Rabu, 13 Agustus 2014

Event at IUPUI to focus on advancing education in Burmese community

INDIANAPOLIS -- A half-day event Aug. 15 at IUPUI will focus on education and advancement for the growing Indiana communities of immigrants and refugees from Burma. The Burmese Community Center for Education and the Great Lakes Equity Center at IUPUI are co-hosting the program for invited leaders from the community, school districts from across the state, the Indiana Department of Education and Indiana University.

The Friday afternoon program at the IUPUI Campus Center has three primary goals: Participants will share information to increase awareness and understanding of available educational, cultural and language resources. The group will establish near and long-term objectives and identify strategies and resources to meet them. Finally, inaugurating the Burmese Education Advancement Taskforce, the event will open opportunities for participants to establish new and strengthen existing partnerships.

Burma, officially called the Republic of the Union of Myanmar by the military junta that overthrew the democratic government in 1962, is a country torn by years of warring conflict. Refugees have fled the country over the years, only slowing slightly since the military government dissolved in 2011 following elections that installed civilian leadership.

“In bringing together leaders from community-based organizations, schools, the state department of education and the university, we are creating a space to dialogue about strengthening educational pathways for students from these communities,” said Thu Suong Nguyen, principal investigator for the BCCE Community Self-Empowerment Program and assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the IU School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “An aim of the taskforce is to increase understanding of this multi-ethnic, multi-lingual community, so that communities and schools can work in concert to support students.”

Established in 2010, the BCCE focuses on education, workforce development, family and social health, and housing for the central Indiana Burmese community, estimated at 8,000. Based at the First Baptist Church on the north side of Indianapolis, the BCCE works largely through volunteers from the Burmese community. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted $600,000 over three years for the BCCE’s Community Self-Empowerment Program, directed by May Oo Mutraw with assistant directors Neineh Plo and Jerry Htoo. Nguyen and Brendan Maxcy, faculty members in the School of Education at IUPUI, are principal investigators for the grant.

The Great Lakes Equity Center is one of 10 Equity Assistance Centers in the United States that are funded by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Directed by Seena Skelton, the center seeks to ensure equity in student access to and participation in high-quality, research-based education by expanding states' and school systems' capacity to provide robust, effective opportunities to learn for all students, regardless of and responsive to race, sex and national origin, and to reduce disparities among and between groups in educational outcomes. Along with principal investigator Kathleen King Thorius, Nguyen and Maxcy serve as co-principal investigators of the center.

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MPI to Deliver Smart Monday Education and Daily Keynotes During IMEX America

DALLAS, Aug. 13, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Following the success of its 2014 World Education Congress (WEC), Meeting Professionals International (MPI) will deliver more industry-leading education during the fourth edition of IMEX America in Las Vegas this October. MPI is the strategic partner and premier education provider for the tradeshow and will once again present the daily keynotes as well as power IMEX's renowned Smart Monday program on October 13, 2014. Additionally, the MPI Foundation will host Rendezvous, the IMEX America Night, which is the must-attend fundraising and networking event for attendees.

MPI will offer a total of 35 education sessions during IMEX America. Smart Monday, powered by MPI, will feature 31 education sessions, including a keynote, four deep dives and MPI's Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC) Program course. Clock hours can be earned for most sessions, and key topics include hotel and incentive travel trends, risk management and contracts, technology, green and socially responsible meetings, meeting design and more.

"We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees on our education sessions at IMEX America for the past three years and look forward to presenting the keynotes and Smart Monday, powered by MPI, again this year," said Paul Van Deventer, president and CEO of MPI. "MPI has a strong partnership with the IMEX Group, so our teams are diligently working hand-in-hand to provide another robust program for the tradeshow's thousands of attendees."

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group commented: "I'm delighted that Smart Monday has become such an asset for the meetings and events industry and is established as a high-value attraction in its own right. MPI has taken a lead role since the launch of IMEX America in producing the Smart Monday program, as well as collaborating with a host of additional trade associations to ensure the broadest possible curriculum for buyers and suppliers on the day. With more than 200 education sessions also happening at IMEX America across four days, the show is set to combine business, networking and education on a larger scale than ever before."

MPI will present the following four well-known and thought-provoking keynote speakers each morning of IMEX America.

Monday, October 13
Steve Gross -- How Joy and Optimism Ignite the Best in Us

A recognized expert in utilizing joyful play to promote resiliency, Gross will teach attendees how to use playfulness to energize individuals, teams and organizations, and help them reach their full potential.

Tuesday, October 14
James Sun -- Color Does Matter: The Truth About Diversity in the 21st Century

Sun, a former finalist on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" and co-founder of the start-up that created the social media app, Anomo, will discuss his philosophy about the need for diversity and its impact on ethnic social dynamics.

Wednesday, October 15
John Spence -- The Fundamentals of Excellence

Spence will present tips for creating a competitive business strategy and transforming staff into a high-performance team based on his book, Awesomely Simple, and his work at more than 300 organizations worldwide.

Thursday, October 16
Wendy Booker -- I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends

Booker, a multiple sclerosis survivor who has climbed mountains on six continents, shares insights on the value and power of teamwork and how to leverage connections to accomplish goals.

MPI will also present education in its booth (#3408) for the first time this year. Attendees are encouraged to stop by to network and learn more about MPI membership and volunteer opportunities.
In addition, the MPI Foundation will host Rendezvous, the IMEX America Night on Wednesday evening, October 15, at the recently opened Drai's, a lavish indoor and outdoor club located in The Cromwell hotel, which is a Caesars Entertainment property. Funds raised from the signature event are invested in scholarships, chapter grants and pan-industry research -- all of which help secure the future success of the meeting and event industry. More details and ticket information will be published soon at

To learn more about MPI programming at IMEX America, visit

About IMEX America

IMEX America is America's worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events and is the largest tradeshow for the industry in the USA. The fourth edition will take place at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas(R), (which is connected to the show's Headquarters Hotel, The Venetian(R)|The Palazzo(R)), Oct 14-16 2014, and includes Smart Monday, powered by MPI on Monday Oct. 13. for more information.

About MPI

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest and most vibrant global meeting and event industry association. The organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI membership is comprised of approximately 18,500 members belonging to 70 chapters and clubs worldwide. For additional information or to join, visit

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What the U.S. could learn from the Polish education system

(Photo: Corbis)

Is it time for the student to offer the teacher a few lessons?

Twenty-five years ago, Americans like economist Jeffrey Sachs were running around Poland helping to turn moribund socialism into a vibrant market economy. Now, with the U.S. trying to fix its lagging educational system, it might just learn a thing or two from Poland, which in the past decade has moved sharply forward from the rear of the international pack and beats the U.S. on most performance measures. And it didn't even spend a lot money to get there.

Poland now has the fourth-highest number of higher education students in Europe, behind the U.K., Germany and France. Reading, once an obstacle, became an asset — more so than in the U.S., the U.K., Germany or France. And 19th place in math on a survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has helped it produce some of Europe's brightest talent in the technology field. The U.S. ranked a "below average" 27th.

"Our curriculum is mostly based on the effects of education — not just what students know but what they can do, and how they can use their knowledge practically," Ewa Dudek, Poland's undersecretary of state for education, tells OZY. Dudek believes Poland's success comes from allowing students more scope for feedback on their education.

Of course, it's much more than that.

It was 1998, almost a decade after the fall of communism, and the country was flying in the aftermath of Sachs' market reforms. Deregulation and privatization made Poland's economy one of Europe's fastest growing.

But its schools lagged far behind and continued to rely on course materials barely changed since the Stalinist 1950s. Kids osmosed ideology and vocational training, grooming them for careers in heavy industry that had largely disappeared.

Leaders in the capital, Warsaw, saw a growing generation of underserved and uninspired students as an economic bear trap. Without drastic reforms, the country could kiss its decade of prosperity goodbye.

"We have to move the entire system — push it out of its equilibrium," urged then-Education Minister Mirosław Handke.

Handke got his green light. With remarkable speed, in a year academia in Poland was unrecognizable. The demagoguery was ditched and in came a new form of general education that resisted specialization. Just a year after that, in 2000, Poland began to leap up the international league tables.

By 2012, the last time the OECD conducted its survey, Poland was one of the best teaching countries on earth.

In fact it's the only one to have gone from below average in the chart, which now measures 510,000 15-year-olds in 65 territories, to above — with a GDP ranking just 46th globally. On key indicators — math, science, reading — it came from behind to rank well ahead of the United States.

How did Poland do it?

Back in 1998, Handke, a former chemistry teacher, was staring at a horrible formula. Polish children went to primary school for eight years before being funneled into vocational training at age 14.

Under the revamped system, primary school lasts six years, followed by three years of a new comprehensive lower secondary school, before a decision is made on whether to send a student to vocational training. Knowledge — reading, writing, 'rithmetic — is valued above technical skill. Foreign language — especially English — became a key component. In 2000 only 1 percent of kids received four hours or more of language classes. By 2006 that figure was 76 percent.

But it's not about money. Poland spends around $5,000 per student annually from primary through tertiary education, but outperforms the United States, which spends around three times that amount.

Poland has its socialist past to thank for the rapid progress, says Izabel Olchonowicz, an education consultant: "People were very eager to modernize; they were waiting such a long time," she says. "Right now is the result of that."

The economy has continued to be strong. When Europe's economies were tumbling in 2009, Poland was its only island of growth, getting a 1.6 percent lift. Poland is far better off than when Handke had his say.

Teachers might disagree. Poland remains a low payer — around $650 a month for teachers compared with the national average for all workers of $945. Slawomir Broniarz, the country's most senior teachers unionist, warns that low pay might put Poland's trajectory in doubt, primarily because of slipping standards of training. "We've asked many times for the reform of teacher training, because they are not good enough for these times. We need new attitudes, programs and better preparations for future challenges."

"Teaching is very demanding," says Olchonowicz, "and I think that what they get for it is not enough. It is not motivating, and if Poland needs to advance its education system, the salaries of teachers have to come with it."

Poland's rapid development of foreign language training may also have a negative side effect. Many Poles are leaving home to gain skills abroad. While that helps the technology sector if they return, many don't.

But despite the cracks, Poland's educational system is an example to most other countries, and proof that it's not just money that makes good students. is a USA TODAY content partner providing general news, commentary and coverage from around the Web. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Alleged "ghost job" aide quits Pa. education post

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2013 file photo Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis speaks during a news conference after Gov. Tom Corbett delivered his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2013-2014 to a joint session of the Pennsylvania House and Senate in Harrisburg, Pa. The former state education secretary who stayed on as a senior adviser Corbett quit Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, more than two weeks after a newspaper raised questions about his duties and work schedule. Tomalis' resignation letter said he has been exploring new opportunities and that his departure was in the administration's best interests. His last day as Corbett's special adviser on higher education will be Aug. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) AP

HARRISBURG - Former Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis has resigned as a special adviser to Gov. Corbett, amid questions about his duties and allegations that his position amounted to a "ghost job" on the state payroll.

Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq on Tuesday announced Tomalis will leave his $140,000-a-year job as an adviser on higher education issues in two weeks. Democrats, however, vowed to keep the controversy alive in the gubernatorial race.

Corbett had defended Tomalis after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month reported he had done little since taking the adviser job after resigning as education secretary in May 2013 - while keeping the same salary.

"Ron has been committed to Pennsylvania's education system since the early days of my administration," Corbett said in a statement. "He has worked closely with Secretary Dumaresq and the Department of Education to shape programs and policies that are in the best interest of students. I thank him for his work and commitment to education."

The administration said Tomalis, a former education consultant in President George W. Bush's administration, worked on several education initiatives, including the Ready to Succeed Scholarship program and the Pennsylvania STEM Competition to showcase students' skills and expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Using records obtained through the state's Right to Know law, the Post-Gazette cited Tomalis' spare work calendar, phone logs that barely averaged a call a day, scant e-mails, and little interaction with some Pennsylvania universities and higher education agencies.

In his resignation letter, Tomalis cited "recent events" as the reason he was leaving and said that he has "been engaged in conversations with other organizations regarding new opportunities." He did not elaborate and could not be reached later for comment.

Tomalis is one of three finalists for the president's position at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, which pays $327,000, according to the Patriot-News/

Harrisburg activist Gene Stilp has asked both the state Ethics Commission and the federal government to investigate whether Tomalis was, in fact, doing the work he was being paid for, alleging he was holding a "ghost job."

"I am not withdrawing my federal and state complaints as to whether or not he was a 'ghost' employee," Stilp said Tuesday, adding his complaint also involves what he called an attempted cover-up by the secretary of education.

The Tomalis controversy has flared as an issue in the governor's race and is likely to continue. For the past two weeks, Democrats have blasted Corbett almost daily for taking care of a crony.

Tomalis' resignation was announced Tuesday just as top supporters of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf and several Philadelphia Democrats were beginning a telephone press conference to call for his ouster.

Paying Tomalis so much at a time of deep cuts in education spending is "nothing short of scandalous," said Katie McGinty, chairwoman of Campaign for a Fresh Start, a PAC associated with Wolf.

McGinty, a a former Department of Environmental Protection secretary under Gov. Rendell and a former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said an independent investigation should determine if Tomalis did actual work for the state, and if he did not, whether Dumaresq tried to cover up a ghost job.

"We also need to have a full investigation and accounting," she said. "Look, where there's smoke, there's fire."


Oregon education board assesses itself -- and comes up disappointed

The Oregon Education Investment Board, which met jointly with the Higher Education Coordinating Commission in March, has a huge mission to vastly improve Oregon education from preschool through college -- and board members are unhappy about some of how it's working so far. (Betsy Hammond/The Oregonian)

Oregon's overarching education board, handpicked by Gov. John Kitzhaber to try to overcome the state's educational mediocrity, on Tuesday sized up where the board stands after three years in operation -- and expressed a lot of discontent.

The Oregon Education Investment Board controls almost no money and doesn't have much authority. The public either overestimates the board's power, members said, or doesn't know the board exists, let alone what its mission is (to better coordinate early childhood programs, public schools and public higher education to get 80 percent of Oregonians to earn college credentials).

And that's not all. The board's meetings and directives don't always focus on the central mission, they said. The board's work has yet to improve any significant student outcomes. Turnover by agency staff and sporadic attendance by some members has hampered progress. The board doesn't effectively communicate with the public and lacks a welcoming way to get public input on key issues.

Despite those complaints, the board's annual daylong retreat Tuesday maintained a constructive tone. Board members said they have managed to start important conversations and policy changes at the intersections of early childhood and elementary school, and of high school and college.

A 3-year-old program in Eastern Oregon has helped thousands of high school students earn nearly-free college credits -- and the board is helping spread that program to other parts of the state this year, officials noted.

But board members cited a lot of shortcomings, starting with the board's name.

Kitzhaber got the Oregon Legislature to create the board, named it, chose its members and chairs it -- but did not attend Tuesday's meeting. Eleven of the 13 members were present for some or all of the six-hour-plus discussion.

By including the term "investment," the board's name suggests the board controls education spending in Oregon, said board member Ron Saxton, a businessman and former Republican candidate for governor. In reality, the Legislature controls how much money is given to public schools, colleges and universities -- and school boards and college administrators decide how that money is spent.

"Our role is much more limited than what people perceive," said board member Mark Mulvahill, superintendent of the InterMountain Education Service District in Pendleton.

"We don't have the ability to increase the funding level," said board member Julia Brim-Edwards, a Nike executive. "That is the purview of the Legislature and the governor."

The board reviewed its "scorecard" of how student outcomes have changed in the key areas targeted for improvement.

Those range from kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency to eighth grade math proficiency and high school completion. Most of the results they reviewed were from 2013, because 2014 test scores haven't been released yet.

In every case, however, the answer was disheartening: The state lacks the data to measure any progress, or, in the case of reading and math scores, has evidence that student achievement went down. Schools aren't closing the gap that leaves students of color and those learning English as a second language lagging far behind.

Saxton indicated that he is impatient to see improvement and for the board to focus on results.

"Are we moving the dial? There has been lots of good talk, but ultimately it's about 'Are we moving the dial fast enough?'"

The board's overarching mission is to get the state to its "40-40-20"goal by 2025: Forty percent of Oregon's young adults would have four-year degrees, another 40 percent would have two-year degrees or industry certification, and the final 20 percent would have high school diplomas.

Board member Hanna Vaandering, president of the state teacher's union, said the board is only pretending to be serious about reaching that goal when it demands schools and colleges get those results -- but then washes its hands of getting them the money they need to do the job.

"If 40-40-20 is the post we are looking for, then we have to create the learning environment in which students can get there," she said. "If we are not talking about all the pieces and what it takes to get there, if we are just saying with small strategic investments that we are going to get to 40-40-20, then we are not being honest with ourselves or with the public."

Board member Nichole Maher, a health foundation executive and longtime advocate for Native American youth, said the board has made important strides, including giving advocates a single place to give input about education from preschool to college.

But she said the board still struggles to find the right level of oversight and best targets for its attention, rather than micromanage or get caught up in every possible topic. Board members sometimes spend a long time listening to presentations, unclear on whether and how they are expected to act on the issue, she and others said.

"The part I still struggle with is making sure we use the time for its highest and best use and our best thinking," Maher said.

Oregon's chief education officer, Nancy Golden, encouraged board members to see that they have more power and influence than they might think. Their proposals from 2012 led to tens of millions being spent to "incubate" good ideas this school year, some of which will prove to be highly effective and will be spread, she said.

"Money was given for some critical things," she said. And Kitzhaber will strongly weigh their advice as he crafts his proposal for the state's 2015-17 budget, she said.

As part of the most public formulation of the state's education budget in history, the board is publicly vetting almost 30 proposals to improve education results, including nine big ones that would cost $50 million to $500 million apiece. It will vote next month on which ones it thinks Kitzhaber and the Legislature should fund to get the most educational bang for children and the economy.

-- Betsy Hammond

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