I wrote and posted the following last year (here). Nothing has changed. I just updated the year, the dates, the number of workshops and the link:
The Oregon School Boards Association has not gotten the message that the world is changing. Or they are in a denial stage. China’s economy will be twice as big as the US economy (with a military to match) in the prime years of the students they are educating today. That’s not on their agenda. Eighty percent of global economic growth in the decades ahead will be in emerging markets. That’s not on their agenda either. One wonders if they even think about the world they are educating our students for and how different it will be.
Why do I say this? Because the Oregon School Boards Association is holding its 63rd 64th annual convention November 12-15 11-14 in Portland, and, of the 58 62 workshops scheduled, not one is about the rise of China, the changing global economy, the need to invigorate foreign language programs (especially Mandarin), or the need to create a Go Global High School Study Abroad Program. They seem to be living in an educational echo chamber that does not let real life in. Just take a look at their schedule (here).
Now we have an US Ambassador to China saying we need to increase US students studying in China by a factor of 1000 (here). And we have national security analyst Tom Barnett saying in relation to the US-China relationship that the next two decades may be the most crucial in human history (here).
But we still have an Oregon School Board Association living in the past.
The Portland Public Schools Board has given “a glowing performance evaluation and a three-year contract extension” to its current Superintendent Carole Smith, according to Oregonian reporter Betsy Hammond (here):
They praised her as a thoughtful, respectful leader who empowers district employees, displays impeccable integrity, cares deeply about equity for students and is a good communicator.
From what I have followed of Superintendent Smith, I would agree, but it is not good enough.
First, neither the Board nor the Superintendent has picked up on any of the themes from this blog. In spite of student-parent demand (as in applications for kindergarten) year after year and my specific budget proposal this past spring, neither the Mandarin nor the Japanese immersion programs has added an additional class while Carole Smith has been superintendent. Nor is PPS now creating or advocating for a Go Global High School Study Abroad program (as, again, I submitted to the budget process this past spring). How can the Superintendent and Board continue to ignore the biggest issue of the 21st century (US-China relations) going into the two decades that may be “the most crucial in human history” (here)?
The formal goals that had been set for Smith's performance evaluation this year: Get 5 percent more third-graders to exceed state reading standards, 5 percent more seventh-graders to pass the state writing test and 5 percent more freshmen to pass enough classes to begin their sophomore year on track toward graduation.
Actual results fell short. Third-graders and freshmen fared better in 2009, but not by a full 5 percent. Seventh-graders' writing skills were judged worse in 2009 than the year before.
I don’t have an opinion as to whether those were the most useful goals or the right goals (I’d add a few about foreign languages and study abroad), but they were measurable, accountable goals, and the Board did not hold the Superintendent accountable. With the public furor over the need to improve teacher evaluations and hold teacher accountable, how can the Board not hold the Superintendent accountable for such clear goals?
Third, the evaluation process itself was flawed. Again, per Hammond’s reporting:
The school board prepared its evaluation of Smith in final form without ever holding a public meeting or issuing a public notice that they would be discussing her performance. Her detailed five-page performance appraisal was presented as a done deal Monday and was adopted without a single change in wording.
If I were on the school board, I’d have sought to limit Carole Smith’s contract extension to one year and have sought to make adding an additional Mandarin immersion class, an additional Japanese immersion class, and a pilot high school study abroad program to her goals for that contract year. And then I'd expect to hold her accountable.
I’m disappointed in the Meyer Memorial Trust. They put out a request for innovative ideas “to create a better future for Oregon.” They called it “Ideas 4 Oregon” and said “What’s Your Million Dollar Idea?” They received 542 submissions. I submitted one. It was not selected.
They have selected another one: “Support for Communities of Color,” or as they put it the “Meyer Memorial Trust will be developing a Request for Proposals for supporting development of human capital among communities of color in Oregon.” Or in more detail (here):
Demographics across the United States are changing rapidly and prompting funders nationally and within Oregon to examine their grantmaking and ask themselves if their philanthropic investments are reaching the diversity represented in their communities. We recognize that in order for our philanthropy to be most effective and strategic, MMT must understand changing racial and ethnic demographics within our state. We will draw from national and regional learning and engage communities of color and resources within our state to inform our thinking as we explore this topic.
We will be developing a Request for Proposals in coming months, anticipating announcing it in late 2010 or early 2011.
But there is more (from the Meyer Memorial Trust):
We found we couldn’t choose just one idea among the very many that were suggested. In fact, we determined we need to consider and address the three most popular categories of ideas that emerged from the forum.
So they have also collected other ideas submitted under three existing categories: economic development, education, and community building. I can’t make much sense of this part of their announcement. It just seems like flabby, fuzzy bureaucratize for not being able to make a decision. But, as only they must understand, they will continue some efforts in those three areas. For example, they say:
We are laying the groundwork for major work around economic development. We will be supporting establishing a networked presence to serve as an Oregon clearinghouse for identifying needs, vetting ideas, connecting resources, finding support, and so forth – sort of a permanent ideas4oregon portal that will likely lead to support and success for a number of additional ideas going forward. We plan to continue our commitment to supporting quality education in our state.
My submission was to ”Support Pilot Go Global High School Study Abroad Programs” (here)
Oregon’s future economy needs to sell more goods and services abroad. More Oregon high school students need to spend a high school year studying abroad, learning the languages and cultures of those potential markets. Without spending any additional public moneys many more public high school students could study abroad. Just encourage local school districts to pay the fees of existing study organizations on behalf of their students. Pilot programs are needed to show the way.
(1) Specifics: Meyer Memorial Trust should provide $160,000 each in matching funds to three local school districts willing to pilot high school study abroad programs to China for a total of $480,000. Match would be 50%/50%. Each school district would budget $50,000 for the overhead of developing and administering such a program for three year. Plus $90,000 each year for three years for 10 scholarship grants each year for high school study abroad in China. Total to each local school district would be $320,000. The MMT share would be $160,000 for each districts, times three equals $480,000.
Like the rest of Oregon’s business, political and educational leadership, the Meyer Memorial Trust has missed an opportunity to make Oregon more of a player in the global economy. With US economic growth forecast to drift in the 2-3% range for the next decade, the Meyer Memorial Trust has missed an opportunity to redirect some of our efforts to the international markets that are growing at 6-10% and more.
Plus, how can the Meyer Memorial Trust continue to ignore what the rise of China means for Oregon. US Ambassador Jon Huntsman recently called for increasing study abroad in China “times it by about one thousand” (here). National security analyst Tom Barnett, writing of whether the US-China relationship will develop in cooperative or confrontational ways, wrote (here):
I then see the next two decades as perhaps the most crucial in human history--as in, get the big pieces right and all works out, but set the two biggest pieces against one another, and this can all go very badly--and backwards.
The Meyer Memorial Trust has lots of worthy projects and priorities. But how can they continue to ignore the biggest issue of the 21st century (US-China relations) going into the two decades that may be “the most crucial in human history?”
It's bipartisan. Both political parties feature ads associating the targeted opponent with China. Professor Dan Drezner thinks (here):
Well, it's not that surprising to see this. Americans think about trade through a mercantilist, relative gains lens, as opposed to the radical concept that trade can generate win-win outcomes.
And, Shikha Dalmia thinks it is not only bad economics but bad politics (here):
Hostility to trade is par for the course for Democrats perennially beholden to Big Labor, but what is the excuse of Republicans – the alleged believers in free markets? In race after race, they too are hitting China to beat Democrats. In West Virginia, Spike Maynard, a Republican running for the House is airing ads against his opponent, complete with Asian music in the background, castigating him for giving stimulus money to a Texas company that happens to be buying windmills from China. Meanwhile, in Virginia Republican Robert Hurt is accusing Rep. Tom Perriell of supporting tax breaks for foreign companies “creating jobs in China.”
But the idea that selling abroad creates jobs at home and buying abroad destroys jobs at home is an old mercantilist fallacy that Adam Smith handily refuted more than 200 years ago. Back then it at least had intuitive plausibility, but today it is obviously false given that the manufacturing chain spans the whole globe. Indeed, under the intricate global division of labor that currently exists, the whole idea of “Made in China” is largely a bureaucratic fiction.
Think about the IPod, for instance. It is designed in America and its 451 parts are made in dozens of different countries. But just because it is finally assembled in China, it officially counts as a Chinese import and therefore a contributor to America’s trade deficit — never mind that the Chinese add only $4 to the IPod’s $150 final value. Imposing duties on IPods to slash the deficit, then, won’t just cost Chinese jobs in Beijing assembly plants, but American jobs in Cupertino (Apple’s headquarters) computer labs.
But if raising the barricades against Chinese products will hurt highly-paid techies in America, it will hurt working class folks even more.
Consider the research by University of Chicago economist Christian Broda. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he found that inequality in this country has gone down – not up — thanks to trade with China. Between 1994 to 2005, he found, any rise in income inequality was offset by a decline in prices of goods consumed by poorer households. Indeed, inflation for the richest 10% of U.S. households, which tend to spend more on services, was 6% higher than the poorest 10%, who spend more of their income on household goods supplied by China. “In sectors where there is no Chinese presence,” Broda has pointed out, “inflation has been more than 20%.” In short, China has likely done more to help America’s poor than the stimulus, TARP or any other program invented by Uncle Sam.
Here are several sample ads featuring the China bogeyman.: one against Oregon’s own Kurt Schrader, a Democrat., and two against Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, a Republican.
Here are two different versions of a current political campaign ad. The first is the original by "Citizens Against Government Waste." The second by Campus Progress Action "remixed it to mock the xenophobia of the original and point out some real truths about the economy." James Fallows thinks the ad is memorable and "it passes the test for the proper use of "foreign menace" themes in US discourse" (here).
Both clearly play to fears and anxiety about the rise of China and the future of the U.S. If only that fear and anxiety could focus on constructive responses to China's rise like increasing Mandarin and study abroad in China programs as advocated by this blog.
President Obama appeared today at a rally for Oregon candidate for governor John Kitzhaber. I was outside the Portland Convention Center with my placards, along with the 10,000 people who attended waiting to get in and a variety of other protesters, including the Tea Party.
Click on any photo to make it larger.
US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman spoke and answered questions via live webcast sponsored by the National Committee on US - China Relations to a NW China Council audience of fifty in Portland. Portland was one of fifty national sites included in the webcast. In his remarks, relevant to the themes of this blog, he repeatedly stressed the need to prepare the younger generations in both China and the US for the responsibility of maintaining the relationship. He called for “more opportunities to study Mandarin”, adding that it is the best way “to crack the code of culture.” He said he sees in his office a lot of US students studying abroad in China, but that we need “take the few who are given these opportunities and times it by about 1000." I was disappointed that the moderator did not ask him for more details on what he thought needed to be done to increased the study of Mandarin in the US or to get more US students to China.
The NW China Council program also included Jacqueline Fu, a partner from the Taipei office of the international legal firm of K & L Gates, speaking on the recent “Economic Cooperation Famework Agreement” (ECFA) between Taiwan and China. She showed and spoke to a powerpoint presentation (see several photos above, click to see larger). She explained that with the mutual reduction of tariffs between China and Taiwan, it would now cost less to manufacture and exports goods to China fom Taiwan than it would from Oregon.
Career foreign service officer and former Ambassador Darryl Johnson added that where a few years ago there were zero air flight between China and Taiwan, that there were now 270 flights a day from China to Taiwan. He also noted that when the Chinese go to Taiwan, they see a working democracy.
A video of the Ambassador Huntsman's presentation can be found on the National Committee for US-China Relations website here.
I am an advocate for more Mandarin and study abroad in China programs for public schools. I see the US-China relationship as the central strategic issue of this century. And that we should be doing much, much more to make that relationship as good as possible (without closing our eyes to any of the components issues in that relationship). I share the view of strategist Tom Barnett (and consider myself one of his minor followers). Barnett now writes (on this issue) that he sees "the next two decades as perhaps the most crucial in human history." I agree. It's why I get impatient and frustrated with our educational, business and political leaders who don't see this issue and do nothing.
From Barnett's blog post "Another mention in People's Daily.com" (here):
I get asked a lot: does anybody push for Sino-American strategic alliance in the US like you do? And I always say, in terms of the strategic thinking community, no. Some, like Niall Ferguson, speak about the symbiotic nature that already exists, but more as a symptom than as a basis for larger cooperation. The reason why I push on this is that, like I argued in China Security (see just below) back in 2008, my logic of global integration and globalization's advance says this relationship must be or globalization essentially goes backward, something I don't think the planet could handle in many ways, because the sheer numbers involved in an emerging global middle class mean we've reached that all-sink-or-all-swim-together moment--resource- and cooperation-wise. Knowing my timeline on the inevitability of political pluralism in China (I target a late 2020s/early 2030s as the rough half-century mark after Deng's initial revolutionary reforms), I then see the next two decades as perhaps the most crucial in human history--as in, get the big pieces right and all works out, but set the two biggest pieces against one another, and this can all go very badly--and backwards.
So I'm comfortable being perceived as too out-there and a bit naive on this subject, because I know I'll see the day when this logic comes to pass, and I'll be on the right side of history--betting on improvements and compromise and cooperation over degradation and ultimatums and conflict.
I told the teachers unions, who do not support my high school study abroad program proposal, that they were on the wrong side of history, and that future historians would so note. They just do not get it or understand (and don't seem to want to).
As I advocate for educational change in Oregon, I’ve come to see just how stuck in the past our existing educational system is. This video, by Sir Ken Robinson, echoes some of my current thoughts. I agree with a number of his points:
“The Problem is that they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past.”
“The current system was designed and conceived for a different age.”
And “It’s about the habits of our institutions and the habitats they occupy.”