Better Believe It......Because They Actually Happen(ed) Collection 44

Duke University professor removed over 'Speak English' email

The course attracts students from a wide range of backgrounds

By Helier Cheung

A US university professor has been removed as director of a graduate programme, amid a furore over an email she sent urging students not to speak Chinese.

Megan Neely, an assistant professor at Duke University in North Carolina, said in an email to students that two unnamed faculty members of the biostatistics Masters programme had complained to her about students speaking Chinese in public areas in the department.

She said that not speaking English could lead to "unintended consequences" for international students.

Her email went viral on Twitter and Chinese social media, while Duke's medical faculty has promised to review its biostatistics programme.

Many have criticised Dr Neely's email as racist or insensitive, and raised concerns that faculty members were discriminating against international students.

However, some ethnic minority students on the Masters programme told the BBC they supported Dr Neely, describing her as a supportive programme director and "definitely not a racist, not even close".

What exactly happened?

The controversy erupted after screenshots of Dr Neely's email to biostatistics students began circulating online over the weekend. Duke University confirmed to US media that the screenshots were genuine.

Dr Neely said that two faculty members had asked her if she had photos of students on the Masters programme, before picking out a number of first-year students "who they observed speaking Chinese (in their words, VERY LOUDLY), in the student lounge/study areas".

Dr Neely said that the faculty members told her "they wanted to write down the names so they could remember them if the students ever interviewed for an internship or asked to work with them for a masters project. They were disappointed that these students were not taking the opportunity to improve their English and were being so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand.

Full story at BBC News (January 2019)

Rookie maths teacher, 24, ‘sent boy nude Snapchat selfies and asked him to play naked hide and seek with a group of pals’

By Gerard du Cann

A 24-YEAR-OLD rookie maths teacher has resigned after she allegedly sent a student nude Snapchat selfies and asked him to play naked hide and seek with a group of pals.

Police say Kelsie Schmidt sent the X-rated images to a 17-year-old student at Beulah High School in North Dakota last August.

Kelsie Schmidt submitted her resignation letter Thursday and the school board accepted it Friday

According to court documents, Schmidt was arrested on January 23 after a student told a detective “that he could get the math teacher in trouble for pictures that she had sent him”.

Her resignation was formerly accepted two days later.

The student was interviewed after reports that a teacher had been sending nude photos on Snapchat.


One was reportedly a picture of the teacher, naked from the waist up, with her hair partly covering her breasts.

Another photo was allegedly of the teacher’s legs with the message "get a group and play naked hide and seek," The Dickinson Press reports.

Police allege the teacher sent three or four photos in total.

Full story at The Sun (February 2019)

US fake university: India anger after students arrested

The sting operation came complete with a fake university website

India has made a diplomatic protest to the US after 129 Indian students were arrested for enrolling in a fake university.

The University of Farmington, advertised as based in Michigan state, was run by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security to expose "pay-to-stay" immigration fraud.

Prosecutors say those who enrolled knew that the facility would be illegal.

However, Indian officials say the students may have been duped.

On Saturday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued the protest to the US embassy in Delhi, expressing concern over the arrests and demanding consular access to those detained.

"Our concern over the dignity and well-being of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated," the ministry said.

How were students lured?

The fake university was set up in 2015 to try to catch foreign nationals who had initially travelled to the US on student visas and wanted to stay in the country, US media reported.

A website for the University of Farmington showed pictures of students in classes and libraries, or relaxing around a grassy campus.

Full story at BBC News (February 2019)

Indonesian school expels 14 pupils with HIV after parents of other students became worried virus would be ‘transmitted’ to their children

• Explanations from the school on how HIV is transmitted failed to convince the parents, who threatened to move their children to another school if the school did not expel them

The parents were concerned the pupils with HIV would “transmit” the condition to other children. File photo: Reuters

A public junior school in Indonesia has expelled 14 HIV-positive pupils after worried parents of other students demanded their removal, the school’s headmaster said on Thursday.

Karwi, principal of the Purwotomo Public Elementary School in Solo, Central Java, said the pupils have not been allowed to attend the school since last week.

“The parents of other students are worried that the students would transmit the disease to their children,” said Karwi, who like many Indonesians, goes by one name.

Explanations from the school on how HIV is transmitted failed to convince the parents, who threatened to move their children to another school if the school did not expel them.

“We had no choice. We accepted the students because everyone has the right to education ... until this wave of protests started to come in,” he was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

The pupils had studied there since last month after their previous Bumi Public Elementary School was combined with the Purwotomo school.

Puger Mulyono, founder of non-governmental organisation Lentera Foundation that shelters and otherwise assists children with HIV, said the pupils did not face any problems in the previous school, even though parents of other students knew they were HIV carriers.

Full story at South China Morning Post (February 2019)

'Teach' tool not for evaluating teachers, says World Bank education boss

Students listen to their school teacher, Shuma Das, during class at the Sahabatpur Daspara Ananda school in Sahabatpur village, Bangladesh. Photo by: Dominic Chavez / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

By Sophie Edwards

LONDON — The World Bank’s head of education has said its new teacher observation tool is not intended to be used to find and fire bad teachers or to undermine teacher professionalism, after concerns were raised by some experts.

“This is not an evaluation tool,” Jaime Saavedra, who heads up the bank’s global education practice and was previously minister of education in Peru, told Devex. “Policymakers need to know what’s happening inside the classroom and the quality of the interaction between the teachers and students … [and] this tool is designed to see better what’s happening there,” he added.

The bank officially launched Teach, an open-source classroom observation tool for use in primary schools in low- and middle-income countries to help improve the quality of teaching, last month. The tool is part of a broader effort to address what the bank has called a global “learning crisis” by focusing on teachers, which it says are the single most important factor in improving learning outcomes.

It is intended to help governments track whether teacher-specific education reforms are working and diagnose problems in education systems. It can also be used as a professional development tool by highlighting a teacher’s strengths and weaknesses, according to the bank’s briefing document. A coaching tool to help individual teachers improve is also being developed.

The observation tool has been welcomed by many in the global education sector, but has also attracted criticism, including suggestions that it undermines teacher professionalism by hiring nonteachers with just four days training to do the observation. Citizen observers score teachers for a range of practices including time spent teaching; how “on-task” their students are; and whether their teaching creates a supportive learning culture and encourages students to think critically.

“If the Bank agrees that teachers are professionals, then they must respect certain standards for professional evaluation,” head of Education International, David Edwards, wrote in a blog.

Full story at Devex (February 2019)

Foreign children in Japan deserve equal education opportunities

A ceremony is held at "Bara Kyoshitsu Kani" on Feb. 1 to celebrate the students who completed the program for foreign children to learn Japanese and adapt themselves to Japanese school life in Kani, Gifu Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The central and local governments are stepping up efforts to deal with the educational needs of foreign children in Japan, including enhancing Japanese learning programs, as a new system to accept more foreign workers will start in April.

A number of municipal governments have earmarked budgets for special programs to support children and students with foreign backgrounds including those born in Japan.

One related problem that should not be overlooked is the large number of compulsory school-age children who attend neither Japanese elementary or junior high schools nor comparable schools for foreigners.

While little reliable information about this problem is available, there can be as many as 18,000 such children, according to an education ministry estimate based on various statistics.

A survey of such children conducted a decade ago by 29 cities engaged in policy efforts to accept foreign children and students showed the most-cited reason for nonattendance was financial difficulty. The second most common reason was the inability to communicate in Japanese.

Some 60 percent of the respondents to the survey said the children spent their daytime hours at home “doing nothing.”

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a 1966 multinational human rights treaty Japan has ratified, recognizes “the right of everyone to education” and says “Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all.”

Japan cannot just sit idly by without taking any action to deal with the problem.

Full story at The Asahi Shimbun (March 2019)