Quotidie

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students, when added together, make up a new majority in K-12 schools. The shift is largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children. Since 93 percent of America’s students—including students with a tradition of faith—are enrolled in public schools, the educational success or failure of these schools directly impacts America’s churches. As our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers, we should care deeply that all this year’s kindergarteners, the future class of 2027, will graduate with a solid educational foundation. If we expect the next generation of church leaders to be literate, and biblically literate, then we should unwaveringly support student success in our public schools.

Carlos Campo writes these words in a column for Christianity Today. What’s troubling about this is not the concern for children; I share Campo’s concern. What’s troubling is his equation of acting justly and loving mercy with staying—and that means not parents but children staying—in failing public schools.

Still processing this, but some random thoughts.

As Christians, we must certainly “seek the good of the city,” and that means helping students and the community as a whole succeed. But I ask several questions.

1. Jeremiah wrote to a people who had a rich culture, a rich common tradition, who were serious about ensuring their children were ready for the return. They were not encouraging an exile mentality, but a return mentality.

2. What is student success? Campo seems content with the primarily utilitarian approach of public education—which continues apace with the advance of the Common Core.

3. Education is about more than literacy, more than functionality, more than productivity.

4. What is encouraging student success? Does it mean sending your kids in? Or does it mean leading a tutorial for public-school kids? Encouraging student success is not the same as sending your children into someone else’s care, who will necessarily shape their hearts through more one-on-one time than they have at home, not knowing what that system will produce.

If we sent our kids to public school, would they be okay? Probably. Is ‘okay’ good enough?

I’m inclined to think that Christian individuals and communities that fail to build in periods of significant retreat are setting themselves up for disaster. Man cannot live by constant engagement alone. To try is surely to be gradually but relentlessly absorbed into social structures that are at best indifferent and at worst deeply hostile to Christian faith and practice.

I don’t mean to cherry-pick Alan Jacobs here, but this is too good not to keep around for a while. This element of retreat—not as advancement’s opposite but as its enabler—is pulled from the life and ministry of Jesus, and from the life he encouraged in his disciples. After periods of intense ministry, he pulled away for a while.

It’s not unlike another “law of undulation,” where the church is not goose-stepping but purposefully moving forward then pausing, cultivating root systems that will enable further and better engagement with the world.

(Source: dish.andrewsullivan.com, via ayjay)

Wesley to Wilberforce, on persistence: “Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”

Masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.

—Douglas Wilson, at Desiring God

Today’s the day I meet my baby girl!

London, 1802 could be USA, 2011

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour;
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
(Wordsworth)

George Wythe structured Jefferson’s curriculum around these simple items: classics, discussion, projects, writing. Nearly the whole Founding generation did the same, and the further we have moved from this simple formula, the worse our education has become. What we need to improve education is not more curriculum, but better education, and that comes from classics and mentors.

—Oliver DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education

Digital Promise?

From the ED.gov Web site, the launch of a new project to develop new learning technologies that might shorten the time to develop “expertise.” What is the goal of such a program? What is the end of such an education? Ed. Secretary Arne Duncan uses language that suggests it has more to do with economics than with education as it’s traditionally understood.

"If America is going to continue to succeed in the global economy, it is vital that we transform the use of educational technology. With technology, we can more rapidly increase opportunities for excellence and equity, as well as provide a world-class education for America’s students. And that’s a promise we need to keep."

(Source: ed.gov)