Friday, June 21, 2013

Obama: Hostile Toward Catholic Education? (1)

Oddly, President Obama chose to analogize education by Catholics and Protestants to segregation during his trip to Northern Ireland:

    "Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity--symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others--these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided--if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs--if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation."

Of course, it's ironic that the most divisive President in American history should go to Ireland and condemn division.  But it also raises questions: Does this signal hostility to Catholic education in America -- or hostility to religious education in general?

It's clear -- from his ObamaCare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate to his efforts to cut charitable deductions --  that the President sees government as the only really legitimate actor in civil society.  But his willingness to characterize education by religious orders as enabling division and discord is an unpleasant reminder of his hostility to any social force with potential to check the power of Big Government.


Obama: Hostile Toward Catholic Education? (2)

The Catholic media is up in arms over comments President Obama made during a speech while in Northern Ireland for the G8 summit. Obama made what is described as “an alarming call for an end to Catholic education,” in spite of the fact that it is considered “a critical component of the Church.”

In front of an audience of about 2,000 young people, including many Catholics, Obama claimed that Catholic education divides people and blocks peace, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer.

“If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation,” Obama said.

Catholic World News noted:

    "Ironically, President Obama made his comments just as Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a crowd in Scotland that religious education upholds the dignity of the human person. Archbishop Müller said that Catholic schools should promote “all that is good in the philosophies of societies and human culture.”

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf quoted the Observer’s article on Fr. Z’s blog and added:

    "Another example of what this man wants: total isolation of any religious values in the private sphere alone. Pres. Obama is working either to intimidate or legislate or even TAX religious freedom out of the public square.

    Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a foreign visit to a Islamic nation where he told people on his arrival that they shouldn’t have madrasas.  Can you?

    Did he when visiting, say, Israel, say “You Jews shouldn’t have synagogue schools and you muslims shouldn’t have mosque schools.”  I can’t remember.  Did he?"

Each of the articles drew numerous public comments, most suggesting that Obama be more concerned about the public schools in the United States than their parochial schools, which are working just fine.


British universities lose ground on rivals in Far East

British universities are losing ground on rival institutions in the Far East because of funding cuts and rows over immigration, according to education experts.

The standing of “young” British universities among global competitors has slipped in the past year, international rankings show.

The new tables have prompted claims that Britain’s universities face being “usurped” by nations such as South Korea and Singapore, which are investing heavily in higher education.

Eighteen UK institutions were placed in the second annual league table of 100 universities under 50 years old — still a higher number than any other country.

However, the new rankings, drawn up by Times Higher Education (THE) magazine, show that the UK has only one institution — York University — in the top 10, compared with three in 2012.

A total of 11 British universities fell in the rankings this year and two institutions — City University and Bradford — dropped out of the table altogether.

The 100 Under 50 ranking is intended to provide a “fresh perspective” by examining institutions which were formed relatively recently compared with universities such as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge, which lead THE’s traditional tables.

The top five places are dominated by universities in the Far East, led by the Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea, which retains first place.

Its national rival, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, has moved up from fifth to third place, while the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne is second.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is in fourth place, followed by the University of California Irvine in the US.

Phil Baty, the table’s editor, said that having 18 universities in the list showed the “strength and depth” of Britain’s higher education system.

But governments in the Far East are “throwing money” at universities and British institutions face being left behind, he added.

“In the race to attract the world’s top talent and to develop new knowledge, universities have to run fast just to stand still, and at this crucial moment, while others are sprinting ahead, there is a risk that the UK is getting bogged down by austerity cuts and immigration rows,” he said.

“South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore are putting massive resources behind their universities and Britain at the moment is hitting them very hard with austerity.

“We need money to compete. Our competitors are throwing money at universities and we are at risk of throwing away this world leading advantage.”

He continued: “We are starting to clamp down on visa provisions for students and academics — I think that sends a strong message to the rest of the world that we are not open for business.”

Simon Renton, president of the University and College Union said: "Only with increased investment does the UK have a fighting chance of competing on this increasingly dynamic world stage where developing countries have proved they can set up world class players in just 20 years.

"The days where we could take our historical dominance for granted are over.

"These countries are investing heavily in higher education and if we don't do the same, UK higher education PLC will be usurped.”

Labour said the figures showed a “downward trend” for higher education in the UK.

Shabana Mahmood, the shadow universities and science minister, said: “Policies that send signals around the world that we are closed for business at the same time as cutting deeply into higher education budgets, is the fastest way to ensure that UK universities lose their ability to compete on the world stage.”

David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said: “We have more institutions in the top 100 under 50 table than any other country. This is a great testament to the sector’s staff and students.

“Our reforms will strengthen the university sector further. They include a more sustainable funding regime, more incentives for world-class teaching and a clearer path for new high-quality providers.”


British student 'suspended' after reporting alleged rape

An amazing rush to judgment

A student was suspended from college after accusing three fellow students of rape and sexual assault, a court has heard.

The 18-year-old was accused of “bringing the college into disrepute” by sleeping with the men on campus, she claimed.

Having been formally excluded, the alleged victim was forced to tell her family why she had left and was urged to report the incident to the police.

Stephen Johnson, 21, William Robinson, 22 and Thomas Price, 21, deny abusing the woman.

The teenager told Hull Crown Court that the three men had befriended her outside her halls of residence before taking her keys and pushing her into her room where they assaulted and then left, laughing.

"I told the college I had been sexually assaulted but I didn't give the details of what had happened, I just gave them an outline,” she said.

"The college said I had brought it into disrepute by having sexual actions with a group of people.

"A couple of days later they recommended that I was excluded.”

The court heard that during the alleged assault, the teenager’s flatmate heard her shouting: "Get off! Get out of my room!” and subsequently reported the incident to a warden at Bishop Burton College, East Riding.

A member of staff then interviewed the woman and all three men and reviewed CCTV footage of the men approaching the student outside the college.

All four were suspended and the woman was sent a letter stating that she had been recommended for exclusion for her “demeaning sexual actions”.

The teenager admitted she was drunk when she first encountered the men and was “happy” until they began to make suggestions.  “I knew they were intending something,” she said.

The girl said that after the ordeal, which left her with bruising, Johnson and Robinson came back to her room to apologise.

John Thackray, prosecuting, accused the men of drunkenly taking advantage of the student knowing that she did not consent. "The prosecution case is that there is clear and compelling evidence that three men took advantage of a young girl on her own in the early hours of the morning,” he said.

"She was suspended from the college and following that the complainant reported the matter to the police."

Paul Genney, defending, claimed the student had flirted with the men, wanted to have sex and only reported it because she was hurt by their cruel laughter and faced expulsion.

He said she had told others she was dragged down the corridor when CCTV showed her smiling with her arm around Robinson.

Mr Genney said there were no threats, injuries, blood on the sheets or damage to clothing.  "You were perfectly willing with everything that happened,” he said. “Embarrassing though it may be, it was done with consent.”

He accused the woman of obtaining a crime number from the police in order to back up her appeal to the college.

Johnson, from Tickton, Yorks, denies one charge of sexual assault by penetration and a charge of sexual assault. Robinson, from Doncaster, South Yorks, denies sexual assault by penetration and Price, from Rotherham, South Yorks, denies rape and assault by penetration.


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