Category Archives: Education

The painful slow death of the liberal church


In this, the latest episode in his series for teleSUR English, Pulitzer prize winning journalist and Harvard Divinity School graduate Chris Hedges joins two graduate students of Union Theological Seminary to discuss the plight of the liberal Christian church in the United States.

As conservative — even radically conservative — Christian denominations surge in membership and their seminaries thrive, the schools which turned out the liberal ministers who served as bulwarks of the civil rights movement are faced with declining enrollments.

As Michael Vanacore and Edward Escalon recount, Union is currently center of a storm of controversy as the school entertains plans to build a luxury condominium tower as a way to fund repair of is decaying campus.

The tragedy is that development of the project would go a long way toward gentrifying Manhattan’s Morningside Heights, a neighborhood largely inhabited be people of color.

It’s a fascinating discussion.

From the Real News Network:

Days of Revolt: The Suicide of the Liberal Church

Program notes:

In this episode of teleSUR’s Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges speaks with two Union Theological Seminary student-activists about their fight against the school’s plans to sell property to luxury condo developers and further gentrify Harlem.

As for esnl, we’re of the atheist persuasion. That said, we don’t espouse to the creed of the so-called New Atheists, folks who are as evangelical about their beliefs that they remind us of Jehovah’s witnesses.

We’ve believed, in turn, in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Christianity again, before arriving at our present position.

There are many times in our life when we’ve been helped by religious folks, including the months after we forced out of our parental home for refusing induction into the army during the Vietnam War, when we were given a place to live in the homes of a Quaker family and later a religiously Jewish family.

It was our father’s mother who led the integration of her Presbyterian church in Abilene, Kansas, early in the last century, forcing the overtly racist minister to back down when she threatened to lead her family and friends in an exodus from the church.

The resurgence of fundamentalist Christianity, often tinged with racism and bigotry against all whose lives differ from their narrowly prescribed beliefs and proscribed conduct, is fully as disturbing as the soaring wealth of the one percent.

The fusion of two tendencies in today’s political landscape is troubling indeed.

Charts of the day II: Student debt, Black burden


Student debt is yet another burden that falls disproportionately on America’s African American families, as evidenced in these charts from Less Debt, More Equity: Lowering Student Debt While Closing the Black-White Wealth Gap [PDF], a joint report from Demos and The Institute on Assets and Social Policy:

BLOG Debt

Charts of the day: A trans-Atlantic comparison


First, from Eurostat:

BLOG Language

Second, from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences:

Percentage of U.S. Public High School Students Enrolled in Language Courses, 1960–2000

Percentage of U.S. Public High School Students Enrolled in Language Courses, 1960–2000

Map of the day: The dimensions of poverty


From Views of the World, the blog of Benjamin Hennig, Oxford University Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geography and the Environment,and based on part of the UN’s Human Development Index [click on the map to enlarge, and a still-larger version is at the link]:

The map modifies the size of each country according to the total number of people there who live on up to $2 a day according to the most recent available estimates. In addition, the colour shading uses information from the 2015 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to highlight the percentage of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor. The MPI is part of the Human Development Index and covers 91 of the most disadvantaged countries with a total population of 1.5 billion. It takes into account that poverty is a multidimensional issue which cannot only be measured by monetary indicators. The cartogram therefore combines the monetary measure as a base for the distortion with a combination of further dimensions of poverty, such as deprivation in education, health and standard of living. The small series of cartograms below the main map dissects these dimensions of poverty by showing their contribution of deprivation in dimension to overall poverty shown on the same cartogram as the main map.

The map modifies the size of each country according to the total number of people there who live on up to $2 a day according to the most recent available estimates. In addition, the colour shading uses information from the 2015 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to highlight the percentage of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor. The MPI is part of the Human Development Index and covers 91 of the most disadvantaged countries with a total population of 1.5 billion. It takes into account that poverty is a multidimensional issue which cannot only be measured by monetary indicators. The cartogram therefore combines the monetary measure as a base for the distortion with a combination of further dimensions of poverty, such as deprivation in education, health and standard of living. The small series of cartograms below the main map dissects these dimensions of poverty by showing their contribution of deprivation in dimension to overall poverty shown on the same cartogram as the main map.

Map of the day: Treating children with ADHD


From the Centers for Diseases Control, how children diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders are treated in each U.S. state:

ADHD medication and behavioral therapy among children with ADHD (ages 4-17) with special health care needs

ADHD medication and behavioral therapy among children with ADHD (ages 4-17) with special health care needs

More from the CDC:

Medication rate by state:

<70%: California, DC, Arizona, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Utah, Florida, New Jersey, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Maine, Oregon

70 to 75%: New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, New York, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, Illinois, Texas, Alabama

75.1 to 80%: Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee

>80%: Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Wyoming, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan

Behavioral therapy rate by state:

<40%: Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Colorado

40 to 45%: Iowa, Louisiana, Delaware, Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan

45.1 to 50%: Kentucky, Montana, Idaho, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Arizona, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska

> 50%: Rhode Island, Vermont, Nevada, Illinois, New Mexico, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, California, Wyoming, Maine, Oregon, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Hawaii

Black Lives Matter, a public health issue raised


We’ve always had the greatest respect for the men and women who dedicate their lives to working in the public health field, where medicine is no longer isolated from the environmental conditions that lead to illness and human misery.

So we were pleasantly surprised to discover a very important discussion on Black Lives Matter and public health hosted by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health on 3 December [the video was just posted to the web by UC Berkeley Events.

While most medical practitioners confine their practices to individual patients, the public health practitioner casts a much wider net, look at how the interplay of disease vectors and community environmental conditions, both physical and social, interact to produce health outcomes.

While Berkeley and its university have earned the reputation of radicalism, the realty is something completely different, with a city government subordinated to the interests of gentrifying developers and the university enserfed to profit hungry corporate interests can catering to wealthy students from abroad.

Indeed, as we have noted before, driving while black is still a crime in good ol’ Berzerkeley.

And now, without further ado, a very important event that resulted in only a single small story in Bay Area news media:

Black Lives Matter: From Moment to Movement

Program notes:

December 3, 2015: Boots On the Ground Advocacy-in-Action Event #3.

Outrage against racialized police violence against African American men and women has crystallized into a movement that builds on existing health and social equity work. What’s the state of the movement here in California? What are the top policy “asks” in Sacramento and Washington, and how can public health activists plug in? Local activists and experts in the Black Lives Matter movement came together to discuss these issues and more.

Moderated by:
-Marc Philpart of PolicyLink
Featuring:
-Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center
-Rosa Cabrera-Aqeel of PICO California
-Devonte Jackson of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration
-Cat Brooks of the Onyx Organizing Committee
-Andrew Sudler of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health

This event was hosted by the Advocacy Initiative of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and PolicyLink, and sponsored by The California Endowment, California HealthCare Foundation, SPH Office of Diversity Services, Multicultural Health in Action, and the Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Circle.

Mexico’s long history of murdered students


Elena Poniatowska is acknowledged as perhaps Mexico’s greatest living writer, a fearless journalist.

Born in Paris 82 years ago to a European father and a Mexican mother, she was nine when her family moved to Mexico, where she has lived ever since, helping to found one of the nation’s leading newspapers — La Jornada —  as well as its first feminist magazine.

Among her many honors, she is the recipient of the Cervantes Prize, the premiere literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world.

Perhaps her best-know work is La noche de Tlatelolco, the night of Tlatelolco, named after the plaza in Mexico City where hundreds of students were gunned down by Mexican soldiers during the 1958 Olympics. [For a look at declassified U.S. government documents on the massacre, the National Security Archive’s collection is a good starting point.]

In this Democracy Now! interview by host Amy Goodman, Poniatowska covers a range of topics, most notably the 43 students of the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa who vanished [previously] after a violent encounters with authorities on the night of 26 September 2014.

From Democracy Now!:

Mexican Writer Elena Poniatowska on the Missing 43 Students, 1968 Massacre & U.S.-Backed Drug War

From the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: You wrote the book The Night [of] Tlatelolco about the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968. It was right before the Olympics, and students were gunned down in Mexico City. Now Mexico is embroiled in another massacre, in Ayotzinapa, the students of the rural teachers’ college, 43 young men, still not clear what happened to them. And you have been focusing on this. What do you think—how must this be investigated to find out the truth about what has happened to them?

ELENA PONIATOWSKA: I think that, first of all, these young students, these young—they were—well, they were students because they wanted to become teachers. Many of them wanted to be bilingual. They were very poor, of course. Ayotzinapa is in a state, Iguala, which is a state which has been rejected all the time by the government, because two leaders or two men were considered like Emiliano Zapata—Lucio Cabañas and Genaro Vázquez Rojas. They were both teachers. Of course, after they were so disappointed by the government, they became guerrilleros, or guerrilla leaders—I don’t know how you say it in English. And so the state is hated by the government. And besides, it’s been run by very corrupt, very, very corrupt governors. So, of course, the students, they can—sometimes they take advantage of buses, and they take what they think belongs to them.

But the students are young people. I think young people are the hope of Mexico, the hope of any country. Young people are the hope also of all the Americas, of Latin America. And instead of being taken into account and protected, they are murdered, they are killed. I don’t know. Maybe the fathers of these students, they tell you not to say that. They say that you have to say that they’re only disappeared. But after so—after more than a year, how can you say they’re disappeared? And I think the army has a lot to do into this—the Mexican army, of course. And I think the government is responsible for this.