National Catholic Register


Education Notebook

BY Jim Cosgrove

April 9-15, 2000 Issue | Posted 4/9/00 at 1:00 PM


Trinity College Dis-invites Gloria Steinem

CHRONICLE OFHIGHER EDUCATION, March 24 — Officials from Trinity College decided that a speech by Gloria Steinem, a longtime leader in the feminist movement, would create too much controversy among some faculty members, alumni and students, the Chronicle reported.

Steinem had been invited last year to speak at the Catholic college's “Peace and Justice” lecture series. They recently reversed their decision in part because they feared that some of her views, particularly those regarding abortion, might trigger widespread protests, said Kathleen O'Dell-Thompson, Trinity's vice president for institutional advancement, in the Chronicle article.

O'Dell-Thompson said that Trinity, which is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary, had recently overcome financial problems and was fighting to reverse declines in its enrollment. The college's officials must focus on solving those problems, not stirring up controversy, she said.

Not everyone approved of the college's move. The Chronicle reported that Vermont State Rep. Mary M. Sullivan, a Democrat, quit her part-time job as communications director at Trinity College because the institution rescinded the speaking invitation.

Bush and Gore Spar Over Education

THE WASHINGTON POST, March 29 — Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush proposed a five-year, $5 billion plan March 28 designed to improve the reading skills of low-income children, arguing there is a “national emergency” in education, reported The Washington Post.

Bush's “Reading First” proposal, intended as one of the major initiatives of his campaign, would seek to ensure that all children read by the third grade by providing instruction for about 900,000 kindergarten and first-grade students in low-performing schools as well as mandating testing and additional teacher training.

“Too many of our children cannot read. Reading is the building block, and it must be the foundation for education reform,” the paper quoted Bush as saying. “Others have proposed throwing money at the problem. I'll spend more on schools, and I'll expect more from our schools.”

Advisors to Vice President Al Gore were quick to criticize Bush's program, the Post reported. They called Bush's initiative an echo of a program already enacted during the Clinton administration, while the vice president, in an interview with the Associated Press, charged that Bush's tax cut plan would leave no new money to invest in education. Gore said the Bush tax proposal “puts a huge cloud over everything that he says about education.”

Gore has proposed an education plan that would use $115 billion of the federal budget surplus over 10 years to fund universal preschool, hiring and testing of new teachers, reducing class sizes, building schools and repairing crumbling ones, noted the Post. He also wants to triple the number of charter schools, make preschool available to every 4-year-old and expand Head Start.

Keyes Speaks at Steubenville

FRANCISCAN UNIVERSITY, March 7 — Radiant and hopeful despite the darkness of a national media blackout, Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes addressed over 1,700 students and faculty March 6 at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.

“We don't need to start off as strangers,” said Keyes, a 1996 recipient of an honorary degree from the school. “This is a special place for me and a reservoir of spirituality.” The Franciscan University Student Association (FUSA) sponsored Keyes'address.

Keyes addressed America's moral situation, making frequent references to Christian and Church teachings. “We should not have to show shame in recalling our country back to our Creator,” he said in reference to abortion, materialism, racism and other social ills.

“There is no other basis for moral discipline than to acknowledge the limits of freedom to prevent a literal ‘hell on earth,’” Keyes said to a packed floor of students and visitors. “This is not speculation of what will happen; this is an observation of what is happening.”

The sentiments of the students, who lacked no enthusiasm at the rally, were expressed well by FUSA president Tom Buck in his introduction of Dr. Keyes: “Our work is not just to watch someone like Alan Keyes go out and fight alone. We all must individually fight for the values we espouse at this university.”