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Saturday, May 16, 2015

China Keeps Both a Nobel Laureate and Some High School Students Behind Bars | deutsch29

China Keeps Both a Nobel Laureate and Some High School Students Behind Bars | deutsch29:

China Keeps Both a Nobel Laureate and Some High School Students Behind Bars

On May 15, 2015, I wrote a post about China’s testing obsession going so far as Chinese high school students’ using amino acid IVs to support their beyond-humane studying for Chinese exams.
In that post, I observed that China has very few Nobel laureates– only nine.
Only two were residing in China at the time of their awards.
One of these two was in prison.
China’s testing obsession kills creativity and confidence. However, China also has a single-party, highly-controlling, oppressive Communist government that does nothing for the free flow of ideas.
In 2008, Chinese university professor Liu Xiaobo and others drafted a document entitled Charter 08, which called for the end of the authoritarian Chinese government and the beginning of a democratic government for China.
The document linked above is a translation from the original Chinese. It is a cached copy originally posted by the group, Human Rights in China, and later removed. A full translation can also be found here: 
In 2009, Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned for his involvement in producing Charter 08. He is serving 11 years. His wife was put under house arrest.
In 2010, Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia.
In October 2014, the international community remembered Xiaobo and his uncollected award. As noted in the Telegraph:
“We cannot forget that another Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned four years on since being awarded his Prize,” Kate Allen, the UK director of Amnesty International told The Telegraph, “Amnesty continues to campaign tirelessly for Liu Xiaobo’s release.”
Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch added: “While it is marvellous to see the efforts around education and freeing children from slavery being honoured, that is tempered by some extent knowing that Liu Xiaobo still has five years to go in prison for doing nothing more than speaking his mind.”
Liu was a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations that left several hundred dead after China’s ruling Communist Party sent in tanks to crush the protests. He was represented by an empty chair at the awards ceremony in Oslo in 2010.
The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (portrait l) stands in  Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2010. The head of the Nobel committee placed this year's peace prize on an empty chair  as Beijing raged against the award to dissident Liu Xiaobo, who is languishing in a Chinese prison cell. AFP Photo : Heiko Junge / SCANPIX NORWAY (Photo credit should read Junge, Heiko/AFP/Getty Images)
The empty chair with a diploma and medal that should have been awarded to this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (portrait l) stands in Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2010. The head of the Nobel committee placed this year’s peace prize China Keeps Both a Nobel Laureate and Some High School Students Behind Bars | deutsch29:

The Gates Foundation and Education Philanthropists

The Gates Foundation and Education Philanthropists:

Gates Keepers

At the last Network for Public Education, there was a long and passionate conversation about the foundations that give money to impact education. Warren Buffett has a foundation that funds scholarships to low-income students, among other things. Goldie Hawn has a foundation that focuses on training school teachers and education support professionals on social emotional learning. There are many educational philanthropists. Of course, some are more controversial than others.
For the Walton Family Foundation, the problem with public schools is the “public” part, and the solution is always their silver bullet of school vouchers, even though study after study says school choice makes little if any impact on student learning. For the Broad Foundation it’s All Charters All the Time no matter the continuing mixed bag of results with a continuum of charters ranging from truly innovative to truly fraudulent.
Then there’s Bill and Melinda.
The Gates Foundation defies easy labels.
Here’s what they say on their website:
We are focused on results. Those that can be measured. And those measured in ways beyond numbers. We see individuals, not issues. We are inspired by passion, and compassion for the wellbeing of people. Our methods are based on logic, driven by rigor, results, issues, and outcomes. Our innovation means trying new things, learning from our mistakes, and consistently refining our approach. Our strategies help us define our path to success, but our effectiveness is based in the aggregate power of our initiatives to impact holistic change.
The Gates Foundation is not the Walton or Broad Foundations. Originally, much of their work was on global health in struggling parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. They fund research on HIV prevention, malaria and the resurgence of polio. Then, they expanded their portfolio to education. They’ve funded Teach for America; and, on opposite end of the spectrum, they fund the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (which the NEA helped found) and they support National Board Certification, which is the gold standard of career teacher professionalism. At times they’ve been convinced by corporate reformers who’ve never stepped in front of a class of actual children. At times they’ve been convinced by us, the education unions who represent the men and women who know the names of the students we serve. The Gates Foundation is, well, complicated.
I was asked at the NPE conference to give a simple answer to a question that is not so simple: Would my union, the NEA, accept Gates grants? The fact is that, no, NEA does not directly take funds from the Gates Foundation. Our union’s mission is to advocate for the professional integrity of our members in service to the education of the Whole Child: critical, creative mind, healthy body and ethical, compassionate character. Outside funders don’t drive our mission. We drive funders to our members and their ideas, projects, and solutions that help their students prepare for the lives they want to live. Our union organized an independent foundation for the very purpose of connecting philanthropists with the creative work of our member practitioners in classrooms across the country. These caring professionals are finding success by seeing their students as more than a test score.
And in service to those members and those students, we will continue to work with powerful partners, foundations and institutions dedicated to educational innovation, educator empowerment, student health, and parent engagement. Over the years, we’ve helped educators connect with many donors, including the Gates Foundation, and more and more, these donors have wisely supported local, practicing public school educators who are rocking the student-centered world with innovative practices.
I’ve seen groundbreaking work in teacher and support professional home visits to create new bridges between families and schools; advanced physics classes for kids in poverty who would have been placed in remedial math if not for union-supported, student-centered STEM training for educators; schools that use culture, the arts andThe Gates Foundation and Education Philanthropists:

Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union | The Sacramento Bee

Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union | The Sacramento Bee:

Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union 

One by one, bills to change education policy are foundering in California.
Democratic legislators shelved a measure to extend from two to three years the time it takes for teachers to achieve tenure. They dispatched an effort to do away with the “last-in-first-out” policy that says the least experienced teachers should go first during budget-driven layoffs. They killed a teacher evaluation bill that sought to offer remedial training for struggling educators.
Each was opposed by the California Teachers Association, the 325,000-member group that has long exerted its influence over legislation and elections.
Thwarted at the Capitol – and on the ballot – a coalition of advocates working to overhaul the state’s low-ranking public schools increasingly have turned to the courts in search of more favorable outcomes. Current cases center on the effect of tenure and dismissal rules on students and the fees teachers pay to their unions.
Gloria Romero, a former Democratic state senator, contends the advocates have rightly focused their attention and resources on the judiciary – “where CTA money can’t buy the opinion.”
“What happens under the bubble of the Legislature is becoming less relevant to controlling the conversation,” Romero said. “The courts, and the history of education reform, have really solidified that this is where we are going to find some equity and justice.”
Among CTA’s recent triumphs was re-electing Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson over fellow Democrat Marshall Tuck in a costly race that became a proxy battle between organized labor and self-described reformers. In the last election cycle, CTA gave about $11 million to state campaign committees, including $2.6 million to mostly Democratic legislative candidates. In 2012, it helped Gov. Jerry Brown pass a tax hike that became a bonanza for schools.

Their adversaries, Students Matter, StudentsFirst and the California Charter Schools Association, draw much of their backing from business interests. The coalition shares many of the same financial supporters as Tuck, who benefited from nearly $10 million in spending by an outside committee. The Center for Individual Rights, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm, is another organization involved in the litigation.
Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association
In each of the court cases, CTA President Dean Vogel said, “it’s the same folks, the same PR firm, the same attack. All of this is in the guise of doing what’s in the best interest of kids, which I find very interesting considering you don’t see these people talking about providing clean and safe facilities or trying to get more funding. It’s really about trying to get the unions out of the way.”
He said it’s undeniable his opponents have “stepped up their game and are using the courts as a vehicle.”
“If I was them, and if I was trying to neutralize the unions, and I was having difficulty getting the right candidates elected or getting the right initiatives passed, I would certainly be looking at the courts,” Vogel said.
But he disagrees with the notion that the courts are an unassailable arbiter. Vogel pointed to Vergara v. California, where a judge ruled last year that the state’s tenure and dismissal rules deprived students of their right to a quality education.
Judge Rolf Treu of the Los Angeles Superior Court said the system disproportionately affects poor and minority students. “The evidence is compelling,” he said. “Indeed, it shocks the conscience.”
Vogel said he believed Treu “seemed to have delusions of grandeur” when before the closing arguments he linked the case to landmark decisions under former U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren and ex-California Chief Justice Donald Wright.
Another high-stakes cases against the teachers union threatens to do what opponents have been unable to at the ballot box: erode its ability to deduct fees from members’ paychecks. Efforts in 1998 (Proposition 226), 2005 (Proposition 75) and 2012 (Proposition 32) all were rejected by voters, with the CTA spending tens of millions on opposition campaigns.
In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, involving 10 teachers and brought by the Center for Individual Rights, the plaintiffs are challenging “fair share” fees teachers pay in lieu of full union dues. Dues typically include funds for political purposes, but the fair share fees are designed to cover only the union’s costs of nonpolitical union business, such as contract negotiations.
The case was on hold before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but came off when the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that certain government workers do not have to join a union. The high court now has asked the California attorney general to weigh in before it decides whether to consider the matter.
The teachers union appears to be preparing for its worst case scenario – the loss of millions of dollars from its treasury. Members drew up a July 2014 presentation titled “Not if, but when: Living in a world without Fair Share.” In it, the group says a “cross-divisional” task force of managers was assigned to come up with recommendations for “a world where we lose fair share.” Another plan called for engaging staff with experience working in “right-to-work” states.
A CTA spokeswoman said members were acting responsibly by exploring all possible outcomes and developing many different plans.
Bhavini Bhakta, teacher in the Arcadia Unified School District
Meanwhile, another group of four teachers backed by Students First filed a similar lawsuit last month against the CTA and another union, the California Federation of Teachers, alleging educators who choose to refrain from contributing the roughly one-third of their fees to political purposes lose out on important benefits as well as on the right to participate in union elections.
Plaintiff Bhavini Bhakta, a teacher in the Arcadia Unified School District, said she wants to be able to retain her voice in the union without funding political campaigns with which she disagrees. Bhakta believes she’s been harmed by union-supported teacher protection policies. In her first eight years, she received “pink slips” or was laid off six times, a combination of her seniority and the economic recession.
“You forced me to pay dues to you, and you are sitting up here fighting for the opposite of what I want,” she said.
Bhakta said most agonizing is hearing from lawmakers who she says tell her privately that their hands are tied by the political heft of the CTA.
Union officials take aim at what they say are numerous flaws in the Vergara decision, including a lack of evidence that the challenged laws cause harm. They argue the court “blatantly ignored” evidence proving the laws actually improve public education and that it “intruded on an inherently legislative function.”
Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, a high school teacher and Long Beach Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, is critical of recent Republican proposals that came in response to the Vergara case.
“If the state Legislature responded to every lawsuit working its way through the courts that’s all that we’d do,” O’Donnell said. “What we need to do is respond to the needs of the classroom.
Not all Democrats are happy with the dynamics in the Legislature.
Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, leaned into her colleagues when they rebuffed her bill to change the teacher evaluation system, an effort she deemed a “modest attempt at reform.”
A career educator who served on the school board in San Diego, Weber said her approach in the CTA-opposed Assembly Bill 1495 was not punitive. Instead, she said it addressed the unfairness of the current tenure process for new teachers who often are not given a chance to demonstrate their abilities or receive timely help.
“I know that there are a lot of issues, but it seems as if every time you try to open up the conversation it gets shut down,” Weber said.
“Californians believe in schools, and we want a school system that functions,” she added. “But at some point our patience is going to wear thin. You can see that in the kind of litigation that comes forward where people feel very frustrated.”Activists look to courts to weaken grip of California teachers union | The Sacramento Bee:
Christopher Cadelago: (916) 326-5538@ccadelago Jim Miller of the Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

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PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent

PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent:
PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards


As of Fall 2014 a new standardized test is to be implemented in the District of Columbia and 12 states, including my home state of Rhode Island. This new test has the dubious title of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness For College and Careers (PARCC) and it sits at the center of a perfect storm brewing between states, the US Department of Education, testing and publishing companies and the Gates Foundation’s Complete College America initiative.
Ok, (deep breath), before I go any further let’s get some disclosures out of the way. This blog is a joint effort between my wife, Christina and myself. While she does write some posts her job seems to be predominantly social media guru and editor-in-chief. I prefer to just write. Often she suggests topics to keep the rotation of posts “fresh”. Today’s direction is supposed to encompass the topic of parenting. She suggested that I focus on the PARCC, but followed up with saying, “Don’t be preachy.” In other words I have to watch overloading on the stats and try to calm the f*&@k down.
Problem is… I can’t.
This topic infuriates me. First, I am not against testing as a means of assessment. However, my questions are as follows: Is this the right metric to implement? What will we gain from analysis of the data from that metric? How will those results assist in teaching and learning? How does the data help in enhancing student achievement and performance? And to be clear achievement and performance are not the same PARCC is CCRAP spelled backwards - The Plagued Parent:

Here comes the monkey; PARCC is back!

Well, an email came through the other day from my daughter’s middle school. PARCC is back. Next week begins round two of the standardized test that has been the object of derision by parents and classroom educators since last February.
Across the nation, in reaction to this misguided implementation, parents, students and teachers have been organizing, protesting and ‘opting out’ of this Godzilla of standardized tests. As a result many school systems are evaluating the validity of PARCC testing. Superintendents in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana and the District of Columbia have all publicly decried the test.
True this has not stopped any of them from scheduling the second portion of this years assessment, but it certainly has given some state departments of education pause. Even in my home state of Rhode Island, the Department of Education has confessed that the test was taking up too much instructional time statewide. As if that weren’t enough, in the same month the NECAP will also be administered. That is the test supposedly being replaced by the PARCC.
Wait a second. What?
No, you read that right. Two standardized tests in the same month. That’s ten days of testing that will cost approximately 20 hours of classroom instruction. Right now it is May 6 and my daughter has been informed that only 14 instructional days remain. My daughter graduates 8th grade on June 17. Does this make sense? Right now my daughter’s current math grade is a 73, and maybe it’s just me but I would think a better use of my daughter’s time would be actually focusing on what she is or is not achieving with respect to her classwork rather that determining her “placement” relative to a percentile of her cohort.
Opting out of the PARCC is making administrators concerned. Yesterday (May 5) a local news channel aired a story regarding opting out of PARCC.  The story offered statistics for districts across our state; one town reported the highest opt out rate of 35% with the lowest rate being around 2%. A local superintendent was interviewed who downplayed concerns suggesting that when a student opts out this affects the overall results, and the results will affect school rankings. The superintendent tried to appeal to civic pride — people want to move to districts with high performing schools and when kids opt out that affects outcomes. Outcomes, as we all know affect rankings and

Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett won't face criminal charges

Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett won't face criminal charges:

Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett won't face criminal charges

The Marion County prosecutor's office will not file criminal charges against former Indiana schools Superintendent Tony Bennett, Prosecutor Terry Curry announced Friday afternoon.
Curry renewed the investigation into the case last December after an Associated Press report revealed that former Inspector General David Thomas had found more than 100 possible violations of federal wire fraud law during an investigation into Bennett's use of state resources during his 2012 re-election campaign.
Thomas at the time said he also believed Curry could seek state criminal charges against Bennett.
In a news release Friday, Curry said his office made its decision after reviewing investigatory records that had alleged Bennett, the former superintendent of public instruction, had improperly used state resources, violated the state's "ghost employment" statute and changed the state's A-F grading system to benefit a charter school run by a prominent Republican donor.​
"A thorough review of the materials, including hundreds of documents and thousands of emails, was conducted," Curry wrote, adding that the Grand Jury Division of the prosecutor's office also conducted interviews with people the inspector general also had spoken with for their investigation.
The U.S. attorney's office, which would have had jurisdiction over any violation of federal wire fraud law, also has not filed any criminal charges against Bennett.
"This matter has been the subject of significant rumor and innuendo," Curry said. "However, the conduct in question has been appropriately addressed as ethical violations, resulting in sanctions against Mr. Bennett by the State Ethics Commission."
The inspector general's report contrasted heavily with a separate document released by the Ethics Commission last July, which found minimal violations and resulted in a $5,000 fine. Bennett has never been charged, and he has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The commission cleared him of the allegations of manipulating the state's A-F accountability system.
On Friday, Bennett declined to comment directly on the case, instead deferring to his attorney, Larry Mackey.
In a written statement, Mackey said Bennett "appreciates the thorough and professional review conducted by the MCPO and the conclusion reached."
"This matter is now closed and fully behind him for which he is very grateful," Mackeywrote. "As for Tony Bennett, whether in the public or private sector, he will continue working to improve the future of young people everywhere."
The inspector general investigation was a source of contention between Curry and Thomas last December. Thomas said he notified Curry's office in February 2014 that his office would be receiving 12 binders of material concerning the case. Thomas also provided The Star with an email from a Curry staffer acknowledging receipt of the binders, which contained the criminal probe.
Curry, however, said in December that he was never given the report. He then requested and received a copy of that report, which was reviewed along with other materials during the criminal investigation.Former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett won't face criminal charges:
Star researcher Cathy Knapp and Star reporters Brian Eason and Tony Cook contributed to this story.
Call Star reporter Jill Disis at (317) 444-6137. Follow her on Twitter: @jdisis.

Special Nite Cap: Catch Up on Today's Post 5/16/15

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