Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.
April 8, 2004
Hello. Happy to take your questions today about the President's education initiatives to build a stronger workforce. Let's go.
Edwin, from Washington, D.C.
On a couple of days I come early to work out at the White House Gym at 6:00 a.m. since that is usually the only time not to be interrupted. The White House starts early and goes late.
In fact, some parts like the Situation Room operate 24 hours a day. I have meetings with my staff and with folks involved in policy-making so that we can develop recommendations to the President.
Some days I meet with members of the Congress to talk about the Presidents policies and I make speeches on issues to various groups also.
We also work on reviewing documents like the Presidents speeches, letters to members of Congress and others, Executive Orders and the like.
Finally, we work on Presidential events many of which are held outside of Washington D.C where the President talks about domestic and other policy priorities.
Mike, from Pittsburgh, PA
For example on Monday of this week he laid out a plan to reform the Workforce Investment (WIA) system.
Through the program we spend about 4 billion dollars in job training for adult and dislocated workers only a small number -- about 200, 000 people actually get training through this program.
The President proposes to give states more authority and flexibility to serve workers in their states so long as there is accountability for the number of workers placed, the retention rates in jobs and the earnings made.
We at the federal level have mandated various programs with lots of strings attached and have required layers of bureaucracy to administer the system. The Presidents plan will get resources to workers who need training more quickly.
The President believes that we should be getting results for the money we spend at the federal level. There are many areas where we have agreed up goals by state, local and federal officials.
Such as having all children reading on grade level by the end of third grade. It is important for the federal government to articulate and support goals like this with the resources invested.
Scott, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma writes:
President Bush and the leaders of our country in this time of unrest and the many decisions they must make for our country. I would like to know if there is a web-site that I could send e-mails to the troops thanking them for serving, and to encourage them during this time? Thank you again for serving our country.
Scott Cragg My God guide and bless our country, leaders, service menwomen and there families.
Dear Abby, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of the Navy is providing this private and secure online resource that will allow you to send a Sailor, Marine, Soldier, Airman, or Coast Guardsman a message of support.
Mike, from Joliet IL writes:
We have millions of jobs available in America today and, in many cases, no qualified American to fill them.
High growth fields like advanced manufacturing, health care, education and biotechnology offer promise to Americans seeking work.
Unfortunately, we have what the President calls a "skills gap" between the qualifications of some American workers and the needs of the workforce.
A few statistics.....
Only 67 of 100 American 9th graders graduate from high school. Only 26 are in college after two years in a day and time when most of the high growth jobs will require that level of training. We have particular needs in fields of math and science.
Therefore, we must work on this on two fronts. First, we must make sure more kids graduate from high school with the skills necessary to participate either in the workforce or in higher education. For adult and dislocated workers, we must find ways to support their skill enhancement so they can participate actively in the workforce.
This week, President Bush called for policies on both fronts. In high school, he called for strengthening the Perkins program which is the federal government $1 billion investment in vocational education by ensuring that strong academics such as three years of math and science are offered as part of those programs so that kids are workforce ready if that is the direction they choose.
Further, he has proposed a $250 million community college initiative for partnerships between employers and community colleges to rapidly train and re-train adult workers.
MAYLA, from EDINBURG, TEXAS writes:
Check out this web site: http://studentaid.ed.gov
It is a great resource.
Julie, from Charlotte, NC writes:
surely this is not true. I feel 12-16 hour days recovering fresh open heart patients is difficult enough. It is hard to think clearly after so many hours. We care about our patients and know their lives are literally in our hands. There is not a physician there. When you have open heart surgery you will be received by, and cared for by an RN. Do you want that nurse to be tired as she manages your ventilator and critical life support drips? A slight
medication error when someone is on so many drips is deadly. We are not working on machines. We are working on human beings. Someones mother, father, wife, child. I promise this nation will lose nurses in DROVES if we are forced to be over worked. I promise hospital administrators will not
hesitate to force nurses to work incredulous hours to staff their units.
Please tell me I am misinformed. Thanks, Julie RN
The President recognizes the great need for skilled nurses and has, in fact, focused many of the Federal government's workforce dollars to recruit and train additional nurses.
The Department of Labor will soon release its final rule updating the Fair Labor Standard Act rules that govern overtime-pay eligibility for white-collar workers. The goal of these rules is to strengthen overtime protections for low-wage and middle class workers and reduce a rapidly expanding volume of litigation.
The final updated regulations will also make the rules clearer so that employees will know their rights, employers will know their obligations, and workers can get their overtime without resorting to costly litigation.
Earl, from Phoenix writes:
The workforce investment act has passed both houses of congress and is awaiting appointment of a conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Thanks for following the legislation so closely.
Roy, from Lincoln, Nebraska
Great question. High growth fields include many in the health care professions such as medical records and health information technicians, physical therapist aides, home health aides, physician and medical assistants, dental hygenists and assistants.
Also growing are, advanced manufacturing and biotechnology fields as well as a need for educators particularly those with expertise in special education, math and science.
April, from kerens,tx writes:
What grade are you in? The President loves to visit schools and goes to as many as he can. Unfortunately, he can't make it to every school in America or I'm sure he would come to Kerens.
He especially loves to visit Texas and is at his ranch in Crawford now.
When he does visit schools, we like to highlight schools that focus on closing the achievement gap and have all kids working and reading on grade level.
Email me your address and I will send you some Presidential M&M's and some baseball cards of the White House you can share with your classmates.
Brenda, from Shelby, NC
Thanks for taking the time to read this email, as I know that you all have more to do than read email from ordinary (little) people as myself. I have heard the news media put it that way, we are the little people and you all are the big people.
Thanks again, Brenda Carlile
Your husband sounds great. The President very much appreciates his support and prayers. I will relay your message to him.
As for you being a "little person" please know that lots of "little people" now work at the White House to serve all Americans, big and little.
Erik, from Bethesda, MD
states to participate in the NAEP for 12th graders. Was this, at least in part, inspired by the recent report from the NAGB commission, the National Commission on NAEP 12th Grade Assessment and Reporting? Do you have an estimate for how much this would cost? To clarify, since there already is a national sample for 12th grade NAEP, I assume the idea here is to have state-by-state NAEP results for 12th graders, as currently is required for grades 4 and 8? Do you have a cost estimate, and would the federal government pay for it? Also, would this require congressional action?
Are you the Erik from Education Week? The President called for the 12th grade NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) which as you know is our nation's report card on the health of our education system.
Further, as you know, this requirement builds on No Child Left Behind which requires participation from states in grades 4 - 8. The President believes that with the imperative for higher level skills it is important to begin to know more about high schools in America and how they are doing in preparing kids for the workplace and post-secondary education, ie: college.
We estimate that the cost is between $15 and $30 million and we would of course envision having the fed government pay for it as it does other NAEP testing.
This proposal would take congressional action.