Monthly Archives: October 2010

President Obama Signs Executive Order On Education and Hispanics

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Luis Miranda

En Español.

President Barack Obama signs the Executive Order on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics as Javier Garcia looks on during an East Room event at the White House October 19, 2010 in Washington, DC. The executive order placed a high priority on issues ranging from early childhood learning to higher education for the Hispanic community. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

In a ceremony in the East Room today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order to renew and enhance the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics so that it better serves communities across the country by engaging them in the process of improving the education of Latino students, who represent 1 of every 5 students in our nation’s schools.

The new Executive Order is based on feedback gathered by the Initiative in more than 100 community conversations across the country with experts in education, community leaders from more than 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from comments from more than 10,000 Americans on how to develop real solutions to the challenges confronting the Hispanic community in education.

The signing ceremony follows a National Education Summit and Call to Action hosted by the U.S. Department of Education that began on Monday and brought together experts and community leaders from around the country on issues ranging from early childhood learning to higher education.

The President has now signed the Executive Order, read it in full.

President Barack Obama talks with Javier Garcia of Brownsville, Tex., in the Green Room of the White House before the two of them entered the East Room for the signing ceremony of the Executive Order for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Oct. 19, 2010. Javier introduced the President at the event. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Filed under Change, Education, Hispanic/Latino/Latina, Pres. Barack Obama, Students, Uncategorized

Behind-the-Scenes Video: “A Broadway Celebration” at the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

This summer, the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with “A Broadway Celebration” to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. Before joining the ranks of Broadway’s brightest stars, dance students from local schools performed in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers.

A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House is emceed by Nathan Lane and includes Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Elaine Stritch, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Tonya Pinkins, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, with Danielle Arci and Constantine Rousouli.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Art, Change, First Lady Michelle Obama, Music, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized

A Battle that Takes Place Every Day

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Dr. Jill Biden

Lorene Nelson, Dr. Biden, Joy Foster and Tina Tchen after the call in Dr. Bidens office October 15, 2010. (by Chris Smith - HHS)

Today I had the pleasure of co-hosting a conference call with Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to emphasize the importance of early detection and regular screenings.

We were joined on the call by breast cancer survivors, advocates, and various women’s group from across the country. I was especially honored to have two breast cancer survivors, Joy Veronica Foster and Lorene Nelson, join me in my office so they could share their personal stories on the call. Listening to these women, and knowing we were joined by many others on the line was truly inspirational and heartwarming.

Chances are that anyone reading this post has been touched by breast cancer –

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the battle against breast cancer takes place every day, every hour, every 69 seconds as someone’s mother, sister, daughter, and friend loses her life to breast cancer. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but today’s conference call gave me hope. With the ongoing commitment of the Obama-Biden Administration to ensure that affordable and accessible preventive care is a reality, and the many breast cancer advocates, and survivors like Lorene and Joy who are changing lives with their work every day – I know we are moving closer to a breast cancer-free world.


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Filed under Breast Cancer Awareness, Dr. Jill Biden, Health, Kathleen Sebelius (Sec of HHS), Women's Issues

West Wing Week ~ I Spy ~ October 10 – October 15, 2010

Posted by: Audiegrl

On October 12, 2010 President Obama discusses the situation in Sudan with actor George Clooney during a meeting outside the Oval Office. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Walk step by step with the President as he comes out strong for investing in infrastructure to boost the economy and create jobs, and meets with students from all levels of education throughout the week. From elementary and middle school students from the documentary ‘Waiting for Superman,’ to high school and college students who are finalists of the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, to college students who have benefited from the American Opportunity Tax Credit, it’s a reminder why investing in our kids is always worthwhile…

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The White House seen from the North Lawn is bathed in pink light in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Oct. 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Change, First Lady Michelle Obama, Pres. Barack Obama, West Wing Week

First Lady Michelle Obama in Harper’s Bazzar: America’s Got Talent

Posted by: Audiegrl

Harper’s Bazaar recently talked about the arts with Michelle Obama, who recalled her involvement in music and theater as a girl in Chicago. She donned her own L’Wren Scott sheath for the photo shoot and posed with musicians Jason Yoder, Antonio Madruga, Elijah Easton, Zach Brown, and Kush Abadey and glass artists Carmen Salazar and Caleb Siemon. Photo by Jason Schmidt.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that appreciates music,” she observes. “My maternal grandfather, we called him South Side, was a big jazz-music collector. He would play jazz 24 hours a day. As my mother said, when she was growing up, ‘You learn to sleep through jazz.’ He had speakers in every room in his house–including the bathroom.” It was South Side who gave Michelle her first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book.At school, she performed herself once. “I remember very early on being the good fairy in Hansel and Gretel and having to sing a solo, which was humiliating.” In a fairy outfit? “Yes, it was a little tutu fairy costume, and I liked it because of the costume.” (Now, at least, Mrs. Obama’s best-dressed status has a basis in history.) “Oh, and my brother,” she says, laughing, “was Hansel.”

She also touched on sharing the arts with other first ladies, like Carla Bruni and Svetlana Medvedeva:

“It’s a universal voice. When I travel to other countries, usually the first thing the spouses do is introduce you to their cultures through music and dance. [French first lady] Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a musician. We gave her a Gibson guitar. When I came to visit, she pulled it out and played the most beautiful song. We were sitting there with family, and we started singing.” When Mrs. Obama met the Russian first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, last year, “She took me and my girls to see beautiful Russian folk dancing, and although we didn’t speak the same language, we instantly connected.” One of Mrs. Obama’s priorities is to create an exchange between Russian arts students and kids from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. “Mrs. Medvedeva grasped the significance of what arts and music and song can mean to international relations.”

Young talent finds its voice. Chelsea Harrison, Anitra McKinney, Roy Patten Jr., Jumohny Shardenea Walker, and Kenneth L. Washington Jr. of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Andrew W. Jenkins, Arthur A. McKeithen, Jasmine C. Parnell, Geoffrey Phillips, and Kayla Waters of the Howard University Choir. Mrs. Obama’s clothing and accessories throughout, her own.

Cross-cultural exchange. Clifton Brown and Constance Stamatiou of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Moneesha Muneet Gill, Navjit Singh, Omer Mirza, Michelle Puneet Gill, and Jackie Thind of Bhangra Empire; and Nicole A. Turchi, Elizabeth Whalen, Namaad Jackson, Tricia Brown, and Eric Scott of Joy of Motion Dance Center.

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our special section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Filed under Art, Dancing, First Lady Michelle Obama, Music, Uncategorized

President Obama Meets With Students From the Documentary, “Waiting for Superman

Posted by: Audiegrl

Watch a behind-the-scenes video with President Obama and students from the film Waiting for Superman. Yesterday, the children, their families and others that worked on the movie met with President Obama in the Oval Office and watched him depart in helicopter Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House.

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Filed under Change, Children, Documentary, Education, Pres. Barack Obama, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized

President Obama Selects Pete Rouse ~ First Asian-American Chief of Staff

Posted by: Audiegrl

WhoRunsGov~As White House staffers praise incoming chief of staff Pete Rouse as a fixer, Asian American bloggers are taking heart from his appointment for another reason: Rouse’s mother, born Mary Mikami, is the daughter of Japanese immigrants to America.

Blogger Jeff Yang at Asian culture and politics blog Original Spin praised Obama’s selection of Rouse as yet another example of the president’s “clear comfort with and respect for Asian Americans as colleagues and key team members.”

“While Rouse has not emphasized his Asian American roots during his political career, neither has he denied them — and given that his mother grew up speaking only Japanese, and his maternal grandparents were interned during the War, he certainly has critical narratives of the Asian American experience deeply embedded in his personal history,” wrote Yang.

Yang’s item was picked up by other Asian culture blogs, which also hailed the pick. “If I’m not mistaken, that makes Rouse the White House’s first Asian American chief of staff. All things considered, this is quite awesome,” wrote the blogger behind Angry Asian Man.

“I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty dang cool to see so many Asian Americans breaking through the political glass ceiling in Washington,” said Jenn Fang, who wrote for Asian Americans for Obama during the campaign, at her blog ReAppropriate.

Thursday’s Anchorage Daily News provides some background on Rouse’s family history:

The story of Alaska’s connection to Obama’s inner circle begins in 1915 with the arrival of Goro (George) and Mine Mikami in Seward, where construction of the Alaska Railroad was under way. Three years later the immigrants from Japan moved to Anchorage. Their daughter, Mary, entered school speaking only Japanese and went on to become valedictorian at Anchorage High School. In 1934, Mary graduated with honors from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in Fairbanks (the year before it became the University of Alaska), then moved on to Yale, where she earned a Ph.D. and met her husband, Irving Rouse.

(George and Mine Mikami retired and moved to Los Angeles just before World War II, and were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during the war. A scholarship in their name, endowed by their four children, is given at the university in Fairbanks today.)

The Cook Inlet Historical Society, which tells the history of the Anchorage area, has a page devoted to the Mikami family:

Cook Inlet Historical Society portrait of The Mikami family, circa 1917, prior to moving to Anchorage. Father George, mother Mine, daughters Mary and Alice and son Harry

George Mikami was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1864 and immigrated to the United States in 1885, landing in San Francisco, California. In 1910 he returned to Japan to marry Mine Morioka, who was born in Tokyo in 1884. Together they returned to the United States in 1911. With two children, Mary, born in 1912 and Alice, born the following year, they moved to Seward, Alaska in 1915 and spent the next two years there.

In 1918 the family moved to Anchorage, and here George opened a tailor shop on 4th Avenue between B and C Streets. By then they had added two more children; Harry, born in Seward in 1915 and Flora, born in Anchorage in 1919. The four children all did their part in the family business, with George and Mine handling the heavy alterations and tailoring.

Daughter Mary Mikami Rouse had two children, Peter and David Rouse.

Other chiefs of staff also have been ethnic minorities. John Sununu, chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush, was of Lebanese descent on his father’s side, making him the first Arab American in the post. Kenneth Duberstein, who served as chief for President Ronald Reagan, was the first Jewish chief of staff. Joshua Bolten, who served under President George W. Bush, was the second and departing Obama chief Rahm Emanuel was the third.

There has yet to be a female or African American chief of staff in the White House.

Please check out Rouse’s WRG profile, for more information…


Filed under Asian/Pacific Islander, Change, Obama Administration, Pres. Barack Obama