Sep 30 2010

Dallas Willard’s “Renovation of the Heart”

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 5:26 pm

I am reading Dallas Willard’s book Renovation of the Heart.  It is challenging me.

As usual, Prof. Willard is philosopher and theologian, counselor and therapist mixed with insightful older-brother, all rolled into one.

He has convinced me that I have a LONG way to go (not that I needed much convincing).   Not the most important, but among other things he has convinced me that the memorization of large swaths of scripture is important.  Not just remembering the general content, and knowing where to find the details, but actually being able to recite it.  I think I had always seen that as a kid’s Sunday School sort of thing, a sort of summer vacation Bible school exercise.

So I think I’m going to work some consistent effort at that into my life.  As I said, this is far from the most important thing in the book…  you really have to read it to get the flavor and depth of it.

As a teaser:  if you are a person who finds that your feelings don’t always, or mostly, line up with your thoughts, or what you wish your feelings were, this book is for you.  If you are a person who finds it difficult to wholeheartedly and joyfully live the commitment you have made to Christ, this book is for you.

Prof. Willard does not chide.  He gently leads, and his words penetrate to the heart of the matter.

Highly recommended.

Sep 30 2010

The relationship between education spending and student success: not much

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 4:13 pm

Here is an article that shows a lovely chart detailing why spending and student acheivement have little to do with each other these days.

Its final prescription is this:

The Democrats are forever challenging Republicans to explain where they would cut spending, as though that were a hopeless conundrum. It seems obvious to me that education is one area where we could cut spending at all levels (local, state and federal) without losing anything. In fact, if education budgets were cut, it might force school districts , educators and parents to re-think priorities in a manner that would actually improve results.

Merely “cutting spending,” however, is not going to do the job.  If we enforced across the board spending cuts, we would not be dealing with the fact that we are spending money in the wrong ways in major areas, and that spending needs to be not merely cut back by some common percentage, but largely eliminated.

Federal mandates on education have produced sink holes for money that didn’t exist in the 1970s, like hugely bloated special education budgets, enormous bureaucracies to service them,  required accomodations for every kind of disability, and so on.  In some states it is a huge budget buster.

The problems we now have are not just a little overspending here and then, but huge swaths of the budget that are diverted from serving the students who can most benefit from the support.  It may be impossible to significantly cut spending in ways that won’t hurt education until laws change about what is mandated.

The central point, however, remains:  high spending does not equal even moderate success.  The grip of unions and state education bureaucracies on the fate of our children is, at this point, nearly unbreakable.