Major decrease in high schools applying for Obama graduation speech

Laura Donovan Contributor
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In world where students at an institution like George Washington University rally for troubled actor Charlie Sheen to speak at their 2012 commencement ceremony, it’s understandable that President Barack Obama wouldn’t be in such a high demand for high school graduation speeches.

CBS News reported Monday that the White House has seen a decrease in applications requesting the president deliver high school commencement addresses. According to an internal memo, the White House extended the deadline from February 25 until Friday, March 11. A memo dated February 22 included a statement about “a major issue with the Commencement Challenge.”

“As of yesterday we had received 14 applications and the deadline is Friday,” the memo said. “Something isn’t working.”

Another memo from February 28 reported receiving 68 applications, an improvement but still a major decrease from last year’s applicants. The memo added that more than 1,000 schools filed applications last year.

“We should also make sure the Cabinet is pushing the competition out to their lists,” the memo continued. “We do not want the actual application number out there (we didn’t release the number of applications we received last year until after the submission period)-so folks should not use it in their pitches.”

Officials declined to state the amount of applications received. CBS News added that school officials could not give a reason for the apparent lack of interest beyond procrastinated.

Obama will speak at the school that is judged to best prepare students for jobs and higher education. Last year, the president gave the graduation speech for Kalamazoo Central High School, which was the first winner of the Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.

The Race to the Top Commencement Challenge application deadline is Friday.