16 de setembro de 2014


Posted: 16 Sep 2014 06:30 AM PDT, Educatio Next

It is widely understood that there are vast differences in the quality of teachers: we’ve all had really good, really bad, and decidedly mediocre ones. Until recently, teachers were deemed qualified, and were compensated, solely according to academic credentials and years of experience. Classroom performance was not considered. In the last decade, researchers have used student achievement data to quantify teacher performance and thereby measure differences in teacher quality. Among the recent findings is evidence that having a better teacher not only has a substantial impact on students’ test scores at the end of the school year, but also increases their chances of attending college and their earnings as adults (see “Great Teaching,” research, Summer 2012).
ednext_XV_1_whitehurst_img01In response to these findings, federal policy goals have shifted from ensuring that all teachers have traditional credentials and are fully certified to creating incentives for states to evaluate and retain teachers based on their classroom performance. We contribute to the body of knowledge on teacher evaluation systems by examining the actual design and performance of new teacher-evaluation systems in four school districts that are at the forefront of the effort to evaluate teachers meaningfully.
We find, first, that the ratings assigned teachers by the districts’ evaluation systems are sufficiently predictive of a teacher’s future performance to be used by administrators for high-stakes decisions. While evaluation systems that make use of student test scores, such as value-added methods, have been the focus of much recent debate, only a small fraction of teachers, just one-fifth in our four study districts, can be evaluated based on gains in their students’ test scores. The other four-fifths of teachers, who are responsible for classes not covered by standardized tests, have to be evaluated some other way, including, in our districts, by basing the teacher’s evaluation score on classroom observations, achievement test gains for the whole school, performance on nonstandardized tests chosen and administered by each teacher to her own students, and by some form of “team spirit” rating handed out by administrators. In the four districts in our study, classroom observations carry the bulk of the weight, comprising between 50 and 75 percent of the overall evaluation scores for teachers in non-tested grades and subjects.
As a result, most of the action and nearly all the opportunities for improving teacher evaluations lie in the area of classroom observations rather than in test-score gains. Based on our analysis of system design and practices in our four study districts, we make the following recommendations:
1) Teacher evaluations should include two to three annual classroom observations, with at least one of those observations being conducted by a trained observer from outside the teacher’s school.
2) Classroom observations that make meaningful distinctions among teachers should carry at least as much weight as test-score gains in determining a teacher’s overall evaluation score when both are available.
3) Most important, districts should adjust teachers’ classroom-observation scores for the background characteristics of their students, a factor that can have a substantial and unfair influence on a teacher’s evaluation rating. Considerable technical attention has been given to wringing the bias out of value-added scores that arises because student ability is not evenly distributed across classrooms (see “Choosing the Right Growth Measure,” research, Spring 2014). Similar attention has not been paid to the impact of student background characteristics on classroom-observation scores.
Observations vs. Value-Added
The four urban districts we study are scattered across the country. Their enrollments range from about 25,000 to 110,000 students, and the number of schools ranges from roughly 70 to 220. We have from one to three years of individual-level data on students and teachers, provided to us by the districts and drawn from one or more of the years from 2009 to 2012. We begin our analysis by examining the extent to which the overall ratings assigned to teachers by the districts’ evaluation systems are predictive of the teacher’s ability to raise test scores and the extent to which they are stable from one year to the next. The former analysis can be conducted only for the subset of teachers with value-added ratings, that is, teachers in tested grades and subjects. In contrast, we can examine the stability of overall ratings for all teachers included in the districts’ evaluation systems.
We find that the overall evaluation scores in one year are correlated with the same teachers’ value-added scores in an adjacent year at levels ranging from 0.33 to 0.38. In other words, teacher-evaluation scores based on a number of components, including teacher- and school-level value-added scores, classroom-observation scores, and other student and administrator ratings, are quite predictive of a teacher’s ability to raise student test scores the following (or previous) year. The year-to-year correlation is in keeping with the findings from prior research on value-added measures when used on their own as a teacher-performance metric. The degree of correlation confirms that these systems perform substantially better in predicting future teacher performance than traditional systems based on paper credentials and years of experience. These correlations are also in the range that is typical of systems for evaluating and predicting future performance in other fields of human endeavor, including, for example, those used to make management decisions on player contracts in professional sports.
We calculate the year-to-year stability of the evaluation scores as the correlation between the overall scores of the same teachers in adjacent years. The stability generated by the districts’ evaluation systems ranges from a bit more than 0.50 for teachers with value-added scores to about 0.65 when value-added is not a component of the score. Evaluation scores that do not include value-added are more stable because they assign more weight to observation scores, which are more stable over time than value-added scores.
Why are observation scores more stable? The difference may be due, in part, to observations typically being conducted by school administrators who have preconceived ideas about a teacher’s effectiveness. If a principal is positively disposed toward a particular teacher because of prior knowledge, the teacher may receive a higher observation score than the teacher would have received if the principal were unfamiliar with her or had a prior negative disposition. If the administrator’s impression of individual teachers is relatively sticky from year to year, then it will be less reflective of true teacher performance as observed at a particular point of time. For this reason, maximizing stability may not increase the effectiveness of the evaluation system.
This leaves districts with important decisions to make regarding the tradeoff between the weights they assign to value-added versus observational components for teachers in tested grades and subjects. Our data show that there is a tradeoff between predicting observation scores and predicting value-added scores of teachers in a subsequent year. Figure 1 plots the ability of an overall evaluation score, computed based on a continuum of different weighting schemes, to predict teachers’ observation and value-added scores in the following year. The optimal ratio of weights to maximize predictive power for value-added in the next year is about two to one (value-added to observations), whereas maximizing the ability to predict observations requires putting the vast majority of weight on observations.
We do not believe there is an empirical solution for the ideal weights to assign to observation versus value-added scores. The assignment of those weights depends on the a priori value the district assigns to raising student test scores, the confidence it has in its classroom-observation system as a tool for both evaluation and professional development, and the political and practical realities it faces in negotiating and implementing a teacher-evaluation system.
At the same time, there are ranges of relative weighting—namely between 50 and 100 percent value-added—where significant increases in the ability to predict observation scores can be obtained by increasing the weight assigned to observations with relatively little decrease in the ability to predict value-added. Consequently, most districts considering only these two measures should assign a weight on observations of at least 50 percent.
Classroom Observation
The structure, frequency, and quality of the classroom observation component are also important. The observation system in place should make meaningful distinctions among teachers. An observation system that provides only two choices, satisfactory and unsatisfactory, for example, will result in similar ratings being given to most teachers. As a result, the observation component will not carry much weight in the overall evaluation score, regardless of how much weight is officially assigned to it. An evaluation system with little variation in observation scores would also make it very difficult for teachers in nontested grades and subjects to obtain very high or low total evaluation scores; they would all tend to end up in the middle of the pack, relative to teachers for whom value-added scores are available.
In all of our study districts, the quality of information garnered from classroom observations depends on how many are conducted. Figure 2 shows that moving from one to two observations (independent of who conducts them) increases both the stability of observation scores and their predictive power for value-added scores in the next year. Adding additional observations continues to increase the stability of observation scores but has no further effect on their predictive power for future value-added scores.
In districts that use a mix of building leaders and central administration staff to conduct classroom observations, the quality of the information also depends on who conducts the observations. Observations conducted by in-building administrators, e.g., the principal, are more stable (0.61) than those done by central administration staff (0.49), but observations conducted by evaluators from outside the building have higher predictive power for value-added scores in the next year (0.21) than those done by administrators in the building (0.15). The higher year-to-year stability of observations conducted by the principal or assistant principal compared to out-of-building observers is consistent with our hypothesis that a principal’s observation is influenced by both her preexisting opinion about a given teacher and the information that is derived from the classroom observation itself.
Classroom observations are expensive, and, for the majority of teachers, they are the most heavily weighted contributor to their individual evaluation score. Observations also have a critical role to play for principals who intend to be instructional leaders, as they present a primary point of contact between the school leader and classroom teaching and learning. It is important to balance what are, in part, the competing demands of empowering the school leader to lead, spending no more than necessary in staff time and money to achieve an effective observation system, and ensuring that observation scores are based on what is observed rather than on extraneous knowledge and prior relationships between the observer and the teacher.
Our data suggest that three observations provide about as much value to administrators as five. We recommend that districts conduct two to three annual classroom observations for each teacher, with at least one of those being conducted by a trained observer from outside the teacher’s school without substantial prior knowledge of, or conflict of interest with respect to, the teacher being observed. Districts should arrange for an additional classroom observation by another independent observer in cases in which there are substantial and potentially consequential differences between the observation scores generated by the primary observers.
Bias in Observation Scores
A teacher-evaluation system would clearly be intolerable if it identified teachers in the gifted and talented program as superior to other teachers because students in the gifted and talented program got higher scores on end-of-year tests. Value-added metrics mitigate this bias by measuring test-score gains from one school year to the next, rather than absolute scores at the end of the year, and by including statistical controls for characteristics of students and classrooms that are known to be associated with student test scores, such as students’ eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch.
But as noted above, classroom observations, not test-score gains, are the major factor in the evaluation scores of most teachers in the districts we examined, ranging from 40 to 75 percent of the total score, depending on the district and whether the teacher is responsible for a classroom in a tested grade and subject. Neither our four districts, nor others of which we are aware, have processes in place to address the possible biases in observation scores that arise from some teachers being assigned a more-able group of students than other teachers.
Imagine a teacher who, through the luck of the draw or administrative decision, gets an above-average share of students who are challenging to teach because they are less well prepared academically, aren’t fluent in English, or have behavioral problems. Now think about what a classroom observer is asked to judge when rating a teacher’s ability. For example, in a widely used classroom-observation system created by Charlotte Danielson, a rating of “distinguished” on questioning and discussion techniques requires the teacher’s questions to consistently provide high cognitive challenge with adequate time for students to respond, and requires that students formulate many questions during discussion. Intuitively, the teacher with a greater share of students who are challenging to teach is going to have a tougher time performing well under this rubric than the teacher in the gifted and talented classroom.
This intuition is borne out in our data: teachers with students with higher incoming achievement levels receive classroom- observation scores that are higher on average than those received by teachers whose incoming students are at lower achievement levels. This finding holds when comparing the observation scores of the same teacher with different classes of students. The latter finding is important because it indicates that the association between student incoming achievement levels and teacher-observation scores is not due, primarily, to better teachers being assigned better students. Rather, it is consistent with bias in the observation system; when observers see a teacher leading a class with higher-ability students, they judge the teacher to be better than when they see that same teacher leading a class of lower-ability students.
Figure 3 depicts this relationship using data from teachers in tested grades and subjects for whom it is possible to examine the association between the achievement levels of students that teachers are assigned and the teachers’ classroom-observation scores. Notice that only about 9 percent of teachers assigned a classroom of students who are “lowest achieving” (in the lowest fifth of academic performance based on their incoming test scores) are identified as top-performing based on classroom observations, whereas the expected outcome would be 20 percent if there were no association between students’ incoming ability and a teacher’s observation score. In contrast, four times as many teachers (37 percent) whose incoming students are “highest achieving” (in the top fifth of achievement based on incoming test scores) are identified as top performers according to classroom observations.
This represents a serious problem for any teacher-evaluation system that places a heavy emphasis on classroom observations, as nearly all current systems are forced to do because of the lack of measures of student learning in most grades and subjects. Fortunately, there is a straightforward fix to this problem: adjust teacher-observation scores based on student background characteristics, which, unlike prior test scores, are available for all teachers. We implement this adjustment using a regression analysis that calculates each teacher’s observation score relative to her predicted score based on the composition of her class, measured as the percentages of students who are white, black, Hispanic, special education, eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, English language learners, and male. These background variables are all associated with entering achievement levels, but we do not adjust for prior test scores directly because doing so is only possible for the minority of teachers in tested grades and subjects.
Such an adjustment for the makeup of the class is already factored in for teachers for whom value-added is calculated, because student gains are adjusted for background characteristics. But the adjustment is only applied to the value-added portion of the evaluation score. For the teachers in nontested grades and subjects, whose overall evaluation score does not include value-added data, there is no adjustment for the makeup of their class in any portion of their evaluation score.
When classroom-observation scores are adjusted for student background characteristics, the pattern of observation scores is much less strongly related to the incoming achievement level of students than is the case when raw classroom-observations scores are used. A statistical association remains between incoming student achievement test scores and teacher ratings based on classroom observations, but it is reduced substantially.
States have an important role to play in helping local districts make these statistical adjustments. In small districts, small numbers of students and teachers will make these kinds of adjustments very imprecise. We estimate the magnitude of this issue by creating simulated small districts from the data on our relatively large districts, and find that the number of observations in the adjustment model can have a large impact on the stability of the resulting evaluation measures.
The solution to this problem is also straightforward. States should conduct the statistical analysis used to make adjustments using data from the entire state, or subgroups of demographically similar districts, and provide the information necessary to calculate adjusted observation scores back to the individual districts. The small number of states that already have evaluation systems in place address this issue by calculating value-added scores centrally and providing them to local school districts. This should remain the norm and be expanded to include observation scores, given the important role they play in the evaluations of all teachers.
A new generation of teacher-evaluation systems seeks to make performance measurement and feedback more rigorous and useful. These systems incorporate multiple sources of information, including such metrics as systematic classroom observations, student and parent surveys, measures of professionalism and commitment to the school community, more differentiated principal ratings, and test-score gains for students in each teacher’s classrooms.
Although much of the impetus for new approaches to teacher evaluation comes from policymakers at the state and national levels, the design of any particular teacher-evaluation system in most states falls to individual school districts and charter schools. Because of the immaturity of the knowledge base on the design of teacher-evaluation systems, and the local politics of school management, we are likely to see considerable variability among school districts in how they go about evaluating teachers.
That variability is a double-edged sword. It offers the opportunity to study and learn from natural variation in the design of evaluation systems, but it also threatens to undermine public support for new teacher-evaluation systems to the extent that the natural variation suggests chaos, and is used by opponents of systematic teacher evaluation to highlight the failures of the worst-performing systems. The way out of this conundrum is to accelerate the process by which we learn from the initial round of district experiences and to create leverage points around that learning that will lift up the weakest evaluation systems.
Our examination of the design and performance of the teacher-evaluation systems in four districts provides reasons for optimism that new, meaningful evaluation systems can be designed and implemented by individual districts. At the same time, we find that our districts share, to one degree or another, design decisions that limit their systems’ performance, and that will probably be seen as mistakes by stakeholders as more experience with the systems accrues. We focus our recommendations on improving the quality of data derived from classroom observations. Our most important recommendation is that districts adjust classroom observation scores for the degree to which the students assigned to a teacher create challenging conditions for the teacher. Put simply, the current observation systems are patently unfair to teachers who are assigned less-able and -prepared students. The result is an unintended but strong incentive for good teachers to avoid teaching low-performing students and to avoid teaching in low-performing schools.
A prime motive behind the move toward meaningful teacher evaluation is to assure greater equity in students’ access to good teachers. A teacher-evaluation system design that inadvertently pushes in the opposite direction is clearly undesirable. We have demonstrated that these design errors can be corrected with tools in hand.
Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst is director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, where Matthew M. Chingos is a senior fellow, and Katharine M. Lindquist is a research analyst.

Nota de falecimento da professora Fúlvia Rosemberg

Mi Pésame!


A ANPEd manifesta seu pesar pelo falecimento da professora e pesquisadora Fúlvia Maria de Barros Mott Rosemberg e se solidariza com familiares, amigos e amigas
A professora Fúlvia Rosemberg graduou-se em Psicologia pela Universidade de São Paulo, em 1965, e realizou seu doutorado em Psicologia da Infância na Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes /Université de Paris, em 1969. Era professora titular da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, onde coordenou o Negri (Núcleo de Estudos de gênero, raça e idade). Atuou também como pesquisadora consultora da Fundação Carlos Chagas. No ano de 2010, representando o Movimento Interfóruns de Educação Infantil do Brasil (MIEIB) e a ANPEd, concedeu depoimento ao Senado sobre Projeto de Lei de alteração da LDB (PLS 414 e PLC 6755). Na ocasião, teve como linha mestra de argumentação “a necessidade de uma revisão urgente, consistente e reflexiva da LDB, particularmente no que diz respeito à educação infantil (creches e pré-escolas), em decorrência da Emenda Constitucional 59/09 (EC 59/09) que instituiu a obrigatoriedade da educação básica para crianças e jovens entre 4 e 17 anos de idade”. A íntegra de seu depoimento ao Senado Federal pode ser acessada aqui. A educação brasileira perde neste mês de setembro de 2014 uma investigadora qualificada e engajada em questões sensíveis dos direitos sociais, notadamente, na luta contra as desigualdades de gênero, raça e idade no Brasil.


San Luis(Provincia Argentina) premia con U$S 1.200 a los alumnos que no se llevan materias

"Se presentó a rendir un 23% más y mejoró un 33% el promedio", dijo el ministro de Educación de esa San Luis Marcelo Sosa.
El ministro de Educación de San Luis, Marcelo Sosa, resaltó los resultados del programa educativo “Estampillas para mi futuro”, que permite cobrar U$1.200 a alumnos de sexto año que no deban materias.

“El programa logró que los chicos volvieran a la escuela. Permitió que un 23% más de chicos se presentaran a rendir y mejoraron en un 33% los promedios”, dijo el ministro.

“La cantidad de chicos que han dejado de repetir equivale a 11 escuelas de tamaño mediano”, agregó Sosa.

Desde el primer día se septiembre los alumnos de las escuelas secundarias de San Luis que se encuentran en el último año, no adeudan ninguna materia y, habiendo transcurrido los dos primeros trimestres, no tengan en riesgo asignatura, están en condiciones de canjear las estampillas escolares. 

Las estampillas se les entregan a los chicos que pasan de año, a lo largo de toda la primaria y secundaria y alcanzan un de U$1.200. Pueden ser canjeadas, cuando terminan sus estudios, por la totalidad del monto o en el porcentaje que los alumnos lo decidan. 

“Otro de los objetivos es fomentar la cultura del ahorro”, reconoció Sosa.

“El paraguas bajo el cual se ampara este proyecto son los 190 días de clase que en San Luis se cumplen en su totalidad”, dijo el ministro.

Brasil tem dois museus entre os 25 melhores do mundo; veja ranking

16 Setembro 2014 | 07h 00

Instituto Ricardo Brennant e Inhotim foram bem avaliados pelos usuários do site TripAdvisor

Inhotim, em Minas Gerais, ficou bem classificado
Dois museus brasileiros estão entre os 25 melhores do mundo segundo um prêmio do site de viagens TripAdvisor. O Instituto Ricardo Brennand, no Recife, ficou em 17º lugar, enquanto Inhotim, em Minas Gerais, ficou na 23° posição. O instituto recifense está acima do Louvre, em Paris, um dos mais famosos do mundo, que atingiu a 19°posição. O Art Institute of Chicago garantiu o 1° lugar mundial.
O Travelers' Choice Museus 2014, que reconhece os melhores museus do mundo de acordo com a opinião dos 280 milhões de usuários mensais do site, será anunciado globalmente nesta terça-feira, 16. No total, 509 museus foram classificados.
Instituto Ricardo Brennand é um dos melhores museus do mundo
Na América do Sul, o Instituto Ricardo Brennand e Inhotim ficaram em 1° e 2° lugar, respectivamente, superando os resultados de 2013. No ano passado, a instituição mineira aparecia apenas em 3° lugar, atrás do Museu do Ouro, em Bogotá, e do Museu Larco, em Lima. O Instituto Ricardo Brennand nem constava nos melhores do continente. Entre os dez melhores, ainda aparece o Museu da Língua Portuguesa em 4°, a Pinacoteca de São Paulo em 7°, o Museu do Futebol em 9° e o Catavento em 10°.
A cidade de São Paulo teve cinco representantes entre os top 10 brasileiros.
Veja os rankings:
1) Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Estados Unidos)
2) Museo Nacional de Antropologia (Cidade do México, México)
3) State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace (São Petesburgo, Rússia)
4) The Getty Center (Los Angeles, Estado Unidos)
5) Galleria dell'Accademia (Florença, Itália)
6) Musée d'Orsay (Paris, França)
7) The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Nova York, Estados Unidos)
8) The Acropolis Museum (Atenas, Grécia)
9) Museo Nacional del Prado (Madri, Espanha)
10) Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial (Jerusalém, Israel)
11) The National WWII Museum (Nova Orleans, Estados Unidos)
12) National Gallery (Londres, Inglaterra)
13) Vasa Museum (Estocolmo, Suécia)
14) National Gallery of Art (Washington, Estados Unidos)
15) British Museum (Londres, Inglaterra)
16) Hagia Sophia Museum (Istambul, Turquia)
17) Instituto Ricardo Brennand (Recife, Brasil)
18) Galleria Borghese (Roma, Itália)
19) Musée du Louvre (Paris, França)
20) The Rijksmuseum - National Museum (Amsterdã, Holanda)
21) Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Washington, Estados Unidos)
22) The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses (Xi'an, China)
23) Inhotim (Brumadinho, Brasil)
24) Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington, Nova Zelândia)
25) Museo del Oro (Bogotá, Colômbia)
1) Instituto Ricardo Brennand (Recife)
2) Inhotim (Brumadinho)
3) Museu da Língua Portuguesa (São Paulo)
4) Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo)
5) Museu do Futebol (São Paulo)
6) Museu Imperial (Petrópolis)
7) Catavento Cultural (São Paulo)
8) Museu de Ciências e Tecnoligia da PUCRS (Porto Alegre)
9) Museu da Gente Sergipana (Aracaju)
10) Museu da TAM (São Carlos)

Fixing Climate Change May Add No Costs, Report Says

A wind turbine being installed in northern France. Research says the benefits of such efforts may offset the cost of subsidies. CreditBenoit Tessier/Reuters
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In decades of public debate about global warming, one assumption has been accepted by virtually all factions: that tackling it would necessarily be costly. But a new report casts doubt on that idea, declaring that the necessary fixes could wind up being effectively free.
A global commission will announce its finding on Tuesday that an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years, an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure.
When the secondary benefits of greener policies — like lower fuel costs, fewer premature deaths from air pollution and reduced medical bills — are taken into account, the changes might wind up saving money, according to the findings of the group, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
“We are proposing a way to have the same or even more economic growth, and at the same time have environmental responsibility,” said the chairman of the commission, Felipe Calderón, the former president of Mexico and an economist. “We need to fix this problem of climate change, because it’s affecting all of us.”
The commission found that some $90 trillion is likely to be spent over the coming 15 years on new infrastructure around the world. The big challenge for governments is to adopt rules and send stronger market signals that redirect much of that investment toward low-emission options, the report found.
“This is a massive amount of investment firepower that could be geared toward building better cities, and better infrastructure for energy and agriculture,” said Jeremy Oppenheim, who led the research for the report.
While the commission found that the requisite steps may make economic sense, that does not mean they will be politically easy, the report says. For instance, the group will recommend that countries eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels, which cost about $600 billion a year but are vigorously defended by vested interests.
It will urge nations to take a fresh look at the potential ofrenewable energy, whose costs are plummeting, and also recommend the adoption of initiatives to halt destruction of forests, use land more efficiently and limit wasteful urban sprawl, among many other steps.
The claim that the side benefits, such as better air quality, could potentially offset the costs is likely to be controversial.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, found in a report earlier this year that these side benefits are real, but it declined to attach a specific value to them because the methodology for doing so is difficult and uncertain. The exercise requires, for instance, defining the economic worth of improved human health.
Ottmar G. Edenhofer, a German climate economist who helped lead that earlier effort, said in an interview Monday that he was doubtful about the precise values for the side benefits cited in the new report. He served as an adviser to the global commission, but is not an author of the final document.
“The assumption and the argument that this can be done for free, that’s from my point of view overly optimistic,” Dr. Edenhofer said. “Yes, you rescue some lives, but to assign monetary values to this is particularly complicated.”
Dr. Edenhofer added, however, that the recommendations in the new report were generally sensible and, if adopted, would help to put the world on a more sustainable path. “Climate policy is not a free lunch, but it is a lunch worthwhile to buy,” he said.
Some of the report’s recommendations, such as limiting urban sprawl and traffic, may sound utopian, but it cites examples of countries and cities that are already taking such action.
More than a hundred cities in the developing world, for instance, have built fast bus systems using dedicated roads or lanes, achieving efficient public transport at a fraction of the cost of rail systems. Congestion charges in cities likeLondon, Stockholm and Singapore have sharply cut car trips. China is launching ambitious measures to try to gain control of urban sprawl.
If a concerted worldwide push were made to scale up ideas that have already proved successful, the commission found, emissions of heat-trapping gases could be reduced by billions of tons per year, and the chances of limiting global warming to tolerable levels would be greatly improved.
The findings come one week before world leaders, including President Obama, gather in New York to discuss climate change. Most experts do not expect any big breakthroughs, but tens of thousands of people are expected to march in the streets of New York and other cities on Sunday to demand stronger action.
The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate was appointed by seven countries spanning the income spectrum: Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The commission enlisted some of the world’s top economists and business consultants to take a fresh look at the economic questions surrounding climate change. The report, due for release Tuesday morning, was made available in advance to The New York Times.
The report seeks to upend some longstanding assumptions. It points out, for instance, that the cost of renewable energy has been plunging so fast that most previous analyses of its potential role are out of date. “Renewable energy sources have emerged with stunning and unexpected speed as large-scale, and increasingly economically viable, alternatives to fossil fuels,” the report said.
Perhaps the most important overall point of the report is that economic policies around the world are still aligned to favor fossil fuels, even though unchecked emissions from coal, oil and natural gas represent a potentially grave risk to future generations. “We have to get the prices right,” said Helen Mountford, who worked on the report and is the director of economics at the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank.
Nowhere is this issue clearer, the commission said, than in the $600 billion a year spent to subsidize fossil fuels, more than six times the level of subsidies going to renewable energy.
The fossil-fuel subsidies have been reduced in most Western countries and are now relatively low. They are still enormous in some developing countries, especially those that are major oil exporters, where cheap gasoline is seen as something of a national birthright. Venezuela, for instance, sells gasoline for about 6 cents a gallon, encouraging profligate consumption.
Countries that try to eliminate such subsidies too quickly can run into political problems. This summer, a sudden doubling of fuel prices in Yemen set off riots. But gradual price increases can work, and some experts have called for a much greater focus by institutions like the World Bank on helping countries eliminate subsidies.

China: Tratamiento para Adictos a Internet

Entramos en un cuartel de disciplina militar anti-Red para adolescentes chinos. Una terapia de choque recetada por el Ejército Popular

Lu Jun Song, de 13 años, se somete a un chequeo médico y a un encefalograma para conocer si sufre alguna disfunción cerebral. Es su primer día en la clínica fundada por Tao Ran, psiquiatra y coronel del Ejército Popular de Liberación, y que depende del Hospital Militar General de Pekín. / FERNANDO MOLERES
Chen Fei está desconcertado y nervioso. Sabe que algo no cuadra, pero es incapaz de adivinar lo que se le avecina. Sus padres le dijeron que iban a pasar unos días juntos en Pekín aprovechando el inicio de las vacaciones escolares de verano, pero el centro al que le han llevado es cualquier cosa menos un lugar de ocio. Situado en el extremo sur de la capital china, en el distrito obrero de Daxing, el anodino edificio que antes albergó un instituto de tecnología acoge ahora a un nutrido grupo de 70 niños y jóvenes ataviados con camisetas militares. Su denominador común salta a la vista: gafas, hombros caídos, cuello doblado y mínima resistencia física. Son la antítesis de los enérgicos soldados que sirven aquí de monitores. Chen, nombre ficticio de este obeso adolescente de 16 años, los mira a todos de reojo mientras espera en el patio a que sus padres salgan de una reunión cuyo contenido desconoce. Comienza a sospechar que todo es una trampa. Y no le falta razón.
En un pequeño cuarto del interior del centro, su madre es incapaz de contener el llanto cuando explica a un psiquiatra el porqué del viaje a Pekín desde la provincia central de Henan en la que viven, situada a unos mil kilómetros. “La adicción a Internet de nuestro hijo está destrozando la familia. No podemos aguantarlo más. Hace dos años que comenzó a frecuentar los cibercafés para jugar en red. No le dimos importancia. Era buen estudiante y entendimos que necesitaba relajarse. Pero las sesiones se fueron alargando y el juego pasó a ser diario. El rendimiento en la escuela cayó. Tratamos de convencer a sus profesores y compañeros para que lo alejasen de ese ambiente, pero no hubo manera. Hace seis meses perdió el control: llegó a pasar más de 20 horas ininterrumpidas frente al ordenador”.
La jornada en el centro de desintoxicación de la adicción a Internet transcurre bajo una férrea disciplina, combinada con medicamentos y con terapia psicológica. En la imagen, Tao Ran, fundador del centro y cuya carrera médica y militar se construyó tratando a adictos a la heroína. Un aprendizaje que le sirve ahora para aplicar parecidas técnicas que a los drogodependientes. / FERNANDO MOLERES
Fue entonces cuando estalló la violencia en casa. El padre de Chen comenzó a propinarle palizas para prohibirle ir a jugar, y el adolescente respondió de la misma forma. Varios hematomas en el cuerpo de su progenitor reflejan un drama que la familia quiere atajar antes de que se convierta en tragedia. “Ya no podemos dominarlo”, reconoce abatido el padre. Por eso, cuando un familiar les informó de la existencia de un centro pionero en la rehabilitación de adictos a Internet, no se lo pensaron. “Queremos que entienda lo que le sucede, se cure, y que acabe esta pesadilla”.
Después de una revisión exhaustiva del caso, los especialistas dictaminan que Chen debería ser internado en el centro entre tres y seis meses –más incluso si no responde de forma positiva– para someterse a la terapia diseñada por Tao Ran, psiquiatra y coronel del Ejército Popular de Liberación, que combina la disciplina militar con las técnicas tradicionales para superar cualquier tipo de adicción. El doctor explica que a Chen se le privará del uso de cualquier aparato electrónico, se le prohibirá el contacto con el exterior y tendrá que acatar todas las órdenes que reciba. Y avanza que será un proceso duro. Tras un momento de duda, en el que reconocen su preocupación por lo estricto del tratamiento, los padres asienten y dan su conformidad.
La adicción a internet provoca en el cerebro problemas similares a los derivados del consumo de heroína, destruyendo las relaciones sociales y deteriorando el cuerpo”
Tao Ran. Psiquiatra y coronel del Ejército Popular de Liberación chino
Es el momento de explicarle a Chen lo que le espera, así que la madre intercambia unas palabras con su marido y deciden que sea ella, que mantiene una relación más amistosa con el adolescente, la que salga y hable con él. Los pacientes que acaban de regresar a sus habitaciones en el segundo piso pegan la nariz al gran ventanal del pasillo que da al patio. Saben que a continuación puede producirse una explosión. Al fin y al cabo, el caso de Chen no es más que uno de los 6.000 que han pasado por el centro desde que Tao lo fundó en 2006. “Son habituales las reacciones iniciales de violencia, y la mayoría trata de escapar en los primeros 20 días de internamiento. No reconocen sufrir un trastorno”, explica el propio Tao.
Sin embargo, Chen es una decepción para quienes esperaban un enfrentamiento. Mira a su madre con ira contenida, pero no articula una palabra. Se levanta, entra en el edificio y sube las escaleras acompañado por uno de los psicólogos del centro, que le pone al corriente de cómo será su vida en los próximos meses. Ella le sigue a cierta distancia. El estallido se produce cuando Chen asimila que será encerrado, que se le obligará a seguir un entrenamiento físico estricto y que sus largas sesiones frente al ordenador han tocado a su fin. Es entonces cuando se da la vuelta y arremete contra su madre. “¡Hija de puta! ¿Cómo te atreves a hacerme esto a mí?”, grita mientras corre a golpearla. Son necesarios cinco trabajadores para reducirlo, y en la enfermería tardan pocos segundos en preparar un tranquilizante y correas para atarlo. Afortunadamente, Chen se calma con un cigarro y no es necesario utilizarlas. Su madre, refugiada en un pequeño cuarto, rompe a llorar de nuevo.
“La adicción a Internet provoca en el cerebro problemas similares a los derivados del consumo de heroína. Pero en general es incluso más dañina. Porque destruye las relaciones sociales a todos los niveles y va deteriorando el cuerpo sin que el enfermo se dé cuenta”, asegura Tao en el austero despacho que ocupa en la nueva sede del centro, cuyo traslado culminó a finales del pasado mes de junio para ampliar la capacidad máxima de las instalaciones a 130 internos. “Todos tienen problemas con la vista y con la espalda y sufren trastornos alimentarios. Además, hemos descubierto que su capacidad cerebral se reduce en un 8% y que las afecciones psicológicas son graves”.
La falta de socialización es uno de los problemas que tienen que resolver los adictos a Internet: por eso la clínica de desintoxicación deja a sus pacientes mucho tiempo libre, para que se relacionen, charlen o jueguen a las cartas. / FERNANDO MOLERES
Según este psiquiatra chino, que se especializó en el tratamiento de adicciones en 1991, el 90% de los pacientes que acuden al centro están sumidos en una profunda depresión, el 58% agreden a sus padres, la mayoría son incapaces de mantener amistades fuera del ciberespacio y sufren desviaciones sexuales “derivadas de un consumo excesivo de pornografía”, y muchos están abocados a caer en actividades delictivas. “Según estadísticas oficiales, el 67% de los delitos juveniles son cometidos por adictos a Internet, que idolatran a la mafia y tienen dificultad para diferenciar realidad y ficción. También han comenzado a protagonizar crímenes de sangre como los que suceden en Estados Unidos. Y me temo que irán en aumento, porque el problema es especialmente grave en China”, avanza el fundador del centro, que depende del Hospital Militar General de Pekín.
El gigante asiático es el país con mayor número de internautas del mundo –632 millones en julio–, y el propio Gobierno considera que el 10% de los menores de edad que navegan por la Red son adictos a ella. Un estudio llevado a cabo en abril de forma conjunta por la empresa china de análisis de mercado Eguan y del desarrollador de videojuegos Giant Interactive concluyó que unos cien millones de jóvenes sufren por esta causa algún tipo de trastorno mental, generalmente la pérdida del autocontrol. Es una realidad que se refleja de forma trágica cada pocos días, cuando la prensa se hace eco de la muerte de adolescentes que han estado varios días frente al monitor sin apenas dormir ni comer. Los casos son tan frecuentes que diferentes analistas chinos se refieren a los juegos online como “heroína electrónica”, y muchos exigen que se combatan sus efectos nocivos “como si fuese la tercera guerra del opio”. Tao, por su parte, calcula que actualmente China alberga a unos 24 millones de adictos a Internet. Una cifra que, como sucede en el resto del planeta, es una mera estimación. No existe un estándar que defina quién sufre adicción y quién no, porque cada experto en la materia la define de forma distinta: no es como una enfermedad que se tiene o no se tiene. Así, resulta difícil recabar datos a nivel mundial sobre la adicción a Internet, aunque sí se cree, por ejemplo, que uno de cada ocho estadounidenses sufre desórdenes en el uso de la Red y que casi uno de cada tres la utiliza sin medida en China, Taiwán y Corea del Sur.
Li Huaibing tiene 17 años y reconoce ser un adicto. Este año tendría que haberse presentado a las pruebas de Selectividad, el temido gaokao, pero su incapacidad para desconectar de Internet se lo ha impedido. “Abandoné el instituto porque no tenía amigos y sufría continuos enfrentamientos con los profesores. Me dedicaba a chatear y a participar en todo tipo de foros. La Red me permitió escapar de mí mismo”. Pero no de sus padres. Como en el caso de Chen, a Li lo llevaron engañado a Pekín desde su provincia natal de Mongolia Interior con el pretexto de visitar a un dermatólogo que iba a solucionar su problema con el acné. Así, el pasado 21 de abril fue el último día que tocó un teclado. Ahora trata de reencontrarse con el adolescente dicharachero y alegre que fue y acepta la estricta disciplina que se le impone.
Al llegar resultan muy altivos, pero están en muy mala condición física. Se rompen cuando tienen que correr o hacer flexiones”
Ma Liqiang. ‘Profesor’ de comportamiento y exsoldado del Ejército de Liberación chino
El día comienza con un agudo pitido a las 6.30. Los chavales saltan de sus literas y, vestidos con camisetas de camuflaje, forman una fila en el pasillo exterior. Uno de los monitores, con cara de pocos amigos y voz de sargento de hierro, va gritando los nombres de todos ellos. “¡Presente!”. La escena se repite otras cinco veces a lo largo del día, y siempre es fácil reconocer a los nuevos. Se les nota desafiantes: llegan tarde y rehúsan acatar las órdenes. Suspiran hastiados, miran hacia otro lado y terminan respondiendo con desgana. Pero el desdén les dura poco. Tienen 20 minutos para asearse y bajar al patio, donde les espera la primera ración de entrenamiento militar a 30 grados y bajo la impenitente capa de polución de la capital china.
“Al llegar resultan muy altivos, pero están en mala condición física. Se rompen cuando tienen que correr o hacer flexiones. Eso les pone en su sitio”, explica Ma Liqiang, exsoldado y profesor de comportamiento, mientras varios adolescentes, desfondados y con los rostros enrojecidos, dejan de trotar para continuar caminando con los brazos en jarras. Las siete chicas del centro pasan a su lado, los señalan y se ríen. Heridos en su orgullo, tratan de retomar el ritmo sin éxito. “El objetivo de la instrucción es triple: aprender a respetar la autoridad, fortalecer el físico y crear una rutina muy regular. Al principio es duro, pero al cabo de unos meses los resultados saltan a la vista”.
China es el país con más internautas del mundo, 632 millones, de los cuales unos 24 son adictos a la Red. Muchos de estos frecuentan los 113.000 cibercafés del país, donde navegan hasta caer rendidos. / FERNANDO MOLERES
Li reconoce que es así. De hecho, está aprovechando su internamiento para fortalecerse “y resultar más atractivo para las chicas”. Además de los ejercicios matinales y vespertinos obligatorios, el adolescente ha recubierto sus tobillos con sendas bolsas de arena de tres kilos que le acompañan a todas partes. “En un principio me resistí a todo. Incluso planeé escapar, porque no soportaba la falta de libertad. Pero luego comprendí que era inútil rebelarse”. Lo más difícil, asegura, es controlar las emociones y combatir el aburrimiento. “Tenemos terapia de grupo que nos sirve para desahogarnos y clases de diferentes tipos, y vemos las noticias de las siete de la tarde. Pero hasta que apagan la luz –a las diez de la noche–, hay muchas horas en las que no hay nada que hacer”. En realidad, es parte de la estrategia de los terapeutas. Los adolescentes, encerrados sin acceso a Internet y con tiempo libre, empiezan por quedarse solos en una esquina sin hacer nada o leyendo y terminan por interactuar con sus compañeros, jugando a las cartas u organizando partidos de baloncesto, actividad esta última en la que se ve quién lleva más tiempo dentro del centro, pues su forma física mejora con el ejercicio diario. “Sé que es parte del tratamiento, que esos tiempos muertos nos impulsan a establecer relaciones entre nosotros, pero resulta duro. Muchos se pasan el día llorando hasta que se adaptan al entorno. La mayoría tardan en reconocer que sufren adicción a Internet”, subraya Li.
No en vano se trata de un nuevo problema difícil de diagnosticar y para el que todavía no existe un tratamiento estándar. Tao Ran pretende que el suyo se convierta en el primero, y no solo en China. Allí ya hay unas 300 clínicas que copian parte de su modelo y utilizan la disciplina militar para tratar la adicción, pero Tao critica que “la mayoría se limita a contratar exsoldados y carece de supervisión alguna”. Asegura que eso es lo que ha provocado las muertes registradas este año en varios centros cuando algunos de los pacientes han sido obligados a realizar ejercicios extenuantes o han sufrido castigos físicos. Por esa razón, Tao exige al Gobierno que regule su actividad y dé directrices claras al respecto. “Todavía hay que perfeccionar el sistema terapéutico, pero es evidente que el problema se está globalizando y que hay que atajarlo de forma científica”. El psiquiatra incluso pretende llevar su método al resto del mundo. Para ello, ya lo ha publicado en 11 idiomas diferentes y trabaja a menudo con especialistas de los cinco continentes que visitan Daxing. “China es un buen campo de pruebas porque el problema comenzó antes y se presenta de forma más aguda. De hecho, fue la epidemia de neumonía atípica, la SARS de 2003, la que marcó un punto de inflexión en la adicción a Internet. La mayoría de los estudiantes tuvieron que quedarse en casa en un momento en el que la Red había comenzado a popularizarse. Sin control, muchos comenzaron a jugar en exceso. Fue justo después cuando varios padres me pidieron ayuda”.
Tao trató a 17 adolescentes, pero fracasó en todos los casos. “Entendí que se trataba de un trastorno nuevo y grave, así que me propuse diseñar un tratamiento para curarlo”. En 2005 comenzó a ingresar a los pacientes durante un mes en el hospital militar en el que trabaja. “El porcentaje de éxito fue de solo un 30%, pero ese primer paso me ayudó a entender los mecanismos del trastorno. En 2007 conseguí que me permitieran ingresar a los jóvenes hasta un máximo de tres meses, y un año después comenzamos a involucrar a los padres en el tratamiento. Eso ha sido clave para el éxito”.
Algunos de los pacientes, como Huang Qi Jun (a la derecha de la imagen), tratan de salir de una espiral en la que llegaban a estar hasta 20 horas seguidas enganchados a Internet. /FERNANDO MOLERES
Porque la adicción a Internet no surge de la nada. “Está íntimamente relacionada con la falta de afecto y el exceso de presión”, opina Feng Yin, psicóloga del centro. “El problema es especialmente grave en China porque la jerarquía familiar y los valores tradicionales crean un muro entre padres e hijos, los sistemas educativo y laboral son extremadamente competitivos, y la política de natalidad que ha restringido a uno el número de descendientes en la mayoría de los casos ha provocado una gran anomalía social”. El perfil del paciente en el centro de Daxing corrobora sus palabras: se trata de un hijo único (en un 95% de los casos) y varón (en un 90%). Apenas hay chicas. En el de Tao son siete: viven separadas de ellos, casi no se mezclan con los chicos en las actividades, y en realidad muchas están allí por trastornos de la personalidad y problemas de carácter. La edad media de los pacientes es de 17 años (el 70% tienen entre 15 y 19, aunque hay internos desde los 12 hasta los 37 años) y son descendientes de profesores (un 31%) o de funcionarios y oficiales del Gobierno (el 29%). “Esos profesionales son quienes más presión ejercen sobre sus hijos. Proyectan en ellos sus esperanzas y buscan satisfacerse a sí mismos, sin tener en cuenta las tendencias, las aptitudes o los gustos de los niños”. Así, la adicción a Internet termina siendo tanto causa como consecuencia de un enrarecido clima familiar que resulta devastador.
Y por eso, al menos uno de los progenitores de cada paciente –la madre en un 66%– ingresa en el centro para someterse a una terapia emocional paralela durante meses. “El objetivo es enseñarles a ser padres, y a veces resulta más complicado trabajar con ellos”, se lamenta la psicóloga Feng. Wang Shupei es uno de los que aseguran haber aprendido de sus errores, aunque lamenta haberlo hecho tarde: “Nuestro hijo empezó yendo alwanba –cibercafé, sobre todo para juegos– de vez en cuando, pero terminó perdiendo el control con solo 11 años. En varias ocasiones tuve que buscarlo de madrugada por la ciudad y llegó a pasar tres días desaparecido. Fue una pesadilla”.
Las pastillas también se utilizan: Yin Yu Tao, de 14 años, toma su dosis diaria. / FERNANDO MOLERES
El hijo de Wang Shupei buscó en la Red la atención que no recibía de sus padres. El niño se sentía un héroe con la ametralladora de War of Warcraft en sus manos virtuales. Así que se negaba a soltarla para regresar a una existencia que considera “triste”. Wang reconoce que delegó por completo su responsabilidad educativa en la escuela y que se limitaba a exigir buenos resultados en las calificaciones, pero se niega a creer que la adicción de su hijo sea solo culpa suya. Con un gesto de impotencia, apunta al reiterado incumplimiento de la ley por parte de loswanba. “Están obligados a exigir el documento de identidad para comprobar que los usuarios sean mayores de edad, pero hay quienes no tienen escrúpulos y se resisten a dejar pasar el negocio que representan los niños”.
A Wang, el drama le está saliendo muy caro. Su hijo pertenece al 25% que no consigue rehabilitarse con la terapia de Tao. “Lo ingresamos por primera vez en marzo del año pasado y estuvo ocho meses en el centro. Pero poco tiempo después de salir volvió a jugar”. Así que hace tres meses regresaron a Daxing para intentarlo de nuevo. Llevan gastados 170.000 yuanes (21.000 euros) en la terapia, una fortuna para estos emigrantes rurales que rozan la ruina. “Lo tenemos que hacer por el futuro de nuestro hijo y por nosotros mismos. Será él quien cuide de nosotros cuando envejezcamos”.
Tao Ran dice que cada mes de tratamiento cuesta 9.300 yuanes (1.120 euros), pero varios progenitores reprochan que esa cifra no incluya ni las comidas –arroz, sopa, verduras, huevos y algún trozo de carne–, ni las pruebas médicas, ni los medicamentos. Algunos aseguran que la suma final puede superar los 12.000 yuanes mensuales (casi 1.500 euros), una quinta parte de la renta media anual del país y un importe prohibitivo para las clases bajas. Tao replica que el precio es ajustado, equivalente a un hotel de tres estrellas. “Desafortunadamente, no tenemos un sistema de salud que lo cubra”, admite.
La mayoría de los padres están de acuerdo con Wang y consideran que es un sacrificio económico que tienen que hacer por el bien de sus hijos. Confían en que el tratamiento servirá para que tengan éxito en una de las sociedades más crueles del planeta. Pero Li Wenchao sabe que no será sencillo. A sus 22 años, es otro reincidente del centro, y a pesar de que los especialistas le han dado ya el alta, ha decidido continuar en Daxing como voluntario. “Me da miedo regresar a la vida normal. Temo volver a caer. Necesito más tiempo hasta que logre la confianza suficiente para enfrentarme a la vida”.