The White House: Join The Conversation On Making College Affordable


By Jueseppi B.

Barack (1)



White House Tweets











Join the conversation on making college affordable

Putting higher education within the reach of all those who are willing to work for it is one of the most important economic challenges we face. So President Obama is introducing a new set of ideas to rethink the way in which we pay for college.


On a bus tour to meet with students, he asked people to raise their voices online to discuss why this issue is so important, and the hashtag #MakeCollegeAffordable started trending nationwide.





Each of these voices is an important reminder about why we can’t wait to take action.


If you want to join this conversation online, use Twitter or post to Facebook using the hashtag #MakeCollegeAffordable.


Have questions about the details of President Obama’s plan? Check out the graphic and share it with friends.


Learn more: Check out the discussion between Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Khan Academy from earlier today:




Sal Khan talks to Arne Duncan




Check Out Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s Google+ Hangout with Sal Khan


Tyler Holden and Megan Slack
August 23, 2013
01:40 PM EDT



Today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, joined a Google+ Hangout to discuss education in the United States. Secretary Duncan and Khan answered questions submitted via Facebook and tweets with the hashtag #DuncanKhan.


In the hangout, Secretary Duncan reinforced the importance of making higher education more affordable and accessible for American families.


“At a time when going to college has never been more important, unfortunately it has never been more expensive,” Duncan said. “And so we have to work together to drive down costs. We have to have much greater transparency and help young people and their families make better choices.”


Secretary Duncan said that we need to innovate to ensure the best education for American students.


“The fact that we’re still teaching with a nineteenth century model makes no sense whatsoever,” Duncan said. “25 or 30 kids sitting in rows all learning the same thing at the same time at the same pace, again, it’s just like Neanderthal… I don’t want to know how long you sat there, I want to know do you know the material. Do you know algebra or biology or physics or chemistry or whatever it might be. If you know it, you shouldn’t have to sit there.”


That’s why organizations like Khan Academy are so exciting. Khan Academy allows anyone, anywhere to take over 4,500 individual classes online, free of charge. Across disciplines and academic grade levels, Khan Academy courses have allowed millions of individuals to learn something new.


Like Khan Academy, Duncan explained that the Department of Education is continuing to work to innovate in education and secure that the next generation can have all the educational opportunities they deserve.


Check out the full video above, and learn more about the President’s plan to secure a better bargain for students.




Regional Roundup: College Affordability Bus Tour


Josh Earnest
Josh Earnest

August 23, 2013
02:08 PM EDT


President Obama’s remarks start at 12:55 of this video. Drag the counter along the timeline below to replay starting at 12:55.









Yesterday, as part of his plan to deliver a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama kicked off a two-day bus tour across New York and Pennsylvania in which he announced an ambitious agenda to tackle rising college costs, make college more affordable, and improve value for students and families.


In his first stop at the University at Buffalo, the President laid out the three key steps that we need to take to ensure that college remains affordable and a viable ladder of economic opportunity for the middle class and those working to get there. First, connect financial aid to school performance, second support academic innovation and finally, keep the cost of higher education within the reach of all young Americans.


Here is a small sample of the coverage that the President’s plan has received across the country:


AL – The Birmingham News (Underwood): New Obama college affordability plan would tie federal aid to the school’s educational value — A new plan being proposed by President Barack Obama Thursday would rate the educational value of colleges and tie their value to federal aid offered to students, essentially paying colleges for better performance, the White House revealed Thursday. The plan would address rising college tuition costs have increased over 250 percent in the past three decades. Under the proposal, borrowers would be allowed to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their monthly income. The college rating system would tie aid to the college’s affordability, the number of students on Pell grants, and the college’s ability to produce outcomes, such as graduates with degrees, earnings of graduates, and other factors. LINK


CO- The Denver Post (Anthony Cotton) Local educators may play role in implementing Obama’s college plan-Colleges and universities in Colorado might already be ahead of the game when it comes to the plan proposed Thursday by President Barack Obama that aims to make college education more affordable by tying federal financial aid to new college ratings. LINK


CT – The Connecticut Mirror (Thomas): College too expensive? Obama proposes solution — As the cost to attend college continues to spiral upward, President Barack Obama will announce Thursday a proposal to tie federal financial aid to a new college rating system and to limit how much students will need to pay each month for their student loans.   Obama, who will make the announcement at a college in Buffalo, N.Y., will need Congressional approval for both initiatives, White House officials said during a conference call with reporters Thursday.LINk


FL – Orlando Sentinel (Postal): President Obama proposes rating colleges on costs, outcomes — President Barack Obama announced plans today for a new college rating system that could help students and their families better control rising tuition costs. The ratings aim to help American families determine which schools provide the “best value” and eventually could be tied to student financial aid offers. The proposed rating system, which the president wants in place by the 2015 school year, is part of an effort to make college more affordable and to “fundamentally rethink about how higher education is paid for in this country,” the president said in an email posted on the White House website. “We’ve got to shake up the current system.” The rating system would judge colleges and universities based on their affordability, on the access they provide to disadvantaged students and their academic outcomes, such as graduation rates and their graduates’ job earnings, the White House said. LINK


LA – The Times-Picayune (Alpert): President Obama: escalating college tuition increases ‘not sustainable’ –Warning that many young people are being priced out of college while others are going heavily in debt to afford tuition, President Barack Obama Thursday proposed linking some federal aid to schools that keep costs affordable and maintain solid graduation rates. He also said states need to reverse the recent trend of reducing allocations to state colleges. In the past five years, state funding for higher education in Louisiana has been cut by nearly $700 million. Seventy percent of funding now comes from tuition and fees. LINK


MA – The Boston Globe (Jan): Obama targets high cost of college — President Obama unveiled a plan Thursday to rein in exploding college costs, drawing skepticism from some New England college presidents concerned about tying federal funding to a new performance rating system. Under Obama’s plan, the federal government would develop a report card by 2015 for all public and private colleges that would measure tuition increases, graduation rates, student debt, and even graduates’ earnings to help students pick schools that offer the best value. The White House hopes that by 2018, two years after Obama’s term ends, Congress will pass legislation that would link the ratings to how much schools will receive in federal financial aid — the controversial sticking point for some lawmakers and college leaders. “Colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up. It is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results,” Obama said in a speech at the State University of New York Buffalo. LINK


ME – The Portland Press Herald (Miller, Bouchard): Obama’s college-aid plan plays well in Maine — College administrators, students and lawmakers in Maine had largely positive reviews Thursday for a series of proposals by President Obama that essentially would grade the nation’s colleges on their affordability. The president’s plan would, for the first time, rate colleges on criteria such as tuition and student debt, and eventually tie federal aid to schools based on how they measure up. “I think that is a good way to hold colleges accountable for the services they provide and for how affordable they are,” said Jimmy Jung, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maine. LINK


NY – The Buffalo News (Vogel, Zremski): Obama stresses higher education as ‘pathway to middle class’ – President Obama told an energetic crowd inside the University at Buffalo’s Alumni Arena this morning that he chose to speak in Buffalo about his goals for higher education because the university is doing “great work.” “I wanted to start here at the University at Buffalo,” Obama said, at the beginning of his remarks on the topic of higher education. Obama unveiled a set of proposals that he said would improve the ways that colleges work and make college education more affordable for families – and the process easier to understand. “Higher education cannot be a luxury,” Obama told the audience in Amherst. “It’s an economic imperative.”LINK


NY – The Journal News (Spector) Barack Obama tours upstate, offers higher-ed reforms to reduce loan burden –President Barack Obama continues his two-day bus tour across upstate New York Friday after spending Thursday promoting new higher-education reforms. He spoke in Buffalo, ate lunch in Rochester with college students and visited a birthplace of women’s rights in Seneca Falls. He will hold a town-hall style discussion Friday at Binghamton University about college affordability. The visit is his longest in upstate New York during his presidency. Obama said he wanted to visit upstate to tout its wealth of colleges and address the cost of public and private schools. He proposed measures to boost accountability at colleges and lessen the burden of loans on graduating students. New York students leave college with an average of nearly $26,000 in loans, he said in Buffalo. LINK


NY – The Niagara Gazette (Gulley): Obama seeks ‘better bargain’ for college — President Barack Obama on Thursday became the first sitting president since Millard Fillmore in 1853 to speak at the University at Buffalo, as he outlined a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s higher education system aimed at delivering “a better bargain” for the middle class. “We can’t price the middle class and everybody trying to get into the middle class out of a higher education,” he said, adding that keeping soaring tuition costs in check is an “economic imperative” that, if not addressed, could “stifle economic mobility for generations.” LINK


NY – The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Tumulty, Goodman): Obama’s college proposal received warmly by local educators — Local educators Thursday generally praised President Barack Obama’s blueprint for making college more affordable, saying it builds on some of the innovations undertaken by the State University of New York to increase access to higher education. The president unveiled the proposal at the State University at Buffalo Thursday and will field questions about it Friday at a town hall-style setting at SUNY Binghamton. He is making a two-day bus tour of upstate New York and Pennsylvania that’s timed to coincide with college students returning to campuses for the academic year. Obama credited scholarships and loans for helping him and first lady Michelle Obama graduate from college and law school. But he said they did it “with a mountain of debt” that they didn’t finish paying off until he was in his 40s, just before he ran for the U.S. Senate. LINK


OH – Cleveland Plain Dealer (Farkas): Obama to propose a rating system for colleges, which could determine federal financial aid awards – President Barack Obama is expected to unveil today a new plan to rate colleges based in part on affordability and the ratings may determine federal financial aid awards, according to the Associated Press. The new rating system, which could be impletemented by the 2015 school year, would evaluate colleges on a series of measures, including average tuition and student loan debt, graduation rates, and the average earning of graduates. The president will explain the proposals during a two-day bus tour through New York and Pennsylvania. LINK


OR – The Statesman Journal (Hoffman): Oregon leaders enthusiastic about Obama’s higher ed plan — President Barack Obama’s plan to improve access to higher education is closely in line with the state’s efforts, state officials said Thursday. Obama announced his plan Thursday morning. It is designed to make it easier for students to pay off debt, make college available for more people and push colleges to offer better value for the high tuition they charge. Oregon college graduates leave school with an average of $25,497 in debt, a vestige from rising education costs that have reached nearly $21,000 annually for an in-state undergraduate who lives on campus. “We are very aligned with (his plan),” said Hilda Rosselli, deputy director of college and career readiness for the Oregon Education Investment Board. “I felt sometimes like I was reading the notes from what we’ve been working on.” LINK


PA – Allentown Morning Call (Itkowitz): WH outlines higher ed plan Obama will push in Scranton — When President Obama arrives in Scranton Friday evening he’ll make his fourth sales pitch in two days for a proposal to evaluate colleges using a new rating system that will factor cost and graduation rate intended to hold schools accountable for their overall performance. The new ratings system, which Obama wants made public before the 2015 school year, would eventually tie financial aid to college’s scores. Students choosing high performing schools would be eligible for more aid. Additionally, the White House will ask states to fund public colleges based on performance, and link aid to earning a degree as an incentive for students to finish school, the White House announced Thursday.LINK


PA – The Philadelphia Inquirer (Snyder): Obama seeks to control college costs — To address the soaring cost of higher education, President Obama pledged Thursday to develop a college rating system that would tie federal financial aid to performance in areas such as tuition, graduation rates, percentage of low-income students, and debt load of graduates. Students attending better-performing colleges would receive larger federal Pell grants and more affordable student loans – a proposal that would require congressional approval. The nation awards more than $150 billion annually in student financial aid. “Not enough colleges have been working to figure out how do we control costs,” Obama said Thursday morning at the University at Buffalo, the first stop on a two-day bus tour in New York state and Pennsylvania. LINK


PA – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Mauriello): Obama plans shake-up in higher education system —  Promising to “shake up the current system,” President Barack Obama on Thursday began a two-day push for an ambitious plan to direct a greater portion of federal aid to students attending the most efficient and affordable schools that produce graduates who end up in good-paying jobs. In upstate New York, on the first leg of a bus tour that will bring him to Scranton, Pa., today, Mr. Obama called for a new system to evaluate colleges on graduation rates, average salary of graduates, tuition and average student loan debt. And he wants Congress to direct a larger portion of federal aid to students attending schools with good ratings. Colleges that keep costs low are the ones that will get more federal aid, he said. “I’ve got confidence that our country’s colleges and universities will step up to the plate if they’re given the right incentives. They, too, should want to do the right thing for students,” Mr. Obama told a crowd of 1,300 Thursday evening at Henninger High School in Syracuse. LINK



Remarks by the President in Town Hall at Binghamton University






Pres Obama visits Bingham’s Homemade Pies in Kingsley, P.A.




Pres Obama talks to wait staff at Bingham's Homemade Pies in Kingsley, PA

Pres Obama talks to wait staff at Bingham’s Homemade Pies in Kingsley, PA











President Barack Hussein Obama stars his 2 day bus tour.

President Barack Hussein Obama stars his 2 day bus tour.




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VAWA: Offensive, Sexist And Ignorant; Representative John “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr (R-TN).


By Jueseppi B.






Want to know why the Violence Against Women Act has gone nowhere in Congress? Because Congress is filled with people like Representative John “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr (R-TN).


Yesterday, during an interview about the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Rep. Duncan said that “like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.”[1]


What?!? Abuse is wrong, no matter who the target is. Being protected from a violent partner doesn’t make a woman weak. Period.


Comments like this promote the very dangerous idea that some people don’t need protection, and that those who do are somehow weak. Rep Duncan’s comments are offensive, sexist and ignorant and they are disturbingly reminiscent of the attitudes Representatives Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock showed towards women last year with their comments about rape.[2]


Even worse, Rep. Duncan says he isn’t sure whether he’ll support reauthorization of VAWA.[3]  Speaker John Boehner must make sure Rep. Duncan apologizes immediately on the House floor, and then Rep. Duncan must show he’s serious about protecting all people from abuse by signing on as a cosponsor of the expanded Violence Against Women Act now. These comments were published in the press late yesterday and a firestorm is beginning to develop. When elected officials say dangerous and offensive things, they must be held accountable–otherwise we’ll never make progress on important issues like VAWA. If all of us add our names right now, we can make sure he makes this right–but we need to act quickly. Can you sign the petition?



Sign the petition demanding Rep. Duncan apologize and cosponsor VAWA. 



Rep. Duncan’s comments are not just offensive, they’re also dangerous. While conservatives in the House continue to block VAWA, shelters, domestic violence hotlines and other key service providers are left to wonder how long they’ll be able to keep their doors open.[4] Domestic violence is a real problem in this country–three women die each day at the hands of an intimate partner.[5]


Over the past two decades, this life-saving law has been expanded every time it’s come up for renewal. Those expansions have never been controversial until last year when the Tea Party-controlled House blocked it from passing over new protections for the most underserved communities. Now, extremists in the House are continuing to block the bill while countless women’s lives are hanging in the balance.[6]


Here are just a few of the ways that VAWA has helped to curb domestic violence:[7]



  • Strengthened federal penalties for repeat sex offenders and created a federal “rape shield law,” which prevents offenders from using survivors’ past sexual conduct against them at trial.
  • Trained over 500,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges every year to ensure they understand the realities of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Established the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which has answered over 3 million calls and receives over 22,000 calls every month; 92% of callers report that it’s their first call for help.



And the results have been clear–since 1994 when it passed, domestic violence has declined 67%.[8]


Rep. Duncan’s comments show just how out of touch he is with women, and with the reality of domestic violence. Can you sign the petition urging him to apologize, and show that he’s serious about protecting all people from abuse by signing on as a cosponsor of the Violence Against Women Act?


Sign the petition today.


Thanks for speaking out,


Nita, Shaunna, Kat, and Karin, the UltraViolet team




1. John Duncan On VAWA: Most Men Can Handle Violence Better Than Most Women, Huffington Post, February 19, 2013

2. GOP’s Akin, Mourdock lose Senate elections, Washington Post, November 7, 2012

3. John Duncan On VAWA: Most Men Can Handle Violence Better Than Most Women, Huffington Post, February 19, 2013

4. The Violence Against Women Act is on life support, Washington Post, Jan 25, 2013

5. Each Day 3 Women Die Because of Domestic Violence, National Network to End Domestic Violence

6. Leahy, Crapo Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill To Reauthorize The Landmark Violence Against Women Act, Senator Leahy Press Release, January 22, 2013

The Violence Against Women Act is on life support, Washington Post, Jan 25, 2013

7. Factsheet: The Violence Against Women Act, The White House, accessed January 24, 2013

8. Ibid.






This message was sent to Jueseppi B. by Nita and Shaunna, UltraViolet from the system. Civic Action sponsors



















RIP – Michael Clarke Duncan. Green Mile Actor Michael Clarke Duncan Dead At 54

By Jueseppi B.






From USA Today:


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Michael Clarke Duncan‘s fiancee says the Oscar nominee for The Green Mile has died while being hospitalized following a July heart attack.


Publicist Joy Fehily released a statement from Clarke’s fiancée, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault, saying the 54-year-old actor died Monday morning in a Los Angeles hospital after nearly two months of treatment following the July 13 heart attack.


The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Duncan appeared in dozens of films, including such box office hits as Armageddon, Planet of the Apes and Kung Fu Panda.


Duncan had a handful of minor roles beforeThe Green Mile brought him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. The 1999 film, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, starred Tom Hanksas a corrections officer at a penitentiary in the 1930s.


Duncan played John Coffey, a convicted murderer.



From TMZ:


Michael Clarke Duncan, star of such movies as “The Green Mile” and “The Whole Nine Yards,” passed away this morning. He was 54.

According to our sources, his passing came very suddenly. We’re told his fiancee, Omarosa Manigault, was with him in his hospital room in Los Angeles and left for a short period of time. When she returned … he had died.

Our sources say Omarosa’s mother was with him when he passed.

Duncan’s rep tells TMZ the actor never fully recovered from the myocardial infarction he suffered on July 13. As TMZ first reported, Omarosa found Duncan in cardiac arrest and performed CPR and was able to resuscitate him before calling 911.

The rep tells us, “[Omarosa] Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time. Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date.”

Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of John Coffey in “The Green Mile.” He worked as a bodyguard for celebrities like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and Notorious B.I.G. before he got his break.



Michael Clarke Duncan, who is known for his Oscar-nominated role in The Green Mile, has died, reports the Associated Press. The wire service is attributing the news to his fiancee, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.


Duncan was hospitalized in Los Angeles after a heart attack in July.


At that time, publicist Joy Fehily said in a brief e-mail statement that the 54-year-old actor suffered a myocardial infarction.


As soon as the news broke, Hollywood stars began sharing their reactions on Twitter. Here are some:


Jordin Sparks: “RIP Michael Clarke Duncan. Thank you for being so kind to me & for sharing your talent with the world. You will be truly missed.”


Mario Lopez: “R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan… One of the nicest & most professional guys I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. So sad…”


Michael Chiklis: “R.I.P. Michael Clarke Duncan



Michael Clarke Duncan Recovering From Stroke


By Jueseppi B.







Michael Clarke Duncan Out of Intensive Care

by Natalie Finn Mon., Aug. 6, 2012 6:13 PM


Does this mean Michael Clarke Duncan is out of the woods?


The 54-year-old Green Mile star, hospitalized for more than four weeks now since having a heart attack last month, has been transferred out of intensive care, People reported Monday.


“His family are firm believers in the power of prayer and have asked that you keep him in yours during this time,” a rep for the actor said in a statement.


Michael Clarke Duncan hospitalized after cardiac arrest


Duncan was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on July 13 after suffering a myocardial infarction, which is more commonly known as a heart attack.


He reportedly went into cardiac arrest at his home and girlfriend Omarosa Stallworth, of Apprentice fame, revived him with CPR.


“After going through this medical scare with MCD…my advice to all of you is to NEVER get SICK!!” Stallworth tweeted last Wednesday, also posting an Instagram picture of a medicine bottle with pills spilling out. She addedFriday, “Everyday GOD continues to smile upon my luv Michael Clarke Duncan on this arduous road to recovery. God is with us every step of the way!!”





Michael Clarke Duncan (born December 10, 1957) is an American actor, best known for his breakout role as John Coffey in The Green Mile, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. He is also recognized for his appearances in famous motion pictures such as ArmageddonThe Whole Nine YardsBrother Bear, and Daredevil.


Duncan was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in a single-parent household with his sister, Judy, and mother, Jean Duncan (a house cleaner), after his father left. He always wanted to act, but had to drop out of the Communications program at Alcorn State University to support his family when his mother became ill. Duncan’s large frame—6 feet 5 inches (196 cm) and 315 pounds (142 kg)—helped him in his jobs digging ditches for the People’s Gas Company and being a bouncer at different Chicago clubs. Duncan has stated that one of his many jobs had been a stripper and that his stage name was Black Caesar.


In 1979, he participated in the Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, home of the Chicago White Sox: he was among the first 100 people to run onto the field and he slid into third base. During the ensuing riot his silver belt buckle was stolen[5] while he was stealing a baseball bat from the dugout. Clarke would later provide the narration for the 2005 World Series film.


Publicist Joy Fehily said in a brief email statement Monday that the 54-year-old actor “was just moved from the intensive care unit, but remains hospitalized” following his July 13 heart attack.

The 54-year-old actor was found in a state of cardiac arrest around 2:00 a.m. PT on July 13, by his girlfriend Omarosa Stallworth, who reportedly performed CPR and resuscitated Duncan, according to TMZ.


“According to doctors, Michael Clarke Duncan suffered a myocardial infarction early this morning. He is now stable and we look forward to his full recovery,” Duncan’s publicist told in a statement.


Duncan was transported to a Los Angeles hospital, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Stallworth’s spokesperson confirmed his hospitalization but did not provide immediate details.


Duncan, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “The Green Mile,” has also appeared in films like “The Whole Nine Yards,” “Planet of the Apes,” “The Scorpion King” and “Sin City.”


Duncan and Stallworth, who has appeared twice on “The Apprentice,” first confirmed their relationship in September 2010. The reality villain met Duncan in the produce section of a Whole Foods grocery store.





Speedy recovery Mr. Duncan.







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