Barack Obama, the first African American elected President of the Harvard Law Review, 1990
(I can’t work out if he was elected on February 5 or 6 in 1990, different places give different dates – maybe the election was one day, and the results the next? So, we’ll make it a two day anniversary celebration!).
President Obama makes the thumbs up sign as he ends a speech about his ConnectED goal of connecting 99% of students to next generation broadband and wireless technology within five years, Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Md
Today, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland to announce major progress on the ConnectED initiative, designed to enrich K-12 education for every student in America. ConnectED empowers teachers with the best technology and the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich, digital content.
Preparing America’s students with the skills they need to get good jobs and compete with countries around the world relies increasingly on interactive, personalized learning experiences driven by new technology. Yet fewer than 30% of America’s schools have the broadband they need to connect to today’s technology. Under ConnectED, however, 99% of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will help transform the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income.
As the President announced today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will invest $2 billion over the next two years to dramatically expand high-speed Internet connectivity for America’s schools and libraries — connecting more than 20 million students to next-generation broadband and wireless. He also announced that private-sector companies have committed more than $750 million to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms, including:
Apple, which will donate $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products, along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged U.S. schools
AT&T, which pledged more than $100 million to give middle school students free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three years
Autodesk, which pledged to make their 3D design program “Design the Future” available for free in every secondary school in the U.S. — more than $250 million in value
Microsoft, which will launch a substantial affordability program open to all U.S. public schools by deeply discounting the price of its Windows operating system, which will decrease the price of Windows-based devices
O’Reilly Media, which is partnering with Safari Books Online to make more than $100 million in educational content and tools available for free to every school in the U.S.
Sprint, which will offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million
Verizon, which announced a multi-year program to support ConnectED through up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments
President Obama visits Buck Lodge Middle School
Dotster: President Obama’s announcements today are so important in bringing opportunity and advantage to all. I know my Ct. grandkids’ school has provided ipads to all students for 2 or 3 years now. It’s a great neighborhood school with kids from all backgrounds due to participation in a successful bussing program from the inner city. I’m not sure of the details, but I know they have a real aggressive PTO which went after grants and donations from the business community for funding for the ipads and other innovative programs. Similar advantages at the very diverse h.s. where my daughter teaches in Indy which has state of the art everything. Eli Lilly there and other corporate donors have also figured out that an educated, successful community is good for them, good for all. A win-win. It is very encouraging that this kind of opportunity will now be more widely available——it will indeed make a huge difference. Good to see the corp. community stepping up, doing some good for a nice change.
The ConnectED initiative will, within five years, connect 99 percent of America’s students to the digital age through next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon are already providing their support, collectively pledging to connect more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students by the end of 2015.
ConnectED will also provide better broadband access for students in rural areas, by expanding successful efforts to connect parts of the country that typically have trouble attracting investment in broadband infrastructure.
Our teachers are being asked to do more than ever, and they need to be equipped with better tools to help them succeed. Fortunately, technology can play a central role in this.
For example, new digital education tools that allow for real-time assessments of student learning, provide more immediate feedback to drive professional development, and enable the creation of interactive online lessons can empower teachers to understand each student’s strengths and weaknesses and design lessons and activities that better meet their needs.
The ConnectED initiative invests in improving the skills of teachers, ensuring that every educator in America receives support and training in using education technology tools that can improve student learning.
Additionally, ConnectED will lead to new resources for teachers from any school, at any time, to open their classrooms to interactive demonstrations, lessons from world-renowned experts, or the opportunity to build learning communities and to collaborate with other educators across the country or world.
Encouraging private-sector innovation
Educational devices supported by high-speed networks are the portal to the world of online learning and interactive content, to personalized education software that adapts to students’ needs, and to breakthrough advances in assessing understanding and mastery.
These devices give students access to more rigorous and engaging classes, new learning resources, rich visualizations of complex concepts, and instruction in any foreign language. They also give students more opportunities to work at their own speed and receive additional one-on-one help they need to develop their knowledge and skills.
Leading technology companies are capable of producing feature-rich educational devices that are price-competitive with basic textbooks. And a robust market in educational software can unlock the full educational potential of broadband investment, while creating American jobs and export opportunities in a global education marketplace of more than $1 trillion.
President Obama greets a member of the audience during a visit to Buck Lodge Middle School
James Richardson, principal of Buck Lodge Middle School, celebrates with his students and teachers after President Barack Obama spoke at their school
On This Day: Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at a rally for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama in Hartford, the day before the Connecticut Super Tuesday primary. Congressional Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Chris Murphy and John B. Larson are onstage behind Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy and Barack Obama. February 4, 2008
3:0: The President and Vice President meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan
4:30: The President and Vice President meet with the House Democratic Caucus, The East Room
AP: Obama Secures $750M in Pledges to Get Kids Online
Claiming progress in his campaign to get American schools wired for the future, President Barack Obama is announcing commitments from U.S. companies totaling about $750 million to connect more students to high-speed Internet.
Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making Windows available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.
Obama was to announce the commitments Tuesday at a middle school in the Maryland suburbs near Washington. Also in the pipeline: an addition $2 billion that the Federal Communications Commission is setting aside from service fees over two years to connect another 20 million students to high-speed Internet.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement at the Munich Security Conference, that Israel will face boycotts should negotiations with the Palestinians fail, is a level-headed view of reality that the Israeli government chooses to continually ignore.
…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beats them all: Instead of welcoming Kerry as an ally, he publicly quarrels with him and hints that the secretary of state is trying to pressure Israel to “give up essential interests.”
Netanyahu refuses to understand that Israel’s most essential interest is ending the conflict, and that Kerry is a fair, dedicated, mediator who needs the support of all parties in order to complete this complex process. Netanyahu refuses to understand that now is the time for big decisions, not small politics.
A month ago, the president was on the outs – even among Democrats. Today, he’s quelled critics and getting his chance to make negotiations work.
The push for new sanctions on Iran has stalled. The Democrats who bucked President Obama to back the sanctions bill are backpedaling mightily—no longer even pretending they’re pushing Harry Reid to hold a vote on the measure. And while there’s still plenty of chest-pounding and posturing, the debate’s end result seems clear: The Senate will wait, at least so long as the negotiations move in the right direction.
That’s a full flip from just more than a month ago. Before the December recess, the Senate’s pro-sanctions faction was surging. Senators—including Democrats who are typically Obama loyalists—were agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear negotiations with Iran bordered on capitulation.
So how did Obama — a supposedly feckless president when it comes to handling Congress — turn the tide? Obama’s in-person, all-hands-on-deck advocacy campaign with the Senate appears to have advanced his cause, but it’s not that simple.
South Carolina’s battle over Medicaid expansion: After the Supreme Court ruled that states were not obligated to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina was one of the first to opt out. PBS NewsHour’s Mary Jo Brooks reports on the effects for residents who are still uninsured, plus a small alternative program designed to reach some of them.
Bill Hammond (NY Daily News): Anti-Obamacare, facts be damned
House Speaker John Boehner lobbed a social media stink bomb this weekend that distilled Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act to their cynical, knee-jerk essence.
“Sick kids denied specialty care due to #Obamacare,” his Twitter feed proclaimed on Saturday, linking to a conservative blog post based on a TV news report out of Seattle. His Facebook page weighed in on the same story, calling it “heartbreaking” and vowing that House Republicans “will continue working to scrap this broken law.”
There’s just one problem: The shocking claim — that the President’s health reforms resulted in sick children being denied care — was flat-out false. Which Boehner’s staff must have known, assuming they actually read the material they were helping to spread across the Internet.
In fact, all of the children in question did get care, as was perfectly clear in the Jan. 30 press release from Seattle Children’s Hospital that got this snowball started.
President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next month amid reports of a strained American-Saudi relationship over Iran and Syria.
White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that Obama would meet with Saudi King Abdullah in late March, calling it “part of regular consultations” between the two countries.
“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” Carney said.
The Saudi stop will be added to a late March trip that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.
Brian Beutler: Angry right’s secret revulsion: Why they really dodge minimum wage questions
Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for a small number of federal contractors has drawn out the crazies
It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether.
Opposing the minimum wage isn’t a politically seemly thing to do, though, and thus the great political consequence of President Obama’s decision, announced during his State of the Union address, to institute a $10.10 minimum wage for future federal contracts, will be to draw the extent of this opposition out into the open.
The pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama conducted by Bill O’Reilly was not only notable for the Fox News anchor’s constant interruptions, but also for his harping on old news. The travails of HealthCare.gov, the murderous attacks in Benghazi and the actions taken by the IRS against conservative groups chewed up 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the 10-minute sitdown.
We all know that those topics are nothing but chum for O’Reilly’s anti-Obama audience. But the president successfully avoided the rhetorical traps set by the ambassador from “fair and balanced.” And he respectfully stood up to the disrespect demanded by said audience by giving as good as he got.
…. It’s always difficult to tell whether the tail is wagging the dog over there at Fox, but I would argue that the IRS conspiracy theories and others are in large part due to O’Reilly and Fox. Neither the station nor its anchor has shown Obama or his office the respect both deserve. And that 10-minute interview was a perfect illustration of it.
Every Saturday morning, President Obama delivers a weekly address, which is immediately followed by a Republican response, but this week’s GOP address was a little different: it was delivered by four Republicans instead of one. The message: there may be some room for a little “bipartisan common ground.”
…. Before getting into the particulars, it’s striking to realize just how small the “common ground” is. There are all kinds of popular ideas that enjoy broad public support – on job creation, aid to struggling families, immigration, public safety, etc. – but none of them made the cut in the official Republican statement.
Instead, progress is now possible in just four areas – four narrow areas.
Florida’s 13th congressional district will host a special election next month and by all appearances, it should be a close contest. Democrats have nominated former state CFO Alex Sink, who very nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial race, and have high hopes about her chances.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is also taking the race very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that the NRCC has come up with an unusual fundraising gambit.
Folks can go to a website that looks legitimate – contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com – and find a nice photo of the Democratic candidate alongside a graphic that reads, “Alex Sink – Congress.” If you’re not reading carefully, you might assume this is a page for Sink supporters to make a campaign contribution to their preferred candidate. But it’s not – this is a page set up by Republicans.
On This Day: President Obama pauses to look back at the scene before leaving the platform following the inaugural swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 21, 2013 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Today (all times Eastern):
Update: both events canceled due to weather
1:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney
2:05: The President and the Vice President meet with the President’s Commission on Election Administration, The Oval Office
NYT: Peace of Mind Is First Benefit for Many Now Getting Medicaid
Sharon Mills, a disabled nurse, long depended on other people’s kindness to manage her diabetes. She scrounged free samples from doctors’ offices, signed up for drug company discounts and asked for money from her parents and friends. Her church often helped, but last month used its charitable funds to help repair other members’ furnaces.
Ms. Mills, 54, who suffered renal failure last year after having irregular access to medication, said her dependence on others left her feeling helpless and depressed. “I got to the point when I decided I just didn’t want to be here anymore,” she said.
So when a blue slip of paper arrived in the mail this month with a new Medicaid number on it — part of the expanded coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act — Ms. Mills said she felt as if she could breathe again for the first time in years. “The heavy thing that was pressing on me is gone,” she said.
…. Last week Ms. Mills used her Medicaid number for the first time to fill a prescription. It was a Wednesday and she walked into Walmart feeling good.
“Now I’ve got insurance,” she said, “and I’m waving that piece of paper all over the place.”
Sean Recchi, a small-business owner in Lancaster, Ohio, was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. The business he and his wife ran wasn’t making a lot money; the family was forced to borrow heavily; and officials at the cancer center where he sought treatment said his insurance was effectively worthless.
Despite these horrific circumstances, Sean’s wife, Stephanie Recchi, told Time’s Steven Brill last fall, “I don’t think Obamacare will help us. I don’t want anything to do with it.” She added, “I hear a lot of bad things about it – that it doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions and it’s too expensive.” Why did she believe this? Recchi said she’d seen “television ads and some politicians talking on the news.”
…. That was a few months ago. Brill published a follow-up report this week…
….. What Stephanie soon discovered, she told me in mid-November, “was a godsend.”
ThinkProgress: Medicaid Expansion Has Already Cut The Number Of Uninsured West Virginians By A Third
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s (D) decision to accept Obamacare’s optional Medicaid expansion last spring is already paying off in a big way for the large number of poor and uninsured people in the state.
According to the New York Times, about 75,000 Wast Virginia residents have enrolled in Medicaid since Obamacare’s open enrollment season launched in October. While a portion of that consists of people who already had Medicaid benefits and are simply re-enrolling in the program, a sizable number of uninsured residents are gaining health benefits for the first time, thanks to the health law’s expanded eligibility threshold that allows anyone earning up 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to enroll in Medicaid. In fact, the number of uninsured people in the states has already been reduced by a third.
An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that the Medicaid expansion will eventually reduce West Virginia’s uninsurance rate by a staggering 67 percent.
TPM: Obama To Discuss Inequality With Pope Francis In March
President Barack Obama is expected to meet with Pope Francis in March, the White House announced Tuesday.
…. The President will travel to Vatican City on March 27 as part of a swing through Europe that includes visiting the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit and Brussels, Belgium for a U.S.-EU Summit.
It’s been two months since Iranian officials reached an agreement with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) on a six-month nuclear deal. We learned last week that the framework, which garnered international approval, would be implemented starting on Jan. 20.
That, of course, is [yesterday]. And while it’s literally the first day of a six-month process, so far, the agreement is working as intended.
…. the six-month talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations are still underway, with diplomats searching for a permanent deal on Iran’s nuclear future. It’s best to keep expectations in check, but so long as Congress doesn’t sabotage the diplomatic process on purpose, the process will continue.
ThinkProgress: West Virginia Governor On Safety Of Water Supply: ‘It’s Your Decision… I’m Not A Scientist’
Amid growing concerns over whether or not the water is actually safe for 300,000 West Virginians following a massive chemical spill into the water supply, the state’s governor said it was up to each of them to decide whether they use it.
“It’s your decision,” Gov. Tomblin told reporters at a press conference on Monday. “If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water then use bottled water.”
“I’m not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe,” Tomblin continued. “But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don’t use it.”