Category : Education

(Patheos) Chris Gehrz–The Stevens Point Pathway: How the Liberal Arts Will Die at Christian Colleges

In my experience, most college professors pay little attention to what’s happening in higher education beyond their own discipline or institution. So last week it was remarkable how many colleagues came up and asked me, “What happened at UW-Stevens Point?”

They were referring to one of the 26 campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, which announced last Monday that it was planning to address a $4.5 budget deficit by a combination of two strategies: “adding or expanding 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment” and “shifting resources from programs where fewer students are enrolled,” to the point of cutting several majors.

What will grow? Business programs like marketing, management, and finance, and STEM programs like chemical engineering, computer information systems, and aquaculture/aquaponics.

What will go away? Virtually every art, humanity, and social science major that isn’t directly connected to a professional “pathway.” Not just the languages (French, German, and Spanish at UWSP) and fine arts (art and music literature) programs that have been the first to go when smaller schools make such cuts. Stevens Point students would no longer be able to major in English, philosophy, political science, sociology, or history….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Young Adults

(GR) Washington Post attempts the near-impossible: Profiling Virginia Mens Basketball Coach’s Tony Bennett without mentioning faith

Tony Bennett — the coach, not the singer — is quirky. Mysterious. Someone who believes “it’s okay to be different.”

That’s the basic storyline for an in-depth Washington Post profile of Bennett, whose Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team enters March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.

Strangely enough (ghosts, anyone?), the Post manages to write 1,850 words about Bennett without any reference to terms such as “faith,” “Christian” and “prayer.”

Those familiar with Bennett will understand why that’s so remarkable.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Media, Religion & Culture, Sports, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Teach pupils the value of abstinence and celibacy, says Church of England

Pupils should be taught about the value of abstinence and celibacy as part of their sex education lessons, the Church of England has said.

In its submission to the Government’s overhaul of sex and relationships education the church also said that its lessons will also focus on “the Christian understanding of marriage as the context for sexual relationships”.

In a blog the Church’s chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, says that relationships and sex education in schools should teach students about “healthy relationships and lifestyle choices”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

(TES) Two Church Schools ordered to become academies set to close because no one will sponsor them

Church academy trust says it is not able to take on two church schools that were issued with directive academy orders

Two primary schools that were ordered by the Department for Education to become academies are set to close because no academy trust would take them on.

Surrey County Council this week launched public consultations on plans to shut Green Oak C of E Primary in Godalming and Ripley C of E Primary, Ripley.

Ofsted rated the former “inadequate” last March, while the latter received the same grade in June.

Under the 2016 Education and Adoption Act, all “inadequate” maintained schools must be turned into academies. The government issued directive academy orders for both schools.

The two consultations on closing the schools both say: “The effect of the order is that the school must be placed within a multi-academy trust (MAT) to secure its future. As no appropriate MAT has been identified to take the school forward, it is necessary for the council to undertake consultation on the future provision at the school.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) DeSanctis Alexandra–Notre Dame Becomes a Bit Less Catholic

The University of Notre Dame caved in. It will partly obey the Obama Care mandate requiring employer health-care plans to cover the cost of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. Rejecting the Trump administration’s religious exemption, Notre Dame announced last month that it will provide “simple contraceptives” to students and employees through its insurance program.

Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, deserves praise for discontinuing coverage of abortifacients. Yet he justified the birth-control decision by saying, in part, that Catholic tradition requires respect for “the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” Of course, Notre Dame community members can exercise their consciences without receiving university-provided contraception. And there is also the serious possibility that Notre Dame abused the legal process when it sued the Obama administration for relief. If the university had standing on religious-freedom grounds, how can it now explain its decision to facilitate coverage of birth control?

While these issues are concerning, as a graduate of Our Lady’s university, I take the recent news personally. I chose to attend Notre Dame because its essential Catholicism makes​it different from other outstanding American universities. Serious young Catholics may no longer look at Notre Dame the way I did, and with good reason.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Telegraph) Don’t let faith schools take in more pupils on the basis of religion, leaders warn

Faith schools must not be allowed to admit more children on the basis of religion, leaders have warned.

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph a group of 70 faith leaders, politicians and academics warned that lifting a cap which stops new faith schools admitting more than 50 per cent of children on the basis of religion would be “deleterious to social cohesion and respect”.

The signatories, led by former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, warn that the policy, promised in the Conservative manifesto, “allows schools to label children at the start of their lives with certain beliefs and then divide them up on that basis.”

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

A Glimpse of Life at Harvard these days–Secularism and Its Discontents by Henry Brooks

In the past month, student group Harvard College Faith in Action endured two serious public relations debacles, both regarding the group’s relation to the BGLTQ community. The first incident arose when HCFA invited renowned ex-lesbian Jackie Hill-Perry, who became famous for claiming that her rebirth into faith saved her from a “lifestyle of homosexual sin,” to speak at its weekly Doxa meeting. Then, in the wake of a public outcryand several opinion pieces, news broke that HCFA had dismissed one of its Bible study group leaders after she dated someone of the same gender—though group leaders citedreasons of “theological disagreement.” After the latter incident, the College put the group on “probation,” reportedly marking the first instance of such disciplinary action in the history of the College.

Much of the response among community members and the wider public has echoed a familiar array of sentiments. One student interviewed by The Crimson chastised the non-denominational Christian group for exemplifying “institutional backlash against queer people.” An op-ed judged HCFA “complicit in promoting dangerous homophobic rhetoric” and threatening “the emotional and physical safety of LGBT people here on campus.” One commenter following the story on a BGLTQ news site staked out a more extreme position: “Virginal births, talking snakes, boats with two of every species on board… Enough judging people through the prism of fairy tales.”

It seems to this author that these reactions, some more respectfully than others, leave unexamined the purchase that faith still holds in people’s lives—and the lives of BGLTQ people no less. To identify “dangerous homophobic rhetoric” as the object of our frustration means leaving the underlying problem—the way faith is often framed as contending with our secular sensibilities—unaddressed. Attributing homophobia to a belief in “virginal births [and] talking snakes” only exacerbates that problem, affirming categories like “religious-and-straight” and “secular-and-queer” that constrain nonconforming expressions of identity.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

(RNS) Battle over religion in public schools waged in one of America’s fastest-growing cities–Mckinney, Texas

Public school officials in one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities are being accused of violating the separation of church and state.

The controversy has been simmering in this once-tiny cotton-farming community, about 30 miles north of Dallas, since last summer when Rick McDaniel, superintendent of the McKinney Independent School District, prayed at a pulpit adorned with a Christian cross — during a mandatory school employee meeting at a church.

Last month, under pressure from concerned parents, the 24,500-student school district decided to end a decade-plus practice of conducting high school commencement ceremonies at the same church, Prestonwood Baptist, a Southern Baptist megachurch in nearby Plano.

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Posted in Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(The Hill) In Washington State a student is arrested after grandmother finds journal detailing school massacre plans

An 18-year-old high school student in Washington state was arrested this week after his grandmother reportedly found his journal with detailed plans for a school shooting.

Joshua O’Connor’s grandmother called 911 on Tuesday, the day before a deadly high school shooting in Florida, saying she believed her grandson had plans with “upcoming and credible threats.”

Excerpts from the journal detailed how O’Connor planned to shoot students and use homemade explosives at ACES High School in Everett, Wash., police said.

Officers were alarmed when they reviewed the journal, where O’Connor reportedly wrote about how often he thought about his plan and wanted to make it “infamous” by causing the “biggest fatality number I possibly can,” The Everett Daily Herald reported.

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Posted in Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Miami Herald) Rifle type used in South Florida school massacre ‘designed to kill multiple enemy combatants at once’

Semi-automatic rifles look like military weapons, and in many cases they are. But most types of semi-automatic AR-15 rifles — like the one the Broward Sheriff’s Office said was used to massacre 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wednesday afternoon — are legal for civilian use across the United States. In Florida, any adult can buy a rifle so long as they are not a convicted felon.

Most guns used in mass shootings across the United States were legally obtained — sometimes by the individual, or they were taken from a family member with a permit.

“AR-15s are designed to kill multiple enemy combatants at once,” said Frank Smyth, weapons expert and founder of GJS, an organization that trains journalists for combat reporting. “But of course in the hands of an active shooter or an individual that was targeting civilians, it’s a tactical weapon. It enables them to target multiple people in a quick period of time.”

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

(NR) David French–This Is How Religious Liberty Really Dies

There is a persistent belief among church-goers that a person should be able to get all the benefits of Christian community without any of the doctrines that make religion unpalatable to modern moral fashion. That’s in essence the mission statement of Mainline Protestantism. And it simply doesn’t work.

The Christian community and Christian service that people love are ultimately inseparable from the entirety of the Christian faith that spawned them. Carve out the doctrines that conflict with modern morals and you gut the faith. When you gut the faith, you ultimately gut the church. It makes sense then that mainline denominations aren’t thriving. They’re dying. Without the eternal truths of the Christian faith, the church becomes just another social club. Why sacrifice your time and money for the same wisdom you can hear at your leisure on NPR?

Here’s the interesting thing: Some of the casual Christians who’ve fled the unsatisfying Mainline are joining more traditionalist churches and schools without changing their beliefs. They don’t become more theologically orthodox, they just crave the benefits of the more orthodox communities. Once in their new religious home, they exert the same kind of pressure for cultural conformity that helped kill the churches they fled. It’s the religious analog of the well-known phenomenon of blue-state Americans leaving their high-tax, heavily-regulated states for red America and promptly working to make it more like the place they left.

Legal victories preserving our fundamental freedoms are ultimately meaningless if cultural pressures create a dreary intellectual conformity. You can win all the Supreme Court cases you want, but if the faithful don’t maintain the moral courage and strength of conviction to tack into the cultural headwinds, it will all be for naught….

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

(Tablet) Lord [Rowan] Williams: the environmental crisis is a toxic expression of humanity’s failures

Lord Williams of Oystermouth was speaking on Monday night at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he gave an address on Pope Francis’ green encyclical, Laudato Si’.

He praised the encyclical for highlighting that the Christian understanding of “who is my neighbour?’’ should embrace the whole of creation and that humanity’s treatment of the environment is self-destructive.

“For the Christian, the doctrine of creation is a declaration that all that is comes from God”, said Lord Williams. “But as Pope Francis says, it is not enough to avoid environmental disaster, to love our neighbour and ourselves…we have to ask how do we live in such a way to receive from God”.

Lord Williams, now the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reserved his staunchest criticism for contemporary approaches to education.

“Children need to know what beauty is and we need to think how this can be nurtured and developed in education. We have increasingly lost sight of education as a humanising task,” he said.

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Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Tablet) Anglicans deny obstructing Ofsted

The Church of England insists it is not resisting inspections of out-of- hours school settings to combat extremism and that it supports “targeted interventions.”

[The] Revd [Nigel] Genders said the “blanket regulation” and powers of inspection that Ofsted is calling for are a massive burden, unhelpful and ineffective: “It would be creating a massive haystack and never being able to find the needle.” He argues there is confusion over the issue of tackling extremism because a distinction needed to be made between voluntary church settings and illegal schools. He stressed that the church wanted to work with the government to keep children safe and if they have got concerns about particular settings “they should intervene.” But, he added: “It’s not for the state to tell churches how to behave or to get into state regulation of religion.”

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Avi Schick–New York’s Bid to Control Religious Schools

Even ardent opponents of school choice accept that parents have the right to send their children to private schools. That may soon change in New York state, where education officials are preparing new guidelines to impose strict regulations on the instruction that religious and other private schools provide, while empowering local school districts to shutter those schools if they fail to meet state standards. The plan is not only ill-advised, it may end up costing the state billions in annual school aid to nonpublic schools.

Parents have had a legally recognized constitutional right to guide their children’s education for nearly a century. The Supreme Court’s 1925 decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that children are “not mere creatures of the state” and that parents have the right to choose “schools where their children will receive appropriate mental and religious training.” Almost 50 years later, in Wisconsin v. Yoder , the court reaffirmed these rights, recognizing the “fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”

The trade-off has always been that parents, not the state, must foot the bill for private education. In New York the government saves billions annually because parents choose to send their children to religious or private schools. New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools alone educate 330,000 children, nearly 200,000 of whom attend New York City parochial schools.

Only a fraction of these savings finds its way back to New York’s nonpublic schools and students.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(US News) Clayton Rose–Colleges Make America Stronger–Selective universities aren’t too elite, they are the key to career preparation

Yet, there is growing skepticism about the value of this model here at home. The recent tax reform bill was a wake-up call that our strongest colleges and universities are under assault by some in government. The initial proposals would have made education unaffordable for many by taxing tuition waivers for graduate students and ending deductions for student loan interest. Thankfully, these provisions were ultimately stripped from the bill, but lawmakers let stand a new excise tax on the investment income of a select group of colleges and universities. None of these provisions were designed to raise much revenue. They were intended to make a statement.

While these attacks are motivated by misguided ideas, those of us in higher education need to do a much better job of explaining why these claims are not true and why what we do is valuable to our students and society. We cannot take for granted that any of this is obvious.

The data are clear: a liberal arts education is great career preparation, both for excellent lifetime earnings and for satisfaction with the work. George Anders, business author, former Wall Street Journal feature writer, and contributing editor at Forbes, and Randall Stross, a professor at San Jose State University’s School of Management who has written extensively about technology businesses and Silicon Valley for this publication, The New York Times, Fortune, and The Wall Street Journal, among others, both have new books that underscore these points. This education develops the skills of critical thinking, rigorous analysis of data and facts, communicating with the written and spoken word, understanding of cultural differences and issues, and the ability to keep learning. The fact is that liberal arts graduates do extremely well in every imaginable field, and I know this from personal experience. Before entering higher education, I was a senior executive in the private sector; I saw that this education provides skills and knowledge that are in high demand, and I know how well it prepares students for long-term professional success.

On the issue of free speech, without question there have been incidents on campuses where speakers were impeded or prevented from delivering their views, or worse. I have consistently made the point that the ability to express and engage all manner of ideas, even offensive ones, is central to our mission, and I find these incidents deeply troubling. But they are the exception.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Taxes, Theology, Young Adults