ARTS & CULTURE
“Allocation of Arts Funds Is Working, Office Says.” By Robin Pogrebin. New York Times. August 28, 2009. A change in the way New York City allocates funds to arts organizations has helped level the playing field, according to a report the New York City Independent Budget Office issued on Wednesday. The Department of Cultural Affairs adopted a peer-review system intended to award grants competitively and give larger organizations more fiscal stability by providing them with multiyear awards. The department “generally achieved these goals,” the budget office said. In fiscal year 2007, before the change, 884 groups applied for financing and 780 received awards, according to the budget office survey. Groups that once had individual line items in the city budget got $17.2 million; others got $6.3 million. In fiscal year 2009, 1,084 groups applied, and 882 received awards, with that first set of groups getting $14.7 million and the allocation to the others more than doubling, to $14.3 million.
“Who Speaks Best for Matthew? Legal Fight Over Payment for Tutoring Fairfax Special-Ed Student Illustrates Growing Trend.” By Michael Alison Chandler. Washington Post. August 30, 2009. The outcome of litigation over public school system’s legal obligation to pay for special education for disabled students will have significant implications for nonprofits, many of which provide these services. Schools are required by federal law to provide a free and appropriate education for the country’s more than 6 million special education students. About 1,100 special education cases were reported in state or federal courts from 2000 through March, up more than 50 percent from the 700 decisions issued in the 1990s, said Perry A. Zirkel, a professor of law and education at Lehigh University who tracks such litigation. Cases are concentrated in a few parts of the country, where parents have high expectations and deep pockets.
“Vote could open 250 L.A. schools to outside operators; Backers of the Board of Education decision tout choice and competition. Foes call the move illegal, illogical and improper.” By Howard Blume and Jason Song. Los Angeles Times. August 25, 2009. The Los Angeles Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution that could turn a third of its schools over to private operators. The proposal was approved on a 6-to-1 vote after a contentious three-and-a-half-hour public hearing and board debate.
“California: Privatization of Public Schools.” New York Times/Associated Press. August 26, 2009.
“L.A. school board OKs school choice plan with private operators.” Los Angeles Times. August 26, 2009.
“To Survive, a Catholic School at Newark Abbey Makes Way for a Rival.” By Winnie Hu. New York Times. August 28, 2009. St. Mary’s, a parochial school operated at a Benedictine monastery in Newark, has been closed to make way for a nonreligious charter school, the Robert Treat Academy. The arrangement generates $150,000 a year in rent for the Newark Abbey, which also operates a Roman Catholic high school for boys, St. Benedict’s Preparatory, and underpins a more ambitious plan to share not just space but also resources. Robert Treat is proposing that its students be allowed to use a swimming pool and field house on the grounds and have future access to St. Benedict’s Latin and advanced math teachers, and is envisioning sending more of its eighth-grade graduates to St. Benedict’s. Such collaboration between Catholic and charter schools is unusual, because Catholic leaders have long viewed charter schools, which are publicly financed and independently run, as competing for the same students. Some Catholic officials even contend that charter schools masquerade as Catholic schools because they offer the traditional hallmarks of a Catholic education — strict discipline, uniforms, specialized programs and character education — but without charging tuition.
“High marks for New Orleans’ charter schools.” By Rick Jervis. USA Today. August 26, 2009. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina four years ago brought with it many changes for this city, but perhaps its most enduring mark may be the new charter school system that came cascading in during the storm’s aftermath.
“Harvard Endowment Regroups; Facing 30% Loss, Investment Chief Seeks to Manage More Money Internally.” By Craig Karmin. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2009. The keys to Harvard’s new financial strategy strategy is reducing holdings in hedge funds, private-equity firms and other money managers in order to bring more money under the purview of its internal investing staff. Harvard’s shift is the latest example of an elite school trying to regroup after a year when the strategy of investing in hard-to-sell assets like private equity backfired. Harvard recently borrowed $1.5 billion in taxable debt, while the University of Chicago last year sold $600 million in stocks to reduce risk and volatility. Harvard faces the same problem as some other private universities: too great a commitment to illiquid holdings. It has projected a negative return of as much as 30% for the fiscal year that ended in June, roughly in line with its Ivy League peers, though recent market rallies may improve results. Because of Harvard’s investment losses and the economic downturn, the university froze faculty salaries, slowed campus expansion plans and enacted other cutbacks. The school, which counted on the endowment for 34% of its budget, will also have to make do with a smaller contribution from the fund. The budget will receive 8% less from the endowment in the current fiscal year, and 12% for the following fiscal year.
“Holy cow! Bovine to visit Harvard Yard; Religion scholar to exercise traditional grazing rights with ‘Pride’.” By Sam Allis. Boston Globe. August 30, 2009. Harvey Cox, the celebrated Harvard religion professor, was the Hollis Professor of Divinity until his recent retirement this past June after 44 distinguished years at Harvard. The Hollis chair, endowed in 1721, is the oldest endowed chair in American higher education. The chair traditionally came with grazing rights in Harvard Yard for the cows of chair holders. During the late afternoon of Sept. 10, Cox will do the same and bring a Jersey cow named “Faith’’ from The Farm School in Athol into the yard to graze. The cow’s name is really “Pride,’’ but as that is first among the seven deadly sins, she will go by “Faith’’ for the day to occasion his retirement from teaching and the release of his new book – wouldn’t you know it – “The Future of Faith.’’
“Leadership House Call: Leading a Dysfunctional Family Foundation.“: No by-line. Washington Post. August 26, 2009. A newly appointed executive director for a medium-sized family foundation, and asks how to make meaningful changes to the foundation’s antiquated programs in the face of old patterns and the founding family’s dysfunctional dynamic.
“Cooperatives’ Record Is Up for Debate; Some Herald Them as Cure for Health Care; Others Question Their Power, Costs.” By Steven Mufson. Washington Post. August 27, 2009. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a pivotal lawmaker in the health-care debate, wants to deliver coverage to the uninsured by starting up new cooperatives modeled on rural electric cooperatives that were founded during the Great Depression. Nonprofit organizations owned by their customers, rural electric cooperatives — date back to 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration to bring power to poor and remote farm areas. But rural electric cooperatives have a mixed track record, experts say. They brought electricity to millions of rural Americans who lacked it in the 1930s and today serve about 14 percent of Americans. But after 75 years, the rural electric cooperatives still rely heavily on federal credit subsidies, have weak balance sheets and, some studies suggest, operate less efficiently than privately-owned utilities. Over the past three years, some rural electric cooperatives have also come under criticism for excessive payments to executives and for promoting obsolete technologies. According to critics, health care cooperatives would require close regulation to avoid many of the problems he says afflict rural electric co-ops.
“Health co-ops’ fans like cost and care; But successful models still rare nationwide.” Boston Globe. August 19, 2009.
“Health Co-Ops Touted As Alternative To Public Plan.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
“Key Blue Dog Democrat Pushes Health Insurance Co-ops.” NPR. August 17, 2009.
“Health co-ops have checkered history.” Oregonian/Associated Press. August 17, 2009.
“Compromise Co-Op Proposal Won’t Lower Costs, Government Study Showed.” Huffington Post. August 17, 2009.
“Health Co-ops: Slow Road to Government Care.” Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2009.
“Health ‘Co-ops’ Are Government Care.” By Michael O. Leavitt. Wall Street Journal. August 21, 2009.
“Northwest HMOs cited as alternatives to a government-run health plan.” Oregonian. August 22, 2009.
“St. Anne’s Hospital, Fall River, to ally with Dana-Farber Institute to provide oncology services.” By Robert Weisman. Boston Globe. August 28, 2009. Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River is set to disclose today that it has struck an agreement to allow Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to provide oncology care at Saint Anne’s. A memo of understanding between Dana-Farber and Saint Anne’s, a community hospital owned by Caritas Christi Health Care, is the latest example of Boston health care providers moving outside the city to offer care in partnership or in competition with local institutions.
“Cutbacks pinch homeless programs.” By Wendy Koch. USA Today. August 24, 2009. All but a handful of states are facing deep shortfalls in their fiscal 2010 budgets and federal stimulus funding will fill only part of the gap, say service providers.
“Movie Fund Set to Close Housing Unit for the Aged.” By Michael Cieply. New York Times. August 26, 2009. Residents of a long-term-care unit and associated hospital in the San Fernando Valley — an operation that has tended generations of elderly movie stars, character actors, directors, crew members and others, along with their dependents — received word from the site’s operator, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, that it would go ahead with plans to close the two by year’s end. Relatively small hospital-residential facilities like that operated by the fund are being squeezed rising costs, diminishing support, and a growing tendency among the elderly to remain at home as long as possible. The fund, long regarded as Hollywood’s favorite charity, said it could not afford to operate the 150-bed hospital and care center without endangering its other assisted-living and health care operations. Those serve about 60,000 people. Legal action may help sort through claims that have turned the dispute into a crucible for debate about the sustainability of premium care for an aging population and about whether Hollywood’s wealthiest power brokers are turning their backs on their own during hard economic times.
“Rudd’s $26b funding gift to private schools.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. August 24, 2009. The Rudd Government will deliver an estimated 32 per cent increase in funding to private schools, raising their national windfall to more than $26.2 billion over the next four years, new analysis shows. Despite a federal Department of Education review which uncovered entrenched ”inequities” in the system, Kevin Rudd has remained committed to maintaining the Howard government’s controversial funding arrangements for private schools until 2012. Annual reports reveal Sydney’s wealthiest schools make annual surpluses of up to $3.6 million after generating as much as $28 million in tuition fees and $8 million in donations. Many have also been given $3 million from the Federal Government’s $14.7 billion primary school building program. Nationwide, government figures show that 1.6 million homeless people received shelter last year, largely unchanged from 2007, but the number of families increased 9% to 517,000.
“Strategies of Dissent Evolving in Burma; Activists Find Political Breathing Room in Humanitarian Nonprofit Groups.” No By-line. Washington Post. August 24, 2009. Many Burmese have adopted a new strategy that they say takes advantage of small political openings to push for greater freedoms by distributing aid, teaching courses on civic engagement and quietly learning to govern. Ad hoc groups have developed informal nonprofit organizations, meeting regularly, volunteering in villages, and securing funding from foreign nonprofit agencies. To avoid having their activities labeled as activism, the groups negotiate with the authorities for access to the villages, often with the help of local Buddhist monasteries. Such groups have also allowed urbanites to network in ways previously inconceivable.
“Journalists’ Arrests Hamper Aid Groups.” By Gordon Fairclough and Jay Solomon. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2009. Christian aid groups say the high-profile arrest in March of two American journalists for illegally crossing into North Korea from China has made it more difficult to help the people the women went to report about: North Koreans who have escaped to China. The Durihana Association said that one of its missionaries has been expelled from China and its program caring for children of North Korean refugees has been shut down.
Since last year, aid groups say that security on both sides of the border has grown tighter and North Koreans and those helping them have been pushed further underground.
“As the government today announces its package of support for charities hit by the economic crisis, the third sector minister tells Anna Bawden why talk of possible electoral defeat won’t dent her enthusiasm for action.” No by-line. Guardian (UK). August 26, 2009. Angela Smith is a popular choice as minister for the voluntary sector. She is something of a ministerial rarity. Whereas many ministers have been responsible for policy about which they have had little or no professional experience, the third sector minister is almost over-qualified for the job. Before becoming an MP, Smith spent 12 years at the League Against Cruel Sports, initially as a campaigner and then as the head of politics and public relations. In fact, Smith says, her whole life has been influenced by voluntary organizations.
“Policing protest; An ever-bigger tent; The Climate Camp demonstration has become as much about the right to protest as it is about the environment.” No by-line. Economist (UK). August 27, 2009.
“Philanthropic hedonism and cool charity parties; Love a good time as well as a good cause? Meet the DJs, celebs, bands and fundraisers sexing up fund-raising events.” No by-line. Times of London. August 30, 2009. Parading under the title “party”, they rarely deliver what is technically known as a good time. Now a new generation of “philanthropic hedonists” are throwing flamboyant, wild parties for worthy causes.
“Oxford University dragged into Indian land-grab row.” No by-line. Times of London. August 30, 2009. Oxford University has become embroiled in a human rights row that has hit plans for its first overseas outpost in a new town in wooded hills 125 miles southeast of Mumbai. The Indian developers of the 12,500-acre Lavasa site have been accused of intimidating indigenous farmers into selling their land and of pressing them to accept rock-bottom prices. They have also been accused of worsening deforestation by cutting down millions of trees. Oxford plans to offer courses for Indian executives in an education centre in Lavasa, a privately managed city modelled on hill stations built by the British when they ruled India. The Girls’ Day Schools Trust, a private education chain, will establish a boarding school there. The controversy highlights the potential pitfalls of the commercial strategy pursued by universities of opening campuses abroad.
“Hansel and Gretel open a refuge for lost souls.” No by-line. Times of London. August 29, 2009. Despairing of today’s easy acts of charity, a writer and his wife have sold their home and bought a wood to serve as a sanctuary for people in crisis. It is modeled on the Pilsdon Community, a farm where 25 or 30 people live together to work the land and reflect on their lives. Established half a century ago, it was inspired by Nicholas Ferrar’s 17th-century community at Little Gidding in Cambridgeshire and on the radical monasticism of the early Christian church. Pilsdon welcomes all-comers: returning soldiers, the bereaved, tearaway teenagers, recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, single parents, those facing marital or mental breakdown, recently released prisoners with nowhere to go, hard-up pensioners, refugees, wayfarers and others.
LAW & REGULATION
“Supreme Court ruling unfavorable to Conn. diocese.” By John Christofferson.
Washington Post/Associated Press. August 25, 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut, saying that thousands of documents generated by lawsuits against six priests for alleged sexual abuse cannot remain sealed. The records have been under seal since the diocese settled the cases in 2001. They could provide details on how retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan handled the allegations when he was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000. The suit against the church was brought by three newspapers, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post.
LEISURE & RECREATION
“Nonprofit seeks control of Will Rogers State Historic Park; A foundation dedicated to the ranch wants to work with the state to preserve the memorial, saying California’s financial troubles are jeopardizing the park’s maintenance.”
By Martha Groves. Los Angeles Times. August 28, 2009.
“Life lessons: From one Gates to another.” By Marco R. della Cava. USA Today. August 27, 2009. Profile of Bill Gate and his father.
RELIGION & FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS
“U.S. Nuns: Pawns or Queens?” No by-line. Washington Post. August 26, 2009. The Vatican has launched an investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States and its members. there are two interventions directed by the Vatican. One is called an “Apostolic Visitation” that is intended to report back to Rome on the faithfulness of all the sisters in following the rule of life that governs their institutions. It was ordered in January of 2009 by Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, who heads the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The other dates from February 2009 under the direction of American Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This investigation is supposed to assess the doctrinal purity of only the LCWR. (No one is investigating the conservative association of sisters called the “Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious”). The stakes are high. There are 400 groups of sisters in the United States, counting approximately 59,000 women religious. Many parishes depend on these consecrated religious women to direct ministries as varied as religious education, liturgy, and social services.. The current U.S. Catholic Church could not function today without these religious women who are involved in active apostolates.
“Catholic sisters under Vatican review want answers.” No by-line. USA Today. August 18, 2009.
“America’s Nuns Suspicious Of Vatican Probes.” By Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. August 21, 2009
“Conservative Christians say U.S. health care system ‘is working’.” By Kristen May. USA Today/ Religion News Service. August 26, 2009. Conservative Christian groups have ramped up their opposition to health care reform, saying the current system “has problems” but “it is working.” Members of the newly formed Freedom Federation, comprised of some of the largest conservative religious groups in the country, say they oppose taxpayer-supported abortion, rationed health care for the elderly and government control of personal health decisions. The groups are particularly concerned about sanctity of life issues, including abortion and end-of-life counseling.
“Shotgun Adoption.” By Kathryn Joyce. The Nation. August 26, 2009. Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), the nonprofit pregnancy-testing facilities set up by antiabortion groups to dissuade women from having abortions, have become fixtures of the antiabortion landscape, buttressed by an estimated $60 million in federal abstinence and marriage-promotion funds. The National Abortion Federation estimates that as many as 4,000 CPCs operate in the United States, often using deceptive tactics like posing as abortion providers and showing women graphic antiabortion films. While there is growing awareness of how CPCs hinder abortion access, the centers have a broader agenda that is less well known: they seek not only to induce women to “choose life” but to choose adoption, either by offering adoption services themselves, as in Bethany’s case, or by referring women to Christian adoption agencies. Far more than other adoption agencies, conservative Christian agencies demonstrate a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children.
“Iraq violence puts off plan for Shiite seminary to train Westerners.” By David Grant. USA Today/Associated Press. As Muslims try to establish communities in the West, they have been struggling with how they can educate Western-born imams to fill a leadership vacuum in local mosques. A family of prominent American Shiite scholars, the Qazwinis, began building a seminary in Karbala, but violence has delayed its completion. The founders hope to open the institution in 2010.
“Some Roman Catholic Bishops Assail Health Plan.” By David D. Kirkpatrick. New York Times. August 28, 2009. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been lobbying for three decades for the federal government to provide universal health insurance, especially for the poor. Now, as President Obama tries to rally Roman Catholics and other religious voters around his proposals to do just that, a growing number of bishops are speaking out against it. some leaders of the conference, like Cardinal Justin Rigali, have concluded that Democrats’ efforts to carve out abortion coverage are so inadequate that lawmakers should block the entire effort. Others, echoing the popular alarms about “rationing,” contend that the proposals could put a premium on efficacy that could penalize the chronically ill.