9973TressDunceCapThe New York Times reports on a study that found that young adults in the United States not only fare poorly in math and science compared with their international competitors — something we have known for years — but also now in literacy.

More surprisingly, even middle-aged Americans — who, on paper, are among the best-educated people of their generation anywhere in the world — are barely better than middle-of-the-pack in skills. Arne Duncan, the education secretary, released a statement saying that the findings “show our education system hasn’t done enough to help Americans compete — or position our country to lead — in a global economy that demands increasingly higher skills.” The study is the first based on new tests developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a coalition comprised mostly of developed nations, and administered in 2011 and 2012 to thousands of people, ages 16 to 65, by 23 countries.

The great irony of this story is that the United States spends 7.3 percent of its gross domestic product on education from pre-kindergarten through the university level — the fifth highest in the world — yet the results don’t match the spending. What is happening? Why are we spending more and more money on education and producing less competitive students? I offer the following thoughts:
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UntitledIn the U.S. there are approximately 4,500 colleges and universities (2,774 4-year institutions and 1,721 2-year institutions). Most of the institutions that were founded prior to 1900 began as Christian colleges, though only about 970 schools are still religiously affiliated. Out of those 970 sectarian schools, 570 are distinctively Christian.

America has almost as many Christian schools as the entire rest of the world combined. But that’s quickly changing. As the Chronicles of Higher Education notes, in the developing world there is a renaissance in Christian higher education:
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On Oct. 3, the Acton Institute held its annual luncheon and lecture in Houston at the Omni Houston Hotel.

Kris Alan Mauren, co-founder and executive director of the Acton Institute, emceed the event. The Rev. Martin Nicholas, pastor of Sugar Land First United Methodist Church, gave the invocation for the afternoon and the Hon. George W. Strake gave the introduction. Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of Acton, gave the keynote lecture for the afternoon: “Religious Liberty and Economic Liberty: Twin Guarantees for Human Freedom.”

Rev. Sirico began the lecture by giving a background of the Christian faith and religious liberty in the Roman Empire with the story of the emperor Constantine and the coming of the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313. This edict declared religious liberty and tolerance in the empire at the moment when Christianity was on the rise and established tolerance for all religions not just Christianity. It also restored properties to the church if they had been previously confiscated by the state. (more…)

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Every year on October 11, the United Nations celebrates the Day of the Girl. This year’s theme focuses on technology and education. Many of the U.N.’s goals for highlighting education are admirable; after all, we’ve seen recently in the news how Malala Yousafzai, the 16 year old Pakistani, was shot in the face by the Taliban for promoting education for girls and women.

Cultural prejudices are not the only issues facing the education of girls. There are problems with transportation, family priorities (being able to afford to educate only one child – typically a boy), sanitary issues (girls missing school due to the lack of sanitary supplies for their menstrual cycle), and marrying off girls at young ages. It doesn’t take any leap of intellect to know that by educating girls, poverty recedes. (more…)

159408419_fame_xlargeIf there is one thing that humans all have in common it is the desire to make meaning out of life and to do so in a community that gives us a sense that we matter to others. We long for connection, love, and validation. We want to know that our life matters now and that we will be missed after this life. In the secularization of Western societies, wherein God has been expunged from the meaning of life, people are left to pursue confirmation of meaning and belonging through temporal, material means, because this life is all there is. This framework, combined with the hidden worldviews of individualism, moral relativism, consumerism, and narcissism, produces a society where people are consumed by a lust for fame and notoriety.

Scientific American highlights a new study by Dara Greenwood and colleagues explaining three main reasons why people seek fame:
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While our educational system in the United States served us well at one time, Sir Ken Robinson says it’s not working for us anymore. In this short video, Robinson talks about what’s wrong with education, and some possibilities for making it better.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, October 11, 2013
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Helping Addicts Off the Streets: A Legacy of Lives Restored
Collette Caprara, The Foundry

Last week, the nation lost a true champion of civil society with the passing of Bob Coté. Thirty years ago, Coté launched Step 13, a facility/program for addicts and alcoholics in the midst of the skid-row section of Denver.

Christians in the Kettle: Engaging public policy in self-defense.
Barrett Duke, ERLC

Given the condition of our culture today, a posture of self-defense makes sense. Much of society is growing increasingly hostile to the Christian message and more resistant to the biblical worldview. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/christians-in-the-kettle-engaging-public-policy-in-self-defense#sthash.YJJ964Mg.dpuf

Progressives Have Destroyed Founding Fathers Dream of Limited Government
David Corbin and Matthew Parks, The Blaze

It has not been a good week for American government. But does this mean it has been a good week for the American people? Perhaps.

A Missionary with A Mind for Economics
Elise Amyx, Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

Discussing the link between spiritual and material needs, the pitfalls of practical missions experience, and the need for “Haitian Heroes.”