China parent taken away by police over school tiff

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BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese parent upset about the end of an experimental teaching program at a Beijing elementary school was detained Thursday on suspicion of causing trouble, lawyer Zhou Ze said.

Beijing police also searched the home of parent Cao Baoyin, a former journalist now working in children's literature, Zhou said.

Cao and other parents protested the end of the previously government-sanctioned New Education project, which emphasized intensive reading at an elementary school associated with the No. 2 Fengtai Middle School.

Cao was also briefly elected to lead a parent committee at the elementary school, but the committee was quickly disbanded after the school administration refused to acknowledge its legitimacy. The committee had sought increased parental input in school affairs.

Chinese authorities hold monopoly control over most primary and secondary education, but parents are increasingly demanding a voice in school affairs.

On Tuesday, the day Cao was taken away, the district government said several parents had disrupted order by pulling their children from classes.

"No matter what the reason should be, it is wrong and irrational to deprive children of their right to receive compulsory education," a letter to parents posted on the school's website said. "It is illegal and not allowed to disrupt the school's normal education order. It is silly and unacceptable to achieve an end with extreme means."

The letter did not name any parent.

Chinese authorities are wary of any activism that could coalesce into a movement and erode the Communist Party's monopoly on power.

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