Monthly Archives: May 2011

Chinese Parents Seek A More Relaxed Education For Their Children

Parents turn to private education to relieve overburdened Chinese students

BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) — Chinese parents are increasingly sending their children to private schools as they seek a more relaxed education for them.

Ms Feng, the mother of a 10-year-old son, was quoted by the Monday edition of Beijing News as saying her son could not adapt to the strict management in public schools.

“My son was required to not stand in the wrong line in physical education class and eat up every meal at public school, and he could not adjust to things like these,” Feng said.

She began sending her son to Ririxin, a private school in the suburbs of Beijing, one and a half years ago.

“Ririxin attracted me because it gives space for the child’s personality,” Feng said. Her son now feels more relaxed and communicates more easily with other students.

Feng believes that good emotional health and character is very important for a child’ s future.

Ririxin, which was founded in 2006, has grown with the support of Feng and other parents, from a home-school co-sponsored by several parents to the one with over 100 students and 26 teachers.

Students at the Ririxin School, including a dozen primary school pupils and the remaining kindergarten ones, learn subjects such as literature, mathematics, art, music, handwriting, sports and social practice.

Textbooks on major subjects such as Chinese and mathematics are the same as those of public schools. “The difference lies in the way of teaching and learning,” said Zhang Dongqing, one of the founders and deputy head of the Ririxin School, in an interview with the newspaper.

“With a more relaxed atmosphere and fewer exams, we try to promote a natural way in our education,” said Zhang, noting that her school advocates a pursuit of love, beauty, wisdom and freedom.

Statistics from the Chinese Association for Non-Government Education show that in 2009, more than 31.5 million Chinese students attended 106,500 private schools and institutes at various levels. The total number of students attending schools that year was over 250 million.

The quality of education in private schools is one of the major concerns of most Chinese parents and educators, as the country still follows an examination-oriented education system.

“The students of private primary schools like Ririxin will still have to sit for the entrance exams for high schools and colleges,” said Zhang Meiling, an expert in primary school education of the Institute of Psychology of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

She said private schools should, therefore, provide courses prescribed by the state as compulsory subjects to prepare students for further education.

Faced with an examination-oriented education system, private education can only do so much in relaxing the overburdened Chinese students.

Most Chinese students are still burdened with an excessive workload. They work extra-long hours on school days and continue to have classes on weekends and holidays.

A recent report showed that about 80 percent of China’s primary and middle school students are not sleeping enough, getting an average of less than eight hours of sleep, even on weekends.

Heavy workloads, poor study-habits and long commute-times are believed to be contributing to the sleep deficit.

Reacting to the criticism, China formulated a 10-year national education plan (from 2010 to 2020) last July, pledging to build an assignment-burden monitoring and reporting mechanism to lessen the pressure on primary and secondary school students.

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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Education News


School District Leader In Preparing Students For College

West New York School District Cited as A National Leader
In Preparing Students for College

West New York School District is the nation’s leader, among small school districts, in advancing its students’ readiness for a college education, according to the College Board, a national not-for-profit association representing more than 5,900 colleges, universities and schools. West New York received national recognition for expanding access to College Board Advanced Placement Exams and improving scores among students taking the exam. Nationwide, four school districts have received the 2011 AP District of the Year award for opening AP classrooms to a significantly broader pool of students while maintaining or improving the percentage of students earning scores of three or higher.

“Motivating students to achieve success as they pursue a college education is essential to creating the highly educated workforce our country needs. I congratulate the West New York School District for being selected as a national leader among small districts that nurture academic achievement through the AP program,” said acting New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf.

The College Board will work closely with each of the AP District of the Year winners to document what they are doing so they can share their best practices with all members of the AP community. Participation in college-level AP courses can level the playing field for underserved students, give them the confidence needed to succeed in college, and raise standards and performance in key subjects such as science and math. Many U.S. school districts have focused on expanding access to AP courses as part of a strategy for fostering college readiness.

West New York received its distinction for fostering a college-going culture by increasing student participation in AP from 48 to 99 students, a 44 percent annual increase. The district also increased the percentage of AP students earning scores of three or higher from 21 percent to 37 percent and increased the percentage of traditionally underserved minority AP students earning scores of three or higher from 23 percent to 36 percent.

Chicago Public Schools, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded as the large district. Colton Joint Unified School District, Colton, California was awarded as the medium sized district. Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida will receive the Beacon Award for its profound achievement in using AP to create a culture focused on college readiness. The 2011 AP District of the Year awards will be presented at a celebratory plenary session at the AP Annual Conference in San Francisco on July 22. For further information, visit

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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Education News


School Outcasts Rule After High School

Yes, but make sure you rule sanely. Just look at Lady Gaga.smh

High School Outcasts Rule the World

So let’s stop treating them like misfits: Alexandra Robbins

By John Johnson, Newser Staff

High school graduation feels more like the end of a prison sentence for far too many students, writes author Alexandra Robbins in the Los Angeles Times. But here’s some solace for the outcasts: “The differences that cause a student to be excluded in high school are often the same traits or skills that will serve him or her well after graduation,” writes Robbins. Still, that may not mean much to a lonely teenager treated like a pariah.

“The most heartbreaking consequence of this treatment is that tens of thousands of students—imaginative, interesting, impressionable people—think that they have done or felt something wrong,” writes Robbins. It’s up to adults and schools to discourage the “in-crowd” mentality and to get the message across, before graduation, “that being different is not a problem but a strength.”

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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Education News


Birthday Spankings Gets Principal In Hot Water

and rightfully so. Here’s an update of this story previously posted in this blog.

Birthday Spankings Land School Principal in Hot Water

Principal gave students a ‘pat on the backside’ for each year

By Sarah Whitmire, Newser Staff

(Newser) – For students at an Iowa elementary school, birthdays mean hearing your name during announcements, getting a new pencil and calculator, and … being called to the principal’s office for a birthday “whammy.” What’s that? A light spanking from Principal Terry Eisenbarth with a padded hockey stick, according to the Des Moines Register. Though Eisenbarth insists the “whammies” are harmless, he acknowledged in a recent letter to parents the practice was halted after complaints that it created “an uncomfortable situation.” Authorities and the school board are investigating the complaints.

“I do not spank my kids at home on their birthdays,” says one father of three students at the Mount Vernon elementary school, who called both the school board and police after not getting a response from the superintendent. “That is not a celebration,” he continues. “It’s being subservient to a dominating figure.” Each of the three children received birthday whammies last fall, but didn’t mention the spankings until they were asked about them. However, the couple says their youngest, a 7-year-old with post-traumatic stress disorder, “did not like it one bit.”

CaseClosed2: Here’s another example of an adult, a principal for heaven’s sake not making a wise decision in doling out birthday spankings. Spankings are usually given for bad behavior not because of a child’s birthday. Why not give the birthday child a birthday cake?

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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Education News


Birthday Spankings Good Or Bad Idea?

This is the modified hockey stick that Terry Eisenbarth has used to give birthday “whammies” to his students in Mount Vernon. / SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER

Birthday spankings at eastern Iowa school spark complaints, probe Written by


A Mount Vernon elementary school principal used a padded hockey stick to deliver birthday spankings to his students, according to complaints that Linn County authorities are investigating.

Complaints about Principal Terry Eisenbarth’s birthday “whammies” at Washington Elementary School are also under review by school board members, who met behind closed doors Wednesday night. About 70 people waited outside the meeting, parents said.

“I do not spank my kids at home on their birthdays,” said Steve Wernimont, 44, who has three children. “That is not a celebration. It’s being subservient to a dominating figure.”

Read the letter from the Mount Vernon principal to parents regarding birthday spankings.

Wernimont and his husband, Ric Turnquist, said their three children, ages 9, 8 and 7, received birthday whammies last fall. The children didn’t acknowledge the spankings until this month, when Wernimont said he heard about the practice and asked them about it.

The older children didn’t seem to mind, but the 7-year-old boy, who has post-traumatic stress disorder and other emotional problems, “did not like it one bit,” Wernimont said.

The couple said they complained to police and the school board only after Superintendent Pamela Ewell did not respond to an email for several days.

Ewell and Eisenbarth did not return telephone calls Thursday.

In a letter to parents, Eisenbarth described the “pat on the backside” as a birthday tradition. He celebrated each child’s birthday with an announcement on the school intercom, followed by an invitation to the principal’s office.

Eisenbarth gave students pencils and calculators, sang “Happy Birthday” and spanked them once for each year of their lives, the letter said.

School employees or parents often participated, and no children were injured, the letter said.

Eisenbarth, 38, said he stopped the birthday spankings after someone complained that they “created an uncomfortable situation,” the letter said.

“I am very sorry that I have caused discomfort to some by celebrating birthdays in this manner,” Eisenbarth wrote.

The hockey stick was wrapped in plastic foam, Mount Vernon police said.

Police initially ruled that a complaint from parents was unfounded. Then they forwarded the investigation to Linn County sheriff’s officials to avoid allegations of a conflict of interest.

Sheriff Brian Gardner said police “work closely” with school officials in Mount Vernon, a district of about 1,300 students.

“We’re probably going to review the reports, see if there may be any holes, perhaps interview a witness and make a determination as to whether there has been a criminal offense,” Gardner said.

Carol Greta, an attorney at the Iowa Department of Education, said birthday spankings don’t appear to violate a state ban on corporal punishment, “which is defined as intentional physical punishment.”

But school boards and state officials who oversee educator licensing can take action against employees who act inappropriately, she said.

Wernimont said the issue has divided residents of Mount Vernon.

“I’ve gotten calls from people who’ve said, ‘You’re ruining the image of our town,’ ” he said.

Other parents blame Eisenbarth, who is wrapping up his first year as elementary principal in Mount Vernon.

Kim Benesh wrote in a letter to the local newspaper that “the important lesson the elementary school tirelessly tries to instill of, ‘Your body is your own and no one has the right to touch you,’ has been devastatingly thrown out the window.”

Bob Penn, the school board’s vice president, would not discuss the board’s next move. Penn called it a personnel issue that he can’t discuss publicly.

“Our mission is always to try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the kids in the district,” he said. “That’s what we’re about.”

CaseClosed2: The tradition of giving birthday spankings isn’t anything new. I use to get them when I was a kid many years ago and thought it was a fun idea. I was spanked by hand not with a stick for my birthday. The stick used in the case here constitutes corporal punishment and invasion of privacy if a kid didn’t want to get spanked.

What do you think?

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Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Education News


PreSchools Get $500 Million From The Obama Administration

The Obama administration plans to hand out $500 million in state education grants aimed at helping young children.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the “Early Learning Challenge” Wednesday. It’s the latest incarnation of the administration’s Race to the Top competition, in which states compete for education money.

Duncan called early learning a critical issue for the country. Sebelius said that the health and financial security of the U.S. will depend on investments made in the first years of a child’s life. She said that kids who fall behind by age 5 won’t be able to compete for future jobs.

Sebelius says that the administration is taking a “holistic” approach, focusing on kids’ health as well as their education.

CaseClosed2: Good news from the president who is putting the money where it belongs allowing preschoolers an equal beginnng in education.

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Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Education News


School District May Ban Weekend Homework

A lot of students will be happen about that. Could the ban happen nationwide?

NJ school district might ban weekend homework

The Associated Press

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Students in a southern New Jersey school district might not have to crack the books on weekends and holidays.

The Galloway Township school district is recommending that homework be assigned only Monday through Thursday. In addition, the district may decide that no more than 10 minutes of homework multiplied by a student’s grade level be assigned per night.

Superintendent Annette Giaquinto told The Press of Atlantic City the idea is to ensure students are not assigned busywork and to give them time for family and extracurricular activities.

Some school board members worry that parents have more time on weekends and holidays to help their children with homework.

The school board is not expected to vote on the recommendations until July or August.


Information from: The Press of Atlantic City,

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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Education News


Christie Doesn’t Get It His Way…Yet

Court Rules N.J. Governor Must Fund Low Income Schools

TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he will not defy Tuesday’s state Supreme Court ruling to increase aid to low-income school districts, but called the decision legally faulty and bad education policy.

He said it will be up to the Legislature to decide how to do it as it wrestles with the state budget over the next five weeks, and added he would veto the budget if he doesn’t like the Legislature’s approach.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision Tuesday that the state must increase its funding to low-income school districts by an estimated $500 million. The ruling was the latest in the state’s long-running court battle over spending in poor schools, known as Abbott v. Burke.

That’s almost exactly the amount state says it has in a windfall from tax revenues coming in higher than expected. But Christie has said he wanted to use that money for other purposes, including property tax rebates.

Christie said the ruling represented “everything that’s wrong with how Trenton has historically operated.”

He said he does not believe that an additional $500 million will not make a difference in schools that already receive about 10 times that much in state aid each year.

Christie previously said he would consider defying the court if he disagreed with the much-anticipated ruling. But on Tuesday, he downplayed that comment, made on a radio show, saying that it was just one option.

Christie had warned for weeks that he feared the court would order the state to put another $1.6 billion toward schools. That’s how much a judge found it would cost to run the state’s full school funding formula.

If that happened, he said, the consequences could be dire, with money for town governments and hospitals on the line.

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Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Education News


Beware Pro-Charter School “Parent” Groups

By Alain Jehlen

Parents are among the strongest supporters of public education. So attacks by groups claiming to represent parents are particularly painful for public educators. After all, nobody becomes a parent or an educator in order to get rich. But sometimes a group that claims to represent parents actually has anti-public school activists in charge, funded by wealthy foundations. They’re “Astroturf” rather than grassroots because the grass is artificial.

Take Parent Revolution, the group behind California’s “parent trigger” law and the effort to give a public school to a pre-selected charter operator in Compton, California.

Parent Revolution receives major funding from foundations like the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, groups that qualify for what Diane Ravitch calls “the Billionaire Boys Club.” Parent Revolution’s paid staff members spearheaded a stealth signature-gathering campaign last fall, aimed at getting a majority of parents at McKinley Elementary School to sign a petition that would hand over the school to Celerity Educational Group, which already operates four charter schools in Los Angeles.

When the signatures were examined, it turned out some signers did not have children at the school, some said they didn’t understand what they were signing, and some didn’t match signatures on file at the school. In the end, the Compton school board turned down the petition because the number of valid signatures was below the law’s required 50 percent.

But that wasn’t the only problem. The parents involved never chose Celerity. That was Parent Revolution’s decision. California’s “parent trigger” law—passed by the legislature in the mistaken hope that it would help the state win a Race To The Top grant—requires that the signers use a “rigorous review process” for choosing a charter.

And there was never a meeting where parents could hear about all their options and then decide for themselves. They were just told that this was the only way forward.

Ironically, the school that Parent Revolution chose to attack was already making important progress under a California law called the Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA). That law, passed with a strong push from the California Teachers Association, provides additional resources for smaller class sizes, quality in service, additional counseling, and more staff collaboration.

Even the Los Angeles Times, often critical of teachers and their union, published an editorial criticizing the move. The editorial concluded, “Parent trigger must not become a means for private charter groups to get free school buildings through secret proceedings.”

Parent Revolution is far from being the only group that tries to promote itself as seeking to give parents a voice while depending on lavish funding from conservative foundations. The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has been prominent in promoting private school vouchers with television ads. The ads feature parents speaking about how much their children benefit from vouchers.

BAEO has spent millions of dollars on these ads. They didn’t collect that money in the black neighborhoods of Washington, DC. It came from wealthy foundations.

Perhaps the next wave of pro-voucher ads will come with a truth-in-advertising tag line: “Brought to you by the Billionaire Boys Club.”

Don’t hold your breath.

But real parent groups and educators do roll up their sleeves and work together to improve education. In Reading, Pennsylvania, for example, the union, district, and PTA are working together to build strong parent organizations in every school. Across the country in Sacramento, California, teachers and parents jointly developed the Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project, now in use in 11 states.

Parent-educator collaboration happens at every level—national, state, school district, school, classroom, and individual—because that’s what kids need.

CaseClosed2: “BAEO has spent millions of dollars on these ads. They didn’t collect that money in the black neighborhoods of Washington, DC. It came from wealthy foundations.” True, they didn’t collect the money in the black neighborhood, but parents and the black community have every right to make sure their children are not being used as scapegoats for someone to line their pockets will money pretending they are sincere about educating black children from black neighborhoods.

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Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Education News


The President Says All Schools Can Improve

Obama Says All Schools Can Improve With Proper Incentives

WASHINGTON — Trying to make his case for overhauling the nation’s education laws, President Barack Obama is highlighting progress at a Tennessee high school as evidence that the proper incentives can help all schools succeed.

Obama focused his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday on Memphis’ Booker T. Washington High School, where the president delivered the commencement address Monday.

Graduation rates at the school, which is in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood, have risen impressively in just three years. The school won a national competition to secure him as its speaker by demonstrating how it overcame challenges through innovations such as separate freshman academies for boys and girls.

“Booker T. Washington High School is no longer a story about what’s gone wrong in education,” the president said. “It’s a story about how we can set it right.

“We need to encourage this kind of change all across America. We need to reward the reforms that are driven not by Washington, but by principals and teachers and parents. That’s how we’ll make progress in education – not from the top down, but from the bottom up.”

Obama promoted his Race to the Top initiative, which has states compete for education money. But the program has drawn criticism and Republicans on Capitol Hill are unwilling to devote new money to it. He also renewed his call for Congress to send him a rewrite of No Child Left Behind, the nation’s governing education law.

“We need to promote reform that gets results while encouraging communities to figure out what’s best for their kids. That why it’s so important that Congress replace No Child Left Behind this year – so schools have that flexibility,” Obama said. “Reform just can’t wait.”

There is bipartisan agreement that the inflexible, testing-heavy law needs to change. But prospects for an overhaul this year don’t seem bright, given that the economy, jobs and deficit are dominating the agenda.

Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said recently that a deadline Obama set in March for a rewrite of the law by September would be impossible to meet.

Republicans devoted their weekly address to energy.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas accused the Obama administration of over-regulating and not doing enough to spur production at a time of $4-a-gallon gasoline. Obama last week directed his administration to step up U.S. oil production through measures such as extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast.

Hutchison complained the administration’s policies remain too restrictive.

“We call on him to put policies in place that cut the bureaucratic red tape and put Americans to work doing it,” she said.

Analysts and many lawmakers acknowledge there’s little Washington can do that immediately would affect gas prices.

CaseClosed2: Contact Marva Collins. She has had successes throughout her teaching career. She knows what to do. She has 45 years of teaching experience. She teaches children to read in 3 months no exceptions.

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Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Education News