Updated 5:37 p.m. ET, 7/7/2014
(CNN) - President Barack Obama continued in his theme of a "year of action" Monday, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unveiled a new effort to ensure access to "effective educators" for all American children.
Duncan joined the President at the White House for a lunch with a group of teachers chosen for their expertise with high-need, high-poverty schools.
Alexandria, Virginia (CNN) – It's not everyday you get to have lunch across the table from the President.
But that happened Tuesday afternoon, as President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made an unannounced visit to FireFlies restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia, as this producer was eating lunch.
Washington (CNN) - Proving once again that any controversy will be intensified - if not illuminated - by random references to race, class, and gender, Education Secretary Arne Duncan has ignited a storm of protest by noting opposition from "white suburban moms" to one of his prized educational initiatives.
In a meeting with state education chiefs Friday, Duncan said some opposition to the Common Core State Standards - a controversial effort to standardize education - has come from parents displeased that test results have exposed local weaknesses. Duncan said he found it "fascinating" that opponents include "white suburban moms who - all of a sudden - (discovered that) their child isn't as bright as they thought they were, and their school isn't quite as good as they thought they were."
Duncan apologzied Monday afternoon for the remark.
(CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama is stepping up her policy game.
Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, visited a Washington high school on Tuesday to announce a new initiative to encourage students to go to college, calling improving access to higher education “one of [her] husband’s most important goals as president.”
Updated at 4:19 p.m. on Monday 6/3
(CNN) – In closing remarks at the White House's National Conference on Mental Health Monday, Vice President Joe Biden delivered an emotional plea to those struggling with mental illness and their families.
"Let's use this moment to send a message to tens of millions of Americans especially the young people and the parents of young people all over this country," Biden said, speaking quietly. "There is nothing, nothing to be ashamed of if you are struggling with mental issues or if your child is or your spouse or your friend. It's okay. It's okay to talk about it. It's okay to ask for help. It is okay to acknowledge that it is frightening."
(CNN) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he should have been clearer when describing the effects automatic spending cuts would have on one particular school district in West Virginia, saying Monday he was sorry for using the faulty example.
Duncan told reporters at the White House last Wednesday that the Kanawha County school system was already handing out pink slips in anticipation of the automatic cuts that, among other things, will impact the amount of federal money states get through September.
(CNN) – First lady Michelle Obama will attend a funeral service on Saturday for Hadiya Pendleton, the Chicago 15-year-old gunned down last week in a park, a White House official said Thursday.
An honor student and band majorette at Kings College Prep School, Pendleton was killed one week after performing in the festivities for President Barack Obama's inauguration.
Washington (CNN) - Heading into a second term at the helm of the education department, Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that the largest missed opportunity of President Barack Obama's first term was the lack of movement on an immigration reform measure.
"I think there's a moment of opportunity on both sides to get some soul searching maybe a little more on the Republican side," Duncan said. "We have to do something about immigration reform and one of my ... biggest disappointments of the first four years is that we didn't get the DREAM Act passed."
(CNN) - White House Press Secretary Jay Carney faced questions over the president's position on same-sex marriage Monday, after some in the Obama administration –including Vice President Joe Biden - expressed support for the issue in the last two days.
Biden, Carney argued, was not voicing a new White House position when he said Sunday he was "absolutely comfortable" with two individuals of the same gender getting legally married.
(Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET)
Washington (CNN) - The Rev. Al Sharpton and a range of activists on Saturday fervently marked the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and some delivered pointed remarks about conservatives rallying nearby at the site where King delivered his seminal address.
Sharpton spearheaded the "Reclaim the Dream" rally at Dunbar High School in northwestern Washington, addressing a throng that later embarked on a march to the planned King memorial after they listened to speaker after speaker extol the virtues and visions King stood for.
Sharpton and others couldn't resist discussing the controversial event at the Lincoln Memorial organized by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, a rally Beck called "Restoring Honor." Beck, who has a program on Fox News as well as several radio programs, was criticized for holding his rally at the site of King's speech on the anniversary.
"They may have the mall," Sharpton said, "but we have the message. They may have the platform but we have the dream."