White House tight-lipped about Obama adviser

White House tight-lipped about Obama adviser

WASHINGTON – The White House is taking a mostly tight-lipped stance on an environmental adviser who made inflammatory statements in the past and is linked to efforts suggesting a governmental role in the 2001 terror attacks.

Van Jones, an administration official specializing in environmentally friendly “green jobs,” issued a statement of apology on Thursday. When asked on Friday whether President Barack Obama still had confidence in him, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said only that Jones “continues to work in the administration.”

Gibbs then referred to Jones’ own statement.

The matter surfaced after news reports of a derogatory comment Jones had made in the past about Republicans, and separately, of Jones’ name appearing on a petition connected to the events surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. That 2004 petition had asked for congressional hearings and other investigations into whether high-level government officers had allowed the Sept. 11 attacks to occur.

Jones flatly said in his statement that he did not agree with the petition’s stand and that “it certainly does not reflect my views, now or ever.”

As for his other comments he made before joining Obama’s team, Jones said: “If I have offended anyone with statements I made in the past, I apologize.”

Celebrities Pledge Cult-Like Service To Obama Government

Politicizing the Department of Education: Obama’s Lesson Plan

Politicizing the Department of Education: Obama’s Lesson Plan

  • Posted September 3rd, 2009 at 10.58am in Education.

It’s back-to-school for American families, and the Obama administration is marking the occasion with an unprecedented venture. In a move that steps far beyond the role of the federal government in education policy and shows a disregard for the guidance of parents in their children’s political formation, the Department of Education has released lesson plans for teachers in grades pre-K-12 to accompany an upcoming speech on education by President Obama on September 8th.

The lesson plans – one plan for pre-K-6 students and another plan for students in grades 7-12 – provided specific activities and assignments for children to do before, during, and after the president’s speech. The pre-k-6 plan instructs teachers to ask children “Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials…” It further directs teachers to have children consider the following while listening to Obama’s speech:

  • “What is the President trying to tell me?”
  • “What is the President asking me to do?”
  • “What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?”

The plan continues, “Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do…Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?”

On Wednesday evening however, the administration edited part of the pre-k-6 lesson plans after public outcry about enlisting children’s participation in political activities. The original lesson plan asked children to “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” It has since been changed to say “Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”

The lesson plan for students in grades 7-12 is equally disquieting. The Department of Education directs teachers to “…focus students on quotations that… propose a specific challenge to them.” The plan asks students, “What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines/phrases do you remember? Is he challenging you to do anything?”

To ensure extensive dissemination of the lesson plans in public schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to school principals, noting the time of the speech, providing copies of the lesson plans, and directing them to tune-in to http://www.WhiteHouse.gov. Duncan stated in his letter:

This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong.

While it appears the President’s speech will focus on the value of education and personal responsibility, federally-directed lesson plans set a concerning precedent for the government’s role in education. Education analyst Frederick Hess writes at the American Enterprise blog that the lesson plans “were developed with federal funds, devised on taxpayer time, and made available on the Department of Education’s website” and “might be construed as an invitation to engage in advocacy rather than instruction”.

The President, however, clearly wants his own children to be off limits to such classroom politicization. Upon moving to Washington, he chose to enroll his children in the private Sidwell Friends School.

But children in many of the country’s public schools will not be off limits on Tuesday. It is one thing to teach about the historical relevance and accomplishments of past administrations. It is another thing entirely to encourage children to implement a sitting president’s political agenda.

New York Times Says Only Conservative Parents Are Against The Joker’s Child Indoctrination Day –NYT Head in the sand

New York Times Says Only Conservative Parents Are Against The Joker’s Child Indoctrination Day

September 3rd, 2009 Posted By Pat Dollard.

dictator

He’s gone too far, he’s messing with the children….who are not being told to ask themselves “How can I help America?” but “How can I help Obama?”…

New York Times:

HOUSTON — President Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has sparked a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.

The uproar over the speech, in which Mr. Obama intends to urge students to work hard and stay in school, has been particularly acute in Texas, where several major school districts, under pressure from parents, have laid plans to let children opt out of lending the president an ear.

Some parents said they were concerned because the speech had not been screened for political content. Nor, they said, had it been reviewed by the State Board of Education and local school boards, which, under state law, must approve the curriculum.

“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home. “I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”

The White House has said the speech will stress the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is not partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.

“This isn’t a policy speech,” Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”

Mr. Obama’s speech was announced weeks ago, but the furor among conservatives reached a fever pitch Wednesday morning as right-wing Web sites and talk show hosts began inveighing against it.

Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.

The Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.” And Chris Stigall, a Kansas City talk show host, said, “I’m not letting my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Previous presidents have visited public schools to speak directly to students, although few of those events have been broadcast live. Mr. Obama’s address at noon, Eastern time, at a high school in Virginia will be streamed live on the White House Web site.

The first President George Bush, a Republican, made a similar nationally broadcast speech from a Washington high school in 1991, urging students to study hard, avoid drugs and to ignore peers “who think it’s not cool to be smart.” Democrats in Congress accused him of using taxpayer money — $27,000 to produce the broadcast — for “paid political advertising.”

This week, school officials were hearing from parents about the issue not only in Texas, but in other parts of the country as well — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Utah.

Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, said many of his members feel the controversy has put them in an awkward situation, vulnerable to attacks from conservative talk-show hosts if they open up instructional time for Mr. Obama’s speech, and open to accusations that they have disrespected the president if they do not.

“It’s one of those no-wins,” Mr. Garrett said.

In Texas, calls and e-mail messages flooded into the offices of many local school officials. “I didn’t get a positive call all day,” said Susan Dacus, a spokesman for the Wylie Independent School District outside Dallas.

School officials in Wylie decided to record the speech, review it and then let individual teachers show it, offering students the opportunity to avoid listening if they wished. In Houston, teachers have been asked to tell parents if they intend to show the speech and the schools will provide an alternative class for those whose parents object, a spokesman for the district, Lee Vela, said.

Some Houston parents, however, said telling children they should not hear out the president of the United States, even if their parents dislike his policies, sends the wrong message — that one should not listen to someone with whom you disagree.

“It’s difficult for me to understand how listening to the president, the commander in chief, the chief citizen of this country, is damaging to the youth of today,” said Phyllis Griffin Epps, an analyst for the city who has two children in public school.

Why parents don’t trust the Educator-in-Chief and his comrades

Why parents don’t trust the Educator-in-Chief and his comrades

By Michelle Malkin  •  September 4, 2009 10:00 AM

1ayers005.jpg

My column takes another swing at all the president’s radical education men. For more background on Commie Michael Klonsky, see Andrew McCarthy’s report from last October here. I mentioned some of the activists in the White House Teaching Fellowship program here. Don’t forget your Hall Pass on That. The guys at The Nose on Your Face have cooked up some Junior Czar badges, too.
And for more on the nationwide backlash, read here. Hope and change!

***
Why parents don’t trust the Educator-in-Chief and his comrades
By Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2009

They think we’re crazy. “They” are the sneering defenders of Barack Obama who can’t fathom the backlash against the president’s nationwide speech to schoolchildren next Tuesday. “We” are parents with eyes wide open to the potential for politicized abuse in America’s classrooms.

Ask moms and dads in Farmington, Utah, who discovered this week that their children sat through a Hollywood propaganda video promoting the cult of Obama. In the clip, a parade of entertainers vow to flush their toilets less, buy hybrid vehicles, end poverty and world hunger, and commit to “service” for “change.” Actress Demi Moore leads the glitterati in a collective promise “to be a servant to our president.” Musician Anthony Kiedis pledges “to be of service to Barack Obama.”

The campaign commercial crescendos with the stars and starlets asking their audience: “What’s your pledge?”

This same “Do Something” ethos infected the U.S. Department of Education teachers’ guides accompanying the announcement of Obama’s speech – until late Wednesday, that is, when the White House removed some of the activist language exhorting students to come up with ways to “help the president.” Education Secretary Arne Duncan had disseminated the material directly to principals across the country – circumventing elected school board members and superintendents now facing neighborhood revolts.

O’s bureaucrats can whitewash offending language from the Sept. 8 speech-related documents, but they can’t remove the taint of left-wing radicalism that informs Obama and his education mentors. A spokesman maintained that the speech is “about the value of education and the importance of staying in school as part of his effort to dramatically cut the dropout rate.” But the historical subtext is far less innocent.

Obama served with Weather Underground terrorist and neighbor Bill Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge education initiative. Downplaying academic achievement in favor of left-wing radical activism in the public schools is rooted in Bill Ayers’ pedagogical philosophy. Obama served as the program’s first chairman of the board, while Ayers steered its curricular policy. The two oversaw grants to welfare rights enterprise ACORN and to avowed communist Michael Klonsky – a close pal of Ayers and member of the militant Students for a Democratic Society. SDS served as a precursor to the violent Weather Underground organization.

As investigative journalist Stanley Kurtz reported, Klonsky and Ayers teamed up on the so-called “small schools movement” to steer schoolchildren away from core academics to left-wing politicking on issues of “inequity, war, and violence.”

A cadre of like-minded educators and national service administrators across the country share the same core commitment to transforming themselves from imparters of knowledge to transformers of society. The “change” agenda trains students to think only about what they should do for Obama – and rarely to contemplate how his powers and ambitions should be limited and restrained.

Ayers preached his education-as-“social justice” agenda to his “comrades” at the World Economic Forum in Caracas, Venezuela three years ago:

“This is my fourth visit to Venezuela, each time at the invitation of my comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice. Luis has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President [Hugo] Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and I’ve come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggle—I look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.”

Ayers continued:

“I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position—and from that day until this I’ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I’ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice. After all, the fundamental message of the teacher is this: you can change your life—whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done, another world is possible. As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous: we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world. Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!”

This is why informed parents do not trust the Educator-in-Chief and his “comrades.” You can take Obama from the radicals in Chicago. But you can’t take the Chicago radicalism out of Obama.

Union blues

Union blues

Rosslyn Smith
The approval rating of one of the biggest supporters of Obama’s attempt to impose a socialist system on America has plummeted. Gallup has been polling on the public’s attitude to Labor Unions since the 1930s. They report public support of unions is at an all time low. 

More broadly, fewer than half of Americans — 48%, an all-time low — approve of labor unions, down from 59% a year ago.

 

This is seven percentage points below the former low of 55%, reached in both 1979 and 1981. In addition, such a sharp decline has also only been seen once before, in the late 1950s.   With the administration relying on organized labor to come out strong for his agenda, these are grim numbers. 

chart

Past declines in approval have had political implications for unions.  The sharp decline in the late 1950s was the results disclosures of corrupt practices in the Teamsters, Longshoreman and Mineworkers’ unions.  These led to the passage of the Landrum-Griffin Act in 1959 regulating union elections and financial disclosure.  Throughout the 1970s there had been both labor strife and growing reports of union corruption, culminating in the 1979 murder of United Mineworker dissident Joseph (“Jock”) Yablonski. The 1981 low related to the illegal strike by federal air traffic controllers that resulted in Ronald Reagan dismissing all 13,000 controllers. Public support for Reagan’s action muzzled labor union activism for many years.

 

One suspects the current tumble in public approval of unions reflects both the highly unpopular government takeover of the highly unionized General Motors and and the intransigence of many public employee unions about wages and particularly benefits as states, counties and municipalities attempt to balance their budgets. 

 

The timing couldn’t be worse for the White House.  I doubt they will be listening to this tune by Blondie on their ipods at Camp David this holiday weekend.

 

Oh oh, oh oh, what are we going to do?
Union, union, union city blues
Oh oh, oh oh, what are we going to do?
Union, union, union city blues
Oh oh, oh oh, what are we going to do?
Union, union, union city blues

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/09/union_blues.html at September 04, 2009 – 10:12:45 AM EDT

ObamaCare — Or Else!

ObamaCare — Or Else!

By James Lewis

Now swallow your nice ObamaCare… it only tastes yucky for a second. No, don’t throw it up! Now look what you did! Mommy will have to clean up after you. Again.

Is there something disquieting about a president who only wants to spread love and compassion to all Americans — or else? Or else he’ll hate us forever? Or else he’ll put us in jail? Or else he’ll stamp his feet and cry?

 

That’s the feeling I’m getting. He is so intent on doing us all a big favor. ObamaCare is Just and Right and Compassionate — and it has nothing to do with empowering the Left for the next generation  and turning everybody else into Russian serfs. Nothing at all. There’s no self-interest in this man and his benevolent friends from Chicago. They do whatever they do purely out of love for all of humanity. (And even out of love for all animality, according to Green Czar Van Jones. It’s not clear whether Mr. Jones’s compassion also extends to the plant kingdom, and maybe to bacteria and prion particles, but it could, it could. Seriously. These folks have really really big hearts.).

 

If some used car salesman keeps ringing  your doorbell and phoning you at  home and spamming your email, and just will not stop trying to sell you the same old lousy clunker — after a while you might start to think that he’s not that interested in serving your needs. You might even think he’s after your wallet or your daughter. Or your life savings. Whatever. Something other than trying to do you the favor of a lifetime. Only saints are unselfish, you might think, and the Catholic Church — which figured out all the angles on sainthood a long time ago  — just waits for a reputed saint to die for sure before deciding whether to put the official stamp on their saintliness. Living saints are nothing but trouble.

 

Of course we know Democrats are compassionate —  they keep telling us so, and the media do, too. Those good people cannot tell a lie, so they must be telling the truth. Democrats have this sainthood thing down pat, and Obama even sounds like the Voice of God, with all those cathedral echoes. We used to think it was Charlton Heston, but now we know it’s Obama.

 

Nonetheless, I still get this shivery feeling when I see all the Dems in rowdy pursuit of compassion and saintliness, in between Waitress Sandwiches and secret deals with mortgage bankers. I know it’s all for our own good. I know it’s going to actually save us money to add those forty seven million people to our free medical care. I know they will never, ever guilt-trip us ever again, once we give in on this one. I just get this weird shivery feeling when I see Obama pushing, pushing, pushing that nice cod liver oil down our unwilling throats.

 

It’s just like being a little kid again and having to swallow that disgusting cod liver oil … or warm milk with the skin still on top … or (gulp!) spinach … and having your little sister make faces at you … trying to down that big horse pill … oh, yuuuuuuuuuckkkkkk…

 

All for our own good.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/09/obamacare_or_else.html at September 04, 2009 – 10:07:53 AM EDT

Lying about the Debt

Lying about the Debt
By: Vasko Kohlmayer
Friday, September 04, 2009

 


The change we weren’t hoping for.
Last week the Office of Management and Budget released its updated fiscal outlook for the next ten years. Called the Mid-Session Review (MSR), the report was eagerly awaited in light of the growing alarm at the seemingly unrestrained spending of the current administration. This alarm is growing so widespread and intense that it threatens to sink much of the president’s program. Whether it comes to healthcare, cap-and-trade or various economic stimuli, their projected multi-trillion dollar costs are the number one concern on the minds of most voters.Knowing that more bad fiscal news would effectually doom his agenda, the president and his team increasingly resort to deception. There is an an egregious instance of this in the MSR when they take advantage of confusing terminology to conceal the true size of the national debt.

Traditionally, the most scrutinized and reported on portion of budget documents is the section containing summary tables. This is because they present data, trends and projections – which are often complex and confusing – in relatively easy-to-grasp graphical form. The exhibits are normally arranged in order of importance with the big picture presented first.

The leading table in Obama’s Mid-Session Review is labelled S-1 and called Budget Totals. As would be expected, it seemingly features the three main indicators of a country’s fiscal health: GDP, deficit, and “debt held by the public.” The table’s penultimate line appears to present that all-important gauge: the country’s indebtedness expressed as a percentage of GDP. The administration forecasts rapid growth of this variable. It will jump from 40.8 in 2008 – the last year of Bush – to 55.7 percent in 2009. It will then grow to 70.0 percent in 2011 and finally it will reach 76.5 percent of GDP in 2019, the last year for which projections are made.

Looking at the chart most people will naturally get the impression that these figures express the country’s public debt as a percentage of its annual economic output. This, however, is not so. In reality America’s public debt will be much higher. This is because “debt held by the public” – which is what the administration tracks in its first exhibit – is not the same thing as “public debt.”

As we pointed out some time ago, the public debt of the federal government has two components: the “debt held by the public” and the “intragovernmental holdings.” The former is in the form of various government notes, bills and bonds which the United States Department of Treasury sells in public auctions and which are afterwards freely traded on the market. The intragovernmental holdings, on the other hand, is the debt the Treasury incurs by borrowing from government agencies that happen to have surplus cash in their accounts such as the Social Security Administration.

There are those who say that the intragovernmental holdings are not true debt, since it is money that the government owes to itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. The financial obligations associated with the intragovernmental holdings are as real as those imposed by the debt held by the public. The securities held by the two Social Security Trust Funds will have to be redeemed with actual money when the time comes. The matter cannot be simply disposed of by some accounting double entry. Therefore, the debt held by the public and the intragovernmental holdings together constitute what is properly referred to America’s public debt.

You can get clear confirmation of this on the website of the US Treasury, the agency that administers and services our public debt. Its size is regularly updated for all to see via the Treasury’s online facility called “The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds it.” The information is conveyed in the form of a simple graphic where “Total Debt Outstanding” is the sum of two parts: “Debt Held by the Public”and “Intragovernmental Holdings.” As of last Thursday, the breakdown was as follows:

Debt Held by the Public:              $7,393 trillion
Intragovernmental Holdings:       $4,331 trillion

The Total Outstanding Debt :     $11,725 trillion

In what they knew would be the most closely studied and widely reported chart of the Mid-Session Report, President Obama and his team misleadingly presented only one component of the national debt – the debt held by the public. They took advantage of the confusing terminology to create a false  impression of lower indebtedness. That they meant to deceive cannot be doubted, since the table is supposed to give the big picture. As such the viewer will automatically assume that the trends projected are stated in the full extent of their magnitude.

The ruse has worked. Below is how three major media outlets reported on the administration’s debt projections when analyzing the Mid-Session Review:

 Yahoo News: “The figures show the public debt doubling by 2019 and reaching three-quarters the size of the entire national economy.”

The Washington Post: “Deficits of that magnitude would require dramatically more government borrowing from China and other creditors, driving the accumulated national debt to nearly $23 trillion in 2019 – or 76.5 percent of yearly gross domestic product, the highest proportion since 1950.”

Fox News: “The White House report showed the public debt doubling by 2019 and reaching three-quarters the size of the entire national economy.”

The figures used for these reports were obviously taken from the penultimate line of the first table. Notice that the authors speak of “public debt” whereas Obama’s graphic only tracks “debt held by the public.” They really should know better than to fall for this. We will leave it up to the reader to decide whether the error is the result of ignorance or whether these journalists knowingly propagate the administration’s lie. At any rate, any journalist interested in finding out the truth only needs to visit the Treasury’s “The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It” to see the facts presented in a format that is easy to grasp.

Be that as it may, let us now do something that journalists in the mainstream media are either unwilling or unable to do. Let us search the MSR for the place which indicates the full size of our public debt. Admittedly, this is not an easy task. To locate it, we must comb through the document until we come to the very last page of the whole report. There we will find Table S-15 titled “Federal Government Financing and Debt.”

The table’s fourth line is called Total, Gross Federal Debt. It also happens to be the item we are looking for – America’s public debt proper. Just as on the Treasury website, it is broken down into two parts: Debt held by the public and Debt Held by Government Accounts (the same as “intragovernmental holdings”).

In Table S-15, the Obama administration gives the following projections for fiscal 2009:

Debt Held by the Public:                            $7.856 trillion
Debt Held by Government Accounts:         $4.356 trillion

Together they add up to $12.212 trillion of Total, Gross Federal Debt. If we now take Obama’s GDP projection for 2009 from the first table and express the former as a percentage of the latter, we will get a figure of 85.8 percent.

Yes, you are reading correctly: At the end of fiscal 2009, our national debt will be 85.8 percent of GDP.

This is an alarmingly high figure. It also gives a completely different picture from that painted by the misleading S-1 table, the one which was taken up by journalists as the basis for their reporting. But the 2009 debt level is not the worst of it; the situation will grow more dire in the years that follow.

By taking Obama’s projected GDP from Table S-1 and Total, Gross Federal Debt from Table S-15, we can now express public debt as a percentage of GDP for the ten year period (you can see the resulting chart by clicking here). Below is the Debt/GDP ratio for selected years:

2010:            97.5%
2011:            101.0%
2016:            104.7%
2019:            107.2%

Extrapolating from Obama’s own figures we arrive at some truly incredible results. But the most astonishing aspect of this is that our public discourse is completely devoid of any discussion of the fact that the public debt will exceed 100 percent of GDP in some twenty-four months. One can only imagine what would happen if this became public knowledge. The ensuing outrage would almost certainly sink  any hope President Obama may have of implementing his massive and costly programs (the cost of these programs is not factored into the MRS’s grim projections). But Obama would not be the only one to bear the brunt of voter anger. The outrage would probably sweep away the whole political class –  democrats and republicans alike – for allowing this to happen without sounding the alarm.

In any case, we are now in the position to correct those erroneous media reports on the Mid-Session Review. They should read something like this:

The numbers released by the Office of Management and Budget show that the unprecedented deficit spending of the Obama administration will push our national debt to 97.5 percent of GDP by the end of the next fiscal year. The national debt will exceed the 100 percent mark in the year after that. By 2019, it will reach 107 percent of GDP. This level of indebtedness will put us on the same level as Sudan.

Public debts exceeding 100 GDP are very difficult to manage. They often lead to default or massive inflation. Certainly no country with such a high debt load can hope to keep its AAA bond rating. Losing this rating will deal a devastating blow to America’s financial system and send shock-waves across the globe. Needless to say, this will be a far more serious event than the credit crunch of 2008.

Barack Obama campaigned on the promise of openness, transparency and honesty. Yet in his latest report he cynically tries to conceal the dire fiscal truth from the American people. So much so that he buries the most damming item on the very last page of the document.

This is certainly not the change we were hoping for.


Unemployment rate rises to 26-year high

reuters

Unemployment rate rises to 26-year high

  • On Friday September 4, 2009, 8:40 am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. employers cut a fewer-than-expected 216,000 jobs in August, while the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high, the government said on Friday in a report showing a still fragile labor market.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent after dipping to 9.4 percent in July and the decline in payrolls was the smallest in a year. The department revised job losses for June and July to show 49,000 more jobs lost than previously reported.

Analysts had expected non-farm payrolls to drop 225,000 in August and the unemployment rate to rise to 9.5 percent.

The labor force increased by 73,000 in August, indicating the return of some jobless workers who had given up looking for work accounting for part of the rise in the unemployment rate.

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the economy has shed 6.9 million jobs, the department said. Stubbornly high unemployment is wearing on consumer confidence and crimping domestic demand, pointing to an anemic recovery from the worst slump in 70 years. Consumer spending accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

However, the August report confirmed the pace of layoffs was easing from early this year, when nearly three quarters of a million jobs were lost in January.

Manufacturing employment fell by 63,000, with a total of 2 million factory jobs lost since the start of the recession. Payrolls in construction industries dropped 65,000 after falling 73,000 in July.

The service-providing sector purged 80,000 workers in August, while the goods-producing industries shed 136,000 positions.

Education and health services continued to add jobs, with payrolls increasing 52,000 in August after rising 21,000 in July. Government employment fell 18,000 after slipping 28,000 in July.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Neil Stempleman)

Copyright © 2009 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Local School Districts Pass on Obama’s Speech

Local School Districts Pass on Obama’s Speech

By LITA BECK
Updated 8:09 AM CDT, Fri, Sep 4, 2009

 

Getty Images

School districts across Texas are pondering whether they’ll have their students watch a national address by President Barack Obama next week.

The speech on the importance of education is aimed directly at the nation’s school children at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Obama has asked school districts to carry the live webcast.

Districts in North Texas have received complaints about the speech, and most are not broadcasting it to their students.

“There appears to be a curriculum associated with the speech,” said Fred Moses, chairman of the Collin County Republican Party.

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Obama Family Vacations in Photos: The Vineyard

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Parent Bobby Lochner said he wouldn’t mind his children hearing a speech on education — if that’s all the message is.

“On the surface, and if it’s kept to at that — as just talking to the American people and the importance of education — obviously that is very important,” he said.

Many districts are making Obama’s speech available, but are not requiring students to watch it.

The Dallas Independent School District will broadcast the speech live on its cable channel. Principals will decide if they want to air it live.

And the Fort Worth Independent School District will have the speech available live at all of its high schools, but students will not be required to watch it. Students who choose not to view it will be offered alternative activities.

In Plano, the school district will record the speech and have the video available to students for later.

PTA council president Cara Mendelsohn said Obama is “cutting out the parent” by speaking to kids during school hours.

“Why can’t a parent be watching this with their kid in the evening?” Mendelsohn said. “Because that’s what makes a powerful statement, when a parent is sitting there saying, ‘This is what I dream for you. This is what I want you to achieve.”‘

Other districts in North Texas are posting the speech on their Web sites and making it available for social studies teachers to use at a later time.

In a letter last week to the nation’s school principal, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the speech would challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning.

The Department of Education has a list for teachers of suggested classroom activities for before, during and after the speech posted on its Web site.

The suggestions for grades 7 through 12 include discussing the words “responsibility, persistence and goals” prior to the speech and discussing what in the speech “resonated” with students. Click here to read all of the suggested activities.

For grades prekindergarten through sixth grade, the suggested activities include building “background knowledge” by reading books about Obama and presidents before the speech and writing down “key ideas or phrases” during the speech that students find meaningful or important. Click here to read all of the suggested activities.

Gov. Rick Perry called the Obama’s plan for the speech “disturbing” but said he would not advise parents to keep their children home from school Tuesday.

Perry said the speech and its suggested activities were another example of the federal government trying to usurp state and local input.

“Nobody seems to know what he’s going to be talking about … why didn’t he spend more time talking to the local districts, superintendents?” he said.

The speech will be streamed live on the White House Web site.

The following is a list of how various school districts are handling the speech. Districts are listed alphabetically:

 

  • Allen ISD: Speech will not be shown to grades kindergarten through third grade but will be used as part of the social studies/government curriculum for grades 4 through 12.
  • Arlington ISD: Making the speech available for students and parents on its Web site. The speech will also be available for classroom use as deemed appropriate to the district’s curriculum.
  • Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD: Social studies teachers will have the option of broadcasting the speech to their students.
  • Dallas ISD: Speech will be live on its cable channel. Principals will decide if they want to air it live.
  • Denton ISD: Speech will be available on its Web site for anyone to view, but will not be broadcast to students.
  • Duncanville ISD: Social studies teachers will have the option of broadcasting the speech to their students.
  • Fort Worth ISD: Speech available live at all of its high schools, but students will not be required to watch it. Students who choose not to view will have alternative activities.
  • Frisco ISD: District will record the speech, and teachers can choose to use it at a later time.
  • HEB ISD: Speech will be recorded as a podcast. It will be available to social students teachers who want to use it in class and to everyone on the district’s Web site.
  • Highland Park ISD: Any teacher can choose to broadcast it.
  • Keller ISD: Speech will be available live. Teachers can show it if they want to.
  • Lancaster ISD: District will record the speech, and teachers can choose to use it at a later time.
  • Mansfield ISD: Speech will be recorded, and teachers can use it at a later time.
  • Plano ISD: Speech will be available on its Web site for anyone to view, but will not be broadcast to students.
  • Richardson ISD: The speech will be available on Wednesday, the day after, and optional for grades kindergarten through 12. Parents will need to give permission for students in grades kindergarten through 8. No discussions or lessons will be offered afterward.

Districts not listed did not return calls requesting information.

Districts in other states such as Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin have decided not to show the speech to students. Others are still thinking it over or are letting parents have their kids opt out.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Dallas-Fort Worth
First Published: Sep 2, 2009 3:40 PM CDT