Tag Archives: reform

7 things to know about Mexico’s Historic Education Reforms

September 19th, 2013

Mexico
The president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto pictured at the promulgation of the Educational Reform ceremony in the National Palace.

Earlier this month, by an overwhelming vote of 102-22, Mexico’s Senate approved the over-haul of the country’s public education system. The education reforms, proposed by Enrique Peña Nieto when he took office as president last December and largely supported by Mexico’s three main political parties, favor standardized system of test-based hiring and promotion of its public school teachers, approved the over-haul of the country’s education system.

The new education laws diminish the control the teachers unions have over the country’s education system that include the corrupt sale and inheritance of teaching jobs and shift the power to the state. The new education reforms have given rise to protests by thousands of teachers, led by powerful teachers’ unions, who’ve been clashing with police in the streets of Mexico City in an effort to halt and derail the reforms.

Using Finland and South Korea as examples, Mexico wants to incorporate the same conditions followed by these two countries that have led to successes in their respective education systems. These conditions include: selection of the best teachers, social recognition of teacher and the teaching profession, higher wages and on-going improvement of the system.

Here are some of the highlights of Mexico’s New Education Reforms:

• New teachers seeking to gain a teaching position in the national educational system are selected through a national examination. Once selected, new teachers will have to pass an evaluation assessment in order to demonstrate their knowledge and competency to become a teacher. New teachers are given up to two chances (one per year in each of their first two years) to pass this evaluation.

• Existing teachers (1.2 million), just like new teachers, will have to pass an evaluation assessment to provide their knowledge and competency to teach classrooms. Existing teachers are given up to three opportunities (one per year in each of the following three years) to pass the evaluation assessment.

• Union leaders will no longer be able to fill 50% of the new or vacant teaching positions (eliminating the power formally granted in 1963)

• Retiring teachers will no longer be able to sell their positions or pass them on to relatives

• Teachers who chronically underperform may be dismissed

• The union will lose their “comisionados” – some 80,000-100,000 officials paid by the government to do union work.

• Promotions and pay raises will be merit-based.

For more on this topic, visit these links:
http://www.thedialogue.org/uploads/LAA/Daily/2013/LAA130910.pdf
http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2013/09/10-teachers-mexico-education-reforms-rozental

Alan
Alan Saidi
Senior Vice President & COO

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit http://www.acei-global.org.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

December 15, 2011

Down the rabbit hole

“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. 

‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.

’I don’t know,’ Alice answered. 

‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

–Lewis Carroll

Education has taken a nasty fall. In fact, if we do not commit to a serious dialogue with the intention of finding immediate solutions, we will never find our way back up. At the bottom of this hole are entire generations without focus or incentive. At the top of the pile are the latest young college graduates, without the necessary tools of creative and analytical thinking, nor the processes to come up with solutions and answers to the multitude of problems awaiting them. And we are working on the newest generation, insuring a continuation of more of the same. Why would we do this? How is this happening and is there anyone building a ladder to the surface? One system that is attempting to work through this conundrum is the German school system, although, even in this forward thinking system the cracks are beginning to appear.

In the U.S. people don’t like to pay taxes, even if that means their children receive an inferior education and grow up to be welfare recipients condemned to minimum wage jobs, if they can find them. Henceforth, our state-funded schools do not have adequate funds to support healthy education. Not to mention that higher education is no longer a choice, but a matter of privilege, and if you don’t have it, you borrow it. If we take a closer look at the Bank/Corporate-to-Students zero-sum game, we will find that it is a form of indentured servitude. Easy credit, and low and stagnant wages. The Banks/Corporations win by ensuring themselves a profitable return and a constant supply of worker-bees–– under educated and ill prepared to come up with alternatives to the situation. Our young people are forced into unproductive, creatively un-challenging, low-income jobs, barely able to make ends meet in order to pay back or risk failing into default.

Here in Germany, where I’m currently residing, education is public and placed strictly in the hands of each of its 16 “states.” Each state is responsible for and administers to primary, secondary, career training schools and much of higher education, and is free to create its own curricula. That means that most schools, colleges and universities are paid for with taxpayer money, with a few institutions of higher learning charging a nominal fee. Teachers are Federally-tenured and there is coordination between state and federal administrators, teaching and testing standards ensuring that education is relatively equal throughout the country. However, globalization has pretty much corporatized education, even in Germany. Corporations want school children in the work force as soon as possible in order to fill positions in a rapidly growing industrial-export economy. As a result, the system is implementing a reduction in the number of years attended below college, from 13 to 12 years. School begins at 7:30 a.m., ensuring that children can ride the bus or that parents can drop their children off at school, relieving traffic congestion for people on their way to work. Sounds somewhat sound, however many studies have recently turned up indicating that both students and teachers ability to cope with this early biorhythm has affected attention and learning. Hmmm.

Empowering teachers helps to ensure a productive and fulfilling classroom experience. The Corporatizing of education has eroded the primary teacher-to-student experience. Every child has different affinities, abilities and interests that affect the way they absorb and learn from the materials presented in any given curriculum. Adding to this are classrooms full of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic children, creating a situation, which makes it next to impossible for teachers to do their jobs and connect with students on a deeper level. In the U.S. a broad-spectrum curriculum has been imposed without acknowledging these factors, effectively devaluing the creative and critical thinking that might one day turn the tables on the corporate imperative of a “dumbed-down” work force, perfectly designed to turn a corporate profit.

Taking into consideration that not everyone will learn the same way, at the same rate, or has the desire to go to the same place with their accumulated knowledge, the biggest difference between schools in the U.S. and Germany is that of freedom of choice. The German constitution guarantees all citizens the right to fully develop their human potential, which includes the right to choose one’s occupation and to have access to the appropriate career training. It recognizes that if you are going to become a productive member of a multi-dimensional society, overlaying one educational model simply does not work. Therefore parents and students are given a choice early on. The system gives parents the possibility, based on aptitude, grades and interests by the end of the 4th grade, to select what type of secondary school the child should attend and has made this flexible as well, by allowing students to change their minds later on. This ability to choose continues by offering students based upon their interests, a dual-track job skills training program: a three year classroom instruction together with a paid internship (Berufsfachschule), as well as other options. To read more about the German education system see: The Educational System in Germany

The less money that goes towards education, the less time and resources teachers have to give students the attention and individual respect they deserve. We do not have to agree to the Bank/Corporate agenda dictating to our educational systems. If we are to climb out of the rabbit hole, and begin to take back our rights to choose our future and create our lives, we have to change teaching paradigms and instruct our children how to think creatively and problem solve with patience to persevere in the face of obstacles. A distracted and fractured mind is an all to easily malleable mind, and we’ll fast find ourselves in a complicit wonderland, wondering how we got there:

Mad Hatter: Would you like a little more tea?
Alice: Well, I haven’t had any yet, so I can’t very well take more.
March Hare: Ah, you mean you can’t very well take less. 
Mad Hatter: Yes. You can always take more than nothing.


Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jwndesign@me.com

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Is No Child Left Behind…threatening to leave our nation behind?

September 29, 2011

It has been ten years since the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), but there has been little to no improvement in our country’s education standing amongst other industrialized nations in the world.

Last week, President Obama offered those states struggling under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program’s strict requirements some flexibility which includes waivers from some rules, in particular the one which requires students to meet reading and math proficiency by 2014. But opponents of the NCLB don’t see this as a move in the positive direction. In fact they don’t see NCLB as having had any positive impact on the health of the U.S. educational system. The NCLB as a whole has become the platform from which all blame concerning our country’s educational system is cast onto the teachers. Since the implementation of NCLB, teachers have been at the receiving end of the criticism.

The No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001 and signed into law in January 2002. It requires all states to develop tests intended to measure and assess the basic skills given to all students in certain grades so that federal funding for public schools are granted to those states. All government-run schools are to annually administer a state-wide standardized test to all students. Students attending publicly-funded schools in poorer neighborhoods and districts are subject to the same standardized tests as those offered to students in publicly-funded schools in more affluent areas. The students’ scores on these standardized annual tests will determine the school’s effectiveness in its teaching techniques. Scoring low on these examinations has several consequences: students will not be promoted to the next class grade, or graduate from high school, or be denied to qualify for college scholarships. These students may also change schools, attend after-school programs, and receive tutoring. Teachers and administrators are also judged on the basis of the students’ scores whereby high student scores qualifies them for bonuses and low scores, which is more prevalent, results in termination or reassignment. Schools with low scores are also subject to be restructured as public charter, private schools or forced to close. In addition, adhering to the ancient ritual of “shaming,” a factor in NCLB schools with low scores will receive public scolding while the personnel of those with high scores will be publicly praised.

Fearing the punitive ramifications hovering over their heads, our teachers and administrators have become so preoccupied with these annual standardized tests that we are now beginning to hear unfortunate news of cheating on tests perpetrated at times by the teachers. So much attention is given to these standardized tests that teachers lose sight of the actual art of teaching and exploring the subjects of study. We can’t place the entire place for America’s sagging academic achievement with public schools. We have a culture that undervalues education.

Our country’s obsession with standardized testing is pushing us away from the true art of educating even our student teachers in becoming professionals in their field. In an interview on American Public Media’s Marketplace, N.Y.U professor Diane Ravitch said: “…more focus on standardized tests…is going to lead to more cheating scandals because when you put unusual pressure on people to get scores or be fired, there’ll be people who’ll feel desperate and who cheat.” At a time when we need more teachers, we are seeing a drop in the number of students pursuing master’s degrees in education.

Dr. Ravitch, who is the author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education,” compares the American system with that of Finland, a country she recently visited which ranks either first or second in the world on the O.E.C.D. Program for International Student Assessment. The U.S. falls in the middle. She mentions that Finland doesn’t have standardized tests like NCLB but what they do have is a strong profession of educators by offering an even stronger and comprehensive five-year academic program to train their teachers. We lack the serious training needed to deal with all the challenges teachers face in today’s classrooms from children coming from different cultural backgrounds speaking many languages and with special needs.

If we want to succeed in today’s global market, we need to strengthen our teacher training programs, and allow their peers and superiors, as Dr. Ravitch calls them “master teachers” to judge the competency and effectiveness of teachers in the classrooms and not student scores on standardized tests. Instead, we’ve dropped the entrance standards to the teaching professional, so that now anyone can become a teacher without having completed a degree program dedicated to education and teaching methodology. If we’re looking for education reform, we can’t simply place the blame on the teachers.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.
http://www.acei1.com

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