Century Marks

Century Marks

Children left behind

The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed during the Johnson administration. The largest federal K-12 program, Title I allocates funds designed to address inequities in the educational system. Due to an outdated and complex formula, 20 percent of Title I funds are now going to school districts with a high proportion of students from wealthy families. An attempt was made to correct the formula in No Child Left Behind legislation, but it has not had the desired effect. School districts can access the funds even if they serve only a small proportion of poor children, and funds are spread thinly in districts with high poverty rates (U.S. News & World Report, June 1).

Seat at the table

Before there was Barack Obama, the first black president, or Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee for president from a major party, there was Shirley Chisholm—the first black person and the first woman to run for president and the first African-American congresswoman. She announced her run for the presidency in 1972 with the slogan “Unbought and unbossed.” Although her candidacy was short-lived and she is largely forgotten, younger generations of African-American politicians consider her an icon. Chisholm also started the Congressional Black Caucus. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” was Chisholm’s philosophy. She died in 2005 at the age of 80 (BBC).

Resigning in protest

Christopher John Antal, a Unitarian Universalist pastor and U.S. Army chaplain, resigned from the army in protest of the military’s use of drones. In a letter to President Obama, he wrote that the White House “continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.” Antal had condemned drone warfare in a sermon to troops and private contractors in 2012, which led to an unrequested departure from Afghanistan where he was stationed at the time. He said that if the United States is one nation under God, then it is not only under God’s grace and protection, but also God’s judgment (Military.com, May 12).

Table talk

Lunch at Cole Community Church in Boise, Idaho, is not an ordinary church potluck. The guest list is half Christian, half Muslim. The meat is lamb, cooked according to the Muslim halal style. The meal is a “peace feast,” started by Nick and Laura Armstrong, who had lived in predominantly Muslim countries for many years and were startled by the animosity toward Muslims they discovered upon their return to the United States. The purpose of the meals is for those gathered to talk about their faiths, not to argue about them. People ask each other questions like, “What do you believe God expects of you here on Earth? What do you wish people/the community understood about your faith?” (Idaho Statesman, April 1).

Chair in atheism

Lou Appignani is donating $2.2 million to the University of Miami to endow a chair for the “study of atheism, humanism and secular ethics.” Appignani, an 83-year-old Floridian, said, “I’m trying to eliminate discrimination against atheists.” Militant atheist Richard Dawkins lauded this endowment, saying, “It’s a very bold step of the University of Miami, and I hope there will be others” (Patheos, May 20).