Bible Power Quote

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. – Proberbs 14:30

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Jackson State First White Quarterback- White Tiger-Casey Therriault

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

— Martin Luther King Jr., Aug. 28, 1963

Reprint of  ESPN Story a  great story-  written by Pat Forde

JACKSON, Miss. — Scenes from an oasis:

A fence separated the old black woman from the football field, but it didn’t stop her. She wanted to meet the young white quarterback. She asked the coach to bring him over. If you don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving, the old woman told the quarterback through the fence, we will feed you.

Therriault

Jackson State Casey Therriault has been embraced by the Jackson State community.

In the stands in Memphis, Tenn., weeks earlier, a black stranger struck up a conversation with the white quarterback’s father. He was easy to pick out, after all, a pale face in a section full of dark faces. By the end of the game, the quarterback’s father had been invited to stay at the stranger’s house for the next home game.

Everyone wanted to reach out to the white quarterback. He had come hundreds of miles from his native Michigan to this strange place — to Jackson State University, a historically black college — because he had nowhere else to go, with a past he was trying to escape. He didn’t know what to expect. He sure didn’t expect all this. All the support and attention and generosity directed his way was startling.

Just a few months before, no college wanted anything to do with him. Now, this novelty act of a quarterback was suddenly a minor celebrity.

In a state that was crippled by racial intolerance, the Jackson State fans didn’t care that he was different from them. They didn’t care about the trouble in his past and the chilling word that was attached to him. Or maybe it was because of the differences, and because of the trouble, that they reached out.

Maybe this was the latter stages of a dream come to fruition.

The guy was intensely drunk, with a blood-alcohol content that later would be measured at .27 — more than three times the legal limit to drive a car. He swung first. He hit Casey Therriault in the face.

The reaction was immediate, instinctual. Therriault retaliated, and Therriault connected. Dropped the man to the cold Michigan sidewalk with what police and media reports say was the one and only punch he threw.

Therriault apologized to Jonathon Krystiniak’s mother in court, and has since received her forgiveness for his role in her son’s death.

Therriault was scared then. He was 18 years old and home from College of the Sequoias, a California junior college, on Christmas break. He’d been in this nightclub, the Margarita Grill in his hometown of Grand Rapids, with some buddies and some friends of those friends whom he didn’t really know. He hadn’t been drinking, he said, but trouble followed them out the door when they left.

The drunk guy was grabbing at them, trying to start something. Someone in the group directed an insult at the drunk, and Therriault laughed.

That’s when the drunk guy hit him. And he hit back. And then he was scared, and he got out of there.

What happened next would change the life of everyone out on the sidewalk that night. Some of the other guys in the group jumped on the drunk guy. Kicking. Stomping.

They beat him into a coma. Two weeks later, when the phone rang back at junior college in California, the prosecutor’s words were incomprehensible: Therriault was wanted back home for questioning in the death of Jonathon Krystiniak.

Charges eventually were filed against five men, Therriault included: manslaughter.

“It was kind of like I had lost everything,” Therriault said. “It was somewhere you never expected to be.”

When a plea deal was offered, Therriault attorney Richard Zambon told him he should take it. The judge believed he was the least culpable of all the defendants and would sentence him accordingly. The other alternative was to risk a trial — and although a self-defense argument was compelling, a conviction could result in 15 years in state prison.

So Therriault took the deal and the six-month county jail sentence that came with it. Three other defendants were given one- to three-year sentences in state prison. A fifth gambled on a trial and lost, and was given a sentence of 27 months to 15 years.

In January 2009, a year after the fatal altercation, Therriault entered the Kent County Correctional Facility in Grand Rapids.

“It’s something that you have to accept, and if you can do it, you can learn a lot about yourself — not that you’d do it to have a learning experience,” he said. “But it’s a place that’s so dark and so low, that’s the only thing you can take from it.”

After several weeks in the county jail, Therriault was moved into the adjacent work-release facility. For the next five months, he made pizzas and washed dishes at Frankie V’s, a sports bar owned by his old position coach at Wyoming Park High School in suburban Grand Rapids. His girlfriend, Sarah Hernandez, would pick him up in the morning for work and drive him back to the jail at night.

That’s when Therriault would take stock of where he’d been and how he ended up there, behind bars.

“I got put up with somebody in a room, one person who turned out to be someone who helped me a lot,” he said. “He was someone who kind of couldn’t get away from [criminal] situations and made me realize that no matter what’s going on in your life, somebody has it much worse. I had people who were there for me, and some people don’t even have that.

“I grew up. I found out that I’ve got to appreciate things a lot more. You kind of go from having a lot, having a future, to nothing.”


Julie Therriault was heartbroken and irate.

Her son had served his time. Why couldn’t he get another chance?

Therriault (Brothers)

Therriault Family Casey Therriault is very close with his brothers.

Casey had come out of jail and gotten on with life. He enrolled at Grand Rapids Community College and became an immediate star of the football team, passing for more than 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading GRCC to a 9-2 record. He played well and stayed well clear of any trouble.

Yet all the four-year schools that had shown initial interest in Casey shied away. They loved his game but not the alarming word that surfaced with his name: manslaughter.

“I wanted to scream, ‘Hey, this is a great kid right here,'” Julie said.

She wanted to tell them about how Casey and older brother Chad (now serving an Army tour of duty in Afghanistan) doted on their two handicapped brothers. Kyle, 27, has spinal dysplasia that curbed his height and has led to multiple major surgeries. And Lucas, 18, has both spinal dysplasia and a severe mental handicap that his family said has left him with the brain development of a 2-year-old.

Julie wanted the coaches who bailed on Casey to see him hold Lucas’ hand. To see him change Lucas’ diaper. To see him toss Lucas a football and make him smile.

She wanted to tell them about how Casey stood up in the courtroom and apologized to Krystiniak’s mother, and how she forgave Casey. She wanted them to know about how Julie and Ed Therriault and Krystiniak’s mom were all in tears and leaning on each other at the end of those traumatic court proceedings.

But most colleges didn’t want to go beyond a troubling Google search and a surface explanation of what happened. They knew the impossibility of selling an administration on recruiting a guy who did time for manslaughter.

“He was a good kid and then, bang,” Julie said. “Getting hit with that was hard. It was the most horrible thing I’ve endured as a mother, and I’ve been through numerous life-threatening surgeries with two sons. The thing I went through with Casey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.”

So even after a productive season at GRCC, there was nowhere for Casey to go in the spring of 2010. That’s when the most unlikely of schools made a phone call.


Earnest Wilson had been an assistant coach at New Mexico State, and he’d had his eye on Casey Therriault for a while. A disciple of Hal Mumme and his Air Raid offense — which emphasizes quick, precise throws from the shotgun formation, in some ways a precursor of the current spread offenses — Wilson saw a quarterback who fit that offense perfectly.

Therriault

Paul L. Newby II\Grand Rapids Press\Landov Therriault passed for more than 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns at Grand Rapids.

But Mumme had gotten fired from New Mexico State in 2008. His successor, DeWayne Walker, had retained Wilson — but after a shaky, 3-10 debut season in ’09, Walker was in no position to bring in a guy with a radioactive résumé like Casey’s. Like every other school, New Mexico State backed off.

Then Wilson relocated to Jackson State as offensive coordinator and installed the pass-happy offense at a quarterback-poor school.

“We were looking for a thrower,” Wilson said.

He told head coach Rick Comegy about Casey and got the go-ahead to recruit him. Comegy is a 35-year veteran of coaching at HBC programs, and among his reclamation projects was former Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson. After an infamous cocaine bust at OU, he wound up with Comegy at Central State in Ohio.

“Guys are going to make mistakes when they’re young,” Comegy said. “Not one of the guys on our football team hasn’t had an incident in their life that they regret. I think they understand it better than we do as adults sometime.”

One other thing the kids seem to understand better than adults: race. Casey’s reaction to being recruited by a black school?

“Oh, that’s a little different,” he said. “It didn’t really cross my mind. … I didn’t think of going to a historically black college.”

Fact is, Casey had played on racially diverse teams in high school and junior college. When his father plunked a portable basketball hoop at the end of their street, it attracted kids of all variety. The Therriault house was a melting pot then and now — Chad’s girlfriend is black, and Casey’s is half Hispanic.

“I really don’t think it fazes him that much,” Julie said. “The biggest obstacle was getting over the Southern accent. When he went on his visit, he said, ‘I don’t understand what everybody’s saying.'”

That was in May 2010, and despite the language barrier, Casey decided he would attend. Then he started getting cold feet, thinking about moving that far away from home. The jail experience had left him more attached than ever to his girlfriend and family.

Julie read him the riot act.

“This is your only opportunity,” she told Casey. “You better take it.”

On July 5, Ed and his third son packed up and left Michigan for Mississippi. They were dumbstruck by the heat, and in the dead of summer, there weren’t many players on campus or any formal workouts to dive into. Casey called his mom crying twice, talking about coming home.

Therriault Parents

Therriault Family Therriault’s parents are happy that their son has been given a second chance at Jackson State.

“You make a decision right now,” she told him. “Get your ass in the car and drive home, or stick with it. But don’t call me again.”

He never called again.

What followed was an unlikely but perfect marriage of player and program. Casey’s 3,600 yards of total offense and 41 total touchdowns (31 passing, 10 running) made him the Southwestern Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year and the first-team all-SWAC quarterback. He was second nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision in passing yards and total offense, leading Jackson State to an 8-3 record and a share of the SWAC East title.

A proud school with a passionate base and a gilded football heritage, having produced the likes of Walter Payton and Lem Barney, Jackson State had never had a standout white player before. There were a few lesser players who came and went, but nobody with the ability of Casey.

The fans adored him. They nicknamed him “White Tiger.” Teammates called him “Blue-Eyed Soul Brother.”

He was never more popular than in leading Jackson State past rival Southern 49-45. Four touchdowns were scored in the final three minutes — the last of them on a 28-yard pass by Casey to Rico Richardson with two seconds left. Casey had driven the Tigers 60 yards in two plays for the winning touchdown.

Afterward, everyone raved about Casey’s poise. His dad knew where it came from.

“He told me one time, ‘These defensive linemen used to scare the s— out of me,'” Ed said. “‘After I was looking at 15 years in prison, those guys don’t scare me.’ He doesn’t get jitters anymore. After you’ve been scared like that, you don’t get scared.”


Sarah Hernandez and Casey’s parents attended one of Casey’s home games this past season. Her description of the experience:

“It was intimidating, and not because of anything anyone said or did,” she said. “Nobody made us feel unwelcome at all. But it opened up our eyes. I know now what a black person means when they say what it feels like to be the only black in a room.”

If her boyfriend ever had that feeling, it is gone now.

On a bright and breezy October Friday on the Jackson State campus, Casey was moving through a crowded quad at ease. Girls called out his name in flirty tones, but he pretended not to notice. It was homecoming week, and the football team had gathered with the marching band and homecoming court to help boost a United Way fundraising drive.

The white quarterback stood out amid the sea of black faces, yet seemed oblivious to it.

“He described it once as saying that he forgets he’s white,” Hernandez said.

At Jackson State, they don’t care what color Casey Therriault is. Or what happened in his past. They’re happy the White Tiger has made an unlikely home in a Mississippi oasis a great man dreamed of decades ago.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com

Student Athletes Should Be Paid

It’s time to pay student athletes. To often we resurrect the same old tired excuses why we should not pay student athletes.

Many people have said that it is not fair to pay them because they are getting a free ride scholarship in return for their athletic services. While other students who are not athletes pay for their education.

I’m sure there are pros and con regarding this issue,  but the bottom line is colleges are raking in millions of dollars.  Student athletes are quite frankly  merely athletes.  The graduation rates  hover around 57% for college student athletes as a whole by the time the reach 24 years of age. For low income student  athletes it’s 8% by the time the are 24.

The bottom line is they are not students in the  true since of the word, be cause most of their time is spent practicing and traveling to games. It’s time the NCAA stopped fining everyone fro accepting money and cut the charade. These are theoretically paid to play athletes who make lots of money for the respective schools, so they should receive some compensation

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Vick’s No Calls from the Officials Must Be Addressed

Is Michael Vick right regarding his complaints of no calls from the officials for late hits?  It appears that he may be right, but it depends on who is actually analyzing the situation. The New York Post certainly believes Vick is wrong, but beyond the hype, there are actually a number of factors that need to be considered.

Mike Vick  certainly is getting little or no protection from the o-line, that is an area of performance that must be addressed. Vick as the starting quarterback cannot  endure many more hits such as he has been subjected to in the first three games of the Eagles season. Vick is a victim of the system and the fact that he has been instructed to stay in the pocket. This certainly is not Vick’s style.  But we will see if Andy Reid will allow Vick to  add more running creativity to his game, thus avoiding the devastating sacks he has absorbed.

 

 

15 Characteristics/Attributes of A Successful Leader

Here’s  a list I came across of the 15 characteristics of a successful leader……………………………

  1. Integrity: Always do the right thing regardless of sentiment and never compromise your core values. If you cannot build trust and engender confidence with your stakeholders you cannot succeed. No amount of talent can overcome illegal, immoral or otherwise ill-advised actions. A leader void of integrity will not survive over the long-haul.
  2. Excellent Decision Making Skills: As a leader you will live or die by the quality of the decisions you make. When you’re the leader good decisioning is expected, poor decisioning won’t be tolerated, and great decisioning will set you apart from the masses.
  3. Ability to Focus: If you cannot focus, you cannot perform at the level necessary to remain in leadership for very long. The ability to do nothing more than understand and lock-onto priorities will place you in the top 10% of all leaders.
  4. Leveraging Experience: Inexperience, a lack of maturity, needing to be the center of attention, not recognizing limitations, a lack of judgment, an inferior knowledge base, or any number of other common mistakes made by rookie leaders can cause your house of cards to fall. If you don’t have the experience personally, hire it, contract it, but by all means acquire it. Great leaders surround themselves with tier-one talent and the best advisers money can buy. They don’t make uniformed or ill-advised decisions in a vacuum.
  5. Command Presence: Great leaders possess a strong presence and bearing. They are unflappable individuals that never let you see them sweat (unless of course it serves a purpose). Everything from how they carry themselves to how they speak and dress, messages that they are in charge.
  6. Embracing Change: Great leaders have a strong bias to action. They don’t rest upon past accomplishments, and are always seeking to improve through change and innovation. In today’s fast paced and competitive environment those leaders who don’t openly embrace change will often be shown the door prior to the expiration of their initial employment contract.
  7. Brand Champions: Great leaders understand branding at every level. They seek to build not only a dominant corporate brand, but also a strong personal brand. leaders that are not well branded on a personal basis, or who let their corporate brand fall into decline will not survive.
  8. Boundless Energy: Great leaders have a boundless amount of energy. They are positive in their outlook and their attitude is contagious. A low energy leader is not motivating, convincing, or credible.
  9. Subject Matter Expertise: Great leaders have a deep understanding of their subject matter, and a strong orientation toward achievement. Great leaders possess what often appears to be a sixth sense or an almost instinctive feel for what the needs to occur leverage their knowledge into a competitive advantage.
  10. People Acumen: Great leaders have a nose for talent…They understand how to recruit, develop and deploy talent focusing on applying the best talent to the best opportunities. They also know when it’s time to make changes and cut losses as needed.
  11. Organizational Acumen: Great leaders know how to engender trust, when and how to share information, and are expert listeners. They develop strong and positive team/organizational cultures driven to performance by aligned motivations. They can quickly diagnose whether the team/organization is performing at full potential, delivering on commitments, and whether the team is changing and growing versus just operating.
  12. Curiosity: Great leaders possess a powerful motivation to increase their knowledge base and to convert their learning into actionable initiatives. They question, challenge, confront and are never accepting of the status quo.
  13. Intellectual Capacity: Great leaders are also great thinkers…both at the strategic and tactical levels. They are quick on their feet and know how to get to the root of an issue faster than anyone else. I’ve never met a great leader who wasn’t extremely discerning.
  14. Big Thinkers: Regardless of the physical or geographical boundaries of their current role, great leaders think big and add a zero. Limited thinking results in limited results. Whether global thinking is applied to capital formation, supply-chain issues, business development, strategic partnering, distribution or any number of other areas, those leaders who don’t grasp the importance of thinking globally will not endure. Great leaders are externally oriented, hungry for knowledge of the world, and adept at connecting developments and spotting patterns.
  15. Never Quit: Great leaders refuse to lose…They have an insatiable appetite for accomplishment and results. While they may reengineer or change direction, they will never lose sight of the end game.

Perry Thrown Completely Under The Bus For His Compassionate Comments

Rick Perry may have a heart after all, but his republican base thinks he’s finished. He simply told his base they did not have a heart, based on their views on immigration. Perry may have a point there and his answer was more in line with Christian views, after all we all are our brothers keepers.

But what does this say about the supposedly God fearing Tea Partiers and Republican supporters who are ready to throw Perry under the bus, just because he feels that the children of immigration are entitled to an education? Now Donald Trump wants to meet with Mitt Romney. That’s strange!

Here’s the story…………………………… from Fox

EXETER, New Hampshire – Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s stance on immigration is causing an uproar among conservative voters, jeopardizing his front-runner position in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Perry’s support of education benefits for illegal immigrants has led one national immigration group to say he is finished. And a key Iowa conservative said evangelical supporters are abandoning Perry after he doubled down on his support of the policy in the last two GOP debates.

“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought here by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said at Thursday’s Fox News/Google debate in Orlando.

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the influential Iowa conservative group The Family Leader, said voters in the first caucus of the election season may warm to another GOP contender.

“There is a huge opening in Iowa,” he told Fox News. “Right now the first-in-the-nation-caucus state is completely up for grabs.”

Rivals are looking to take advantage of Perry’s woes in Iowa.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to step up his campaign presence in the state after visiting only twice this year. And Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is focusing on Iowa to reclaim the attention she stirred in the state before Perry entered the race.

Top Perry strategist Dave Carney said the notion the governor is floundering is “more wishful thinking from other camps.” And Perry supporters note that he entered the presidential race just six weeks ago, a very late start.

But some national groups say Perry’s immigration record could lead to an early exit.

“Rick Perry is finished,” said Americans for Legal Immigration’s campaign arm in a statement Friday.

The Tea Party Nation is also losing enthusiasm for Perry.

“Perry has gained a lot of traction from the Tea Party movement,” said Judson Phillips, the group’s founder. “By doubling down on the illegal alien issue, he has gained no friends and alienated many in the conservative movement.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008, said Perry’s debate performance shows he’s not ready for the pressure of the presidential spotlight yet, particularly his answer on immigration.

“It was not just how he said, but what he said,” said Huckabee, who hosts a Fox News show. “What he said is in opposition to the base.”

Huckabee said Perry could have answered the question in a way to defuse the issue.

“He should have said we are not talking about people who just showed up to go to college. We’re talking about people that we educated in our schools, people whose families pay taxes in our state every time they bought something in a sales tax. Even their rent paid the property tax through the landlord that funded the schools,” he said.

Perry arrived to great fanfare and seemed poised to steal significant support from his top rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Many influential Republican activists saw Perry, with his executive experience and good jobs record, as an attractive alternative to Romney, who has struggled to win over conservatives who make up a sizeable portion of the party base.

Since then, the Texan has campaigned repeatedly in New Hampshire and Iowa, states that host the nation’s first presidential voting contests in roughly four months.

And unaligned Republicans in those states — including some who backed Romney four years ago and are looking for an alternative — have watched Perry closely this month to see if the early buzz would become lasting campaign strength. But his debate performances, including bobbled attempts Thursday night in Florida at painting Romney as a flip-flopper, did not impress some influential activists.

“Perry has been doing damage to himself over the last couple weeks,” said Jamie Burnett, a New Hampshire-based Republican who led Romney’s political operation here four years ago but is unaligned this year. “Perry’s on shaky ground, but I’m not willing to say there’s no path to victory. But he’s definitely not in the place he was during the first two weeks of his campaign.”

Besides accusing Romney of being a flip-flopper and suggesting opponents of Texas’ immigration law are heartless, he gave a wobbly response to a question on Pakistan, making him seem unprepared.

“The guy just isn’t ready for prime time. It’s not the issues themselves. It’s how he handles them,” said Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer who was Romney’s Iowa co-chairman in 2008 but isn’t backing any one candidate yet this year. “He doesn’t look like a president.”

Veteran Republican strategist Mary Matalin, who is not affiliated with any of the 2012 campaigns and is neutral, said that while debating is not Perry’s strong suit, it’s only one aspect of the early campaign.

“His support in the states that are the foundation of his strategy is not slipping,” Matalin said. “Romney has been consistently really good, is solidifying his establishment support, but is far from closing the deal with conservatives.”

Activists have discovered policy differences as they get to know Perry better.

He has drawn sharp criticism for requiring 6th-grade girls in Texas to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cancer, a position that frustrates libertarians and social conservatives alike.

“Immigration and the vaccines are just tough sells,” said former state Republican chairman Richard Schwarm, a Romney supporter in 2008 who has not yet committed to a candidate. “There are a lot of things people like about him, but those issues cause people a lot of problems.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/24/perry-struggles-to-defend-his-front-runner-status-in-gop-race/#ixzz1YtQPVfA8

How I Would Make Our Neighborhoods and Schools Better

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:17

If I had a chance to make an impact on the world, I would grab it and run with it. I would be concerned about the well being of people. How could I help families stay in tact and give them the tools that they need to lead and provide for their families?  Most American’s simply want an opportunity to make a better life for their families. They want meaningful job opportunities and a chance to experience the America dream.

How do I define that? They must have the assurance that the government will guarantee an education through grades 1 thru 12 to their children. An the government should ensure that those who elect to go to college can do so at an affordable rate. College must become more relevant and offer courses that will help graduates get a job after four years. College curriculum and professors should have actual real world work experience.

We should upgrade the public schools so that they meet a higher standard in the classroom and the actual physical environment, by renovating every school building in America.

The government should ensure that no family would have to live in property or without health insurance. Good health is the most important asset that all Americans should have.  I believe it is a God given right. I believe every school should be renovated and improved in every neighborhood. Children should not be bused or given vouchers to attend a better school. They should be able to attend a great school right in their own neighborhood. I would upgrade the schools right in the neighborhood where they live.

It is not fair to people who pay property taxes that they should have to deal with students who illegally attend school in a district where they do not live.   On the other hand  people should not have to break a law so their kids can attend a better school. The answer is renovate and upgrade schools in every neighborhood. We must have committed teachers, the best should be recruited and paid accordingly to teach in these neighborhoods.

With the commitment to schools and neighborhoods comes the responsibility that the law is strictly enforced in all neighborhoods. A police force reflective of the diversity of the community should be recruited and paid accordingly, with the idea that a police force is designed to protect and defend all Americans, even the less fortunate ones. I would put in place a neighborhood remodeling volunteer force, of builders and carpenters, masons, and landscapers to improve even the poorest neighborhoods. A monetary fund would be set aside through voluntary donations that everyone in the neighborhood would contribute to ensuring that that the funds for renovations are set aside.

Anyone that receives assistance from these programs, would be required to volunteer in their spare time to help in someway to improve the neighborhood. The American dream does not belong just to a certain group, everyone can have the dream, if we all chip in and do our part to make every American neighborhood and every American city, the dream neighborhood and the dream city.

President Obama Gives Some Power in Education Back To The States

From The New York Times

With his declaration on Friday that he would waive the most contentious provisions of a federal education law, President Obama effectively rerouted the nation’s education history after a turbulent decade of overwhelming federal influence.

Mr. Obama invited states to reclaim the power to design their own school accountability and improvement systems, upending the centerpiece of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, a requirement that all students be proficient in math and reading by 2014.

“This does not mean that states will be able to lower their standards or escape accountability,” the president said. “If states want more flexibility, they’re going to have to set higher standards, more honest standards that prove they’re serious about meeting them.”

But experts said it was a measure of how profoundly the law had reshaped America’s public school culture that even in states that accept the administration’s offer to pursue a new agenda, the law’s legacy will live on in classrooms, where educators’ work will continue to emphasize its major themes, like narrowing student achievement gaps, and its tactics, like using standardized tests to measure educators’ performance.

In a White House speech, Mr. Obama said states that adopted new higher standards, pledged to overhaul their lowest-performing schools and revamped their teacher evaluation systems should apply for waivers of 10 central provisions of the No Child law, including its 2014 proficiency deadline. The administration was forced to act, Mr. Obama said, because partisan gridlock kept Congress from updating the law.

“Given that Congress cannot act, I am acting,” Mr. Obama said. “Starting today, we’ll be giving states more flexibility.”

But while the law itself clearly empowers Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to waive its provisions, the administration’s decision to make the waivers conditional on states’ pledges to pursue Mr. Obama’s broad school improvement agenda has angered Republicans gearing up for the 2012 elections.

On Friday Congressional leaders immediately began characterizing the waivers as a new administration power grab, in line with their portrayal of the health care overhaul, financial sector regulation and other administration initiatives.

“In my judgment, he is exercising an authority and power he doesn’t have,” said Representative John Kline, Republican of Minnesota and chairman of the House education committee. “We all know the law is broken and needs to be changed. But this is part and parcel with the whole picture with this administration: they cannot get their agenda through Congress, so they’re doing it with executive orders and rewriting rules. This is executive overreach.”

Mr. Obama made his statements to a bipartisan audience that included Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, a Republican, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, an independent, and 24 state superintendents of education.

“I believe this will be a transformative movement in American public education,” Christopher Cerf, New Jersey’s education commissioner under Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, said after the speech.

The No Child law that President George W. Bush signed in 2002 was a bipartisan rewrite of the basic federal law on public schools, first passed in 1965 to help the nation’s neediest students. The 2002 law required all schools to administer reading and math tests every year, and to increase the proportion of students passing them until reaching 100 percent in 2014. Schools that failed to keep pace were to be labeled as failing, and eventually their principals fired and staffs dismantled. That system for holding schools accountable for test scores has encouraged states to lower standards, teachers to focus on test preparation, and math and reading to crowd out history, art and foreign languages.

Mr. Obama’s blueprint for rewriting the law, which Congress has never acted on, urged lawmakers to adopt an approach that would encourage states to raise standards, focus interventions only on the worst failing schools and use test scores and other measures to evaluate teachers’ effectiveness. In its current proposal, the administration requires states to adopt those elements of its blueprint in exchange for relief from the No Child law.

Mr. Duncan, speaking after Mr. Obama’s speech, said the waivers could bring significant change to states that apply. “For parents, it means their schools won’t be labeled failures,” Mr. Duncan said. “It should reduce the pressure to teach to the test.”

Critics were skeptical, saying that classroom teachers who complain about unrelenting pressure to prepare for standardized tests were unlikely to feel much relief.

“In the system that N.C.L.B. created, standardized tests are the measure of all that is good, and that has not changed,“ said Monty Neill, executive director of Fair Test, an antitesting advocacy group. “This policy encourages states to use test scores as a significant factor in evaluating teachers, and that will add to the pressure on teachers to teach to the test.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said her union favored evaluation systems that would help teachers improve their instruction, whereas the administration was focusing on accountability. “You’re seeing an extraordinary change of policy, from an accountability system focused on districts and schools, to accountability based on teacher and principal evaluations,” Ms. Weingarten said.

For most states, obtaining a waiver could be the easy part of accepting the administration’s invitation. Actually designing a new school accountability system, and obtaining statewide acceptance of it, represents a complex administrative and political challenge for governors and other state leaders, said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, which the White House said played an important role in developing the waiver proposal.

Only about five states may be ready to apply immediately, and perhaps 20 others could follow by next spring, Mr. Wilhoit said. Developing new educator evaluation systems and other aspects of follow-through could take states three years or more, he said.

Officials in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and in at least eight other states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin — said Friday that they would probably seek the waivers.

Democratic National Convention 2012

Dear Friend,

Two weeks ago, over a thousand people gathered at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC to celebrate the Democratic National Convention Kick-off.

The energy was electric as we shared the excitement of being part of history in the making.  DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz summed it up best when she said,

This convention is about Americans coming together to commit ourselves and our country to a path that creates more opportunity. The success of this convention will be determined by the participation of you, the American people. This convention’s success will be based on engaging the American spirit and involving people who want to put their shoulder to the wheel and change the country for the better.

Now is the time that you can seize the momentum of that day by visiting our website and checking out the official 2012 convention merchandise store.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you. Thank you for signing up and thank you for being a part of this historic convention.  As we progress towards September 2012, I’ll be sending more updates and contests so you can stay informed.

Thanks,

Dan Murrey

Executive Director

Charlotte Host Committee 2012</

President Obama To Host Linkedin Town Hall

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Rounding out a triumvirate of town halls with social media companies, President Barack Obama will participate in a town hall meeting on the economy that will be hosted by LinkedIn, the White House said Tuesday.

During the town hall, which will take place Sept. 26 in Mountain View, Calif., President Obama will take questions on the economy from members in the audience and LinkedIn members from around the U.S.

The town hall comes at a time when the president is taking a more forceful approach in sharing his views on how to shape the nation’s economy.

LinkedIn will be the third social-media company the president has had a town hall with. He previously participated in town halls with micro-blogging service Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc.

During the Twitter town hall President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to send a tweet.

The White House has generally pitched these town halls as a way for the president to reach out to younger voters. LinkedIn is a network for professionals to connect with each other and look for jobs. It likely has an older customer base than the other social media companies.