Category : Children

(Local Paper Front Page) South Carolina teachers warn legislators: ‘We’re darn close’ to a walk out

South Carolina teachers are so frustrated by low pay and disrespect, an organized strike could be imminent, even without a union, teachers are warning legislators.

Several dozen teachers from nine counties took personal time off Wednesday so they could advocate for public education at the Statehouse ahead of the legislative session that starts Jan. 8. They want higher salaries and better overall funding for K-12 schools.

Earlier this year, a nine-day teacher walkout in West Virginia led to a 5 percent pay hike. That fueled demonstrations across the nation, including in Kentucky, where the GOP-dominated Legislature overrode the Republican governor’s veto of education funding increases.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Education

(WSJ) Facing dwindling membership and hefty costs tied to sexual-abuse lawsuits, Boy Scouts of America considers bankruptcy

The Boy Scouts of America is considering filing for bankruptcy protection as it faces dwindling membership and escalating legal costs related to lawsuits over how it handled allegations of sex abuse.

Leaders of the Boy Scouts, one of the country’s largest youth organizations, have hired law firm Sidley Austin LLP for assistance with a possible chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the matter.

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America says that more than 110 million people have participated in its educational programs, which promote outdoors skills, character-building and leadership.

The Boy Scouts have been at the center of sexual-abuse scandals in the past, and the organization is facing a number of lawsuits that allege inappropriate conduct by employees or volunteers in incidents dating back as far as the 1960s.

Filing for bankruptcy would stop the litigation and would give the nonprofit a chance to negotiate with victims who have sued.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, History, Men

(NYT Op-Ed) David Brooks–Liberal Parents, Radical Children

…over the long run it will matter. The boomer conservatives, raised in the era of Reagan, generally believe in universal systems — universal capitalism, universal democracy and the open movement of people and goods. Younger educated conservatives are more likely to see the dream of universal democracy as hopelessly naïve, and the system of global capitalism as a betrayal of the working class. Younger conservatives are comfortable in a demographically diverse society, but are also more likely to think in cultural terms, and to see cultural boundaries.

Whether on left or right, younger people have emerged in an era of lower social trust, less faith in institutions, a greater awareness of group identity. They live with the reality of tribal political warfare and are more formed by that warfare.

I guess the final irony is this: Liberal educated boomers have hogged the spotlight since Woodstock. But now events are driven by the oldsters who fuel Trump and the young wokesters who drive the left. The boomers finally got the top jobs, but feel weak and beleaguered.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Theology, Young Adults

(NIH) Francis Collins–Statement on Claim of First Gene-Edited Babies by Chinese Researcher

From there:

NIH is deeply concerned about the work just presented at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong by Dr. He Jiankui, who described his effort using CRISPR-Cas9 on human embryos to disable the CCR5 gene. He claims that the two embryos were subsequently implanted, and infant twins have been born. This work represents a deeply disturbing willingness by Dr. He and his team to flout international ethical norms. The project was largely carried out in secret, the medical necessity for inactivation of CCR5 in these infants is utterly unconvincing, the informed consent process appears highly questionable, and the possibility of damaging off-target effects has not been satisfactorily explored. It is profoundly unfortunate that the first apparent application of this powerful technique to the human germline has been carried out so irresponsibly. The need for development of binding international consensus on setting limits for this kind of research, now being debated in Hong Kong, has never been more apparent. Without such limits, the world will face the serious risk of a deluge of similarly ill-considered and unethical projects. Should such epic scientific misadventures proceed, a technology with enormous promise for prevention and treatment of disease will be overshadowed by justifiable public outrage, fear, and disgust.

Lest there be any doubt, and as we have stated previously, NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

(Orlando Sentinel) Derryck Green–Religious debate in school? Yes: Unbiased discussion essential to understanding others

Knowledge about religion has incredible value. Religion can impart wisdom, morality, civility and mutuality. If done correctly, it regulates human impulses and bad behavior. It distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, and encourages charity and good behavior. Those who study religion will learn how others relate to the divine (or deities) through faith, and on the flip side, they can see the practical consequences of bad religion.

These virtues nonetheless encounter pushback from those uncomfortable with discussing faith or religion in schools. Some think — specifically with respect to Christianity — that teaching religion always equals proselytization and conversion.

This irrational fear has been so reinforced that the public educational system rejects the discussion or instruction of religion altogether. In fact, this irrationality is a form of anti-Christian religious bigotry.

The resulting unfamiliarity with religion has done a tremendous educational disservice to generations of schoolchildren. Separating religious instruction from school has suppressed intellectual curiosity and exploration — reinforcing ignorance about the significance of religious effect on human progress, the rise of civilizations and overall global development.

Limiting exposure to religion leaves too few with a functional knowledge of it. Such inexperience has detrimental consequences later in life.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Education

(BBC) Chinese scientist He Jiankui defends ‘world’s first gene-edited babies’

…experts worry meddling with the genome of an embryo could cause harm not only to the individual but also future generations that inherit these same changes.

Prof He’s recent claims were widely criticised by other scientists.

Hundreds of Chinese scientists also signed a letter on social media condemning the research, saying they were “resolutely” opposed to it.

“If true, this experiment is monstrous. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer,” Prof Julian Savulescu, an ethics expert at the University of Oxford earlier told the BBC.

“This experiment exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

(TES) Church of England worried over the future of its rural schools

The Church of England will hold a summit this week to brainstorm ways of keeping open its rural schools.

Many of its 2,000 rural schools – some with less than 200 pupils – are battling to stay open, and are often the last survivor in a village that has already lost its post office, general shop and pub, it is claimed.

The church’s chief education officer Nigel Genders, writing today in the Sunday Times, says: “While it is true that the cost of educating a child might be higher in a rural area, we also understand the value to children of receiving their education in this setting, and of rural schools as rich expressions of their community.”

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education

(CBS Marketwatch) With genetically edited babies, a scientist transgresses a moral boundary

A Chinese scientist from a university in Shenzhen claims he has succeeded in creating the world’s first genetically edited babies.

He told the Associated Press that twin girls were born earlier this month after he edited their embryos using CRISPR technology to remove the CCR5 gene, which plays a critical role in enabling many forms of the HIV virus to infect cells.

We have just entered the era of designer babies. We will soon have the ability to edit embryos with the aim of eliminating debilitating diseases, selecting physical traits such as skin and eye color, or even adding extra intelligence. But our understanding of the effects of the technology is in its infancy.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(ABC) A Beautiful and Deeply Moving Story–Man with Leukemia meets birth mother for the first time in 45 years

Slaton explained that Martin’s disbelief was understandable. “You believe for so long this day will never come,” she said. “So it takes a while going from the belief to it’ll never happen, to here it is.”

After about an hour, Martin finally made the decision to call his birth mother, with his wife by his side. When Garza’s phone rang, she had her other two children and grandchildren by her side. As she and Martin began talking, both of them broke down in tears.

“I never expected this day to come,” he told her.

“I always dreamed of this…I never forgot you,” Garza told him.

“That’s amazing to hear,” Martin said.

“I didn’t know anything about you,” Garza continued. “I didn’t know where you were. I didn’t know who adopted you. I didn’t see you after you were born….”

Read it all or watch the video (recommended).

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family

The Inspiring story just aired on CBS yesterday about Elementary School Teacher (and former football player) Aaron Maybin

Posted in Children, Education, Sports

([London] Times) Ben Macintyre–Master race dystopia is closer than we think

In an essay published posthumously, Stephen Hawking warned that advances in genetic science would eventually create a generation of superhumans able to redesign and improve themselves by manipulating the genetic make-up of their offspring. “I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression . . . Some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to diseases and length of life.”

In Hawking’s nightmarish vision, there will be stark genetic division in society: a biologically improving elite and a mass of “unimproved humans” without the power or resources to edit their genetic inheritance. “Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete.”

Many people already consistently improve themselves and their offspring, when they can, with private education, cosmetic surgery and advanced healthcare. If there is the opportunity to rig the science of reproduction in favour of an improved outcome, those who can afford it, will. The survival of the fittest occurs naturally; now it may be possible to control the same evolutionary process artificially.

Henry Greely, professor of law and genetics at Stanford, predicts that 20 to 40 years from now a majority of babies will be born by IVF, after being screened to ensure their embryos are the healthiest their parents could produce.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(KQED) Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom

After class was over, we sat down to discuss my observations. The first thing she said was, “Oh no, what a horrible day. I am so exhausted. Sorry you had to watch that.” I was flabbergasted because I didn’t really think it was that bad at all. “Jane, I was actually about to tell you what a wonderful class you have.” She was shocked. “Really? What do you mean? Carl and Joey were constantly bickering and bothering the other students. It was really getting on my nerves.” I told her that I thought their behavior was pretty normal for that age and that I noticed so many wonderful learning moments that their disruptions seemed minor. I also explained the negative attribution bias.

She was astonished to learn that she had focused so much on the few challenging students that she had missed out on celebrating the many joyful learning moments that had occurred. I offered a practice to help her change this habit. “Each day, after your class is over, write down all the good things that happened that day. You can even include your students in this process by putting up a paper on the wall and inviting everyone to write good things that happen each day. At the end of the day, look at the list with the class and review them.”

She took to this suggestion with relish and created a whole bulletin board devoted to this activity. At the top she put “GOOD THINGS HAPPEN” in large, colorful letters. Students were invited to write and draw about good things that happened on small pieces of paper that were posted each day. To her surprise, the first day there were 15 good things posted and more than half of them had been written by the students. Furthermore, Carl and Joey got excited about this activity and wanted to be part of making good things happen. Jane realized that this was an opportunity for encouraging their pro-social behavior. She began catching them when they were doing the right thing, rather than being constantly alert to their tendencies to get in trouble. Reinforcing their positive behavior with recognition made a big difference, and soon they were as engaged as the rest of her students….

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Posted in Children, Education, Psychology

(WSJ) Mene Ukueberuwa–The Vatican prevents American prelates from addressing clergy sexual abuse

Ahead of the conference, the bishops coalesced around two proposals to impose accountability. The first is a simple code of conduct extending to bishops the zero-tolerance policy for sex abuse enacted for priests in 2002. The second is an independent review board to investigate claims against bishops and refer credible cases directly to the Vatican. “Each bishop would have to agree to allow himself to be investigated by the committee,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told me last week. He described the bishops’ shedding of immunity as “a covenantal sort of relationship” that would allow them to police each other better.

Yet the Vatican’s surprise announcement means the new covenant will have to wait. The Holy See barred the conference from voting on new sex-abuse protocols until after a summit in Rome this February. Naturally, the bishops were shocked when they received the news Monday morning. Instead of returning to their dioceses with a concrete agreement, they’ll bring nothing but assurances of future reforms. More than 15 years after the sex-abuse crisis first surfaced in the U.S., such promises do little to quell public anger or ease prosecutorial pressure.

The delay shows that the Vatican simply doesn’t place the same value on speed and openness with the public that the U.S. episcopate does. American bishops are closer to the schools and parishes where abuse actually takes place. When one leader fails to respond appropriately to abuse, they all take on the stench of corruption. And unlike the pope, local bishops generally are seen as dispensable by their followers—shepherds to be discarded if they fail to protect the flock.

Despite the imprudent delay, U.S. bishops can continue cleaning their own pastures ahead of the Rome summit.

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Posted in Children, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Friday Mental Health Break–Mike Nichols and Elaine May’s skit of a son calling his mother on the phone

Posted in Children, Humor / Trivia, Marriage & Family

Archbp Glenn Davies–Real freedoms will end the broken chain of exemptions

The Sex Discrimination Act was introduced by the Hawke Government and, regrettably, relegated religious freedom to the unsatisfactory category of an exemption. In other words, it legislated the rights of schools to discriminate. This was never asked for by church leaders and has always been considered by us as tantamount to marginalising religious freedom. Worse, it placed us in the invidious position of being described as those who discriminate against students and staff, rather than being put positively, where a school had the right to employ staff who were committed to the Christian ethos of the school. A fundamental community expectation recognises the rights of organisations to hire staff who uphold their values. You wouldn’t expect the Liberal Party to hire a communist any more than the Labor Party would hire someone who was anti-union.

In 1984, the categories for the exemptions were ‘sex, marital status and pregnancy’. However, in 2013, the Gillard Government decided to add the categories of ‘sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex and relationship status’ as new protected attributes. There was good reason for inserting these new areas of prohibited discrimination in the body of the Act, but the way it was done was inept. The fact that the Sex Discrimination Act has, on average, been amended by Parliament once every year for over thirty years, speaks volumes.

So when the Heads of our Anglican Schools wrote their Open Letter, the subject at hand–stated quite clearly–was religious freedom, the right to run a school in accordance with its tenets, beliefs and values. They pointed out that schools never used these exemptions in the area of sexual identity and orientation. They neither wanted them nor requested them. To do so would have gone against the very ethos of an Anglican school, which welcomes all students….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture