Catherine Davies appointed director of Institute of Modern Languages Research

July 22, 2014

Institute of Modern Languages ResearchThe Institute of Modern Languages Research (IMLR), one of the 10 institutes of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, has today formally announced the appointment of Professor Catherine Davies as its new director.

Currently Professor of Hispanic and Latin American studies at Nottingham University, Catherine Davies will succeed Professor Bill Marshall, who returns to the School of Languages, Cultures and Religions at the University of Stirling. She will assume the full-time directorship from 1 August 2014 on secondment from Nottingham. Dr Katia Pizzi will continue to serve as Acting Director until this date.

A champion of modern languages research, Professor Davies said ‘I am taking on this new post with a great sense of responsibility and dedication. The UK has some of the world’s top experts in the languages, cultures and histories of other parts of the globe. This fact is well known in those countries, but generally not in the UK. It is my task to showcase our world-leading, and often pioneering, research to maintain the UK’s status in this field, and to grow and support quality research in modern languages.

‘The IMLR has a unique role in the UK to promote and to develop research excellence in these cognate language disciplines. I aim to work with colleagues at IMLR to strengthen and disseminate the collective knowledge and expertise of this country’s modern languages researchers, for the benefit of academia, government and civil society internationally.’

Professor Davies gained her PhD at the University of Glasgow in 1984 and has since taught at the universities of St Andrews, Manchester and Queen Mary. Her research interests include gender and nationalism in Cuba and Spain, particularly the formation and transmission of liberal thought in 19th-century Spanish and Spanish American literature and cultural history.  She has written a number of books including on abolitionism in Cuba and co-wrote South American Independence: Gender, Politics, Text, the first book to address gender in the history of the Wars of Independence.

During her time at Nottingham, Professor Davies took the lead role on two AHRC-funded projects, Gendering Latin American Independence 1790-1830 and Women and Independence in Latin America (WILA). The WILA initiative has been instrumental in the development of an interactive, community-driven online resource for academics and non-academics to share ideas and information about women’s involvement in independence in Latin America and its relevance today.

Professor Roger Kain, CBE FBA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: ‘We are delighted to have been able to appoint Professor Davies. We believe her experience, knowledge and expertise will be vital as we continue our ambitious plans to extend the Institute of Modern Languages’ national leadership role.’

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Wizard of Oz badminton shares secrets at University of Derby

July 21, 2014
Lasse Bundgaard at the University of Derby

Lasse Bundgaard at the University of Derby

With the Commonwealth Games about to get underway, the head coach of Australia’s badminton team spent time with sports coaches from across Derbyshire at the University of Derby on Friday (July 18).

Lasse Bundgaard and his assistant coach Ricky Yu presented alongside Andy Wood, Performance Manager of the Derbyshire Institute of Sport and former Team GB badminton head coach, to discuss the technicalities of the sport and to take questions at a sporting breakfast event.

The Australian national team arrived in Derby on Tuesday, July 15, for a training camp ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Lasse, 40, explained: “The day was about how things have changed in Australian badminton over the last five years and where we are now, as we go into the Commonwealth Games with a team that is desperately trying to compete with the top nations, and also about where we go from here to develop badminton in Australia to be a world-class sport.

“We are here in Derby for the second time after coming here ahead of the London Olympics in 2012. We have good relationships with the partners involved in Derbyshire, including Derbyshire County Council, South Derbyshire District Council, Derbyshire Sport and the University of Derby, which were all developed through our link with Andy Wood. Working with him is a great thing for us.”

The visit was particularly important for the University since it is gearing up for its first season in the new National Badminton League (NBL) with its Team Derby brand. Lasse was full of praise for the creation of the league, which will show games on Sky Sports.

He said: “It’s a great thing that a national badminton league has been established, which will include the best British players but also support the best British junior players as well. It’s a really good profile-raiser for the sport.”

On Saturday, Lasse’s Australian team were victorious in an exhibition match against the Team GB All Stars, in which they won 5-3 from eight games played. Olympic silver medallists Gail Emms MBE and Nathan Robertson, and Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medallist Jenny Wallwork were part of the British contingent. Lasse is confident of Australia’s chances at the Games.

He added: “I feel good ahead of the Commonwealth Games and we are targeting a medal in a few categories.

“The men and women’s doubles look good and very strong. We’re taking stock after the draw (being made today, Monday, July 21) and now go into the first game on Thursday (July 24). I look forward very much to getting it all started.”

Ollie Shearer, Sport Development Manager at the University of Derby, added: “The University was delighted to welcome back the Australian team. It’s an exciting time for the sport of badminton at the University given the recent announcement that we will be part of the UK’s first National Badminton League.

“The Australian team had access to all the services and facilities they need to prepare for the Commonwealth Games and enjoyed their stay at the University.”

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NMIT and Melbourne Polytechnic support Trade Support Loans Programme

July 21, 2014

NMITApprentices who are enrolled in eligible NMIT and Melbourne Polytechnic courses from 1 July 2014

will be able to apply for the Trade Support Loans Programme, which has been introduced to ease

financial pressure on apprentices. Most apprentices who were eligible for Tools for Your Trade

payments will now be eligible for Trade Support Loans.

Recognising that apprentices in selected industries are learning key skills for Australia’s future, the

federal government has introduced the Trade Support Loans (TSL) Programme for Certificate III or IV

qualifications that lead to an occupation on the National Skills Needs List, or a Certificate II, III or IV

qualification in agriculture or horticulture.

The TSL instalments are paid monthly in arrears over four years, and result in total payments of up to

$20,000. These payments will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index from 2017.

TSL can be paid regardless of the apprentice’s age, existing worker status or income (though income

level will impact when the loan must be repaid, as there is a compulsory repayment threshold).

In addition, apprentices who successfully complete their training will receive a 20% reduction of their

TSL debt.

At NMIT, eligible disciplines include Arboriculture, Bricklaying, Plumbing, Meat Processing,

Shopfitting, Electrical, Carpentry, Electrical Fitting, Hairdressing, Horticulture (Landscape),

Locksmithing, and Engineering – Fabrication.

For a full list of the eligible courses at NMIT and information about the loans, refer to the link

At Melbourne Polytechnic, apprentices in the Certificate III in Patisserie can access the TSL

Programme. Refer to the link
support-loan-program-for-apprentices/ for more information about the loans.

Detailed information about the Trade Support Loans Programme is available at

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UWE Bristol award Honorary Degree to John Prior

July 18, 2014

UWE Bristol_UN

UWE Bristol will award the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education to John Prior in recognition of his contribution to youth enterprise.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education on Wednesday 23 July 2014 at Bristol Cathedral.

John Prior is a Bristol businessman and has held many senior positions in businesses across the South West including setting up the South Gloucestershire based company Alexandra Workwear.

John is particularly passionate about young enterprise in the region. He has been involved with the Prince’s Trust Business Programme for many years and is now Chair of The Trust’s Council in the South West, in addition to being a founder member of the South West Leadership Group.

In addition to all the work he does for The Prince’s Trust, John is also Chairman of the Bristol Drugs Project, a member of the board for the South West Housing Association and a Trustee of The Matthew of Bristol Trust. He is also still involved in the family beef farm at his home in Somerset.

He is married to Mary, also an Honorary Graduate of the University of the West of England, and they have two children and four grandchildren.

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Southampton researchers develop a Wikipedia of fact-checking during natural disasters

July 18, 2014

University of Southampton_UN
Researchers from the University of Southampton have helped to develop a new web application for gathering evidence during natural disasters, which will enable more effective emergency response.

Accurate information can be life-saving in extreme situations, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. However, finding out the accuracy of that information from the vast amount of contradictory material that is posted on social media channels is becoming increasingly difficult. While such channels are useful for identifying and sharing content, they are not the right tools for verification, which requires searching for evidence rather than liking or retweeting.

Verily has been designed by researchers from the University of Southampton, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in the UAE and Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) to rapidly crowdsource the verification of information during disasters.

To test whether the platform would be effective, researchers designed the Verily Challenge to prove the feasibility of timely verification.

Various questions were posted to and users were invited to submit evidence justifying their answer. A user could not simply submit a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for an answer. Instead, they had to verify their position by providing evidence either in the form of an image or video or as text.

For example, a photo of a street was posted with the question: Is this street in Rome. The photo was taken from a personal archive and was actually in the Italian town of Caltagirone in Sicily. The question was answered correctly within four hours by a user who submitted another picture of the same street.

A variety of other techniques and platforms were used to collect evidence:

- Foto Forensics helped ascertain the location of a skyscraper.

- Google Earth confirmed a Greek lake photo.

- Personal memory or extreme searching skill helped determine the location of this window display.

- The location of a concrete robot with a heart was identified through a creative Google query.

The success of the challenge confirmed the feasibility of rapid evidence collection. The next step is to deploy Verily for evidence collection during a humanitarian disaster.

Victor Naroditskiy, a research fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University, who helped to create Verily, says: “The lack of verifiability of content posted on social media is the main reason preventing humanitarian and news organisations from making a wider use of it.

“The rationale for Verily is that the collective effort of people searching for the truth will be fruitful. Examples of the tremendous power of collective effort can be seen in projects like Wikipedia, and closer to home in experiments like the DARPA Red Balloon Challenge. In this 2009 challenge, 10 red weather balloons moored at secret locations throughout the US were discovered within nine hours through a mass mobilisation over social media channels.”

Verily was invented by Carlos Castillo (QCRI), Patrick Meier (QCRI), Victor Naroditskiy (Southampton) and Iyad Rahwan (Masdar). The technical development of the platform was by Masters students Luis Arenal Mijares, Alex Greenland and Dimitrios Papamiliosin from the Web Technology MSc programme at the University of Southampton led by Enrico Costanza and Victor Naroditskiy. Justine Mackinnon (QCRI) together with the Southampton team organised the public trial of the platform.

Victor and Enrico research crowdsourcing in the context of ORCHID, a multidisciplinary EPSRC-funded project developing the science and technologies for human-agent collectives, with disaster response as a key application area.

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UWE Bristol award Honorary Degree to Dr Mike Durkin

July 18, 2014

UWE Bristol_UNUWE Bristol will award the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science to Dr Mike Durkin in recognition of his contribution to health research and NHS leadership.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences on Monday 21 July 2014 at Bristol Cathedral.

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director of Patient Safety at NHS England, started his career after qualifying as a Medical Practitioner at The Middlesex Hospital, London in 1974. He held research and teaching appointments in London and Bristol, prior to a move to the USA to Yale University School of Medicine.

In 1990 he returned to the UK as a Clinical Director before accepting a post as the first Medical Director of Gloucestershire Royal NHS Trust from 1993 to 2002 also holding a consultant post in Anesthesia until 2013. In his role as Medical Director, Dr Durkin provided clinical advice and leadership to the NHS Trust Boards and supported the development of a clinical governance framework and principal of governance for the hospitals across the South West.

Dr Durkin is most proud of his leadership of one of the first big hospital systems, creating a significant vehicle for health care delivery in the West of England. This resulted from the amalgamation of Cheltenham and Cotswold’s hospitals; with Stroud, Gloucestershire in the east and the Forest of Dean to the west.

In 2002 the landscape of the NHS changed dramatically and Dr Durkin was appointed as Medical Director and Director of Clinical Quality for Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Strategic Health Authority. A further move in 2006 saw Dr Durkin appointed as Medical Director of the South of England Strategic Health Authority. He continues as the National Clinical Director for Venous Thrombo-Embolism and leads the National Prevention Programme in this area. A further Medical Director post was secured in 2011, for NHS South of England.

In early 2000 Dr Durkin was asked to lead on National Patient Safety for England. With the help of Sir Ian Carruthers, he was involved in persuading the chairs and chief executives of all 18 hospitals in the South West to come together to achieve a whole systems approach to reduce avoidable harm in hospitals. This was the first time such an approach had been attempted in England and is seen as one of the largest collaborative systems to still be working in the world.

In 2012 he was appointed to his current post as the first National Director of Patient Safety in England for the NHS. Dr Durkin aims to develop a national plan to improve the safety of every patient in every sector and every setting across the NHS in England.

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UWE Bristol in top twelve Universities for widening access to Higher Education

July 18, 2014

UWE Bristol_UNUWE Bristol is in the top twelve Universities for widening access and improving success among students from low income and other under-represented groups, according to a report published today by HEFCE and OFFA. The figures also show that UWE is seventh in terms of the amount invested in ensuring students succeed on their courses after they have enrolled.

UWE was joint eleventh out of 148 institutions with access agreements for its investments in widening participation, including bursaries, scholarships, outreach activities and student retention/ success measures. The report shows that in 2012-13 universities and colleges in England increased their investment in such measures to a total of £743 million, an increase of £61 million from 2011-12.

Key target groups for widening participation include care leavers, disabled people, refugees, those from low participation neighbourhoods, mature students and students from UWE’s Federation colleges.

Although increased fees had a knock-on effect on progression through higher education among mature students, UWE’s outreach work meant almost 500 mature students entered through Access Courses with partnerships with colleges in the region.

Guy Keith –Miller, UWE’s Head of Recruitment and Outreach, said, “In 2012-13 UWE gave places to 495 Access to HE students, representing 6.7% of its undergraduate intake. We put on hundreds of outreach events each year, benefiting tens of thousands of potential students.”

This was the first year that ‘student success and progression’ expenditure was included in access agreements.

Professor Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said, “Our 2012-13 monitoring reveals that institutions are increasingly taking a ‘lifecycle’ approach to their access work, not only diversifying their intake but also supporting under-represented students during their studies and on to successful outcomes.

“I wholeheartedly welcome this rounded, whole lifecycle approach. Fair access is only meaningful if students from disadvantaged backgrounds are adequately supported not just to enter higher education but also to complete their studies and progress to a graduate-level job or postgraduate study.”

UWE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Rushforth said, “The report highlights the value of taking a lifecycle approach to recruiting and retaining students, as UWE does.

“Our investment has continued to grow and from September 2014 we will be investing a total of £15.8 million in improving participation in higher education. This will include more than 700 bursaries for new students from key target groups with income below £25,000, worth up to £5000 over three years.”

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Imperial College London and Zhejiang University launch data science collaboration

Imperial College London

Some of the UK and China’s leading data scientists will team up at a new London lab thanks to a partnership between Imperial College London and Zhejiang University (ZJU).

The announcement of the Imperial ZJU Joint Lab for Applied Data Science will be made at a major ZJU-Imperial conference ‘Big Data: Healthy Citizens, Smart Cities’, held at ZJU’s campus in Hangzhou, China, over Friday 18 and Saturday 19 July 2014.

The news comes just one month after Premier Li Keqiang visited the UK to reinforce trade, research and educational ties between the UK and China.

At the ZJU-Imperial event, globally renowned experts in science, engineering, medicine and business – from Imperial, a world top ten university, and ZJU, one of China’s leading institutions – are meeting to exchange ideas on the future of data science and its application.

Sir Keith O’Nions, President of Imperial College London, will deliver the Qi Zhen lecture on ‘Globalisation and the 21st Century University’ during the conference. He said:

“Bringing together data scientists from two of the world’s great universities will spur creativity and innovation as we use our respective strengths to push scientific discovery forwards.

“In an increasingly data rich world, collaborations like this help the academic community to convert data assets into useful knowledge and valuable products. Data scientists are making profound contributions to the development of new medicines, solutions to environmental challenges, and helping create better ways to live in smart cities. We look forward to working with ZJU to accelerate this process.”

Professor Jinhua Lin, President of Zhejiang University, said:

“The ZJU Imperial Joint Lab for Applied Data Science is a highlight of collaborative progress between the two institutions since the establishment of our partnership in May 2013.

“Data is opening new doors and spurs a revolution that will transform every aspect of lives. In a world where data is everywhere with increasing volume, velocity and variety, collaboration enables us to leverage each other’s strength to make insightful discoveries. I believe the conference is a great opportunity to share expertise, but in a more important sense, to spark new ideas of using Big Data for the well-being of human society.”

Professor Yike Guo, Director of the Data Science Institute at Imperial, where the joint ZJU lab will be based, said:

“Data is being produced at a relentless velocity and volume. Understanding and using this data could revolutionise scientific discovery.

“The Applied Data Science Lab will allow researchers from Imperial and ZJU to better access useful data to solve major scientific problems.

“Data is fast becoming a common language, unifying key actors – from different disciplines, sectors and countries – throughout science and innovation.

“This latest addition to Imperial’s Data Science Institute will help make big data an ever more integral part of the scientific process.”

Kit Malthouse, Chair of London & Partners, the city’s business and promotional organisation, said:
“It took scientists 10 years to process the human genome for the first time – now it can be done in a day. That shows how far we have come in our ability to manage large and complex sets of data, and how powerful the results can be. Collaboration is the bedrock of innovation, so it’s great to see one of London’s world-leading scientific institutions joining up with colleagues in China to address the challenges and opportunities of big data. I’ve no doubt that this work will lay the foundations for future breakthroughs that will advance knowledge and improve health worldwide.”

Highlights of the ZJU-Imperial big data conference include:
* Sir Keith O’Nions, President of Imperial College London, delivering the Qi Zhen lecture 2014 on ‘Globalisation and the 21st Century University’

* Professor David Gann, Imperial’s Vice President (Development & Innovation), on ‘London 2020: opportunities for data-driven innovation’

* Professor Yike Guo, Director of Imperial’s Data Science Institute, on ‘Big Data for Better Science’

* Professor Jianhui Zhong, a ZJU biomedical engineer who will speak on Big Medical Data and Medical Imaging

* Professor Hong Mi, a ZJU expert on public management, who will speak on demographic changes and the use of big data for public policy simulation

* Professor Junling Jia, a ZJU life scientist, who will speak on Biological Big Data

* Professor Paul Matthews, an Imperial neuroscientist, who will argue that ‘Grand Challenges Mean Great Opportunities: Emerging Science to Transform Future Healthcare’

* Professor Christopher Pain, an Imperial engineer, who will present on ‘Detailed Modelling of Air Pollution in Cities’

* Professor Peng Zhang, a ZJU statistician on ‘Inference on Area under the Curve Based on Methods of Quantiles’

* Professor Daniel Rueckert, Imperial’s Professor of Visual Information Processing, on ‘Big Data in Medical Imaging – Learning clinically useful information’

* Dr Aldo Faisal, Imperial’s Lecturer in Neurotechnology, on ‘Breaking into your Brain – by analysing the perception-action loop’

* Professor Xiaofei He, ZJU’s Professor of Computer Science, on ‘Learning with Parallel Vector Field’

* Professor Zhengyue Zhang, ZJU’s Professor of Mathematics, on ‘Big Data: Nonlinear Dimensionality Reduction and Sparse Recovery’

* Professor Xi Li, ZJU’s Professor of Computer Science, on ‘Big Visual Data Analysis for City Public Security’

* Professor Yibing Wang, ZJU’s Professor of Control Engineering, Professor Yueping Xu, Professor of Water Resources and Professor Qiuxiao Chen, Professor of Urban Planning, on ‘Big Data in Civil Engineering and Architecture’

* Professor Eric Yeatman, Imperial’s Professor of Microengineering, on ‘Pervasive Sensing for Smart Cities and environments’

* Dr Chao Wu, an Imperial Research Associate, on ‘Cognitive Sensing: from human intelligence to sensor intelligence’

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UWE Bristol shortlisted for prestigious national business award

July 18, 2014

UWE Bristol students_UN
UWE Bristol’s Research, Business and Innovation department is celebrating its selection as a finalist in the prestigious 2014 National Business Awards. UWE is the only University shortlisted for one of the awards, the winners of which will be announced in November.

UWE is in line for the BlackBerry Business Enabler of the Year, one of seventeen categories.

The finalists were selected by a panel of leading business figures, including Simon Feary, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute, who described UWE as, “A real business enabler across a broad range of initiatives. UWE mines its rich vein of talent really effectively, showing what can be done to benefit business when intellectual capital is combined with commercial nous.”

Tracey John, Head of UWE’s Research and Business Development Team, said, “We are particularly proud of being shortlisted, as many of those competing for the awards are outstanding businesses in their fields.

“Enabling businesses to innovate and grow is core to our strategy and ethos, so we are delighted to be getting national recognition for this. Our unique approach allows us to work with businesses of all sizes across all sectors. Some examples of how UWE supports enterprise and economic growth in the region include hosting European-funded innovation projects such as iNets South West and UWE’s Innovation 4 Growth programme, which saw £4m of innovation funds distributed to South West businesses.”

Dame Helen Alexander, Chair of Judges for the National Business Awards said: “These finalists represent some of the most innovative and inspiring businesses, entrepreneurs and social enterprises the UK has to offer. In my role as Chair of Judges I’m always interested to see what the finalists are doing differently to stand out in their fields, and this year we have some fantastic examples of success. I’m looking forward to seeing them through the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style judging events.”

Finalists will make live presentations to a multi-disciplinary panel of judges who will decide the overall winner for each award category, to be announced at the National Business Awards ceremony in November.

The National Business Awards supports The Prince’s Trust, a charity that offers practical and financial support to young people who need it.

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Senate turns down charter school expansion – Education Week

Published Online: July 17, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Senate rejected a bill Wednesday that would have allowed for an expansion of charter schools in Boston and other urban communities.

The House-passed measure was defeated by a 30-9 margin after senators also voted down, by a 26-13 margin, a proposal by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz that called for linking caps on charter school growth to reimbursements the state provides school districts for costs incurred when students leave traditional schools for charter schools.

The votes likely spell the end of efforts to pass legislation in the current session, which ends July 31.

"The charter model is working, and it should be allowed to expand," said Marc Kenen, executive director of the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association, in a statement following the vote.

"Instead, the Senate has ensured that the high quality educational opportunities offered by charters will be frozen in place," Kenen said.

While supporters of charters, public schools which operate independently from local school districts, praise them as laboratories for educational innovation, critics say they drain financial resources from conventional public schools and often provide fewer opportunities for special education students.

The bill approved by the House in May called for gradually increasing the existing cap on charter school spending in underperforming school districts. The cap, already slated to rise from 15 percent to 18 percent by 2018, would have grown an additional 1 percent per year under the bill until it reached 23 percent by 2022.

A 2010 law requires the state to reimburse school districts 100 percent of per-pupil costs in the first year after a student moves from a conventional public school to a charter school, and 25 percent in each of the following five years. While the state met its reimbursement obligations in the last fiscal year, it has fallen short in other years.

Chang-Diaz, a Boston Democrat, sought to make the annual increase in charter school spending dependent on the state fully funding the reimbursements. She argued her proposal would be an effective middle ground.

"Can we write laws that anticipate funding pressures of the future and not pit the child in the district schools against her brother, or her neighbor, in the charter school? Yes, we can," said Chang-Diaz.

But the amendment ran into opposition from charter school advocates who said the funding requirement would create uncertainty among the schools as they considered whether to build new facilities or expand existing ones.

Some senators also doubted that charter schools would do enough to bridge the student achievement gap in low-income districts.

"This is not the time. We do not have consensus on how to move forward," said Somerville Democratic Sen. Patricia Jehlen.

Teachers unions who opposed lifting the charter school cap applauded the Senate action.

"The vote against raising the cap keeps resources in our locally controlled public schools where they are most needed,"said Thomas Gosnell, president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Federation of Teachers.

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