Monday, May 21, 2012

Via Jerry Becker: Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record], Wednesday, May 23, 2012, Volume 31, Issue 32, p. 24,28. See  --  our thanks to Michael Goldenberg for bringing this article to our attention.
Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste
By Eli Broad

For one difficult year, I was an assistant professor at the Detroit Institute of Technology. It was a year after I graduated from Michigan State University and started my accounting practice. I taught all the night courses that no one else wanted, like drugstore accounting. I scoured lesson plans, textbooks, and teachers' guides and tried to keep my students' attention. A lot of them were older than I was, worked two jobs, or had just come back from fighting in Korea. It was incredibly challenging work that left me with a lifelong respect for teachers.

Now, nearly 60 years later, that early experience has become all the more important because of my passionate involvement in philanthropic work to improve America's public schools.

I am old enough to remember when America's K-12 public schools were the best in the world. I am a proud graduate of them, and I credit much of my success to what I learned in Detroit public schools and at Michigan State. When I was in high school, not long after World War II, the United States had the top graduation rate. Since then, we have dropped behind 20 other industrialized nations. In less time than you just spent reading the last paragraph, another American student has dropped out of school.

American students today rank 31st in the world in mathematics and 23rd in science. If the academic rankings of our most precious resource-our young people-reflected the rankings of our Olympic athletes, it would be a source of major national embarrassment.
The most shameful part of the picture-the one I consider the civil rights issue of our time-is the dramatically lower graduation rates for poor and minority students. These students are far less likely to have access to the best teachers.

By any measure, America's schools are in the grip of a profound crisis.

Frankly, I'm not sure how far I would get if I attended public school today.

It's not just that public schools aren't producing the results we want-it's that we're not giving them what they need to help students achieve at high levels. K-12 education in the United States is deeply antiquated. Most schools still have a three-month summer vacation, a practice that dates back to our agrarian past, when most Americans lived on farms and children were required to help tend and harvest crops. Most classrooms are still physically set up the way they were then, with a teacher facing rows of students. Children of many different backgrounds and learning styles are expected to learn the same lesson taught in the same way. School district policies and practices have not kept pace with student and teacher needs.

Although classrooms have stayed largely the same on the inside, the world around them has changed radically. The sheer pace of economic and societal forces as a result of the digital revolution far exceeds the capacity of our schools, as they are currently structured, to keep up. Technological advances have personalized every arena of our lives, but very little has been done to harness the same power to personalize learning for students with different needs.

Classrooms in China, India, Japan, and South Korea, meanwhile, have advanced by leaps and bounds. They have elevated the teaching profession, insisted on longer school days and years, promoted education as a key value, created national ministries empowered to set priorities and standards, and built school cultures designed to help teachers uphold these high standards. They do all of this with far less money than the United States spends on education. In the past few decades, American taxpayer spending in real dollars has more than doubled, with no associated increase in student achievement. Efforts to spend more money may be well intentioned, but money alone won't fix our schools.

The American middle class, once bolstered by well-paying jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors that didn't require a higher education, now runs on service- and technology-sector jobs that require a significantly greater level of educational attainment. But too few young people are making it to college. Even when they do, the monumental cost of higher education and the lack of sound K-12 preparation make the university track not just difficult, but also, in the eyes of an increasing number, undesirable. Without a solid education, these young people face higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and crime. Lifetime income, taxes, productivity, and health indicators all decline.
These are the kinds of problems-lack of opportunity now and cynicism about the future-that contribute toward frustrations behind movements like Occupy Wall Street. The protesters are right. We must do better.

SIDEBAR: "When external forces are changing your world, think about what you can do to move with them, rather than reflexively hunkering down and refusing to change."

Many talented and intelligent men and women have attempted to reform education, and many have quit the effort because of the enormity of the problem, the lack of progress, and the system's resistance to change. I never shy from an unreasonable goal. And as President Barack Obama's former chief of staff and now-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once smartly told The New York Times, "Rule One: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things."

That's a good rule for everyone to keep in mind, no matter the type of crisis you find yourself confronting. When external forces are changing your world, think about what you can do to move with them, rather than reflexively hunkering down and refusing to change. Use crises as chances to rethink everything, question your assumptions, and start afresh. That's what we're trying to do in public education.

Entrenched bureaucracies, policies, and practices are no longer set up in a way that helps teachers and students progress. Taxpayer resources often don't make it to the classroom. Teachers are left to fend for themselves without adequate real-time information about how well their students are learning, access to best practices, or time to collaborate. Because teachers' pay and expectations are, in most cases, low, many talented Americans are dissuaded from entering the profession at all.

How did public school districts get here? I suspect the reason is because too few dared to ask the right "Why not?" question: Why not redesign these districts? It's a simple matter of reframing basic assumptions. Data show that the greatest positive outcomes for students happen when entire school systems are either redesigned or started anew.

The problem is immense. The solution must be big enough to match it. But there is good news. It is possible to challenge the status quo while honoring good teachers and defending public education. It is possible to encourage innovative, creative, and new solutions to tackle the challenges facing our public schools. And it is possible to provide all of our children with equal access to a free, quality public education, not just those lucky enough to live in an area with a great school, like I did 70 years ago.
Eli Broad is the founder of two Fortune 500 companies, KB Home and SunAmerica. With his wife, Edythe, he has founded The Broad Foundations to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science, and the arts. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation funds systemwide public school programs and policies. This Commentary was adapted for Education Week from Mr. Broad's just-published book, The Art of Being Unreasonable (Wiley).

Millions Watch Eclipse Crossing Asia, US

Via USAction // FB:

Via Climate Progress:

Posted: 21 May 2012 09:30 AM PDT

Since I lost many relatives in the Holocaust, I understand all too well the unique nature of that catastrophe. The Holocaust is not an analogue to global warming, which is an utterly different kind of catastrophe, and, obviously, one whose worst impacts are yet to come.
I have explained this many times, including a 2008 post (“PLEASE stop calling them skeptics“) and in my 2009 post, “Anti-science conservatives are stuck in denial but for climate science activists, the reverse is true,” which I’ll excerpt in this post.

Over the years, I have explained why “denier” is not my preferred term. I tried to coin the terms “delayer” and “disinformer” for those who make a living spreading disinformation about climate science — and I still use the term ‘disinformer.’  But coining terms is nearly impossible, and the fact is that almost everybody has embraced the term “deniers” – including many, many disinformers.

As the National Center for Science Education explains in their 2012 post, “Why Is It Called Denial?
“Denial” is the term preferred even by many deniers. “I actually like ‘denier.’ That’s closer than skeptic,” says MIT’s Richard Lindzen, one of the most prominent deniers. Minnesotans for Global Warming and other major denier groups go so far as to sing, “I’m a Denier!”.
Heck, even disinformers associated with the hard-core extremists at the Heartland Institute like the term:
So clearly, using the term ‘denier’ doesn’t inherently mean you are equating a disinformer with a Holocaust denier. So if for no reason than for clarity’s sake — as well as for people doing web searches — we seem to be stuck with ‘denier’ for general usage.

But undefined labels are always subject to criticism and out-of-context attacks, especially by people who spread disinformation for a living, so I’m a big fan of defining one’s terms, as NCSE does in its post. As I have written many times in the past:
I understand that some of the deniers take offense at the apparent implication that they are like Holocaust deniers.  I am not trying to make that connection — since climate science deniers are nothing like Holocaust deniers.  Holocaust deniers are denying an established fact from the past.  If the media or politicians or the public took them at all seriously, I suppose it might increase the chances of a future Holocaust. But, in fact, they are very marginalized, and are inevitably attacked and criticized widely whenever they try to spread their disinformation, so they have no significant impact on society.
The climate science deniers, however, are very different and far more worrisome. They are not marginalized, but rather very well-funded and treated quite seriously by the status quo media.  They are trying to persuade people not to take action on a problem that has not yet become catastrophic, but which will certainly do so if we listen to them and delay acting much longer.
This doesn’t stop the disinformers from misrepresenting what one was trying to say, of course, since that is what they do for a living.

Recently, some disinformers have tried to claim I was saying something other than what I was in my May 3 post “False Balance On Climate Change at PBS NewsHour.”

In that unusually prescient post — written the day before the Heartland Institute imploded by launching its billboard linking climate science believers to the Unabomber — I criticized PBS for not quoting any scientists in their story while quoting two people pushing disinformation: Mitt Romney … and a Heartland ‘expert’! I have updated that post to be crystal clear what I meant.

What I was saying is that in the spectrum of disinformation, PBS obviously would not simply let the most extreme kind of disinformer — a Holocaust denier — push their lies followed by some small disclaimer. And to be clear, I always want to draw a distinction between the spectrum of disinformation on the one hand and the spectrum of likely impact of that disinformation on the other. You can lie about a stone cold fact, but not do a lot of damage if folks don’t believe you and the media doesn’t treat you seriously. You can lie about a very high probability outcome (that your own lie makes far more likely) and do a staggering amount of damage if a substantial amount of one political party believes you and if the media does treat you seriously.

In contrast to this nothing-burger, the disinformers proudly and aggressively go far beyond the pale on a regular basis — often at an institutional level.  If that wasn’t clear before, the Heartland Institute meltdown has demonstrated to the world that the hard-core deniers won’t back down from the most extremist hate speech.
Even two weeks after launching their widely condemned campaign comparing believers in climate science to “murderers and madmen,” Heartland is still doubling down on its rhetoric:
Of course, leading disinformers like The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley routinely invoke the most extreme language and then keep using it over and over again – see Lord Monckton repeats and expands on his charge that those who embrace climate science are “Hitler youth” and fascists.

And just last week, one of the remaining “Heartland experts,” Alan Caruba, wrote a piece titled “Climate Nazis,” which contains these absurdities:
Antihumanism has been around a long time. As Dr. Zubin points out, it has taken the form of “Darwinism, eugenics, German militarism, Nazism, xenophobia, the population control movement, environmentalism, technophobia, and most recently, the incredibly demented climatophobic movement, which seeks to justify mass human sacrifice for the purpose of weather control.”
Al Gore, James Hansen, and even President Obama’s science advisor, John Holden, are card-carrying members of this cult….
God knows I would like to ignore or — better still — never have to hear from these climate Nazis, but that is not going to happen so long as The New York Times, the United Nations, and a host of others keep repeating their lethal lies.
Caruba is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.  Seriously.

Don’t be fooled by the disinformers puffing smoke in your face. Nothing is more pro-human than working to stop catastrophic climate change:

Para dizer que não Falei de Educação // For those Who say I have not Spoken of Education

Para dizer que não Falei de Educação.

A Educação Brasileira teve avanços nestes últimos anos, porém ainda existem muitas coisas que precisam ser feitas para dar conta da qualidade, da carreira dos trabalhadores da Educação, das infraestruturas de Escolas e Universidades, dos projetos pedagógicos que formam os professores, para romper de vez com a violência e o narcotráfico que dominam vários setores da nossa sociedade (inclusive as elites). 

É preciso combater as injustiças sociais geradas por anos de intolerância e políticas inadequadas. Porém é preciso compreender que estamos num outro estágio de mobilização política que requer de todos nós talento e inteligência para demonstrar nossas inquietações e transformar as pessoas para esta nova tarefa na sociedade. 

A Educação é o que irá governar as soluções para o futuro. Imagine se pudermos construir elementos para que nossas crianças estejam nas creches, que todas as crianças tivessem um ensino fundamental de qualidade e contextualizado com a nova realidade brasileira, que o ensino médio possibilitasse a formação técnica, mas que pudesse oferecer alternativas de qualidade para que estes jovens sonhassem com uma oportunidade nas nossas Universidades, de preferência nas públicas, que pudéssemos ter nas Universidades jovens sendo formados com qualidade para responder aos anseios da sociedade e ao mesmo tempo uma grande parcela pudesse sonhar com a continuidade de estudos (mestrado e doutorado). 

O Brasil precisa investir em Educação, mas precisa investir também em ciência e tecnologia, considerar como estratégica as áreas das humanidades para que possamos nos transformar numa grande nação, completa, soberana e livre para decidir nossos destinos. 

Não entendo que existem armações ou mesmo planos maquiavélicos para impedir que possamos chegar a este ideais, porém entendo que falta sensibilidade de muitos setores do executivo, do legislativo e do judiciário e da sociedade em geral em relação a colocar a Educação no centro das grandes urgências nacionais. 

O Brasil desta nova educação terá seu povo melhor preparado, será mais justo, mais solidário e mais fraterno. São estas crianças frutos desta nova educação que num futuro próximo transformarão nosso grande país numa grande nação!

João Luiz Martins
Magnífico Reitor
Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

For those Who say I have not Spoken of Education

Brazilian Education has been progressing in recent years, but there are still many things that need to be made to accountable for, this includes the overall quality, career paths for employees of education, the infrastructure in schools and universities, pedagogical projects that train teachers, a break from the violence and drug trafficking that dominates many sectors of our society (including the elites).

We must tackle the social injustices generated by years of intolerance and inappropriate policies. But you must understand that we are in another stage of political mobilization that requires all of our talents and our intelligence to demonstrate our concerns and turn people to this new task.

Education is what will enable solutions for the future. Imagine if we can construct elements beginning when our children are in nursery school, where all children had a quality basic education and in context with the new Brazilian reality, which would enable high school technical training, and that would offer quality alternatives for people who would dream of opportunity for all in our university. That we could have young people being trained in universities, with quality, to meet the needs of society where a large portion dreams of continuing studies (masters and doctorate).

So that we can become a great nation, complete, sovereign and free; to allow us to decide our destinies, Brazil needs to invest in education, but it also needs to invest in science and technology.  These areas are considered as strategic areas along with the humanities.

I do not believe that there are plans or even Machiavellian plans that prevent us to reach this ideal, but I understand that there are those who lack sensitivity to many sectors who are in the executive, legislative and the judiciary branches of our government, as well as in the society at large in relation to the place of education at the center of this national emergency.

The Brazil of a new education will better prepare its people; it will be fairer, more caring and more fraternal. These children are the fruit of this new education and in the near future will transform our great country a great nation!

João Luiz Martins
Magnífico Reitor
Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Via Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Via JMG: Dr. Who's On First

reposted from Joe

Via ॐ Blue Buddha Quote Collective / FB:

The Four Reliance's

First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,
not on the words;

Second, rely on the teachings,
not on the personality of the teacher;

Third, rely on real wisdom,
not superficial interpretation;

And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,
not on judgmental perceptions.

Traditional Buddhist teaching

Via The Other 98%/ FB:

“Clearly, there has been a lack of imagination about how much can go wrong.”
― Rachel Maddow

Via Climate Progress:

Posted: 20 May 2012 09:21 AM PDT
The CBS Evening News  had one of the best segments ever on manmade global warming.  The piece is headlined on their website, “Assessing the risk of climate change” with this description:
The past 12 months were the hottest on record, and forecasters are predicting high temperatures across the U.S. this summer. Science and environment contributor M. Sanjayan explains the risk of climate change.
Watch it:

Kudos to CBS News for running this segment with Sanjayan, who is “the lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy.” Let’s hope CBS makes it a regular feature.
Related Post:

Barack Obama - Working On A Dream

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