Friday, August 31, 2007

130. Workers of the World, Unite. Read with your children.

Labor Day is Monday September 3, 2007. And of course it's another great day to read. If you're looking for books to read with your kids, head to the library or your own shelves and find something that fits the occasion. Need ideas? See this list: Horn Book's Recommended Reading for Labor Day.

I'd add CLICK, CLACK, MOO--COWS THAT TYPE, by Cronin and Lewin (Simon & Schuster, 2003) to the list of picture books.

And IQBAL, by Francesco D'Adamo (Simon & Schuster, 2003) for mid-grade and YA.

Monday, August 27, 2007

129. Making a Difference--Fox News and Teaching

I stopped getting my haircut at Flor's because I couldn't take the constant barrage of Fox News on the television there. I hate the rabid and wrong information. I wonder how so many people have been taken in. And now I've been given the opportunity to "do something." (Not much, but something.)

Please join me.

And for all the teachers out there, for all those who want to become teachers, and for all those who put down the teaching profession with sayings like, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."--Watch this!

From the same guy who brought us "The Impotence of Prof-Reading" (featured earlier at blog post #104); Taylor Mali. Wow!

Thanks to Move-On and Fuse 8 Productions for the video heads-up.

Friday, August 24, 2007

128. My Latest Book Review Column

My latest book review column (on books for kids and young adults) is up at the Marianas Variety: Seeing and Reading. The title is yucky, but I had fun writing this column, thinking about the importance of visualization in learning, and how reading helps.

I also loved reading the books, especially the First Second book, GARAGE BAND by Gipi. The foray into graphic novels is me trying to find lures for reluctant readers. This book is a real winner.

The other graphic novel I reviewed, TO DANCE, will attract girls, but it's not as good. I mention casually in the column that I didn't like the ending to it, but that is a mild statement of my real reaction. I literally threw the book across the room when I got to the end. The story, which was a compelling read, just lamely died, and I found that intensely frustrating. I'd still recommend this book for kids (obviously, since I do in the column), but it offers a good opportunity to talk about how some books can be great at some points and not at others.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

127. Music of the Night

After you enjoy this weekend at the Micronesian Challenge, you can enjoy next weekend at MUSIC OF THE NIGHT.

"Music of the Night" will be held at Charley's at the Pacific Island Club on Saturday, September 1, 2007. The evening begins with the mouth-watering Magellan Room buffet at 6:00, with the program beginning at 7:00. Take advantage of ticket savings by purchasing yours in advance, through Friends of the Arts board members. Advance ticket prices are just $30.00 for Friends of the Arts adult members and $35.00 for adult non-members; children's rates are $20.00 for child members and $25.00 for child non-members (ages 4 to 11).

To purchase your tickets or for more information, call Melody Actouka at 234-5498 x 2005 or 235-1320; Susan Fishman-Tudor at 322-6302; Chuck Sayon at 322-7208; Frank Gibson at 322-3204; or Paul Dujua at PIC AT 234-7976.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

126. The Micronesian Challenge

Read about it here. Angelo's Blog.

Save Friday Night Happy Hour to enjoy the fun, awards for some great photos around Micronesia, and talk about a clean environment.

Monday, August 20, 2007

125. International Photography Award--Antarctica and Global Warming

This is off the beaten track on my blog. It has nothing to do with Saipan, writing, or writing in Saipan--well, at least not directly. But it's beautiful. So here it is. A video brief from Sebastian Copeland--cousin to Orlando Bloom, and more importantly, the latest "book" winner of the International Photography Award. (Thanks to GalleyCat.)

124. About Debt, the Economy,Larry Lee Hillblom and cheap, tasteless humor

Here's an interesting article from the Washington Post. "Maxxed-Out Man" Scurlock Right on the Money

It tells about the looming crisis in the credit industry, and for all Americans, and touts a movie that aired in March 2007 (now available on DVD) where Scurlock predicted problems that are now starting to be seen.

The last paragraph on page 3, though, is especially interesting to those of us in the CNMI. This movie mogul has a "next" project--on Larry Lee Hillblom, his death, and the paternity suit/probate fall-out. Now that's going to be an interesting movie!

(Thanks to Dan MacMeekin for the heads-up.)

And while we're on movies, here's a "movie" poster that's circulating. Found it at WryttenWyrd's blog. Provenance unknown. That would be cheap, tasteless humor.

Friday, August 17, 2007

123. Exodus--Saipan-style

Has anyone else noticed how empty Saipan is feeling? The roads are much less crowded than just a few months ago. Stores and restaurants are empty. It feels like half of the people have left. Although I understand the schools are still over-crowded, I've heard from at least one person that enrollment is down in some of them, too.

I know families who have left, families who have sent their kids to the U.S., and more who are talking about leaving.

The reality of the out-migration is staggering.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

122. Ignorance and Racism at PSS

Herman Pan, Member of the CNMI Board of Education, says the Board is concerned with the immigration status of PSS students. He wants to explore the possibility of adding fees to immigrant students for their public education. Public Schools may look into immigration status of students .

Jeff Turbitt, teacher at Saipan Southern and popular blogger, denies his own racism but says (edit, correction: Jeff says "teaching") the Korean students in his classroom (is) are unfair to the other students because of (the students') their poor English skills.

No doubt PSS is overcrowded and underfunded. Our schools are suffering from lack of teachers, lack of materials, lack of everything. And so our students are suffering.

And so we turn to the easy scapegoat--those damn foreignors.

I am very concerned that our schools do not have enough money. I was horrified to learn from Boni Gomez that GES cancelled a kindergarten class this year for lack of funds. The evidence is overwhelming that attendance at kindergarten gives students a life-long edge in education.

And we need to do more to fix these problems.

But PSS board members and teachers pointing at immigrants as the problem and focusing attention on them is just wrong. It sends a message that stigmatization, that racism is okay. Despite Jeff's denial. Despite the American value of equality and fair treatment.

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed public school discrimination against undocumented aliens in Plyler vs. Doe, 102 S. Ct. 2382 (1982). Believe it or not, the U.S. has had its share of problems from undocumented aliens. The CNMI's problems are not new, not unique, and not unexplored.

The U.S. Supreme Court said: "Sheer incapability or lax enforcement of the laws barring entry into this country, coupled with the failure to establish an effective bar to the employment of undocumented aliens, has resulted in the creation of a substantial "shadow population" of illegal migrants--numbering in the millions--within our borders." It was speaking of the U.S., but the sentiment applies equally to the CNMI.

Our immigration service is incapable and has failed to enforce the laws we have about immigration. But when students are here and apply to go our public schools, WE DO NOT DISCRIMINATE against them, no matter how they got here, not matter how taxed we are, no matter how short-staffed, unfunded, and difficult the job.

And that means, educators in the classroom and our education officials on the Board, should NOT be looking to our foreign students as the problem that needs to be fixed, should not be saying we need to tack on additional fees for immigrants, should not be complaining about those poor-English speakers in their classrooms.

In Plyler vs. Doe, the state argued that it needed to preserve "the state's limited resources for the education of its lawful residents." But the Supreme Court held that undocumented alien students within the states borders are entitled to the same free, appropriate public education that "lawful residents" enjoy. That's due process and equality.

And that's an American value.

Why? Because education is vitally important. Because we need our teachers to be nice to our kids. We need our kids to learn to live in a multi-cultural society without always jumping down the throats of those who are different. We need to own our problems and stop blaming others, especially young kids in public schools.

Legally, PSS is bound to educate students here, no matter how they got here. And singling out the increase in Korean students only teaches intolerance and racism. And that's not the lesson our PSS should be sending to our kids.

What's worse than the economic woes we're facing right now? Which is worse: Poverty, or racism and ignorance? Well, my vote isn't for poverty.

I'm disgusted with Herman Pan and Jeff for adding to the intolerance and stupidity level of the CNMI. Herman could have simply called his knowledgeable legal counsel to find out that he's being ignorant, and prejudiced. Jeff could have used his smarts to do a little checking first.

And now Korean students will be headed into their classrooms with teachers like Jeff. How fair do you think any Korean student in Jeff's class will be treated now? How fair will it feel to them? How fair will they be treated by other teachers who are less tolerant than Jeff but quieter?

[Edit: delete]

It's never smart, fair, or ethical to say students of a race or ethnicity are a problem in the schools. Not by teachers. Not by Board members. Not by Americans.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

121. Back To School - Supplies Project

Each year my office sponsors a back-to-school project where we collect donations from local attorneys and spend the money on school supplies, which we give to the children of our poor clients and other needy families. And each year, I end up with too many pencils, not enough book bags, and at least one child who stresses out!

This year, we started late because I was on vacation. And school started so early--August 3! But we've collected $750 plus in-kind contributions from donor attorneys, assembled 36 bags, and distributed most of them so far. Today, one woman arrived at the speed of lightning after receiving the telephone call that we had school supplies for her 4 children, and she had tears streaming down her face as she practically danced out of the office with the box. Another just kept saying thanks over and over again.

Saipan is depressed economically, but there are still generous people out there helping make this project a success, and still good manners and gratitude that make us smile. And there will be at least some kids who have a little reason to go to school and try harder--if just to sharpen those new pencils, uncap the highlighters, or play with the zippers on the book bags.

Friday, August 3, 2007

120. While I Was Away...

While I was away enjoying vacation, MLSC was busy!

Our executive director, Ben Tured, worked with former MLSC attorney Chuck Greenfield, who is now program director at Hawaii Legal Aid, and convinced the LSC Board to allow Legal Aid programs across the U.S. to represent Micronesians.

In the past, only MLSC could represent Micronesians, even if the Micronesians were living in the U.S., entering pursuant to the rights negotiated in the Compact of Free Association. This meant that Micronesians living and working throughout the U.S. who needed any legal help, and who were poor enough to qualify for free legal aid, still couldn't get help from their local legal aid organizations because they hadn't been admitted to the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the portal to benefits. And MLSC limited help to those Micronesians living in the CNMI, Palau, FSM and Republic of Marshall Islands, because that's where we have attorneys and that's where our attorneys are licensed to practice. We just never had a budget that would allow us to represent people all over the U.S.!

Now (well, actually, in October 2007) Micronesians will be treated the same as all legally admitted residents of the U.S. for purposes of getting free legal help. They can qualify for benefits if they meet the other program requirements, where ever they live.

It's all about access to justice.

Way to go, Ben and Chuck!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

119. A Look Back at Summer Vacation

I can't believe it's almost over. Summer vacation. Aahh. It was very pleasant. And although I've blogged about bits of it, here are a few more photos (in no particular order) to give me that lift I'll need next week, as I face the mountain of work waiting for me.

Watching a 4th of July parade in Tacoma, Md. with the Kings and Taitanos.

At the folk art festival at the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Having fun with art at the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.

After biking at Winton Woods, Cincinnati.

After horseback-riding at Winton Woods, Cincinnati.

Jadine and Anna with our Resident Rep, Pete A. Tenorio, at the NMI/Guam Liberation Day reception at the Cannon Bldg.

Myth and moisture at the Library of Congress (next to the Supreme Court).

At the WWII memorial in D.C.

As Parvati and Padma Patil, at a Border's HP7 release party.

At Saint Nicholas' church in Indiana (where Anna won a hand-embroidered, hand-stitched quilt).

Vacation is a blessing. All I can say is thanks--to everyone who made it possible.