2010 | UNA Greater Seattle Chapter - Part 3

United Nations Association Greater Seattle Chapter

Educating World-Class Citizens

September 4th, 2010 by UNA Seattle

Primary Education GoalsThe United Nations has long held the belief that education is of the utmost importance for long-term well-being. In fact, the 2nd most important goal proposed in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, listed in priority after ending poverty and hunger, is to achieve universal primary education – specifically to “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.”

In the greater Seattle area, the goals – and concerns – are very similar. Right now, Seattle schools face many of the same challenges seen throughout the globe: low graduation rates, shrinking teacher wages and expanding classroom sizes, to name a few. But there are those among us who have a plan. Select local community members and educators are utilizing new media tools to successfully foster ideas and seed innovation among primary educators throughout the city. The links below explore the innovative projects helping to engage and serve the educational community of Seattle.

1. Why citizens should care about Seattle school contract negotiations

Seattle Times guest columnists Phil Bussey and Jeremy Jaech of the Our Schools Coalition argue that everyone should be concerned about the ongoing negotiations between the Seattle Education Association and Seattle Public Schools. Their nine-part proposal (described in detail at www.ourschoolscoalition.org) is rooted in driving positive student outcomes, and will result in new ways for teachers to be recognized, rewarded and compensated.

2. Do we owe kids more than netbooks?

Seattle-born freelance writer and content design consultant Christopher Dawson suggests that the notable Netbook might not be the next best wave of the future for local schools.

3. Denny International Middle School among those showing improvement

In a press release from the Seattle Public Schools today Denny International was included in those that showed improvement in math and writing and reading scores. Innovative professional development programs, such as the Studio math program, attributed with much success.

4. Looking for way that you can help Seattle schools succeed? Check out these volunteer opportunities with Seattle Public Schools!

• Be a tutor or a mentor

• Help students with homework

• Listen to children read

• Play educational games with students

• Assist with math or science

• Share information about local history

• Help students learn another language

• Support projects, activities, or field trips

• Assist with after-school programs

• Provide office support

• Become involved with school leadership

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/vol/vol_opps.xml

Please become a member of UNA of Greater Seattle, and join a movement of Americans who support responsible global leadership and a strong UN! www.unaseattle.org

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Upcoming UNA Sponsored Event

September 1st, 2010 by UNA Seattle

On April 28th, 2011, the United Nations Association (UNA), Greater Seattle Chapter will present “When the Wells Run Dry: the Water-Soil Connection,” a discussion of global water and soil conditions today as well as associated challenges in the poorest countries of the world.

University of Washington Professor David  Montgomery (geomorphology) and Stephen Gilbert, PhD, DABT (neurotoxicology) will address the critical present status of water scarcity and soil depletion, particularly as it relates to the United Nations Development Goal to ensure environmental sustainability.  Professor Montgomery, UW Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, is author of book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, published in 2007.  Dr. Gilbert, a MacArthur Fellow, is director of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders at the University of Washington in Seattle and works in lands such as Gaza where thousands are dying from a lack of water, food, and sanitation.  These topics relate to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals that our UNA chapter is helping to implement through education, funding, and outreach.

The event will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the UniversityTemple United Methodist Church, 1415 NE 43rd Street, Seattle, WA.  For information, contact the UNA office at 206-568-1959.

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Global Development: The Emerging Obama National Security Doctrine

June 7th, 2010 by UNA Seattle

Often important policy developments get lost when the news media continuously shifts its focus to the latest disaster or political brouhaha. Anyone wanting to follow the Obama administration’s approach to national security and how it has changed from the Bush-era’s largely go-it-alone posture must dig behind the headlines and through sometimes long and tedious documents.

This year will see the issuance of four important U.S. government reports that taken as a whole will define the Obama national (and global) security doctrine and its focus on U.N. Millennium Development Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development.

These reports are the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review Report (QDR), the President’s National Security Strategy (NSS), the (first-ever) State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), and the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD).

The QDR released in February, sheds a little light on how defense will be integrated into the 3D (diplomacy, development, and defense) approach to national security and global stability. It indicates a supportive role for the U.S. military:

Although the U.S. military can and should have the expertise and capacity to conduct these activities, civilian leadership of humanitarian assistance, development, and governance is essential.

The 2010 NSS, released in May, has much more to say about 3D. Secretary Clinton explained the new strategy and differences from previous NSSs in a speech to the Brookings Institute on May 27. Some excerpts:

“Democracy, human rights, development are mutually reinforcing and they are deeply connected to our national interests.”

“…I know from every bit of evidence we’ve ever done about the connection between development and democracy that women are the key to both, that changing conditions that enable women to attain more influence, more empowerment – through education, through health care, through jobs, through access to credit – literally changes the map of how people think about themselves, what they expect from their government. And we are going to continue to promote that as a very core interest of the United States.”

“We believe that if we’re going to be committed to development, we’re going to have to ask the American taxpayers to help pay for sending somebody else’s child to school or providing somebody else’s mother maternal healthcare, we’d better be able to show results.”

And the President’s National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones had this to say about the NSS and 3D:

“…going forward, there should be no doubt the United States of America will continue to underwrite global security. We will do so through our military advantage and we will do so through our wide-ranging commitments to allies, partners, and institutions. However, we must balance and integrate our military might with a whole-of-government approach. Our diplomacy and development capabilities must be modernized and our civilian expeditionary capacity strengthened to support the full breadth of our priorities.”

“…a detailed plan to use diplomacy, economic development, and engagement to build constructive relations to the Muslim world is an essential feature of our thinking.”

The last two documents have yet to be released, although a 7-page draft of the PSD surfaced on May 3. It addresses how development should involve all federal agencies. An excerpt:

The Obama Administration recognizes that development is essential to our security, prosperity, and values…Our investments in development…can facilitate the stabilization of countries emerging from conflict, address the poverty that is a common denominator in the myriad challenges we face, foster increased global growth, and reinforce the universal values we aim to advance.

Also of interest is how our relationship to the U.N. and other international bodies is being transformed. This will be discussed in a follow-up posting.

Of course, Congress will have much to say, and perhaps the last word, in shaping the U.S. approach to global development. On its agenda are foreign aid policy reform, foreign assistance budgets, and an energy policy that includes technical and financial aid to help developing nations adapt to climate change.

References:

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UNA’s Iran Tour Experiences

May 24th, 2010 by UNA Seattle

At one a.m. on Monday morning April 5th, when our KLM flight carrying 18 members of the United Nations Association of America landed at Tehran’s new international airport I wondered what additional security measures I would witness at the airport. Would there be revolutionary guards or soldiers posted all over? Would the security be a lot more visible than in November 2009, when I was here last. The airport was calm with no signs of any tension. We went through customs without a suite case being opened or anyone being questioned or searched. This was the second delegation sponsored in one year by the greater Seattle chapter of UNA to Iran. The members of this delegation came from WA, CT, WI, CA, and Zurich, Switzerland.

In the previous visit a year ago our delegation had been invited to visit two universities but considering the tensions within Iran it seemed prudent to not attempt to set up such meetings. From the appearance of things to an outsider the country seemed calm and our travels felt very safe. As we talked to university students on the streets or cafes, many students seemed very disheartened that the Green Movement that had seemed so promising a year ago had not produced any changes that they had struggled for. Several students talked about leaving Iran to live overseas. One of the most interesting issues was that almost no matter who we spoke to in Iran and what their political leanings were, every single person I talked to supported Iran’s desire to develop nuclear energy without being dependent on the west. Even the foes of President Ahmadinejad in Iran are staunch supporters of a technologically independent Iran.

No matter what the agendas of our two governments are, as a group of Americans we were embraced by Iranians and received the warmest welcome as always.

For some interesting articles on Iran please visit: http://www.solhtours.com/Articles_on_Iran.html

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Big Push Underway to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals

May 17th, 2010 by UNA Seattle

In September of 2000 the heads of the world’s nations, 190 strong, gathered at the UN in New York to adopt the Millennium Development Goals. The eight goals express the world’s commitment to end extreme poverty and hunger, promote health and education, and distribute more equitably the benefits of sustainable development, all by 2015.

With just five years remaining until the deadline, much remains to be done to achieve the goals, especially in some regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. The task has been made more difficult by the global financial crisis and by growing evidence that climate change is impacting agricultural productivity, a key sector in many developing economies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to attend a Summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to boost progress towards the MDGs. He has issued a call to member states to redouble efforts to achieve the MDGs, and has authored “Keeping the Promise” ( ), an action-oriented outcome report for the Summit.

Ban’s report identifies successes and gaps in achieving the MDGs, and lays out an agenda for 2010-2015. “Our world possesses the knowledge and resources to achieve the MDGs,” Mr. Ban says in the report. Falling short of the Goals “would be an unacceptable failure, moral and practical.”

The development plans of developing nations characteristically use the MDGs as the principle set of metrics for monitoring their progress. They see the goals holistically, while rich world nations and NGOs are often focused on specific programs that usually encompass one goal and a limited range of targets.

In his first address to the UN General Assembly last September, President Obama said: “We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.”

This would seem to indicate that the US will play a lead role in this year’s MDGs Summit and that planning now underway in the Department of State and other agencies involved in development assistance will reflect that leadership.

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