Millions of children with disabilities are missing out on education. Like me, they deserve to fulfill their potential

When I was 9 years old, a psychologist told my parents I had a low IQ because I was born with Down syndrome.

a woman wearing a suit and tie: Brina Maxino.

© Courtesy Maxino family
Brina Maxino.

Seven years later, I graduated high school as class valedictorian. At the age of 20, I received a bachelor’s degree in arts with a major in history. Today, I am a pre-school assistant teacher, a Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador and Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. I am also the 2020 UNESCO Global Champion for Inclusion in Education.

I don’t think about what that psychologist said when I was a child, but I wonder how many children with disabilities are not fulfilling their potential because someone once said they couldn’t.

We can be more — and do more. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The recently released “2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report” (GEM) states that children and youth with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded people in the world. The same report says they are 2.5 times more likely never to attend school in their lifetime than other children. An estimated 650 million people are living with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region alone — this means millions of children are missing out.

Up to half of the roughly 65 million primary and lower secondary school-age children with disabilities in developing countries were already out of school before the Covid-19 pandemic. No country was prepared for Covid-19, but I feel more could have been done to protect children who were already marginalized before school closures began.

The GEM Report found that about 40% of low and lower-middle income countries did not support them during temporary school shutdowns. Children with disabilities were — and still are — disproportionately affected.

Distance learning also hasn’t been designed with us in mind. This leaves these children in danger of falling behind or withdrawing from education altogether.

December 3 marks International Day for Disabled Persons — a time to celebrate people with disabilities. The day also falls in the same week as the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is an important moment on the calendar to remind policy makers that most countries have committed to protecting the right to education for millions of disabled children.

Early on, I made a choice: to either accept unfairness or to advocate for our rights. As a person with disabilities, the challenges I have been faced with helped shape me — they have made me resilient, and most importantly prepared me to fight for the rights of others who are disadvantaged.

Despite my challenges, I persevered. I proved that with determination, hard work, belief in myself, and the love and support of my family, I can achieve my dreams and inspire others to do so.

As an assistant teacher, I am confronted daily with the challenges of Covid-19. Yet amid all the uncertainty and hardship created by the pandemic, there have been positive initiatives from around the

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Connelly’s Mulligan Meter – Which disappointing college football teams deserve a pass for 2020?

Rivalry Week is generally a good time for upsets and surprises in college football. Since we can’t have nice things in 2020, we not only lacked a lot of the rivalries that define the week, we also missed out on a lot of intrigue. Among the top seven teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, four won easily, two dealt with unexpected bye weeks, and while No. 2 Notre Dame took some solid blows from No. 19 North Carolina, the Irish brilliantly suffocated the life from both the game and the upset bid in the second half.

Sure, No. 8 Northwestern lost, but a loss by a team as one-dimensional as the Wildcats (third in defensive SP+, 107th on offense) is never going to feel like an earth-shattering development.

Instead, the week was defined as much as anything by a recurring 2020 theme: disappointment.

Five teams that were ranked in the preseason top 25 are dealing with losing records. A couple more are barely above .500. Sure, part of that stems from the simple fact that they didn’t have any/many nonconference games to prop up their records. Then there’s the extra depth-chart damage everyone’s been dealing with due to COVID-19.

That doesn’t change the fact that we haven’t seen what we expected to see from quite a few teams. Who gets a mulligan, and who has genuine concerns?

Mulligan Meter 2020

Note: We’re not going to do any speculation about job security here. I’ll leave that to far more sourced writers. This is purely a look at what has doomed these teams and how much of a mess the current coach has, or doesn’t have, on his hands.

Source Article

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College basketball season is back, so here’s to the players, who want and deserve this more than anyone else

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The longest, rockiest, most dramatic offseason in college basketball history is finally behind us.

It’s over. Forever in our rearview mirror. 

The date now reads Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Today is the day college basketball again has a season. No major American sport — team or individual — had a longer halt than college hoops. March 12, the day the NCAA Tournament was canceled and the day all sports in America went on ice, was 258 days ago. 

We finally made it. 

Thank you, college basketball, for being back in our lives. Thank you for finding a way back — even if plenty of us doubted whether it was truly going to happen. Thanks for being here during the week of Thanksgiving, when the sport helps make up the tapestry and adorns the edges of a sports viewing experience dominated by professional and college football. It’s going to look a lot different. There are no games happening in Maui or the Bahamas. Final Four contenders Baylor, Duke and Tennessee had to push off playing on opening day due to COVID-19. No, there will be no normal for the next three, four, five or maybe even six months (if the NCAA Tournament winds up not happening until April or May).

But the season is here now, and damn does that feel good to write. It’s been hard to dodge the negative news that’s pelted college basketball on a near-daily basis for the past month-plus. And that news should be taken seriously. This is a global pandemic. The sport has been struggling to get off the runway, but that bird will fly. Amid all the noise, keep this in mind: more than 80 games between two D-I teams are scheduled for Wednesday, and another 34 vs. non-Division I opponents are slated on top of that. Across the country we will have college basketball. Sure, by the time you read this we might have lost another two, three or five games. 

This will seem like a bigger deal in college basketball because the sport has 357 teams. College football has 130. The NFL has 32. The NHL has 31. The NBA and Major League Baseball have 30. This sport is bursting with 357 teams in 49 states and is going to try and hold a season as winter approaches and the coronavirus situation is worsening in every state in America. College basketball will worry about going to an all-out controlled environment by the time the NCAA Tournament comes. For now, it will be patchwork, it will be messy, but the powers-that-be have determined that there must be games. 

We are having a season. It starts today. 

There will be criticism. Some of it will be justified.

But we will have games.

I had a chance to speak with Virginia coach Tony Bennett, Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley and Rhode Island coach David Cox after their practices here at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday. We hit on a couple different

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Ugly Species Deserve Biodiversity Protections, Too

By Marie Quinney, Specialist, Nature Action Agenda, World Economic Forum

Last month, the United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook announced that no government had met a single target to halt biodiversity loss in the last decade. Deforestation rates are increasing, with an estimated 17% of the Amazon rainforest being lost in the last 50 years. Bee populations are at risk due to human activity and, in the US, honey bee populations declined by 60% between 1947-2008 while in Europe, 12 wild bee species are critically endangered.

Some recovery packages are already acknowledging the role of nature in helping the economy recover from COVID-19. In September, leaders from 77 countries pledged to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 during the UN Biodiversity Summit and negotiations are ongoing to finalise the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

For any of these efforts to succeed, we must first expand our understanding of biodiversity.

Biodiversity beyond bees

Biodiversity conversations tend to focus on certain plants and animals while ignoring others.

Popular imagination often heralds trees and bees as the cornerstone of nature. For conservation campaigns, it pays – literally – to be a large mammal that people can easily identify with or a species that seems directly useful to humans. “Charismatic megafauna” is a term often employed to describe these eye-catching animals that easily attract donations. We also strive to protect species with obvious commercial interest, such as tuna and the honeybee.

But we are doing ourselves a disservice if we define biodiversity too narrowly.

Many species are too small, too ugly, too few or still undiscovered for us to notice them, and the public is far less likely to consider unattractive animals as vital to protect. Let’s not make these the reasons why they are overlooked. We must not risk letting our notion of beauty simplify natural systems and, for example, let slugs go extinct.

While it is natural for humans to anthropomorphise animals, it does little to reflect their role in an ecosystem. For example, dolphins may be no more worthy of saving than the blobfish.

And as aesthetic and commercial standards dominate, science may get left behind. Public and corporate donors are lining up to save the polar bear, for example, but funds are not being directed to saving life-supporting bacteria.

Plants also have a tough time garnering attention in the public sphere where poster species such as whales and elephants rule. A report released during the UN Biodiversity Summit, revealed that 40% of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction. This report highlighted that humanity cannot survive without plants and fungi but since many species are yet to be discovered, we may miss out on an untapped treasure chest of solutions to some of our greatest problems, including potential coronavirus treatments.

While single species can be vital in putting biodiversity on the map and making the case for conservation of the ecosystems that support them, they are not the best proxies for biodiversity. We should, therefore, acknowledge all species as

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Pac-12 doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the College Football Playoff

Earlier in the month, Washington coach Jimmy Lake was asked about the prospect of getting into the College Football Playoff. Wisely, he refused the bait. 

Lake gave the diplomatic answer, saying the Huskies were focused on getting better each day and that gradual improvement was the team’s only concern. But that particular query raised a bigger question: Does an unbeaten team from the Pac-12 deserve a shot at the national title? 

My thoughts: Possibly — but the conference hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt. 

This might not be fair to the current crop of teams, but history matters in this case. And recent history has delivered 12 rounds of body blows to the Pac-12’s reputation. 

Where to start? How about success on the biggest stage? Not since the 2004 season has a Pac-12 team won the national championship. USC had a shot in ’05 but lost to Texas. Oregon had a shot in ’10 but fell to Auburn. Oregon had another shot against Ohio State four years later but failed to get it done. 

The only team from the conference to make the College Football Playoff since the Ducks were the Huskies in 2016, and their 24-7 loss to Alabama shed light on a definitive difference in ability between them and the SEC champs. A couple years back, former Huskies coach Rick Neuheisel commented on the size disparity between the Pac-12 and other Power Five conferences. 

“We, as a conference, have to get bigger. We play in this league that is small, skilled and makes all kinds of plays, but we don’t look the part physically.” 

But it isn’t just the look — it’s the results, too. Just what exactly did the Pac-12 accomplish last regular season against nonconference foes? Arizona State beat 7-6 Michigan State, which lost by a combined 119 points against Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan. Arizona beat 4-8 Texas Tech, Cal beat 4-8 Ole Miss, Stanford beat 3-9 Northwestern and Colorado beat 5-7 Nebraska. Oregon, meanwhile, coughed up a chance to beat Auburn in Week 1, while UCLA lost to Cincinnati, and Arizona lost to Hawaii. 

For the past few years, that “we’ve arrived” moment has eluded the Pac-12, and you can’t blame the CFP committee for taking notice. Yes, Oregon won the Rose Bowl by a point last January, but it did so against a Wisconsin team that Ohio State beat handily in the Big Ten championship game. A year earlier, as conference champions, the Buckeyes outclassed Washington in Pasadena. Over the past three years, the Pac-12 is 8-15 in bowl games. 

Off-the-field issues shouldn’t affect how voters think, but you have to wonder if it slips into their subconsciouses. And the Pac-12 has certainly had its share of faux pas. A piece that ran in The Oregonian last week noted the Pac-12 Network wasn’t scheduled to show any of the conference’s football games this season. Is that going to have any impact on how the league’s best teams play? No. But

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