One week after a controversy broke out over New York's Department of Education's (DOE) policy of suggesting that school test publishers avoid certain topics and words while preparing the tests- words like "evolution," "birthday" and any topics related to religion - the department announced earlier this week that it is abandoning the much-criticized practice.
"After reconsidering our message to test publishers and the reaction from parents, we will revise our guidance and eliminate the list of words to avoid on tests," Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city's chief academic officer, said in a statement emailed to the press Tuesday. "We will continue to advise companies to be sensitive to student backgrounds and avoid unnecessary distractions that could invalidate test scores and give an inaccurate assessment of how students are doing."
"New York City schools teach the broadest, richest curriculum in the nation and we can't let this distract from the important work going on our classrooms," the official said, alluding to criticism that limiting the list of possible test topics is equivalent to providing children with bad education. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal by two religious groups at San Diego State University who sought to limit their membership to those who shared the same beliefs and values.
In a one-sentence order with no comment, the high court declined to hear the case, which came as no surprise to the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the Alpha Delta Chi sorority and Alpha Gamma Omega fraternity.
"The United States Supreme Court decided not to hear a case today. Alpha Delta Chi (ADX) v Reed. But that's not really news considering that they decide not to hear about 99% of the cases brought to them," said David Cortman, ADF senior counsel. more >>
A Los Angeles County beach city's battle over how to allocate park spaces during the Christmas season after atheist groups overpowered a nativity scene last year by dominating the majority of the lots available will continue until at least April.
The Santa Monica City Council voted earlier this week to set aside a controversial decision on the Christmas and winter displays in Palisades Park until its April meeting "to allow church groups and other supporters time to develop ways to keep the program going," according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Last Christmas season, there were 13 individuals that entered the race for the 21 spaces available at the park rather than the usual three. The unusually high demand for spots, especially by atheists, prompted Santa Monica's City Hall to implement a random lottery system to determine who would have access to the spots. more >>
A Christian group in South Korea has cancelled plans to light Christmas trees near their border with North Korea as a goodwill gesture toward the country following the death of Kim Jong-il.
North Korea had threatened “unexpected consequences” if the group lit the display, which could be seen easily from North Korean cities along the DMZ border.
Tak Sejin, a spokesman for the Yoido Full Gospel Church and one of the organizers of the effort, said the decision to remove the displays was a gesture of compassion. more >>
The Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, and son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, spoke about the meaning of Christmas as well as the American economy and what politics can do to boost it, from a Christian perspective, in an interview with Newsmax Sunday.
Asked what should we really celebrate outside of the consumerism of Christmas, the minister said that the core value to cherish on Dec. 25 is God’s love. People should celebrate the fact that "God gave His son."
"Jesus Christ is real," Graham said. "He’s God in flesh coming to this Earth to take the sins of mankind. The Bible says we’ve all sinned. We’ve all come short of God’s glory, his standards, but yet God gave his son to take our sins. The Bible’s very clear, very specific that he took our sins to the cross and he died and shed his blood on the cross. That he was buried for our sins and that God raised him to life. And if we’re willing to accept Jesus Christ by faith - simply by faith - to believe in him and trust him, God will forgive our sins. He’ll heal our hearts, and we can have that hope of eternal life. So as we come to Christmas, it’s about God giving. It’s about God giving the greatest gift of all and that is his son, Jesus Christ, for our sins.” more >>
President Barack Obama and his family attended Christmas services Sunday with U.S. military members at the chapel of a marine base in Hawaii and later returned to the base to thank them for their service to the nation.
The Obamas made a short trip from their rented house in Kailua Beach near Honolulu to the chapel at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the island of Oahu for church service, according to The Associated Press.
In Hawaii on vacation since Friday, Obama was dressed in dark khaki pants and a short-sleeve blue shirt Sunday. His wife Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha were wearing sundresses. more >>