Category Archives: States

California Throws Education Under the Bus

Written by: BlueDog89

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed to cut more than $1 billion from higher education. Photo courtesy Associated Press.

Student activists and teachers unions in California are organizing statewide protests in opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to cut $1.4 billion from public colleges and universities.

Protesters at a demonstration at Modesto Junior College. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

California’s public education system is racked by threats of spending cuts due to the state’s fiscal crises, which include a deficit that has ballooned to more than $25 billion.

The California State University System is facing possible budget cuts of $500 million. The University of California would also face a $500 million cut under Brown’s budget proposal.

Brown has proposed cutting $400 million from the state’s community colleges, and raising tuition by 38 percent.

Modesto Junior College (MJC) administrators recently informed faculty members that jobs may be cut as the college attempts to shed $8 million from its budget.

MJC President Gaither Loewenstein answered questions about the budget cuts in a Q&A forum with students last week. He confirmed that the entire communications department, including majors in journalism, television and radio, would be cut in his budget reduction proposal.

Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewensteinaddresses concerns over $8 million budget cut proposal. Photo courtesy Turlock Journal.

Other programs to end are culinary arts, communication graphics, architecture, engineering, industrial technology, dental assisting and all foreign languages, except Spanish and sign language.

The MJC West Campus library would close and be used as a learning resource center. Coach stipends would end, but competitive sports would continue.

Additional faculty and management employees would lose their jobs under Loewenstein’s budget proposal. Those layoffs would be effective June 30.
Reductions in salary or benefits for employees are not included in the proposal, which have yet to be negotiated.

Many students fear losing their favorite instructors, like anthropology professor James Todd. According to anthropology major and campus President of the Anthropology Club Priscilla Peralta, the department will be crippled with the layoff of Professor Todd. “Anthropology is a much needed discipline and should continue to be offered to the fullest extent,” said Peralta.

Loewenstein said that the decision to target specific programs rather than split the cuts across the board was intended to leave the college with fewer strong programs instead of making the entire college mediocre.

Californians need to step up, get involved with their schools, and reach out to school administrators and congressional representatives about this issue.

Ms. Peralta urges those who support her cause to send a personal message to Modesto Junior College President Gaither Loewenstein via email at loewensteing@mjc.edu.

In addition to getting personally involved with the schools in your community, education advocates encourage citizens to express their concerns to Gov. Brown. He may be reached via phone at 916.445.2841 or log on to his website to post a comment http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php.

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Filed under Anthropology, California, Civil Protest, Economy, Education, Governors, Students, Teachers, Unions, United States

Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference 2010

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Tina Tchen

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will speak at the California Women’s Conference 2010, hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The annual Women’s Conference inspires, empowers and educates women to be Architects of Change in their own lives and in the lives of others.

Last year, I was honored to attend the event where Valerie Jarrett participated in parts of the Conference’s A Woman’s Nation: The Status of the American Woman panel. There she represented the Council on Women and Girls and discussed our efforts to improve workplace flexibility both in the federal government and the private sector.

We are excited that the Administration can be a part of this important event again and we encourage you to participate as well!

You can learn more by reading First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks as well as Dr. Jill Biden’s remarks.

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***Photos include attendees, performers and speakers: Dr. Jill Biden, Jane Goodall, Oprah Winfrey, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former First Lady of the US Laura Bush, Diane Swayer, Former Associate Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, Sister Terry Dodge, Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayer, Tennis player Billie Jean King, Associate Justice Elena Kaegan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, Anne Sweeney, Victoria Beckham, Recording artist Mary J. Blige, Author Deepak Chopra, Recording artist Sarah MacLachlan, Brian Williams, Phil Knight, Poet Mary Oliver, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Nick Kristof, Suze Orman, Howard Schultz, and Oral Lee Brown.

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Filed under California, Change, Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Women's Issues

The Obama’s Vacation Day 2 ~ Bunch Of Grapes Bookstore & Golfing in Martha’s Vineyard

Posted by: Audiegrl

Chief White House correspondent for FOX News Channel Major Garrett works the phone while sitting on the porch of the Mansion House, press headquarters for the President’s visit. The sign reads:

Mansion House Inn believes anyone who has passed health care reform, signed economic stimulus bills, recast America’s global image, commands two war zones, won the Nobel Peace Prize, nominated 2 Supreme Court judges (and) overhauled financial regulations, deserves a great vacation. Thank you Mr. President.
(Photo by Nelson Sigelman)

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The Obama’s Vacation Day 1 ~ First Family Travels To Martha’s Vineyard

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama is taking his family back to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., for summer vacation. President Obama and First Pooch Bo rode Air Force One on Thursday afternoon to Martha’s Vineyard, where they were to meet First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia. This marks the first family’s second summer vacation on the New England island, where they will stay in a rental home for 11 days and return to the White House on Aug. 29.

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The First Family Visits the Gulf Coast

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by: Nikki Sutton

President Barack Obama and daughter Sasha swim at Alligator Point in Panama City Beach, Fla., Saturday, Aug.14, 2010. The President traveled to Panama City Beach with First Lady Michelle Obama and Sasha to meet with local business owners and officials and to encourage Americans to travel to the Gulf Coast beaches. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The First Family traveled to Florida’s Gulf Coast today to spend the weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida. The President and First Lady joined area small business owners and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus for a roundtable discussion of the recovery.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hold a round table discussion with business owners, officials, Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus at the United States Coast Guard Panama City District Office, Panama City, Fla, Saturday, August 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Following the roundtable discussion, the President spoke about his sustained commitment to the Gulf.  The President was clear that though the well has been capped and the oil is no longer spilling from the ocean floor, there is still work to be done:

Well, today the well is capped.  Oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf.  It has not been flowing for a month.  And I’m here to tell you that our job is not finished and we are not going anywhere until it is.  That’s the message that I wanted to come here and deliver directly to the people along the Gulf Coast — because it’s the men and women of this region who have felt the burden of this disaster.  They watched with anger and dismay as their livelihoods and their way of life was threatened these past few months.  And that’s why I made a commitment in my visits here that I was going to stand with you not just until the well was closed, not just until the oil was cleaned up, but until you had fully recovered from the damage that’s been done.  And that is a commitment that my administration is going to keep.

President Obama also spoke about Gulf Coast seafood safety:

Next we’re going to continue testing fisheries and we’ll be reopening more areas for fishing as tests show that the waters are safe.  Already, more than 26,000 square miles were reopened at the end of July, and another 5,000 were reopened earlier this week.  I know this takes some time, and it’s been incredibly hard on the people who earn their living on the water.  Carolyn’s boats, for example, have had to find different areas to fish that are further away and require more fuel, so she’s been having to make some decisions, maybe I don’t send out my boat this time out.  But their livelihoods, not to mention the health of the people across this country, obviously depends on making sure that folks can trust the seafood coming from the Gulf, trust that it’s safe, as it always has been.

Finally, President Obama stressed the importance of standing together with the people of the region and encouraged Americans from across the country to come down and enjoy the Gulf:

So, with the closure of the well we mark an important milestone.  But this is not the end of the journey.  And in completing the work ahead I’m reminded of what I heard when I was in Louisiana back in June.  I spent time with folks on Grand Isle, meeting with fishermen and small business owners, and the town’s mayor, David Camardelle.  And he told me what his friends and neighbors were going through.  He talked about how hard things had been.  But he also explained the way folks rallied to support one another, and said, the people in this community may not have a lot of money, but that didn’t matter.  “We help each other,” he said.  “That’s what we do.”

That’s what folks do for one another in the Gulf.  That’s what the Coast Guard has been doing for folks in need.  That’s what we do as Americans.  And my job is to make sure that we live up to this responsibility, that we keep up our efforts until the environment is clean, polluters are held accountable, businesses and communities are made whole, and the people of the Gulf Coast are back on their feet.

So to the men and women of the Coast Guard, thank you again for your extraordinary service.  To the people here in the Gulf, we are going to be standing by your side.  And to Americans all across the country, come on down and visit.

President Barack Obama, flanked by First Lady Michelle Obama and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, makes a statement to the press on Gulf Coast recovery plans, Panama City, Fla., Saturday, August 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


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First Lady Michelle Obama Christens Coast Guard Cutter in Mississippi

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama christens the USCGC Stratton with a bottle of champagne, during a ceremony at the Port of Pascagoula, in Pascagoula, Miss., July 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Remarks by the First Lady at Christening of U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton in Pascagoula, Mississippi

Remarks by the First Lady at a Coast Guard Gulf Coast Oil Spill Briefing in Pascagoula, Mississippi


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The Obama Family’s Summer Vacation in Maine

Posted by: Audiegrl

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First Lady Michelle Obama Visits the Gulf

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Trooper Sanders

This week, the First Lady traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida, to meet with business and community leaders in the area. The past few months have been especially challenging for families and businesses in the Gulf Coast region. The BP Oil Spill is the worst environmental disaster our nation has ever seen, and the effects of the spill are evident not only in the oil washing up on some of the shores, but in the businesses and communities that are suffering.

This Administration will not rest until the well is capped, the oil is cleaned up, the natural beauty of this region is restored, and the people of the Gulf Coast who have been affected by this tragic, ongoing spill are made whole. The President and his tireless advisors like Carol Browner, who joined us on this trip, have been doing everything they can to keep Gulf Coast families and the American people up to date on the Administration-wide response to the Gulf Coast spill, but there was one particular point of great concern that Mrs. Obama wanted to drive home to those families.

“I know that there have been lots of questions lately about how we can best help people here on the Gulf Coast who’ve been affected by the oil spill,” Mrs. Obama said, “And to be honest, truly, one of the best ways that fellow Americans can help is to come on down here and spend some money.” What many Americans may not realize is that most of the Gulf Coast is still open for business. Despite what you’ve see on TV or read in the newspapers, many the beaches, like Panama City Beach, where the First Lady visited, are still clean and safe. And one of the best ways Americans can help this region and the hard working people who live in the area is by coming down and enjoying the hospitality.

For communities like Panama City Beach, summertime is peak tourist season. But this year, many business owners have seen a sharp decline in tourism to the region, despite the fact that their beaches are clean and oil free. If you’re looking for a family vacation this summer, consider visiting one of the many communities in the Gulf Coast region.

Trooper Sanders is Deputy Director of Policy to the First Lady

Remarks by the First Lady at Panama City Beach
Remarks by the First Lady during a Briefing by Officials and Local Leaders in Panama City Beach, Florida

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Let’s Move Outside! with First Lady Michelle Obama at Red Rock Canyon

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh

Junior rangers Isabella Davis and Paige Owens (L), and First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Harry Reid, (D-NV) participate in a mountain stretch during an event to help launch Obama's Let's Move Outside! initiative to promote more outdoor activity for children June 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Let's Move Outside! is a part of the first lady's Let's Move! initiative aimed at solving the problem of childhood obesity. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

Yesterday, I was fortunate to join First Lady Michelle Obama, Representative Dina Titus and Senator Harry Reid at the launch of Let’s Move Outside! in the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area of Southern Nevada. The Canyon is just a short drive from the bustle of the Las Vegas Strip; this 197,000 acre property takes you to another time and with its solitude, wide open vistas and soaring red sandstone cliffs. Red Rock Canyon is one of only sixteen National Landscape Conservation Areas in the country, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

This amazing backdrop was the perfect setting for the First Lady’s to announce a new component of her Let’s Move! campaign — Let’s Move Outside! As the first lady said in her remarks:

Our overall goal for “Let’s Move Outside” is to really get our kids active so that they make it a habit of moving around and seeing the activity they need not as a chore but as a fun way to explore our country and to do some things they haven’t done.

Doctors, teachers, and other professionals  agree that outdoor activity is one of the easiest and most fun ways to get – and stay – fit. And boy, did we have fun!

Twenty energetic kids from nearby elementary schools joined us for the afternoon’s activities. The First Lady and Senator Reid led the group in a series of geology stretches. Then, we all hiked over to a sandstone slope, where we watched some able rangers guide kids on a “rock scramble.” Even though it was a steep climb, the pay-off at the top was terrific — a panoramic view of the canyon as far as the eye could see. Finally, children were sworn in by First Lady Michelle Obama as official Let’s Move Outside! Junior Rangers, capping off an afternoon of adventure, exercise, and good cheer.

There are no better places for America’s children to get moving than in the parks, trails, and waters in all of our communities. Whether you are walking, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or mountain biking –America’s public lands have a wide range of affordable activities and adventures for every family. These lands are America’s backyard—they are owned by everyone in this country and provide opportunities to get outside in every state, county, and city in the country.

The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting Let’s Move Outside! events across the country during the summer months. We will engage partners across the public and private sectors to expand access to these places and connect American families to our great big collective backyard. Check out the Let’s Move! website to find opportunities to get outside and have fun today!

Rhea Suh is Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management & Budget

Full Remarks by the First Lady at “Let’s Move Outside” event with Senator Harry Reid

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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks at the 2010 Women’s Summit in Reno, Nevada

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

First Lady Michelle Obama greets the crowd after making remarks at the Women's Summit with Senator Harry Reid in Reno, Nevada. June 1, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Today First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Reno, Nevada where she delivered the keynote address to the 2010 Women’s Summit. The Summit, hosted by Senator Harry Reid, brought together a diverse group of women from across the country to talk about the issues that impact their lives as women and as Americans.

In her remarks, Mrs. Obama used the example of health care to illustrate women’s unique and increasingly significant role when it comes to keeping families healthy:

Eight in 10 mothers report that they’re the ones responsible for choosing their children’s doctors, taking them to the appointments, managing follow-up care. And many women are making the same decisions for their spouses. And more than 10 percent of women in this country are currently taking care of a sick or elderly relative, often a parent, and making critical health care decisions for them as well.

But women aren’t just disproportionately affected because of the role we play in our family, we’re also affected because the jobs we do are more likely to be part-time or in small businesses, jobs that are — less likely provide health insurance. Women are more likely to be denied coverage because of so called preexisting conditions like having a C-section or a previous pregnancy. In some cases, insurance plans don’t cover basis women’s health services like maternity care or preventative care for mammograms and Pap smears. And a recent study showed that 25-year-old women are charged up to 84 percent more than 25-year-old men for the same coverage. And at age 40, it’s 40 percent more — for the exact same coverage.

Now, we know this is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for women. It’s unacceptable for families. And it is unacceptable for our country.

And that’s part of the reason why so many people fought so hard to pass health reform this year. Under the new law, starting this year, insurance companies will never again be allowed to deny children coverage because of preexisting conditions.

In closing, the First Lady noted that while issues like health care, the economy or caring for families may affect women in particular, they aren’t just women’s issues:

When insurance companies deny coverage to women for preexisting conditions or refuse to cover treatment, it can devastate an entire family. When women make less than men for the same work, that hurts families who find themselves with less income and have to work harder just to get by. And when employers don’t allow employees the flexibility to care for their family, that hurts children, it hurts grandparents, it hurts husbands, and it puts a strain on an entire household.

But the good news is that thanks to so many extraordinary women who came before us, we’ve really come a long way. We know that all of us are here today because of all those generations who put in that time, who packed up their things, and staked their claims in places here, and who cracked and shattered those glass ceilings so that we could have opportunities that they never dreamed of.

And we know that it will be up to all of you — the leaders, the activists, the visionaries, the organizers, the everyday women, to carry that work forward, because what we’re working towards — all of us — is to ensure that our daughters and our granddaughters can dream just a little bigger and reach just a little higher than we did. That’s really why I’m here.

So what I can promise is that if you keep the discussion going, and if all of you keep fighting and organizing and standing up for the causes that we all share, then I know that together — together — we will keep moving forward, not just as women, but as Americans.

So I really, truly, can’t express to you how grateful we are for your leadership. We look to you for that energy, so don’t ever stop. Keep it up. And thank you. Thank you for all your support and your hard work.

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, First Lady Michelle Obama, Nevada, Women's Issues