As a lifetime educator, one of my many prayers for 2015 is that people of faith in America will more fully engage in public education and turn the public conversation about high education standards away from political wrangling to focus on improving educational outcomes for all. Lost in 2014's criticism of what became known as "Common Core" was that normed, higher standards are already working, and that they hold promise for a brighter educational future for all of God's children, especially economically disadvantaged ones.
Fifteen years ago, I was teaching hundreds of students each semester in one of colleges' classic "gatekeeper" courses, English 101. The stakes were and are high: If you do not pass, you cannot move forward in your degree plan. The scholastic domino effect is as predictable as it is inexorable, and I watched in helpless frustration as many students failed my course because they were ill-prepared for the rigors of college work. Many tumbled out of higher education, the door to success slamming on some forever.
In addition, I watched as some of our areas best high school students won scholarships to prestigious universities, but when they arrived, they realized that a 4.0 GPA in and of itself was no guarantee of collegiate success. They realized that high schools that were truly "preparatory" relied on high academic standards that were tested for their efficacy to ensure student success. It was clear educational outcomes varied dramatically from state to state and even within individual states and districts. Proverbs 20:10 echoed in my mind, "Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD" (ESV). more >>
On a tiny exotic island just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, the Patpatar people are reading and understanding Scripture that's in their heart language as the result of the completion by a Bible translation team of the New Testament, Wycliffe Associates announced this week. A training facility for translators is growing as well.
Bible translators Ed and Debi Condra, along with their Bible translation team, were such an encouragement to the Patpatar churches that they created the New Ireland Translation Institute (NITI) to provide quality training to those nationals who want to become Bible translators.
"What God had established here was the potential for a rustic yet cutting-edge, dream-come-true translation center—where native speakers would be trained to be quality translators," Wycliffe officials state. "A place where the nationals would also lead, coordinate, and conduct the translation of the Scriptures into their own mother-tongues. Here everyone works together on 15 language projects simultaneously—thus impacting an entire region with the power of God's Word." more >>
In a pitch that has garnered public support since he teased it in a video on Facebook Thursday night, President Barack Obama is expected to announce a proposal Friday that will give a free community college education to anyone who is willing to work for it.
"Put simply, what I'd like to do is to see the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it. That's right, free for everybody that's willing to work for it. It's something that we can accomplish and it's something that will train our workforce so that we can compete with anybody in the world," said Obama speaking in a video recorded on Air Force One and uploaded to the Facebook page of The White House at about 7 p.m. Thursday.
The president explained in the video that had been viewed more than 5 million times and shared more than 100,000 times on Facebook Friday morning that he had planned to unveil the proposal in his State of the Union Address scheduled for Jan. 20 but he thought it would be better to pitch it a little earlier. more >>
A claim against a Missouri middle school teacher of religious intolerance against a Christian student has been determined to be baseless, according to one school official.
The parents of 12-year-old Loyal Grandstaff accused a teacher from Bueker Middle School of attacking their son's religious convictions after the teacher reportedly stopped the student from reading the Bible during some free time.
A New Jersey school district broke the law when it fired a substitute teacher after he gave a curious middle school student a Bible for academic purposes, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in a mid-December decision released to the public this week.
The federal agency ruled it was an act of discrimination for Phillipsburg School District to fire substitute teacher Walt Tutka in 2013 after he gave a Bible to an interested student who had approached him privately and asked to be shown where in the Bible the saying "the first will be last and the last will be first" is written.
Tutka, who spoke with Fox News, said that the incident started during in October of 2012 when he held the door open for the line of students exiting his classroom on their way to lunch. As the last student walked out the door, Tutka told the student, "just remember, the first will be last and the last will be first." more >>
WASHINGTON – Last year saw the highest level of persecution of Christians the world has seen since the fall of the Soviet Union, according to a report by a Christian persecution watchdog group released Wednesday.
Open Doors USA highlighted that in the 24 years that Open Doors has been tracking numbers on global persecution, 2014 was the most violent year of Christian persecution and was far worse than the year before.
"Perhaps most chilling is the fact that all the factors, all of the issues that made this a violent year for Christian persecution are still in place," said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors, at the press conference. more >>