Supporting Education

I know it is a holiday weekend and that college campuses are quiet and classrooms are emptier and faculty offices may be empty, but there is just too much bad news for education these days to take a holiday.

Education is taking a beating here in New Jersey from K-20. I know of at least a dozen people who have lost jobs in the past two months due to cuts.

Here is one way to act that I saw via The Whole Child group.

Join thousands of educators and their supporters from across the country as they call members of Congress demanding immediate action to prevent the loss of some 300,000 educator jobs nationwide today. Do your part to protect our children from increased class sizes, reduced school hours and days, and eliminated programs and services by following these four simple steps.

Step 1: Call 1-866-608-6355 to contact your members of Congress.

Step 2: Listen to the message containing the talking points you'll need for the call. After hearing the talking points, you will be immediately connected to the U.S. Capitol switchboard. If you know who your representative and senators are, ask to be connected to their offices. If you don't, give the switchboard operator your zip code and ask for the information. Once you get their names, ask to be connected to their offices.

Additional suggested talking points:
• Identify yourself as a Whole Child Supporter
• The ongoing economic challenges continue to negatively affect local budgets.
• In my community, school jobs are at serious risk.
• The number of jobs that could be lost will threaten our schools' progress, student achievement gains, and ongoing education reforms.
• Too many people are already out of work. Please support this investment to help hard working educators keep their jobs.

Step 3: Tell your representative and senators to support the inclusion of funding to save education jobs in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill.

Step 4: Repeat Step 1 to be connected to the offices of your other two elected officials.

We encourage you to share this information with your friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Congress can't ignore a strong message from all across the nation. Make your voice heard! Participate in the National Call-In Day and speak up for education and the whole child!

Advocates Demand Rwanda's Immediate Release of U.S. Professor and Attorney Erlinder

International Human Rights Advocates join the Erlinder family to condemn Rwanda's arrest of U.S. Attorney Peter Erlinder
and demand his immediate release.
Saturday, May 29, 2010 (Washington, DC)

Professor Erlinder, a faculty member at William Mitchell College of Law in the United States and president of the Association des Avocats de la Defense (ADAD), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Defense Lawyers Association, was arrested by the government of Rwanda under the leadership of president Paul Kagame.

Peter Erlinder has been arrested in the course of his representation of Rwanda’s opposition leader, Victoire Ingabire. Erlinder’s arrest was politically motivated and seeks to punish him for fulfilling his responsibilities as a lawyer, to be a vigorous and conscientious advocate for his clients.

The Rwandan government and President Kagame must allow fair and public trials. Erlinder’s advocacy is in the finest tradition of the legal profession and every individual and government committed to the rule of law, including the authorities in Rwanda, should applaud his dedication to human rights and international law.

As international human rights activists, we join the Erlinder family to call on the United States government, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world to prevail upon Rwanda to release Erlinder immediately. The U.S. has had a special relationship with Rwanda which remains one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance in Africa. Given the U.S. government's expressed commitment to democracy and the rule of law, it is critical that the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress uphold these values in Rwanda and demand the immediate release of Peter Erlinder, an advocate of justice.

"Professor Erlinder has been acting in the best tradition of the legal profession and has been a vigorous advocate in his representation of his clients. There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers for representing defendants it dislikes. A government that seeks to prevent lawyers from being vigorous advocates for their clients cannot be trusted. The entire National Lawyers Guild is honored by Erlinder's membership, his leadership as past president and his courageous advocacy." said David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild.

"The offense Peter is charged with is not based on facts, but on the suppression of free speech in his representation of clients, which undermines the rule of law. His family knows he stands with people who are oppressed by those in power and he encourages people to stand up for justice." Masako Usui, wife of Peter Erlinder.

"The real issue here seems to be whether the U.S. and the world will stand by and allow my father to be detained and prosecuted for doing his job, as an attorney and advocate for his clients. After a career of defense of others, he needs our help now demanding his immediate release and dismissal of all charges." said Sarah Erlinder, daughter of Peter Erlinder.

"The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is outraged at the arrest of Peter Erlinder in Rwanda. This arrest violates the rights and privileges of lawyers in discharging their professional responsibilities, constitutes a willful obstruction of the judicial process and is in gross violation of the rights of defense of an accused person," said Jeanne Mirer, President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

Press Release

Contacts: David Gespass, National Lawyers Guild; 205 566-2530

Gena Berglund. International Humanitarian Law Institute of Minnesota; 651 208-7964
Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies; 301 523-2979

American Law Professor Arrested in Rwanda

American Law Professor Arrested in Kigali - Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation Press Release
HRRF Calls Upon the International Community to Intervene

The Rwanda News Agency reported on May 28 that American law professor C. Peter Erlinder (William and Mitchell College of Law - Minnesota) was arrested over accusations related to negating the Rwandan genocide. The Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation deplores this clearly politically motivated arrest, and implores the international community to act quickly and decisively to demand Professor Erlinder's immediate release from custody.

Erlinder, an outspoken critic of the Kagame regime, is frequently criticized by the Rwandan government. His name recently appeared on a publicized list of foreigners who the Rwandan government allegedly wants silenced for their views. Erlinder traveled to Rwanda last week to defend presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire on the charges brought against her by the Rwandan government. Mrs. Ingabire, a political opponent of current President Kagame, was jailed recently and is currently under house arrest for expressing her political views, which are in opposition to official government policies. Erlinder is also a defense lawyer and leader of the association of defense attorneys defending Rwandan genocide suspects at the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. His current trip to Rwanda was intended to provide defense counsel in a peaceful legal process, but with this arrest his human rights, liberty and possibly his person safety are in danger.

Professor Erlinder was reportedly arrested on charges of "genocide negationism," which means that he disagrees with the official version of the 1994 genocide perpetuated by the current Rwandan regime. This law is frequently applied to silence critics of the regime, including in the past Mrs. Ingabire, Human Rights Watch investigators, and even the BBC.

Immediate action is needed to free Professor Erlinder and guarantee his human rights and personal safety. Educators can show their support by contacting the US and Rwandan governments.

Call the White House:202-456-1414

Call Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Secy of State Hillary Clinton  (202) 647-9572   State Dept: Fax 202 647 0244

State Department Main Switchboard 202-647-4000 TTY:1-800-877-8339
(Federal Relay Service)

Senator Al Franken: (202) 224-5641 Email

Senator Amy Klobuchar: 202-224-3244 Fax: 202-228-2186 Email at

Representative Keith Ellison: 202-225-4755 Email at

Representative Betty McCullom: (202) 225-6631 Fax: (202) 225-1968 Email

Bureau of African affairs 202-647-4440    Fax: 202-647-6301

Johnnie Carson,Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs  Phone: 202-647-2530 Fax: 202-647-0838

Rwanda embassy (NY): Telephone: +1 212 679 9010 or 1 212 679 9023   Fax:
+1 212 679 9133

Stephen J. Rapp war crimes ambassador Phone: 202-647-6051 Fax:

Susan Rice, US AMB to the UN Accredited Journalists: 212-415-4050
Opinion & Comment line: 212-415-4062 Fax: 212-415-4053

Rwanda Mission to the UN in USA: phone: +1 212 679 9010 or 1 212 679
9023 Fax: +1 212 679 9133

Rwandan Amb. James Kimonyo 1714 New Hampshire NW Washington, DC 20009
Tel: 202-232-2882 Fax: 202-232-4544

Now Everyone Can Use Wave. We Just Have To Figure What To Do With It.


Last week, Google made their Wave product available to everyone as part of Google Labs.  Before this, you had needed an invite to use Wave.

I started previewing Wave along with a few others back in November 2009 and I was thoroughly unimpressed. Like many people who tried Wave, I really didn't even a clear sense of what Wave was designed to do. I'm not sure Google knew either - or, at least, they were unable to communicate it to the masses.

I checked out the first user guide to Google Wave, written by Gina Trapani with Adam Pash.They start by saying that "Google Wave is a new web-based collaboration tool that's notoriously difficult to understand.

I'll be honest and admit I gave up on it. It is a solution to a problem I don't have. People who have given it good reviews find it a great place for teams working together on projects that involve lots of discussion. Sounds like it would be great for teaching online, right?

I wasn't the only one who gave up. Google even did a video that suggests we give it another shot.

Apparently, Wave is faster, more stable, somewhat easier to use and now has email notifications of changes, more permission management options and an extensions gallery.

Google posted some examples of Wave users. On the business side, you have co-workers writing software code (Lyn and Line) and coordinating ad campaigns (Clear Channel Radio) and an international As One project (Deloitte).

In education, they point to students and professors using waves to collaborate on Latin poetry translations, write academic research papers and build new functionality with Wave's APIs.

Just to keep all of us in higher education honest, there is also a teacher having her 5th-graders do their class research in Wave.

To try Wave, go to and sign in. Google Apps administrators (businesses, schools, organizations) can enable Google Wave for their users.

It's Tee-Ball Season Again


My Drew dreaming in the tee-ball outfield.

A friend recommended that I read NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

She knows that my own sons are grown now, but she said that I would agree with the basic premise that many of our popular strategies for raising children are bad strategies.

Maybe she was getting me ready for some future grandchildren. And she was probably thinking about the implications for teachers and school programs.

The first "problem" I noted in a browse of the book is about the inverse power of praise. We give too much praise and let effort count more than actual results.

I wrote about that last summer here in a piece called "School As T-Ball." I was thinking that the effort-rewarding philosophy of tee-ball was working its way into schools.

It might seem to be a good philosophy for very young children. We want to foster the idea of trying. We encourage "low stakes testing" where failure is okay. I see a place for tee-ball on a field even in some classrooms. My sons both played tee-ball.


My Justin considers life after tee-ball.

My fear is that it is moving its way up the grade levels. It just doesn't go away. It might be why graduate students seem to assume that if they are just "there" it's at least an "B" grade. Of course, if there's some effort, that's an "A."  A "C" grade is just unacceptable. They will drop the course if that seems to be where they are headed.

If we are playing in a game where everyone gets up to bat, no one gets out and both teams win, I don't know what the point of playing is after awhile.

And, yes, I know that even older ballplayers will hit off a tee. It can be a good "scaffolding" activity and a way to teach good habits. But that tee is taken away when the game begins.

That's just one part of the book. It also takes on topics like why insufficient sleep adversely affects kids' capacity to learn; why white parents don't talk about race; why kids lie; why evaluation methods for giftedness and the accompanying programs don't work; and why siblings really fight.

Reviewers seem to have been fairly kind to the book. But there were those who disagreed - like the New York Times Book Review that felt that every generation seems to have a "revolutionary" book of parental advice (see Dr. Spock) and that all that's new here is the "packaging."

I am giving it a read and I find myself agreeing more than disagreeing.

But I also know that I am still very likely to cheer on my grandchildren if they play tee-ball, no matter what the book says.