Six Memphis Schools Vie for Obama Commencement Speech

by Ben Campbell

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Internet voting was to begin Thursday as six high schools vie to have President Barack Obama deliver the commencement speech for this year’s graduating seniors.

In its second year, the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge invited the nation’s public high schools to demonstrate how their school best prepares them for college and a career. The six finalists were chosen from hundreds of applications.

From Thursday through April 29, the public is asked to view and rate video presentations from each school. The three schools with the highest average rating will be sent to President Obama for a final selection.

Those interested in voting can go to to watch the videos and make a selection.

The finalists are: Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Wash.; Wayne Early Middle College High School in Goldsboro, N.C.; Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn.; Science Park High School in Newark, N.J.; Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School for Creative and Performing Arts in Pittsburgh; and High Tech High International in San Diego. Watch President Obama’s commencement speech at Arizona State in 2009 Click Here.

Crack VS Powder

By: Brittany Smith

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A group that advocates for criminal justice reform is urging states to remove disparities between how people are sentenced for crack and powder cocaine possession.

Last year, President Barack Obama signed legislation that reduced the federal sentencing disparity between the two types of cocaine from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1. Before Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, someone caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine had received the same sentence as someone caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine.

Thirteen states have sentencing laws that treat the drugs differently. Only two — Missouri at 75-to-1 and New Hampshire at 28-to-1 — have ratios higher than the U.S. government’s.

The Washington-based Sentencing Project on Thursday urged states to get rid of the disparities, citing fairness and potential savings in prison budgets.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.