Category archives: Education

Schooled by Students

by Bethany Demmin

August 16, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I feel myself go a bit numb where this world and her troubles are concerned. Each day, the news is clogged with terror attacks, riots, posturing dictators, refugee crises, genocide, and deadly natural disasters. Taken together with an advancing culture of death, unmitigated sexual license, and growing hostility toward Christians, it’s enough to make me despair. But I’m reminded of Chuck Colson’s often-repeated admonition: despair is a sin that denies the sovereignty of God. He was right. The truth is, one of the ways believers experience the continual work of the Gospel is in knowing that our trust and hope can and should be located outside this world.

That’s not to say I take no hope from what I see around me. On the contrary, working with interns here at FRC means I spend about 9 months of the year interacting with passionate, purposeful, committed young people who not only love the Lord but also love this nation. They come here ready to take on the world, their heads full of knowledge and their hearts full of fervor. Now, it’s not surprising that many of them also arrive without a full understanding of how to defend or articulate their beliefs, but that is why we set aside time to have important, difficult discussions about the issues of our day. The goal is that our students will leave FRC better equipped—professionally, mentally, and spiritually—than when they came. As a result of the time and effort we devote to training in Christian worldview, I get a front row seat to watch interns grow in confidence, thoughtfulness, humility, and coherence. They feel it too, so much so that our interns often cite our weekly worldview training as the highlight of the program.

I’m humbled to be part of such important work, helping form the next generation of Christian leaders. I am also grateful to have had so many opportunities to share about these exceptional students; to let others know that there is reason to be optimistic. Of course, we place our hope first and foremost in the person of Jesus, but the very good news is that there are others coming up behind us who claim and live in response to the very same hope.

Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.

Washington, D.C. Internship Applications: Do’s and Don’ts

by Bethany Demmin

August 11, 2016

There’s never a dull moment when you run an internship program in Washington, D.C. During the semester, the office is a little louder, buzzing with activity, and more often than not, just plain fun. When students head back to school or off to their new jobs, the office gets quieter and I go into preparation mode, fueled by anticipation for the coming semester.

Assembling the class can be nerve-wracking as I go through at least a couple iterations of intern departmental assignments, taking into consideration student interest and background, and the needs of our very busy organization. Once in a while, I have to make difficult decisions, usually based on our housing or program capacity, which inevitably leads to some self-doubt. I suppose a healthy amount of insecurity about these decisions makes sense, most of all because the three months-long contentment of not only our students, but also many of my colleagues is in my hands.

Sometimes I don’t know whether I have made the right decision until our students arrive, but there are a few situations in which I know for sure I have made the right call. If you or a student you know are interested in internships at FRC, or more generally any internship in Washington, D.C., here’s a little bit of free advice on what will make you stick out as an applicant, in the form of a good old “do’s and don’ts” list:

The Experience Collector

Do: Acknowledge your resume, especially if it looks as though you’re wandering a bit. If you have bounced from internship to internship, detail your goals and why specifically you believe an internship here will help you achieve them. That will make me much more likely to consider you.

Don’t: Act like your professional past is of no consequence. If your application features a bachelor’s and master’s degree and four internships both on and off the Hill, my first reaction is to assume you’ve grown to like being an intern a little more than you should. In that case, I am likely to thank you for your interest and nicely tell you that it’s time for you to get a job.

The Creative Writer

Do: Use your application essays to tell me why you are passionate about the issues FRC specifically focuses on, and by all means, find a connection between your interests and our mission, however unrelated they may seem. If that requires a bit of creativity, do the work. I love it when we are able to bring students from all different backgrounds to experience a semester with us.

Don’t: Send well-written essays about your interests that don’t actually answer the writing prompts. If it’s obvious to me that you sent an essay you wrote for another program, your application will most likely be rejected. The same goes for writing essays that show you aren’t actually very familiar with our work. Even if you just learned about FRC, it only takes a little bit of time on our website to learn what you should in order to convince me you are genuinely interested.

The Over-Familiar Communicator

Do: Refer to the intern coordinator with a professional salutation (e.g. Mr., Ms.), and then respond in kind if/when he or she signs off differently. Most communication will be through e-mail, so for instance, when I sign off using my first name, then it is appropriate for you to call me by it in the future.

Don’t: Send demanding, one- or two-sentence e-mails to check on your application status. From my perspective, it’s hard to recover from this, and I am unlikely to consider you if you treat me and this opportunity with anything but respect. Additionally, overuse of exclamation points and question marks is ALWAYS unprofessional.

The Silent Type

Do: Acknowledge e-mails received, even if it’s just a “Got it. Thank you!” Over-communication is preferable in these cases as it shows me you are invested.

Don’t: Ignore an e-mail, even if it is a rejection letter. You never know what contacts you may have need of in the future, and this makes me a lot less likely to lend a hand later. I would be very willing to give a recommendation on an applicant’s behalf, provided he or she treats me with respect and gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for our program. It’s just bad form to not respond with at least a short “thank you” in these cases.

The Retractor

Do: Follow through on your commitment once you have accepted an offer. There isn’t much else to say on this.

Don’t: Come back a week (or two months!) after accepting an offer to join us for an internship and say you won’t be able to come because you got another offer you really wanted. This is a great way to burn a bridge, and it would be nearly impossible to recover from if you ever want to be considered in the future. We expect our students to be men and women of their word, even and especially when it is difficult. That starts before you even arrive.

The Social Butterfly

Do: Feel free to use social media to share your views (and your pics, status updates, etc.) with your friends and family.

Don’t: Post things you’ll regret the next day, or when the coordinator of an internship you applied to views your account.

Some of those items may seem like common sense, but there is a reason why I mentioned each and every one. Like I said, I sometimes struggle with self-doubt while processing applications, but on day one of each of three semesters during which we offer our program, that apprehension typically gives way to confidence that the right students were selected and excitement about what’s in store over the coming months. I am happy to say that when we host students whose conduct reflects this “do’s and don’ts” list, they and we end up loving every minute of their time here.

Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.

Elections Offer Chance to Restore the Rule of Sanity in Fairfax Schools

by Peter Sprigg

October 27, 2015

A decade or two ago, the homosexual movement began its long march through the public schools of the United States. Now, the transgender movement has begun to follow the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the nation’s tenth largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

Hundreds of angry citizens turned out at a School Board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board voted 10-1 with one abstention to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach about transgender issues in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the Board claimed).

The Board passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to the Fairfax Schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.” Soon, however, Board members will answer to a higher authority — the voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.

Last night, FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz).  Watch their presentations here.

Students Are Flying High with the SOAR Act

by Tabitha Walter

October 23, 2015

According to a 2013 Census Bureau report, DC schools are among the top three states or state-equivalents that spend the most money per student. One would think that DC’s robust culture and accessibility to educational venues would provide the perfect atmosphere in which a student would thrive. Unfortunately, last year, DC schools ranked last in the nation for education. This goes to show that something is terribly wrong with the educational system. Congress continues to work on a solution for this problem.

In 2011, Congress passed H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) sponsored by Speaker Boehner, which provides funding for vouchers and public schools. This program allows for low-income families to choose a different school, including qualified private and parochial schools, while public schools improve. Since the enactment of this program, DC students have significantly improved their math and reading scores. Those who have participated in the program have had higher graduation rates compared to those in DC public schools. This proves that parents and families are more qualified to select the best place of education for their student and that placing a child in a school based on their zip code is an antiquated method.

Even though the SOAR Act expires at the end of the fiscal year of 2016, Speaker Boehner has put the legislation back on the table to ensure its reauthorization for an additional five years. Despite opposition from the left, this legislation has passed the House and is moving forward in the Senate. Another five years of this program could be a game-changer for DC students.

Common Sense versus Common Core

by Robert Morrison

June 9, 2015

Bill Gates is the well-respected genius behind Microsoft. But he didn’t do everything right. He recently told a computer journal that he had made a mistake in developing the Crtl-Alt-Delete series of keystrokes for his program. Now, the achievements that have made Bill Gates one of the world’s wealthiest men are not negated by this single and candid admission of error. But one has to wonder: When will Bill Gates acknowledge that his support for (and lavish spending on) Common Core has also been a mistake?

Many of us who oppose Common Core are confronted with a list of good things that are said to be a part of Common Core. Yes. Sure. We do have alphabet instruction as part of Common Core and it does go from A to Z. No argument there.

But opponents of Common Core can rebound and ask their own questions. If, as you say, friendly advocate, Common Core is so good, is there a single school district in the country that does not have access to computers and the World Wide Web? If Massachusetts or Iowa have really good state standards, what is to stop any school district from accessing these good standards online? Then, they could adopt, adapt, and implement those parts that are really helpful and eschew the parts that aren’t.

Why is it necessary to prod, prompt, and press the states into compliance? Why is it necessary to force state and local education authorities to shackle themselves with the Common Core curriculum?

With many leading American executives, Mr. Gates wants a workforce primed for the challenges of the 21st century.  However, a top-down program that intrudes upon local and state educational systems is neither wise nor effective.  Unless, of course, the real motive is Control. Well, then we need an Alt (ernative) to Common Core. 

And we should Del(ete) anything that threatens freedom, undermines local authority, and denies parents’ choice.

This Man Won’t Be Bullied: Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

by Cathy Ruse

February 25, 2015

It’s not easy swimming against the tide. I am sorry to admit that “pro-life activist” is not always my first response to the cocktail party question.

And standing by your belief in man-woman marriage sometimes feels like holding up a “punch me” sign.

But San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has shown again and again that he is made of the strongest stuff.

Here’s the tick-tock on his latest battle to protect Catholic teaching in Catholic schools:

February 3: The Archdiocese of San Francisco announces proposed changes in teacher contracts telling applicants that if they’d like a job teaching children at one of their schools, they will be expected to uphold and not publicly contradict Catholic moral teaching. In the view of the Archdiocese, this simply codifies the long-established expectation for school employees.

February 17: A group of legislators, all Democrats, writes a letter to Cordileone urging him to stand down, arguing that his plan would discriminate against the teachers and violate their civil rights to “choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support.”

February 19: The archbishop replies. Here is the meat of his letter:

First of all, I always believe that it is important, before making a judgment on a situation or anyone’s action, that one first obtain as complete and accurate information as possible. To this end, a number of documents and videos giving accurate and more complete information about this contentious issue are available on the website of our Archdiocese. I would encourage you to avail yourselves of these resources, as they will help to clear up a lot of misinformation being circulated about it (such as, for example, the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life).

The next thing I would like to mention is actually a question: would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party — would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.

Now let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person. Would you have done this because you hate all Republicans outright, or because this individual, who happens to be a Republican, violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission? If the latter, then we are again in agreement on this principle.

My point is: I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you.

This is how you do it. Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

As the Archdiocesan announcement said: “Catholic schools exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen. Let them take their best shot at that goal, and complaining legislators stand aside.

HT: LifeSiteNews

Does Obama’s Middle-Class Economics “Work”?

by Christina J. Daniels

February 19, 2015

In the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama made the argument that middle-class economics “works.” He defined middle-class economics as, “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” But does middle-class economics “work?”

Historically, the idea of a fair chance combined with hard work is at the core of the American Dream. Opportunity, integrity, diligence and effort have combined to make America extraordinarily prosperous. Yet what does Mr. Obama mean by “fair share?”

Apparently he believes this share should include taking money from one segment of the population and transferring it to another – specifically, to those who wish to attend community college. It’s to this end that the President says he wants to make attending community college cost-free.

Yet education funded by redistribution cannot meet the requirements of the real-world job market. In 2009, Time Magazine equated a college degree to a driver’s license, due to its availability. CNN noted that “41% of college graduates from the last two years are stuck in jobs that don’t require a degree.” In March 2014, the liberal news source ThinkProgess also noted that “half a Million People with college degrees are working for (the) minimum wage.” The Huffington Post wrote an article giving seven reasons not to go to college and stated, “The people who sent us down the path of higher education clearly don’t understand basic economics and the law of supply and demand.” Currently, jobs that were once for low-skilled workers are crowded with college students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 19% of high school graduates cannot read, 14% of Americans cannot read and 21% of Americans read below a 5th grade level. By proposing policies such as free community college, the President is ignoring facts in favor of untenable proposals. As the Huffington Post notes, “The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t changed in 10 Years:”

According to the Department of Justice, the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” The stats back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

In addition, Begin to Read compiled statistics showing, “two out of three children that do not learn to read by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare”. The article further stated, “Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help.” Illiteracy and prison rates plague the poor and are factors which, as Dr. Patrick Fagan of Marriage and Religion Research Institute documents, further heighten the problem of fatherlessness in America.

So, it’s clear that middle-class economics, as defined by the President, do not “work.” Providing free community college will further devalue education and hurt the poor. When disadvantaged individuals are locked out of society, they do not have a “fair shot,” they cannot do their “fair share,” and they are not playing by the “same set of rules.” To ensure that disadvantaged families have a “fair shot,” liberal politicians must address our nation’s illiteracy problem and its roots – fatherlessness and family breakdown. We should be focusing on helping children that fail kindergarten, families that are locked in multigenerational illiteracy and government dependency and college students struggling to read.

The use of school choice and reforming public housing policy are steps toward making change possible. Giving parents the freedom to choose the school and neighborhood they desire will help alleviate the negative impact of centralized poverty. In high poverty areas, schools and neighborhoods are disproportionately filled with single mothers and peers from less educated households.[i] As Star Parker from the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) states, we must “bust up” the “ghettos” that public schools and government housing have created. With education and housing choice, we can be sure that everyone is playing by the “same rules” and receives a “fair shot.”

And there is no substitute for a strong, two-parent family in which a mom and a dad get married, stay married, and worship weekly with their children. No community college can ever provide that kind of security, opportunity or love.



[i] Fram, M. S., J. E. Miller-Cribbs, and L. Van Horn. “Poverty, Race, and the Contexts of Achievement: Examining Educational Experiences of Children in the U.S. South.” Social Work 52, no. 4 (2007): 309-19.South

Measuring the Value of College

by Family Research Council

February 16, 2015

College education is sold today as a ticket to employment and the first step toward a high paying career. But there are many reasons that college may not be the right choice for everyone. A great test of the need for college is to look at those who have achieved great things without attending college. A recent USA Today article highlighting the career of college dropout Scott Walker illustrates the point that a college education is not always necessary to a successful life. Americans should remind one another that there are many factors in career and life success. Marriage and family, hard work and charity, and character and integrity are all things that should be highly esteemed. While college can be a great blessing, it is not necessary for a great life.

Conservatives Should Resolutely Oppose Common Core — And so Should Liberals

by Robert Morrison

October 15, 2014

Conservatives and liberals should oppose federal usurpation of power that is known as Common Core State Standards.

The entire history of this education “reform” effort has been one of stealth and deception. In this Townhall column, FRC Senior Fellow Bob Morrison, an official of the federal education department under Ronald Reagan, argues for returning education policymaking to state lawmakers, locally elected school boards, and parents. That’s where the Founders and President Reagan thought decisions about education should be made. That’s where the Constitution placed education.

When a liberal Republican Congressman asked to meet President Reagan to discuss the “future of the education department,” the Gipper noted in the margin of his daily schedule: “I hope it doesn’t have one.” President Reagan’s note was written in his own handwriting, in cursive script. Common Core educrats want to dispense with teaching cursive writing — yet another reason to oppose it!

Data Mining” Core or Common Core?

by Krystle Gabele

September 12, 2014

On Tuesday, FRC hosted a webcast, “Common Core: The Government’s Classroom,” which featured several government officials and education experts discussing the flaws behind the Obama Administration’s program designed to improve testing and curriculum. Common Core has experienced quite a bit of backlash from both educators and parents alike, as the standards for this program were not fully developed prior to implementation at the state level.

Jane Robbins, J.D., with the American Principles Project, was one of the experts who appeared on our webcast. Robbins discussed how data mining is being used to collect information on students, thus violating their privacy and threatening parental rights. Watch Jane Robbins’s interview below.

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