The question of Mandarin keeps cropping up, too.
Looking for articles on edu-junkets to China, I found this:
Top San Francisco schools officials, who will consider expanding Mandarin language programs later this summer, quietly accepted a free trip to China recently to visit schools and meet with government officials who hope to persuade U.S. educators to expand Chinese curriculum.
Interim Superintendent Gwen Chan, five school board members and four principals made the unannounced trip from June 28 to July 4, spending time in Beijing and visiting schools across several provinces.
A staff member from the district's "multilingual programs department" also joined the entourage, which included about 400 schools officials from across the United States.
"This trip is not costing the school district any money," said Chan, whose first job in the district nearly 40 years ago was teaching Mandarin. "It is a goodwill and educational journey to promote Chinese immersion programs."
The Chinese government picked up the tab as part of its efforts to persuade U.S. schools to teach Mandarin, the official language of China.
The San Francisco contingent -- including board members Mar, Jill Wynns, Dan Kelly, Norman Yee and Eddie Chin -- said they found the trip inspirational.
"I feel it helps us understand a significant portion of our student body,'' said Mar.
Wynns said there was great value in seeing another society, "especially one from which so many of our students have come.''
The trip included excursions to the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square in addition to a speech by the Chinese minister of education in the Great Hall of the People.
Even though five elected school board members traveled together without a public announcement, Wynns said the trip did not violate California's open-meeting law known as the Ralph M. Brown Act because no official business was discussed.
Kelly put an even finer polish on the point:
"You could say it was a junket," he said. "Totally a junket. We did no real work at all."
China trip for top schools officials
- Jill Tucker, Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writers
Thursday, July 13, 2006
A: The point of junkets is to get junketeers to spend money. There is no free junket.
B: Open Meetings law applies to any gathering of a majority of the board. A special exception for junkets does not exist.