Baltimore couple to attend Obama's jobs address
A Baltimore city student teacher and her husband will be among the White House guests attending President Barack Obama’s address to Congress Thursday as the administration rolls out its plan to kick start the economy and spur job growth.
Sabrina Mangrum, a student teacher at John Eager Howard Elementary School, and her husband Dannie Mangrum, a Maryland correctional officer, will sit with first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday after the White House connected with them through a Washington, D.C.-based foster agency. The family has three foster children.
The White House frequently invites non-political guests to attend major addresses as a way to call attention to struggles faced by families outside of Washington, D.C. Sabrina Mangrum said she was told the administration was seeking families who earn less than $100,000 a year. Though details of Obama's jobs plan have not been released, the administration has signaled it will target tax relief to middle- and low-income families.
The economy “has really affected us,” said Mangrum, 41. “We have a different mindset: You save when you can and spend only when necessary...I would like to hear the president say he’s for the people – that even a small person does count.”
The family’s story, said White House spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm, “shows why it is so important that we, as the president has said, put country before party and act quickly to implement his bipartisan plan to strength the economy, create jobs and support the middle class.”
Marlena Clark, of Catonsville, will also attend the address. Clark, a former maid and bartender, said she turned her life around after attending classes at Anne Arundel Community College, where she received a degree in information systems security last year. Dr. Jill Biden, who teaches at a community college in Virginia and has been working to bolster the reputation of the nation’s community colleges, invited Clark.
“From being a maid and a bartender, I had no tech background. I just progressed with it,” said Clark, who is now a systems engineer at a Crofton-based company called Force 3, an IT and communications firm that does contract work for the federal government and private firms.
Clark, 30, said that the current economy is forcing people to retain for new careers. In her case, community college was a ticket out of minimum wage jobs.
“A lot more people need to go back to school,” she said.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will also attend the address, the White House said. The invitation drew a rebuke from the Maryland Republican Party.
"Millions of Americans are out of work, including hundreds of thousands of Marylanders, but Barack Obama and Martin O’Malley continue their tired playbook of more government spending and imposing job-killing tax hikes," the party chairman, Alex Mooney, said in a statement.
"For this, Governor O'Malley gets rewarded with recognition at a Presidential speech – about job creation? No wonder our economy is struggling.”