WASHINGTON

Obama cites values as citizens take oath

President Obama used a ceremony for new U.S. citizens Tuesday to stress the nation's history of welcoming immigrants, hours before a debate among Republican presidential candidates who want restrictions on newcomers in response to the threat of terrorism.

Without directly mentioning political arguments on whether to deport people in the country illegally or clamp down on admitting Middle East refugees, Obama made reference to instances in the nation's past when immigrants were shunned over nationality or religion, including the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

"We succumbed to fear," he said at the National Archives in Washington. "We betrayed not only our fellow Americans, but our deepest values."

Obama plans to raise the number of Syrian refugees accepted in the U.S. to 10,000 this year and next.

He spoke at a naturalization ceremony for recent immigrants from more than 25 countries, including Canada, Congo, and Germany. - Bloomberg
WASHINGTON

Graduation rate

rises to 82 percent

The U.S. high school graduation rate inched up to 82 percent, according to new federal data, but education officials and others say too many students still aren't getting a diploma.

The latest figures released Tuesday by the Education Department showed wide disparities in graduation rates according to where students live. Leading the way was Iowa, with a graduation rate of nearly 91 percent. The District of Columbia had the lowest rate, 61 percent. (Locally, New Jersey was at 87.5 percent and Pennsylvania at 85.5.)

For the nation, the graduation rate for the 2013-14 school year was the highest since the department started using a new, uniform measure in 2010.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised the new numbers as encouraging. Still, nearly one student in five is leaving high school without a diploma. "We have a good deal more to do to ensure that every child has access to a quality education," he said. - AP
MASSACHUSETTS

Student convicted

in teacher's slaying

A Massachusetts teenager was convicted Tuesday of raping and killing his high school math teacher when he was 14.

Philip Chism followed his ninth-grade algebra teacher, Colleen Ritzer, into a school bathroom, strangled her, stabbed her at least 16 times, and raped her.

Chism, now 16, was also convicted of armed robbery for stealing Ritzer's credit cards and her underwear.

He stared straight ahead and did not have any visible reaction as the verdicts were read in Salem Superior Court, outside Boston. His mother declined to talk to reporters as she left the courthouse.

During the trial, Chism's lawyer admitted his client killed Ritzer but said Chism was suffering from severe mental illness and was not criminally responsible for his actions. A psychiatrist who testified for the defense said Chism was hearing voices and in the throes of a psychotic episode when he killed Ritzer. - AP