibility. That’s our job. But here’s your job. Showing up to school on time. Paying attention in class. Doing your homework. Studying for exams. Staying out of trouble. That kind of discipline and drive – that kind of hard work – is absolutely essential for success.
I know – because I didn’t always have it. I wasn’t always the best student when I was younger; I made my share of mistakes. In fact, I can still remember a conversation I had with my mother in high school, when I was about the age of some of you here today. It was about how my grades were slipping, how I hadn’t even started my college applications, how I was acting, as she put it, “casual” about my future. It’s a conversation I suspect will sound familiar to some of the students and parents here today.
And my attitude was what I imagine every teenager’s attitude is in a conversation like that. I was like, I don’t need to hear all this. So, I started to say that, and she just cut me right off. You can’t just sit around, she said, waiting for luck to see you through. She said I could get into any school in the country if I just put in a little effort. Then she gave me a hard look and added, “Remember what that’s like? Effort?”
It was pretty jolting, hearing my mother say that. But eventually, her words had their intended effect. I got serious about my studies. I made an effort. And I began to see my grades – and my prospects – improve. And I know that if hard work could make the difference for me, it can make the difference for you, too.
I know some of you may be skeptical about that. You may wonder if some people are just better at certain things. And it’s true that we each have our own gifts and talents we need to discover and nurture. But just because you’re not the best at something today doesn’t mean you can’t be tomorrow. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a math person or as a science person – you can still excel in those subjects if you’re willing to make the effort. And you may find out you have talents you’d never dreamed of.
You see, excelling in school or in life isn’t mainly about being smarter than everybody else. It’s about working harder than everybody else. Don’t avoid new challenges – seek them out, step out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help; your teachers and family are there to guide you. Don’t feel discouraged or give up if you don’t succeed at something – try it again, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t feel threatened if your friends are doing well; be proud of them, and see what lessons you can draw from what they’re doing right.
That’s the kind of culture of excellence you promote here at Masterman; and that’s the kind of excellence we need to promote in all America’s schools. That’s why today, I’m announcing our second Commencement Challenge. If your school is the winner; if you show us how teachers, students, and parents are working together to prepare your kids for college and a career; if you show us how you’re giving back to your community and our country – I’ll congratulate you in person by speaking at your commencement.
But the truth is, an education is about more than getting into a good college or getting a good job when you graduate. It’s about giving each and every one of us the chance to fulfill our promise; to be the best version of ourselves we can be. And part of what that means is treating others the way we want to be treated – with kindness and respect.
Now, I know that doesn’t always happen. Especially not in middle or high school. Being a teenager isn’t easy. It’s a time when we’re wrestling with a lot of things. When I was your age, I was wrestling with questions about who I was; about what it meant to be the son of a white mother and a black father, and not having that father in my life. Some of you may be working through your own questions right now, and coming to terms with what makes you different.
And I know that figuring all that out can be even more difficult when you’ve got bullies in class who try to use those differences to pick on you or poke fun at you; to make you feel bad about yourself. In some places, the problem is more serious. There are neighborhoods in my hometown of Chicago, where kids have hurt one another. And the same thing has happened here in Philly.
So, what I want to say to you today – what I want all of you to take away from my speech – is that life is precious, and part of its beauty lies in its diversity. We shouldn’t be embarrassed by the things that make us different. We should be proud of them. Because it’s the things that make us different that make us who we are. And the strength and character of this country have always come from our ability to recognize ourselves in one another, no matter who we are, or where we come from, what we look like, or what abilities or disabilities we have.
I was reminded of that idea the other day when I read a letter from Tamerria Robinson, an 11-year old girl in Georgia. She told me about how hard she works, and about all the community service she does with her brother. And she wrote, “I try to achieve my dreams and help others do the same.” “That,” she wrote, “is how the world should work.”
I agree with Tamerria. That is how the world should work. Yes, we need to work hard. Yes, we need to take responsibility for our own education. Yes, we need to take responsibility for our own lives. But what makes us who we are is that here, in this country, we not only reach for our own dreams, we help others do the same. This is a country that gives all its daughters and all its sons a fair chance. A chance to make the most of their lives. A chance to fulfill their God-given potential.
And I’m absolutely confident that if all our students – here at Masterman, and across this country – keep doing their part; if you keep working hard, and focusing on your education; if you keep fighting for your dreams and if all of us help you reach them; then not only will you succeed this year, and for the rest of your lives, but America will succeed in the 21st century. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Blog U.: Hugo Chavez Transforms Venezuelan Higher Education - The World View - Inside Higher Ed

Blog U.: Hugo Chavez Transforms Venezuelan Higher Education - The World View - Inside Higher Ed

Hugo Chavez Transforms Venezuelan Higher Education

By Daniel Levy September 13, 2010 7:00 pm

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in office since 1999, has been steadily transforming the country’s higher education system. Supporters find the changes consistent with Chávez’s overall “Bolivarian Revolution” (Chavez’s term)— socialist and populist. Critics find the changes consistent with an overall assault on democracy and on academic autonomy and quality in particular.

The latest chapter in the saga involves criticism of a new formula for government funding of public higher education. The basis for funding will be enrollment size. Why would the rector of the historic national university strongly criticize this approach? Because Chávez has hugely enlarged the public sector through creation and expansion of new universities.

In 2003 he created the Universidad Bolivariana by decree, an institution that grew to a massive 180,000 students by 2006 with a stated target of a million by 2009. Even the 2006 enrollment figure makes the university one of the largest in Latin America. Anything

Tsunami of Campaign Cash from NEA Headquarters | Intercepts

Tsunami of Campaign Cash from NEA Headquarters | Intercepts

Tsunami of Campaign Cash from NEA Headquarters

Click here to read:

1) Tsunami of Campaign Cash from NEA Headquarters

2) Pending Ratification Vote, Ohio Education Association Employees Return to Work

3) Not Too Busy in North Carolina

4) More District Spending Tables Posted

5) The Long Arm of History

6) Last Week’s Intercepts

7) Quote of the Week

Schools Matter: Elections? Get Real and Do Something

Schools Matter: Elections? Get Real and Do Something

Elections? Get Real and Do Something

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are not direct threats to anything or anyone, but threats they do represent, by making fascism the liberal, acceptable alternative to insanity.

As Hedges and Nader argue, people with real hope are not begging Obama to do something but, rather, they are acting and planning actions that undermine the oppressive system, from education to the market to energy to the work place. The elections? The same quality of entertainment as professional wrestling.

Forty years ago a handful of oversexed, privileged white boys and girls like Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorn were bombing banks and government offices as attention-getting acts they called revolutionary. Today they host teas

Spending by Calif. governors since 1959 -

Spending by Calif. governors since 1959 -

Spending by Calif. governors since 1959

By The Associated Press
September 13, 2010
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Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman claims spending under Jerry Brown skyrocketed when he was governor. But the numbers show a different story when employing calculations used by economists.

Whitman asserts spending under Brown rose 120 percent. She compares Brown's first approved budget to his last one but does not account for inflation and population growth, two key factors economists use to calculate real government spending.

The Associated Press began with the budget Brown inherited so that it would reflect the spending increase in the first budget he approved. That means unadjusted spending increased nearly 147 percent over his eight years in office.

Battelle for Kids - Agenda

Battelle for Kids - Agenda
Agenda Day 1 | Day 2

7 a.m.–8 a.m.Registration and Continental Breakfast
8 a.m.–8:15 a.m.Welcome and Opening Remarks
8:15 a.m.–9:30 a.m.Panel Discussion I: Models for Evaluating Educator Effectiveness
9:45 a.m.–11 a.m.Panel Discussion II: Challenges for Measuring Educator Effectiveness
11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.Panel Discussion III: The Intersection of Measuring and Rewarding Educator Effectiveness: A State Perspective
12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m.Lunch and Keynote: The ABCDs of Strategic Compensation with Jim Mahoney, Battelle for Kids
1:40 p.m.–2:25 p.m.Breakout Sessions I (Select one of four)
2:35 p.m.–3:20 p.m.Breakout Sessions II* (Repeated, select one of four)
3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m.Special Session: Data Dilemmas: Quality and Communication

Obama Administration Celebrates New School Year | U.S. Department of Education

Obama Administration Celebrates New School Year | U.S. Department of Education

Obama Administration Celebrates New School Year

Department of Education Releases Progress on Education Report, Announces Race to the Top Workshop

Public Affairs, (202) 401-1576,

The Department of Education today released progress on key department-wide education initiatives in advance of convening the winners of the Race to the Top Competition for a day of workshops. Additionally, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will also address an international education symposium in Toronto and highlight a successful turnaround school in North Carolina and then join President Obama for his Back to School speech to students encouraging them to study hard and stay in school.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, "All across America, there is a growing understanding that education is everyone's responsibility. This week we salute the courage and commitment of students, teachers and stakeholders at every level who are supporting public education."

The attached summary highlights progress on education, including distributing nearly $100 billion in Recovery Act funds to help save an estimated 400,000 jobs, support historic reforms at the state and local level, and boost college enrollment with billions of dollars in additional grants and loans.

On Tuesday, Secretary Duncan will join President Barack Obama for his second annual Back-to-School Speech at 1 p.m. EDT at Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia, Pa., a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School. The president's Back-to-School Speech will be live streamed on For more information about watching the speech, visit Schools can also view the speech on CNN which has said it plans to take the event live.

On Wednesday, Secretary Duncan will join Governor Perdue and State Board Chairman Bill Harrison at Sterling Elementary School, a turnaround school in Pineville, N.C. that has dramatically improved student achievement. At Sterling, the Secretary will visit classrooms and host a turnaround roundtable discussion with teachers, parents and community leaders. North Carolina recently won a Race to the Top grant.

On Thursday, Duncan will host a session of the first Race to the Top grantee meeting in Washington, D.C. Secretary Duncan will offer his perspective of the work ahead, answer key questions about Race to the Top, and briefly meet with participants from each state. Invitees also include members of Congress, as well as representatives of key education associations and the press. This session is part of a day-long grantee meeting focused on finalizing each state's Race to the Top budget, hearing directly from grantees about how the Department can best support their reform efforts, and providing an opportunity for Race to the Top grantees to collaborate as they begin their work to dramatically improve student outcomes through this unprecedented federal investment in reform.

On Friday, Secretary Duncan will visit Dorothy Height Community Academy Public Charter School with civil rights leader Roger Wilkins and former Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. The visit is one of many nationwide events taking place through the Back-to-School With The HistoryMakers initiative to raise awareness about the achievements of accomplished African Americans.

And today, Secretary Duncan is in Toronto visiting Weston Collegiate Institute and participating in an international education symposium: "The Building Blocks for Education: Whole System Reform". The two-day symposium will bring together experts and education policy makers from six countries. Participants will share ideas and look at new ways to help solve the challenges facing students in Canada and around the world. In his remarks in Toronto, Duncan will emphasize the link between the economy and the President's goal of producing the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. "In the era of the global economy, America has no choice but to educate its way to a better economy. The President's 2020 goal is ambitious--it can only be attained by a systemic transformation of the U.S. education system," Duncan will say. The full text of the speech will be available at

Before the month ends, the administration will also announce the winners of two other grant programs, Promise Neighborhoods and the Teacher Incentive Fund.

"As the fiscal year winds down, there is so much energy and activity around education reform at the state and local level. We want to build on this momentum and do all we can to support our teachers, our parents and our students. America's future is directly linked to the quality of education we provide our children today," Duncan said.

ASCD Inservice: Cuban: We Don't Need Another Hero

ASCD Inservice: Cuban: We Don't Need Another Hero

Cuban: We Don't Need Another Hero

On the eve of a mayoral primary election that could influence whether Adrian M. Fenty–appointed District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Michelle Rhee stays in D.C., our most-clicked article is Larry Cuban's on the myth of the heroic leader.

Although the superhero image brings attention to ailing school districts, the attention tends to consolidate around the heroic leader, and more nuanced understandings of the full school community end up on the cutting room floor.

Cuban takes aim at the cliched assertion that only a superhero could successfully run an urban district, when really brick-by-brick leadership, vision, and consensus-

'Waiting for Superman' the Ground-Shaker at TIFF | Inside Movies

'Waiting for Superman' the Ground-Shaker at TIFF | Inside Movies

'Waiting for Superman' the Ground-Shaker at TIFF

If we examine the grassroots origin of film festivals, we could probably make an argument that they exist to invoke change, or at least bring about some awareness of a certain person, place or thing. Davis Guggenheim's 'Waiting for Superman,' in keeping with his last Oscar-winning film 'An Inconvenient Truth,' brings forth the issue of the American education system in a moving, poignant way. At the Winter Garden Theatre screening of the film at the Toronto Film Festival, it was impossible not to feel the momentum in the air.

'Waiting for Superman' lays out all the facts about the crumbling infrastructure of education in the United States. We follow the lives of several young children who each face different hurdles -- among them race, money and geographic location -- as they