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Minnesota teacher Mark Westpfahl brings lucky students to Obama event

By Marcus E. Howard

Mark Westpfahl, a teacher at St. Paul's Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet School, wasn't expecting to get a phone call two days ago from the White House. But after seeing Obama in Minnesota in February, a White House aide asked if he wanted to bring three students to hear Obama speak in La Crosse, Wis. The difficult part for the history and social studies teacher? Choosing which students to take.

He selected Calvin Boone, 13, Georgia-Rae Plathe, 11, and Sylvie Chaput, 13, because they are among the "most inquisitive in the school," Westpfahl said.

In February, Westpfahl, his 10-year-old daughter, Grace, and some of his students got to meet the president. Those he brought on Thursday are hoping for the same opportunity and brought questions, just in case.

"I want to ask him, 'Do you think money designated for education could be spent better,'" said Georgia-Rae. Sylvie said she would ask Obama why he thinks the economic recovery has been better in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. 

Calvin, who rushed from his parents' cabin in northern Minnesota to attend, said he would ask whether more White House plans are in store for LGBT people. Whether or not they meet the 44th president, either way, it's "pretty cool," Calvin said. 

President Barack Obama will tout economic agenda in La Crosse

LA CROSSE -- While the nation's attention turns to the 2016 presidential race and the ever-growing field of candidates, President Barack Obama will try to drive a message he's been repeating since his first campaign: economic fairness. 

Obama will talk at a fieldhouse here in a few hours and is expected to discuss his plan to make it easier for salaried workers to get overtime so that anyone earning less than $50,440 will be eligible, up from $23,660.

Behind the stage is a massive banner in Obama's signature blue color with the words, "Middle Class Economics." 

Obama will likely nod to today's employment report, which showed the labor market adding a healthy 223,000 jobs and lower unemployment, but also slow wage growth and workers dropping out of the job market. 

Republicans say the economy is being hindered by taxes and burdensome regulations like Obama's new overtime rule. 

Even in the final half of his final term, Obama can still draw a crowd. Long lines were waiting to clear security this morning.  

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