30 de maio de 2013

Homicídios alarmantes

Opinião, Diario del Nordeste



Organismos internacionais voltados para os estudos sobre a violência estão alarmados com os registros de mortes por arma de fogo no Brasil. Embora as estatísticas oficiais sejam falhas, os dados levantados classificam o Brasil como detentor dos centros urbanos mais violentos do mundo, conforme o Mapa da Violência.

Os últimos estudos constatam, também, o deslocamento do fenômeno, antes prevalecente em metrópoles como o Rio de Janeiro e São Paulo, para as demais regiões do País. A Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) considera tolerável a taxa de dez assassinatos por cada 100 mil habitantes. No Brasil, a média nacional de homicídios vem correspondendo a duas vezes esse parâmetro.

A morte a bala vem acompanhando a desconcentração industrial e os deslocamentos populacionais vinculados às atividades econômicas. Conclusões dessa natureza constam do último Mapa da Violência 2013, divulgado pelo Centro Brasileiro de Estudos Latino-Americanos (Cebela). O Ministério da Justiça vem insistido na reformulação do modelo de registros estatísticos de violência nos Estados, sem conseguir grandes avanços.

Daí a parcialidade dos números. Dos cinco Estados mais violentos no País, pelos números levantados em 2010, três estão no Nordeste: Alagoas, Bahia e Paraíba.Os mesmos dados do Cebela projetam as quatro capitais com os piores números, todas, também, concentradas na região: Maceió, João Pessoa, Salvador e Recife.

A pesquisa englobou 36.792 registros de pessoas assassinadas a tiro em 2010, número superior aos 36.624 assassinatos ocorridos em 2009, estabilizando no País taxa de 20,4 homicídios por cada grupo de 100 mil habitantes, portanto, o dobro do limite de referência da ONU. Com esses números, o País classifica-se na oitava pior marca entre as cem nações com homicídios pesquisados.

Além desses resultados por Estados mais destacados, a violência também se espalha pelo Paraná, Santa Catarina e o entorno de Brasília. Contudo, os índices de maior massacre se concentram em Alagoas, pelos números de 2010, com taxa de 55,3 homicídios por cada mil habitantes. Naquele Estado fracassa também a infraestrutura policial, notadamente o suporte oferecido pelo Instituto Médico Legal, as delegacias de polícia e o plano de segurança pública.

No Estado do Pará, os assassinatos registraram aumento de 307,2% nos últimos dez anos. No Maranhão, o acréscimo foi de 282,2% entre 2000 e 2010. O Rio de Janeiro aparece em 8º lugar no ranking nacional dos Estados mais violentos, com taxa de 26,4. Os assassinatos a tiro, no Rio, estão em declínio.

Nas estatísticas dos homicídios a tiro, nas capitais, Maceió acompanha a liderança exercida por Alagoas. Lá se registrou, em 2010, taxa de 94,5 homicídios por 100 mil habitantes. Em João Pessoa, a taxa foi de 71,6; Vitória, 60,7; Salvador, 56,6; e Recife, 47,8. Essas taxas estão bem acima da média nacional, de 20,4 por 100 mil.

No Ceará, as mortes por arma de fogo, em 2010, se situaram em 24 por cada grupo de 100 mil habitantes, acima portanto da média nacional. Fortaleza concentra a maior parte desses registros. A saída para a redução da violência implica numa série de medidas, entre as quais, a do aquecimento da economia, a ampliação da oferta de emprego e a redistribuição da renda interna.

Tudo isso, aliado ao policiamento ostensivo, sistemático, preventivo, priorizando o largo emprego da inteligência policial para a redução do extermínio.

Can Schools Overcome Poverty and Racism? de Deborah Meier

Dear Michael,
I just recently wrote a blog column for my website (deborahmeier.com) about the problem I have with data—the "facts." Still, I'm not an atheist about data, just an agnostic, including data in the form of graphs.
Graphs can correlate, but they cannot tell us what poverty does to people. My interpretation of the data leads me to suggest that "my" reforms are better than "yours." (I've spent too many years in the schoolyard!) So, five "thoughts" on schooling and poverty, plus race:
I. You are right; it isn't money "alone" (it actually rarely comes alone) that damages the children of the poor. Still, we both agree that money helps. For example, the poor are more likely to be in school while suffering from pain (e.g. toothaches, nausea, or a fever or untreated wound.) Going to the doctor, finding someone to stay home with the baby, taking a day or two off work are advantages that money buys. Poverty means you are unlikely to belong to a network (via family and neighborhood) that introduces you to "useful" people, digs up letters of reference for you, or gets you a summertime job. All these have something to do with money. An advantage is an advantage.
It would be easier too if the "poor" haven't for centuries been perceived as members of a caste different than the non-poor. Long before we had genetic theories we believed in something akin to it. The poor didn't "feel" about death or disaster or being an outcast the way the better-off would. Their tastes were different—in food, art, music—because they were less "sensitive," less "discriminating." We still carry seeds of these views.
But, of course, not all poor have been seen as the same. Not surprisingly, we view a generational dip in status differently than generations of poverty. Becoming poor because we had to escape Hitler, the Communists, or some other catastrophe is very different than climbing out of a history of poverty and disrespect. Or whether we came to poverty in chains. There's a reason why it took so many generations for the Italian, Polish, and Irish poor to go to college, but only one for Jews fleeing Europe, Cubans fleeing Castro, or Chinese fleeing Communism. (Even, a la Dickens, if you were unbeknownst the child of an aristocrat gives you a better chance.)
II. Yes, it's also about race. There's a difference when you know, for sure, that your poverty is not a reflection of your racial inferiority. When we studied American history I was startled at first at the anger expressed toward their forebears for not escaping slavery even if it meant committing suicide. This morning I came across a photo of black teenagers being frisked. I shuddered—knowing how cruelly such powerlessness feels. How hard to escape. I know, as an old white lady, how to "win over" the traffic cop (sometimes). But these young people know that even to try is risky. Furthermore, they have witnessed their own parents being similarly helpless and sometimes imprisoned for making a mistake. For a small number such experiences may lead to a greater determination to get the best revenge of all—to be in a position someday to return the treatment. For most it just simmers inside over and over—and for some creates a numbness that is not an ideal state of mind for developing passions of the mind, or putting up with school.
As modern research confirms, we pay a price for stress—especially in our earliest years. There are obvious reasons to assume that children born into poverty and/or discrimination or both are likely to experience stress at an early age. All the more so if the father is unemployed or unavailable—which, reminder, once affected so many Irish, Polish, and Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Single-parenthood is not a modern invention.
III. "Unfairness" is comparative. Yes, the absence of what money can buy may hurts less if no one else has much either. ( Maybe old-fashioned segregation had one advantage; it created a separate world where one could occasionally forget race and unfairness.)
But today's discrepancies are "in your face." TV, movies, and advertising present a picture of the world in which wealth is the norm, success is just around the corner—over and over and over. None of the official answers are useful even if some are more and some less true! The schools weren't the salvation for most poor white immigrants. It took three-plus generations, and in the end success came to the Irish, Italians, and Poles largely because they were part of that "new middle class" that benefitted by the collective action of the labor movement, city political machines, World War II, GI mortgages, and a free college education. Not paths in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s that many poor people of color could use to climb out of poverty. And perhaps not the path today.
IV. Schools did not get worse, and we are not facing an economic crisis caused by schools. There were no "good old days." For today's poor—including special pockets of intense white poverty—schools are probably better than they were before World War II. But not good enough to wipe out poverty. The stunning reality I discovered in two years of subbing in Chicago's South Side schools in the late 1950s and 1960s was that the schools designed for the poor have probably always been places that smell of humiliation, fear, and boredom. I wrote about it in my early years of teaching. It has gotten better. More poor kids succeed in school—including kids of color. Just not enough better to influence the comparative data on those graphs, Michael.
The one thing alike about schools for the rich and poor is that they are BORING. (Try spending a day doing what kids do.) No one deserves or needs to be deliberately bored. The youngster who chooses to throw ball after ball at the same basketball rim for hours isn't bored. He's serious about what he has decided is important to him. If I were forced to practice throwing that ball for hours, I'd find ways to get out of it—by hiding, pretending, or creating distractions to help the time pass faster. That's what many kids are doing in school—but more so in schools that serve the poor.
V. I haven't a recipe for solving it. Just ideas—which I described last week. None of which can be imposed. In short, what the children need is to belong to a place that embraces them, their families, and their communities. They need schools in a position to acknowledge immediately, without question, that ALL kids are full of interesting ideas and questions, and enter the school "ready to learn." They've been doing so since birth. They need schools where they and their families are known well. No teacher should be responsible for knowing well 150 students at a time. They need schools that provide a world as interesting as the one they see outside the window—rather than eliminating windows to keep the kids from being distracted.
If from Day One we acknowledge their rich language (yes) and ideas and the experiences they are trying to understand we'll do better than imagining they come to us as blank slates. We also need space so that a group doing "x" can get excited without bothering Group Y. So that "projects" don't have to fit inside a notebook for lack of space to think bigger or get finished in an hour for lack of storage and display space.
We need quiet places and noisy places, places full of books and computers and others full of paint and clay. We need adults with the freedom to make spontaneous decisions—shifting the conversation in response to one of those "wonderful moments" and deviating from any designed curriculum. Teachers need the time to mull over what they have learned from student work (written as well as observed) and collegial time to expand their repertoires. We need feedback from trusted and competent colleagues. We need time for families and teachers to engage in serious conversations. We need settings where it seems reasonable that kids might see the school's adults as powerful and interesting people who are having a good time.
We need schools that define success in broader ways than test scores or college completion. I want ways that "allow" me to feel pride and pleasure about a former student who didn't shine at either. It took all our staffs combined ingenuity (and patience) to get her a well-earned high school diploma—in five-and-a-half, not four years. She got a full-time stable job working in a nursery school and soon hopes to get an AA degree. She tells me proudly that she is also taking care of the grandmother who took care of her during a very tough childhood. She also volunteers once a week at a local center for the aged. I'm impressed and tell her so.
Scaling up means developing "systems" that improve the odds that we can create and sustain schools seeking ways to make even such successes possible. It means that we stop closing schools in poor neighborhoods because they are under-utilized (or have low scores). Underutilization offers a golden opportunity to create the space needed for true community education centers. And, while I'm dreaming, we might even, possibly, someday live up to the much-celebrated 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Yes, it sounds unrealistic. It is. Which is why we need to also tackle poverty directly.
Best, Deb
P.S. Michael, read My Life in School, by my hero, Tom Sobol. Tom's experience as New York state commissioner in the late 1980s and early 1990s is very instructive.
- Deborah Meier

What We Talk About When We Talk About Poverty

Michael J. Petrilli continues his conversation with Deborah Meier today.
Dear Deborah,
I want to return to the perennial question of poverty as it relates to educational outcomes. One of the main arguments against education reform is that it misdiagnoses the problem. We have big "achievement gaps" in terms of test scores, graduation rates, college-going, and much else, but that's primarily because of inequities in our society, not because of the failings of our schools—so goes the thinking.
As I indicated in my first post for Bridging Differences, I'm not opposed to tackling these larger issues of poverty and inequality. (Neither are most reformers.) But we'd better have a good understanding of what we're tackling. I would argue that clarity is sorely lacking.
Is the issue really poverty, per se? The fact that many families in the U.S. don't have enough income to provide the advantages that other children enjoy? If so, are we satisfied with delineating the problem with the poverty line (currently about $20,000 for a family of three)? That qualifies 23 percent of all children (as of 2011), up from 18 percent before the Great Recession.
Or should we include children a little bit above the poverty line—from families that are "near-poor" or "working-poor," too? Say, up to 185 percent of poverty, the cut-off for eligibility for a reduced-price lunch? That captures 48 percent of all U.S. children (as of 2011).
Then again, standard poverty measures are imperfect. They don't take into account certain services or benefits that low-income families receive, such as food stamps, Medicaid, or the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Poverty counts just look at income from work or from transfer payments.) If you consider those factors, poverty rates drop a few points.
And are we talking about kids who are born into poverty, or spend most of their lives in poverty, or are in poverty for just a few years? The "child poverty rate" is for any given point in time, but it masks these important differences. Several studies looked at children born way back in the late 1960s and early 1970s (my generation!). They found that about 25 percent of white children, and an astounding 79 percent of black children, were poor for at least a year during their childhoods. But long-term poverty was much rarer: One percent of white children and 30 percent of black children were poor for at least two-thirds of their childhoods. These children in "long-term poverty" were also more likely to be in "deep poverty," meaning their families' incomes were below half the poverty line. (If you do the math, those kids accounted for about 5 percent of the total.)
Not surprisingly, other studies have found that it's the children in long-term and deep poverty who fare the worst on a variety of indicators, while those in poverty for a relatively short amount of time tend to do better.
So when you and your colleagues say that "poverty is the problem," which kind of poverty are you talking about? Long-term poverty? Short-term poverty? Deep poverty? Near poverty? Fifty percent of the kids? Five percent?
Even more importantly, is it really poverty that's the problem? Are we sure poverty's not a proxy for other issues?
If it's just poverty—not enough money—then it's fairly easy to solve: We could just give poor families extra cash in order to make them not poor. We could do this by bringing back traditional welfare, or enlarging the Earned Income Tax Credit, or raising the minimum wage.
However, research and experience indicate that those sorts of "income supports" might help children at the margins, but they won't make much of a dent in achievement gaps or the real inequities in our society. That's because the most disadvantaged children—especially those who are born poor, and stay poor, for most of their childhoods—have the following, more deep-seated challenges in common:
  • Most were born to single mothers, and their fathers have been absent from the start, or by the time they turn two or three;
  • Most of their mothers were teenagers or in their early 20s when they gave birth;
  • Most of their mothers have very little education—a high school diploma or less--and thus few marketable skills;
  • Many of their mothers suffer from mental illness or addiction or both;

If we give these families more money, it would ease their hardships a bit, and the lower levels of stress might help the moms do a better job parenting. They might also be able to afford some educational goods they otherwise couldn't—marginally better childcare or preschool, or books, or educational games.
But will it erase the huge gaps in early vocabulary development, non-cognitive skill-building, and other essential school readiness tasks between these disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers? Between these kids and their age-mates born into two-parent families? With highly-educated mothers and fathers? With parents who were in their 30s when they started families, instead of their teens?
To believe so, you'd have to put as much faith in cash transfers and social services as some reformers put in schools. You'd have to believe in miracles.
But, you might say, what about the international data? The conventional wisdom says that European countries with more generous social welfare systems don't have the gaping inequalities we do, and their poor kids, as a result, do much better in school. The reason the U.S. trails internationally is because we don't do enough to curb poverty, right?
Let's look at that a bit. It's true that the standard measures show the U.S. to be an outlier among rich countries in terms of childhood poverty. But these poverty measures are problematic, because they use a relative definition of poverty. They consider families to be poor if they make less than half the median national income. By definition, then, countries with greater inequality will have more poverty. Such measures look at how the pie is divided, but they don't look at the size of the pie itself.
Absolute measures, on the other hand, take the U.S. poverty threshold, convert it into other currencies, make some adjustments for costs of living, and determine how many people in other countries fall below that line. Here's what that looks like (at 125 percent the U.S. poverty rate):
Source: "Poor People in Rich Nations: The United States in Comparative Perspective," Timothy Smeeding, 2006
Suddenly America's child poverty rate looks almost normal, and certainly can't explain our lackluster international performance on exams. (Note that our poverty rates are almost indistinguishable from Finland's, everyone's favorite star performer.)
But if we don't look so bad when it comes to absolute "income poverty," we do look very bad when it comes to fatherless families:
Source: http://worldfamilymap.org/2013/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/WFM-Table1.pdf.
And also teenage pregnancy:
In conclusion, Deborah, our issue isn't just poverty, but parenting. We have a whole class of children growing up without fathers, and they are doing terribly. (Black boys in particular.) Traditional "anti-poverty" measures are unlikely to make much of a dent in solving this one.
So what's left? What we need are "transformational" interventions that interrupt the insidious cycle that turns disadvantaged kids into disadvantaged parents, by giving them the hope, confidence, and skills to find a different path. I can't think of institutions better positioned to do that than schools. Can you?

Online labour exchanges

The workforce in the cloud

“Talent exchanges” on the web are starting to transform the world of work

FOR translating a 22-minute video from English into Spanish at short notice, 7Brands Global Content, a professional-translation firm based in New York, quoted “approximately $1,500”. This fee seems in line with the local going rate for the job from a firm which boasts membership of three professional associations and clients such as Chase and Bank of America. Not so long ago, paying the local rate was the only option. Today anyone seeking to get this sort of job done is only a click away from the whole world of professionals competing to do it far cheaper.
That same translation job was advertised on Elance.com and oDesk.com, the two busiest among several newish online marketplaces for work, or “talent exchanges”. On Elance it soon attracted 25 bids, from individuals in 15 countries. For around half the bidders, this would be their first job, which raised questions about how good their work would be (especially the Uruguayan who promised to “translate your interview perfetly”). But some seemed competent. According to his Elance page, “oswaldo g”, from Colombia, has already completed 31 jobs, earning a combined $4,193 and a satisfaction rating of 4.9 (out of 5). He quoted a tempting $16.44 an hour—though not as tempting as the five bids on oDesk (three of them by five-star-rated workers), from Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico and the Philippines. Each of them offered a flat rate for the completed job, ranging from $33.33 down to just $22.22.

Such whopping price differences help explain why these and other work marketplaces have been growing fast. Last year the value of this sort of online work topped $1 billion for the first time; it will double to $2 billion in 2014, and reach $5 billion by 2018, forecasts Staffing Industry Analysts, a “contingent work” consultant. ODesk was the matchmaker for 35m hours of work in 2012 (over 50% more than in 2011), divided between 1.5m tasks, at a total cost to the employers of $360m. The value of work on Elance rose by 40% in 2012 to exceed $200m for the first time.
ODesk and Elance claim similar numbers of firms posting jobs, just over half a million each, and of signed-up contractors—3m on oDesk versus 2.5m Elancers. The fiercest of rivals, each claims to be the market leader, even though the monetary value of work done via oDesk is almost twice as great. “We cater to the higher end of the market, and don’t do big commodity contracts with firms like eBay and Facebook,” argues Fabio Rosati, the founder of Elance. Finding innovative ways to meet the needs of bigger companies is one of the reasons oDesk’s lead is likely to continue growing, retorts Gary Swart, its founder.
Anecdotal support for both sides is provided by Marc Piette, a founder of Locu, a start-up that uploads local content such as restaurant menus to the internet. The firm supplements its core staff of 20 full-timers with 300-600 oDeskers on any given day. He says oDesk has been helpful in developing tools that make it easy to hire, say, 50 workers at a time. The work is not terribly demanding (for instance, looking at menus to ensure that the Locu algorithm has properly separated starters from desserts). Mr Piette thinks this is too complex to do via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site, on which people can do basic “micro-work” such as checking the spelling of a web address, but nor is it the sort of professional-level work Elance says it specialises in.
Freelancer, the third-placed exchange, is unapologetic about being cheap; it has more than 7m registered workers, but generates far less work by value than its bigger rivals. In March, Rev, a new competitor, entered the fray, launched by former oDesk employees with a mission to “do for online work what Amazon did for online retail” (a mission admittedly shared with everyone else in the industry).
Location, reputation, verification
There are other differences in the business models of the market leaders. oDesk simply takes a cut of all completed jobs; Elance also charges freelancers optional fees for extra services. Both have been trying to improve the quality of the reputation-rating system, and to ensure that work is being done by the person who accepted it rather than passed on to someone potentially less competent (“Still the biggest risk,” says Mr Piette).
ODesk wins a lot of praise for managing payments to people in far-flung places, and for absorbing all the payment risk. The company also introduced a way to monitor whether work is being done when it is claimed to be, by taking pictures of the worker and screen at random intervals.
The exchanges are providing opportunities not just to do one-off jobs, but to build a business. In 2009 Josh Warren, an entrepreneur based in Dallas, started earning $15 an hour doing work for e-commerce sites he found on oDesk. Soon he was earning $125 an hour, and had more work than he could do alone. So in 2010 he recruited via oDesk a Polish counterpart, who now runs the Posnan branch of Creatuity, Mr Warren’s web-services company. He now employs 23 people and is earning seven-figure revenues from clients in America, Australia, Britain and even India.
Nice work if you can get it
Opinions differ over how much these talent exchanges will transform the global workforce as a whole. Clearly, they are benefiting from a trend for growing numbers of people to work freelance or on temporary contracts. Depending on the definition, between one-fifth and one-third of American workers are now freelancers, contractors or temps, up from 6% in 1989, according to Accenture, a consultancy. Yet the $1 billion of work done through talent exchanges in 2012 is only one-third of one percent of the estimated $300 billion spent worldwide on these “contingent workers”, which suggests that talent exchanges are still barely scratching the surface. However, those they enroll seem to enjoy the experience, which is why the numbers signing up are growing fast.
There is bound to be a limit to the sorts of work that can be offered through online exchanges, but maybe not much of one. So far, most of the jobs on oDesk and Elance require skills in information technology. The top two skills hired on oDesk last year were in web programming and mobile apps. Yet the range of work offered is expanding fast, says Mr Swart. In 2007 just four categories of work accounted for 90% of the dollars billed on oDesk; in 2012, that 90% was made up of 35 sorts of work, with project management, translation and copywriting among the fastest-growing.
Online exchanges are increasingly important even for jobs—such as household repairs and errand-running—that cannot be contracted out to distant workers. A crop of sites cater to local tradespeople such as builders, plumbers and drivers, including RatedPeople and MyBuilder. Workers do not even need a trade to find local work. TaskRabbit, a site for hiring people to do things such as collecting groceries, assembling Ikea furniture or making a delivery (for a flat fee of $10), is booming. It now covers nine American cities, with London likely to follow soon. This is good news for both hirers and those looking for work, though it is not yet clear how attractive a business it will be for the exchanges themselves: Angie’s List, one of the oldest online marketplaces for local tradespeople, has still to turn an annual profit after 17 years.
Work that brings the employee into the hirer’s home clearly presents greater risks than when it is entirely virtual. Screening out a potential Hannibal Lecter is not easy. But the websites’ reputation ratings, providing recommendations from a number of previous hirers, are a big improvement on the old method of picking someone at random out of a phone book.
Critics of the online exchanges claim they are all about undercutting wages in rich countries by shifting work to poor ones. But both Elance and oDesk insist that the flow of work is not all in one direction. For instance, there are around 716,000 registered Elancers in America, double the number in India. Whereas last year America was the biggest-spending country on oDesk, with India the main recipient (thereby fitting the stereotype), the third-biggest earners of dollars on oDesk were freelancers not in some developing country but in America itself. Moreover, workers who start cheap tend not to stay that way: helped by the rating system, workers on oDesk increase their hourly rate by almost 60% on average in their first year, and by around 190% in three years.
As Accenture points out in its report, employers should henceforth think of their workforce as made up not just of current full-time employees but also of the vast army of potential workers that are a click away. This applies just as much to big, established firms as to thrusting young start-ups.

29 de maio de 2013

History Lessons about Preschools in U.S. by larrycuban


"Our four-year-olds do have a place in school, but it is not at a school desk," said Ed Zigler, Yale University psychologist who helped design Head Start in President Johnson's "War on Poverty" and led the Office of Child Development in President Nixon's administration. He wanted K-12 systems to welcome all young children but was concerned about pre-kindergartens becoming another academic boot camp for four-year-olds.
Many others, however, were strongly opposed to putting preschoolers into an already bureaucratized, ineffective K-12 system. For example, the head of the Commonwealth Foundation (PA) asked: "Would you hire a carpenter to remodel the first floor of your home if he was already working on the second and third floors and doing a poor job? Would you expect the results on the second and third floors to improve just because the carpenter was also remodeling the first floor?"
Both quotes stake out different positions on the significant policy question whether preschools for all children should be part of the existing K-12 system--as it is in Oklahoma, New York, Georgia, and New Jersey--or be part of the private market for child care in homes, churches, and corporate-owned facilities as it has been in most cities and suburbs for decades or, another option, a mix of public schools and private child care. These policy options capture the dilemma facing decision-makers on the issue of expanding access of three- and four-year-olds to preschool in the U.S.
The quotes come from Elizabeth Rose's historical study (pp. 98, 179) of early childhood education from Head Start to universal preschool called The Promise of Preschool.In tracing the trajectory of publicly-funded preschools since the mid-1960s, Rose points out how important business leaders were in the political coalition that pressed state and federal policymakers for expanded preschools in the 1970s and their continued presence since then.
"Corporate reformers," as critics have labeled current reform advocates, include CEOs. They have been crucial members of the political coalition promoting both targeted access (only for poor children) and preschools for all children. With so much rhetoric flung  at "corporate reformers" (see here and here), it is worthwhile to remember that educational policy making is largely a political process that needs a big tent to cover a wide array of supporters.
Rose does more than tell readers of the role that business leaders had in driving the expansion of preschools for poor and middle-class children over the past half-century. In describing and analyzing the history of preschools since the mid-1960s until the present, historian Rose presents recurring policy dilemmas--re-read above quotes for divergent policy choices--and extracts a number of lessons that can inform current policy decisions. There are a few lessons that she lists that I would like to elaborate in this post.
* Inflated claims of what preschools can do for all three- and four-year-olds  are seldom achieved.
Just as hype surrounds the newest technological innovation for schools to buy and deploy, similar exaggerations accompany expanding preschool. Listen to a state superintendent of education touting preschools:
"It's like finding out there's an effective polio vaccine. Once you have seen the ... evidence of what preschool can do for children, it becomes almost obscene not to call for universal preschool (Rose, p. 226). Or the governor of Oregon saying that expanding Head Start would be "the most significant--and most effective--anti-drug, anti-crime, and pro-education strategy" for the nation (Rose, p. 225). That providing preschool can solve larger social problems as poverty, crime, and drugs is like saying that doing exercises regularly when you are three- and four-years old will mean you will be physically fit for the rest of your life.
Life doesn't work that way.  Preschools do not innoculate young children for the rest of their lives from pursuing bad habits, making poor choices, and avoiding mistakes.
Hyping preschools (or new technologies) may help mobilize initial political support but, historically, has led to unrealistic expectations for what can be achieved resulting in  disappointment and splintered coalitions.
*Historically, framing preschool as education rather than child care has succeeded  politically.  Yet divorcing one from the other is a policy error because U.S. families need both high-quality child care provided by private and community care-givers  and high-quality public schooling.
Business and civic leaders, educators, and parents chose strategically since the 1980s to frame preschooling as an educational issue because they believed that it paid off as an investment and was at or near the top of issues voters and taxpayers ranked as important for decision-makers to address. In doing so, advocates  stressed the importance of four-year-olds learning academic skills, having well-trained teachers, and access to proper facilities.  Calling preschool "pre-kindergarten" made it part of the K-12 system. It was a strategic decision that has worked.
In making the choice, however, promoters of "pre-kindergarten" easily slipped into denigrating child care as "custodial" and "warehousing." Moreover, policy and voter attention shifted from just-as-important needs of infants and toddlers for high-quality child care to getting young children ready for kindergarten. Some states such as Illinois and New York have provided a full range of programs for infants through five-year-olds recognizing that both first-rate child care and preschools are needed.
These are a few of the lessons that Elizabeth Rose has drawn from her study of past and current efforts to alter the schooling and care of the young in the U.S.

Colorado aprueba la regulación del mercado de la marihuana recreativa

La legislación determina la producción, la forma de venta, los impuestos o los límites para conducir bajo los efectos del cannabis

 Washington 28 MAY 2013 - 22:19 CET, El País

El gobernador de Colorado, John Kickenlooper, anuncia la firma de la legislación que legaliza el mercado de marihuana. / 9NEWS
Colorado se ha convertido este martes en el primer Estado que regula la venta, la producción y los impuestos sobre la marihuana recreativa. Su gobernador, el demócrata John Hickenlooper, ha firmado unpaquete legislativo histórico que establece límites sobre el cultivo individual, la cantidad que pueden adquirir los habitantes de Colorado y los que residen fuera de él, qué establecimientos pueden dispensar la marihuana y cómo debe estar envasada, así como el establecimiento de una tasa mínima para conducir bajo los efectos del cannabis.
Hickenlooper, reticente a la legalización de la marihuana, ha reconocido durante la rúbrica de la normativa “de sentido común” aprobada por Colorado que estas leyes son el mejor intento para “navegar por elterritorio inexplorado que es la legalización de la marihuana recreativa”. La marihuana sigue siendo una sustancia prohibida por la legislación federal. Desde que Colorado y Washington decidieron en noviembre de 2012 legalizar por primera vez en la historia el mercado de la producción, venta y consumo de la marihuana, el Departamento de Justicia no se ha pronunciado sobre cómo va a afrontar la Administración el desafío de estos dos Estados. El gobernador de Colorado espera una reacción pronta aunque no sabe en qué dirección. El portavoz de la Fiscalía de Denver (Colorado) ha enviado un correo electrónico en que asegura que "revisarán todos los aspectos de las leyes" antes de ofrecer una respuesta oficial.
Los habitantes de Colorado están autorizados a comprar hasta 28 gramos de marihuana
De acuerdo con la nueva normativa, los adultos mayores de 21años podrán cultivar un máximo de seis plantas de marihuana en sus hogares para uso personal. Los habitantes de Colorado están autorizados a comprar hasta 28 gramos de marihuana -la misma que es legal poseer-, la cantidad para los residentes de fuera del Estado se limita a siete gramos. Únicamente se podrá adquirir el cannabis en los establecimientos autorizados para vender marihuana medicinal y en aquellos que ofertan productos relacionados con su consumo -como pipas- y sólo podrán solicitar licencias de apertura quienes vivan en Colorado. La marihuana deberá llevar etiquetas indicativas de su cantidad y la potencia de THC -principal componente psicoactivo del cannabis-.
La legislación regula el establecimiento de impuestos sobre la marihuana y su venta. La norma propone un 15% sobre el bien específico y otro 10% sobre la transacción. La recaudación de estas tasas, que se calcula que ascienda a los 40 millones de dólares, se destinará al desarrollo y construcción de nuevas escuelas. Sin embargo, esta disposición está supeditada a que los habitantes del Estado voten a favor de esa subida impositiva en noviembre de 2014. La legislación de Colorado condiciona la aplicación de cualquier nuevo impuesto a la aprobación previa de sus ciudadanos en las urnas y, pese a que en ese territorio son reticentes a autorizar los incrementos impositivos, el gobernador y los promotores de la legalización se muestran confiados en que respaldarán la medida.
La marihuana deberá llevar etiquetas indicativas de su cantidad y la potencia de THC
Otra de las novedades de la nueva regulación consiste en el establecimiento de un límite en la tasa de THC para la conducción, semejante a los límites fijados para el caso del alcohol. La tasa máxima es de cinco nanogramos de THC en sangre, por encima de la cual, se presume que se conduce bajo los efectos de la marihuana y faculta a la policía a prohibir coger el volante.
Colorado se ha convertido en el primer territorio del mundo en regularizar el mercado del consumo recreativo de marihuana. De momento, el Estado de Washington únicamente ha publicado unapropuesta que pretende ser una guía de recomendaciones para que sean tomadas en consideración por los legisladores, que tienen previsto presentar la normativa estatal a mediados del próximo mes de junio.
La semana pasada, Gil Kerlikowske, el responsable de la política de lucha contra las drogas de la Casa Blanca se mostró radicalmente opuesto a la legalización de la marihuana aprobada por Colorado y Washington y abogó por despenalizar determinadas conductas.

Brasil, por delante de México en el índice de bienestar de la OCDE

Ambos están a la cola de este informe que estudia la calidad de vida de 36 países

En los primeros puestos, Australia, Suecia y Canadá

El último informe de bienestar económico y social que elabora la Organización para la Cooperación y el Desarrollo Económico (OCDE) coloca a Brasil por delante de México en la clasificación de calidad de vida. Los dos países están, junto con Chile, a la cola de los 36 países analizados (la mayoría economías avanzadas, pero también algunas emergentes): México es el penúltimo, solo por delante de Turquía, Chile se sitúa en el puesto 34 y Brasil, en el 33. En los primeros lugares, Australia, Suecia y Canadá.
El índice alternativo al Producto Interior Bruto (PIB) de la OCDE para medir el bienestar económico y social toma en cuenta los indicadores de vivienda, ingresos, empleo, comunidad, educación, medio ambiente, compromiso cívico, salud, satisfacción ante la vida, seguridad y balance entre vida y trabajo.
En cuanto a datos económicos, Brasil es el último en ingreso familiar disponible neto ajustado (el dinero que una familia gana al año, después de impuestos). Mientras que el promedio de la OCDE es de 23.047 dólares anuales, los brasileños cuentan con solo 10.225. En México (en el puesto 31 de 36) el ingreso familiar es más alto, 12.732 al año, pero el país se encuentra con otro problema añadido: la brecha entre los más ricos y los más pobres. La población situada en el 20% superior de la escala de ingresos gana 13 veces lo que percibe la población que ocupa el 20% inferior.
Respecto a empleo, tanto Brasil como México superan la media de ciudadanos entre 15 y 64 años con trabajo remunerado de la OCDE, situada en el 66% del total. Más del 68% de los habitantes de Brasil se encuentran en esta situación (80% de los hombres y 56% de las mujeres), mientras que en México son más del 60% (78% de hombres, 43% de las mujeres). En este país, cerca del 29% de los trabajadores tienen un horario de trabajo muy largo, mucho más que la media de la OCDE, que ronda el 9%. De media, un mexicano trabaja 2.250 horas al año y es, después de Turquía, donde menos horas dedica al ocio y al cuidado personal. Brasil está, por el contrario, en el puesto 16 en cuanto horas dedicadas a la vida fuera del trabajo, y el porcentaje de empleados con prolongadas jornadas laborales se reduce al 13%.
Las cifras son menos alentadoras en cuanto a educación. El 41% de los adultos brasileños y el 36% de los mexicanos entre 25 y 64 años tiene un título de educación secundaria, frente al promedio general de 74%. En los dos casos, la proporción de tituladas es un poco menor que la de titulados.
La OCDE mide también la calidad de la educación a través del Programa para la Evaluación Internacional de Estudiantes (PISA, por sus siglas en inglés). El estudiante promedio de los 36 países obtuvo una calificación de 497 en lectura, matemáticas y ciencias. Brasil se quedó por debajo de la media, con 401 puntos, y México también, con 420. En toda la OCDE, en cuanto a nivel educativo, Brasil (puesto 33) y México (puesto 34) solo están por delante a Portugal y a Turquía.
El informe de bienestar de la OCDE analiza además otros indicadores, como la esperanza de vida, de 80 años de media, frente a los 74 que vive un ciudadano tanto en Brasil como en México.
El nivel de partículas contaminantes atmosféricas PM10, lo suficientemente pequeñas como para penetrar en los pulmones y dañarlos, es de 20 microgramos por metro cúbico en Brasil, cerca del promedio de 21 microgramos por metro cúbico y por debajo de los preocupantes 33 microgramos de México. En cuanto a vivienda, la familia promedio de la OCDE dedica el 21% de su salario a pagar el alquiler o la hipoteca y los gastos del hogar, lo mismo que en Brasil. En México el porcentaje es algo menor, del 18%.
A pesar de las peores condiciones socioeconómicas de Brasil y México respecto al resto, ambos están ligeramente más satisfechos con su vida que el promedio de la OCDE. El 85% de los mexicanos y el 82% de los brasileños dicen tener más experiencias positivas que negativas a diario, frente al 80% de media global.
El Índice para una Vida Mejor fue creado a partir de las recomendaciones de una comisión dirigida por dos premios Nobel de Economía, Joseph Stiglitz y Amartya Sen, y el economista francés Jean-Paul Fitoussi. La OCDE ofrece por primera vez en español la herramienta interactiva en la que plasma los resultados de su informe. La web, que se estrenó en 2011, ya tenía versiones en inglés, francés y ruso y ha recibido más de 1,8 millones de visitas en dos años, informaAlejandro Bolaños.

Dean in E-Mail Searches Steps Down at Harvard

The undergraduate dean at Harvard will step down this summer, she and the university announced on Tuesday, months after she came under fire for her handling of a search of some junior faculty members’ e-mail accounts.
Evelynn M. Hammonds, the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position of dean of Harvard College, will leave that post on July 1 after five years, but she will remain on the faculty, the university said in a statement posted online. She will lead a new program on race and gender in science and medicine, topics that have been at the core of her scholarly work for decades.
“I was never asked to step down,” Dr. Hammonds said. “I have been in discussions to return to academia and my research for some time.”
Harvard disclosed last summer that well over 100 students were suspected of cheating on a take-home exam, the largest such scandal in memory. As the Administrative Board looked into the cases and the students’ guilt or innocence — dozens of them were forced to take a leave from the college — elements of the investigation, which was supposed to be confidential, were reported by The Harvard Crimson.
In March, it was revealed that university administrators, hunting for the sources of those leaks, had searched through Harvard e-mail accounts of 16 resident deans, who are junior faculty members, live in the student houses and act as student advisers. Most of the resident deans were not told of the searches until months later. Dr. Hammonds and Michael D. Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who had approved the search, said that only the messages’ subject lines were examined, not their contents, and that no other e-mail search was conducted.
But a few weeks later, Dr. Hammonds acknowledged that she had ordered another search, without consulting Dr. Smith, that also looked for specific e-mail recipients.
Faculty members described a loss of trust after the searches became public, and The Crimson called on Dr. Hammonds to resign. Harvard’s president, Drew Gilpin Faust, conceded that the university’s e-mail privacy policy was contradictory, and commissioned an outside lawyer to investigate the affair.
Dr. Hammonds said, “The e-mail controversy was difficult, but it was not a motivating factor in my decision to step down as dean.”

Justiça pela qualidade na educação, Priscila Cruz

Início do conteúdo

Em qualquer sociedade do século 21, são inúmeras as demandas sociais, econômicas e culturais. Aqui, no Brasil, não é diferente. Apesar de muitos progressos, ainda temos enormes desafios pela frente.
De fato, é muito difícil falar em prioridade. Entretanto, não há estratégia mais vigorosa e sustentável para melhorar a vida dos brasileiros e elevar o patamar do País em diversas áreas do que garantir o direito da população a uma educação pública de qualidade.
Se existe uma área capaz de ir muito além de seus resultados diretos, essa área é a educação. Seu impacto na saúde, na segurança, no crescimento econômico, na redução da pobreza e das desigualdades e até na felicidade das pessoas está consagrado nas mais recentes e robustas pesquisas nacionais e internacionais.
Esse entendimento, aliás, existe há muito tempo em nosso país. Mais de 80 anos atrás, os chamados "Pioneiros da Educação Nova" assim abriram o seu Manifesto, de 1932: "Na hierarquia dos problemas nacionais, nenhum sobreleva em importância e gravidade ao da educação".
Além de entendermos todos os bons impactos da educação de qualidade na nossa vida, é preciso reconhecer que a educação básica é um direito constitucional - e que, portanto, se devem assumir claramente o dever e a responsabilidade de fazer com que esse direito seja cumprido.
Pois bem, então, de quem é a responsabilidade pela educação no País?
A nossa Constituição federal diz que é um dever do Estado e da família, com a colaboração da sociedade. Ao Estado cabe garantir o direito dos alunos ao acesso, à permanência e à conclusão dos estudos, em sistema público gratuito, com equidade e qualidade.
Os três Poderes fazem parte do Estado. No entanto, o primeiro que vem à mente do cidadão é o Poder Executivo (principalmente o Executivo federal). Depois, o Poder Legislativo e, com sorte, o Poder Judiciário. Porém todos os três Poderes têm o dever constitucional de garantir o direito à educação.
O Sistema de Justiça é espaço essencial para garantirmos condições mais justas de vida e de desenvolvimento dos brasileiros e do Brasil. Seus operadores - juízes, promotores, defensores públicos - são a chave para a garantia do direito à educação de qualidade para todos os brasileiros, tanto por se tratar de um direito humano fundamental quanto por ser essencial ao exercício dos demais direitos.
Ao lado do Executivo e do Legislativo, o Sistema de Justiça tem, portanto, a missão contemporânea de combater o maior erro histórico do nosso país: o descaso para com a educação. Por séculos, milhões de pessoas tiveram sua realização pessoal e sua capacidade de contribuir para uma sociedade melhor sacrificadas.
Em recente lançamento do livro Justiça pela Qualidade na Educação, publicação organizada pelo Movimento Todos Pela Educação e pela Associação Brasileira de Magistrados, Promotores de Justiça e Defensores Públicos da Infância e da Juventude (ABMP), o relator especial da Organização das Nações Unidas para o Direito à Educação, dr. Kishore Singh, observou, de forma iluminada, que "o direito à educação não é um ideal ou uma aspiração, mas um direito legalmente executável".
O trabalho da Justiça, portanto, deve ser o de garantir que o direito à educação seja efetivado em suas diversas dimensões, com foco em soluções estruturantes - ainda que os pleitos específicos ou individuais também mereçam atenção. É preciso que o mundo jurídico e o educacional se encontrem e se articulem com o propósito de elevar a qualidade da educação para o aluno, pois ainda é muito comum que o desconhecimento mútuo leve a decisões judiciais que prejudicam a educação e ações educacionais fora dos limites legais.
Em 2001, o Sistema de Justiça mobilizou-se em torno da Justiça pela Educação, um apoio sem o qual o Brasil não teria dado o grande salto rumo à universalização do ensino fundamental, a etapa obrigatória na época. E isso significou um avanço importante: em 2012, chegamos a 98,2% de crianças e jovens de 6 anos a 14 anos na escola.
Não há dúvida, no entanto, de que a mobilização pela qualidade da educação é a maior necessidade contemporânea brasileira, uma vez que, mesmo tendo avançado nesse sentido nos últimos anos, esse avanço ainda é lento.
Portanto, a ideia de aproximar mais as duas áreas - a da educação e a do Direito - para buscar ajudar o Brasil a dar esse imprescindível novo salto educacional não significa a judicialização da educação. Ao contrário, a ideia é fazer com que, juntas, essas áreas possam ajudar-se no entendimento sobre a questão da qualidade da educação, mais especificamente da garantia da aprendizagem dos alunos, e assim fazer com que a área educacional avance de maneira mais acelerada e persistente nos próximos anos.
O Poder Executivo, o Legislativo e o Sistema de Justiça podem, juntos, estabelecer uma estrutura de ações e articulações necessárias para a obtenção de resultados, com responsabilidades bem definidas de cada um dos entes envolvidos, buscando a efetivação do direito à educação de qualidade para todos.
A questão não é simples. Existem muitos consensos na área educacional, mas também muitas divergências. A aprendizagem dos alunos desde os primeiros anos na escola, no entanto, é um consenso e um direito deles, que deve ser assegurado.
Devemos ter em mente que não será qualquer educação que efetivará os direitos das crianças e dos jovens. Nem garantirá a sustentabilidade social e econômica do Brasil.
Estado de S.Paulo, 29/5/2013