According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vocational Educational Reform in America, Part 2

In January or February of 2011 U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed the very ideas I have been discussing with my school district over the last several years regarding the replacement of our academic college prep programs with occupational/vocational curricula degree programs that would vary from 2-3-4 years in length while allowing for early graduation and/or cross-over studies. These programs would be found in the major areas listed below, among others:

  • Sciences (Medical, Environmental, etc)
  • Engineering and Technology (including Architecture, etc)
  • Arts and Literature
  • Music and Drama
  • Social Sciences
  • Business

With the creation of these degree programs we would do so in cooperation with area businesses, industries and social agencies seeking to train their local human resources. As such, these occupational courses should be open-ended to allow a young person to rejoin his educational interests should he or she need to graduate early and work. They should also create a strong linkage to the local community college's educational core curricula supported within that district's area of operation.

Why provide early educational graduations? To alleviate schools from the burden of housing students who either can't be in school or don’t want to be in school thus saving already restricted tax monies now being re-allocated elsewhere; to give kids a way to become economically independent and responsible; to create a younger employment force that could add to a district's already strained tax base; thus creating more monies for school districts from a larger tax base; and finally, to reduce youth crime through early employment responsibility.

Too, major state universities have economically hurt America by restricting middle-class scholarships and forcing higher tuition rates (probably since the 1980s). These rates have become unsustainable by middle income families and have caused middle class youths to migrate to regional or community colleges seeking lower tuition costs while leaving the very wealthy to attend America's landmark universities. As a result America's middle class is quickly disappearing and we are finding a more pronounced class stratification more than ever as the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer. America's backbone has been broken and we see this with the loss of jobs, entrepreneurships, and successful ventures across middle America.

Further, state universities have expanded degree program requirements rather than concentrating them as they necessarily push remedial education onto every entering freshman who have come unprepared for college study. Undergraduates are now graduating between 22-26 years of age because of the several factors involving poor educational preparation, the increased costs of college and the lack of economically viable jobs for lesser trained individuals.

And so, instead of having our nation's youth effectively (or efficiently) competing on global levels in the world-at-large by the ages of 16-19, we as a nation have created a half-life for our nation’s kids now entering into the workforce after a third of their life has passed cradled within our nation's school systems. The sheer talent of energy and brainpower has been lost between those intervening 10 years of educational study and purposeful postponement of talented laborers confined by our educational systems. America must reform its educational regiments and it must be holistic, rigorous and complete for as it stands now we've boxed ourselves in by too many degrees, longer core studies and fewer workplace opportunities.

When China and India are graduating 300 engineers to every 1 of ours it doesn’t take many smarts to realize that we’re on the losing end of a global competition. And while we both under-train and over-qualify our kids we are losing out. And by pushing our future tax bases into their late-20's we’re restricting the flow of necessary funds that would come sooner with a younger, more productive youth force.

About the only good that can be said about America's current educational system is that their community college programs have stepped up to the consumer plate and are offering shorter-term degrees and apprenticeship solutions for early entry highschoolers, needy urban youths, and economically-minded families and youths unwilling to go further into debt for a nebulous university degree with no concrete job prospects and outrageous school loan repayment plans.

In summary, middle schools should be teaching first and second year high school basics; high schools should be implementing occupational degree programs; and universities should stop teaching high school courses and get on with a variety of shorter-term, highly concentrated degree programs that integrate with business and industrial apprenticeship programs resulting in more certain job placements after college graduation. As such, American business and industry would not need to add yet another year or three of specialized training to the entering college student’s agendas thus pushing our aging youth further from their productive years of contribution and resource building.

And this is how I would describe national educational deficiencies and degrading economic metrics for our nation's educational systems. In hindsight, it's amazing we’ve gotten this far by our outmoded 20th-century style of mass-producing literate students known as "public education!" It is time for radical change - one that makes sense for our kids and for our communities so that America can globally compete with a rising world seeking to integrate its literate societies with other viable, literate societies in a stealthy web of cooperation and competition.

RE Slater
March 2011




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