President Barack Obama, during a recent trip to Northern Ireland, decried the segregation of denominational churches and schools:
Issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity — symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others — these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it.
If towns remain divided — if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs — if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear and resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to apply for a Fall 2013 Calihan Academic Fellowship. The fellowships provide scholarships and research grants to future scholars and religious leaders whose academic work shows outstanding potential.
Graduate students studying theology, philosophy, religion, economics, or related fields are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is July 15. Information about eligibility, conditions, the selection process, and application requirements can be found on the Calihan Academic Fellowship page of the Acton Institute website.
Politicians and public educators seem to constantly revert back to status quo arguments of further centralization as a way to reform education failures in the U.S. The most recent push for uniformity in the public school system is the Common Core, a set of national assessment standards and tests that has been adopted by 45 states and will be implemented possibly as soon as the 2014 school year. President Obama enticed the states to adopt Common Core with his $4.35 billion “Race to the Top Fund,” promising stimulus money to any that complied. He also announced that $350 million of that fund would be spent on developing the tests that would be aligned with the Common Core Standards.
Common Core constitutes another government takeover under the Obama Administration. While defenders of the Common Core correctly point out that Obama and his cabinet had nothing to do with the design or implementation of Common Core, they fail to recognize the coercion of the governors to adopt Common Core through Race to the Top. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has also used questionable tactics in support of Common Core. In a recent speech at the American Society of News Editors Annual Convention, as reported by the Huffington Post, Duncan claimed, “When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims. They say that the Common Core calls for federal collection of student data. For the record, it doesn’t, we’re not allowed to, and we won’t. And let’s not even get into the really wacky stuff: mind control, robots, and biometric brain mapping.” Such straw man arguments appear to be desperate attempts to obfuscate opponents’ central criticism: Common Core wipes out competition amongst states to produce better education programs, and it severely cripples school choice through more centralization. (more…)
When Jessica Lahey started teaching English at a “core virtues” school she thought it would only require talking about empathy and courage when discussing To Kill a Mockingbird. She soon learned what it really meant — and what it meant for her students:
I mean come on. Character education? Core virtues? I teach English, not Sunday school, and besides, I teach middle school. If I were to walk into my eighth grade English class and wax rhapsodic about prudence and temperance, those kids would eat me alive. It’s hard enough to keep the attention of a classroom full of middle school students without coming on like an 18th-century schoolmarm.
Somewhere along the way, someone must have started dosing me with the character education Kool-Aid, because five years in, I have come to understand what real character education looks like and what it can do for children. I can’t imagine teaching in a school that does not have a hard-core commitment to character education, because I’ve seen what that education can mean to a child’s emotional, moral, and intellectual development. Schools that teach character education report higher academic performance, improved attendance, reduced violence, fewer disciplinary issues, reduction in substance abuse, and less vandalism. At a time when parents and teachers are concerned about school violence, it is worth noting that students who attend character education schools report feeling safer because they know their fellow students value respect, responsibility, compassion and hard work. From a practical perspective, it’s simply easier to teach children who can exercise patience, self-control, and diligence, even when they would rather be playing outside – especially when they would rather be playing outside.
According to the 2013 Mackinac Policy Conference, Michigan’s three largest universities (Michigan State, University of Michigan and Wayne State) are producing entrepreneurs at twice the national average. According to Michael Wayland, the report included:
…responses from more than 40,000 of the 1.2 million alumni of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University. The responses revealed that more than 19 percent of the alumni surveyed have started a company, and some have created more than one.
The study suggests a significant number of alumni are starting their own businesses, and more than 50 percent of those businesses are here in Michigan, contributing to our state’s economic prosperity,” said URC [University Research Corridor] Executive Director Jeff Mason in a statement. “The URC is committed to supplying the tools that can lead to new companies and more jobs.” (more…)
Earlier this year, the Catholic University of America announced the creation of a School of Business and Economics that will be “distinctively Catholic.” The new school offers a model based on Catholic social doctrine and the natural law that is unlike theories prevalent at most leading business schools. “Business schools focus on teaching commercial skills and rules of ethics, but they neglect the importance of character,” says Andrew Abela, the school’s dean and Acton’s 2009 Novak Award Recipient. “Our distinctive idea is to bring the rich resources of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the natural law to bear upon business and economics.
I recently spoke with Dr. Abela about the new program, what makes a Catholic approach different, and what it means for business and economics to be “people-centered”:
Why is it so rare for Catholic colleges and universities to take a “distinctively Catholic” approach on subjects like business and economics?
I think there are several possible reasons for this. First, the business and economics education at many Catholic universities tends to mirror that of non-religious universities in that it focuses on knowledge, not on will. But this is not enough. We have to cultivate our students in virtue, which needs the formation of both the intellect and the will. It’s not enough for students to know the good, they have to do the good, and even to love the good. Second, as you know much of higher education suffers from political correctness, and faculty are thus reluctant to commit to any one approach to ethics. Students end up being taught several (frequently conflicting) theories of ethics, with the result that they graduate as sophisticated relativists. Finally, faculty are committed to existing business and economics theories, and it is hard to reconcile these theories, which claim to be morally neutral, with the Catholic intellectual tradition, which holds that all human action has a moral dimension.
Why are you creating a new School of Business & Economics now – does the world really need another business school? And why a School of Business and Economics? (more…)
There is no doubt that higher education is costly. Textbooks alone can run $1000 a semester for some undergraduates. Waiting tables and flipping burgers won’t cover those costs. With many parents just as strapped for cash as their children, how does one pay for a college diploma?
For some young women, the answer is to sell themselves. There are websites that offer “matching” services for “mutually beneficial relationships”; that is, a young woman signs up for a “sugar daddy”. He pays for college and she has her money problems solved. One website does offer helpful information, such as “keep your emotions in check” and “sugaring is not welfare”. All just business, plain and simple. Although young men sign up for this type of arrangement, the vast majority are young women. (more…)
On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said that Uwe and Hannelore Romeike along with their children were not persecuted by the German government and will not be granted asylum in the United States.
According to the Religion News Service, the Romeikes wanted to home school their children, fearing public education would discourage “Christian values.” The German government levied thousands of dollars of fines on the family and threatened to take away their children. The Romeikes fled Germany and moved to the United States in 2008, hoping they would be free to home school their children, but this did not turn out to be the case.
The UK’s Daily Mail states that an immigration judge granted the family asylum back in 2010, but the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the ruling in 2012 bringing the Romeikes to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled “that U.S. immigration laws do not grant a safe haven to people everywhere who face restrictions that would be prohibited under the Constitution.” According to a press release from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA):
The court said that the Romeikes had not made a sufficient case and that the United States has not opened its doors to every victim of unfair treatment. Although the court acknowledged that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the rights of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, it refused to concede that the harsh treatment of religiously and philosophically motivated homeschoolers in Germany amounts to persecution within our laws on asylum.
The Romeikes and the HSLDA plan to appeal to the Supreme Court. Back in February, Joe Carter profiled the Romeikes and their fight for religious freedom on the Powerblog.
Private schools are for the privileged and those willing to pay high costs for education; everyone else attends public school or seeks alternate options: this is the accepted wisdom. In the United States, the vast majority of students at the primary and secondary level attend public school, funded by the government.
When considering education in the developing world, we may hold fast to this thinking, believing that for those in severely impoverished areas, private education is an unrealistic and scarce option, leaving the poor with public school or no education at all.
Indeed, this was the opinion held by James Tooley, a Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University, until he experienced the landscape firsthand, traveling throughout the developing world, conducting research on educational systems in poor and prosperous areas, documenting numerous case studies, and reporting findings that prove the prevalence of low-cost private schools in poor areas.
In an Education Next article, Tooley discusses his observations and unmasks two common myths associated with education for the poor.
Myth #1: Private Education for the Poor Does Not Exist
We sometimes treat “the poor” as if they were somehow uniquely incapable of rising out of poverty without our assistance. We often assume, if we don’t provide them with everything they need, including education, that no one will. Yet if we look closely (and with a bit more humility), we see indigenous solutions everywhere. (more…)
Elise Hilton recently surveyed the dismal employment rate among young adults in the US, writing that we have moved in twelve years from having the best rate in the developed world to being among the worst, following the path of Greece, Spain, and Portugal.
She highlights two possible solutions. The better one is from Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg:
Gregg says we must rely on free markets rather than redistribution of wealth, economic liberty, rule of law, entrepreneurship and the ability to take risks economically – all things that have made America great in the past.
The second comes from David Leonhardt, who, among other ideas, suggests, “Long term, nothing is likely to matter more than improving educational attainment, from preschool through college.”
Notice the language he uses? Not educational quality, nor even job-training, but “educational attainment.” With no intended disrespect to Mr. Leonhardt, it is precisely this well-meaning, widespread, but ill-informed mentality that has led, in large part, to our current educational crisis. (more…)