(Last edited: Friday, 18 November 2005, 8:03 AM)
José Sócrates confirma demissão do coordenador do Plano Tecnológico
O primeiro-ministro, José Sócrates, confirmou hoje a demissão de José Tavares da coordenação do Plano Tecnológico, mas escusou-se a adiantar as razões que levaram à sua saída.
"O ministro da Economia comunicou-me que o coordenador do plano
tecnológico apresentou hoje a demissão. Agora, o ministro vai nomear
novo coordenador", declarou o primeiro-ministro.
(Last edited: Friday, 18 November 2005, 9:04 AM)
O desafio da educação, MARIA DE LURDES RODRIGUES
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Software 'cannot stop cheating'
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Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.
Students Ace State Tests, but Earn D's From U.S.
After Tennessee tested its eighth-grade students in math this year, state officials at a jubilant news conference called the results a "cause for celebration." Eighty-seven percent of students performed at or above the proficiency level.
But when the federal government made public the findings of its own tests last month, the results were startlingly different: only 21 percent of Tennessee's eighth graders were considered proficient in math.
Such discrepancies have intensified the national debate over testing and accountability, with some educators saying that numerous states have created easy exams to avoid the sanctions that President Bush's centerpiece education law, No Child Left Behind, imposes on consistently low-scoring schools.
A comparison of state test results against the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test mandated by the No Child Left Behind law, shows that wide discrepancies between the state and federal findings were commonplace.
In Mississippi, 89 percent of fourth graders performed at or above proficiency on state reading tests, while only 18 percent of fourth graders demonstrated proficiency on the federal test. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Alaska, Texas and more than a dozen other states all showed students doing far better on their own reading and math tests than on the federal one.
The chasm is significant because of the compromises behind the No Child Left Behind law. The law requires states to participate in the National Assessment - known to educators as NAEP (pronounced nape) - the most important federal measure of student proficiency.
But in a bow to states' rights, states are allowed to use their own tests in meeting the law's central mandate - that schools increase the percentage of students demonstrating proficiency each year. The law requires 100 percent of the nation's students to reach proficiency - as each state defines it - by 2014.
States set the stringency of their own tests as well as the number of questions students must answer correctly to be labeled proficient. And because states that fail to raise scores over time face serious sanctions, there is little incentive to make the exams difficult, some educators say.
"Under No Child Left Behind, the states get to set the proficiency bar wherever they like, and unfortunately most are setting it quite low," said Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, which generally supports the federal law.
"They're telling the public in their states that huge numbers of students are proficient, but the NAEP results show that's not the case," Mr. Petrilli said.
Other educators and experts give different reasons for the discrepancy between state and federal test results. A Standard & Poor's report this fall listed many reasons for such differences, among them that the National Assessment is a no-stakes test, while low scores on state tests lead to sanctions against schools.
The report noted that the National Assessment is given to a sampling of students, whereas schools administer state tests to nearly all students. The tests serve different purposes, with the federal one giving policy makers a snapshot of student performance across the nation, while state tests provide data about individual performance. Because of these differences, some state officials say it is unfair to compare the test results.
But the report by Standard & Poor's, which has a division that analyzes educational data, also noted some states' tests are just easier.
G. Gage Kingsbury, director of research at the Northwest Evaluation Association, a nonprofit group that administers tests in 1,500 districts nationwide, said states that set their proficiency standards before No Child Left Behind became law had tended to set them high.
"The idea back then was that we needed to be competitive with nations like Hong Kong and Singapore," he said. "But our research shows that since N.C.L.B. took effect, states have set lower standards."
Not all have a low bar. In South Carolina, Missouri, Wyoming and Maine, state results tracked closely with the federal exam.
South Carolina is a state that set world-class standards, Mr. Kingsbury said. The math tests there are so difficult that only 23 percent of eighth graders scored at or above the proficiency level this year, compared with 30 percent on the federal math test. South Carolina officials now fear that such rigor is coming back to haunt them.
"We set very high standards for our tests, and unfortunately it's put us at a great disadvantage," said Inez M. Tenenbaum, the state superintendent of education. "We thought other states would be high-minded too, but we were mistaken."
South Carolina's tough exams make it harder for schools there to show the annual testing gains demanded by the federal law.
This year less than half of the state's 1,109 schools met the federal law's benchmark for the percentage of students showing proficiency, a challenge that will get tougher each year. As a result, legislators are pushing to lower the state's proficiency standard, Ms. Tenenbaum said, an idea she opposes.
Because of the discrepancies, several prominent educators are now calling for a system of national testing that counts, like those at the heart of educational systems in England, France and Japan.
"We need national standards and national tests," said Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University who is a former member of the National Assessment's board. "I conclude that states are just looking to make everybody feel good."
Ms. Tenenbaum too says the differences among states have convinced her of the need for a national test. "I think we should all just take the NAEP," she said. "Get it out of the states' hands."
But Representative John A. Boehner, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Work Force, defended states' rights to define proficiency as they see fit and said that over time comparisons with the federal test would force them to draw up better tests.
"The bright lights of accountability are going to shine on the states who are kidding themselves," said Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio.
The battle lines have long been sharp in the testing debate. Most corporate leaders favor national testing, said Susan Traiman, a director at the Business Roundtable, a group that represents corporate executives.
Opponents include liberal groups that dislike all standardized testing; the testing industry itself, which has found lucrative profits in writing new exams for all 50 states; and political conservatives who fiercely resist any intrusion on states' rights to control curricula and tests.
Margaret Spellings, the secretary of education, says that the comparison of state and federal tests provides useful information. "It allows us to shine a light," she said. "This is a truth-in-advertising type deal."
But Ms. Spellings has declined to criticize states whose tests appear to overstate the percentage of their students who are proficient. The law leaves it to states to calibrate their accountability systems, including how difficult they make their exams, she said. "We're not going to sit up in Washington and look at all those moving parts," Ms. Spellings said.
The National Assessment uses three performance levels to classify student results: advanced, which denotes superior performance; proficient, which indicates that students have "demonstrated competency" and basic, which indicates students have attained only "partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills." Many students also score below basic, which the National Assessment's governing board does not classify as an achievement level.
On Oct. 19, the day the federal results were released, Ms. Spellings urged reporters to compare the percentage of students performing at the proficiency level on state tests with the percentage of students performing at the basic level on the federal test.
Many state officials said they also preferred that comparison, which greatly softens the discrepancies. In Tennessee, for instance, the 66-point gap between the federal and state results in eighth-grade math shrinks to just 26 points if the state results are compared with the federal measure of basic skills.
"NAEP's basic is comparable to our proficient," said Kim Karesh, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Education. "Now whether Tennessee's test is stringent enough is something that we're reviewing constantly. Nobody here would say we have a perfect test."
Officials in many other states whose scores differed sharply from those of the National Assessment cried foul over the very idea of comparing the results.
"The comparison to NAEP is not fair," said Mitch Edwards, a spokesman for the Department of Education in Alabama, where 83 percent of fourth-grade students scored at or above proficient on the state's reading test while only 22 percent demonstrated proficiency on the federal reading test. "Making comparisons to the NAEP becomes very difficult without giving the impression that some states are not measuring up to others or to the nation."
In Georgia, 83 percent of eighth graders scored at or above proficient on state reading tests, compared with just 24 percent on the federal test. "Kids know the federal test doesn't really count," said Dana Tofig, a spokesman for the State Department of Education. "So it's not a fair comparison; it's not apples to apples."
(Last edited: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 12:13 PM)
Kids Gone Wild
Kids Gone Wild
CHILDREN should be seen and not heard" may be due for a comeback. After decades of indulgence, American society seems to have reached some kind of tipping point, as far as tolerance for wild and woolly kid behavior is concerned.
Party Gone Bad: Blame the Parents (November 24, 2005)
Are children ruder now than in the past? Do parents care?
Last month, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans said they believed that people are ruder now than they were 20 or 30 years ago, and that children are among the worst offenders. (As annoyances, they tied with obnoxious cellphone users.)
The conservative child psychologist John Rosemond recently denounced in his syndicated column the increasing presence of "disruptive urchins" who "obviously have yet to have been taught the basic rudiments of public behavior," as he related the wretched experience of dining in a four-star restaurant in the company of one child roller skating around his table and another watching a movie on a portable DVD player.
In 2002, only 9 percent of adults were able to say that the children they saw in public were "respectful toward adults," according to surveys done then by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan and nonprofit public opinion research group. In 2004, more than one in three teachers told Public Agenda pollsters they had seriously considered leaving their profession or knew a colleague who had left because of "intolerable" student behavior.
Even Madonna - her "Papa Don't Preach" years long past - has joined the throng, proclaiming herself a proud "disciplinarian" in a recent issue of the British magazine Harpers & Queen and bragging that, as a mom, she takes a tough line on homework, tidiness and chores: "If you leave your clothes on the floor, they're gone when you come home."
Jo Frost, ABC's superstar "Supernanny," would be proud.
Whether children are actually any worse behaved now than they ever have been before is, of course, debatable. Children have always been considered, basically, savages. The question, from the late 17th century onwards, has been whether they come by it naturally or are shaped by the brutality of society.
But what seems to have changed recently, according to childrearing experts, is parental behavior - particularly among the most status-conscious and ambitious - along with the kinds of behavior parents expect from their kids. The pressure to do well is up. The demand to do good is down, way down, particularly if it's the kind of do-gooding that doesn't show up on a college application.
Once upon a time, parenting was largely about training children to take their proper place in their community, which, in large measure, meant learning to play by the rules and cooperate, said Alvin Rosenfeld, a child psychiatrist and co-author, with Nicole Wise, of "The OverScheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyperparenting Trap."
"There was a time when there was a certain code of conduct by which you viewed the character of a person," he said, "and you needed that code of conduct to have your place in the community."
Rude behavior, particularly toward adults, was something for which children had to be chastised, even punished. That has also now changed, said Dan Kindlon, a Harvard University child psychologist and author of "Too Much of a Good Thing: Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age."
Most parents, Dr. Kindlon said, would like their children to be polite, considerate and well behaved. But they're too tired, worn down by work and personally needy to take up the task of teaching them proper behavior at home.
"We use kids like Prozac," he said. "People don't necessarily feel great
about their spouse or their job but the kids are the bright spot in their day.
They don't want to muck up that one moment by getting yelled at. They don't want
to hurt. They don't want to feel bad. They want to get satisfaction from their
kids. They're so precious to us - maybe more than to any generation previously.
What gets thrown out the window is limits. It's a lot easier to pick their towel
up off the floor than to get them away from the PlayStation to do it."
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Parenting today is also largely about training children to compete - in school and on the soccer field - and the kinds of attributes they need to be competitive are precisely those that help break down society's civility.
Parents who want their children to succeed more than anything, Dr. Kindlon said, teach them to value and prioritize achievement above all else - including other people.
"We're insane about achievement," he said. "Schoolwork is up 50 percent since 1981, and we're so obsessed with our kids getting into the right school, getting the right grades, we let a lot of things slide. Kids don't do chores at home anymore because there isn't time."
And other adults, even those who should have authority, are afraid to get involved. "Nobody feels entitled to discipline other people's kids anymore," Dr. Kindlon said. "They don't feel they have the right if they see a kid doing something wrong to step in."
Educators feel helpless, too: Nearly 8 in 10 teachers, according to the 2004 Public Agenda report, said their students were quick to remind them that they had rights or that their parents could sue if they were too harshly disciplined. More than half said they ended up being soft on discipline "because they can't count on parents or schools to support them."
And that, Dr. Rosenfeld said, strikes at the heart of the problem. "Parents are out of control," he said. "We always want to blame the kids, but if there's something wrong with their incivility, it's the way their parents model for them."
There's also the chance, said Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist whose 2001 book, "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee," has earned her a cult following, that when children are rude, obnoxious and outrageously behaved, they're trying to tell parents something - something they've got to shout in order for them to hear.
"These kids are so extremely stressed from the academic load they're carrying and how cloistered they are and how they have to live under the watchful eye of their parents," Dr. Mogel said. "They have no kid space."
Paradoxically, she said, parental over-involvement in their children's lives today often hides a very basic kind of indifference to their children's real need, simply to be kids. "There are all these blurry boundaries," she said. "They need to do fifth-grade-level math in third grade and have every pleasure and indulgence of adulthood in childhood and they act like kids and we get mad."
If stress and strain, self-centeredness and competition are the pathogens underlying the rash of rudeness perceived to be endemic among children in America today, then the cure, some experts said, has to be systemic and not topical. Stop blaming the children, they said. Stop focusing on the surface level of behavior and start curing instead the social, educational and parental ills that feed it.
This may mean less "quality" time with children and more time getting them to do things they don't want to do, like sitting for meals, making polite conversation and - Madonna was right - picking their clothes up off the floor.
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Tecnologia como cultura
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Overhaul of Linux License Could Have Broad Impact
Overhaul of Linux License Could Have Broad Impact
The rules governing the use of most free software programs will be revised for the first time in 15 years, in an open process that begins today.
Free software, once regarded as a tiny counterculture in computing, has become a mainstream technology in recent years, led by the rising popularity of programs like the GNU Linux operating system.
Industry analysts estimate that the value of hardware and software that use the Linux operating system is $40 billion. And Linux has become a competitive alternative to Microsoft's Windows, especially in corporate data centers.
So the overhaul of the General Public License, which covers Linux and many other free software programs, is an issue of far greater significance today than before.
"The big boys, corporations and governments, have far more reason to be interested and concerned this time," said Eben Moglen, general counsel to the Free Software Foundation, which holds the license, commonly known as the G.P.L.
The process will also be closely watched for how the new G.P.L. will take account of software patents, which have exploded among proprietary software developers since 1991, the last time the license was revised.
A document that describes the principles and timeline for updating the G.P.L., as well as the process for public comment and resolving issues, was to be posted today at www.gplv3.fsf.org. A first draft will be presented at a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scheduled for Jan. 16 and 17.
A second draft is expected by summer. If a third draft is required, it should be completed by the fall of 2006. The process, Mr. Moglen said, could involve comments from thousands of corporations and individuals, but the Free Software Foundation will make the final judgments.
The revision process promises to be intriguing because of the man behind the G.P.L., Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation.
The G.P.L., according to Mr. Stallman, is an effort to use copyright law to protect what he calls the "four basic freedoms of software" - the unrestricted right to use, study, copy and modify software. The license also requires that any modifications be redistributed with the same unrestricted rights.
Mr. Stallman is renowned as both a brilliant computer programmer and a person of emphatic views on matters of software. At the Artificial Intelligence Lab at M.I.T. in the 1980's, Mr. Stallman began writing a free version of the proprietary Unix operating system, which he called GNU, and he distributed his work free.
Mr. Stallman, working as a lone craftsman, wrote a huge amount of code for the operating system and software tools for building it. But he had not gotten around to designing the "kernel" of the free operating system - the core of the program, controlling a computer's most basic functions.
In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a university student in Finland, wrote a kernel and wrapped much of the GNU code around it. The completed operating system attracted a following of programmers, working collaboratively to debug and improve the program. The operating system became known as Linux, and the networked style of work was called open source.
In Mr. Stallman's view, proprietary software is an unwarranted restriction on the freedom of information. The revision of the G.P.L., he said, is "part of something bigger - part of the long-term effort to liberate cyberspace." Software patents, he said, are "utterly insane."
For Microsoft's part, Steven A. Ballmer, its chief executive, has called the G.P.L. a "cancer."
Yet in his way, Mr. Stallman is also quite pragmatic. Proprietary software applications can run on Linux without restrictions, which is important for the survival of Linux as a viable alternative to commercial operating systems.
Mr. Stallman also acknowledged that patent rights are a sticky issue for free software, because any attempt in the G.P.L. to counteract the spread of patented software could backfire by making it difficult for free and proprietary software to run on the same computer.
"Patents are a serious issue we have to address, but we have limited leverage," he said. "Sometimes, if you push too hard, you end up pushing yourself back instead of hurting your adversary."
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Clima sofre a pior alteração dos últimos cinco mil anos
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Bartoon, A Igreja e os padres homosexuais
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Finding Design in Nature