Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Postcards from Beijing

After a mind-blowing effort to condense a 7-hour school board meeting into less than 1200 words, I came down with a bad case of cliche-itis. Leading to this:

Why the unseemly haste to conduct non-stop SCUSD board meetings between now and Christmas? Superintendent Bobbie Plough is leaving in six months -- not six days. Although, Plough makes the 3rd -- or is it 4th? -- Superintendent to retire since Ina Bendis was elected to the Board of Trustees in 2006. (Correlations are not causes, but they do merit attention).

The reason is, according to talk around town, several members of the SCUSD board jet off for a week in China, all-expenses-paid thanks to the Chinese Hanban Institute. They're slated to return in time to ring in the new year.

We don't know if any other county educators are going along, as the COE hasn't yet returned a call asking for more information.

The invite came from the Chinese Hanban Institute. Here's the County Office of Education agenda item from a few weeks ago:

"Hanban is sponsoring a trip to China on December 21-29, 2012 and has extended an invitation to 20 educational administrators from Santa Clara County. Hanban will be covering the cost of international travel, accommodations and meals while in China. The purpose of the trip is to share educational practices. Administration recommends approval of roundtrip airfare [for board members] from the Bay Area to LAX and VISA cost."

The Hanban Institute is an arm of China's Ministry of Education. Its stated mission is promoting and enabling the teaching of Chinese languages outside China.

Hanban is part of a larger entity, the Confucious Institute, which promotes Chinese culture and Confuscian principles and world-view through international educational activities – a similar analogy would be the way the Jesuit Order promotes Catholic principles and world-view through its international educational activities. (Jesuits were active missionaries in China since Fr. Matteo Ricci landed in Macau in 1582). In fact, Belvedere College, a Jesuit secondary school in Dublin, hosts an expanding Hanban language and culture immersion program.

James Rowen suggests that we should beware of Greeks bringing gifts, labeling the trip a Manchurian Junket.

1 comment: