500 Million Dollars, 700 Books, and Senate Bill 23
January 4, 2013

Five links that made us think this week:

Mark Zuckerberg has done it again. This time, "it" is a $500 million donation for education and health. In late December Zuckerberg announced on his personal Facebook page that he will donate 18 million shares of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla are signees of The Golden Pledge, along with Bill Gates and Star Wars creator George Lucas. These three business leaders have shown a large investment in education philanthropy. I “like” that!

In the Age of the Smartphone, we collect “likes,” video games, and other digital artifacts—but we forget that there are still a few folks out there who collect “smart” little pages called books. This article casts a spotlight on book collector Rudolf Dieke, a German coffee entrepreneur who emigrated from post-war Europe in the 1950s to the sunny valleys of Costa Rica. For Dieke, his collection of 700+ books is about emotional and intellectual contact with the past—for others, it may be about building intellectual cache in the present. After all, reading books is the “smartest” hobby of them all. A student who reads just 20 minutes each day in a school year reads 1.8 million words. I wonder how our vocabulary and focus would improve if more of us collected books instead of the latest trending apps? Luckily, Rudolf Dieke, my beloved grandfather, always made sure that there was a copy of Robinson Crusoe and Moby Dick on my night table while growing up, right next to my Spice Girl Barbie.

Photo by Tom Woodward via WikiCommons

Teacher morale in London is not doing well at all. In a recent survey of 804 teachers across England and Wales, 55% reported feeling “low” or “very low” professional morale. Only 5% of those who participated in the survey felt the government was having a positive effect on schools, and 74% agreed that children's educational attainment was affected by family income. According to Christine Blower, General Secretary of England’s National Union of Teachers, these survey results “paint a very sorry picture and is a damning indictment of coalition government policies." 

Three months after being shot in Pakistan for standing up for girls’ education rights, 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai was released from Birmingham Hospital in the United Kingdom on Thursday. Taliban forces in Pakistan shot Malala in the head on October 9th for her “relentless objection to the group's regressive interpretation of Islam that limits girls' access to education.” Malala became a worldwide symbol of courage in the aftermath of the shooting, demonstrating the struggles and danger some women and girls face to defend their education rights. Malala is slowly but surely recovering from the injuries she sustained in this gender crime, and is fortunately still able to read and write.

While school leaders across the country are talking about adding stricter security measures in the wake of Sandy Hook, Republican Senator Dennis Kruse of Indianapolis is focused on making the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer a daily requirement in public schools. Senate Bill 23 proposes that school districts be able to require the prayer so “that each student recognize[s] the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen.” Senator Kruse made an unsuccessful attempt to require public schools to teach creationism last year, and by the looks of it the Lord’s Prayer is going down the same road. Legislative sessions will begin on Monday, and already Senate legal staff is voicing its disagreement of the bill, calling it a “clear violation of the interpretation of the First Amendment by the United States Supreme Court.” Amen.

That’s it for the first week of the year. Have a great weekend, everyone! Pura Vida.

Want to share your thoughts with me? Email me at carolina.cromeyer@teachforamerica.org

Category: The Friday Five

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