At today’s Get Fuzzy.
From the press release:
A new Web-based resource providing detailed information and evaluation of more than 200 nonprofit organizations in the United States is now available for use by charity managers, philanthropists and the public. The Samaritan Guide, developed by the Acton Institute’s Center for Effective Compassion, is a searchable database composed of applicants for the annual Samaritan Award and has organized the directory according to location and area of service.
The guide focuses exclusively on U.S. charities that accept little or no government funding and are geared toward serving individuals. These organizations are rated on program results and how they are achieved, with detailed examinations of such things as the integration of faith into services and programs.
The Samaritan Guide is intended both as an information tool and an improvement program for charities rather than just a simple rating system, said Karen Woods, Director of the Center for Effective Compassion. “Poverty and neighborhood needs are complex issues requiring a multidimensional approach,” she said. “Another unusual aspect of the guide is that it provides a level playing field for charities of all sizes. Charities with $10,000 annual budgets that serve two people are just as able to receive strong ratings as charities with multi-million dollar budgets, serving thousands.”
The Center for Effective Compassion is accepting applications for the 2005 Samaritan Award through June 30, 2005. All applicants are entered into the online Samaritan Guide. More information can also be found at www.samaritanguide.org.
During last week’s Symposium, Acton communication staff had the opportunity to interview two African religious leaders on a variety of issues facing their continent, including the $40 billion in debt relief proposed to the G8 nations.
The Rt. Rev. Bernard Njoroge is bishop of the diocese of Nairobi in the Episcopal Church of Africa, and also a member of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission. Chanshi Chanda is chairman of the Institute of Freedom for the Study of Human Dignity in Kitwe, Zambia. You can read an edited and condensed transcript of their interview here. You can also take a look at video excerpts from the interview, with Bishop Njoroge and Chanshi Chanda.
All of these items and many more resources are available in Acton’s “Aid to Africa” press page.
D. Eric Schansberg, an Acton adjunct scholar, takes a look at the Social Security system, and concludes that “policymakers should address the oppressive taxes that Social Security imposes on the working poor, its pathetic rate of return, and inequities in its payouts.”
Can the new Batman movie provide moral lessons on business ethics and philanthropy? Ben Sikma writes that the film affirms “the value of traditional institutions more generally, such as the family, rule of law, and private ownership of the means of production.”
Harvey Silverglate on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) blog, The Torch, passes on one explanation for why college tuition costs have been increasing at double digit rates for years on end. He writes in part:
Alan Charles Kors and I posited one answer to the seeming puzzle in our book The Shadow University. We noted the extraordinary increase in administrative staff on the student life side of colleges and universities. We attributed this in large measure to the vast increase in the university’s control over and interference in students’ non-academic lives, under the rubric of the university’s resurgent in loco parentis role. This development, commencing in the 1980s, coincided with the entrenchment of the notion that students in the newly diversified American university could not learn to get along without administrative micro-management, “sensitivity training,” imposition of forced “civility” with the aid of speech codes, and other such devices seeking to avoid “offense” being inflicted upon, or at least felt by, students, particularly those in “historically disadvantaged” groups. These vast new armies of student life administrators were seen as necessary, too, to protect universities from liability under new anti-harassment legislation and regulations—or so it seemed to timid administrators and the general counsel who advise them. The result has been an academic culture as sterile as it is oppressive.
This corresponds with a move away from education (properly understood) in favor of indoctrination.
This EducatioNation blog post contains the text of an incisive WSJ editorial, along with a sample curriculum that illustrates the idiocy outlined in the editorial.
In “Ethnomathematics,” Diane Ravitch writes, “In the early 1990s, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued standards that disparaged basic skills like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, since all of these could be easily performed on a calculator.”
She goes on to outline some characteristics of the “new, new math,” including “using mathematics as a tool to advance social justice. Social justice math relies on political and cultural relevance to guide math instruction.” After all, as one textbook states, “teaching math in a neutral manner is not possible.”
The disdain for basic math skills in favor of reliance on calculators reminds me of Socrates’ criticism of the written word in Plato’s Phaedrus. Part of Socrates’ problem with writing is that it can become a sort of crutch, which actually promotes laziness, forgetfulness, sloth, et al.
Socrates relates a conversation between Theuth (the father of writing) and Thamus. Theuth contends that writing, “will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit.”
But Thamus replies:
O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
In this way, “social justice math” is really “know nothing” math.