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May 11, 2004 | 12:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jennifer from Williamsburg, VA:
I understand that the President has taken some serious criticism of the No Child Left Behind Legislation. As a teacher I am starting to see the effects of it. I graduated with a Master's Degree in May and hold a teaching certificate to teach Social Studies, English and General Science, but have been unable to find a job. Many of my fellow graduates are in the same situation. We have been told that we do not qualify as highly qualified under the NCLB and until we do school districts will not even consider us. Many have left the teaching profession and the myth of the teacher shortage for employment in other fields. What is the truth about the so called teacher shortage? How is the President going to address the large numbers of new teaching graduates who can not find jobs?

A:Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
Jennifer, thanks for writing and congratulations on completing your education. It is true that the No Child Left Behind Act requires that teachers be "highly qualified".

Each state determines exactly what is considered to be "highly qualified" but it must include content mastery in the subject to be taught. You should check with your state certification board to see what your state requires. There is no specific federal mandate in this area.

In addition, many states provide for alternative certification programs and some of these programs are operated by school districts, particularly in urban centers. Alternative certification may provide a way to meet your states "highly qualified" definition and get into the classroom more quickly.

Finally, I would suggest that your teacher preparation program should work closely with state certification processes to make sure that students who are graduating are on course to meet the state requirements.

As for the issue of teacher shortages -- most of these shortages are in the subjects of math, science and special education -- particularly at the middle and high school levels. Thanks for writing and for your commitment to teaching.

May 11, 2004 | 12:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carol from Schodack, NY:
Will this interactive program continue to be operational in the fall? I would like to assign a group project to my Political Science class that would involve submitting a question to White House staff. Thanks for this opportunity!

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Thanks Carol

We have all intentions of keeping this part of the site very active. We've seen through the success of "Ask the White House" that interactivity between the White House and citizens is what people want. We look at "White House Interactive" as kind of a mini-Ask the White House and we appreciate the questions that we receive. My only regret is that we can't answer more. To that end, we'll try to answer the questions that are the most representative of the emails we receive. And we'll just try our best to answer as many as we can.

May 10, 2004 | 3:06 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Trevor from Bend Oregon:
My mother and father enjoy watching West Wing every Wednesday night. I try and stay up and watch it with them, my dad tells me that someday I can be the President of the United States. I was wondering how much of that show captures the real events around the white house and the west wing.

Thank you for answering my question.

A:Secretary Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
The show stretches reality, but frequently has story lines based on credible experiences. The real West Wing is not as "large" as it appears in the television show, and the offices are much smaller. Never have I seen West Wing staffers running around the corridors in any panic. The President is also not likely to give a long speech to his staff in the Oval Office.

May 10, 2004 | 10:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Linda from Harrods Creek, KY:
Are citizens allowed to tour the White House at this time?

A:Sarah Armstrong, Director of the White House Vistors Office:
Thank you for your interest in visiting the White House. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more, regardless of age or type of group. Requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress and may be submitted up to six months in advance. We recommend that you submit your request as early as possible since the White House is a popular place to visit. The tours are self-guided and are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

You can also tour the White House by visiting our website at Just click on the "History and Tours" section at the top of the homepage where you'll find interesting articles, photos and videos.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope you'll make plans to visit the White House.

May 7, 2004 | 3:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bart from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:
Does Chief of Staff Andy Card have an actual seat at the Cabinet table or is he a "Counselor to the President"?

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr., also serves as a member of the President's Cabinet and has a seat at the table for each Cabinet meeting. His official title is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, not Counselor to the President. Additionally, the Chief of Staff is also referred to as "Secretary Card" since he served as Secretary of Transportation from 1992-93.

A little background on the President's Cabinet: The Cabinet consists of, at a minimum, the Vice President and the heads of the 15 executive departments, including the newest, the Department of Homeland Security. At the discretion of each President, other individuals have variously been accorded Cabinet-level rank. President Bush has designated, in addition to the Chief of Staff, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade Representative, the Administrator of EPA, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, all to have Cabinet Rank.

May 4, 2004 | 5:16 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Camano Island, WA:
How could this Country who is supposed to represent all that is right in the World allow the treatment of prisoners to happen as reported in our newspapers today? Swift and sure action must be taken to correct this situation (if true).

A: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor:
I want to assure people in the Arab world, Iraq, around the world, and the American people, that the President is determined to get to the bottom of it, to know who is responsible and to make sure that whoever is responsible is punished for it and held accountable.

And he's determined to find out if there is any wider problem than just what happened at Abu Ghraib. And so he has told Secretary Rumsfeld that he expects an investigation, a full accounting. Americans do not do this to other people. Those pictures were awful because America -- American men and women in uniform, active and reserve, are serving in Iraq at great sacrifice. People are losing their lives. We came there to help to liberate the people of Iraq. We came there to build schools, and to build clinics, and we want very much that the images of Americans should be the images of helping the Iraqi people. It's simply unacceptable that anyone would engage in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. And we will get to the bottom of it. And those who are responsible will be punished.*

*Interview of the National Security Advisor by Al Arabiya, May 3, 2004

May 4, 2004 | 11:20 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lori from Great falls, Montana:
I support the war on Terror, But if the courts are releasing these people and they go back into society are we worried they will cause more problems all over again? And what if anything are we going to do about it??

A: Judge Al Gonzales, White House Counsel:
The President's most solemn obligation is protecting the American people. The President is committed to aggressively pursuing the war on terror and to doing everything possible to try to prevent another attack. He is of course doing so in a way that upholds the Constitution and all U.S. laws.

Currently, the Supreme Court is considering several cases regarding the authority of the President to detain certain individuals as enemy combatants in order to prevent them from returning to the battle against America and to obtain intelligence information from them which would help us in fighting the war.

The Administration believes that the determinations made by the President are within his Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief, are supported by Congressional authorization and Supreme Court precedent, and are consistent with the war-time practices of prior presidents. The Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision in any of these cases.

May 4, 2004 | 9:33 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Adam from New York:
To whom it may concern,
I was reading through the executive proclomations of friday, and I noticed that President Bush has proclaimed May 6, 2004, do be a National day of Prayer. I was wondering how this is not in violation of the church and state seperations set forth by the 1st Amendment and protected by several Federal and Supreme court decisions.

A: Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:
President Bush is following the precedent of his predecessors - a practice that began with President Washington, I believe, who proclaimed a national day of fasting and prayer. The event Thursday does not endorse any one religion nor is any citizen obliged to participate. This practice is Constitutional.


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