Worth Reading - 1/29

1. Richard Mouw discusses the importance of grace in public debate and relates the tragedy of Christians failing to be gracious:

The real issue for me has to do with the proper weapons for intellectual warfare. As a participant in many dialogues—ecumenical and interfaith—I have often encountered criticisms from fellow evangelicals who tell me that we do not have the leisure for the “niceties” of polite discussion with people with whom we disagree. Not infrequently I have been told that we have to get on with the urgent “battle for the truth.” What I find ironic about those preachments is that if we are genuinely contending for the truth, then we must pay careful attention to whether we are being truthful in our characterizations of people with whom we disagree. It seems odd to be willing to distort the truth out of a concern to score points in a contest for truthfulness!

2. Studies continue to reinforce the significance of reading to children of all ages for future reading skills:

‘A lot of parents assume that once kids begin to read independently, that now that is the best thing for them to do,’ said Maggie McGuire, the vice president for a website for parents operated by Scholastic.

But reading aloud through elementary school seemed to be connected to a love of reading generally. According to the report, 41 percent of frequent readers ages 6 to 10 were read aloud to at home, while only 13 percent of infrequent readers were being read to.
No, if we are earnest about setting students up for success, we should focus on reforming K-12 education, returning the responsibility of funding and management wholly to the state and local governments, empowering communities to offer better, more efficient education and to rise to higher standards, to ensure their children will graduate with at least the basic skills they need to get a good job and support themselves.

They say the best things in life are free; but this isn’t true. The best things, the most valuable things, are the ones you work and pay for on your own. Free community college will rob future generations of not just a quality education, but the underrated yet lasting satisfaction of earning it themselves.
Ending extreme poverty by 2030 is the BHAG – the big, hairy audacious goal – of our generation. While skepticism abounds, momentum is on our side, with poverty rates falling in every region of world.

Unfortunately, these trends still have little to no impact on the lives of a critical and chronically marginalized subset of the extreme poor around the world, those living on less than 60 to 70 cents per day. At BRAC, where I work, we call this subset the “ultra-poor.” Microfinance and other market-based interventions don’t generally reach them. Predominantly women, they face chronic food insecurity, malnutrition, gender discrimination and often abuse. They also bear the brunt of climate change— especially in rural areas where inclement weather and the increasing frequency of storms can hurt agricultural yields and contribute to malnutrition — not to mention countless other external challenges.

5. Why do we tolerate the SAT and ACT? There is growing opposition to these exams as college entrance requirements:

I don’t need more reasons to loathe the SAT and the ACT, America’s sorry excuses for college entrance exams. They are scary, narrow time-wasters. But thanks to Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein, I now know those tests are expressly designed to keep every bit of wonder, humor, passion and religion out of the learning process.