Abducted Chinese scholar remains missing, family offers $50K reward

Abducted Chinese scholar remains missing, family offers $50K reward
Zhang YingYing, 26, who was abducted June 9 in Champaign, Illinois , remains missing and her worried family has raised the reward for information about her whereabouts to $50,000. A former graduate student, Brendt Christensen, 28, was indicted on July 12 on one charge of kidnapping. He is being held in Urbana pending arraignment, according to the University of Illinois police department. Zhang was a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Campaign, and was planning to meet a rental agent about an apartment on June 9. She did not show up for the appointment and did not return the agent’s calls. A native of Fujian province, China, she was last seen getting into a car later identified as Christensen’s about 2 pm June 9. Traffic cameras showed her leaning through the passenger side door and talking to the driver, then getting in before the car drove away. Her friends reported the last message they got from her came about a half-hour later. Local police and the FBI were able to locate the car on June 27, and after further investigation arrested Christensen three days later. Her father, aunt and fiancé arrived in Illinois last month. At a news conference Friday, ...

DC high school group meets donations goal for August Cuba trip

DC high school group meets donations goal for August Cuba trip
A student group at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC, has exceeded its fundraising goal and is now ready to take a nine-day trip to Cuba next month. Following a urgent e-mail appeal from blogger “Nomadic” Matt Kepnes, the group’s CrowdRise campaign garnered $12,000 within a four-hour period, and reached its $35,000 goal by midday today. As of this writing, $38,442 had been raised for the students of Spanish teacher Kathrine Avila to visit Cuba. Kepnes said in his follow-up email that the excess funds will be saved for another school trip in the spring. Kepnes, who blogs at NomadicMatt.com, founded The Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) in 2015 to enable students and teachers from low income areas to take trips abroad. The Anacostia High School Cuba trip is the second to be funded. Last year, a group of students from the B.E.S.T. Academy in Atlanta, Georgia visited Mexico. Applications for the spring trip will be available at the FLYTE website late next month.

UPDATED: DC school group needs $14,000 $6,000 more for Cuba trip

UPDATED: DC school group needs <del>$14,000</del> $6,000 more for Cuba trip
JISHOU, HUNAN — Students from a Washington, DC, high school plan to visit Cuba next month, but they still need another $14,000 $6,000 to make it possible. I’m hoping my readers can help them out. Although the students and teachers have received financial and logistical help from the Foundation for Learning and Youth Travel Education (FLYTE) for their first ever trip abroad, their CrowdRise fundraising drive is nearing its Aug. 6 deadline with $29,682 raised for a $35,000 goal. Most of the students at Anacostia High School in southeast DC are from low income families, and without financial assistance, it would be unlikely they could attempt such a journey. FLYTE was founded by travel blogger “Nomadic” Matt Kepnes specifically to assist students in rural and low income areas to benefit from travel abroad. In her application, their Spanish teacher stressed the learning goals for the trip. “In the area in which I teach, most students’ personal goals are limited to a range of about five years. As a result of their circumstances, most students are not exposed to the possibilities outside their immediate surroundings. The main focus for students at Anacostia is to graduate, as the rate of graduation lingered ...

Man from Hunan farming village gets doctorate, speaks at Harvard commencement

Man from Hunan farming village gets doctorate, speaks at Harvard commencement
JISHOU, HUNAN — A man from a small village near Changsha has become the first Chinese person to address a Harvard commencement ceremony. Hé Jiāng 何江 is the older son of a farming couple in Ningxiang county. Though the family barely had two coins to rub together, Hé did very well at school and his college entrance examination (gāokǎo 高考) scores gained him admission to the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province. On May 26, he graduated with a doctorate in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard, and was selected to be the graduate school speaker at the graduation ceremony. In his speech (text in Chinese and English), Hé said he is concerned that modern medicine is unevenly distributed, so that poor people, like his own family and their neighbors, don’t have access to adequate care. He related a dramatic incident from his childhood, when his mother wrapped his hand in cloth soaked in liquor and set the cloth on fire after he was bit by a spider.    You see, the part of China I grew up in was a rural village, and at that time pre-industrial. When I was born, my village had no cars, ...

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy

Anonymous 3rd grade pizza math question drives Internet crazy
JISHOU, HUNAN — It seems every few months or so the Internet is in turmoil about some silly “controversy” or another. The latest is the “Marty and Luis” pizza question. An image of the question, supposedly marked in green by a teacher, ended up on reddit two months ago, apparently as a criticism of American education, or teachers, or math. Who knows? Well, I’m a skeptic, so I went digging around the Internet trying to find the origin of the question and the image. The source of the question was easy to find: Pearson Education’s EnVision math series for 3rd Grade Common Core. The source of the image was a different matter. Using TinEye.com, I used the image as a search parameter. It’s earliest appearance was, oddly enough, on a German image collection site, www.lachshon.de, and it was posted there in March 2015! The account of the original poster, gelöscht-20111221-112645, has since been locked, and his new account, gelöscht-20120516-162657, is not visible to the public, though the images are searchable. Go figure. After this mysterious German appearance, the same image ended up on imgur.com about a week later, where it began to attract the usual assortment of comments, ranging from ...

This week in America’s drive for excellence: Oklahoma to defund AP US History

This week in America's drive for excellence: Oklahoma to defund AP US History
Once again, the College Board AP program is under attack, this time in Oklahoma. Legislators there think the AP US History program is just like the Common Core — a pernicious influence on tender young American minds who will not learn that America is The Greatest Nation of All Time. So, state Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Nutjob) wants to defund the AP US History program. It’s another great step in making American exceptional, but in the wrong way. The Tulsa World has this report of a committee hearing about education funding: During discussion and debate, however, it was suggested that AP courses are similar to Common Core, in that they could be construed as an attempt to impose a national curriculum on American schools. It was also suggested that AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core, with state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, saying she has asked the state Attorney General’s Office for a ruling on the matter. That legislation gives sole control of curriculum and assessment to the state, although it was not immediately clear whether the requirement applies to all courses or only to required courses. Last year, conservative educators in Colorado also attacked ...

And in other news

I’ve contributed a few pieces to a new website called If You Only News, on the invitation of a former student working there. This one is about the Gilbert, AZ, school board who cut out pages referring to contraception from a honors biology textbook. If you go here and read it, my page hits go up and so does my pay. Thanks very much. The rest of the site is not bad, either.

Right-wing culture warriors attack new AP US History plan

JISHOU, HUNAN — America’s culture warriors have found a new battlefield: the new College Board Advanced Placement US History framework. Most of us would just yawn, and say, so the College Board revised the course, what’s the big deal? But to those people who fear any change is a threat to Life As We Know It, the new framework to AP US is a liberal, anti-American plot to indoctrinate high school students in liberal, anti-American ideas. Conservatives are so alarmed that they persuaded the Republican National Committee (RNC) to issue a resolution opposing the changes, and have also succeeded in getting Republican-controlled state assemblies to do the same thing. The wording is nearly the same in each case. Their reactionary approach to the “new” APUSH alarmed Jefferson County, Colorado, students and teachers so much that they staged a sick out late last month. National Review columnist Stanley Kurtz spent more than two-thirds of a rather breathless column tracing, a la Glenn Beck, the invidious anti-American influence of one liberal historian on the new AP US curriculum. The origins of the new AP U.S. History framework are closely tied to a movement of left-leaning historians that aims to “internationalize” the teaching ...

Dedication: man teaches solo in same rural Hunan school for 38 years

JISHOU, HUNAN — When he retires in four years, teacher Zeng Xiangwei 曾祥伟 will have spent 42 years as the only schoolteacher in rural Dao County, Yongzhou City, Hunan. He has also repaired and cleaned the school, tended the nearby rice fields, and fixed the village’s satellite TV installations. QQ News (Chinese) and Shanghaiist.com (English) have photo-features about teacher Zeng, who has to retire at age 60. He hopes the county can find a replacement who can teach the village kids English and computer skills. It will be a challenge to attract suitable candidates; the remote school is 35 km from the nearest county road. Most of the children are “left behind” kids, and members of the Yao minority group. Their parents have left the village to work as migrant workers in factories and big cities, so the kids depend on grandparents and other relatives — and Zeng — to care for them. He hopes the county can build a new school, with a library, computers and an Internet connection, so that the village kids have a brighter future.

Great adventures in high school journalism 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Wonkette has already commented on this story in its inimitable way, but I haven’t written a high school press freedom blog in years. So, suffer me this rare chance. Student journalists at Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) High School did a boffo piece on rape, rape culture, and rape jokes. Scroll to the end of this linked page and read it yourself. It was well written, informative and mature, and included helpful links for readers needing counseling or advice. I mean, it was nearly professional, the kind of piece student newspapers get state and national scholastic press awards for. The administration of FDLHS spiked it. That’s right. Right now in the 21st century high school students still cannot discuss sex in print, no matter how well written and researched their articles are. If I were the principal of this school, I’d be damned proud of these kids. But, you know, I’m not the boss. And also, sex, teenagers. OMFG! The administration did not break any laws, because the Supreme Court ruled long ago that schools have the right to censor student publications if they are part of an academic course. The best we can do as sympathetic observers ...

Letter to Missouri’s ‘Christian’ parents

Letter to Missouri's 'Christian' parents
This letter is what I would write to Missouri parents who would want me as a science teacher to excuse their children from a teaching unit on evolution. For details about what that’s all about, read this article at Talking Points Memo. This is only a bill now in the Missouri legislature. For the purposes of this letter, I am assuming it’s become law. Dear parents, I understand that you would prefer your child not be required to attend class during our upcoming unit on evolution. Per the new law recently passed in the Missouri legislature, I am required to excuse your child from class. Please find enclosed the excuse slip with my signature. Your child will need to show this slip to the hall monitors during our science class period. Otherwise, his or her absence from class will be recorded as a cut, and after-school detention will be assigned. Please remind your child to carry the slip at all times. Now, I need to discuss other matters. Please pay close attention to the following remarks, as they have some bearing on your child’s success in this course. As you may be aware, evolution is one of the key foundations ...

Evolution and Bill Nye 1 – Creationism and Ken Ham 0 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — Bill Nye, the Science Guy, debated Ken Ham, the Bible Guy, Tuesday, as I am sure you’ve heard. Nye defended the theory of evolution; Ham, the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) perspective. I haven’t watched the whole thing, and I haven’t found a transcript of their remarks yet, but it seems Nye had the edge, as he should, since evolution is real and the 6-day Creation wasn’t. Whether the debate made any fence-sitters change their minds remains to be seen. Ken Ham is a leading champion of a literal interpretation of the Biblical account of Genesis. Ham insists the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old, and that God created the animals and plants in their present forms we see today. As for the dinosaurs, they perished when God sent the Flood. His Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., attempts to debunk more than 200 years of solid scientific evidence that demonstrates the Earth is more like 4.6 billion years old, that present-day plants and animals are the results of billions of years of evolution, and that the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, long before any human-like animal walked the Earth. Among the world’s scientists — ...
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