Archive for September, 2010

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 20-26, 2010)

Monday, September 27th, 2010


Seeking earthly salvation; Increasingly, churches and temples end up on the market as their maintenance becomes unmanageable for shrinking congregations.” By Taryn Plumb. Boston Globe. September 19, 2010. At several area religious buildings, “For Sale’’ signs have replaced letter boards advertising bingo, weekly Scripture readings, and upcoming bar mitzvahs. Roughly a half-dozen former churches, temples, and religious schools are on the market in towns south of Boston, including Halifax, Hanover, Stoughton, Milton, and Whitman. All told, “there are substantially more church properties on the market than there were three years ago,’’ said Matt Messier of CNL Specialty Real Estate Services, which deals exclusively in sales of nonprofit property, and is listing Living Hope Foursquare Church in Hanover for $3.9 million. All told, he described a roughly 30 to 40 percent increase in religious properties for sale in that time period; and a 10 percent bump in just the past year. In many cases, it’s a conscious surrender to the continued assault of the recession — and a recognition that a rising tide of new members is unlikely.

Pastors For ObamaCare? If the White House office of faith-based initiatives is going to be used as propaganda unit, it might as well be shut down.” By Jim Towey. Wall Street Journal. September 25, 2010. I was George W. Bush’s director of faith-based initiatives. Imagine what would have happened had I proposed that he use that office to urge thousands of religious leaders to become “validators” of the Iraq War? I can tell you two things that would have happened immediately. First, President Bush would have fired me—and rightly so—for trying to politicize his faith-based office. Second, the American media would have chased me into the foxhole Saddam Hussein had vacated. Yet on Tuesday President Obama and his director of faith-based initiatives convened exactly such a meeting to try to control political damage from the unpopular health-care law. “Get out there and spread the word,” reported the president as saying on a conference call with leaders of faith-based and community groups. “I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what’s now available to them.” Since then, there’s been nary a peep from the press.

Congregations Reeling From Decline in Donations.” By Samuel G. Freedman. New York Times. September 24, 2010. From storefront chapels to Sun Belt megachurches to suburban synagogues, across denominational lines, religious institutions are reeling from a decline in donations. The National Cathedral in Washington, the most prominent Episcopal church in the United States, has made four rounds of staff layoffs since 2008. The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., an archetypal evangelical megachurch, has laid off staff members, sold property, and been sued by creditors. In the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 55-member Primera Iglesia Getsemani, its monthly intake falling to $400 from $900, is surviving by running a weekly flea market on its sidewalk.
While the recession has sharpened the drop in giving, it is not entirely responsible for it. Rather, it has accentuated and accelerated a trend away from giving to religious organizations that scholars have been tracking for the past decade. The impending wave of retirements by baby boomers, who start hitting age 65 next year, threatens another blow to congregational income. “When the foundation falls, when the base isn’t there, then you have problems,” said Elbert T. Chester, an accountant in Queens who has more than 60 churches along the Eastern Seaboard as clients. “And we haven’t even seen the worst of it.”

“‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ to Defy IRS; Pastors Across the U.S. Say They Will Defy Law and Talk Politics.” By Kevin Dolak. ABC News. September 25, 2010. Nearly 100 pastors across the country planned to take part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an in-your-face challenge Sunday to what the government says can and cannot be said in church. The pastors, along with the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund, are reacting to a law stating that churches are not allowed to support politicians from the pulpit, according to the ADF. The growing trend is a challenge to the IRS from the churches, and may jeopardize their all-important tax-exempt status. But some pastors and church leaders said they are willing to defy the law to defending their right to freedom of speech. Federal tax law, established in 1954, prohibits churches and tax exempt entities from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

Culture, food, memories with an Armenian flavor; In Watertown, a church men’s group provides a bond linking immigrant community, traditions through generations.” By Erica Noonan. Boston Globe. September 26, 2010. The camaraderie, culture, and shared history couldn’t run much deeper at the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church’s Men’s Club. Most of its members have known each for so long, and so well, that a simple raised eyebrow or quick joke speaks volumes. Love for the complicated and proud heritage that binds them together. Many of the men here grew up without grandparents, while hearing haunting stories of the genocide of Christian Armenians at the hands of the Turkish Ottoman Empire that took an estimated 1.5 million lives between 1915 and 1923, according to the website of another Watertown institution, the Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute. Today, Watertown has the third-largest Armenian immigrant community in the United States, according to 2000 Census figures. Preserving language, history, and culture is serious business for most Armenian-Americans.

Catholic Monks In Wyoming Face Opposition Over Monastery Plans.” By Bob Moen. Huffington Post. September 25, 2010. — Plans by a group of Roman Catholic hermit monks to erect an outsized monastery in northern Wyoming have pitted neighbor against neighbor and aroused debate with religious undertones. At the center of the Wyoming controversy is a remote ranch where the Monks of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel want to build a 144,000-square-foot French Gothic-style monastery and coffee roasting barn. The monastery will feature a church that seats 150, with one spire rising 150 feet. The proposal triggered a clash between ranchers who live miles apart, trying to protect their quiet, rural open spaces, and the hermit monks who live a secluded, Spartan life of prayer and meditation and are looking for more room to meet their expanding order and maintain their privacy.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 20-26, 2010)

Monday, September 27th, 2010


“Lawsuit claims Bishop Long coerced males into sex.” By Errin Haines. Washington Post/ Associated Press. September 21, 2010. Two men have filed a lawsuit accusing Bishop Eddie Long of exploiting his role as pastor of an Atlanta-area megachurch to coerce them into sexual relationships when they were young members of his congregation. Lawyers for the men, now 20 and 21, say they filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in DeKalb County Court. The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they were victims of sexual impropriety. Craig Gillen, Long’s attorney, said Tuesday the pastor “categorically denies the allegations.” “We find it unfortunate that these two young men would take this course of action,” Gillen said, adding that Long had not yet been served with copies of the lawsuits. The men were 17- and 18-year-old members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, when they say Long abused his spiritual authority to seduce them with with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.
Related stories:
Lawsuits Accuse Megachurch Leader of Sexual Misconduct.” New York Times. September 21, 2010. Eddie Long, Atlanta Bishop, Accused Of Sexual Abuse By Male Parishioners.” Huffington Post. September 22, 2010.
Abuse charges pain many members of large Atlanta church; Accused pastor built ministry of 25,000 members.” Boston Globe/ Associated Press. September 23, 2010.
Male parishioners allege Atlanta minister coerced sex.USA Today. September 23, 2010.
Some churches like Ga. pastor’s thin on safeguards.” USA Today. September 24, 2010.
Sex Scandal Threatens a Georgia Pastor’s Empire.” New York Times. September 25, 2010.
“‘I’m under attack,’ Georgia bishop accused of sexual misconduct tells church.” Washington Post. September 26, 2010.
Sex allegations against Bishop Eddie Long roil black church community.Washington Post. September 26, 2010.

Episcopal bishop asked to resign over alleged abuse cover-up.” No by-line. USA Today. September 24, 2010. Episcopal Church leaders have asked for the resignation of a Pennsylvania bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by his brother more than 30 years ago. The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church said in a resolution late Tuesday, issued after a meeting in Arizona, that it was asking the Rev. Charles Bennison Jr. to step down as Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. “We have come to the conclusion that Bishop Bennison’s capacity to exercise the ministry of pastoral oversight is irretrievably damaged,” the statement said. “Therefore, we exhort Charles, our brother in Christ, in the strongest possible terms, to tender his immediate and unconditional resignation as the Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.” Spokeswoman Anne Rudig said the church had not gotten a response from Bennison, who released a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. “Resigning my position as Bishop of Pennsylvania will not ease (the victim’s) pain or remove the sting of the abusive relationship,” he said in the statement. “Instead, I hope that the suffering I have endured during the past three years has strengthened me and will enable me to work for reconciliation within the Diocese.”

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 20-26, 2010)

Monday, September 27th, 2010


AA original manuscript reveals profound debate over religion.” By Michelle Boorstein. Washington Post. September 21, 2010. For millions of addicts around the world, Alcoholics Anonymous’s basic text – informally known as the Big Book – is the Bible. And as they’re about to find out, the Bible was edited. After being hidden away for nearly 70 years and then auctioned twice, the original manuscript by AA co-founder Bill Wilson is about to become public for the first time next week, complete with edits by Wilson-picked commenters that reveal a profound debate in 1939 about how overtly to talk about God. In the years since the Big Book was first published, AA’s 12-step program has been adopted by millions of people battling a wide range of addictions, from drugs to food to sex to e-mail. It has been embraced by the authorities in the Islamic republic of Iran and the former Soviet Union and retooled by groups ranging from Chabad (for Jews) to Rick Warren’s Celebrate Recovery (for evangelical Christians).

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Interest-Group Spending Drives G.O.P. Lead in Ads.” By Michael Luo. New York Times. September 13, 2010. Outside groups supporting Republican candidates in House and Senate races across the country have been swamping their Democratic-leaning counterparts on television since early August as the midterm election season has begun heating up. Driving the disparity in the ad wars has been an array of Republican-oriented organizations that are set up so they can accept donations of unlimited size from individuals and corporations without having to disclose them. The situation raises the possibility that a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public, is shaping the battle for Congress in the early going. The yawning gap in independent interest group spending is alarming some Democratic officials, who argue that it amounts to an effort on the part of wealthy Republican donors, as well as corporate interests, newly emboldened by regulatory changes, to buy the election. It is not clear, however, whether it is actually an influx of new corporate money unleashed by the Citizens United decision that is driving the spending chasm, or other factors, notably, a political environment that favors Republicans.
Related Article:
The Engine of Right-Wing Rage, Fueled by More Than Just Anger.” Review of Will Bunch, “The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.” New York Times. September 13, 2010
Political Notebook: Outside groups spending big to back GOP hopefuls.Boston Globe. September 14, 2010.
Campaign Cash Surges From Undisclosed Donors.” All Things Considered/ National Public Radio. September 16, 2010.
The Republican Answer to George Soros’s Money; Steven Law admires how the left organized itself during its wilderness years. Now he’s got $50 million to help elect candidates on the right.” Wall Street Journal. September 17, 2010.

The Soros Syndrome: George Soros’s gift of $100 million to Human Rights Watch doesn’t come without strings attached.” By Alexander Cockburn. The Nation. September 15, 2010. George Soros announced a few weeks ago that he is giving $100 million to Human Rights Watch—conditional on the organization to find a matching $10 million a year from other donors. He’s been rewarded with ringing cheers for his disinterested munificence. The relationship of “human rights” to the course of empire is nicely caught in two statements, the first by HRW’s former executive director Aryeh Neier: “When we created Human Rights Watch, one of the main purposes at the outset was to leverage the power, the purse and the influence of the United States to try to promote human rights in other countries.” Set this remark, startling in its brazen display of imperial self-confidence, next to Soros’s recent statement on National Public Radio PR, that in the expansion of HRW prompted by his big new donation “the people doing the investigations won’t necessarily be Americans.… The United States has lost the moral high ground and that has sort of endangered the credibility, the legitimacy of Americans being in the forefront of advocating human rights.” Soros the international financier made his billions as a currency speculator; he could destroy a country’s reserves, hastening its social disintegration. Then Soros the philanthropist could finance HRW’s investigations into the abuses his operations helped to induce. He offers in his single person an arresting profile of liberal interventionism in our era, in which direct economic and political destabilization (mostly calibrated in concert with the US government) has easy recourse to the moral and political bludgeon of a human rights report, which is in turn used to ratchet up the pressure for a direct imperial onslaught—whether by economic sanctions, covert sabotage, aerial bombing or a blend of all three. The role of human rights NGOs in NATO’s attack on the former Yugoslavia is a prime example.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Giving A Kidney, Gaining A Lifelong Friend.” By Jeff Moyer. Morning Edition/National Public Radio. September 13, 2010. (audio only)

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Liberace Museum To Close Its Doors.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. September 14, 2010. The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas will close its doors next month after decades of showcasing the elaborate threads, jewelry, cars, pianos and candelabras of the man known as “Mr. Showmanship.” The extravagant pianist, who died of AIDS in 1987, was one of the highest paid entertainers in the world at one time. Jack Rappaport, the museum’s president, talks about why the museum is closing and what’s going to happen to all that stuff.
Related story:
Mr. Showmanship’s Show Is Closing.” New York Times. September 17, 2010.

Museums Can Sell Off Art Again.” By Erica Orden. Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2010. The state will allow emergency regulations that prohibited cash-strapped museums from selling their artworks to cover expenses to expire next month. The Education Department’s Board of Regents, which oversees museums, voted Tuesday to let the rule lapse but ordered the creation of an advisory group to weigh in on matters concerning museum collections. The Regents had been expected to make the rule permanent, in part because of the collapse of support for a bill in the state Legislature—which the city’s biggest museums had fought—that would have outlawed museums from selling works from their permanent collections to cover operating costs. But the board’s cultural education committee voted Monday to recommend that the full board allow the temporary regulations to expire Oct. 8, a step criticized by Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who sponsored the bill. “This is the precursor of the massive transfer of art held in the public trust into private hands,” said Mr. Brodsky, who called the decision a “disastrous move.” Mr. Brodsky accused the Regents of reneging on an agreement to make permanent the emergency rules after the demise of his bill, and of doing so behind his back. “This is a violation of the duties of the Regents to defend the public, and to do it…without even informing their partners, is evidence that they couldn’t sustain the scrutiny of this decision,” he said. “While the emergency regulations were in place, the Board of Regents sought input from the museum community statewide and found there was no consensus on the efficacy of those emergency regulations,” Education Commissioner David Steiner said in a statement. “Consequently, those regulations will be allowed to expire, allowing the prior regulations regarding museum collections to once again take effect.” The version of the regulations set to take effect on Oct.8 states that proceeds from the sale of an item in a museum’s collection be used “only for the acquisition, preservation, protection or care of collections,” but the emergency rules more sharply limited an institution’s options for selling parts of a collection, a practice known as de-accessioning.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010



Battle Over Class Room; As a $578 Million City School Opens in Los Angeles, Charters Press For More Space.” By Tamara Audi. Wall Street Journal. September 14, 2010. The scruffy rooftop basketball court of the Larchmont School, a small charter school packed into one floor of an 83-year-old building, offers a breathtaking view of the city’s priciest new gem: the $578 million Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” said Larchmont’s executive director Brian Johnson, gazing at the gleaming green rectangular structure surrounded by pristine athletic fields and rows of stately palm trees. The new public-school complex has drawn criticism for its cost at a time when Los Angeles city schools have laid off thousands of teachers to help plug its $640 million budget gap. But advocates for charter schools say the six-school campus is not just an ill-timed expense: They see it as a symbol of their frustrating quest to secure classroom space for charter-school students in Los Angeles. “When charter schools see projects of this kind being finished for certain kids, they see there is a system of haves and have-nots that is really being created,” said Jed Wallace, president of the California Charter Schools Association, of the complex, which opened its doors on Monday to 4,200 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Cheating Charter Schools; Some teachers are apparently more deserving than others.” No by-line. Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2010. President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have made charter schools a big part of their reform agenda, but the pushback from unions has been fierce. Perhaps that explains why the new $10 billion federal teacher bailout will be dispensed in a way that discriminates against charters. The Administration’s initial guidance excluded many charter school teachers, even though charters are public schools. The Department of Education said money from the Education Jobs Fund could go only to teachers and others employed by a local education agency or school district. “A charter school,” says the department, “may not use Ed Jobs funds to pay for the compensation and benefits of employees of a charter management organization or an educational management organization who provide school-level educational and related services in the charter school.” Many charter school teachers are employees of management firms rather than the school district, so the guidelines would have excluded more than 1,000 charters nationwide (serving around 400,000 students) from the cash. Following complaints, the Administration issued updated guidelines that it said will allow charter schools with employees not hired by school districts to get the federal funds. Big problem: This workaround still interferes with the autonomy of these schools, upends their hiring models, and undermines state laws that allow charters to contract with education management organizations. Charters that don’t do their own hiring will have to devote time and resources to compiling tax ID numbers and satisfying OSHA mandates and other rules they’d rather let outside partners handle. Administration officials say their hands are tied because the legislation stipulates that the money go to the school districts. In fact, the law is silent on contracting with outside management organizations and even the Education Department doesn’t have a problem with one school district contracting services with another school district. The education dollars in President Obama’s first stimulus flowed to charters schools based on need, regardless of how the school paid its teachers. Many charter operators suspect that the real problem here is that most charter school teachers aren’t unionized. The $10 billion bailout was designed as a pre-election reward for unions, which will plow the greater union dues into campaign funds to help Democratic candidates. Alas for charter school teachers, all they do is teach children.


California Online School Seeks Students, Tax Dollars.” By Ben Adler. All Things Considered/
National Pubic Radio. September 14, 2010. A school district near Sacramento, Calif., is looking outside the box for new revenue sources in these harsh budget times. Elk Grove Unified has opened up its own Virtual Academy offering complete online curricula for grades kindergarten through 12. Officials hope to attract home-school students and children from other districts, plus the state tax dollars that come with them. But this kind of online education is also raising some red flags. TJ has a teacher with the school district with whom he’ll meet regularly. And he’s considered an Elk Grove Unified student, meaning the district gets paid by the state as though TJ physically went to school each day. That’s different from the charter school model, where the district loses each student’s funds entirely. “Charter schools have been the primary venue for the provision of online learning for virtual schooling,” says Anne Zeman, who works for Elk Grove Unified. “Why can’t public schools offer the same?” California sends school districts roughly $5,000 per student this year. For Elk Grove Virtual Academy students, about half that money stays with the district. The rest goes to a private company called K12. With 70,000 kids in 25 states and Washington, D.C., the company calls itself the nation’s largest provider of online education for kindergarten through 12th grade. Still, the Elk Grove Unified model — where the district manages the virtual academy and splits the funds with K12 — is relatively new for the company.

For-Profit Schools Donate to Lawmakers Opposing New Financial Aid Rules.” By Sharona Coutts. September 17, 2010. Between 2005 and the beginning of this year, Rep. Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., received $6,000 in campaign contributions from sources related to for-profit colleges. This year, he received more than $20,000 from the schools and their lobby groups, according to campaign finance records. What changed? For one, the colleges have upped their lobbying efforts [1] considerably in the face of proposed regulations that the industry says could shutter many of its schools. For another, Payne co-signed three letters [2] to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in which as many as 18 members of Congress pleaded with the secretary to put the brakes on that proposed regulation. Collectively, members who signed the letters received nearly $94,000 from the for-profit college sector between the beginning of 2010 and late July, according to the most recent available campaign finance data reviewed by ProPublica. Most of the donations flowed after March 22 — the date the first letter was written to Duncan. Other co-signers who received campaign cash from the industry include Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.; and Jason Altmire, D-Pa. Payne and Altmire sit on the House committee that oversees education, as do several other members who signed the letters and received donations. Payne did not reply to our requests for comment, but longtime campaign finance watchdog Fred Wertheimer, president of the group Democracy 21 [4], which seeks to “eliminate the undue influence of big money in American politics,” said the money given to Payne created a troubling impression.


Employers Favor State Schools for Hires.” By Jennifer Merritt. Wall Street Journal. September 13, 2010. U.S. companies largely favor graduates of big state universities over Ivy League and other elite liberal-arts schools when hiring to fill entry-level jobs, a Wall Street Journal study found. In the study—which surveyed 479 of the largest public and private companies, nonprofits and government agencies—Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ranked as top picks for graduates best prepared and most able to succeed. Of the top 25 schools as rated by these employers, 19 were public, one was Ivy League (Cornell University) and the rest were private, including Carnegie Mellon and University of Notre Dame. The Journal research represents a systematic effort to assess colleges by surveying employers’ recruiters
—who decide where to seek out new hires—instead of relying primarily on measures such as student test scores, college admission rates or graduates’ starting salaries. As a group, the survey participants hired more than 43,000 new graduates in the past year.

Harvard Real Estate Deal with Chinese Fund Collapses.” By Elias J. Groll and William N. White. Harvard Crimson. September 13, 2010. Harvard University will not sell a portion of its real estate holdings to China’s sovereign wealth fund after efforts to broker a deal collapsed, according to a person familiar with the situation. Media reports estimated that the deal would have been worth several hundred million dollars. Harvard Management Company, which manages the University’s endowment, had been seeking to unload a portion of its real estate portfolio since February or before in order to improve liquidity, and the China Investment Corporation had been rumored as a potential buyer. The $300 billion state-owned fund has made several moves into the U.S. real estate market. The University has declined to discuss the deal. During the recent financial crisis, the endowment suffered losses of more than 50 percent on real estate in fiscal year 2009. That portion of the portfolio became difficult to convert to cash as many market players sought the security of more liquid investments. But, with liquidity concerns largely addressed, Harvard endowment managers are now taking a second look at the sector and keeping holdings they once looked to sell.

Yale Plans to Create a College in Singapore.” By Lisa W. Foderaro. New York Times. September 13, 2010. Yale University announced on Monday that it was planning to create a liberal arts college in Singapore that would be financed entirely by the government there and could, in time, establish a new model for higher education in Asia. While Yale has many international programs, it has not put its name on an overseas project the way it envisions doing at the National University of Singapore. The new institution, to be called Yale-N.U.S. College, would seek to import Yale’s signature residential college concept — in which students live, study and take classes in an intimate setting — as well as a curriculum that encourages critical thinking and inquiry in the humanities and sciences. But the diplomas would lack the cachet of a full Yale degree; they would be issued by the National University of Singapore. By contrast, New York University’s ambitious new college in Abu Dhabi, also underwritten by the government there, awards N.Y.U. diplomas. Still, Yale would be largely responsible for hiring 100 professors to teach about 1,000 students at the college, which is scheduled to open in 2013. If Yale decides to move forward with a full partnership with the Singapore university, it would control half of the seats on the college’s governing board and would jointly plan the curriculum and admissions strategy. The college is envisioned as a highly elite school within an already prestigious, yet huge and career-focused, university. Yale officials said it would draw top students from across Asia, where liberal arts programs are rare, and attract even more qualified Asian applicants to the New Haven campus of Yale by raising the university’s profile.
Related story:
Yale Plans New Campus—In Singapore.” New Haven Independent. September 13, 2010.
Alum discusses Yale-China Association.Yale Daily News. September 15, 2010.

After whetting city’s appetite, Harvard delivers a McDonald’s.” Editorial. Boston Globe. September 14, 2010. Har Promised a vibravardnt, multistory neighborhood in North Brighton, but a one-floor fast-food joint hardly makes good on that vision. The university is moving ahead on building plans for a freestanding McDonald’s restaurant on land it owns along Western Avenue — an idea more evocative of a roadside strip mall than a comeback urban neighborhood. Meanwhile, the long-proposed $1 billion science complex is on hold, along with hopes for many new homes, stores, and offices. For more than five years, Harvard and the BRA have filled meeting rooms with grand visions of a revitalized Allston/Brighton neighborhood. What they’re delivering, in this case, is burgers.

Residential college budgets to be equalized; Three wealthiest colleges will be hardest hit.” By Greta Stetson and Vivian Yee. Yale Daily News. September 14, 2010. The notion of inequalities among the residential colleges has long been a point of contention for students. Now, while they may still argue about which college has the prettiest courtyard or the nicest gym, as far as money goes, the debate is being settled. In the second year of a University-wide financial overhaul, members of the Provost’s Office, along with other administrators, have redistributed funds and alumni gifts in order to equalize the budgets of the 12 residential colleges. Three of the wealthiest colleges’ budgets have been reduced to match the others’, while the rest will receive funding that equals or exceeds their past budgets. “We did what students have been clamoring for for years,” University President Richard Levin said. “We made funding more equitable.” All of the colleges have given up some of their discretionary funds — money that comes from donations and endowments — to pay for their students’ financial aid and other general expenses, rather than study breaks and social events. Though administrators said students would largely not notice the effects of the recent financial “reshaping,” the changes are part of a larger administrative movement to control the Yale College budget more closely. Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway said the rapid growth of Yale’s endowment in the past decade magnified previously insignificant differences among the colleges’ finances, as large, college-specific alumni gifts appreciated exponentially. “Things became so exaggerated during a decade of incredible endowment growth,” he said. “That was leading to a difference in opportunities for students.” The new era of tighter budgets and more centralized control marks a shift from the historical model of residential colleges with their own distinct personnel, personalities and, sometimes, finances. Though the colleges’ funding is becoming more uniform, administrators say the colleges will retain the distinctive characters that are central to the undergraduate experience.

A College Closes for Good as Rescue Plan Is Rejected.” By Lauren Etter. Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2010. As colleges open for the fall semester, the Lutheran school on a grassy hill overlooking town will sit empty for the first time in 126 years. Dana College closed abruptly in June after a long financial struggle. The fate of the private, 600-student liberal-arts school mirrors that of many small colleges whose challenges became more pronounced during the recession. But some officials at Dana think the school was also an innocent victim of a crackdown on for-profit colleges. Investors proposed to buy Dana and turn it into a profitable operation. But an accrediting agency effectively pulled the lifeline away by denying the college’s application to change ownership. Such accrediting agencies were facing pressure from federal education officials, who accused some of being too lenient in certifying for-profit schools with lax standards. Officials said such schools often pushed students to take on heavy debt loads without preparing them for careers. The Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission, which accredits many Midwestern colleges, said it denied Dana’s application because the prospective buyers lacked experience and sufficient funds to keep the school open. A commission official said the for-profit controversy had nothing to do with the decision. Companies that operate for-profit schools have become saviors for many troubled small colleges. Over the past five years, at least 11 nonprofit colleges have been bought by for-profit entities, said Kevin Kinser, associate professor of educational administration and policy studies at the State University of New York at Albany. In the past year, some for-profit colleges have come under fire from government agencies. The Department of Education has proposed a policy change aimed at reducing outsized loan-default rates among students at such schools. Some operators have acknowledged problems and said they would work to eliminate them.

Yale’s endowment return might mirror Harvard’s; Endowment will likely avoid further losses, provost says.” By Vivian Yee. Yale Daily News. September 15, 2010. The Harvard-Yale rivalry has come to New Haven early this year, and it’s not about football. It’s about money: Since Harvard University announced last week that its $27.4 billion endowment made solid gains in the last fiscal year, partly erasing the massive losses of the year before, all eyes are on Yale investment chief David Swensen’s office. Harvard’s 11 percent return has set investment analysts and higher education observers buzzing about what returns might look like for all other massive endowments, but especially Yale’s, which — though historically always second to Harvard’s in size — produced bigger investment returns than its Cambridge rival for the last several years before the 2008 financial crisis. Provost Peter Salovey said he is confident the endowment’s return will be between zero and 10 percent, avoiding a loss.

FAS Awaits Windfall from Harvard Endowment.” By Noah S. Rayman and Elyssa A. L. Spitzer. Harvard Crimson. September 17, 2010. A week has passed since the University announced a surge in its endowment, but the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has not asserted plans for responding to Harvard’s new-found wealth after two years of rigorous cost-cutting. The University announced last Thursday that its endowment grew to $27.4 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2010, an 11-percent investment return that marked a positive turnaround in the midst of the financial crisis.


Met School Grant.” By Erica Orden. Wall Street Journal. September 16, 2010. Four Brooklyn public schools will be able to hit high notes thanks to $1 million grant awarded to the Metropolitan Opera Guild for the expansion of its opera-based curriculum development program. Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Arts-in-Education Model Development and Dissemination Program, the grant is the largest education grant ever received by the guild. The curriculum-development program, known as the Comprehensive Opera-Based Arts Learning and Teaching, or COBALT, advises teachers on how to create original musical-dramatic works related to their classroom curriculum. “We’re working with the language teachers, history teachers, visual arts teachers, and we’re giving this curriculum that will promote a multidisciplinary approach to learning,” guild president Richard J. Miller, Jr. said. For example, Mr. Miller said, “if a second-grade class is learning about New York City in their social studies unit, they could create a musical-dramatic work based on an episode from New York City history.” The guild provides additional support in the form of teachers’ assistants called Artist Resource Consultants, who work on-site to help guide the creative process.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Pulling for each other; Jimmy Fund walk expected to raise $6m.” By Peter Schworm. Boston Globe. September 13, 2010. A few months back, young Caroline Hamilton, 9, could barely walk, weakened by surgery to remove a slice of a sizable tumor lodged in her brain. A flight of stairs might as well have been a mountain. But yesterday, a termined Caroline walked the final 5 miles of this year’s Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk, her short but certain strides carrying her to the Copley Square finish alongside 100 other friends and family walking in her name. The Hamiltons and the rest of Team Chickaroo were among more than 8,000 participants in the annual charity walk, which is expected to raise more than $6 million for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over its 22-year history, the event has raised more than $66 million. For patients like Caroline Hamilton, who has already undergone the two primary forms of chemotherapy used against her disease, new research-driven treatments stand as the best hope for a breakthrough.

Celebrities, Brokers Trade for Charity; A variety of stars became “celebrity brokers” on Monday for Charity Day at the Cantor Fitzgerald affiliate BGC Partners.” No by-line. Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2010. The day’s revenue from the office was pooled with commissions from 50 Cantor Fitzgerald affiliates world-wide. According to a company spokesman, the resulting $13 million will be divvied up to more than 75 charities around the globe. At BGC’s Water Street offices, brokers sat at their computer screens negotiating the sale and purchase of bonds, overnight interest-rate swaps and high-yield credit-default swaps. Celebs like Hilary Duff, the WWF’s Mick Foley and tennis pro John McEnroe, who were there to help close deals, fretted that they would have to understand these terms but were assured to find a broker beside them. BGC Chief Executive Howard Lutnick, who was CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald on Sept. 11, 2001, said the event helps galvanize his team to contribute during a time that reminds them all of loss.

Friends of Hudson River Park eye fundraising; Shifting the group’s mission to fundraising role comes as the West Side esplanade faces a $10 million deficit over the next five years; lack of income from Piers 40 and 57 causes problems.” By Theresa Agovino. Crain’s New York Business. September 15, 2010. As the Hudson River Park faces a $10 million deficit over the next five years, the advocacy group that has watched over the park’s creation is working to refocus its mission to fundraising for the West Side esplanade. Friends of the Hudson River Park was established in 1999 as a watchdog group to ensure the money committed by the city and state for the park was received and used properly. It also provided support for the agency responsible for building the park, the Hudson River Park Trust. The Trust is responsible for managing the park and oversees the redevelopment its assets, including Piers 40 and 57, in order to generate revenues to fund the park’s ongoing operation. However, for myriad reasons the redevelopment of both piers has been delayed for years, depriving the park of desperately needed revenue and leaving the trust with a potentially large hole in its budget. “It was time for us to step back and see where we were really needed,” said A.J. Pietrantone, the Friends’ executive director. He said moving into fundraising makes sense, given the Trust’s financial problems. “Our board is very interested in the idea,” said Connie Fishman, president of the Trust, which has a board made up of political appointees. “Our board was not selected for their fundraising capabilities,” Ms. Fishman said.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010



Scholarship trust torn apart by factions; some trustees suggest it should be wound up.” By Brian Robins. Sydney Morning Herald. September 14, 2010. Factional fighting among trustees of the Mick Young Scholarship Trust has raised questions about the charity’s viability amid calls for it to be wound up. The trust has been riddled with factions for several years, and questions have been raised over the way it is being run. The brawling has ensnared the Premier, Kristina Keneally, the Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, and the Gaming and Racing Minister, Kevin Greene, who have been subject to a series of questions in Parliament about their involvement with the charity. Boasting former prime minister Gough Whitlam as a patron and the federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, as an ambassador, along with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, the Mick Young Scholarship Trust gives scholarships to financially disadvantaged students to further their studies. Mick Young, the former shearer turned ALP minister, has long been a touchstone for many in the party. At the heart of the latest row are proposed changes to the charity’s constitution which would water down the need for full approval by all trustees of decisions, opting for a simple majority.

Girl power on the agenda as principal looks to future at Islamic school.” By Anna Patty. Sydney Morning Herald. September 18, 2010. THE former head of a prominent Sydney Anglican girls’ school has brought a philosophy of female empowerment to one of Sydney’s first Shiite Muslim schools. Michelle Nemec, who was the head of the senior school at St Catherine’s in Waverley and a former deputy head at Wenona girls’ school in North Sydney, was appointed as principal of Bellfield College this year. Girls at the co-educational Islamic school, in the Liverpool area, are encouraged to study maths and science subjects, such as physics and chemistry, and to aim high for careers in medicine and law. The girls also take part in rock climbing and abseiling and their sports uniform incorporates a long skirt and head scarf. Mrs Nemec said she was aiming to help her students develop into articulate young adults who could rub shoulders with all levels of society. She considered the school to be more liberal than some other, more established Islamic schools. ”Our approach is going to be far more liberal,” Ms Nemec said. ”We will allow girls to access all subjects. Academically, we want them to be at the same level as boys at least. I want women to have high aspirations.”

Sydney diocese in cash row.” By Barney Zwartz. Sydney Morning Herald. September 19, 2010. IN AN unprecedented linking of church and state, the national head of the Anglican Church has asked the NSW government to thwart a move that would let the powerful Sydney diocese ”divorce” the rest of the Australian church and leave the national office impoverished. On the eve of the Australian Anglican Church’s triennial synod, which opens in Melbourne today, Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall wrote to NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, shadow attorney-general Greg Smith and Laurie Glanfield, the director-general of the Department of Justice, seeking their help. Archbishop Aspinall wrote that the Sydney diocese wanted the NSW Parliament to amend the 1918 church property trust act in a way that would allow it to defy decisions of the national synod unless its own synod approves. It is going through the state government to avoid the proper processes of the church, he told the General Synod Standing Committee in a letter. In particular, the proposals mean it would be able to resist financial requirements, transferring the burden to the other 22 dioceses. Sydney pays about a quarter of the $1 million annual bill for the national church office, as does the Melbourne diocese. Sydney diocese deputy chancellor Robert Tong yesterday denied suggestions from senior Anglicans that its proposal was a ”divorce” and said Sydney did not want to extract itself from the national federation.


Belgian Church Promises to Aid Abuse Probes.” By John W. Miller. Wall Street Journal. September 14, 2010. Catholic leaders in Belgium promised more cooperation with law enforcement in cracking down on sexual abuse but, to the dismay of victims’ groups, maintained what they said was their right to keep reports of sexual abuse confidential. The church is still reeling from the publication Friday of a special commission’s report on sexual abuse in the church, which disclosed 475 previously-undocumented cases in Belgium. The details were shocking. Thirteen victims had committed suicide. Not a single priest came forward with a spontaneous confession. The report included gripping personal testimony from victims. “Guilt is suffocating me,” one woman wrote. The church had promised to announce wholesale reform this week. Friday’s report, however, was so gut-wrenching for this once fiercely-Catholic country that the bishops put off finalizing their response. “The challenge is so big and touches so many raw emotions, it’s not possible to present new proposals right now,” said Archbishop André-Mutien Léonard.
Related stories:
Pope breaks his silence over Belgian abuse victims; Archbishop Léonard: Church is feeling powerless.” Times of London. September 13, 2010.
Victims Angry as Belgium Responds to Church Abuse.” By Stephen Castle. New York Times. September 13, 2010.
Vatican inquiry into Irish paedophile priests to meet victim groups; Top-level Vatican investigation into Irish Catholic church’s handling of clerical child abuse begins after Pope’s visit to Britain.” Guardian (UK). September 13, 2010.
Church admits widespread abuse in Belgium.” Boston Globe/Associated Press. September 14, 2010
Anger as church fails to punish Belgian abusers.Independent (UK). September 14, 2010.
Why the Holy See is treated as a state; Even the Vatican itself, in its official statement to the UN, bases its claim to statehood on the ‘sordid’ Lateran treaty.” By Geoffrey Robertson. Guardian (UK). September 14, 2010.
Catholic Britain rejoices, but abuse overshadows Pope’s first state visit; Gap in itinerary may hide secret meeting to apologise to victims.” Independent (UK). September 15, 2010.
Ontario priest removed amid sexual abuse investigation; The Diocese of San Bernardino says it received ‘credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors’ and removed the pastor from his post. Police are investigating.” Los Angeles Times. September 15, 2010.
Pope admits to ‘shock’ over child abuse and condemns his own Church.” Times of London. September 16, 2010.
Pope Benedict XVI expresses sorrow over priest abuse as he opens controversial Britain trip.” Washington Post. September 16, 2010.
Pope Faults Church Leaders; Benedict XVI, on First U.K. Visit, Says Hierarchy Didn’t Act Quickly to Stop Sexual Abuse by Priests.” Wall Street Journal. September 17, 2010.
On U.K. visit, pope apologizes, again, for abuse scandal failures.” USA Today. September 17, 2010.
In Britain, Pope Criticizes Response to Abuse Crisis.” New York Times. September 16, 2010.
Schools must be ‘safe’ for children, says Pope.” Independent (UK). September 17, 2010.
Pope’s ‘deep sorrow’ over child abuse scandal.” Independent (UK). September 18, 2010.
Papal visit: Pope Benedict in London; Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of his “deep sorrow” at the church abuse scandal.” BBC News. September 18, 2010.
Sex Scandal Overshadows Pope’s U.K. Visit.” Weekend Edition/National Public Radio. September 18, 2010.
Abject Pope Apologizes For UK Sex Scandals.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. September 18, 2010.


China’s wealthy ponder whether to help others.” By William Wan. Washington Post. September 16, 2010. It began with an idea as simple as it was well-meaning. Fresh off a successful tour pushing philanthropy among the rich in the United States, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett proposed another trip – to visit newly minted billionaires in China and get them more involved in charitable giving. But a curious thing began to happen. Chinese businessmen – initially excited to meet the two American billionaires – started making discreet calls, inquiring whether they would be forced at the dinner to pledge their fortunes. A few even backed out, citing schedule conflicts. Once the Chinese media caught wind, accusations of miserly conduct began flying as well as breathless speculations about who exactly had been invited and who had declined. The result has been much soul-searching among the wealthy in China about how best to help society and what responsibilities come with newfound wealth.


Microsoft Changes Policy Over Russian Crackdown.” By Clifford J. Levy. New York Times. September 13, 2010. Microsoft announced sweeping changes on Monday to ensure that the authorities in Russia and elsewhere do not use crackdowns on software piracy as an excuse to suppress advocacy or opposition groups, effectively prohibiting its lawyers from taking part in such cases. The company was responding to criticism that it had supported tactics to clamp down on dissent. The security services in Russia in recent years have seized computers from dozens of outspoken advocacy groups and opposition newspapers, all but disabling them. Law-enforcement officials claim that they are investigating the theft of Microsoft’s intellectual property, but the searches typically happen when those groups are seeking to draw attention to a cause or an event. Allies of the government are rarely if ever investigated for having illegal software on their computers. The raids have turned into a potent tool to muzzle opposition voices, and private lawyers retained by Microsoft have often bolstered the accusations, asserting that the company was a victim and calling for criminal charges. Until Monday, the company had rebuffed pleas from Russia’s leading human-rights organizations that it refrain from involvement in these cases, saying that it was merely complying with Russian law. The new Microsoft policy was announced in an apologetic statement by the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, Brad Smith, issued from its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. His statement followed an article in The New York Times on Sunday that detailed piracy cases against prominent advocacy groups and newspapers, including one of Russia’s most influential environmental groups.
Related story:
Microsoft Changes Policy In Response To Russian Raids.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. September 13, 2010.


Prince of Wales’s charities are to be housed together to save money.” By Damian Whitworth. Times of London. September 13 2010. The Prince of Wales could slash costs in his charity empire under moves to bring many of his disparate organisations under one roof. The Prince’s advisers hope to save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by moving charities, currently scattered across a variety of prime central London locations, into shared offices. The news follows revelations in The Times about financial setbacks in the Prince’s charity network. “The Prince’s Charities have for some time been looking to move many of the organisations within the group into one building, so as to enable enhanced interaction and closer working between them,” said a spokesman for the Prince. “They are currently in negotiations regarding a potential location.” Clarence House declined to comment on suggestions that the desired new site is in King’s Cross, close to the new campus of Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design. Rents in this up-and-coming area will be more competitive than in some of the locations where many of the charities are presently based. Contingency plans have been drawn up for all charities in the Prince’s stable during lean economic times. There are particular concerns that they could be hit by reductions in Government spending. Many of the Prince’s charities receive grants from quangos that are expected to feel the squeeze or even be axed as spending cuts are announced.

Richard Laing, the CDC chief executive, claimed £7,414 in expenses CDC.” By Alex Ralph. Times of London. September 13, 2010. The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, denounced the “lavish claims” of senior officials at an anti-poverty quango who stayed at five-star hotels and dined on Michelin-star food as “completely unacceptable”. A Department for International Development (DfID) spokesman last night said that a review was under way into the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), including its pay and remuneration. Figures released under a Freedom of Information request revealed that Sir Malcolm Williamson, the then chairman, claimed more than £700 for a dinner at the Michelin-starred L’Autre Pied restaurant in Central London. The claims also showed that Shonaid Jemmett-Page, CDC’s chief operating officer, claimed £336.54 for a taxi from Brussels to Paris. Ms Jemmett-Page was one of the organisation’s highest claimants last year, with receipts totalling £9,572. Richard Laing, the chief executive, who received £970,000 in salary and bonuses last year, claimed £7,414 in expenses, including £1,557 in London taxi fares and a £3.29 notebook. The CDC, which has assets of £2.5 billion was set up after the Second World War to invest in private-sector projects in the poorest countries. It was created with Government money and is owned by the taxpayer. For the past 15 years, the CDC has been “self-financing” and has not called for extra assistance. Profits are “reinvested” in the organisation. Critics said that the arrangement had led to spiralling salaries and bonuses.

Peer donates £25m to British Museum for large-scale exhibition space.” By Damian Whitworth. Times of London. September 13, 2010. The largest donation to the arts in a quarter of a century has secured space for the presentation of blockbuster exhibitions at the British Museum alongside a new centre for conservation of world treasures. The decision by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover to give £25 million to the British Museum means that 70 per cent of the cost of a £135 million extension has been raised. The government is contributing £22.5 million and the rest is being solicited from private sources. The extension, in the north west corner of the Bloomsbury site, has been designed by Richard Rogers and will house major temporary exhibitions. The success of recent exhibitions, such as the display of China’s terracotta warriors, has made the British Museum the UK’s most popular attraction with almost 6 million visitors annually. However, planning permission has to be sought every time the musuem wants to stage an exhibition in the famous Reading Room and there have been occasions where the museum was so crowded the doors had to be locked. The new extension will also allow properly co-ordinated conservation work on the vast collection of artefacts and provide a world centre for curators from across the world to learn from the museum’s experts. Lord Sainsbury, a Conservative peer and former chairman and chief executive of the supermarket chain, is a longtime supporter of the arts. It is understood that he was particularly attracted to the idea of supporting the conservation centre.
Related story:
Lord Sainsbury donates £25m to extension of British Museum.” Independent (UK). September 13, 2010.

Fears that universities will be forced to close in the next decade.” By Nicola Woolcock. Times of London. September 13, 2010. Nine out of ten deputy vice-chancellors believe that some universities will be forced to close in the next decade, in the face of increasingly ruthless competition. One third say that their university is already struggling to cope, and two thirds of institutions are anticipating a significant shortfall in their budgets. Research seen by The Times suggests that the most prestigious institutions are among those worst placed to cope with the rise in commercial pressures, with their managers in denial about the challenges ahead. The 20 leading research universities in the Russell Group were those least prepared for, and most resentful towards, the rise in a customer service culture among students. Researchers interviewed 30 deputy vice-chancellors, for an insight into the attitudes towards changes in the higher education sector. Two thirds thought that the mergers of universities were inevitable. Leaders of older and more prestigious institutions appeared to be the least accepting of the need for change, according to the report by the management experts, the Berkshire Consultancy. The vast majority of deputy vice-chancellors thought that, with an expected rise in tuition fees, students would have increased buying power and expect better service for their money.

“‘Administration problems’ blamed for Pope Benedict’s ticket slump.” By Sofia Piazza. Independent (UK). September 13, 2010. Thousands of tickets for open-air masses during Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain this week are yet to be taken up just four days before he is due to arrive. Organisers have blamed poor communication between dioceses and the parishes distributing tickets as well as early application deadlines for the low take up. Some Catholics, especially the elderly, have also been put off by the pre-dawn starts and long journeys demanded for many events. Because of tight security arrangements, attendees must attach themselves to a local parish group and travel with them from designated departure points. Although just 400,000 tickets had been allocated for the open-air masses which will be presided over by Pope Benedict in Glasgow, London and Birmingham, organisers are now racing to ensure the parks will be full. Parish priests have been urged to distribute thousands of tickets to schools, while the Archbishop of Westminster, Rev Vincent Nichols, wrote to Catholic school heads in London last week asking them to organise parties of schoolchildren to attend the evening prayer vigil in Hyde Park on Saturday. Cost may also have played a part in the low turn-out. The visit is expected to cost the Catholic Church around £10 million, and applicants were told they had to make a financial contribution to attend the masses.
Related stories:
Poll shows public unhappy with papal visit; An overwhelming majority of those polled believe the Catholic Church is intolerant.” Times of London. September 14 2010.
Pope travels to Britain amid indifference, outrage.” Washington Post/Associated Press. September 15, 2010.
Pope’s Recruitment of Anglicans Colors First U.K. Visit.” By Dave Kansas and Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. September 15, 2010.
David Cameron invites Pope into “Big Society” on eve of visit to Britain; The Popemobile has already been unveiled to the British public.” Times of London. September 15, 2010.
Pope’s visit: pontiff should not be ‘honoured’ with state visit; Figures such as Stephen Fry and Terry Pratchett criticise honour over Vatican’s record on gay rights, abortion and birth control.” Guardian (UK). September 15, 2010.
Catholic Britain rejoices, but abuse overshadows Pope’s first state visit; Gap in itinerary may hide secret meeting to apologise to victims.” Independent (UK). September 15, 2010.
Pope admits to ‘shock’ over child abuse and condemns his own Church.” Times of London. September 16, 2010.
Pope Benedict XVI expresses sorrow over priest abuse as he opens controversial Britain trip.” Washington Post. September 16, 2010.
Pope Faults Church Leaders; Benedict XVI, on First U.K. Visit, Says Hierarchy Didn’t Act Quickly to Stop Sexual Abuse by Priests.” Wall Street Journal. September 17, 2010.
On U.K. visit, pope apologizes, again, for abuse scandal failures.” USA Today. September 17, 2010.

“‘Big society’ facilitators are found within communities; A new study aims to add weight to the ‘big society’ concept by pinpointing the people and networks that could help to deliver the local movement.” By Rachel Williams. Guardian (UK). September 15, 2010. Phil Nice, quizmaster at the Telegraph pub in New Cross Gate, south London, is 56-year-old father-of-three, and actor who has had bit parts in Holby City, The Bill, and EastEnders, is heavily involved in an annual community festival, where he hosts a comedy night and plays roles in an interactive murder mystery. Nice has also been named by a respected thinktank as a potential key player in building David Cameron’s much-discussed “big society”. It is all down to his well- connectedness. And he is not alone in earning linchpin status for this reason. Postal workers, refuse collectors, crossing patrol attendants and the local branch of Sainsbury’s could also play pivotal roles, according to Connected Communities, a hefty new piece of research published today by the RSA. The RSA believes that the big society is not inherently a bad idea, but needs some fleshing out (the coalition’s vision is “not entirely clear”, it notes delicately), so it has set about identifying the “social capital” – the local infrastructure and social networks – it says will be the currency of any such scheme.

Firms could sponsor private school places.” By Joanna Sugden. Times of London. September 17, 2010. Bright state pupils would be given corporate scholarships to go to private school under plans being developed by heads of leading independents. David Levin, the incoming president of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), who is spearheading the scheme, said that it would help 1,000 children, pushing more into science and maths degrees. “I believe we have an indispensable national resource which boys and girls [from state schools] should be tapping in to,” he told The Times. “We have a significant role to play in preparing more children for university.” It comes as a study suggests that recruiting teachers to shortage subjects in the state sector will be harder because of government plans to raise the bar for graduate trainee teachers. If the Government funds training only for those with a 2:2 or above, subjects such as physics, chemistry and maths would see fewer new teachers joining, according to the Good Teacher Training Guide. Mr Levin will set his plan before heads at the annual conference of the HMC, a group of private schools including Eton and Harrow, at the end of the month.

Academy does U-turn over academy status.” By Greg Hurst and Joanna Sugden. Times of London. September 18, 2010. Oldfield girls’ school in Bath, the first to apply for academy status under the Government’s new plans, has withdrawn its original application after pressure from its local council. The move followed a long-running row between the head and the council, which threatened to close Oldfield and reopen a mixed secondary school on its site. Kim Sparling, the headmistress, told parents that it had agreed to alter its bid and become co-educational, in return for funding for a sports hall and other site improvements. Mrs Sparling said: “We are delighted we will be getting some excellent building improvements as a result of this agreement.” The row raises further questions about Michael Gove’s plans for a rapid expansion of academies, which is intended to free school from local authority interferance. Academies are funded directed from Whitehall and have complete freedoms over their budget, curriculum and staffing.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (September 13-19, 2010)

Monday, September 20th, 2010


Disaster in Detroit: The city’s orchestra is under threat. Does anyone care?” By Terry Teachout. Wall Street Journal. September 18, 2010. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is staring into the abyss. In order to survive a fix-it-or-else financial crisis—the DSO is expected to run up a $9 million operating deficit by the end of 2010—the management wants to slash the pay of its musicians by nearly 30%. The musicians have responded by voting to authorize a strike, and it is widely feared that this may lead to the orchestra’s demise. Does anybody care? Yes—but probably not enough to do anything about it. The numbers tell the tale: Nearly two million people lived in Detroit in 1950. The current population is 800,000. Forty of the city’s 140 square miles are vacant. Downsizing is the name of the save-Detroit game, and Mayor Dave Bing, who is looking at an $85 million budget deficit, wants to slash civic services drastically and encourage Detroit’s remaining residents to cluster in the healthiest of its surviving neighborhoods. Can a once-great city that is now the size of Austin, Texas, afford a top-rank symphony orchestra with a 52-week season? Does it even want one? The DSO, after all, is not the only one of Detroit’s old-line high-culture institutions that is sweating bullets. The Detroit Institute of Arts and the Michigan Opera Theater are also in trouble, and the editorial page of the Detroit News recently declared that Detroit is “no longer a top 10 city by any measure. The reality may be that this region can no longer support a world class orchestra, or art museum, or opera company. . . . They are remnants of an era when the city was awash in automotive cash.”