Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Education correlates with longevity

A new study offers yet more evidence that higher levels of education are linked to living longer.

Researchers looked at data on more than a million people from 1986 to 2006 to estimate the number of deaths in the US that could be attributed to low levels of education. They studied people born in 1925, 1935, and 1945 to understand how education levels affected mortality over time, and noted the causes of death, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

They found that 145,243 deaths could be saved in the 2010 population if adults who had not completed high school went on to finish, which is comparable to the estimated number of deaths that could be averted if all current smokers had the mortality rates of former smokers.

In addition, 110,068 deaths could be saved if adults who had some college went on to complete their bachelor’s degree. The findings appear in the journal PROS ONE.

“In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviours such as diet, smoking, and drinking,” says Virginia Chang, associate professor of public health at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and College of Global Public Health, and associate professor of population health at NYU School of Medicine.

“Education — which is a more fundamental, upstream driver of health behaviours and disparities — should also be a key element of US health policy.”

More than 10 per cent of US adults ages 25 to 34 do not have a high school degree, while more than a quarter have some college but no bachelor’s degree. Yet studies show that a higher level of education is a strong predictor of longevity due to many factors, including higher income and social status, healthier behaviours, and improved social and psychological well being. Evidence from studies including natural experiments consistently show a strong association between education level and mortality.

The disparities in mortality across different levels of education widened substantially over time. For example, mortality rates fell modestly among those with high school degrees, but mortality rates fell much more rapidly among those with college degrees.

As a result, encouraging high school completion among adults who have not finished high school could save twice as many lives among those born in 1945 as compared to those born in 1925.

Deaths from cardiovascular disease played a greater role than deaths from cancer in these growing gaps in mortality and improvements in survival for well-educated people, likely due to advances in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease among those with more education.

“Broadly, life expectancy is increasing, but those with more education are reaping most of the benefits,” Chang says. “In addition to education policy’s obvious relevance for improving learning and economic opportunities, its benefits to health should also be thought of as a key rationale. The bottom line is paying attention to education has the potential to substantively reduce mortality.


Former CNN anchor turns her journalism into education

 “The public school system in this country is broken,” says Campbell Brown, education-reform advocate and former NBC and CNN news anchor.

It’s this sentiment that led Campbell to create The Seventy Four, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational news site that launched Monday. The name refers to the 74 million school-age children in the United States.

In January, New York magazine dubbed Brown “the Most Controversial Woman in School Reform.” Through her nonprofit, Partnership for Educational Justice, she has helped parents file lawsuits against New York State challenging teacher tenure. She has been critical of the teachers’ union and vocal about her rejection of the status quo.

“Every education law should be based around the question, ‘Is this good for children?’ And it’s not,” she tells JTA.

Brown sees herself as both a journalist and an advocate for the powerless. Critics describe her as a union-busting, pro-charter school mouthpiece for the 1 percent.

“The critics are going to say what they want,” she says. “But I’ll let our journalism speak.”

‘Every education law should be based around the question, “Is this good for children?” And it’s not’

The site launches with an inspirational profile on Chris Bonner, a search-and-rescue pilot for the Coast Guard who traded military life to become a second-grade teacher at a charter school in Newark, New Jersey.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Cynthia Tucker’s debut column is about how presidential candidates should address the relationship between educational inequality and income inequality.

Campbell says that most of her detractors “are part of the education system and the status quo.”

“They have vested interests and don’t want us calling them out — but that’s our jobs as journalists,” she says.

Her opponents — pointing to the fact that her two children attend private school, a Jewish day school in Manhattan — say she is disconnected and not qualified to argue on behalf of the country’s public school students.

“On the contrary,” she says. “I’ve had opportunities that many others don’t have and was able to choose my children’s school. I’m fully aware that many people are stuck with their failing neighborhood school.”

‘Every mother should have a choice when it comes to education’
“I care deeply about Jewish education and Jewish values, and chose a school with those values,” she says, but declined to name the school. “But every mother should have a choice when it comes to education.”


3 Reasons Christian Education Should Be As Christian As Possible

As Christian as possible? (A phrase borrowed from my friend and former colleague at the Stony Brook School, Dr. Peter K. Haile.) That's Right! "As Christian as possible."

How often have you viewed promotional material from a Christian school or college which stressed, "Learning from a Christian Perspective?" For years Christian educators spoke of this as the, "Integration of Faith and Learning." More recently, since many felt the "faith and learning" phrase was ready for a "nervous breakdown" or perhaps a "traumatic stress disorder," educational commentators have been looking for fresh language. Now you're likely to hear or read, "faith influenced education," "incarnational learning," or more commonly "worldview learning manifestation." But, in the end, "the more things change the more they stay the same!"

In 1952 Dr. Frank E. Gaebelein at the "Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures" at Dallas Theological Seminary delivered a series on Christian education. Subsequently in 1954 The Pattern of God's Truth was published and discussed the "inner workings of education" with the "external meaning of God's truth," the "living union between Christianity and learning." For many years Dr. Gaebelein maintained oversight for the summer educators' seminars at Wheaton (IL) College dealing with this very subject of faith and learning integration. And also we can't forget the importance of another proponent of faith and learning practice, Wheaton College Professor and Chair of Philosophy and author of All Truth is God's Truth and The Idea of a Christian College, Dr. Arthur F. Holmes.

Dr. Holmes was so committed to the practice of the integration of Christian faith and learning that he offered to mentor new faculty hires for me at a yet to be established C. S. Lewis School in New York City. Why would this be needed?

Here is Reason #1 to be "as Christian as possible:

Dr. Holmes said, "You will be hiring Christians to teach won't you?" "Yes," I replied, "only Christians." He continued, "These Christians will have been graduated from: NYU, Penn State, Rutgers, and other non-Christian colleges and universities where Christian education philosophy was not of importance."

For that matter, educators coming from Christian colleges would also need mentoring as well since their professors weren't "integrating," but teaching their courses as they had experienced at their college. This you see creates a vicious cycle in need of conscious interruption.

This "call to arms" generally falls flat! The practice of this "living union" doesn't simply mean adding a Bible verse here and there, or using God as a reference, and certainly not adding a prayer to begin class. Since it demands "refashioning" a syllabus, including extensive research, most are unwilling to "take the plunge."

I was floored when, in conversation with a noted Christian professor at a respected Christian college, was told, "I don't get involved with the integration thing. I just teach the subject." I was speechless and my thoughts clouded for the moment. Hiring a teacher who is a Christian isn't enough!

Reason #2: Simply educating within a Christian academic community, where Christian practice is emphasized, does not mean that a "living union" will naturally follow. The reality of this context does not assure our desired result.

Some years before the experience mentioned above I had established, in New York City, The Annual Colloquy on Christian Education and Culture. This shocking statement from a seasoned Christian professor fell upon my ears about seven years into the project and ultimately reinforced my commitment to encouraging Christian education which would transform and last. An authentic Christian education will prepare students to "… in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (I Peter 3:15).

Some who have encountered the concept of the "integration of faith and learning" think it involves not teaching some of the subject matter. It doesn't!

Reason #3: We need to teach it all, go where it leads. This means teaching the "Theory of Evolution," "Freud and Jung," "Concepts of Aleatoric Music," "American Abstract Art," and the "Theater of the Absurd." The study, however, must establish a "biblical basis" for understanding and forming in support of or divergence from Christian thinking. Years ago, for instance, I taught a high school course on the "biblical basis" for Pascal's Pensées using Dr. Peter Kreeft's book Christianity for Modern Pagans.

It is my opinion that a Christian education is a truly "liberal education." Christian educators shouldn't avoid diverse views, but establish the milieu from which to reach and establish an educated position, a Christian educated opinion, which is "as Christian as possible!"


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