Last week we asked, ???Who Will Save America's Urban Catholic Schools???? Pope Benedict XVI offered his thoughts in today's address to Catholic educators:

The Catholic community here has in fact made education one of its highest priorities. This undertaking has not come without great sacrifice. Towering figures, like Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and other founders and foundresses, with great tenacity and foresight, laid the foundations of what is today a remarkable network of parochial schools contributing to the spiritual well-being of the Church and the nation. Some, like Saint Katharine Drexel, devoted their lives to educating those whom others had neglected--in her case, African Americans and Native Americans. Countless dedicated Religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests together with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in mainstream society.

This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible


The pontiff is still in the middle of his speech to Catholic educators (which, as predicted, is mostly a soft-spoken smack down of Catholic colleges and universities gone astray). But we're pretty sure he said a few helpful things about the tragedy of inner-city schools closing at an alarming rate. (We say pretty sure because we find his accent difficult to parse.) More later when a transcript is available.

Liam Julian

The quest to raise graduation rates??is on (see here and here).

This should help.

Liam Julian

The New York Times, one understands, seeks to reach its audience, and those who casually turn the pages of Thursday Styles are of a sort that enjoys and relates to articles such as this.

How to prepare teens for the world of work? the piece asks. Should parents encourage children to do what they love, or should they push diligence and sacrifice as the road that leads to a successful and rewarding career? Probably more the latter; the author herself writes that her son is "part of a generation whose members are so convinced that work should be personally fulfilling that they see photocopying as beneath them."

This is a well-documented "millennial" attitude. (Sometimes, though, it's well-founded. Some of the most talented recent college graduates make loads of money because that's what they're worth to the companies that employ them. Why on earth would they deign to make photocopies when they could trot across town and get another job at which they don't make photocopies?)

Conspicuously absent from the Times piece is the role colleges play in youngsters' work preparedness. I'm still amazed at how??ill-equipped for office life I felt after receiving my undergrad degree, and I imagine the adjustment is even more difficult for some grads, especially those who go in for stuff like this. (A particularly noxious "art" project by a Yale student.)

It's easy to dismiss it as culture war fodder. But it makes a point--this selfish, relativistic stuff is...

OK, this time I'm talking about Linda Darling-Hammond. In a letter to the editor of the New Republic, she responds to Josh Patashnik's article on Obama's education plans. (He responds to the response here.) What LDH doesn't address is this brilliant insight from an astute education policy analyst,* included in the original article, about why the Senator's selecting Darling-Hammond as a top education advisor is worrisome:

She has spent almost two decades trying to kill Teach for America. It seems like a strange choice for him.

Instead she and Patashnik get into a boring discussion of the nuances of Obama's pay-for-performance plan. What a missed opportunity.

* Yes, me....

Liam Julian

1) This week's Education Gadfly. It's chock full of good stuff, including a guest editorial from the Rodel Foundation about how to train the education spotlight on states, "which are these days the wallflower at the school-reform dance." The article recommends spiking the school-reform punch.

2) Mike's piece about Catholic schools on National Review Online. If you haven't heard, the pope's paying the country a visit and American Catholic schools are in trouble. Mike tells us why they're struggling and how we can help.

Bill Ayers's brother John , however, is a stand-up guy.

No, I'm not referring to Linda Darling-Hammond, but to William Ayers, the "distinguished professor" at the University of Illinois-Chicago who first distinguished himself by blowing up a Greenwich Village townhouse while building a bomb. as a terrorist.* The media has been looking into Senator Obama's connections to this former Weatherman for at least a week, and last night George Stephanopoulos brought it up at the Philadelphia debate. Obama's response:

George, but this is an example of what I'm talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn't make much sense, George.

But he's not a professor of English, he's a professor of education. What other institution would give a former Weatherman a full professorship?

Nor are we late to this story; see Checker's take on Ayers from 2001.

ADDENDUM: Sol Stern has covered the Bill Ayers story too.

* Multiple sources have informed me that Ayers wasn't in the Greenwich Village townhouse that blew up, though he was implicated in several terrorist activities....

An anonymous source tells Flypaper that Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Senator Edward Kennedy were yacking it up at Nationals Field Park this morning while waiting for Pope Benedict XVI to arrive. We're praying that they were discussing how to salvage the D.C. school voucher program, which helps 2,000 needy Washington children attend private schools, including Catholic schools, but which is expected to come under attack from Democrats in Congress. Hey, one can dream.

Liam Julian

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is an expert at being overshadowed, first by Tony Blair and now by the pope. Brown is in D.C. today, and he's scheduled to meet with President Bush and presidential candidates Clinton, McCain, and Obama. Let's hope none picks up any of the prime minister's education ideas.