How to get a world-class education for free on the internet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF QUARTZ ALIVE)

 

How to get a world-class education for free on the internet

As crucial as a university degree has become for working in the modern economy, it is not the only route forward into a wildly lucrative and satisfying career—just ask famous dropouts Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.

In the future, a single bachelor’s degree in a particular subject will no longer suffice for many of us anyway. As robots and automation sweep the global workforce, hundreds of millions of people—the majority of whom do not have the time or money to go pick up a brand-new four-year degree—will have to “re-skill” in order to land new jobs. The question that employees and employers alike face is how to get that done quickly, efficiently, and, most importantly to many, cheaply.

The internet, luckily, is already a booming resource. Whether you find yourself seeking new employment mid-career, curious about alternatives to a college education, or simply are interested in learning for learning’s sake, Quartz At Work has compiled some of the most dependable, high-quality materials you can access to learn anything on the internet.

For a free liberal arts education:

The first name in online course catalogs is Coursera, a juggernaut because of its pioneering of massive open online courses (MOOCs). Started in 2012, Coursera now has over 28 million users and over 2,000 courses—which can either be taken for free or for a small fee to earn an official certificate—from leading institutions like Harvard and Stanford.

In recent years, the catalog has expanded far beyond traditional subjects like history and mathematics. “There’s been a lot of interest in courses that are more about personal and professional development—you’ll see courses on how to learn, how to reason, how to find happiness and fulfillment, as well as courses that are more skills-oriented,” Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller told Quartz in 2016.

The platform’s most popular classes include:

There are several other MOOC providers, including Udacity and edX. Udacity tends to be a better resource for professionals looking to develop certain vocational skills, and edX—created by MIT and Harvard—is more of a zany academic platform with a special focus on science, but both have large, comprehensive catalogs and easily searchable databases.

For specific professional skills, there’s also Alison, another online course provider, which works with big publishers like Google and Macmillan to provide training in areas like customer service, project management, and human resources.

If your aim is purely to soak in all the knowledge under the sun, you might also give Khan Academy a try. The site is lauded for its streamlined, expert-driven content in the form of short YouTube videos that are quick to absorb and do not necessarily comprise an entire course.

And if you’re interested in learning from professors at a specific institution, run a search for whether the school has an open learning program. Harvard Extension’s Open Learning Initiative, Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, MIT OpenCourseWare, and Open Yale Courses are all examples—and there are more coming out every year—of elite universities publicizing their most popular classes. (Quartz has a list of some of the newest.)

For learning a new language:

Many smartphone users are already familiar with Duolingo, which has emerged in recent years as a major language-learning program, beating out the likes of Rosetta Stone and other established companies for sheer efficiency. And, of course, cheapness.

Duolingo, which has about 200 million registered users around the world, currently offers 68 different language courses across 23 languages, with 22 more courses in development. It operates a “freemium” model (think Spotify) which allows users to access the bulk of the app for free, and pay for certain additional features. Its genius lies primarily in its design, which has been praised as revolutionary and intuitive: Lessons integrate text translation, visuals, speaking, and sound into a comprehensive learning environment.

For the euphoria of fiction:

Reading, the most wonderful of leisurely pursuits, need not be costly at all. Start at Project Gutenberg, which offers over 56,000 free e-books. Open Library, a project of Internet Archive that is trying to catalog every book in existence, also offers plenty of free books.

Join your local public library—or any public library—that offers OverDrive, an app that lets users borrow from a comprehensive catalog of free ebooks and audiobooks. Libby is another app that offers the same functionality with a better interface.

Google Books has abandoned its once-lofty plans to digitize the world’s books, but it has a “free ebooks” feature you can toggle and is a useful site for academic texts or some more modern titles.

Quartz has a complete guide to finding specific titles online. (If you’re a book novice, unsure of where to start, you might also take a look at Quartz’s guide to enjoying classic literature.)

For the nitty-gritty of coding:

Coding is one of the best skills to learn online—the work itself takes place entirely on a computer—but the quality of free teaching available ranges from expert-level to deeply flawed. Programmers tend to agree, though, that Codecademy, Free Code Camp, and HackerRank are all consistently well-designed and useful resources.

Codecademy gently coaches novice coders through the basics of HTML and CSS, and into JavaScript and more complicated languages; Free Code Camp does the same with an added emphasis on building real-world projects for nonprofits. HackerRank offers code “challenges”—mini puzzles that are attention-engaging and educational without being explicitly instructive, providing a “learn by doing” approach that is ideal for people who prefer projects to lectures. If none of these three appeal, try this list of 49 vetted resources.

For a jumpstart on the hard-to-grasp:

Onerous is the idea of trying to learn more about the physical world without a good starting-off point. The following free resources, some of which live on a few of the open platforms mentioned above, offer a mix of interactive materials, quizzes, and videos, and are excellent inspiration for anyone interested in working in—or simply learning about—the sciences.

For a hefty dose of motivation:

TED Talks are hardly a secret resource; you can easily find talks from stars in every industry from technology to agriculture. Another source of inspiration is MasterClass, which is not free—the current rate is $180/year—but hosts a number of well-made videos led by celebrities. Judd Apatow can teach you comedy, Gordon Ramsay offers wisdom on cooking, and Diane von Furstenberg will share her tips for building a fashion brand.

With these kinds of classes, the delivery platform is not as important so much as the idea of being inspired continually, by idols, icons, experts, or anyone that you feel can lead you to where you want to go, so that you maintain your energy and stay enthusiastic about the world around you.

MasterClass CEO David Rogier says, “Schools teach you the underlying skills of what to learn, but now in the changing world it’s the default to change ourselves and continue to learn.” Thanks to the internet, that’s easier than ever.

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Jordan Constitution Concerning Tribal Justice System

(This article is courtesy of the Jordan Times of Amman)

Cabinet amends law to limit scope of ‘tribal justice system’

Cabinet amends law to limit scope of ‘tribal justice system’

By JT – Sep 01,2016 – Last updated at Sep 01,2016

AMMAN — The Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft law amending the 2016 Crime Prevention Law, which targeted provisions governing controversial tribal customs like Jalwa (forced relocation), Diyeh (blood money) and administrative governors’ authorities related to these affairs.

The law will be sent to the next Lower House, which will convene after the September 20 elections, for endorsement as stipulated in the Constitution, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

“Jalwa”, a term first coined by tribes, entails the forced relocation of a clan if one of its members murders someone or commits other serious crimes like rape, in a bid to avoid friction between the two tribes, both of the victim’s and the murderer’s, if they were living in the same area.

Interior Minister Salameh Hammad has recently held several meetings with tribal and religious leaders, along with jurists, from across the Kingdom.

The figures reached an understanding that regulates tribal customs and norms and limits tribal cases that fall under the Crime Prevention Law to homicide, honor and cases when members of the tribes involved in the dispute do not honour pledges made on their behalf by mediators.

Under the amending law, jalwa should be limited to the murderer, his father and sons, and for a period not exceeding one year, with the possibility of renewing it if deemed necessary by the concerned administrative governor. The proposed version of the law also stipulates that jalwa should be made from one district to another within the same governorate.

The law also tasks the chief Islamic justice with deciding the value of diyeh in murder cases that end with reconciliation, and levies on those parties in tribal disputes who dishonor pledges made by mediators to pay mediators, or guarantors of the deals made, a fine of no less than JD50,000 in compensation for the damage caused to their reputation.

The administrative governor, according to the amendments, has the power to oversee all the tribal procedures included in this law, Petra added.

The amendments aim at regulating tribal customs and norms related to conflicts and cases of jalwa, atwah (a tribal agreement that functions as a temporary conciliation between conflicting parties until the civic law decides on the case) and diyeh, according to Petra.

The law is meant to avoid exaggerated practices that may cause social problems as a result of relocating families away from their places of residence, which normally results in damage to innocent families’ members, who might lose their jobs, education opportunities or businesses.

 

Kentucky Is 3rd Worse State About Cutting Education Spending

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LEXINGTON HERALD LEADER)

((oped) REPUBLICANS CONTROL EVERYTHING  WITHIN THE THREE WORSE STATES AS FAR AS FUNDING EDUCATION, OKLAHOMA, TEXAS, KENTUCKY: FOLKS, DO YOU SEE THE REALITY HERE?) (trs)

Kentucky one of the worst states for cuts to education spending, report shows

NOVEMBER 29, 2017 09:36 AM

UPDATED 6 HOURS 1 MINUTES AGO

‘Please stop having children you aren’t willing to raise’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Sen. John Kennedy: 

Imagine that you’re the parents of four children under the age of eight. Your home is strewn with stuffed animals and sippy cups. And, if you’re a couple named Colby and Lacey (a real couple from Utah), you keep drug paraphernalia next to the bassinet and smoke heroin in front of your children.For the life of me, I don’t know why anyone who is an addict would decide to become a parent and bring an innocent child into his or her sick drug den. My only conclusion is that some parents figure someone else will raise their children while they do drugs, drink, party, commit crimes, Snapchat, plant fake crops on FarmVille, and do anything but parent. They’d rather have the latest and greatest iPhone than help their children figure out eighth-grade algebra.

Thankfully, that’s not most parents in Louisiana, but it describes too many.

Life is precious. Anyone who’s looked into a newborn’s innocent eyes should realize how incredible it is to be blessed with a new life. That couple named Colby and Lacey allegedly gazed into their newborn’s eyes and then rubbed drugs into the child’s gums to hide the fact that she had been born addicted to heroin. Nurses say some parents do this all the time to hide their infant’s withdrawal symptoms.

Here’s my advice to couples like Colby and Lacey: Stop having children if you don’t plan to raise them.

A lack of good parenting sense isn’t just a problem for Colby and Lacey. Last month, an eight-year-old girl tested positive for cocaine in Baton Rouge, La., after a relative brought her to the hospital because her mother refused to do so. When authorities located the mother, she had cocaine and drug paraphernalia in her possession.

My heart aches for that child. At eight years old, you should be playing games, painting your fingernails purple, getting glitter on everything, and learning how to bake cookies. The last thing you should be doing at that age is testing positive for cocaine.

I don’t know that mother’s story, but I do know that she failed her child.

Too many parents are failing their children these days in Louisiana. Thousands of children are in the state’s foster care system. A woman in West Monroe was just honored for mothering 100 foster children over the years. Think about that: That one woman had to do the parenting for countless parents.

Too many people treat parenting like it’s the 20th item on their to-do list. Their social life, drug habit, and sleep schedule matter more to them than their children do. Talk to teachers and they’ll tell you: Children show up unbathed, unfed, and unprepared at school when they show up at all. Sometimes the system catches them and shuffles them into a foster home. Tragically, sometimes the system fails them like their parents did.

It’s not fair to those children, and it’s certainly not fair to our communities. Those children grow up broken. They don’t glue themselves together and get a scholarship to Louisiana State University. They often drop out of school, do drugs, commit crimes, and hold down minimum-wage jobs. They’re flushed down the toilet before they’re potty trained, and then taxpayers are left to take care of them.

Studies of high-performing schools tend to find a common thread: parental involvement. Those same studies show that the more interest you have in your children’s education, the better they do in school. The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found that a family’s income does not determine how well kids score on tests or how often they show up for school. The determining factor is parental involvement.

Abraham Lincoln is a good example of the benefits of parental involvement. Lincoln easily could have died an illiterate farmer. He grew up on the frontier, where schoolteachers made sporadic appearances and lost his mother at a young age. An uneducated woman named Sarah Bush turned the tide for him. Sarah married Lincoln’s father and encouraged a rather feral Lincoln to nurture his love of reading. She thrust books in front of him. She ensured that he had a comfortable home and treated him like he was her natural child. That’s good parenting, and it helped shape Lincoln into one of this country’s greatest presidents.

But you don’t have to raise a future president. You just have to raise a child who has a little common sense, graduates from high school and stays off the road that leads straight to prison and drug addiction.

We launch public awareness campaigns to encourage people to recycle their soft drink cans, stop smoking and wear seat belts. Maybe we need to launch campaigns to encourage people to raise their children. Most Louisiana parents don’t need that encouragement. But if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that some do.

Having children is a blessing. Treat your children like the blessings they are or don’t have them at all. Our foster care system and jails already are at capacity. There’s no more room at the inn.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., was elected to the Senate in 2016. You can follow him on Twitter: @SenJohnKennedy

If The Haggadah Has Got It Correct Then Western Education Has It All Wrong

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CHABAD.ORG)

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What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

They say the Haggadah never ends. That makes sense, because the Haggadah is the classic Jewish guide to education, and education never ends.

So now that we’ve done our Seder for the 3,329th year, and while it’s still Passover, I’d like to open a discussion on how we educate our kids. And I’d like to start by listening to what the Haggadah is telling us.

It seems it’s telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

Here’s evidence: How do we test, monitor and measure the success of our students? By asking questions, right? (Like I just did.)

And indeed, the average middle-grade teacher asks around 400 questions a day. That’s about two per minute. After 15 years, a teacher has asked at least one million questions. The student has asked if he can go to the bathroom.After 14 and a half years, that’s a million questions. The average student, however, generally only asks two or three questions a week—most commonly, “Can I go to the bathroom?” In high school, not much better, with about ten questions a day. Compare that to preschool kids, who ask an average of 100 questions a day.

Some will tell you that’s the Socratic method. We’re attempting to elicit intelligence from students by battering them with questions they never thought of asking.

But the Haggadah does the opposite. Rather than evaluating children by their ability to answer, it identifies them in four categories by their ability to ask.

Questions Are Rich

That turns everything around.

For one thing, from a child’s correct answers, you often know very little. Maybe he simply has a good memory. Maybe he’s good at guessing what you want to hear. At very best, a child’s answers only tell us what that child knows.

But theA child’s answers tells us what he knows. A child’s questions tell us who he is. child’s questions provide a window into the child’s mind and soul. A child’s questions tell us who that child is.

Every child is on a critical mission to make sense of things, to find the meaning behind everything, to put the pieces together. But each child sees a different world, through different eyes. So each child discovers that meaning in his or her particular way.

So that only once we know what this child is looking for, and how he is looking for it, only then we can assist him to find it. And that is education—assisting the child on his or her particular journey of discovering meaning.

Ask! Please Ask!

Let’s start from the beginning: The Haggadah is designed to incite questions.The Haggadah is designed to incite questions. How does it do that? By breaking the routine.

Generally, a festive Jewish meal begins with a blessing on the wine. We then all proceed to wash our hands, return to the table, and say a blessing on the bread.

On the Seder night, we also start with the wine. And then the hand-washing. And we return to the table. And then we take small vegetable and dip it in some sort of liquid, and eat it.

Why the change?

You’ll hear all sorts of reasons, but there’s one definitive answer cited in the Code of Jewish Law: We do it so that someone will ask a question.

And if they ask, what do we answer? We answer that they got it right. They asked a question.

Which means that the question is of prime value, even when there is no answer. As the ancient rabbis said, “Even though we have no answer for this question, once the child is asking, he will ask more questions.”

And why is that important? Because, to those ancient rabbis, it’s obvious that you can’t teach a child a thing until the child has a question.

Passing by a ninth grade classroom in a yeshiva, I hear the teacher lecturing: “Okay, so the ultimate reason for the creation of all things is…”

The diligent students take notes. The rest stare into empty space. The teacher may as well be speaking about the average rainfall in Indonesia.

You can’t teach a thing until you have first awakened a question.

A question creates a vacuum, a space in the brain to fit new knowledge. Just like a car is useless if you live in a big city where there’s no place to park it, and a meal goes in the trash if there’s no one to eat it, so the most satisfying answer in the world is meaningless to the child who never had the question. He has no place in his skull to store it. It’s just a distraction and confusion for his mind from its true quest—to find meaning.

Yes, in case the child has no questions, we provide some, in the form of the Ma Nishtana—”Why is this night different from all other nights?”

But that’s Plan B. Plan A is that the children will ask questions of their own. And you, the parent, will wrack your brains finding answers for them.

Answering the Children

That brings us to another vital lesson from the Haggadah: We don’t answer the question.Don’t answer the question. Answer the child. We answer the child.

“The wise child—what does he say?” Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitchwould point out that in Hebrew, with just a slight change in punctuation, those words can read quite differently: “The wise child—what is he? He says…”

Through the question, we see the child. And that is who we answer.

The wise child articulates his question. He’s obviously thought it through well and knows exactly what he’s looking for.

If he’s wise, why does he ask? Why doesn’t he just have faith, like a good religious boy, and accept all his parents and teachers tell him?

He asks because he has faith. Like a scientist who believes that there will always be an explanation if we will just dig a little further, he believes that there will always be meaning, and deeper meaning, and yet deeper. His mind is not fettered by faith, but driven by it. And his faith, in turn, is enriched by his questions.

Something neat Rabbi Avraham Altein just pointed out: If there are no children to ask, no guests, nobody, the halacha is that you have to ask the question to yourself. According to Maimonides, even if the children have asked the questions, the parents must also ask.

Get that? You know the answer, but you have to ask again. Really ask. Revisit the darkness of “I don’t know”—as though you never knew. Because last year’s answer no longer satisfies you. That’s how you get to a new light. And that’s what it means to be wise.

All the Children

Which all explains why the Wise Child often ends up getting all the attention, while the others are left out.

But no, there are three more children in the room.There are three more children in the room. They are also our children. They are also our children.

Like the Wicked Child. He’s next in line in expertise at asking questions. After all, he has identified exactly what it is that is bothering him. Problem is, he’s not interested in an answer.

But he’s still number two, because something bothers him. The whole Seder bothers him. Which means he’s alive and kicking. Which means there’s something there to work with.

The Simple Child asks, but he’s not sure what he’s asking. He’s the one that is too often ignored. Since you don’t really get his question (because neither does he), he never gets an answer. In the times we live in, that’s a precarious situation. Because that may one day mean to him that there is no answer. And if so, he will have a different question: “Why am I doing all this if there is no answer?”

So the Haggadah instructs you to tell him stories of wonders and miracles. That is his world, that is what he sees. He is in wonderment. Go with it—take that wonderment and nurture it, all the way. Don’t give him any less than the Wise Child, or the Wicked One. And don’t demand that he become the Wise Child—lest you push him towards his cynical brother.

As for The Child Who Doesn’t Know How To Ask—In illustrated Haggadahs, he’s always a baby with a pacifier in his mouth. But that’s nonsense.The Inquisitively Challenged Child got 100% on his Haggadah test. I’ll bet he got 100/100 on his Passover Haggadah finals.

You know why I think that? Look at the answer we give him: “For the sake of this, G‑d did what He did for me when I left Egypt.” That’s a deep answer to an intelligent person.

So what does it mean that “he doesn’t know how to ask”?

Many of the ideas I’m writing here were sparked years ago by a conversation with an Israeli researcher, a student of renowned educational psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, who visited our school along with many high schools across North America. At each school, the researcher would ask the principal, “Give me your best students, one by one, in a private room.”

When the student would enter, she would just sit there for a minute or two. Then she would ask, “Do you have any questions?”

Silence.

Then: “I’m visiting from Israel.”

More silence.

“I’m doing research.”

You get the gist of it.

But then, she would ask the principal to bring in the troublemakers, one-by-one. They would enter, and immediately break into, “Why am I here? Who are you? What is this all about? Israel? What’s that like?”

Open For This Child

So this child #4, a bright child who excels in school, why does this child not ask? Why is he not in search of understanding and meaning? What went wrong?

My guess? He went to school. There he was rewarded for answering questions just the way the teacher likes. But he was never rewarded for asking the really good ones that might disrupt the class, or the questions that the teacher might not have the answers to.

So Teach him, by example, that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions.for this child, “You must open for him.” Open his mouth. Teach him to ask. Teach him that it’s ok to ask. Teach him that it’s even ok to question the most basic assumptions. How? By example. By showing him how you yourself question assumptions.

That could explain another one of those Seder tidbits that should spark a thousand questions—or at least some annoyance. Immediately after the episode of the four children, a heavy chunk of Talmudic exegesis plops down upon us, seemingly telling us nothing of the Exodus narrative or the people sitting here.

Here’s the classic translation:

One may think that [the discussion of the exodus] must be from the first of the month. The Torah therefore says, “On that day.” “On that day,” however, could mean while it is yet daytime; the Torah therefore says, “It is because of this.” The expression “because of this” can only be said when matzah and maror are placed before you.

But Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abravanel (15th century) tells us it’s actually as relevant as you can get. It’s a response to that Inquisitively Challenged Child. It’s about opening his mind with a question that challenges the most unquestioned assumption of the entire ritual: Who says it’s Passover tonight?

Try reading it like this:

You: Hold on, maybe we were supposed to do this Seder on Rosh Chodesh—15 days ago on the first day of the month!

Child: Umm. Why then?

You: Because that’s when God told Moses about the mitzvah of Pesach.

Child: Okay, so we messed up.

You: Nope, it says on that day.

Child: Okay, so let’s get on. What do we say next?

You: Not so simple. Because then we should be doing it during the day. Now it’s night already.

Child: So it’s over. Let’s eat.

You: Not so fast. You see, it says, for the sake of this stuff. Meaning this matzah and bitter herbs that we eat on the night of Pesach. So we have to wait until we’re supposed to eat that stuff—and that’s tonight.

Child: Why on earth do we have to tell a story to food?

See? It worked!


So here’s what I’m taking from my Seder into the coming year:

Torah comes to us in a beautiful package, wrapped and tied. The only way to untie those knots and open up its treasures is by asking the right questions whenever and wherever they come to mind, and asking them without fear or shame.

How do we get ourselves,How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question? our children, other Jews, and everyone else who can benefit, to ask? How can we teach the faith and courage it takes not to fear a good question?

If we can find answers to those questions, we will have half of education nailed.

What’s So Wise About the Wise Child?

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman’s writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Shows Her Hypocrisy And Ignorance After Visiting A Public School

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Newly minted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had a hard time getting inside the District’s Jefferson Middle School Academy last week when protesters briefly blocked her from entering. But at the end of her visit — her first to a public school since taking office — she stood on Jefferson’s front steps and pronounced it “awesome.”

A few days later, she seemed less enamored. The teachers at Jefferson were sincere, genuine and dedicated, she said, they seemed to be in “receive mode.”

“They’re waiting to be told what they have to do, and that’s not going to bring success to an individual child,” DeVos told a columnist for the conservative online publication Townhall. “You have to have teachers who are empowered to facilitate great teaching.”

DeVos, who has no professional experience in public education, is an avowed proponent of voucher schools, charter schools, online schools and other alternatives to traditional public schools. Teachers across the country have been galled by what they see as her lack of faith in — and understanding of — the public schools that educate nearly nine in 10 of the nation’s children.

Jefferson educators found her comments about their work hard to take: On Friday evening, the school responded to DeVos via its Twitter account, taking exception to the education secretary’s characterization of Jefferson teachers.

“We’re about to take her to school,” the first of 11 rapid-fire tweets said.

The tweetstorm singled out teachers like Jessica Harris, who built Jefferson’s band program “from the ground up,” and Ashley Shepherd and Britany Locher, who not only teach students ranging from a first- to eighth-grade reading level, but also “maintain a positive classroom environment focused on rigorous content, humor, and love. They aren’t waiting to be told what to do.”

“JA teachers are not in a ‘receive mode,’” the tweets concluded. “Unless you mean we ‘receive’ students at a 2nd grade level and move them to an 8th grade level.”

An Education Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Antwan Wilson, who accompanied DeVos on her visit to Jefferson, offered praise after the visit for the “dynamic classroom instruction” they both witnessed there.

Asked Saturday to respond to DeVos’s comments about Jefferson teachers, Wilson provided a statement:

I’ve worked in schools for my entire professional life — as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. I have learned from much experience what it takes to prepare students for college success. The teaching and learning at Jefferson will put our students on a path to college, successful careers, and beyond. I see that. Our teachers see that. Our students see that. And our parents see that. Defying expectations takes experience and a lifelong dedication to all students. DCPS is rich with educators who have this experience.

 

“I find it very interesting that the chancellor saw teachers that were pushing rigorous learning, students asking each other high-level questions and cultivating high-level responses, and teachers who take initiative and give their lives to the education of these children,” said Jefferson teacher Caroline Hunt. “DeVos saw something so different. … Maybe if DeVos knew more about education she would realize just how amazing the students, teachers and staff are.”

Jefferson is five years into a turnaround effort and is one of the fastest-improving schools in the city’s public school system. While fewer than half of students are meeting or approaching grade-level expectations, according to new Common Core tests, the school’s growth has won it classification as a “rising” D.C. school.

China And The U.S.: Cooperation Through Education

(This article is courtesy of the Shanghai Daily News Paper)

President urges cooperation through education

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping sent a letter on Saturday to mark the opening of the China-US Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University.

Education is an important force that pushes forward human civilization. Nowadays the young people in all countries should establish a world vision and raise awareness of cooperation through education, Xi said in the letter.

The China-US exchanges in education had played a positive role in promoting understanding and friendship among the people as well as improving the relations between the two nations, he said, adding the two countries should deepen cooperation in this field.

He hoped that the Schwarzman College could be built into an international platform for cultivating the world’s excellent talents, providing study opportunities for the youth of all countries and helping them enhance understanding and exchanges.

Jordan Constitution Concerning Tribal Justice System

(This article is courtesy of the Jordan Times of Amman)

Cabinet amends law to limit scope of ‘tribal justice system’

Cabinet amends law to limit scope of ‘tribal justice system’

By JT – Sep 01,2016 – Last updated at Sep 01,2016

AMMAN — The Cabinet on Thursday approved a draft law amending the 2016 Crime Prevention Law, which targeted provisions governing controversial tribal customs like Jalwa (forced relocation), Diyeh (blood money) and administrative governors’ authorities related to these affairs.

The law will be sent to the next Lower House, which will convene after the September 20 elections, for endorsement as stipulated in the Constitution, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

“Jalwa”, a term first coined by tribes, entails the forced relocation of a clan if one of its members murders someone or commits other serious crimes like rape, in a bid to avoid friction between the two tribes, both of the victim’s and the murderer’s, if they were living in the same area.

Interior Minister Salameh Hammad has recently held several meetings with tribal and religious leaders, along with jurists, from across the Kingdom.

The figures reached an understanding that regulates tribal customs and norms and limits tribal cases that fall under the Crime Prevention Law to homicide, honor and cases when members of the tribes involved in the dispute do not honour pledges made on their behalf by mediators.

Under the amending law, jalwa should be limited to the murderer, his father and sons, and for a period not exceeding one year, with the possibility of renewing it if deemed necessary by the concerned administrative governor. The proposed version of the law also stipulates that jalwa should be made from one district to another within the same governorate.

The law also tasks the chief Islamic justice with deciding the value of diyeh in murder cases that end with reconciliation, and levies on those parties in tribal disputes who dishonor pledges made by mediators to pay mediators, or guarantors of the deals made, a fine of no less than JD50,000 in compensation for the damage caused to their reputation.

The administrative governor, according to the amendments, has the power to oversee all the tribal procedures included in this law, Petra added.

The amendments aim at regulating tribal customs and norms related to conflicts and cases of jalwa, atwah (a tribal agreement that functions as a temporary conciliation between conflicting parties until the civic law decides on the case) and diyeh, according to Petra.

The law is meant to avoid exaggerated practices that may cause social problems as a result of relocating families away from their places of residence, which normally results in damage to innocent families’ members, who might lose their jobs, education opportunities or businesses.

 

 God, Stalin and Patriotism — Meet Russia’s New Education Chief Aug. 24 2016

(This article is courtesy of the Moscow Times News Paper)

 God, Stalin and Patriotism — Meet Russia’s New Education Chief Aug. 24 2016

Olga Vasilyeva arrives at the Russian Public Chamber to take part in a press conference, Moscow, Aug. 24, 2016. Artyom Geodakyan / TASS

For Olga Vasilyeva, it wasn’t the breadlines and high crime rates that made early post-Soviet life a daily trial. It was the public reassessment of the country’s recent, and bloodied, history.

“[The goal was] to blacken the past, to remove from the social consciousness the value of tradition, pride for the greatness of one’s country, culture and language,” she told an audience of teenagers at a seminar on patriotism in late June.

“Astonishing myths” abounded in the 1990s, she said, as she singled out the Ogonyok news magazine that was symbolic of the glasnost era. “If you look at the number of deaths and those repressed [under Soviet rule] cited in Ogonyok, it becomes completely unclear who was left alive at all!” she added, hinting that the figures were greatly exaggerated.

Statements such as these have alarmed some Russians after Vasilyeva, a woman in her 50s with cropped blonde hair and gold-rimmed glasses, was installed as education and science minister on Aug. 19.

While some in the academic community expect her appointment to usher in a new era of dialogue, critics stumble over Vasilyeva’s allegedly positive references to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and her ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Is the blend of religious conservatism and patriotism that has accompanied President Vladimir Putin’s third term in power about to come knocking at schools’ doors? they ask.

Moscow history teacher Tamara Eidelman thinks it might. “Vasilyeva’s appointment is a sign of the general atmosphere in the country toward faux patriotism and Stalinism,” she says. “And that, sadly, will of course also impact schools.”

Former Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov

Former Education and Science Minister Dmitry Livanov Kremlin Press Service

A Bone to Voters

The removal of Vasilyeva’s predecessor, Dmitry Livanov, did not come as a surprise: There have been calls for his resignation for almost as long as he was education minister.

Appointed in 2012, Livanov made few friends by pushing through far-reaching reform to reduce state dependence and improve efficiency in education. Among his most controversial moves was an overhaul of the Russian Academy of Sciences by merging research institutes and cutting funding. He also enforced the implementation of a unified state exam.

It gained him the reputation of an uncompromising technocrat and made him widely unpopular with a sector accustomed to Soviet-era support.

In popularity surveys, Livanov has consistently placed near the bottom. A recent survey of government ministers by the state-run VTsIOM pollster ranked Livanov the Kremlin’s most unpopular staff member, with his lowest score in years.

With parliamentary elections less than a month away, on Sept. 18, Livanov’s sacking fits a tradition of throwing a bone to voters by purging unpopular government officials. Compared to Livanov, Vasilyeva is “a new leaf,” head of VTsIOM Valery Fyodorov told the Vesti news program.

Russia’s academic elite embraced the news. “We hope that reform from now on will be more balanced, rational,” Vladimir Fortov, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the state-run RIA Novosti agency.

The Kremlin has presented the choice of Vasilyeva as inspired by gender equality issues. “I would propose appointing a woman,” a serene Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told Putin in a staged meeting broadcast on state television.

More likely, however, is that Vasilyeva’s history, not her gender, snagged Russia’s first female education minister the job.

Tikhon Shevkunov is rumored to be Putin's spiritual adviser.

Tikhon Shevkunov is rumored to be Putin’s spiritual adviser.

Lucky Meeting

Vasilyeva, who declined a request for comment for this article, grew up in a Russian Orthodox household in the 1960s. It was a time when “any information on a baptism, christening, religious wedding or funeral was passed on to the executive committee,” she told the religious Pravoslavie.ru website in an interview.

“Nevertheless, my father, who had a certain position, wanted his children to be baptized,” she said. After graduating early at the age of 14, she studied choir directing and later history, going into teaching and then academia.

As a prominent religious scholar, Vasilyeva focused on the relationship between the state and the Russian Orthodox Church in the 20th century, publishing more than 90 papers on the topic. At a religious seminar, she met then-Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, a Russian Orthodox priest rumored to be Putin’s spiritual adviser. Many believe that relationship has played a crucial role in her dealings with the Kremlin.

Her ties to the church are such that upon her appointment, Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russian Orthodoxy, congratulated her in a statement on the church’s official website. “The Lord has generously endowed you with talent, which you have successfully made use of in the many stages of your service,” it said.

Those links have alienated Kremlin critics such as Alexei Venediktov, editor-in-chief of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, who promptly announced his resignation from a ministry advisory body. “She believes the church should be close to schools, and the state to the church,” he said. “Nothing good can come of this appointment.”

Others argue Vasilyeva’s views on history, not her religious zeal, are more cause for concern.

In a closed lecture given to Kremlin officials in 2013, Vasilyeva reportedly praised Stalin for uniting the country on the eve of World War II, according to an unnamed source cited by the Kommersantnewspaper at the time.

Reports of ambiguous statements on Stalin abound and, upon her appointment as minister, Russian liberal media have rehashed them to decry her political leanings. Vasilyeva’s supporters have dismissed the allegations as based on misquotations and defend her public statements on Stalin as historical appraisals based on fact, rather than value judgments.

Less unequivocal is Vasilyeva’s championing of patriotic values. Previously, Vasilyeva was deputy head of the presidential administration’s “social projects” body, tasked with advising the government on issues of patriotism. The group was overseen by Vyacheslav Volodin, the deputy head of the presidential administration and brain behind domestic policy.

In her work in the presidential administration, Vasilyeva played a key role in preparing new teaching material on Russian history and literature. There, she took a firm line, according to a source who had crossover with Vasilyeva at the time and asked to remain anonymous. “She very sharply, almost rudely, tried to push through a line of ideology on the one hand, while reducing plurality on the other,” says the source. “She sees history as the study of truth, rather than an ideological debate.”

Her appointment, the source adds, is the result of a tug-of-war within the Kremlin. “When faced with an opportunity to put his own person in the position, Volodin went for it,” the source says. “Medvedev was presented a done conclusion.”

Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

Wait and See

So far, Vasilyeva has given little away about her plans as minister, saying only that Livanov’s reforms will be “reviewed.” In her first public appearance, she said her main priority as minister would be to defend the interests of teachers.

“Their position, their state, society’s attitude toward them,” she told a teachers’ conference, dressed in a black gown with long sleeves — not unlike those worn by Orthodox priests.

Former student Katya Bolotovskaya enthusiastically remembers Vasilyeva’s lively music and history lessons at a Moscow school in the late 1980s. “She was a wonderful teacher, better than all the others,” she says.

Bolotovskaya could never have predicted that her teacher would one day become the country’s education minister. Now, more than excitement, she feels alarm. “It scares me that the education minister would have such pro-church, pro-government values,” she says.

Moscow history teacher Eidelman believes it’s too soon to tell. “It would be premature to judge Vasilyeva on her words,” she says. “But, to be honest, her words inspire fear.”

Beijing Gets 70% Of Its Needed Water From The Yangtze River: Is This Sustainable?

Beijing gets 70% water from Yangtze River diversion

ABOUT 70 percent of water used in Beijing comes from China’s Yangtze River valley through a massive water diversion program, water authorities have said.

Over 1.5 billion cubic meters of water were diverted from the Danjiangkou Reservoir conjoining central China’s Henan and Hubei provinces, as of Aug. 10, accounting for 70 percent of Beijing’s water demand.

Water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir began flowing to Beijing in December 2014, as one of the three branches of China’s south-to-north water diversion program, channeling water from the Yangtze River valley in southern China to address water shortages in the country’s north and western regions.

To ensure water quality, Henan has made a 1,595 square km water protection zone near the reservoir and removed nearby factories and companies along the water diversion route to make room for forestry. The province has also put 181 water treatment and soil conservation projects in place to protect water sources.

In exchange for clean water from the south, Beijing has funded water protection and related programs in Henan with 250 million yuan (US$37.69 million) per year since 2014.

Over the past five years, Beijing has signed combined investment deals with Henan worth 1.08 trillion yuan, with 431.9 billion already invested.

Henan is also slated to sign a number of deals with Beijing on Monday, for cooperation in education, technology and many other sectors, authorities said.

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