Archive - September, 2012

Student Default Rates Rise (Again)

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:

More than one out of eight student-loan borrowers who entered repayment from October 1, 2008, to September 30, 2009, defaulted within three years, the U.S. Education Department announced on Friday as part of its first release of official data on cohort default rates for federal student loans measured over three years.

The new figure on overall default rates, 13.4 percent, was released as the department switches from measuring the rates over three years instead of two. For-profit institutions had the highest average three-year default rates, at 22.7 percent, which was more than double the 11-percent rate among public institutions. Private, nonprofit institutions had an average three-year default rate of 7.5 percent.

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The Brain is a Muscle

Doug Wilson:

“We tend to think of our students’ minds as finite shoeboxes, and we then think we must take special care not to put anything in there if we do not want it to remain there for life. But the brain is more like a muscle. A student who learns one language, such as Latin, is not stuck with his shoebox three-quarters full, with no room for Spanish. Rather the student has a mind that has been stretched and exercised in such a way that subsequent learning is much easier, not much harder.

“Now of course this kind of mental discipline could be acquired by requiring of the students the intellectual equivalent of running back and forth. While a football coach might be able to get away with this, because everyone understands the point, we should not attempt it in the classroom—although mental wind sprints that had no point in themselves would still be better than simple laziness. The reason this approach would not work in the classroom is that the human mind is inescapably teleological; it wants to know why it is learning something. Latin has the advantage of providing the grist for the mill of the mind, while also providing great practical advantages. To return to our metaphor of football, the study of Latin is therefore simultaneously an exercise to prepare for the game and part of the game.”

From The Case for Classical Christian Education(Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003), 140-141.


The (Often Determinative) Importance of Youth

J.C. Ryle:

“Youth is the seed time of full-age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning-point in the history of man’s mind.

By the shoot we judge of the tree, by the blossoms we judge of the fruit, by the spring we judge of the harvest, by the morning we judge of the day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up.”

From Thoughts for Young Men (Calvary Press)

How Would Mitt Romney Help the Poor?

In the aftermath of Governor Romney’s now famous comments about government dependency, many are wondering how the Governor would seek to assist those in need. That’s why I found the Governor’s twenty minute speech at the Clinton Global Initiative interesting. He outlined some specific kinds of foreign aid policies he would pursue, and also gives a fairly articulate defense of the value of work, liberty, and free enterprise.

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What is morality other than harm?

Collin Hansen interacts with Tim Keller and Albert Mohler on the societal assumption that what makes something immoral is that it hurts someone else. If nobody is hurt, than an action cannot be immoral. But this presupposes that we understand the purpose for which humans were designed and created:



Chick-fil-A will continue giving to pro-family organizations

UpdateChick-fil-A is now reporting that their corporate giving has been mischaracterized.  Also, Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, has released a statement. Daly writes: “I feel bad the Cathys are having to endure accounts mischaracterizing their values and charitable efforts.”

(I’ll leave the original post below, but please note that these media reports apparently stem from erroneous information.)

That’s what the L.A. Times and USA Today are reporting:

The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), which dubs itself the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group in Illinois, said Chick-fil-A agreed in meetings to stop donating to groups such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage. Such groups oppose same-sex marriage.

The article goes on to allege that Chick-fil-A wrote a letter to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno, who had pledged to block an effort from Chick-fil-A to open a restaurant in his district. Moreno has apparently relented and will now allow Chick-fil-A to move forward.

If true, this would be a big deal: Chick-fil-A has given millions of dollars to pro-traditional family organizations every year. And as far as I can tell, it looks like capitulation.  Why budge? Is it really bad business to believe that marriage should be defined as the union between one man and one woman?  Wasn’t Alderman Moreno roundly criticized, even by journalists who condemn Mr. Cathy’s position?

Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, happens to embrace the traditional view of marriage. Chick-fil-A is a privately owned company, and Mr. Cathy is (like many CEOs) a very wealthy man. If he wishes to be generous towards Focus on the Family and other such groups, how is that anyone’s business?

I say this as someone whose favorite restaurant is Chipotle, which was founded and is still run by a gay man.

Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ’s Work, Not Muhammad’s

John Piper’s post from 2006 is as relevant today as it was six years ago:

What we saw this past week in the Islamic demonstrations over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad was another vivid depiction of the difference between Muhammad and Christ, and what it means to follow each. Not all Muslims approve the violence. But a deep lesson remains: The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. This produces two very different reactions to mockery.

If Christ had not been insulted, there would be no salvation. This was his saving work: to be insulted and die to rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Already in the Psalms the path of mockery was promised: “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). “He was despised and rejected by men . . . as one from whom men hide their faces . . . and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

Read the whole thing.

Why Public Employee Unions Cannot Work

This short video explains why public employee unions are very different than unions in the private sector, and much more destructive.

Related: The Chicago Teachers Strike.

The Chicago Teacher Strike

The average teacher in Chicago makes $76,000 a year for nine months of work. (More than many college professors with Ph.D.s.) They were offered a 16% salary increase spread over four years — from a system that has a $665 million deficit this year and a bigger one next year.  As of this Monday, the Chicago teachers are on strike over issues ranging from pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations.

It’s ironic that VP Candidate Paul Ryan had the decency to come out in support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — while President Obama lacks both the courage and the decency to support his good friend and former chief of staff in an election year. That shows you just how powerful the teachers unions are.

Mr. Ryan’s statement:

“I’ve known Rahm Emanuel for years. He’s a former colleague of mine. Rahm and I have not agreed on every issue or on a lot of issues, but Mayor Emanuel is right today in saying that this teacher’s union strike is unnecessary and wrong. We know that Rahm is not going to support our campaign, but on this issue and this day we stand with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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Why They Cheat at Harvard

Great observations from Howard Gardner in the Washington Post.  Dr. Gardner is a professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet.  In putting together Good Work, Dr. Garner and his colleagues interviewed “100 of the ‘best and brightest’ students and spoke with them in depth about life and work.”  They found:

Over and over again, students told us that they admired good work and wanted to be good workers. But they also told us they wanted — ardently — to be successful. They feared that their peers were cutting corners and that if they themselves behaved ethically, they would be bested. And so, they told us in effect, “Let us cut corners now and one day, when we have achieved fame and fortune, we’ll be good workers and set a good example.” A classic case of the ends justify the means.

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