Human Trafficking

BBC News – Nepal: ‘I was

14 when I was sold’.

The real story, focusing on Nepalese women and children.


Our Demographic Future is Now

For Some Texas Schools, Demographic Future is Now — Public Education | The Texas Tribune.

In 2011, the state reached two landmarks. For the first time, Hispanics became the majority of public school students. And to cope with a historic budget deficit, the Legislature did not finance enrollment growth in the state’s schools — something that had not happened since the modernization of the state’s public school system in 1949.

Texas’ future depends on educating our citizens so they can move into jobs now held by about-to-retire baby boomers.  We aren’t doing it very well.

Thirty-eight percent of students who came from low-income households did well enough on their Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or college entrance exams to qualify as “college ready.” Only 5 percent of those with limited English language skills did so.

How can Texas keep up with the modern world if we can’t educate our future?  Read the article to learn about how some districts are doing things differently.

Immigrant Experience

this is the link to the article in the NYT that goes along with the video we watched today.

Count Your Blessings

	 Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times  Dao Ngoc Phung, center, is obsessed with education as a way for the family to get ahead. She devotes herself to overseeing the schoolwork by her younger brother, Tien, and sister, Huong.

via Girls Just Want to Go to School –

Phung wakes her brother and sister, and then after breakfast they all trundle off to school. For Phung, that means a 90-minute bicycle ride each way. She arrives at school 20 minutes early to be sure she’s not late.

In a poor village in Vietnam,  Phung dreams of being an accountant.  During the week, she is the parent to her younger siblings while her father works in the city.  Their mother died of cancer a few years ago.

But Phung, and millions of other Asians in poor situations like hers, persevere because they know that education is their only hope to lift them out of poverty.

For all the differences between Vietnam and America, here’s a common truth: The best way to sustain a nation’s competitiveness is to build human capital. I wish we Americans, especially our politicians, could learn from Phung that our long-term strength will depend less on our aircraft carriers than on the robustness of our kindergartens, less on financing spy satellites than on financing Pell grants.

We have the luxury of a outstanding public education system, and few of our students have a 90 minute bike ride to attend their local school.  We need to do a better job of convincing children and their parents that it matters, or we’ll end up with Vietnam outsourcing their jobs to us.

Clean Water

h/t to Flowingdata

Third-Grade Fractions

via China, Twitter and 20-Year-Olds vs. the Pyramids –

Anyone who’s long followed the Middle East knows that the six most dangerous words after any cataclysmic event in this region are: “Things will never be the same.” After all, this region absorbed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of Google without a ripple.

I’m not a big fan of Thomas Friedman, but I think he’s right about this:

China per se is not fueling the revolt here — but China and the whole Asian-led developing world’s rising consumption of meat, corn, sugar, wheat and oil certainly is. The rise in food and gasoline prices that slammed into this region in the last six months clearly sharpened discontent with the illegitimate regimes — particularly among the young, poor and unemployed.

There is also the problem of what he calls the “educated unemployables”:

Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia today are overflowing with the most frustrated cohort in the world — “the educated unemployables.” They have college degrees on paper but really don’t have the skills to make them globally competitive. I was just in Singapore. Its government is obsessed with things as small as how to better teach fractions to third graders. That has not been Hosni Mubarak’s obsession.

And in there is a cautionary tale for us – how obsessed are we with teaching fractions to third graders?  Are we going to fall far behind, too?

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