Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

Obama’s Many “Number One” Priorities

December 3, 2008

Remember this simple catchphrase for priorities: “It’s the economy, stupid”?

Many think that should be the watchword for the new President Barack Obama.  But a confusing and dangerous miasma of foreign policy challenges lurks and lurches ahead. Without carefully applied wisdom, the United States could make matters worse on a wide range of international fronts and issues…

President-elect Barack Obama waits to get on his plane with ... 
President-elect Obama with his two Blackberris and some light reading.
(Jeff Haynes/Reuters)

Yesterday, two think tanks said the U.S. should move away from Iraq and work like the devil on the nuclear covetous Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran.

The Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations said it is time to make peace in the Middle east as a “top priority.”  For the past six years under President George W. Bush, U.S. foreign policy in the region has been dominated by Iraq, said Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Richard Haass, president of the Council.

Now the two agree the real problem is Iran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at the U.N. ... 
Nuclear aspirant: Mr. Ahmadinejad of Iran

One difficulty with this line of thinking is that, depending on the day, the think tank report one considers, and the newspaper headline, America faces stadium full of “top priorities.”

In Russia, Medvedev and Putin believe they should be tops on the Obama agenda.  Mr. Medvedev even threatened to deploy nuclear armed missiles in Eastern Europe unles and until the U.S. backed off of its missile defense ambitions with Poland and the Czech Republic.

And the Medvedev/Putin thrust cannot be overlooked: the two had no qualms about invading Georgia to get the attention of the U.S. and NATO: and it worked.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits a ballistic missile ...
Russia’s Medvedev, in front of a startegic Russian missile, said his missile advances will overwhelm U.S. defensive measures in the next few years.
AFP/Pool/File/Dmitry Astakhov

Terrorism could be the number one priority.  Just yesterday the U.S. Director of National Security said in essence that the Pakistani Islamist radical militant group  Lashkar-e-Taiba  blew up Mubai, India, last week, killing nearly 200.

On the same day, yesterday, a group of wise men said the U.S. can expect to face a biological or chemical attack.

Is another 9-11 in America’s future?  And are we ready to defend or respond?

Pakistan itself might lay claim to Mr. Obama’s top priority.  Bankrupt, last weekend rioters ripped through the nations largest city, the Pakistani Army was pinned down by terrorists in the tribal areas, and the nuclear-armed government was under fire from all domestic and international sides over Mumbai.

A Pakistani newspaper wondered yesterday if the Army was about to break with the elected government of mr. Zardari and his Minister Mr. Gilani.

Then there are a few small matters with China, North Korea and you name it.

Oh and there are just a few domestic realities and campaign promises that need our next president’s attention: OPEC and oil, drill or not to drill, schools and education, tax relief, jobs and unemployment,health care, AIDS and the list goes on.

You won’t convince me for a second that the modern miracle of multi-tasking and several Blackberries will resolve this poisonous soup.

America needs to take a deep breath and close its eyes: too much Obama-mania could cause one not to think.

Mr. Obama, the United States, all Americans and all Western allies are in for some very hard work, sacrifices of an unknown nature, and difficult decisions.

Here’s a simple truth: The age of simplicity is over.

*****

From Wikipedia:

It’s the economy, stupid” was a phrase in American politics widely used during Bill Clinton‘s successful 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush. For a time, Bush was considered unbeatable because of foreign policy developments such as the end of the Cold War and the Persian Gulf war. The phrase, coined by Clinton campaign strategist James Carville, refers to the notion that Clinton was a better choice because Bush had not adequately addressed the economy, which had recently undergone a recession.

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China: Govt Trying To Make Earthquake Deaths OK, Failing Miserbaly

November 21, 2008

The news conference on Friday was meant to explain how far the government has come in helping victims of the earthquake that devastated Sichuan Province last May. More than 200,000 homes have been rebuilt, 685,000 are under reconstruction and $441 billion will be spent in the coming years to help make Sichuan whole again, Wei Hong, the provincial vice governor told reporters.

By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times

But a garbled translation of Mr. Wei’s words ended up shifting public attention from reconstruction efforts to unresolved questions about how many children perished beneath the rubble of their poorly built schools.

Asked about the final student death toll by a foreign reporter, Mr. Wei gave a lengthy answer that ended with the figure 19,065 — more than double previous estimates and one that would suggest that a quarter of earthquake victims were children. Lest there be any doubt, the official English translation of Mr. Wei’s remarks placed the word “student” after the figure 19,065.

The news was immediately picked up by the foreign and Chinese media. Within hours it was even posted on the central government’s main Web site. In a country where official statistics are often taken with a grain of salt, the figure seemed like a stunningly frank admission that the earthquake’s toll on children had been even more horrific than anyone imagined.

Later, however, the government issued a clarification, insisting that Mr. Wei’s remarks were flubbed by his translator. The figure 19,065 applied to the number of positively identified victims, it said, not the number of dead students.

For now, the official death toll from the quake stands at 69,227, with 18,222 missing. A government spokesman said the authorities were still working on a final tally of dead students. In the past, the government has said that 7,000 classrooms were destroyed across the province.

Coming six months after the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, the episode has refocused attention on aspects of a national catastrophe that the government would rather forget. Although an investigative committee acknowledged in September that many of the schools that crumbled were shoddily constructed, the government has yet to issue a full report, and yet to hold anyone accountable.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/22
/world/asia/22quake.html?_r=1

Can You Name World’s Most Spoken Language Or Nations That Make Great Britain?

November 20, 2008

Most people do not know how many countries make up Britain or which is the world’s most spoken language, a national survey has found.

Telegraph (UK)
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More than half wrongly believe that English is the most common language, while just over a third (37%) correctly identified it as Mandarin Chinese.

And less than a quarter correctly identified England, Wales and Scotland as being the countries that make up Great Britain.

The poll of 2,000 adults was commissioned by geographic technology company ESRI UK to mark Geography Awareness Week.

It found that a quarter of people would like to be an explorer – although many have trouble identifying where cities such as Leeds and Sheffield are in England.

When asked to rank a list of UK cities, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham and Luton, in the order they are located, from north to south, eight in 10 correctly placed Newcastle and Luton.

But only half could only identify Leeds as the second most northerly, while a similar number put Sheffield correctly in third place.

The poll found that just under a quarter of people have visited a local attraction or museum in the last month.

Dr Rita Gardner, director of the Royal Geographical Society, said: “The poll raises some questions about how engaged people are with the many geographical issues in the wider world and about geographical factual knowledge.”

She added: “Good geographical knowledge and skills are vital for all of us, as responsible citizens, if we are to fully understand the nature of change in the world’s people, places and environments.”

Angela Baker, community programmes manager for ESRI (UK), said: “Geography helps us make sense of both our local surroundings but also the world’s bigger challenges like climate change, war, energy and poverty. It’s remarkable that so many people don’t know some simple facts like how many countries make up Great Britain.

“What is encouraging is that explorer came top in people’s preferred careers and that map-reading and compass skills beat being able to use a sat-nav.”

REFILE - CORRECTING FULL NAME OF APEC Chinese President Hu Jintao ...
There are 1.3 billion people in China and Chinese people live world-wide.  Here Chinese President Hu Jintao greets members of the Chinese community in Peru upon his arrival at Lima’s airport November 19, 2008. REUTERS/Handout/Andina Agency

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat
/3486403/Three-quarters-of-Brits-unable-to-name-Great
-Britains-three-countries.html

Loss of Tax Revenue, Plus More Students Makes For Ugly School Prognosis

November 10, 2008

Schools all over Ameroca are discovering that the global economic crisis means smaller tax revenues to spend on schools.  Plus many areas have more new students, many of them immigrants needing additional help and special teachers.  Here is a report from two big counties near washington DC….

By Michael Alison Chandler and Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, November 10, 2008; 4:13 PM

Leaders of the region’s two largest school systems outlined today their grimmest scenarios to date for how looming budget shortfalls could play out in classrooms, with Fairfax County schools facing an average increase of 2 1/2 students per class and Montgomery County forced to renegotiate teacher pay increases or cut positions.

Fairfax Superintendent Jack D. Dale sketched a proposal to close a $220 million projected shortfall for the fiscal year that begins in July by eliminating summer school, except for certain special education students, and cutting more than 1,000 positions, including custodians, office workers and teachers.

The $2.2 billion spending plan would be only slightly smaller than the current budget but would absorb about $50 million in lost state revenue and $46 million in added expenses because of projected enrollment increases. Officials expect the 169,000-student system, the region’s largest, to grow to 174,000. The proposal assumes no increase in Fairfax County’s share of the budget.

“It will take decades to recover” from such cuts, Dale said. “We hope this is the worst-case scenario.” The superintendent will present the proposal Friday to the Board of Supervisors, which funds nearly three-quarters of the school system’s budget.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/10
/AR2008111002066.html?hpid=topnews

McCain’s Prospects Depend on Telling Truth About Obama

October 15, 2008

By Phillis Schlafly
Townhall and The Washington Times
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The media are piling on against John McCain and some pundits are predicting it’s all over, that Barack Obama has somehow won the election. As the old saying goes, it’s not over until the fat lady sings, and it’s high time for the fat lady to sing about Obama’s scary agenda and the many reasons why it is too risky to elect him president.

We need to hear more about ACORN, the special-interest group that would like to steal this election by registering people who are not eligible to vote, such as registering ghost voters in Nevada under the names of the Dallas Cowboys. Obama’s years of close association with ACORN need to be known to the public.

We should hear more about Obama’s political friend William Ayers, the unrepentant bomber and Ward Churchill-type professor, who has a really scary plan to remake the curriculum of public schools in order to turn kids into radical socialists like himself. Obama helped deliver big bucks to Ayers’ radical education project in Chicago.

Obama has already introduced one bill in the U.S. Senate called “Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act,” which would implement Ayers’ social-outcome notions, and another to teach kindergartners Al Gore’s propaganda about climate change. Voters should be reminded that Obama has called for making “sure your child can speak Spanish.”

We need to have further explanations….

Read the rest:
 http://townhall.com/Columnists/PhyllisSchlafly/2008/
10/14/mccains_prospects_depend_on_telling_truth_about_obama

Making math uncool is hurting America, report says

October 10, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans may like to make fun of girls who are good at math, but this attitude is robbing the country of some of its best talent, researchers reported on Friday.

They found that while girls can be just as talented as boys at mathematics, some are driven from the field because they are teased, ostracized or simply neglected.

“The U.S. culture that is discouraging girls is also discouraging boys,” Janet Mertz, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who led the study said in a statement.

“The situation is becoming urgent. The data show that a majority of the top young mathematicians in this country were not born here.”

Writing in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Mertz and colleagues described their analysis of data from international math competitions going back to 1974. They also looked at surveys of U.S. students.

“It is deemed uncool within the social context of USA middle and high schools to do mathematics for fun; doing so can lead to social ostracism. Consequently, gifted girls, even more so than boys, usually camouflage their mathematical talent to fit in well with their peers,” they wrote.

FAIRLY EVEN DISTRIBUTION

They also challenged the widespread belief….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081010/lf_nm_life/us_
math_usa;_ylt=Ap.1F4OMJ0niv2LDU4Nq4Kas0NUE

Muhammad Reports From Pakistan, 21 March 2008

March 21, 2008

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

I hope you and your team at the Peace and Freedom will be alright. I have been passing through a severe depression as I have been seeing with my own eyes that officials of Pakistani administration has been providing protection to terrorists.
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The terrorists have been given free hand to kill the soldiers and innocent people. Like me thousands of tribesmen have been losing the hope. Officials of the United States posted in Pakistan may be aware of the situation, but they have also been keeping complete mum.
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Terrorists and Taliban have destroyed schools in the tribal areas, but the officials are taking no action. They are just sitting in their offices enjoying the life.

Believe me Sir, sometime my heart tells me to take up the arms and kill all these terrorists who have been playing havoc with the lives and properties of the masses. But I can do nothing as I am helpless. Terrorists have been abusing and threatening me, but I can do nothing. I want to kill all these evil forces.

You are my brother you will certainly help me.

I have been talking in this way as I have already told you that I am depression. Political situation in Pakistan is also fluid.

President Musharraf has summoned the National Assembly to elect prime minister on March 24. I just placing a report of a newspaper for keeping update you and your readers.

President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday called a special session of the new National Assembly for Monday to let his political opponents elect their first prime minister after eight-and-a-half years as a parliamentary momentum seemed to leave his own office at their mercy.

An apparently swift action on a proposal from caretaker Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro came only a day after the National Assembly elected its first woman speaker and her deputy by more than two-thirds majorities, which showed the anti-Musharraf camp could muster enough numbers in a joint session of the two houses of parliament to impeach the president if they so wanted.

The announcement came also when the country waited with bated breath for the majority coalition of the winners of Feb 18 election to name their candidate for prime minister to end a bitter controversy that has robbed a historic transition of some of its lustre.

The candidate, under the coalition agreement, must be from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has added a high drama to a prolonged suspense by calling its boy chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from a studies break in Britain to name the person for the office that his mother, Benazir Bhutto, would have taken without question for a historic third term if she had not been assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack in Rawalpindi on Dec 27 soon after she addressed a campaign rally.

The selection of the candidate, to be made by the 19-year-old Bilawal’s father and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, has led to an unprecedented controversy in the party after one of its senior-most figures, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who is also the president of its electoral arm PPP Parliamentarians, found his candidacy being blocked by a mysterious propaganda campaign against him and the talk of an alternative being sought from the most populous Punjab province rather than from the hopeful’s Sindh.

The National Assembly secretariat said in a statement the session for what the Constitution calls “ascertainment of the member who commands the confidence of majority of the members of the assembly” would begin at 4pm on Monday, while it would remain open on Sunday to receive nominations of candidates by 2pm and their scrutiny by the Speaker at 3pm.The election will be held through what is called division” in parliamentary parlance, in which members go to different lobbies to record their votes for candidates in accordance with the direction of their respective parties as required by an anti-defection clause of the Political Parties Act that forbids floor-crossing.It will be the fourth prime ministerial election in a little more than five years and the first time President Musharraf will find himself unable to stop an opponent from taking that office since he seized power in an Oct 12, 1999 coup that toppled then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

After the previous October 2002 election, the president kept the anti-defection law suspended to inspire defections mainly from the PPP to help his hand-picked Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali of the formerly ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) get elected prime minister in November by only a one-vote majority for a tenure that lasted only 20 months.Mr Jamali’s two successors to complete the remainder of his five-year term — PML president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain for a transitional two months and Shaukat Aziz for more than three years — were elected with comfortable majorities.

Now, whoever is nominated as the PPP candidate, possibly on Saturday or Sunday, will face only a token contest from Mr Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement as the joint candidate of the new PML-led opposition alliance.

Wednesday’s election of Dr Fehmida Mirza as the first woman to become the National Assembly speaker and Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, both of the PPP, by more than two-thirds majorities of the 342-seat house — securing 249-70 and 246-68 votes respectively against the opposition rivals — served as a stark warning to a strong but an isolated president whom his opponents want to be out of their way to restore full parliamentary democracy.

The vote, which at least two of its members missed, showed the coalition could impeach the president on the oft-repeated charge of violating the Constitution as well as “gross misconduct” as it would have the required two-thirds majority in a joint sitting of the 342-seat National Assembly and 100-seat Senate with the help of a six-member anti-Musharraf “like-minded” group formed in the Senate last month and independents.

The Senate is presently left with 96 members because three members have opted to take National Assembly seats they won on Feb 18 and the death of one PML member from Balochistan.

While the coalition can hope to bag all these four seats to be filled through by-elections, the present Senate strength leaves the pro-Musharraf camp with 50 members (minus the six rebels) and his opponents with 46, whose addition to its 251 supporters in the National Assembly takes the total to 297, which will be one vote more than the 296-vote two-thirds majority of the total 443 members of both houses needed for the passage of an impeachment resolution.But the new would-be ruling coalition, which had dismissed an impeachment move against the president in the recent past on the ground of not having the required numbers, does not seem to be seeking such a course immediately in order to allow itself to settle down in power.

It still remains short of a two-thirds majority in the Senate to be able to pass constitutional amendments passed by a two-thirds majority in each house, such as one to clip the president of his controversial powers to sack a prime minister, dissolve the National Assembly and appoint provincial governors and armed forces chiefs at his discretion.

Dear Sir, just pray for our safety. You are nice brother and a honest and lovely man.

Thank you very much,

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Education Key to Fighting Future Threats

March 10, 2008

By James G. Zumwalt
The Washington Times
March 10, 2008

Consciousness of a threat is a factor of education. Unfortunately, some of our school systems, promoting a “peace in our time” mindset, reject educating the most innocent of innocents — our young children — that there is evil in the world that poses a real danger to those oblivious to it. The result is a “dumbing-down” of students about a threat to their future existence.
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For example, World Net Daily reported seventh-grade students in a third of California schools are taught in a social studies book published by Teachers’ Curriculum Institute that “jihad” is, at best, an effort by Muslims “to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research” and, at worst, simply Muslims fighting “to protect themselves from those who would do them harm.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20080310/COMMENTARY/
413455241/1012/commentary

The End of Literacy? Don’t Stop Reading.

February 17, 2008

By Howard Gardner
The Washington Post
Sunday, February 17, 2008; Page B01.
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What will happen to reading and writing in our time?
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Could the doomsayers be right? Computers, they maintain, are destroying literacy. The signs — students’ declining reading scores, the drop in leisure reading to just minutes a week, the fact that half the adult population reads no books in a year — are all pointing to the day when a literate American culture becomes a distant memory. By contract, optimists foresee the Internet ushering in a new, vibrant participatory culture of words. Will they carry the day?
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Maybe neither. Let me suggest a third possibility: Literacy — or an ensemble of literacies — will continue to thrive, but in forms and formats we can’t yet envision.

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/15/AR2008021502898.html

Britain boosts Mandarin in schools as China’s power grows

February 7, 2008

LONDON (AFP) – Teenagers in England will be able to study for a new national qualification in Mandarin, reflecting the growing importance of China as a global power, an exam board announced Thursday.

Students aged 15 and 16 will get the chance to study the subject for their GCSE exams, which all young people in the country have to sit, from next year, the Assessments and Qualifications Alliance said.

The board said it was making the announcement to coincide with the start of Lunar New Year.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080207/lf_afp/
britainchinalanguageeducationlunar_080207150935

High school students leave a school in London. Teenagers in ...
High school students leave a school in London. Teenagers in England will be able to study for a new national qualification in Mandarin, reflecting the growing importance of China as a global power, an exam board announced Thursday.(AFP/File/Carl de Souza)