Wired Magazine gives us a list of seven useful skills we will need in the future
The bad news is that the University of Saskatchewan is not listed in the top 400 universities from around the world. Here are the Canadian universities that are well respected.
- #18 McGill University
- #29 University of Toronto
- #44 University of British Columbia (UBC)
- #78 University of Alberta
- #131 Queen’s University
- #136 Université de Montréal
- #145 University of Waterloo
- #163 McMaster University
- #164 University of Western Ontario
- #165 University of Calgary
- #212 Dalhousie University
- #215 Simon Fraser University
- #231 University of Ottawa
- #241 University of Victoria
- #271 Laval University
- #333 York University
- #358 University of Manitoba
The good news is that if you live in almost any other region of the country, you can go to a great university. via
A lot of you have asking why my blog series on Riversdale stopped. The quick answer is that I found a question that I had no answer to. Of course the long answer is that I started writing about an article that Dave Hutton wrote back in May. As I started to write about it, I got to a point where i was going to talk about the concentration of poverty in Riversdale (and to a lesser degree, the other core neighbourhoods in Saskatoon). As I was writing, I remembered hearing Leonard Sweet talk about growing up in poverty in West Virginia. While I am sure all of us idealize parts of our childhood, he was describing both poverty and a strong sense of community that existed in his youth and even now while West Virginia ranks at the bottom of most indicators of economic strength and standard of living it also have very low crime rates, an issue that has defined Saskatoon’s inner city for a number of years.
So when Councilor Lorje and Randy Pshebylo comment on the concentration of poverty in Saskatoon, it isn’t just a lack of money that is the issue.
"The issue is not just poverty," she said. "It’s the concentration of poverty."
Lorje is backed on the issue by the executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District. Randy Pshebylo says the burden of helping the homeless and drug-addicted needs to be shared by other neighbourhoods.
The concentration of any one thing — be it bars and pubs, pawn shops, retail stores, restaurants or social organizations — diminishes the strength of any neighbourhood, Pshebylo said.
Missions and soup kitchens are better suited for the avenues adjacent to 20th Street than the main business strip, he said.
"We just want an equitable neighbourhood," he said. "You don’t put your sink in your living room."
This interactive map below shows the main social service agencies in Saskatoon. It isn’t totally accurate as it is building and not agency based (the Family Service Village in Kinsmen Park holds numerous agencies in one place and I chose to include just the YWCA and Crisis Intervention service on the map to give a wider perspective).
As I plotted out the graph, I didn’t include longer term housing like Saskatoon Housing Authority and Quint Development Corporation (which offers below market rent and I would argue don’t serve a homeless or transient population) or agencies that I knew about but when I Googled their name, I wasn’t easily able to determine the address (which is true of shelters catering to women and youth) which means that they aren’t publically known or want to keep a low profile. I also left out low income suites targeted towards seniors. In the end, while some of these agencies are spread over the city, others are in the city core so I think the ratio remains similar.
Here is the color guide.
- Red: Emergency and transitional housing locations
- Yellow: Support agencies that provide supports to people in the communities
- Blue: Food security
- Purple: Drop In Centres
A quick glance at the map makes it obvious that there is a concentration of lower income services in the Riversdale/Pleasant Hill area. I was shown another map that showed all of the non-profits that are in Riversdale but that also included many of the local churches. I am going to leave those out of the conversation because some of them have been there for a long time and not all of them are engaged in any ministry or services to the poor (which is a different post in itself). No matter which way you look at it, there are a lot of sinks in the living room. The question is why.
Now it does make sense that there would be a lot of services to the poor in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill as they are the two poorest neighbourhoods in the city and the neighbourhoods around on each side of them (Caswell Hill and King George) also have a concentration of poverty.
Saskatoon realtor Norm Fisher’s website provides an excellent visual breakdown of the economics of Pleasant Hill and Riversdale. (charts used with permission)
Take a quick look at Riversdale’s income breakdown.
Of the 306 households making under $15,000/year, 140 households are making under $10,000 year. See full neighbourhood profile here.
Head further west on 20th Street and check out Pleasant Hill’s income breakdown
Of the 863 households trying to get by on under $15,000, 450 households are making less than $10,000 year. See full neighborhood profile here.
South of Riversdale is King George. One of Saskatoon’s oldest neighbourhoods.
Of the 153 households making under $15,000 per year, 65 of those households are making under $10,000 per year. You can see the neighbourhood profile here.
Heading even further west you have Meadowgreen. While it doesn’t have the commercial connection to 20th Street that Pleasant Hill and Riversdale does, it does have a high concentration of poverty.
Of the 407 households with an income of under $15,000, 125 of them are bringing in under $10,000. Again, here is the full neighbourhood profile.
I was shocked a little by Caswell Hill’s income breakdown.
I spend a lot of time walking through Caswell Hill and the amount of low income households caught me off guard. Especially considering that there are 125 households making under $10,000 a year. Even a neighbourhood with a high concentration of homes being renovated, fixed up, and improved, there is a significant concentration of poverty.
In the end you have 2133 households trying to love on under $15,000 a year and another 1662 households trying to get by under $30,000 a year in those four neighbourhoods. Of those families, a staggering 905 of them are trying to get by on under $10,000 per year (140 households in Riversdale, 450 households in Pleasant Hill, 65 households in King George, 125 households in Caswell Hill).
Let’s put this another way.
|$ income/year||% less than $15,000/year|
|City of Saskatoon||65,487||5.9%|
Not only is there a concentration of poverty in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon, the underlying causes are hard to overcome. The vast majority of residents in the five listed neighbourhoods do not have a high school diploma or GED. Those that are employed are working in retail jobs which often do not feature stable hours and/or a liveable wage. For those who are not working, they are trying to get by on one of the two main Social Services programs, (through either SAP or TEA).
Rental vs. Ownership
|% Rental||% Owned|
|City of Saskatoon||38||62|
If you have a highly educated and mobile workforce, high rental rates can be quite useful, especially in a changing economy (you can move to where the jobs are). The problem is that the high rental numbers in the core neighbourhoods are combined with a population with a very poor education.
|City of Saskatoon||6.0|
Take a look at the data… you have low income, low education, low rate of home ownership all in the same neighbourhoods. Along with it you will see higher rates of violence and crime, despite increased police efforts at curbing it.
Of course does the concentration of services in Riversdale help or hurt the neighbourhood? You need to separate the business of 20th Street from the equation first. Does having a business district in the middle of the second poorest neighbourhood hurt things. Toss in the fact that in 2007 StatsCan found that 1/2 of all of the violent crime in Saskatoon (which was Canada’s second most violent city in 2009) was in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill, it explains why one study in Saskatoon found people felt safer on Broadway Avenue at night than they did on 20th Street during the day. This is shocking. Riverdale and Pleasant Hill had 300 crime reports per 1000 residents (second only to the neighbourhoods around Confederation Park)
A quick look at the map would show a link between poverty and crime but for those of you who want to study it further, Harvard economics professor Steven Levitt (and co-author of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics) wrote on the changing link between poverty and crime back in 1999 for the New York Federal Reserve Bank. As he summarizes his findings of previous research.
In summary, much but not all of the existing empirical evidence is consistent with the conclusion that poverty and income inequality are associated with higher crime rates.
This would coincide with what we see in Saskatoon. The main point of Levitt’s research is that as income gaps widened, the poor went from robbing those wealthier to those who are also poor. In other words, the rich in Saskatoon are more likely to be able to afford SaskTel SecurTek (with credit checks being demanded by SecurTek and others, it actually makes it very difficult for low income residents to get the same protection as their wealthier neighbours. We may not have two tier healthcare, we do have two tier Crown Corporations). This happens for a lot of reasons that can be linked to the rise of crack cocaine and Reagan’s tough on crime policies (Traditional petty criminals were locked up for longer sentences giving drug dealer a new national distribution network). Once people realized the money that they could make selling drugs to the masses, it spread across the continent. Drugs like cocaine used to be for the rich, now with crack out there, drugs became a vice of the poor. The amount of times I see a dial-a-dope run while at work late shows the depth of the problem.
This matters why? Lower incomes criminals used to head across the river to the east side to rob people (higher income criminals went to work for Wall Street). Which more or less spread crime over an urban area. A combination of technology and wealthy families moving further and further away from the city core turned places like Riversdale, Pleasant Hill and 20th Street into high crime areas. Wendy and I have experienced this in Mayfair. We have just seen a lot of property crime on our block… everything from three steering columns being destroyed as people tried to steal our cars to the accompanying smashed windows, to our low voltage landscape lights and Christmas lights being stolen. Now damage to my car or Christmas lights is one thing. That is frustrating, annoying, and with a $800 bill even maddening. Yet it’s nothing compared to how one would feel if someone close to you was violently hurt.
Here is a four month snapshot of assaults in Saskatoon. These just aren’t minor assaults either but assaults causing bodily harm, aggravated assaults, and assaults with a weapon.
According to police it isn’t that bad.
“If people are suggesting that crime is spiralling out of control over the last five years, the numbers don’t support that,” said Det. Staff Sgt. Jean-Marc Voisard, who heads the personal violence section.
But after 31 years with the Saskatoon police, Voisard has noticed that assaults have become more vicious. Injuries are more serious and knives are more common now, he said.
“When I started, there were stabbings, but not to the extent we see today,” Voisard said.
“Society has become more violent. People are quicker to resort to violence to settle a dispute, and that applies to bar fights just as much as a family fighting in the living room.”
The concentration of crime in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill confirms what Stats Canada is saying and makes it even harder for businesses in Riversdale. This matters because the perception of crime is more important then the crime rate itself. Back in the early 80s my friends and I used to as ten year olds take the nearest C-Train station downtown to check out the Glenbow Museum on any given Saturday. I used to catch a bus by myself that would take kids to Pask-a-poo each Saturday and ski all day supervised. Now when Mark walks the two short blocks to Safeway from our place, even during the early evening, Wendy’s co-workers show incredible concern that he walked two short blocks. It doesn’t matter that statistically it was more dangerous growing up in Calgary, the perception is that is more dangerous for us now. Fear is a powerful motivator.
People with serious mental illness face many barriers over their lifetime, including stigma and discrimination, which may prevent them from securing adequate education and employment. Experiencing a mental illness can seriously interrupt a person’s education or career path and result in diminished opportunities for employment. A lack of secure employment, in turn, affects one’s ability to earn an adequate income. As a result, people may eventually drift into poverty.
Moreover, individuals with serious mental illness are frequently unable to access community services and supports due to stigma, gaps in service and/or challenges in system navigation. Lack of sufficient primary health care and community mental health services, shortages of affordable housing, and inadequate income support further alienate them from life in the community. Exclusion from these social and economic supports results in social isolation, significantly increasing their risk of chronic poverty.
Individuals with work-limiting disabilities are nearly three times as likely to be poor and four times as likely to be in receipt of social assistance as individuals without a disability.
The stigma of people with mental disabilities is incredible. Many well meaning people have asked me, “How do you work with those people?” While listening to the radio a couple of weeks ago I listened to one radio host complain about people who were homeless and had mental people out on the same Saskatoon streets as he was. The suggestion was that they stay inside. Many people with mental health and addiction issues are living downtown are in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill and that stigma follows them and of course impacts shop owners on 20th. This is at the core of the creation of suburbia and bedroom communities (although in Saskatchewan I think it has a lot to do with people wanting to connect to rural roots).
If you are a shop owner on Riversdale, you have big time problem. You are surrounded by some of poorest neighbourhoods in Canada which means that your ability to make money off of local consumers is limited. You are in one of the highest crime areas of Canada which means that you have to rely heavily on attracting customers to come down and spend money on 20th Street and those consumers don’t feel safe. Even the Little Chief Police Station that was intended to make Riversdale safer is a quiet reminder that by it’s very presence, Riversdale isn’t always a safe place to be.
In response to the poverty, mental health and addiction issues and crime, it makes sense that several NGO’s moved into Riversdale to help people cope with the poverty. High end retailers go to where the money is and like it or not, many community based organizations go where societal issues are. Many of them do very good work but by our very presence in the neighbourhood, we make it harder for businesses to operate here. Long time readers know that I used to work the 4-12 shift at the Salvation Army’s front desk. We are right across from what I thought was the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world, The Golden Dragon. All of the time we would have drunks stumble in to our place and then over to The Golden Dragon causing all sorts of problems for the owners and it’s customers. That takes a toll on your business and no wonder I have to walk downtown to get a Starbucks. In the last year or so the Salvation Army has followed the lead of other shelters and has worked hard at keeping the residents and users of our services off the front sidewalk and to the side of the building where we purchased two heavy duty (and quite nice) picnic tables and umbrellas. Our janitors work hard at sweeping up cigarette butts and garbage but every morning that I come to work there are some guys loitering out front (it is a public sidewalk). The same can be said about the front of the Saskatoon Food Bank, the Friendship Inn, the Lighthouse, the Bridge on 20th and a variety of other social organizations on 20th Street. Despite that Wendy has twice been accosted while waiting for me to get off work by guys looking for money and sadly we still get complaints made by people who have had to endure comments by our clients as they walked by.
I don’t know how much it changes the neighbourhood. What would be the difference between 20th Street if there was no community based organizations there? Would it be a thriving business district or without the social structures and emergency services that organizations provide would it be worse off. Is there an alternative way to deliver services?
To answer that, I first want to take a look at what life is life for those that are living under $10,000 / year because without that, we don’t even know what is really needed. I’ll post more tomorrow.
From The Atlantic
The industrial revolution. Gigantic presses powered by steam (and later, electric power) could crank out books and newspapers and advertisements that strained the always-fickle paper supply. Eventually, papermakers were able to invent a variety of mechanical and chemical techniques engineer decent-quality paper out of pulped wood, a supply that (unlike cloth rags) appeared limitless. Print was off to the races, and dozens of other inventions helped make generating texts cheaper and faster. Having beaten back the scroll, our anthropomorphized codex now jostled against increasingly-important nonbook documents glutting the alphabetic information stream, like newspapers and office memoranda. More people were reading too, thanks to cheap primers and a state-driven educational push towards universal literacy: historian David Hall has called this the "literacy revolution." If print in the Renaissance and early modern periods was a proof-of-concept, a limited beta – the Xerox PARC GUI and first-generation MacIntosh of the new modes of producing and consuming text – the age of industrial print was Windows 95.
As Wendy wrote, Mark has been transferred from Mayfair School to Caswell School. The experience has been a really good one for Mark so far which kind of frustrates me. There are more computers, a better paint job, more extra curricular activities, and resources for kids at Caswell despite the schools only being five blocks away from each other. There were a lot of factors involving our move but both of these schools are publically funded schools and yet one has far superior resources thrown at it.
I know school population is part of it. While Caswell has almost no split classes, all of the classes that Mark would be in until he graduated out of there were split classes but shouldn’t all schools have access to the same quality of library, the same access to computers and the same access to educational resources? Especially when they are all of five blocks apart. A good education should not be geographically based.
Of course I would love to be proven wrong. Too bad the Star Phoenix or Planet S Magazine didn’t have the inclination to compare and rate public schools and compare student – teacher, student – computer, student – teacher assistant ratios, extra curricular activities, and look at what grade students could start entering into a run of split classrooms. It would be interesting to see.
Such high-level attention to summer reading is welcomed by educators concerned about the way summer tends to sap learning gains. Two-thirds of the reading achievement gap between low-income 9th-graders and their higher-income peers can be attributed to different levels of reading in the summers, according to research cited by the National Summer Learning Association in Baltimore.
Giving away books is a good first step, “and it also helps if a parent or a teacher is working with the child … asking questions [about the books],” says Jeff Smink, the association’s vice president of policy.
Here is how to do it
In a study that compares students who received free books over the summer with students who didn’t, Richard Allington, an education professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, found encouraging results. He tracked low-income first- and second-graders in Florida who chose a dozen free books at their reading level for three summers in a row.
“The effect was equal to the effect of summer school,” Professor Allington says. “Spending roughly $40 to $50 a year on free books for [each kid] began to alleviate the achievement gap that occurs in the summer.”
The study couldn’t show how many of the books the students actually read, but the students who sent in reading logs answering brief questions about the books showed even stronger achievement gains.
If I was a local church pastor, I would put together a proposal for local companies to sponsor this next summer and run this out of your church. Some computers, some reading stations, parent volunteers, and a lot of Hardy Boys, Harry Potter, and Diary of a Wimpy books to give out. via
Who would have thought that Oliver would be so hard to shop for. I don’t remember Mark being so hard to shop for when he was a year and a half but then I realized that so many things I wanted to get Oliver are still sitting in storage because we already bought them for Mark. In case you are struggling to find out what to buy a toddler, here is a short Christmas Gift Guide to give you some ideas.
Wooden Sleigh :: We bought on of these for Mark, used it for a couple of years and it still looks like it is brand new. This could conceivably last for 12 kids, even if your marriage couldn’t. While I linked to the cheapest one I could find on Amazon.com, I am pretty sure you can get them a lot cheaper at your local big box outlet. I know quality is important but it’s not as if you are letting your kids go down K2 in one of these things.
Calgary Flames Mini Stick :: Ollie is about the age where hitting things is a lot of fun. The secret it to teach him that it is more fun to hit a ball and a puck than it is to hit Mark and myself. Since we have a dog that loves to fetch, this could be more fun than what we are bargaining for.7
Toy Tool Set :: With the cost of getting repairmen into your home, it’s never to early to teach a child how to fix a furnace or a hot water heater.
Fisher Price Parking Garage :: Right after Henry Ford started to ship the Model T, Fisher Price started to ship the Fisher Price Parking Garage. I had one, Lee had one, I am sure my grandparents had one.
Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Puppy :: Lee gave Oliver one of these for his birthday. It sings, it laughs, it tells jokes, it teaches him things, it drives me crazy. It is currently teaching Oliver the A-B-Cs, 1-2-3′s and parts of the body, plus sing along to ten favorite songs and games. It is also giving him investment tips and putting together a retirement plan for him.
I have a digital camera, Wendy has a digital camera, Mark has a digital camera. Oliver can now have a play camera where he can obsess over the backlighting and the shot as we do with this Playskool play camera. Now of course he is going to find out that the camera we gave him is a toy when his Flickr account doesn’t get that popular but that won’t happen until he is at least three. If you want to spend even more money on a fake video camera, there is this one with Elmo. It doesn’t actually do much but it does it with you kid’s favorite Sesame Street character.
If I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list of Christmas gift guides here.
From the New York Times
While current national data are not available, the number of schoolchildren in homeless families appears to have risen by 75 percent to 100 percent in many districts over the last two years, according to Barbara Duffield, policy director of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, an advocacy group.
There were 679,000 homeless students reported in 2006-7, a total that surpassed one million by last spring, Ms. Duffield said.
With schools just returning to session, initial reports point to further rises. In San Antonio, for example, the district has enrolled 1,000 homeless students in the first two weeks of school, twice as many as at the same point last year.
“It’s hard enough going to school and growing up, but these kids also have to worry where they’ll be staying that night and whether they’ll eat,” said Bill Murdock, chief executive of Eblen-Kimmel Charities, a private group in Asheville that helps needy families with anything from food baskets and money for utility bills to toiletries and a prom dress.
“We see 8-year-olds telling Mom not to worry, don’t cry,” Mr. Murdock said.
Since 2001, federal law has required every district to appoint a liaison to the homeless, charged with identifying and aiding families who meet a broad definition of homelessness — doubling up in the homes of relatives or friends or sleeping in motels or RV campgrounds as well as living in cars, shelters or on the streets. A small minority of districts, including Buncombe County, have used federal grants or local money to make the position full time.
The law lays out rights for homeless children, including immediate school placement without proof of residence and a right to stay in the same school as the family is displaced. Providing transportation to the original school is an expensive logistical challenge in a huge district like Buncombe County, covering 700 square miles.
While the law’s goals are widely praised, school superintendents lament that Congress has provided little money, adding to the fiscal woes of districts. “The protections are important, but Congress has passed the cost to state and local taxpayers,” said Bruce Hunter, associate director of the American Association of School Administrators.
This story made me cry. In Saskatoon the accepted number of kids not in school is 1500. I have talked to teachers and educators and while they all say it’s probably a bit higher or lower, they never seem to mind when we use it as a starting point for discussions. While many of those kids are out of school because of parental choices and slipping through the cracks, some of them are out of school because of no permanent address at all. They move between Saskatoon, Regina, P.A., or for some, the reserve. They get into school for a bit and then are off to the next destination and as I have educators tell me, this is devastating to the child and makes learning almost impossible. I have heard a couple of teachers say that they have experienced over 100% turnover during a school year which not only is hard on the kids moving in and out but those who stay. Who do you chose to be your friends when they may be gone tomorrow. Without a home, stability, education, and emotional development are all deeply affected.
Mark keeps asking me about the women and family shelter the Centre is opening. His questions all focus on where are the kids going to go to school. The shelter is to be a short term emergency shelter for those that are homeless. Women can spend a couple of weeks there before moving on to the YWCA or other transitional housing. You can spend a couple of months in those places before you move on to another place or get an apartment. Let’s review that journey. Homeless > Salvation Army > YWCA/transitional housing. A kid could spend a couple of months before getting established again and what’s the impact of that their future. Childhood homelessness is devastating and takes years to recover from. If there was a place for a church to invest a significant amount of effort into, this would seem to be it.
As you can see from this video, not all school systems are doing that well in helping out and some are even blocking homeless kids.
This story really depresses me. Not just because I get frustrated with a system that doesn’t value homeless people but when you read the Report Card on Child Homelessness, Delaware, Oregon, and Wisconsin report few or no barriers to educating homeless children (kudos to them) but then it gets a lot worse. Nearly 86% of subgrantees in Kentucky report that all seven barriers listed in the report were big barriers to getting an education. Hawaii, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire also have a high percentage of subgrantees reporting significant barriers.
The federal government provides states $58 million to support the education of children who are homeless. For each state, they convert their portion of this funding into a “per homeless child” figure based on the number of homeless children identified in each state. For example, Louisiana receives $6 per homeless child for education, while Rhode Island receives $304 per homeless child. In California child funding is $16 per child. The national average is $64 per homeless child (although this year that is going down)
By comparison we spend about $65.00 (Canadian) this year on Mark’s school supplies (you can see his school supply list here. He’s in Grade 4). With that we got him a couple of things he didn’t need but at the same time he still loved his backpack from 2007-2008 and didn’t want a new one which saved us $20. Him and I were talking today and he said that there are kids in his class that don’t have stuff for school yet and we are a week into it already.
Of course despite there being a million kids who are homeless, how many are struggling tremendously with heading back to school. This year in Canada, Sleep Country partnered with the Salvation Army in collecting school supplies to send kids back to school. Locally our board room was packed to the gills with school supplies. I was going to take a photo of it for this post but when I got my camera, most of it was gone as we had such a waiting list of families who live at or below the poverty line for these supplies.
This represents a big opportunity for the church to make a difference in a neighborhood. I know Christmas is a big deal but back to school is a big cost for many low income families and the need is bigger than the Salvation Army, Sleep Country, or any organization can deal with on their own.
Wendy and I chronicled some of the struggles that Mark has had at Mayfair School. The school faces declining enrollment and he has had split classes since grade 2. As he enters into grade 4, he has another split class. Apparently there are enough grade four kids for a class but not enough grade 3 and 4 students. It looks like split classes from here until high school for Mark.
Last year Mark and most of his friends suffered from a horrible bully. It came to a head when in December I got a call that Mark had punched this kid in the face in the hallway. While I kind of freaked out about it, I don’t like hearing that Mark punched a kid in the face, in the end, everyone felt he was justified which gave me an indication how bad things had become. While the bully was later moved to a different school, he was replaced by another one a week later. Like most parents in the school, we decided to walk Mark to and from the 1/2 block we live away from the school. While Mark was okay, one of his friends was badly beaten up, to the point where it crossed the line from bullying to assault.
Like a lot of parents in his class, we debated all summer over whether or not to put Mark back into that school or transfer him to Caswell School or St. Michael’s School. Partly because of his friends transferring to Caswell, they are full in his grade. St. Michael’s School has space and we are debating moving him later this week.
The reason we didn’t do it today is that I just felt sick abandoning the neighborhood and the school. I may be in the wrong but I want to give the school a chance. By pulling Mark out of Mayfair School, it means that there will be less funding, less involved parents, and despite the occasional punch to the face, Mark is a good kid who loves his school.
Tomorrow Wendy is setting up a meeting with his prospective teacher. We will be meeting with her and seeing how she plans to handle his split classroom while at the same time keeping Mark engaged. Last year his teacher did a good job of keeping us engaged by e-mailing us a couple times a week. This year I would like to see him challenged a lot more and we will see if that is going to be possible at Mayfair, if not we will make a quick change to other options.
Andrew Jones is blogging on the debt dependent church. Here are some of the gems from the post
I have seen a number of Seminary graduates come overseas to hang with us and to potentially find work in the "emerging church". After a short time, they have gone back to USA disappointed that there are no paid positions. Huge and wonderful opportunities . . . puny financial benefit. What did they teach those students about the emerging church? My guess is they pointed to a few cool mega-churches and said these were emerging. Wrong!
Of course what do they find in the United States?
And what about traditional church ministry and its dependence on buildings? I heard a Desiring God podcast last week where one pastor claimed some of his churches in Texas were worth $150 million and $250 million. How is it possible to reproduce this model without incurring incredible levels of debt? And has anyone stopped to ask if buying a huge building is the best way to spend God’s money?
How much does it cost to start a traditional church with a building and paid pastor? A million? Two million? A million dollars on the mission field could help launch a huge sprinkling of house churches that would saturate an area with small vibrant communities of faith where every believer is a minister. This is happening today and it is wonderful.
I think Andrew has some good things to say here but he is missing the point that a privately funded (this means paid for by massive tuition bills and student loans) theological education creates a system where all by the wealthiest have to find full time ministry jobs just to service the student loan debt. Right from the time we start to seriously educate church leaders, we ask them to embrace a worldview of debt and unless your parents are rich and want to help out, there are few alternatives paths to explore. I wish Andrew had kept pushing the idea of Suddenly Seminary. I am not sure if it the alternative but it was a way of creatively addressing the issue and it is one that keeps needing to be explored.
I have been toying with the idea of going back to school this year and starting on my master’s degree. In what I don’t really know. The idea of a M.Div doesn’t excite me but I do want to study more theological issues. My problem is that I don’t really know where to go or even what I want to study.
Some have suggested a MBA considering what I am doing with my life now. Others have suggested a M.Div which really doesn’t appeal to me. The idea of a M.A. in Theology or New Testament studies does. I am Methodist in my thinking and theology but I am rooted enough in my theology that going to a school of a different theological tradition doesn’t bother me.
The seminary doesn’t have to be local seminary, in fact the idea of a strange new city does appeal to me. Briercrest isn’t really an option because of all of the jokes I have made to and about their alumni (that and I think theology books should be read and not colored in). I am looking for something that has a flexible enough program to allow me to keep working and attend.
This isn’t a career move but it more of a response to my love of theology and a desire to keep learning. If you have any suggestions or warnings, let me know via e-mail or in the comments.
Wendy had a productive meeting today at the school about the fact that Mark is being pounded into the ground regularly by a bully at school. He has come home from school with bruises on his face several times and Wendy and I have been escorting him to school. That stops the violence going to and from school but it was happening at recess and during school now. It came to a head on Friday when after taking several punches and kicks, Mark turned around and punched the kid in the face (who then beat Mark up again but at least he went down fighting). The substitute teacher didn’t like it but after talking with Mark and the principal, we decided that there was no need for Mark to apologize and I wasn’t going to make him apologize even if the school wanted it.
My mother was a teacher and I was always taught that the teacher’s opinion was the one that mattered and we have carried this over to Mark. For three years we have stood behind and reinforced the school’s discipline but on Friday it was decided that a) substitute teachers don’t know what they are talking about sometimes b) a punch to the head is occasionally the answer c) it could be dealt with in ways that don’t involve Mark having to humiliate himself by writing a bully a note of apology.
While Stanley Hauerwas may not have agreed with my parenting decision, Mark was all for it and the school is working with us on ways to make sure Mark and other kids don’t have to fear going out for recess.
The problems are pretty complex at Jefferson High School
With a 58 percent dropout rate, Jefferson has the worst dropout record in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest.
“It’s horrendous,” said Debra Duardo, director of the dropout prevention and recovery program at the district, which averages 33.6 percent dropouts.
While half the students typically quit inner-city schools nationwide, Jefferson is at the lower end of the spectrum of so-called “dropout factories” because of a concentration of factors that are rarely all present at schools in other cities.
Located in South Los Angeles, where new immigrants mostly from Mexico and Central America settle, the area has a large minority population and high poverty.
Of its 1,977 students last school year, 45 percent qualified as English learners. More than 90 percent qualified for free or reduced-price lunches.
The newcomer population means families shift quickly, following jobs or fleeing immigration raids. The school has a 57 percent transience rate, compared to a 38 percent average across district high schools.
They aren’t totally giving up though.
Last year, the district launched a $200,000 marketing campaign to convince kids school is worthwhile.
Promos on hip-hop radio, cell phone text messages, a MySpace Web site and You Tube videos hammered home that graduates earn an average of $175 more weekly than dropouts followed by the message: “Get your diploma.”
Administrators are evaluating if the ads were successful, but the campaign sparked interest across the country, inspiring a similar program in New York City public schools.
One of the most effective ways of keeping kids in school is simple – home visits, which the district has been doing for years. The visits are now conducted by “diploma project advisers,” guidance counselors who work with dropout-risk students.
“It gives a really powerful message that if you’re not in school, we’re going to your home,” Duardo said. “Most of the time, we find dropouts not working and not happy with life.”
“But why this starts a new season for us is that these programs commence a new project that we are taking on with the Ecclesia Collective. We are now in the process of developing an internship program. This program would take 3 to 4 young people that would live in the loft, above our home, spending 10 to 12 months as a part of the Hawthorn House community. Interns would spend time with our community, share meals and rhythms with us, work in our garden with us and we would (preferably) connect with a neighborhood non-profit agency or locally owned business for part time work. Brooke and I will meet with the interns every week for guided time to discuss spiritual formation, social engagement and community life among other things. The internships will not start until this coming fall at the earliest. If you are interested, get in touch.”