Archive for the ‘high school’ Category

For Ex-Miss Vietnam; Uneasy Lies The Head That Quit High School

November 7, 2008

Vietnam’s new penchant for beauty pageants took an ugly turn after government inspectors found that the new Miss Vietnam didn’t live up to their exacting standards.

Like many up-and-coming nations, Vietnam has been using beauty contests to quickly make its mark on the world. In July, Vietnam played host to the Miss Universe pageant, which was presided over by Jerry Springer and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown (the one known as “Scary Spice”).

By James Hookway
The Wall Street Journal

For many ordinary Vietnamese, the event was more compelling evidence that the country has arrived than joining the World Trade Organization was the year before. Newspapers and TV channels repeatedly pointed out that this was the first time Miss Universe has been held in a Communist country.

But that pride crumbled after government investigators found that the new Miss Vietnam, crowned on Aug. 31, hadn’t finished high school.

[Tran Thi Thuy]

Tran Thi Thuy Dung

Shocked, Ministry of Culture officials stripped 18-year-old Tran Thi Thuy Dung of her most coveted prize — the right to represent Vietnam at this month’s Miss World contest in Johannesburg. Government officials in Hanoi are now trying to find a suitable candidate to send to South Africa. So far, they’ve drawn a blank.

In an interview in her hometown of Danang, in the center of Vietnam’s long, snaking coastline, Ms. Thuy Dung tried to shake off her disappointment at staying behind. “I wish Vietnam can still find the right candidate to send to Miss World, even if it isn’t me,” she said.

Other Vietnamese feel their government’s rigorous enforcement of its beauty-pageant rules has botched their chances of winning the contest. Britain and Australia don’t have any minimum educational requirement for their national beauty contests, while the U.S. gives beauty queens six months to finish high school after their first competition.

“If Ms. Thuy Dung doesn’t have a high-school diploma, she can always make it up later,” says Trung Thi Anh Nga, 22, who works in a boutique here. “If Vietnam doesn’t send a contestant to Miss World, it would be a shame and suggest we don’t have anybody beautiful enough to go.”

The head of the Ministry of Culture’s Performing Arts Agency is having none of this criticism. Le Ngoc Cuong says he has Vietnam’s reputation to protect.

“If we didn’t have the education requirement, then lots of girls would drop out of school to focus on beauty pageants, and we can’t let that happen,” says Mr. Cuong, who is also a well-known choreographer of ballets and a winner of Vietnam’s National Artist award.

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Obama’s High School of the Future: Do We Really Want, Need All Gay Schools?

October 13, 2008

By Andrew Breitbart
The Washington Times

Elected officials in Chicago made international news last week by proposing to create a public high school for gay, lesbian and transgender students.

The Pride Campus of the School for Social Justice is set to open with 600 students in 2010, and its curriculum promises to “teach the history of all people who have been oppressed and the civil rights movements that have led to social justice and queer studies.”

Yet no American journalist covering the presidential race has queried the Chicago-based Sen. Barack Obama about this radical development in education reform: a key issue to which the young senator has committed much of his public life and all of his executive experience.

From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Obama oversaw the Annenberg Challenge, a nearly $100 million Chicago-based education-reform group co-founded by unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.

Nor has any intrepid mainstream-media reporter looked into a greater trend across the United States in segregating public school students by politically correct “victim” class for the explicit purpose of indoctrinating children in “social justice.” This loaded political term has been preached by such Obama allies and mentors as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Mr. Ayers: committed left-wing agitators all, and all off-limits to the working press.

So what exactly is “social justice”? This past Martin Luther King Day, a group of social-welfare students at the University of California at Berkeley got together and took a stab at defining it:

“Social justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.”

Fitting the narrative, the Social Justice High School in Chicago was created in an act of political protest. The first words on its main campus’ Web site at the “About Us” tab make it clear that public funds are intended to develop future and ACORN-style activists: “On May 13th, 2001, fourteen community residents of Little Village neighborhood staged a nineteen-day hunger strike demanding the construction of a new high school.”

The protesters back then chanted: “Construyan la escuela ahora!” (“Build the school now!”), and victory was theirs. It was “Si, Se Puede” in action, the Spanish-language Obama chant, and also, not at all coincidentally, the slogan of self-described “social justice” activist Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union.

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American High Schools: Abysmally Few Graduates

April 2, 2008

The Washington Times
April 2, 2008

Nearly one in three students drop out of high school before graduating. Only half of black and Hispanic students graduate on time. These are tragic, sobering statistics.

As reported by Amy Fagan of The Washington Times on Tuesday (April 1, 2008), the numbers from America’s Promise Alliance show a disparity between urban-suburban graduation rates of more than 35 percentage points. As few as 25 percent in some urban school districts graduate on time, compared to 75 percent of suburban schools (and even that is too low). The trend is not improving.
A notable list of city and state leaders, government officials and urban organizations have forged together to address this “crisis.” Many education experts attribute part of the problem to schools that “hyper-inflate” graduation rates in addition to the schizophrenic standards used to calculate the rates. U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said Tuesday: “One reason the high school dropout crisis is known as the ‘silent epidemic’ is that the problem is frequently masked or minimized by inconsistent and opaque data reporting systems.”

In other words, different schools use different measures to calculate dropout and graduation numbers. New Mexico counts 12th graders who graduate (not those who may have dropped out before the 12th grade); some states only count dropouts as those who fill out a written declaration. Still other states include GED recipients as graduates (even though most of them are dropouts).

That is just part of the problem. No matter “how” the numbers are calculated, one cannot ignore how abysmal the numbers actually are. Alliance founder Colin Powell called the problem a “catastrophe.” We couldn’t agree more.

The cities of Detroit and Baltimore are among the worst in our nation (with 24.9 and 34.6 percent graduation rates, respectively). The irony is that these “urban” school districts receive some of the highest per-pupil funding in the country. Detroit receives $11,000 per pupil, while Baltimore gets $9,600. The national average is $8,700. New York state is the highest at $15,000.

What does the U.S. Department of Education propose to do to help combat this dilemma? It will institute what it’s calling a uniform graduation rate under No Child Left Behind. In other words, every school must use the same standard to measure graduation and dropout rates. Education experts at the Manhattan Institute are calling the decision “a major victory for school accountability.”

The Department of Education says in the coming weeks it will “take administrative steps” and convene summits to decide which dropout “standard” to adopt. This is a department (and administration) that has been credited with “spending more on K-thru-12 education in the first three years, than Bill Clinton did in six.” Yet in many urban schools, we can’t graduate 75 percent. Action, accountability and standards are great concepts. Still unanswered is why schools that get the most money are still the worst performers? Who is held accountable for that?

Assessing American High School Students: Not a Pretty Picture

Assessing American High School Students: Not a Pretty Picture

April 2, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

In the average American big city among 17 assessed, only about 34% of the high school students graduate. About 60% of those same young people have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).What does this say about America’s future? And why aren’t we hearing solutions to these glaring social ills from our candidates for President of the United States?

“The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1837.

Wouldn’t he be proud of today’s teenagers, their parents and teachers?

In the most recent study of high school graduation trends, seventeen of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released April 1, 2008.

The study was conducted by America’s Promise Alliance, an organization founded by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell. His wife Alma chaired the assessment group.Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.jpg
Colin Powell while serving as Secretary of State.  We at Peace
and Freedom
have the utmost respect for Colin and Alma Powell for their work.

“When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe,” said Powell. “This has to stop. We, as a nation, must correct this problem.”

“We must invest in the whole child, and that means finding solutions that involve the family, the school and the community,” said Alma Powell.

While more than one million boys and girls drop out of high school, more than 3 million girls nationwide have a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

“This is pretty shocking,” said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital in New York.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored the STD study.

“Those numbers are certainly alarming,” said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called She said they reflect “the sad state of sex education in our country.”

“Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society,” she said. “Teens tell us that they can’t make decisions in the dark and that adults aren’t properly preparing them to make responsible decisions.”

The Associated Press reported that the teens were tested for four infections: human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and affected 18 percent of girls studied; chlamydia, which affected 4 percent; trichomoniasis, 2.5 percent; and genital herpes, 2 percent.

Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC’s division of STD prevention, said the results are the first to examine the combined national prevalence of common sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent girls.

He said the data, now a few years old, likely reflect current prevalence rates.

Disease rates were significantly higher among black girls — nearly half had at least one STD, versus 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-Americans.

Besides high school graduation rates and rates of sexually transmitted diseases, how else might we seek information on American teenagers?

One area already assessed is the rate that our nation reads and “self-educates.”

We’ve written about and commented about reading trends several times in multiple publications.

But a Washington Times editorial published November 21, 2007 said it best: when it comes to reading many Americans have decidd not to.

Bombarded with media, computers and video games, their reading habits are declining measurably. Nor is it simply the young.

In an unprecedented research synthesis released this week, the National Endowment for the Arts shows how reading habits have declined in recent years with a grim picture of what could only be called the nation’s nonreading public.

Here are some of the troubling highlights of “To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence.”

From 1982 to 2002, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who read literature dropped from 60 percent to 43 percent. Fifty-two percent of the same age demographic said they read a book voluntarily in 2002, which is down from 59 percent a decade earlier.

The percentage of 17-year-olds who read for pleasure almost every day dropped from 31 percent to 22 percent over the period 1984-2004. It also seems that a college education is ever less a guarantee of good reading skills. The sole bright spot occurs among 9-year-olds, whose reading comprehension has improved over the last decade.

Barring this exception, the results are remarkably and troublingly consistent in study after study. Money spent on books in the United States dropped 14 percent during the period 1985-2005 when accounting for inflation. Seventy-two percent of employers report finding high-school graduates “deficient” in reading comprehension.

And the number of adults with bachelor’s degrees who score “proficient in reading prose” fell from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.

With the rise of the Internet and online news consumption, some might argue that queries about “reading” fail to capture the entire picture if they do not account for online activities. But all modes of reading are not equal.

We might take this argument more seriously when teenagers are found reading Shakespeare or Herman Melville online. Far likelier they are surfing MySpace or Facebook.

Our increasing failure to read constitutes a kind of creeping national illiteracy which should concern everyone, not simply librarians and booksellers.

Literacy is an integral aspect of civil society. Substance, culture and literature should not be the ironic casualties of the “Information Age.”

All we’ve discussed here still leaves out the disabling impact of drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy on our younger generation.

The only conclusion one can possibly draw from reading the reports on high school graduation rates, sexually transmitted disease rates and reading trends among American youth is this: unless action is taken we are a nation with a future at risk.

There are about 300 million Americans just now. There are about 1.3 billion Chinese.

And China has a world recognized machine for turning out the educated young people it needs.

One has to draw his or her own conclusions.
Compiled from the official reports cited in the text, AFP, AP, UPI, Fox News, ABC News The Washington Times and CNN.


U.S. High Schools Graduate “About Half” in Cities

Study finds 1 in 4 US teens has a STD

Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: Alarming Facts

Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

The End of Literacy? Don’t Stop Reading.

The Dumbing Of America; Nation of Dunces?

Government study: Americans reading less

High Prescription Drug Use and Abuse in Colleges

American High Schools: Abysmally Few Graduates

U.S. Education And Communities

October 14, 2007

By Kamala Sarup
In Nepal
October 14, 2007

In the US, the educational system is highly organized, respected and therefore, more influenced by educated people in small communities.  This means that school districts have lots of influence on what is taught in US secondary schools. In all parts of the US, but particularly in states like Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Iowa most of these adults believe, more or less, in the literal interpretation of the Bible, just as most of their forefathers did. They teach it in the churches and Sunday Schools. They see the public secondary school teaching of the Biblical beliefs in children.

Facts: Over the last 35 years, U.S. 8th graders score average or above average in math and science on international tests. U.S. high school students (HSers) score average or above in math and science on international tests.

Math and science teachings in U.S. colleges is good. Having taken hundreds of courses in a variety of colleges ranging from community colleges to ivy league grad schools, I can count on “good” teachers.

The teaching becomes progressively good. I think, If because of increasing math and science achievements in high school and college, US competitiveness in globalized economy will progress.

“I don’t countenance more administrative burdens on high school teachers, which detract from teaching, but I think that the standardization of curricula is beneficial to US High school teaching.

Theretofore, teachers taught what they wanted, when they wanted, If they wanted. The standardized tests bring focus to the math and science curricula and promote higher teaching ability in high school teaching and administration and comparisons of teaching quality can be made. This system is called competition and accountability. I like that because it has improved the quality of High School education,”
says an educator Pieniaszek.

He further argued “Because what US makes up in quality; that is, given a large population, it pushes 50% of the High schools into college and a few exceptional students become high achievers.”

Even on the other hand, the schooling in the underdeveloped countries becomes better, as it is in many of them, the students in those countries will become better scientists, engineers, programmers, and mathematicians. The teaching in most underdeveloped countries is also not bad. I think that if the US present increases fund in the quality of US education continues, then US living standards will increases.

“As I said, your mother must regard your education as a high priority to give you good education and an Internet access Kamala. Although it is an additional expense for her, it is an extremely worthwhile educational tool. You can learn about every subject through the school. However, I find that books are necessary to supplement the Internet at present because they cover each subject more thoroughly.

However, some day, books will be obsoleted as the Internet becomes more thorough and as students around the world have computers and Internet access,” he stated.

Children are easily educated by their parents and neighbors as in the past in the US. Pieniaszek said “that’s a hereditary survival skill, i.e, think and do like the people around you and your chances are better of staying and procreating education. If the parents are educated, usually likewise their kids especially if the educators come from the same community and share the same beliefs. Then there are the schools who teach the maths and science, humanities while the kids are young. It is an impressive system. However, in the US, the schools have money and they are organized. They have determined that the kids are believing in an education taught in the high schools and college schools. It’s a good opportunities to the parents and the leaders.

How can educators and scientists in a democracy wage employment to protect their liberal methods. I say, we fight back in the classroom, in the courtroom and across the Internet (e.g., this forum) with time.

Fortunately by my values, the environmental influences seem to be spreading generally around the world, in part caused by more education of worldwide communications, both visual and aural that shows more of the similarities than differences in behavior”.he added.

Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup associates and writes for:

She is a regular contributor to United Press International – Asia News. She is specializes in in-depth reporting and writing on peace, anti-war, women, terrorism, democracy, and development. Some of her publications are: Women;s Empowerment in South Asia, Nepal (booklets); Prevention of Trafficking in Women Through Media, (book); Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media Activism (media research). She has also written two collections of stories.