Category: Education


President Obama has signed three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Free trade agreements are important in America, because it opens new markets, and it creates jobs in our country. These trade agreements were started by President Bush, and President Obama completed the deal after he was sure that American workers were protected, and environmental practices were followed.

Many believe that this free trade agreement is as important as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA is one of the most successful trade agreements in history, and has contributed to increasing trade and investments between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investments, and eliminate most of the tariffs.

As a result of NAFTA, Mexico and Canada are the first and second largest export markets for United States agricultural products. This free trade agreement has benefited farmers, ranchers, investors, and consumers.

Trade will not go away as an issue with the Obama administration. These three new trade agreements will bring the number to 20 countries that have free trade agreements with the United States. The Republicans wants the president to be more aggressive in finding more free trade deals with other countries.

“From day one the guiding principle has been not just to complete the three trade agreements, but to develop a new paradigm for trade, and rebuild and restore America’s confidence in our trading policy. The administration is on track to reach Obama goal set early last year of doubling US exports over a five-year period,” said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Trade agreements have always been a tricky business because you always want to do business with a friend, but that is not always the case. In many countries around the world, they levy high tariffs on US goods, and Americans allow them to ship their goods to our country with few or no duties. Many countries are trying to control their economy and keep American products out of their markets.

Nevertheless, supporters say these three deals are a winning proposition for American businessmen and farmers, who face high tariffs in these three countries. The deal in South Korea could boost exports by $10 billion and increase exports in Colombia by $1 billion. Many of the experts think that these three deals can create 70,000 jobs for Americans.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Overall, these agreements are a win for the American economy, they mean higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small business owners, and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.”

President Obama is also getting applause from other industries. The following statement is attributable to the president Gary Shapiro of The Consumer Electronics Association.

“The Congress passage and now Presidential signing of these free trade agreements is the first major action in five years on free trade. It tells the world that the US is back in business and wants to remain a global player. Enacting these three agreements will strengthen our economy. Free trade has helped foster a high-tech boom, created more than 25 million jobs during the past 15 years, and increased real wages for U.S. workers.”

As President Obama continues with his plan to increase jobs for American citizens, he will have to reduce high tariffs in other countries, which will help American businesses large and small. Signing a bill is only the first step in implementing the trade agreement. Working together and ensuring compliance from the three countries will help improve the trade deficit, and keep the U.S. economy strong.

As the country braces for another presidential race in 2012, the Republicans are putting together a vicious strategy to keep President Obama from winning a second term. Many believe that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have mounted the most unified opposition to a president in history. But from my perspective, our country is engaged in the political democratic process, and our nation is practicing the system that makes us great.

Many in the country are extremely disgusted with Congress and the contentious bickering and gridlock that are a part of the political system. Every policy, every appointment, every speech, every foreign trip, and every meeting is scrutinized and challenged by the opposing party. We all would like to see more bipartisan, but the system is not set up that way.

There is a global transformation taking place in the world, and America made a transformation, when it elected the first African American president. This was a ground breaking achievement, and the history books will have to be rewritten. The ethnic group that was brought to this country to be slaves had evolved to become free educated people, and an African-American man has been elected to the highest position in the land.

All of the models of the past do not work, when the political pundits and experts try to come up with simple answers for the problems and crisis confronting America. Many would like the country to go back to the ‘good old days’, where political decisions were made by the ‘good old boy’ system. But everyone knows that President Obama is correct when he talks about winning the future through innovation, technology, and education.

Everywhere you turn in the country, every politician is talking about jobs, the economy, and unemployment. But America is not prepared or ready to transition to future technologies, transportation, infrastructure, energy and education.

Some of the 2012 GOP Candidates

Instead of the Republicans developing strategic plans for the future, they are stuck on gridlock, filibuster, and make sure nothing of substance passes the Congress. They will throw everything at President Obama, including the kitchen sink, and keep things at a standstill. They will criticize everything the president does, try to reverse what he has done, and spend millions of dollars to tell the country that he is a weak president.

As the country has lost its AAA credit rating, and the $14 trillion debt that we owe, the Republicans find it easy to point to the president, and say he is the problem. They can justify their assertion with 9% unemployment, stagnant economic growth, the destruction of the middle class, and the large numbers of poor people in the country. It is logical to blame the president on his watch, and many of his supporters are beginning to believe the Republican’s talking points.

At this point, the Republicans are having a problem with finding a candidate that can unify the party with a powerful message. Even though the Tea Party was prominent in the 2010 election, their message is too radical for a presidential election. In order to win the presidency, the Republicans must win a large percentage of the independent voters.

Everyone in the country is excited about the 2012 presidential election. The incumbent always has an advantage, because the media is always reporting on everything the president is doing. The United States elected a Black President for the first time in our history, and it is time for a national catharsis to heal the divisions in the country.

2012 Obama Campaign logo

A new American vision is needed in the election of 2012, and President must motivate and inspire the country that he is the man for the job. This new social contract will demand a new leadership mindset and I believe that President Obama is up.

Billboard asking about Obama's birthplace

Last week President Obama released his long-form birth certificate, and he hopes there are no more questions about the legitimacy of his presidency. Even though the governor of Hawaii and independent investigations by news outlets has confirmed that President Obama was born there, there is a movement to discredit the information.

In the Republican Party, 45% are sure the President was born outside of the United States, and 22% are not sure where he was born. With the Independents, 46% are not sure where the President was born and some believe he was born outside of the country. Now with the White House release, there are still birthers’ who don’t believe the certified records and facts.

Michael Tomasky, reporter from British paper, The Guardian

Michael Tomasky, reporter from The Guardian, wrote in his column, “The birthers’ conspiracy had to be the only explanation for how this black man got to the White House. If you think race isn’t what this is about at its core, ask yourself if there would be a birther conspiracy if Barack Obama were white and named Bart Oberstar.”

This movement or conspiracy is silly and makes no sense, but the leader, Orly Taitz, has filed many unsuccessful lawsuits and questioning the new document’s authenticity. With the release of the president’s birth certificate, the only explanation for the movement is white supremacy and racism. Many of the birthers are angry with having a Black man as the head of the country.

Many were under the impression when an African American became president that mentally our country had reached a milestone spiritually and psychologically. America was finally practicing what it preached, and all men were created equal. Any person born in America had an opportunity to become president or start a company and make millions.

Barack Obama as a baby with his mom

But instead of the country moving forward, there are millions that have deep seated hostilities about race. These millions want to turn back the clock and live in a world where the white race makes the rules, and every other race is expected to follow. Even though they are delusional, and racism is a sickness, it is still very prevalent in every system in our society and world.

Political candidate and business conglomerate, Donald Trump

The birthers’ controversy is not going away, as much as we hoped it would just disappear. The reality of a Black man running the country does not sit well with millions of Americans. Donald Trump is taking credit for the publication of the document. He is honored and proud of his accomplishment.

Obama's actual birth certificate

Here is a man who is worth millions, and could be making a significant contribution to the poor and disenfranchised in the country. Instead, he would rather worry about the birth of our president, as opposed to making a difference in someone’s life.

As the country gets closer to the 2012 election, the attacks against the President will get more vicious. Legally, many “birthers” know that they can’t be overt with their racism so they will have to use code words and symbols. Many of the birthers believe that President Obama is less American and a socialist.

With the pervasiveness of the media, the racist elements against our president will start a new silly conspiracy soon. The birthers will have to evolve into another side-show. With the campaign beginning, everyone is looking for dirt to thrown at President Obama. The “birther” conspiracy did not stick, but it did get media coverage, and a public discourse.

Racism is based on ignorance and the “birther” movement fits the model. It is time for the president to debate legitimate issues with organizations that are based on truth and knowledge. It is my hope that the release of the long-form birth certificate has closed the foolish chapter of the birther movement.      

President Obama

 The Democrats and the Republicans are on different sides of the fence, and neither party has a plan to reduce federal deficits, balance the budget, and cut spending. The Republicans in the House want to cut $61 billion to fund the government thru September 2011, and the Democrats in the Senate want to cut around $10 billion.

There is a huge gap between what the Republicans want to cut, and what the Democrats are willing to cut. The two parties were able to work out a deal to keep the federal government running until March 18, 2011. This Continuing Resolution included $4.1 billion in cuts, with $650 million from the highway, $468 million from Department of Education, and the rest from programs that were going to be cut by the president in his 2012 budget.

“I’m pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together and passed a plan that will cut spending and keep the government running for the next two weeks,” said President Obama. He also stated, “we cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy.”

Both parties in the two Houses have an agenda and there is little room for compromise. As our leaders continue to operate the government with the threat of a shutdown, everyone is operating from an emergency mindset. Everyone is stressed and many of the plans and policies at this point are not well thought out.

In all probability, the two parties will pass another short term Continuing Resolution before the March 18, 2011 deadline, but still there is no movement on the $61 billion cuts that the House has agreed on. Somewhere in this bureaucratic mess, there is a need for leadership and direction from the president.

Michael Petit: president of Every Child Matters

The majority of the cuts that the Republicans are proposing in the House impact government social programs, children, youth, the poor, and families. Michael Petit, president of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, said: “Even before the House adopted its shortsighted budget; the United States was far behind most other developed nations in caring for children. To further shred our nation’s already frayed safety net with additional cuts to babies and mothers are unacceptable.”

The cuts that the Republicans in the House are proposing will cripple our country’s most vulnerable group of citizens and will attack social programs. Some of the programs that will be impacted if the Democrats in the Senate agree to the cuts by Republicans would be as follows: Head Start cut by $1.1 billion, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant cut by $50 million, School Health Clinics cut by $380 million, Low Income Heating Assistance Program cut by $390 million, Pell Grant Program cut by $5.7 billion, and other Block Grants cut by $55 million.

There appears to be an all out assault on our children, youth, and mothers and we hear very little from the president. The president has stated that he would not sign a bill that harms our children, but how far will he go to appease the radical arm of the Republicans?

President Obama is still talking compromise and bipartisan, but the Republicans in the House are pushing their agenda. The stage has been set and everyone is waiting for leadership from the president. He is always talking about shared responsibility, but the social programs are for the citizens who have barely anything.

It is time for President Obama to take a stand and protect the social programs that many of the citizens need. As the president takes a stand, more citizens will also take a stand and support the president’s initiatives. There are other ways to save money, than cutting programs that hurt children, youth, mothers and the poor.

by Roger Caldwell

President Obama made an historic appearance on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” This was an unprecedented performance for the president and a special format for the show. It was the first time that one guest was scheduled for a single episode, who happens to be the sitting president of the United States.

Jon Stewart has recently been described as a talk show host, a comedian, a media critic, America’s anchor in waiting, the court jester, and the mouthpiece. For the president to be a guest on a comedy show indicates the collective power that television programming and stars have, and how they influence our country’s thinking. Jon Stewart has become famous by making jokes about politicians and prominent people and built his show into a successful media franchise.

On Wednesday October 27, 2010, President Obama was the featured guest, and even though there were some laughs, the tone of the show was serious. It was no mistake that President Obama was on the show six days before November 2, 2010: Election Day. Jon Stewart is a progressive liberal whose show’s demographics can help mobilize Democratic supporters and deliver the vote.

Their discussion was respectful with a touch of humor, but candid, political, informative, and educational. The show started with some humor from Jon Stewart asking the president why the Democrats were begging the country for votes by saying, “Please baby give me one more chance.” The mood of the country has changed from two years ago when the country was excited about change and the new president.

President Obama responded to this humorous question with a serious answer, and the friendly sparring was on. Obama indicated that he was well aware that the “honeymoon” with the American public would not last. He was not surprised when there was a backlash, and when the economy was not improving fast enough.

Obama talks about the unemployment rate at 9.6% and over a quarter of all the homes in America, where the price of the house is more than the market selling price. He realized that many Americans are frustrated.

Jon Stewart is extremely articulate and he kept the president on the “hot seat.” “Is the difficulty that you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered? You ran with such, if I may audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times,” said Stewart.

The president’s answer to this question was, “Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you, this notion that the health care was timid. Many people concentrate on the 10% we didn’t get and forget the 90% we did get.”

It was obvious there were contentious moments during the president’s interview with Jon Stewart. As a spectator, we will never know what was rehearsed for the 30 minute program, but the host never backed down. There are questions on the American public’s mind and our president was transparent and communicative.

The president is aware in the last 18 months his administration has been extremely busy getting new laws and reforms that will fundamentally change our system. The major problems with many of the reforms are that they are still in the formative stages and they have not gotten to the citizens, on the grassroots level.

Moving forward the president made it aware that he never promised that change would be easy and it would happen overnight. In 18 months, the president is content with his accomplishments, but is not satisfied with meeting his expectation level. There are many promises that the president made during his campaign that remained unfulfilled.

When Jon Stewart asked the humorous question if the president was planning a surprise party filled with jobs and health care, I really thought for a minute, maybe the president’s second term, he could make this happen. I bet the president didn’t think this was funny.

Check Roger’s other posts and columns, PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH at http://www.presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com OR blospot.com

In the month of September 2010, there were four US teens that received local, regional, and national exposure from the media, because they committed suicide as a result of bullying. It is obvious that there is a fundamental problem in our culture, when teenagers are threatened, intimidated and abused because their sexual orientation is different.

These tragic incidents indicate that our society is failing in protecting our children, and parents, teachers, administrators and leaders are looking the other way and not doing their job. For example, in Florida, James Jones, a father decided to take matters into his own hands and admitted getting on a school bus, and threatened students who were bullying his daughter. There is an epidemic in our schools and it is terrible that someone has to die or almost die before laws are enacted.

At a federal seminar this year, the Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave 2007 bullying statistics, which are appalling and an indictment on safety in our schools. In 2007, 1 out of 3 students in middle school and high school during the school year reported being bullied. Over 2.8 million students said they have been pushed, shoved, or spit on during the school year. Over 1.5 million have been threatened with harm and 900,000 high school students reported being cyber- bullied.

In every school system, there is a need for diversity training and respect for alternative lifestyle choices. It is important that parents and teachers receive training with the students and learn what to do when there is a problem. The parents and teachers must be aware of the signs, when a student needs help.
New Jersey student Tyler Clementi jumped from a bridge after his roommate allegedly taped him having sex with a man and posted it on the internet. Asher Brown, a 13 year old from Houston Texas shot himself after being accused of being gay. Seth Walsh and Billy Lucas of Indiana hung themselves for being bullied for their sexual orientation.
Teasing and practical jokes is something that teens and young adults do when they are having fun. However, there is a thin line when the teasing is vicious, malicious, and becomes a criminal act. Laws will have to be enacted to stop and control bullying in our schools.

Opening the lines of communication with the students is vital, if our society accepts respect for everyone. Because someone is different or sick does not condone disrespectful, bullying, and aggressive behavior.

With almost every school system in the country laying off teachers and cutting expenses, the President is proposing longer school days and possible additional weeks to the school year. Education is the key to move our country forward and help our children realize their dream with a good paying job. Almost every job is connected to a computer, or some form of advanced technology, and our president received a good education.

At three and four, children learn how to operate a computer and some already have an email. Learning and knowledge will be based on the student’s individual commitment to achievement, and twelve year olds will have the ability to operate on an advanced high school level.

Nevertheless, there is a crisis in public education and in certain school districts where forty percent of the children do not graduate. Our schools are failing the American student and on a global scale, our children are behind in every subject. In math, our 15-year old students lag behind 31 countries in a recent international educational study.

The Secretary of Education states, “Our children have stagnated educationally, putting our long term economic security at-risk.” The president is correct when he wants our educational system to stay competitive on a global level. But the major issue is “How do you transform a system that is failing our children and is deteriorating every year and not able to pay its bills?”

Children who do not graduate are 8 times more likely to go to jail and earn less. Black 12th graders read on a white 8th grade level and this generation will be less literate. In our communities the system is broken, and our children are set up to fail.

There is a fundamental problem with the educational system today and making the school year longer will not correct the problem. Education will have to become a priority in every school system in the country with excellence as the focus. The parents and teachers will have to stop giving lip-service to excellence, and practice it on a daily basis.

Inner-city school districts should receive a larger percentage of financial expenditures and resources, and the administrators improve the educational facilities. If the leaders and administrators do not take pride in world class facilities, how do they expect the children to function on a world class level?
President Obama and his Secretary of Education are big supporters of the charter schools and parents are taking their children out of the public schools because they are failing and broken. There is a crisis in the public school system that can turn into a catastrophe, and it will be impossible to learn in an inner-city school. If the students at charter schools can learn, than the public school system can be fixed.

It is time for a dialogue with school administrators, teachers, parents, and resource employees. The time that we waste using antiquated teaching skill practices can be achieved in least time with individual computer work stations. Instead of making the school day longer, the school day can become shorter.
Learning and education can become a joy and the student is motivated and inspired. It is time for our educators to get outside of the box and make education fun. Once we stop operating our schools like prison, the students will start treating knowledge as a gift.

There is power in partnerships and our schools have the ability to make learning practical and applicable to real life situations. Making the school year longer will only frustrate the teachers, parents, and students. Using technology and individual study will create a better student who has a goal and purpose with his education.

Check out other blogs by Roger at https://presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com