"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What Can a Local Government Unit Do for Public Education in the Philippines?

Public school education in the Philippines is managed centrally by the Department of Education (DepEd). At the municipal level, there is a small unit called the Local School Board (LSB), which main task is to allocate a special education fund, collected from an additional 1 percent tax on real properties. The fund is intended to answer auxiliary needs of local schools. Unfortunately, as former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo once stated, "Decision making has been confined to this eight-person board where most often, “educational priorities” are being defined by its two most powerful members: the local chief executive and the division superintendent".

Although the special education fund was designed to meet only supplementary needs of the local schools, there was a time in the small town of Paete, Laguna, during which a major portion of its fund was used to pay for the salaries of some of its public high school teachers. I have had the rare opportunity of witnessing several meetings by the Paete local school board. What I observed was not exactly the same as what Robredo described. The principals of the schools were there and they were actively participating in decision-making. I would however agree with something that Robredo also wrote:
As a result, this has largely prevented the LSB to help address the following problems facing public schools:
  • Deteriorating quality of basic education with far-reaching effects on the country’s future 
  • General lack of awareness about the current state of public education among stakeholders ƒ 
  • Weak “soft infrastructure” support to facilitate the learning process ƒ 
  • Weak mechanisms for meaningful parent participation in the education of their children ƒ 
  • Weak involvement and participation of other community-based stakeholders in the delivery of public education services ƒ 
  • An underperforming LSB that has been reduced to a mere budgeting entity for local education funds ƒ 
  • Weak planning and budgeting practices and processes that contribute to inefficient and ineffective use of local education funds, and ƒ 
  • The lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of the public school system. 
It is election time in the Philippines and people are campaigning for positions in the local government.

A proclamation event for candidates for local positions, Paete, Laguna
Above copied from photos shared on Facebook by Joseph Caday
Interestingly, education is mentioned in one of the platforms of a candidate for the local legislative body. The following is a list of actions proposed to address the needs of the local schools:

  • financial aid to elementary pupils
  • the return of a permanent feeding program for malnourished children in elementary schools
  • an "education research center" for local high school
  • maintenance of computers and internet for all the local public schools
  • strengthen and support the Alternative Learning System
  • continue the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) by the Department of Social Welfare and Development
The above are indeed lofty goals for a local government unit that has funds that can meet only the supplemental needs of a school. Looking at these goals brings me to realize that we may just be missing one important thing. Although Robredo erroneously attributed the problems in schools to overpowering mayors and superintendents. In my opinion, he correctly identified the problem: Weak involvement and participation of the public. 

There is a journalist named Ina Alleco Roldan Silverio in the Philippines who happens to be a friend of mine on Facebook. She shares on Facebook a draft of a speech that she delivered during the commencement exercises at Beatea Mariae Academy. In that speech she exhorted parents to get more involved with their children's education. How many parents in the Philippines bother to read and examine learning materials used by their children? How many parents in the Philippines do their part to help teachers teach their children? Indeed, how many parents in the Philippines know what is inside DepEd's K to 12 besides the fact that it comes with kindergarten and two additional years at the end of high school? 

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” This quote is from Dwight Eisenhower. Perhaps, this is where someone aspiring for local leadership should begin. We need leaders who can get more parents involved and engaged in their children's education.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Do Boys from Poor Families Drop Out of School?

What do the states of Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Alabama share in common? These states are among the most unequal in terms of household income. The poor are so poor while the wealthy are so wealthy. These states are also marked with low intergenerational income mobility. The poor stays poor and the rich stays rich. But these states apparently share one more thing. The percentage of boys not finishing high school in four years are among the highest in these states across America.

Analyzing the data on graduation rates, income inequality, and intergenerational income persistence, Kearney and Levine have arrived at the conclusion that boys who did not finish high school in four years mostly have given up hope. They conclude:
Our analysis has demonstrated that a greater persistent gap between the bottom of the income distribution and the middle leads to lower rates of high school completion among economically disadvantaged youth, boys in particular. These findings have implications for the potential of disadvantaged youth to achieve upward mobility and the types of policies that are likely to be successful. Furthermore, they reflect a plausible channel through which higher rates of income inequality might causally lead to lower rates of social mobility. To improve rates of upward mobility, we need to give economically disadvantaged youth reasons to believe that they can achieve economic success. 
Across the Pacific is the Philippines, where both income inequality and social mobility leave so much to be desired. Boys are clearly dropping out of school more than girls do.

Data from Annual Poverty Indicator Survey 2013 and DepEd, Philippines

It is with these in mind that one should examine DepEd's K to 12 curriculum. Would the new curriculum provide hope to boys who feel "economic despair"? Would adding two years of senior high school help keep boys from poor families stay in school? The study by Kearney and Levine shows that this is a matter of perception. Poor boys do not drop out of school because school appears to be very difficult. They stop schooling because they do not see that it is worth investing in themselves. This perception can be easily fed by low quality education. This perception can be heightened by lack of resources. There are not even enough schools that can provide the additional years of DepEd's K to 12 so the government has to resort to issuing vouchers that hardly meet the tuition and fees demanded by private institutions. DepEd's K to 12 simply does not provide the youth reasons to believe that they could have a better life in the future. What these boys need are genuine opportunities, and good counselors and mentors.

Monday, March 28, 2016


Reasonableness means governed by or being in accordance with reason or sound thinking. That is according to the American Heritage Dictionary. Unfortunately, much of our thinking often neglect data and observations. In other words, our thinking is frequently guided by unfounded biases and even prejudices. It is therefore important that we understand and examine the assumptions we make.

A photo uploaded on imgur has gone viral:

The question above reads "Reasonableness: Marty ate 4/6 of his pizza and Luis ate 5/6 of his pizza. Marty ate more pizza than Luis. How is that possible?"

And the student answers, "Marty's pizza is bigger than Luis's pizza." The grader marks this answer wrong and writes, "That is not possible because 5/6 is greater than 4/6 so Luis ate more."

This is actually a moment when we need to examine the assumptions we are making. The grader obviously assumes that the pizzas are of the same size. The student ignores this assumption since this is not mentioned anywhere in the question. 5/6 is indeed larger than 4/6 but with a different assumption like Marty's pizza being at least 25 percent larger than Luis' the equation becomes different. At Domino's Pizza, a large pizza (14") is about twice as large as a small pizza (10"). 

Proponents of DepEd's K to 12 are quick to point out that 12 is greater than 10. Jumping to the conclusion that the additional years mean a better basic education makes the assumption that more years translate to an improved curriculum. We hold so many assumptions while we think and that is why it is necessary that we take time to examine these assumptions regularly. 

A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatrics illustrates an example where we really need to step back and reexamine how we make judgments. The paper, Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Taiwanese Children, summarizes its findings with the following figure:

Above copied from

Chen, Mu-Hong et al.,Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Taiwanese Children, The Journal of Pediatrics, article in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.02.012
The fraction of children born in the month of August diagnosed with ADHD is almost twice those who are born in the month of September. The cutoff birth date for school entry in Taiwan is August 31. Thus, children born in August are usually the youngest members in their class. The typical correlation between gender and ADHD is also seen, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. The fact that incidences of ADHD diagnosis and medication are high for younger boys and girls means that these children exhibit behaviors in class that warrant examination by a pediatrician for ADHD. 

What are our assumptions in basic education? Do we expect children to fit in the curriculum we assign or do we design the curriculum to fit the needs of the children?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

DepEd's K to 12 and Mother Tongue Education

At first glance, we may be easily deceived that DepEd's K to 12 aims to promote the various indigenous cultures of the Philippines. After all, the new curriculum trumpets an education that is both rooted and responsive to culture. Unfortunately, these words are all empty for it is only in the implementation that we can see sincerity in purpose.

Learning materials provide us a way to evaluate a curriculum. Textbooks are read by teachers and pupils. Yet, as the Cordilleran Sun points out, one particular textbook received the following amount of attention:
  • it had one consultant
  • it had three editors
  • it had thirteen (13) writers
  • it was examined by two people
The book is "Kultura ng mga Pangkat Etniko, Mahalagang Malaman" (The Culture of Ethnic Groups, Important to Know). The Cordillera Sun takes issue with a paragraph in this textbook:
"Tinatayang may humigit kumulang 180 pangkat etniko sa Pilipinas. sa Luzon, ilan sa mga kilala ang mga Aeta sa Mountain Province, Bikolano sa Kabikulan, Gaddang at Ibanag sa Gitnang Luzon, Ivatan sa Batanes, Mangyan sa Mindoro, Tagalog sa Kamaynilaan, at iba pa. Sa Visayas at Mindanao ay kilala rin ang mga Subanon sa Zamboanga Peninsula, Bisaya sa Kabisayaan, Zamboangueno sa Kamindanawan, at marami pang iba." (It is estimated that there are more or less 180 ethnic groups in the Philippines, in Luzon, the well known Aetas in the Mountain Province, Bicolanos in the Bicol region, Gaddang and Ibanag in Central Luzon, Ivatan in Batanes, Mangyans in Mindoro, Tagalogs in Manila , and others. In Visayas and Mindanao, known groups are the Subanon in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Visayans in the Visayan region, Zamboanguenos in Mindanao, and many more.)
A mural painting of an Igorota during the La Trinidad Strawberry Festival.
Copied from the Cordillera Sun
The book clearly makes the error that Aetas are from the Mountain Province. The following are excerpts from Wikipedia:
Aetas: The Aeta are an indigenous people who live in scattered, isolated mountainous parts of the Philippines. They are nomadic and build only temporary shelters made of sticks driven to the ground and covered with the palm of banana leaves. The well-situated and more modernized Aetas have moved to villages and areas of cleared mountains. They live in houses made of bamboo and cogon grass. Aetas are found in Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Panay, Bataan and Nueva Ecija, but were forced to move to resettlement areas in Pampanga and Tarlac following the devastating Mount Pinatubo eruption in June 1991.
Mountain Province: Mountain Province (Filipino: Lalawigang Bulubundukin), is a landlocked province of thePhilippines in the Cordillera Administrative Region in Luzon. Its capital is Bontoc... ...Based on the 2000 census survey, 52% of the population are Kankana-ey. Other ethnic groups living in the province are the Balangao 13.6%, Ibontoc 12%, and other ethnicity, such as the Ilocano, comprise about 21.6% of the province's population.
Igorots: Igorot, or Cordillerans, is the collective name of several Austronesian ethnic groups in The Philippines, who inhabit the mountains of Luzon. These highland peoples inhabit the six provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Kalinga, Ifugao, and Mountain Province, as well as Baguio City and the adjacent province of Nueva Vizcaya.
Indigenous people deserve our respect. The least we could do is to avoid miseducating the children about them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Body and Soul, Science and Religion

It was Holy Wednesday and here I was, giving a talk on antimalarial drugs at American University. In fact, I once gave a talk at the College of William and Mary on a Good Friday. This was certainly different from my experience growing up in the Philippines. Schools were closed during these days. Even the television made sure everyone felt that it was Holy Week.

The Christian faith does exert great influence on Philippine society. In some ways, this influence could be good especially if encourages people to pause and reflect. Unfortunately, religion at times can be used by people to impose on others what they think is good and right. In "Christians in Philippines Self-Flagellate in Bloody Holy Week Ritual", the Huffington Post writes:
Hundreds of barefoot Filipinos marched on roads, carrying heavy wooden crosses and whipping their backs until they bled on Thursday in an annual gory religious ritual as the mainly Catholic Philippines observed near the end of the Lenten season. 
Many Filipino devotees perform religious penance during the week leading up to Easter Sunday as a form of worship and supplication, a practice discouraged by Catholic bishops, but widely believed by devotees to cleanse sins, cure illness and even grant wishes.
The Catholic faith can therefore assume a different form and substance, one that can even stray from the prescribed teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It is therefore not surprising to see this sad and misguided influence even in basic education. The following is an example.

The photos below were copied from a Facebook post by Michael de Lara on the group called Filipino Freethinkers.

Cover of the book intended for 6th grade pupils on Geography, History and Social Studies, authored by Sonia M. Zaide

The first chapter begins with the proclamation that the Philippines is a country of God, and that wisdom comes from Christ. This chapter likewise makes the claim that the Philippines is a light for Asia, a special country, a precious "pearl of the orient", and that it is only through Christ that one can learn what is good and what is right. This part basically misguides Filipino children into thinking that morality is somehow exclusive to the Christian faith. There are other world religions that likewise address what is good and what is right.

The above text is written in Filipino. Below is the English translation:
Secondly, the theory of evolution is not scientific. The correct science states that each species comes from its own and not from a different one. Therefore, a fish can only give birth to a fish, and a gorilla can only give birth to a gorilla, and humans can only come from humans. It has never happened in history that a fish gives birth to a bird, or a gorilla giving birth to a gorilla that later becomes human.
Lastly, the theory of evolution does not deny the existence of God. Christians believe that a loving God created according to His image. We believe that humans came from God and that God loves humans.
"I do not want to believe that I came from a gorilla", said Abe. 
 "Me, too", said his friend, Ben. "Who among us would prefer to be considered as a gorilla look-alike". 
 "Not me", answered Pepe. "I praise God because His Word says that I was wonderfully created by God (Psalms 139:14).  
 "Amen to that", everyone said in unison.
The very first sentence that states that evolution is not scientific goes in stark contrast with what Pope John Paul II stated in his Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution.
Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical, some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis.
Pope John Paul II in the above sentence was referring to the encyclical Humani Generis authored by Pope Pius XII in 1950 which said,
For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.
Pope Francis in 2014 also stated,
“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a wand able to make everything. But it is not so.”
The textbook shown above is clearly in error not only in science, but also with regard to the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, yet it stays and continues to teach the wrong things to Philippine children.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

In High School Science, Students Are Somewhat Engaged But Not Challenged

Whenever I mention chemistry to other adults, most would remark on how difficult the subject was during their college years. Yet, in arguments that often require scientific thinking, adults would often exhibit remarkable confidence in their thinking. Equally astonishing is that the views, taken by the public on issues that involve science, are not as strongly correlated as one might predict with their level of education. This is one of the findings made by the Pew Research Center.

Scientific knowledge seems to play a major role only on the issues of building more nuclear power plants, safety in eating genetically modified foods, and the use of animals in research. In this survey, scientific knowledge is measured by a set of knowledge questions answered by the respondents. Thus, both scientific knowledge and educational attainment are not determined by the respondent's own perception. The remaining issues shown above, however, are often argued with passion that both sides seem to perceive themselves as experts.

Perceiving oneself as knowledgeable in science may actually be more widespread , in stark contrast to the common notion that chemistry is a scary subject. In fact, a recent study shows that students in high school generally do not feel that science subjects are challenging. Scheduled to appear in the Journal of Educational Psychology, a team of researchers surveyed more than 200 high school students and monitored their science classrooms to measure students' engagement and perception of challenge, as well as instructional support or obstruction from teachers. The results are shown in the following graphs (These are drawn based on the data provided in Perceived Challenge, Teacher Support, and Teacher Obstruction as Predictors of Student Engagement. Strati, Anna D.; Schmidt, Jennifer A.; Maier, Kimberly S. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 3 , 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000108):

On Engagement, the mean response shows that students are somewhat engaged as the average falls near the center of the scale.
When students are asked whether they feel challenged in their science classes, the answer is very close to "not at all".

The paper also looks at how much teachers either support or obstruct science learning, in both instrumental and emotional dimensions. Providing a scaffold and well-organized presentations are examples of instrumental support while the opposite, lack of learning resources typifies instrumental obstruction. On the emotional side, motivating a student is supportive while the use of sarcasm is obstructing. Here are the findings which show that teachers are generally supportive:

Above graph drawn from data provided by
Perceived Challenge, Teacher Support, and Teacher Obstruction as Predictors of Student EngagementStrati, Anna D.; Schmidt, Jennifer A.; Maier, Kimberly S. Journal of Educational Psychology, Mar 3 , 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/edu0000108

The paper aims to find correlations between engagement, challenge, support and obstruction. Unfortunately, there is an "elephant in the room". Students do not feel challenged in their high school science classes. With a low level of challenge, any correlation found does not carry too much weight. What the teacher does, supporting or obstructing, should not really matter too much. An important question obviously needs to be addressed. Do the students feel unchallenged because teachers have lowered the bar in these science classes? This is what the authors of the paper think.

However, I have a slightly different take. The degree of challenge reported here is what a student perceives. Seeing that there are so many adults who are likewise so confident in their scientific knowledge, perhaps it is the perception that is wrong.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

3rd petition against K to 12 program filed in Supreme Court

by Troy Colmenares

Rene Luis Tadle and Troy Colmenares
Above captured from YouTube video

If you are my friend, spare me this moment and read what i have prepared for you. If you are not my friend, unfriend and block me now.

Throwback Thursday pala ngayon. Pwede ba nating balikan kung saan tayo nagsimula? Kung bakit nga ba tayo napunta sa Korte Suprema?

At the time we filed the petition, many people were happy to see me on TV and read my name in the national paper. Sabi nung nakararami: "Congratulations, you did your part!", sabay handshake. Pero sa simula pa lang ay marami (sobrang dami!) nang nagsabi sa akin, quote: "There's nothing you can do!", end quote. Patapos magsalita.

Sinubukan kong lapitan ang lahat ng aking kakilala, kaibigan at pamilya. Marami sa kanila ang tumalikod dahil hindi nila nauunawaan ang dahilan kung bakit ayaw ko sa K12; yung iba gusto nila dahil nakabubuti raw ito. Yung dalangin ko umabot pa hanggang Baguio, at doon ko pa lang natagpuan ang isang tunay na tao'ng may malasakit sa bayan! Hindi niyo ba alam kung gaano kalungkot ako noong mga panahong iyon?

Sa mga panahong iyon, hindi ko na alam kung sino ang aking tunay na mga kaibigan, maliban na lamang sa mga taong todo-suporta pa rin hanggang ngayon, at mabibilang ko sila sa aking mga daliri. Sa dami ba namang taong natulongan ko dati, hindi ko inakala na wala ni isa sa kanila ang nagsabing "I have your back". Hindi ako naniningil ng utang na loob. Alam niyo noong mga panahong tumulong ako sa inyo, buong puso kong ibinigay ang higit sa aking makakaya. Nalulungkot lang ako na wala kayo sa panahong kailangan ko kayo. But I learned to accept that already.

We did our best to start the expose on how our Congress can be easily usurped by unelected officials. Boto po ninyo ang nakataya diyan at ang ipinaglalaban namin.

Karamihan sa inyo nakikita ko may mga hashtag na never again. Alam ba talaga ninyo ang sinasabi ninyo? Kasi sa palagay ko kung alam ninyo, mauunawaan ninyo kung bakit galit ako sa implementasyon ng k12.

Hindi niyo ba alam na tagilid ngayon ang ating demokrasya? Habang kayo ay nagbubulag-bulagan at nagpapakatanga sa tunay na nangyayari sa ating bansa, hindi ninyo namamalayan na lumalakas ang Executive branch natin, gaya noong kapanahunan ng Martial Law. Hindi po 'yan ang ipinaglaban ng mga nasawi sa panahon ng Martial Law. Ipinaglaban nila ang kalayaan natin ngayon, na siyang nagbigay sa atin ng napakagandang Saligang Batas, kung saan natin matatatagpuan ang dahilan kung bakit ang bansa natin ngayon ay isang demokrasya. 'Yan po ang batas na bumaba ng kapangyarihan ng Executive Branch, at ibinahagi sa Kongreso at Korte Suprema ang mga kapangyarihang inabuso ng ating diktador sa panahon ng Martial Law.

Subalit, ang Saligang Batas ngayon ay nasasaktan, inaalipusta, at inaapakan. Wala pong may mas nakakataas pa sa Saligang Batas. Not the President, not Congress, not the Supreme Court. Pero ano po ang nagyayari ngayon?

Pumunta kami sa Korte Suprema upang humingi ng tulong na mailigtas ang ating Salaging Batas sa kapahamakang naidulot at patuloy na idinudulot sa pag-implementa ng k12. Bakit nga ba?

1) DepEd Order 31 s. 2012 is being implemented on 4th year highschool students now. Kabilang po doon ang aking nakababatang kapatid. Noon ipinasa po ang Order na ito nang DepEd, wala pa pong batas ukol sa k12. 2nd year na po noong naipasa ang k12 law (RA 10533) at 2nd year highschool na po ang aking nakababatang kapatid noong panahon na 'yon. Ibig sabihin, siya at mga kaklase niya (mahigit 1 milyon sa buong bansa) ay pumasok sa 4 year highschool program, at hindi sa k12 program. Sana, papasok na sila ngayon sa kolehiyo sa Hunyo o Agusto. Pero ang Order na ito ang pumipigil sa kanila.

Alam naming mga law student, mga abogado, at mga taong may alam tungkol sa batas na ang isang department order ay walang bisa kung ito po ay walang basehang batas. Higit sa lahat, alam namin na kung wala po itong publication ay hindi po ito maiimplementa. Ganito po ang nangyari sa DepEd Order No. 31 s. 2012.

Pero dahil patuloy po'ng iniimplementa ang DepEd Order na ito, at dahil hindi po pinakinggan ang hiling namin na suspendehin ang programa, tayo po ay dapat na malungkot at magalit dahil hindi po ito naayon sa Saligang Batas na siyang nagsasabing hindi makakagawa ng isang batas ang executive branch kung wala po itong pahintulot mula sa Kongreso. Sakaling mangyari po ito, ay kinikuha po ng executive ang kapangyarihan ng Kongreso, at 'yan po ay ipinagbabawal ng ating Saligang Batas.

Anong pake ko? Kaya po ng kapatid ko na mag-aral habang-buhay, sa mga mamahaling institusyon, dito man o sa labas ng bansa. Pero ako po ay naaawa sa mga taong hindi ganoon ka swerte katulad ng kapatid ko. Hindi po nagbabago ang mga hinaing ng mga taong kumakayod para lang mabigyan ng kinabukasan ang kanilang mga anak na siyang apektado ng order na ito.

Sakaling ma invalidate po ang DepEd Order No. 31, hindi po magagamit ang RA 10533 dahil wala po itong retroactive application sa kapatod ko at sa mga kasama niyang 4th year highschool.

2) Ang pinirmahan po ni PNoy at ang batas na ipinasa ng Kongreso ay magkaiba. Umabot na po sa third reading at Joint Conference ang proseso ng pag-pasa ng RA 10533, at alam naming mga law student, abogado at taong may alam sa batas, na pagkatapos ng 3rd reading ay di na po pwedeng magdagdag o magbawas.

Ibig sabihin po kung may Joint Conference ay hindi po nagkaisa ang Kongreso, na binubuo po ng Lower House (House of Representatives) at Upper House (Senate). Sila po ay magpupulong-pulong para maabot ang siyang tanging minimithi sa batas na kanilang ipapasa, ang kalalabasan po nito ay makikita po ninyo sa Joint Conference Committee Report na nasa Senate Journal. Lalabas po ang consolidated version, at magiging enrolled bill po ito. Ang enrolled bill po ay siyang pipirmahan ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas upang maging isang batas (pwede rin po'ng i-veto pag di po siya sumasangayon at pwede po mawalang bisa ang veto pag inoverride ng Kongreso).

Nagkataon po na magkaiba ang consolidated version na nakalagay sa Senate Journal at ang enrolled bill. Hindi po ordinaryong dokumento ang Senate Journal. Pwede po itong tignan ng Korte Suprema kung may inconsistent at substantial discrepancies sa enrolled bill - nangyari na po ito noong 1974, sa Astorga vs. Villegas. At mangigibaw po ang Senate Journal.

Subalit ang nagyayari po ngayon ay nangingibabaw po ang enrolled bill na siyang naging RA 10533 (K12 Law). Ibig sabihin, pwede po palang dagdagan at bawasan kahit naipasa na sa 3rd reading at naconsolidate nang Joint Conference Committee. 'Yan po ay di naaayon sa Saligang Batas

3) Compulsory Kindergarten has no constitutional basis. Nakasulat po sa Saligang Batas na compulsory po ang Elementary Education. Ibig sabihin, lahat ay dapat makapasok sa Elementary. Dahil naging compulsory ang Kinder, hindi po makakapasok ang bata, kasama po diyan ang aking pamangkin, sa Elementary kung hindi makapasok sa Kinder. Ito po ay klarong paglabag sa Saligang Batas. Wala pong kapangyarihan ang Kongreso na dagdagan kung ano man ang nakasulat sa Saligang Batas. Ito po ay paglalapastangan sa Saligang Bata


Ito po ang mga tunay na dahilan kung bakit kami humihingi ng tulong sa Korte Suprema. Lantaran po ang pangagahasa sa ating Saligang Batas. Ang Korte Suprema po ang siyang huling hakbang upang maibalik ang balanse ng kapangyarihan ng demokrasya. Asahan po natin na gagawin po nila ang nararapat nilang gawin.

Sakaling ibasura po nila ang aming petisyon, hinihiling ko po sa inyo na tayo po ay mag people power at tayo po mismo ang mag restore ng demokrasya. Tayo po ang huling pag-asa ng Saligang Batas. 'Wag tayong matakot dahil sa atin po nanggaling kung ano man ang kapangyarihan na nasa gobyerno ngayon.

Hinihiling ko po ang inyong mga panalangin na gabayan po ng Amang Makapangyarihan ang ating mga Supreme Court Justices. Isama na rin po natin sa panalangin si Bro. Armin Luistro na siyang may pakana po nitong K12 na ito.

Hindo po ako galit sa mga kaibigan kong tumalikod sa akin. Tatanggapin ko po ang inyong mga panalangin, dahil ito po ang kailangan natin ngayon.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Press Statement from CoTeSCUP and the Suspend K-12 Coalition

The Suspend K-12 Coalition and the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), the lead petitioner, are deeply saddened by the decision of the Supreme Court to deny the prayer for issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or writ of preliminary injunction against K-12 filed by six different groups representing the broad spectrum of education stakeholders. This development, which came at the heels of the first anniversary of the filing of the first petition on 12 March 2015, is most unwelcome, considering the real and present situation on the ground that demands the attention and concern of the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court.
Right as we speak, the constitutional rights of affected education stakeholders are being violated. College teachers and staff are systematically being dismissed from their jobs, parents and students are confused and burdened with the additional costs of enrolling for Senior High School, and public school teachers deplore the lack of preparedness on the part of the government to implement K-12. Aside from the perennial problems besetting the public education system, such as the lack of education infrastructure, teachers, textbooks and learning materials, we face the challenge of our academic freedom being unduly sacrificed, the inadequacy of the “safety nets” being prepared by government agencies, and the low capacity of government to implement the K-12 Law despite the availability of government funding. These realities cannot and should not be ignored by those who have the power to stop the catastrophic consequences brought about by the K-12 Law.
We find solace in the fact, however, that the Supreme Court continues to deliberate on the issue of constitutionality of the said law, as we believe that the petitions are meritorious based on the various grounds presented by the petitioners. In consideration of this development, we will file a Motion for Reconsideration upon formal receipt of the decision, and once again appeal to the Honorable Justices to act on the urgency and merits of the petitions, and side with those adversely affected by the law. We continue to believe in the wisdom and prudence of the Supreme Court, and we seek compassion for all of us who have been marginalized by the K-12 Law. The framers of our Constitution envisioned a just and humane society anchored primarily on the rule of law, and this conviction emboldens us to ask from the Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court a just and humane ruling that protects the interests of those adversely affected by an ill-crafted law.
Suspend K-12 NOW!
Manila, Philippines
16 March 2016
Contact: Prof. Rene Luis M. Tadle
Lead Convener, CoTeSCUP and Suspend K-12 Coalition
rltadle@gmail.com / 0923-672-6069 / 0917-307-9697

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Reaction to the Philippines Supreme Court's Ruling on K to 12

Newspapers in the Philippines have reported that its Supreme Court had ruled against petitions to suspend DepEd's K to 12. My reading of this news is that there is no super majority among the justices who are currently inclined to rule against DepEd's K to 12. And perhaps, the court simply wants to wait and see what would happen when school starts in June before making the final decision on whether DepEd's K to 12 is constitutional or not.

Above copied from ABS-CBN

I am posting on this blog a reaction to the recent Supreme Court ruling by one of the petitioners, Troy Colmenares (with his kind permission).

by Troy Colmenares
INTERAKSYON: “The Court denied the prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and or writ of preliminary injunction,” SC Public Information Office Chief, lawyer Theodore Te said after the en banc session.
ABS_CBN: "The Supreme Court will continue to weigh in on the case and rule on its merits."
Rappler: "The Court denied the prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, the SC said in the press briefing Tuesday, March 15."
At the outset, this is not the first time SC made a PR Disaster. How It could possibly choose to call a "press briefing" without informing the parties concerned is definitely unacceptable and beyond the bounds of common courtesy. Thus, while the articles were being written, my co-petitioners and counsels were at limbo at what had been junked - the petition itself or the TRO and the Writ of Preliminary Injunction. To set the record straight, it is only now that we found out it was the TRO that was junked - after reading the news. Since when did public concern become a PR mileage?
I started making noise about the unconstitutionality of K-12 Program before the law was even passed. I got ignored by the public officials I reached out to, from the teachers, to the local Councilors, to my own Mayor, to the Office of the President not to mention DepEd, and to the Senate and Lower House. I sought for help in Bacolod City but to no avail. Who was I in the first place but an ordinary citizen? It took the caliber of a UST Professor Rene Luis Tadle to believe me and refer me to his friend, head of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Baguio Cheryl L. Daytec-Yañgot. Both Prof. Rene and Ate Chyt took me seriously and joined me in filing a class suit end of May 2015, now docketed as G.R. No. 218098. There were other petitions as well now docketed as: G.R. No. 216930, G.R. No. 217752, G.R. No. 218045, G.R. No. 218123, and G.R. No. 218465. My case is being handled pro bono by several lawyers at the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Baguio.
From the filing of the petitions up to the filing of several Urgent Motions to Issue a TRO, it is sad that it was only a year later that a resolution appears to have been issued (we have not even received it yet for heaven's sake!), dismissing thereby, WITHOUT HEARING THE MERITS OF THE UNANIMOUS PRAYERS FOR TRO IN AN ORAL ARGUMENT. How deaf can the court be? Myself aside, I have fellow petitioners who are members of the Congress of the Philippines, representing millions of voters, millions of students who could not enter tertiary education and their respective parents, and hundreds of thousands of teachers who will be displaced. For 32 weeks, with all due respect for the Court and the subjudice rule, we remained silent as to the merits of our causes of actions - contenting ourselves with one word from the court - "NOTED". Today, we cry rivers of tears to hear the TRO had been dismissed for reasons we do not even know, but the media does, without even hearing out some if not all of the petitioners. Could you imagine for us and the rest who had high hopes and regards for the Court of Last Resort? How the *bad word* does the Court expect me to become an officer of the court with this mockery to rights affecting both the present and future generations?
Courts all over the world are one in saying that "justice delayed is justice denied". Since end of May until 18 November 2015, we heard NOTHING from the respondents, except several motions for extension of time from the various parties - ENOUGH FOR THEM TO CREATE WIGGLE ROOMS BY ISSUING DEPARTMENTAL ORDERS THAT ARE ILL-CONCEIVED TO COVER UP AND CIRCUMVENT THEIR UNPREPAREDNESS.
In my case, our 55 pager petition, a combination of several brilliant minds that the country needs to prevent injustice, got a meagre 2-pager response in November from the OSG, merely reiterating what the Senate Journal contained. I am not, neither are my pro bono counsels and co-petitioners, stupid, to overlook that caveat. Is that all the added value that the OSG has? To state the obvious? With me are co-petitioners-taxpayers, and we deserve more than just a 2-pager response. If that is the case, why don't we hire copy-paste writers instead of lawyers in the government! But did the OSG hear from us? No! We had, and still have faith that the High Court would uphold the 1987 Constitution, as they should, and as they reportedly claim they would.
One of our causes of action is simple. DepEd Order No. 31 s. 2012 is implementing a K-12 Program that is only being conceived at the time in Congress. That is clearly an erosion of Congressional authority that requires a simple comparison of two dates: when the K-12 law was passed and when the DepEd Order was passed. That is a no brainer!!! It is exactly this DepEd Order that is stopping 4th year highschool students from moving up to college level, when they entered highschool under the 4 year highscool program of the 1982 Education Act. Did they not read our petition or do they lack the needed acumen to comprehend premises covered by common sense?
The situation is more fraught because the DepEd Order was never published, thus it is an internal communication but is being implemented as a law to the entire nation. Tañada vs. Tuvera is conclusive.
I am sorry for ranting like this, and I tried to contain myself since K-12's conception, birth and implementation, but now is the time for me to speak my thoughts once again as a human being with my universal right to speak my mind. How the Court could not see the urgency of the petitioners who unanimously sought for a TRO early last year makes them delusional unless they are trying to protect the Executive more than they should uphold the Constitution!
I had so much regard for the Supreme Court until today!
People Power will come your way. Worse, Duterte might just abolish and replace you under Martial Law. You better make your decision right.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Together Everyone Achieves More

When teachers work together, their objective is for all students to learn. In collaboration, everyone must benefit. When teachers compete against each other, one may think that students' learning outcomes can likewise improve. Unfortunately, in every contest, there is a winner and there is a loser. And winning can be simply based on having one's students outperform pupils of some other teachers. In basketball, soccer, or football, the fumbles of one team turn into trophies for the other team. For this reason, competition-based policies such as performance based bonuses can poison public basic education.

These are not just mere conjectures for there is evidence from research that when teachers collaborate, when teachers work as a team, students gain. A paper published in the American Educational Research Journal, "Teacher Collaboration in Instructional Teams and Student Achievement" looks at data obtained from over 9000 teachers in 300 Miami-Dade County public schools, and arrives at the conclusion that in schools where collaboration is of high quality and is helpful to teachers, students' performances in math and reading are enhanced.

Above copied from AER
The answer to why there is a correlation between quality collaboration among teachers and students' learning outcomes is perhaps captured by the following slogan from Literacy in Learning Exchange:

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Possible Detrimental Impacts of DepEd K to 12's TLE and TVL Tracks

In "The False Promise and Empty Threat of DepEd's K+12", data from countries all over the world are shared to show that "vocational education and training offers no guarantee as a solution to youth unemployment." Worse, a study from China now suggests that "vocational schooling as a substitute for academic schooling can have detrimental consequences for building human capital in developing countries such as China."

Above copied from the World Bank Economic Review (WBER)
DepEd's K to 12 senior high school years are categorized into different tracks. Using projections made by DepEd on the number of teachers required, it is anticipated that a super majority of the students are expected to take the Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) and Technical-Vocational-Livelihood (TVL) tracks. And within the Academic track, most are expected to take either the Accountancy, Business and Management or the Humanities and the Social Sciences strands, but not Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. With this in mind, it is indeed troubling to find that research from China demonstrates that vocational schooling leads to:

  1. an absolute reduction in math skills
  2. an increase in school dropouts
  3. greater gaps between low income, low ability pupils and advantaged students 
Therefore, we need to reiterate the major findings of the above WBER paper: 
Taken together, our findings suggest that the rapid expansion of vocational schooling as a substitute for academic schooling can have detrimental consequences for building human capital in developing countries such as China.
This is important especially in the Philippines' situation where students seem to have very limited options but to enroll in TLE or TVL tracks.

Above copied from Philippine Online Chronicles

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bishop Writes Letter to Supreme Court Regarding DepEd's K to 12

We would not be lamenting the loss of employment of college instructors and staff. We would not be worrying about what is going to happen in the next few months. Inadequate resources in education are about to be stretched even further. Indeed, both government and parents in the Philippines are staring at a problem of our own creation. Education policy makers must draw their plans based on evidence from research. The problems are quite clear. Basic education is failing in the early years. Schools that are supposed to produce teachers in basic education are not performing well. Adding two years to basic education does not solve these problems. DepEd K to 12 would only make the problems of Philippine basic education worse.

How would we get out of this mess? Below is a letter written by the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and is addressed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

March 9, 2016

Chief Justice
Supreme Court of the Philippines

Dear Chief Justice Sereno:

Greetings of Peace.

In May 2015, a group of college professors has approached me to ask for my guidance in regard to the challenges they faced due to the implementation of RA 10533 or the K-12 Law. This group, members of the organization Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities of the Philippines (CoTeSCUP), is the lead petitioner for the Temporary Restraining Order against the K-12 law filed at the Supreme Court on March 12, 2015.

In January of this year, this same group informed me that almost a year since the filing of the first petition, no substantial action has been taken by the Supreme Court to resolve the matter, except to have the first petition consolidated with the six other petitions that also questioned the constitutionality of the said law. I have been informed further that during this period, concerned government agencies such as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), have come up with guidelines and 'safety nets' that have no basis under the law, and severely inadequate to address the loss of income, job security, and academic freedom of college professors and staff. I was also made aware of the ill-preparedness of the government to implemeny the K-12 educational reform, considering the lack of education infrastructure and qualified teaching force, and the incapacity of government agencies to execute the said law despite the availability of government funding.

While I understand that the Supreme Court has to deliberate on many other cases, I would like to appeal to your office to prioritize the decision on the petitions for TRO against K-12. As I speak now, parents and students are at a loss on how to shoulder the additional burden of K-12, with the students unable to receive high school diploma, and proceed to college which they deserve. Teachers and staff find themselves defending their security of tenure while anticipating a decline in enrollment, with many part-time faculty and fixed-term contract faculty already being displaced. These conditions are unacceptable in a just and democratic society, and the delays in the ruling have already caused much anguish and anxiety on the part of affected education stakeholders.

It is clear that the K-12 Law has failed to provide substantial safety measures for our college teachers and staff in regard to their labor and economic rights which our Constitution upholds. Our teachers and staff are our partners in molding our young people and in building the nation, and the very least that our society can give them is the guarantee that their source of livelihood is protected and secured at all times.

The Holy Bible exhorts us to "Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31: 8-9)" I have come to appeal to you to immediately deliberate on the merits of the petitions, and rule in favor of the teachers and staff, parents, and students who are pushed to the margins by the K-12 Law.

May God bless us all.

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila

Monday, March 7, 2016

An Alternative to DepEd's K to 12

I was only six years old when my mother brought me to Centro Escolar University. It was registration day and my older sister was about to enroll in second grade. One teacher noticed me and asked if I was ready for school. I took an application form and completed it myself. Upon seeing that I could print my complete name and home address, the teacher told my mother that she should enroll me in first grade. I therefore skipped kindergarten.

In the early seventies, grade school in the Philippines started at the age seven. The entry age changed to six in 1999. Data on the official entrance age for primary education in various countries are provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. While most countries have moved to a younger entrance age, there are countries like Finland, Russia, Hungary and China which have maintained its entry age at seven.

Starting at age six with the former ten-year basic education program in the Philippines of course leads to high school graduates who are only sixteen years old. Thus, proponents of the DepEd's K to 12 curriculum often cite the young age of high school graduates as a good reason to lengthen the basic education curriculum. In a DepEd Discussion Paper, the following is stated as a reason behind K to 12:
Further, most graduates are too young to enter the labor force. This implies that those who do not pursue higher education would be unproductive or be vulnerable to exploitative labor practices. Those who may be interested to set up business cannot legally enter into contracts. 
This reasoning unfortunately is highly flawed. High school graduates are younger because the government has moved the school entry age to first grade to six years old. Secondly, even during my time, basic education has always been viewed as basic education. After high school, it was expected that we either continue our education in a college or a vocational school.

Addressing the problem of having high school graduates that are too young can be easily addressed without resorting to a dramatic change in basic education curriculum. Returning to seven years as the entrance age to first grade is one solution. A later entrance age can also address some of the challenges and problems of early childhood education.

Research on the effects of entrance age on learning outcomes points clearly that there is no disadvantage in delayed school entry.

A study made by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care in the United States concludes the following:
The results of this inquiry revealed, in the main, that in several respects having to do only with cognitive-academic functioning (and not at all with social-emotional functioning), children who began school at a somewhat older age performed better at the start of school, evinced greater improvement over the course of their first years of schooling, and functioned at a more advanced level in third grade than children who began school at a somewhat younger age.

Studies on entry age are inherently difficult because exceptions to the official age of schooling are rare. These instances often come with special circumstances that can easily bias comparisons. Nonetheless, since one cutoff date can still include classrooms of children with birth dates that theoretically can span an entire year, it is still possible to do a comparison. In Finland where the starting age is seven, it is found that relatively older students perform better than the younger ones up till sixth grade. The study published in Applied Economic Letters also concludes that this advantage disappears by ninth grade. According to a paper published in Economic Record an increase of only six months in starting school age in Australia apparently produces measurable positive effects for several subjects across different grades. Dee and Sievertsen, in a study involving Danish pupils found that "a one-year delay in the start of school dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age 7 (effect size = -0.7), a measure of self regulation with strong negative links to student achievement".

Nonetheless, in the Philippines where school dropouts happen as early as the primary years, it is important to take advantage of anything that can possibly improve learning outcomes in elementary education. The fact the pupils in Finland who are close to being eight years old when they enter first grade are performing better than younger classmates is noteworthy. Another, perhaps even more important reason for a later starting school entry age is childhood itself. I was browsing through Facebook this morning and I saw this photo of a child posted by a mother.

It does not reflect well on any basic education curriculum when a child is cramming for a test instead of enjoying a meal with a parent.
This blog does advocate for early childhood education but such education must be age-appropriate. Young children should not be denied their childhood. The elementary years must be free from cramming and homework. Science should be introduced as early as kindergarten but not with the mean spirit of high stakes tests or assessments.

Ellen Gamerman wrote in the Wall Street Journal seven years ago the following:
High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don't start school until age 7. 
Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they're way ahead in math, science and reading -- on track to keeping Finns among the world's most productive workers.
It's her response to the question, What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart?.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Know the Students

In Personalized Learning, Theodore Sizer wrote:
 "We cannot teach students well if we do not know them well. At its heart, personalized learning requires profound shifts in our thinking about education and schooling.
A part of this quote is the opening line in the introduction of a paper published in the South African Journal of Education. The South African researchers, Nyna Amin and Renuka Vithal, arrive however at an entirely opposite conclusion. These authors state the following in their abstract:
"A surprise finding for successful teaching, in what may be considered difficult yet not uncommon conditions of schooling in South Africa, is that knowing about students can be dangerous, and that not knowing students can be useful for teachers."
Back when I was in high school, I still remember when I was made aware by one of my teachers that he knew that I had only one pair of pants to wear to school. My first reaction was that my teacher simply had too much information. I was nervous for I did not know what my teacher would do with that information. How much a teacher knows about a student and what a teacher does with that knowledge are obviously two separate items. In my case, I was afraid that my teacher would do something that would humiliate me in front of the class.

Yet, it is easy to jump to the notion that teachers must know their students well. As Amin and Vithal relate in their paper, even when teachers are not going to use what they know about their students maliciously, or assume harmful generalizations, different outcomes may still result depending on what a teacher chooses to do. In one school, one teacher, Navin, chose to be caring while another teacher, Bernice, simply focused on teaching.
...teacher knowing of students' extremely severe and difficult backgrounds can result in undue attention to background, or alternatively, can obscure or undermine a focus on foregrounds and become debilitating, not only for learners, but also for teachers. Navin noted the time he spent on advising and supporting students, which, it might be argued, took place at the expense of educational tasks and actions. By consciously refusing to know students, Bernice made it possible for students to let go of their past and present hardships, and capacitated them to engage the main functions of schools, which was to teach and learn. Foreground offers an explanation for why Bernice is successful; it is a future-focused approach....
Of course, it is wrong to expect that every teacher can serve as a skilled social worker. For this reason, it is perhaps important not to cut short Sizer's statement. It simply must include the second part, "At its heart, personalized learning requires profound shifts in our thinking about education and schooling." Knowing one's students must focus on learning areas. After all, a teacher should be expected to be capable of addressing learning concerns and challenges.

Lyanne Melendez of ABC7 reports on a new initiative from the San Francisco school district:

"Finding out what goes on in the classroom from their perspective to help improve the way kids learn best." is an acceptable objective. This is obviously a much more limited scope. Going beyond this can easily end in a scenario similar to what the researchers in South Africa found.