Archives for March 2011
Obama to urge ‘No Child’ reform
President Barack Obama will renew his push Monday to overhaul the nearly decade-old federal education law, calling on Congress to finish a rewrite of No Child Left Behind by the start of the next school year.
Pushing an issue that administration views as ripe for bipartisan cooperation, Obama will use a visit to an Arlington, Va., school to praise the efforts by Republican and Democratic lawmakers to fix the law and outline his own priorities, top administration officials said Sunday.
“We need to make sure we’re graduating students who are ready for college and a career,” Obama will say at Kenmore Middle School, according to a White House release. “In the 21st century, it’s not enough to leave no child behind. We need to help every child get ahead. We need to get every child on a path to academic excellence.”
Monday’s push follows a meeting last week between the president and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have been working for months with administration officials on the rewrite.
“Our agenda is largely aligned with leaders on both sides of the aisle and leaders at every level of government,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told reporters Sunday.
But on one area of particular interest to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – expanding school vouchers in Washington, D.C. – the president isn’t expected to make a pitch for the program. Boehner has signaled that he will use the voucher program as a bargaining chip in the education reform negotiations.
Obama “doesn’t believe that vouchers are the way that we’re going to solve the comprehensive problems that we have in our school systems right now,” said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “We need a holistic approach.”
Obama will call for a rewrite that targets schools and students most at risk, directing resources to low-performing schools and teachers who serve them. He will seek a system more flexible than the one in place, and will push for broadening the focus of school curricula beyond math and reading, raising expectations for students, boosting teacher effectiveness, rewarding excellence and sharing responsibility for improvement, the aides said.
“Under current law, the federal government prescribes a one-size-fits-all solution,” Duncan said. “We need to do away with unnecessary federal mandates and increase local control to pursue solutions focused on results.”
Washington (CNN) — Talks are starting this week on possible steps to tighten access to guns for people with criminal records or mental health issues, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday.
Carney responded to questions from reporters following publication Sunday of an op-ed commentary by President Barack Obama in The Arizona Daily Star that looked at the gun control debate following the January 8 shootings in Tucson. Six people were killed 13 were wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Jared Lee Loughner, who has been charged in the shootings, previously was rejected for military service and had raised concern at the local college where he took classes due to erratic behavior.
“We can honor our Second Amendment rights while still ensuring that someone with a criminal record shouldn’t be able to check out at a gun seller, that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily,” Carney said, adding: “There is room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety, respect the Second Amendment, and that we should be able to find some common ground on some of those measures.”
Carney said the Department of Justice was launching talks this week with “stakeholders on all sides of the issue.” While declining to provide specifics, Carney said legislation was a possible outcome.
In the an op-ed commentary, Obama acknowledged the role of guns in American society, while warning of their dangers.
“Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society,” Obama wrote, adding that “we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation.”
The president outlined three “sound and effective” steps to keep “those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place,” including enforcing laws already on the books, rewarding states that provide the best data and therefore do the most to protect their citizens, and making the system for background checks “faster and nimbler.”
Following the Tucson shootings, some members of Congress voiced support for tougher gun regulations. However, the strong pro-gun lobby and deep-rooted resistance to gun control, particularly in Southern states, meant the matter failed to gain traction.
In Sunday’s piece, Obama said he understands discussions about gun control “
can reinforce stark divides.”
“However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place,” Obama wrote. “We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts — to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children’s futures.”
CNN’s Ed Henry, Gabriella Schwarz and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
Thursday the President and First Lady will host parents, teachers, students, community leaders and others at a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention.
A change of leadership is underday at AFRICOM today. Morgan State University gaduate, Arican American, Four Star General Kip Ward had led AFRICOM from its inception from 2007 until today. Today there is a transfer of power from General Ward to General Carter Hamm as Ward previously planned to retire from the Military in May 2011.
General Ward has given his farewell http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=6168&lang=0
AFRICOM conducts several categories of activities to support four primary goals and address current security challenges that threaten stability on the African contient. AFRICOM, has primary purposes to include:
Countering transnational and extremist threats
Contributing to stability in current zones of conflict
Addressing conditions that contribute to instability