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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 19, 2010

Hawaii public schools urged to compete for Obama commencement address

Advertiser Staff

The White House today invited public high schools across the country to compete for a chance to have President Obama speak at their graduation this summer.

Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, said the challenge is about shining “that spotlight on success.”
In a conference call with reporters this morning, he said Hawaii public schools grappling with teacher furloughs are welcome to apply with essays or a video.
“We’d just encourage them (Hawaii schools) to put their best foot forward,” Duncan said. “We know the adults are grappling with some tough issues.”
Duncan has criticized the furlough plan, and in the conference call reiterated his hope that a solution would be worked out to get Hawaii students back in school on “furlough Fridays.”
“No one has been able to make a case” that the furloughs are in the students’ best interests, Duncan said. “I just hope the adults in each state continue to work together with a huge sense of urgency.”
Information on the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge is available at www.whitehouse.gov/commencement.
Students can submit essays, a video or other materials to highlight how their high school is succeeding.
Applications are due March 15.
The schools will be narrowed down to six finalists, and the public will be able to weigh in to further narrow the schools down to three.
The White House will pick the winning school from the top three.