Thursday, November 12, 2015

British Catholic schools to ban Islam from High School religious  studies

The Roman Catholic Church is at the centre of a row after ordering its schools to teach Judaism alongside Christianity in GCSE religious studies – ruling out Islam or other faiths.

The edict was described as ‘very disappointing’ by senior Muslim leaders. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the decision undermined Pope Francis’s message of greater tolerance between the faiths, and urged Catholic leader Cardinal Vincent Nichols to think again.

The Church’s move follows last year’s reforms to the GCSE exam. Under the new rules, schools are required to teach two religions rather than one.

The change was designed to drive extremism out of the classroom following the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot, in which individuals were found to have been introducing fundamentalist Islamic teaching into Muslim schools in Birmingham.

Paul Barber, the director at the Catholic Education Service, said teaching about the Jewish faith would ensure schools continued to comply with the stipulations of bishops that pupils are given a solid grounding in Christianity.

He said, however, that pupils would learn about other faiths during normal religious education lessons.

But critics said many of the Catholic Church’s 2,150 primary and secondary schools have a significant number of pupils from an Islamic background, including the Rosary Catholic Primary in Birmingham, where more than 90 per cent of the children are Muslim.

Sir Iqbal said: ‘This is not a good decision. It does not reflect well on the messages that are coming out from the Church for greater tolerance of other faiths.

‘This is a difficult time for religions and the last thing you would expect is a major faith making such a statement.

And Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the minister of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, said: ‘I urge all religious authorities to allow individual heads the freedom to decide what is best for pupils. 


Parents’ Fears Confirmed: Liberal Arts Students Earn Less

Students at elite liberal arts colleges don’t make as much early in their careers as those who attend highly selective research universities

For the first time, government data back up what some parents have long suspected: Students who choose elite liberal arts colleges don’t earn as much money early in their careers as those who attend highly selective research universities.

The disparity, determined by a Wall Street Journal analysis of the data, means that some liberal arts colleges may face tough questions about the potential payoff of their expensive tuition. That may be especially true for students needing financial aid, the group covered by the government’s figures.

The Education Department in September released salary numbers as part of its College Scorecard, an online tool that compares colleges on cost, student debt and graduation rates. For the first time, the government also paired information on federal student aid recipients with income tax records to compute median earnings figures for each school.

The Journal compared median earnings 10 years after students enrolled at the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country to median earnings for students at the most selective research universities. The Journal analyzed salary figures for the top 50 schools in each category that had the highest average SAT scores. Those Ivy League schools, selective state colleges and other national universities compete with liberal arts colleges for the many of the same highly qualified applicants.

At nearly half of the top liberal arts colleges, the reported median salary 10 years out was below $50,000. (The government didn’t release the underlying data necessary to calculate an overall median salary for those schools.) Students at almost all of the top research universities beat the $50,000 mark, while at about a third of top research universities they had median salaries above $70,000.

Administrators at some liberal arts colleges say the disparity can be explained in part by the fact their students are following passions that may not yield high earnings, not because the graduates lack job options. They also caution that median earnings figures are skewed in favor of colleges that offer degrees in higher-paying fields such as engineering, business and health care.

Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, called the government’s scorecard a “huge disservice” to students because it puts too much emphasis on earnings while ignoring the intangible benefits of education, including a strong grounding in the arts and humanities.

“It is in effect teaching them that the main thing that matters in education is how much they’re going to make,” said Ms. Schneider, whose organization advocates in favor of a liberal-arts curriculum.

The median income calculations reflect the earnings in 2011 and 2012 of students who entered college 10 years prior. The figures include both graduates and dropouts; they are limited to students working and not enrolled in graduate school at the time of the snapshot. The scorecard doesn’t break down earnings by field of study because the Education Department didn’t track that information until recently.

Another limitation: The data reflect only students who received federal loans or grants—a sliver of the population at some top universities. For instance, less than 15% of Harvard undergraduates received federal aid in 2013.

Proponents of the scorecard say the new data are essential to giving families more information about the return on their investment.

“It might not tell us how every student from a college does,” said Ben Miller, a senior director at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. “But if I’m someone looking at getting a loan, I would probably want to know what I’ll make.”

But Mark Schneider, vice president of the American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit that studies the social sciences and education, said the median salary figures aren’t particularly helpful for evaluating schools that offer widely diverse fields of study. Those colleges may send some students into high-paying fields and others into low-paying ones. For instance, the scorecard doesn’t tell families whether an English major from Princeton makes more than an English major from Swarthmore College.

“What you study is at least as important and maybe even more important than where you study,” he said.

Administrators at some liberal arts colleges attribute the salaries of their graduates in part to student interest in public service. Greg Brown, chief financial officer at Swarthmore, said that many students who select the Pennsylvania college are already civic-minded. There, the median salary is $49,400.

Mr. Brown speculates that Ivy League salaries are skewed upward by students heading to Wall Street. Most of those schools had a median earnings figure above $70,000.

“Our students tend to not be as interested in careers in finance,” he said.
Students at elite liberal arts colleges don’t earn as much 10 years after enrollment as those at highly selective research universities, such as the University of California, Berkeley, above, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data found.

The Education Department also didn’t release earnings figures for a period longer than 10 years after students start college. Officials at liberal arts schools said that many of their students pursue advanced degrees, which can give them a midcareer earnings boost.

That may be the case at Oberlin College, according to Ben Jones, a spokesman for the Ohio school. Its median earnings—about $38,000—was among the lowest in the Journal’s analysis of elite schools.

Mr. Jones said that roughly 75% of the school’s alumni attend graduate school within a decade of finishing their undergraduate degrees, and often pursue public service careers before entering graduate programs.

Reihonna Frost, a 2008 Oberlin grad who majored in psychology, had several low-paying jobs before starting graduate school this year. She made under $30,000 a year in her first job, working with children at risk for developmental delays. Her next jobs, including a stint as a research assistant at the University of Chicago, paid similarly. She recently began a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts.

Ms. Frost said she received federal financial aid as well as grants from Oberlin. She graduated with about $20,000 in debt, most of which she said she has paid off.

At many liberal arts colleges, “there is a real aversion to the idea of occupational training,” she said.


UVA fraternity files $25M defamation suit against Rolling Stone magazine

The fraternity that was the focus of a debunked Rolling Stone article about a gang rape filed a $25 million lawsuit against the magazine Monday, saying the piece made the frat and its members "the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide."

The complaint, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, also names Sabrina Rubin Erdely as a defendant. It is the third filed in response to the November 2014 article entitled "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA." Three individual fraternity members and recent graduates of the University of Virginia are suing for at least $225,000 each, and a university associate dean who claims she was portrayed as the "chief villain" is suing the magazine for more than $7.5 million.

Rolling Stone spokeswoman Kathryn Brenner said the magazine has no comment on the lawsuit.

The article described in chilling detail a student's account of being raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in September 2012. It portrayed university officials as insensitive and unresponsive to the plight of the student, who was identified only as Jackie, and suggested that the attack was emblematic of a culture of sexual violence at the elite public university.

The story horrified university leaders, sparked protests at the school and prompted a new round of national discussions about sexual assault on U.S. campuses.

However, details in the lengthy narrative did not hold up under scrutiny by other media organizations. For example, Phi Kappa Psi did not host any social event at its house on the day of the alleged gang rape as the article claimed. Additional discrepancies led Rolling Stone to commission an examination by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which said in a blistering report that Rolling Stone failed at virtually every step, from the reporting by Erdely to an editing process that included high-ranking staffers.

The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism report said the magazine's shortcomings "encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking."

The article said a woman named "Jackie" was gang-raped at the fraternity house. Police have said there is no evidence the attack took place.

The journalism school's analysis was accompanied by a statement from Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana apologizing for the failures and retracting the November 2014 story.

Some University of Virginia students previously said none of that will erase the article's repercussions.

"I think the real casualty of the report is the University of Virginia's trust in journalism," said Abraham Axler of New York City, president of the university's Student Council. "I don't think any University of Virginia student going through this will ever read an article the same way."

An investigation by Charlottesville police also found no evidence to back up Jackie's claims. Despite the retractions and apologizes, the fraternity said the damage was already done.

"These allegations did not concern harmless fraternity pranks," the fraternity said in the lawsuit. "These were allegations of ritualized and criminal gang-rape that Rolling Stone knew were the predicates for annihilation of Phi Kappa Psi and widespread persecution of its members."

The complaint alleges that the magazine set out to find a story of "graphic and violent rape" at an elite university and rejected other possible stories that were not sensational enough.

"Rolling Stone and Erdely had an agenda, and they were recklessly oblivious to the harm they would cause innocent victims in their ruthless pursuit of that agenda," the lawsuit said.


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