Uncesored 2/07/2011

SHE’S BAAAACK! ... AND INCITING REVOLUTION – For the past two years, Uncensored has been following the saga of the broom-sweeping Time magazine-cover-adorning, butt-kicking, (former) Chancellor of D.C. Schools Michelle A. Rhee. In November, her boss, Washington,D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty, who kept his promise to cover her politically if she just did what she had to do, lost his political bid for a second term. A few weeks later, D.C.’s American Federation of Teachers’ (AFT) union leader George Parker, who, after two years of fighting,finally agreed to Rhee’s evaluation-oriented teacher contract, also lost his race for a second term. Rhee decided to resign, defiantly.“There was a complete lack of accountability in the city’s school system when I came; I changed that, and I intend to keep on fighting nationally,” she said at a luncheon her last day on the job – the same day the movie Waiting for Superman came out featuring some of her brazen successes. In a Time cover story in December, her plan was revealed. Rhee has started a national education “movement”called “Students First.” “Unions do a great job doing what they have to do to advocate for their teacher members. Now I intend to do the same for students,” Rhee announced. She hopes to sign up one million Students First members and raise $1 billion in the first year.

CHINA UP, INDIA DOWN, SOME GOING HOME– Students from all over the world came to the United States in record numbers in AY 2009-10, reaching an unprecedented total of almost 700,000 (690,923). “This year’s growth was primarily driven by a 30 percent increase in students from China– many of them undergraduates – making up almost 18 percent of the total international student population,” according to Open Doors,the annual report from the Institute of International Education (IIE). The surge also made China now the top sending country,replacing India. Mexico, which was No. 7 last year, no longer was in the top 10. As usual, a majority of the international students are graduates and study in the STEM fields. But a Duke University study found that a growing number of first- and even second-generation India-heritage students are returning to their homelands as their emerging economy and investments in new universities and research increase substantially. “It’s gone from Brain Drain, to Brain Gain, to Brain Balance to now Brain Circulation,” said IIE Vice President Peggy Blumenthal.

HELICOPTER PARENTS BECOME VELCRO PARENTS? – You’ve heard of“helicopter parents” – the ones seen day and night hovering over their children in every endeavor. Now we have “Velcro parents,” the ones who cannot detach when their kids go off to college. Even college presidents are not immune, admitted Haverford College’s chief in a November Washington Post editorial. It’s a “realignment process,” writes Stephen Emerson: one goes from over-head hovering, to side-by-side guidance, to the young autonomous adult taking the lead.

TEMPTING CONSERVATIVE HISPANICS– Hispanics are being feted,recruited and supported by political parties as never before, and some are finding success with the GOP. Five new Hispanics in the 112th Congress are Hispanic, as of course is the first Latina governor in the United States – Susana Martínez of New Mexico. In December, Americano, the conservative bilingual organization founded by former Congressional Speaker Newt Gingrich, held its first annual Forum in D.C. It featured former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Carlos Gutiérrez (former secretary of commerce), and journalist Rubén Navarrette,among others. Conservative views were shared on panels about education, health care, immigration, grass-roots organizing and the media. Presenters agreed that while U.S. Hispanics are widely diverse, they shared pride in the growing success of Latino heritage music, food and culture in the U.S. “The best way to reach the growing Hispanic intergenerational community in the future may be through media oriented to specific Latino interests – in English,” said Navarrette.

SCOTUS LAW CLERKS LACK ACADEMIC DIVERSITY – The golden ticket for any law degree graduate is to secure a one-year clerkship at the Supreme Court of the United States (aka: SCOTUS). Each of the nine justices usually hires up to five clerks every year.They seek law school grads who are capable of doing brilliant research and writing first drafts of history-making opinions that will set precedent and will impact Americans in every corner of the land. Yet more than 50 percent of the SCOTUS clerks come from only two East Coast law colleges: Harvard and Yale – “coincidentally” the only two law colleges from which all the present nine justices graduated. Another 25 percent of chosen clerks have graduated from only four other universities: Virginia, Stanford, Columbia and Chicago.Only Judge Clarence Thomas looks beyond the Ivy League for his clerks, according to Todd C. Peppers, public affairs professor at Roanoke College and author of a book about Supreme Court clerks, Courtiers of the Marble Palace.

Margaret (Peggy Sands) Orchowski was a reporter for AP South America and for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. She earned a doctor-ate in international educational administration from the University of California-Santa Barbara. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she was an editor at Congressional Quarterly and now is a freelance journalist and columnist covering Congress and higher education.