The Austin-American Statesman reports today that a new law intended to standardize how GPAs and class rankings are calculated could play havoc with students who have been in the Top 10 percent of their class academically and thus are guaranteed admission to a state university.
Hector Montenegro has until the end of business today to detail any outside expenses, honoraria or other compensation he may have received from nonprofits or other education groups for consulting, speaking or other personal services rendered since taking over as Arlington superintendent Feb. 1. School trustees asked Montenegro for details about his work with outside entities as some concerns arose about his ties to the nonprofit Hope Foundation and the presence of that foundation's materials in the district, including the book Failure is Not an Option: Six Principles That Guide Student Achievement in High-Performing Schools.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board weighs in on the Arlington school board's decision to send its proposed 2008-09 budget back to a volunteer committee here. In a nutshell, the Editorial Board says trustees need to take responsibility themselves for figuring out how to bridge a $20 million deficit that could grow once salary increases are figured in.
There is little that this committee can do to help the board. Whether trustees are on a genuine search for fresh ideas or are simply seeking political cover for a tough decision on taxes, they are the ones who have to produce this budget and face the consequences.
Day seven is our final day that I will be reporting back to let you know what we are doing. We leave tomorrow, but this is my last day with computer access. We spent today visiting high schools in Tianjin. We started our day at Tianjin Nankai High School. This high school is the birthplace of the Nan Kai schools. Tianjin Yahoo High school is a traditional Chinese high school whose motto is diligence, simplicity, loyalty, and honesty. There are 5,200 students and over 400 staff members in the high school. Teachers teach three classes a day with 50 students in each class. School begins at 7:30 am and ends at 5:20 pm. All extra curricular activities occur after school. All students take the same classes. Students do not move between classes. Teachers move from classroom to classroom and each class last 45 minutes.
We then visited the Tianjin Experimental High School. It was established in 1923 and is directly under the Educational Committee of Tianjin. The first Confucius classroom in the world was set up by the Experimental High School. The length of the school day is the same, but there are only 25-30 students in each class. The Experimental High School is for gifted and talented students. Ninety Eight percent of their students are accepted into a University in China.
Our trip to China has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Mr. Newsom and I would like to extend a special thanks to the College Board and the Hanban association for their sponsorship of this trip. China is a country with a rich history. The educators that have been our guides this week are wonderful people committed to providing quality educational experiences to their students.
Even though I am the pickiest eater you will ever meet, I thought the last day I would share with you a typical menu from one or our meals. As you will soon see, our group was truly treated to a wonderful cultural experience through food.
Six kinds of cold dishes Stevedore mushroom with abalone sauce Prawintheshaprofpho en ix tail with golden shreds The glutinous rice steams the young bone Pineapple ancient meat Crisp grain with salt and paper Spicy diced chicken with peanuts The black fries with the shelled fish shrimp Steamed tench with scallop Crispy chicken Boiling Vegetables Dessert Yangzhou style fried rice Vegetable soup Fresh Fruit
A typical dinner takes about on and a half hours. The food comes out in stages allowing you time to enjoy your dinner.
Signing off from China for the last time,
Bob Morrison is the deputy superintendent of Mansfield schools.
Today was the first full day in Tianjin. We started the day with a boat sightseeing trip down the Haihe River. The Haihe River is the mother river of Tianjin. The river is a major source of recreation. There were people swimming and fishing in the river. The river is much like most of the water in China in that it is somewhat polluted. Everyone in China drinks bottled water.
Exercise is a major part of the Chinese people’s lives. They bicycle every where as well as spend a great deal of time working out in the local parks. I have found the Chinese extremely friendly. They want to know just as much about us as we do about them. You can clearly see the cultural difference between the generations of the Chinese. The youth look like they would fit into any major city in the United States.
We then traveled to the “Five Main Roads,” which were a concession of the nine foreign powers and now is the major area for International Architecture. After lunch we traveled to the Tianjin Museum. The Tianjin Museum hosts over 200,000 pieces of cultural and historical relics. The museum allowed everyone to really learn about the industrial development that has taken place in Tianjin over the past 100 years. We ended the day with a formal banquet hosted by the Tianjin Educational Commission. One of the purposes of this trip is to establish relationships that may provide opportunities for English speaking Chinese teachers to travel to the United States and teach for a year at a time. Superintendent Vernon Newsom (at right in picture) is our group's leader and has performed the official duties anytime there has been a ceremony or a presentation.
On the search for food front...my Chinese hosts are beginning to worry about me. They are trying very hard to find foods that they think I would eat. What gets lost in translation is that I have always been a picky eater and it matters not what country I am in at the time. We went to a Chinese Restaurant where they specialize in Western cuisine. As you can see in the photos, there needs to be some work between our cultures on what is considered Western. I am thankful that they are concerned, but they don’t understand the amount of food I brought with me and that I am really not going hungry. Word on the street is that there is a restaurant around the corner that has French fries. I will give you a report tomorrow on my efforts to find American food. (UPDATE: I found some French fries. All I can say is they were great!!!!!)
Signing off for now,
Bob Morrison is deputy superintendent of Mansfield schools.
We started the day with a trip to the Emperor's Summer Palace. It was home to several Emperors. I've sent back several photos so can see the beauty.
Today the Summer Palace is a tourist attraction as well as a place for the locals to come and spend time with their families to relax, reflect and meditate.
We left the Summer Palace for our next city, Tianjin. Tianjin is China’s third largest population with just over 10 million people. Several of the summer Olympic games will take place in Tianjin. There is currently only one highway connecting Tianjin and Beijing. A new highway and a new fast rail system will open in the next few weeks for the Olympic games.
Tianjin has over 2000 K-12th grade schools. There are 45 universities in the city. We asked our guides who by the way are teachers in the schools that we will be visiting on Monday, what percentage of students pass the eight grade test and move on to high school. The answer is 90%. The other 10 percent go to vocational schools or begin to work in the factories for 80 cents a day American currency. As I learn more about the Chinese educational structure, I will be sure to let everyone know the similarities and differences to our educational system.
Well…on the food front it was…can you guess?…wait for it…Chinese for lunch and dinner. Yesterday’s cheese pizza is a fading memory. So it’s back to the pop-tarts and peanut butter and crackers for me. Good news though, the area in and around our hotel looks a bit more promising for the exploration of food. Tomorrow will be a day to find a place so I can begin eating from time to time.
Hector Montenegro has been running the Arlington school district for five months, and last week the honeymoon appeared to have ended. A Thursday evening school board meeting ended at 1 a.m. Friday with trustees ordering him to detail his relationship with an education foundation by Monday and telling him in writing that he is to avoid conflicts of interests and the appearance of conflicts of interest.
The adventure to the Great Wall of China was truly a once and a lifetime experience for several reasons. First, words cannot express the true brilliance of the wall. It was overwhelming to think that the Great Wall stretches over 5,600 kilometers in length. The final reason that the Great Wall will always be a memorable experience is because after climbing up what seemed to be an endless number of steps, I’m sure the soreness I feel right now in my knees and legs will linger for several days.
We left the Great Wall and traveled to the Ming Tombs. There are 13 Ming Tombs but only three are open to the public. From the Ming Tombs we traveled to the Sacred Way. The Sacred Way was the most peaceful place we have traveled to date.
The Chinese culture is steeped in rich historical traditions. As a former history teacher, I spent a great deal of time telling students about historical events and the places they occurred. Seeing China and experiencing its culture and people has provided me a perspective that can only be achieved through observations.
Good news from those individuals that are following “what in the world is Bob going to eat in China” subject. Lunch today at was a traditional Chinese restaurant. However, the group voted on pizza for dinner. They say it was for my benefit, but I think they were all growing a bit weary of Chinese food for the eighth straight meal. So for whatever the reason, I ate dinner for the first time since I was in China. Cheese pizza never tasted so good……
Getting more students to graduate from high school is great! That's the goal of educators, businesses and educational researchers trying to stem the dropout crisis. But we need to do more to help workers continue their educations to meet the growing demands of the workplace. That's the conclusion of a just-released report by the National Commission on Adult Literacy being touted by the Southern Regional Education Board.
We started the day at Peking University, which is one of Beijing’s 65 universities. Peking University was established in 1898. Our group was there to hear a lecture on Chinese history. Professor Kristofer Schipper from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences was the guest lecturer. Professor Schipper outlined in detail an account of Chinese History and allowed our group to ask questions ranging from historical perspectives to current policies of the Chinese Government. Today was graduation at Peking University. I have attached a photo of the graduates. Their students look just like ours and the smiles on their faces are not unlike those of United States students.
We left the university for lunch (comments to come later…). After lunch we went to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. The rich history of the Chinese people is clearly visible when you are able to experience these cultural and historical treasures. If the photos from these get published on the blog you will notice a haze in each picture. The pollution in Beijing is noticeable, as well as disturbing. In an attempt to reduce the pollution, the government has restricted vehicle use to every other day for those who own cars. I am not sure if we will ever see the sun while in Beijing. It will be interesting to see how the air quality impacts the Olympic athletes.
Now for the food… Well today I will retract one of my previous comments I made on Day One. I stated that I like everything chicken. Well as you can see in the photo, there is one chicken and its head that I could not eat. I will say that every meal begins with five to six appetizers and then anywhere from seven to 10 courses. According to our interpreters, eating out in a restaurant is considered a special treat. I will take some photos of an entire meal to give the readers some perspective. Since I came well prepared not to eat, I brought with me a bag of candy. I passed out Reese’s peanut butter cups to our Chinese hosts. They all range from 25-30 years old. It was their first Reese’s they had ever had. That was my contribution to cultural exchange.
Jerrod has a TV endorsement for Subway. After this week in China, I should be on every Pop Tart box in the United States.
Having a great time in China….
Bob Morrison is the deputy superintendent of Mansfield schools. For more of Morrison's photos from China, click here.