The Catholic University of America

Viewing by month: February 2011

Feb 22 2011

+Father Kurt Pritzl, O.P.

I take my director’s privilege here to use this space to mourn the passing of Fr. Kurt Pritzl, Dean of Catholic University’s School of Philosophy. 
Kurt and I first came to know one another through our mutual friend, Professor Ingrid Merkel.  Ingrid had tapped Kurt and me to be part of her Honors Program experiment as it was developing in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.  I was part of a group organizing the social science track and Kurt was part of a similar group working up the philosophy track.  When the two groups encountered one another, I remember as if it was yesterday, sparks flew.  Kurt and I loved those sparks!  Sure we always wrangled—my philosophical worldview was rooted in Continental historicism, materialism, and philosophical anthropology.  Kurt was grounded in classical Greek philosophy and devoted to Aristotle.  Theologically, I looked out from behind Augustine.  Kurt loved Thomas—loved especially those glorious Thomistic harmonies of faith and reason.  Thanks to Ingrid, we had regular intellectual tussles that tickled us both.
We both loved opera.  We both liked beer.  We were both deeply involved with the undergraduate university experience—serving on dozens of the same committees, taking turns as faculty advisor to various student groups and honors fraternities.  We both took on more administrative work than either of us would ever have originally dreamed.  He made being dean look so easy.  He made everything look easy.
He was brilliant and devastatingly charming.  He filled rooms with his charisma.  He was a terrific teacher, one of the very best homilists I’ve ever known, a wonderfully compassionate administrator, a spirited intellectual sparring partner who loved the life of the mind, utterly incandescent with life and grace, and my friend.
In paradisum deducant eum Angeli…

0 comments - Posted by Stephen Schneck at 3:22 PM - Categories:

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 9 2011

Housing Our Heroes...And Helping Our Economy

The Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) program is the only permanent housing program that is focused solely on helping homeless veterans find appropriate housing.  The Obama Administration, as well as activists, has made it a priority to end homelessness among veterans.  Veterans make up 1 percent of the American population, but they are ten percent of the homeless population. The VASH program is useful as it provides vouchers for homeless veterans once the veterans are screened and understand what the program means for them.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the agency that dispenses these vouchers. There are threshold factors for eligibility, such as the applicant should not have pending litigation that might make paying rent a major problem.  According to HUD, approximately 10,000 VASH vouchers have been handed out in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

There is, however, a larger population of concern amongst veterans than those who are homeless. The “at-risk” veteran, returning from Afghanistan or Iraq, returns home to an unstable economy, and is “at-risk” of falling into poverty. Some veterans may re-enlist and some may not, but they all face the same economy here in the United States. According the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there have been 2,176,410 veterans that have served since September 11th, 2001.  That is a very interesting number when you consider that there are approximately 2,136,868 homes that are currently in foreclosure in the United States.


0 comments - Posted by Anthony Stasi at 1:43 PM - Categories: Economy | Social Justice

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