The Catholic University of America

Category: Education

Dec 5 2011

Coaching Seriously

Recently at the IPR office, after I gave an overly detailed analysis of my volleyball team’s recent performance (I am the head coach of a girls varsity volleyball team at a local high school), I was accused of taking sports seriously.  Guilty as charged. 

In my mind, coaching parallels teaching, and both involve a sacred duty to help boys and girls, young men and women, progress toward their full development as human persons.  Excellent coaches serve as mentors, role models, counselors, and teachers.  They inspire, motivate, support, console, encourage, and challenge their players.  They model virtue and look to instill it in their players.


0 comments - Posted by Robert Christian at 1:43 PM - Categories: Education

Sep 21 2011

Poverty Rates Climb… And Congress is Silent. Why?

The U.S. Census Bureau has released some disturbing new numbers measuring poverty in the United States.  More than 46 million Americans are currently living below the poverty line – a whopping 15% of the U.S. population.  Not since the early 1990’s has the percentage been this high.  And even worse, the data show sharp declines in real income, a record number of people without health care insurance, and particularly harsh economic conditions for women.

Yet despite widespread media coverage of these alarming figures, the reaction from Congress has been surprisingly muted.  Why?

To be sure, the current political environment is not conducive to Congress taking action.  The talk in Washington is about debt reduction, not federal spending.  Congress is sharply divided along partisan lines – Democrats control the Senate, Republicans the House – a recipe for policy gridlock.  Democrats, thinking to the next presidential election, worry that pushing the issue may only further connect Obama with the struggling economy.  And Congressional Republicans, an increasingly conservative party, do not want to lose the support of activist Tea Party groups, most of which are so opposed to government programs and regulations that they sometimes sound like the Anti-Federalists of the 1780’s.

But there are three bigger reasons that Congress is less likely to deal with poverty than it should.


0 comments - Posted by Matthew Green at 10:16 AM - Categories: Social Justice | Education | Government & Civil Society

Sep 15 2011

Poverty, Civic Education, and Democracy

I happen to be working on a paper dealing with strategies that enhance civic education. There are extensive data showing that the quality of civic education differs according to the population being served. For example, in California, schools serving low income, “disadvantaged” students, tend not to have supplements to civics classes such as service, simulations, or discussions, whereas schools serving higher income students have these supplements (Kahne and Middaugh, 2009). Across the country, schools serving disadvantaged students tend not to have student governments and if they have them, student governments tend not to have a voice in policy (McFarland and Starrmans, 2009).

Recently published data on civic knowledge (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2010) demonstrate that the failure to use enriching practices is a lost opportunity. Disadvantaged students, defined here as being eligible for free lunches, benefit greatly when their teachers use discussion of the material being studied. 8th and 12th graders whose teachers say that they never or only a few times a year used discussion, scored 125 and 126, respectively, on the NAEP test. Their peers in classes where teachers used discussion on a regular basis, scored 155 and 152, respectively. (These are my calculations using the on-line data provided for NAEP by the National Center for Education Statistics.) The differences are statistically significant and indicate that disadvantaged students benefit from enriched civic education classes. (Advantaged students benefitted as well.)


0 comments - Posted by James Youniss at 12:41 PM - Categories: Education | Government & Civil Society

Feb 16 2011

Saving Catholic Schools

The closing of Catholic schools in major cities is a disservice to the thousands of children that would benefit from the quality education and structure that it brings. In recent years, the closing of these elementary schools in New York and other cities has created an added burden to what are already crowded public school systems. The following is an opinion-editorial that was written by New York Congressman Anthony Weiner (NY-9) regarding this issue. It is reprinted with permission from the Congressman and The Brooklyn Downtown Star newspaper, where it originally appeared.


0 comments - Posted by Anthony Stasi at 12:43 PM - Categories: Education

Feb 1 2011

Tiger Moms: Evidence from Sociological Research on Asian American Families and Success in Science

In recent weeks, the media and public have been giving attention to the issue of "Tiger Moms."  The discussion is a response to Amy Chua's new book BATTLE HYMN OF THE TIGER MOTHER.  I have been doing research on the role of Asian families in understanding the "model minority" success of many Asian Americans in science.  The National Science Foundation provided funding for me to collect information from a nationally representative sample of Asian American youth.  The survey included quantiative measures of family and science experiences but also opportunities for the youth to talk about these family experiences in their own words.

Results show that many of the family resources that are thought to be important in science (family involvement, parent degrees in science, how good parents think you are in science) are associated with success in science for both Asian Americans and Whites. But the analyses which look at differences in level of these resources show that Asian Americans have the advantage (over Whites) on most of these family resources.  The research also considers these processes from the point of view of the Asian American youth. The youths' discussions of family experiences suggest that the "Tiger Mom" phenomenon is real.

The Asian American respondents talk about support and resources in the family.  But they also talk about pressures and these come from both parents. Respondents talk about parents being "obsessed" with grades and "forcing" as well as "pushing" and "pressuring" them to do well adacemically, especially in science.  One young person whose parents wanted them to go into medicine notes "they said 'Health or die'."  Another young person reported that the pressures from parents in areas of academics and science and the resulting stress were so considerable that the respondent had decided to not have children.  Thus the findings from the paper show an advantage for success in science among Asian American youth but also a disadvantage in the stress and anxiety that some of these family experiences involve.

1 comments - Posted by Sandra Hanson at 3:00 PM - Categories: Education | Religion & Culture & Society

Sep 29 2010

Poverty and Education

The recently released Census report on the state of poverty in the United States confirms what many have suspected for some time, this recession has reversed many quality of life gains made by Americans, especially the middle-class, in the last decade. Another piece of disturbing news from the Census report is that Blacks and Hispanics have been disproportionally affected by the crisis. The reason I highlight this point is not to diminish or underestimate the paints others have endured but to stress the significant role education can potentially play in poverty alleviation.


0 comments - Posted by Enrique Pumar at 9:03 AM - Categories: Economy | Education

Apr 30 2010

The Ethics of the Obama Administration’s Nuclear Weapons Policy: Catholic Perspectives

“Are you going to the conference on the ethics of nuclear weapons being held at our Catholic U.,” I asked? “I didn’t know there was a conference,” was the reply. “I do know, however, that any discussion on this topic is far more important than the discussions we are having on the economy, global warming, and other so-called significant issues making the news,” was the follow-up observation. In this conversation with a parishioner, who also teaches at Catholic U., we talked about the devastation created by the Iceland volcano and how this pales in comparison to the destruction a nuclear war would create.

With these in mind, I attended the Conference on Nuclear Weapons Policy, which was sponsored by the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Among the many aspects of the issue discussed at the conference, one common theme seemed to emerge, at least from my perspective: is getting rid of nuclear weapons a moral imperative?...


0 comments - Posted by Eugene F. Hemrick at 12:29 PM - Categories: Social Justice | Education | Peace & Environment | Government & Civil Society