- - Monday, November 19, 2012

Michelle Obama cited the “transformative power of the arts” Monday as she presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 community-based, after-school programs that reach underserved youth.

The programs — including those focused on at-risk children — use music, dance, poetry, debate, theater and other outlets to inspire creative development among young people.

The first lady said at a White House ceremony that the programs teach children skills such as teamwork and self-expression that are also critical in the classroom and workplace.

Mrs. Obama thanked educators, leaders and performers for “pushing and inspiring our kids” and “teaching them to believe in themselves.”

The 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.


Officials look to Obama’s second term for answers

Loose ends and thorny partisan tensions on education await the next Congress during President Obama’s second term.

First up is the fiscal cliff, which will slash billions from the Education Department’s budget if lawmakers don’t act this year.

The administration isn’t saying what its second-term agenda will entail, but education advocates say Mr. Obama will probably focus on early childhood programs and higher education.

Needing action are expiring student loan interest rates and long-term sustainability problems with Pell Grants.

Congress and Mr. Obama will also have to figure out what to do about No Child Left Behind. Mr. Obama has been granting waivers that give states flexibility on performance targets.

Mr. Obama’s Race to the Top competition, teacher evaluations and the Common Core standards could also be flashpoints during the president’s second term.


Lawmaker plans to make most of six-week stint

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