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July 6, 2000

Calvin to Host Charles Glenn

A Boston University professor who argues that faith-based organizations should play a more active role in American schools, and do so while receiving public funding, will deliver a public lecture on that topic at Calvin College on July 19.

Dr. Charles Glenn has recently written a book called: "The Ambiguous Embrace: Government and Faith-Based Schools and Social Agencies." That will also be the topic of his talk at Calvin (which is being sponsored by the Calvin Education Department and the Paul B Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin.

Says Glenn: "Working as a state education official responsible for civil rights and urban education, and then teaching educational policy, I have puzzled over the relationship of schools and families, of the wider world in which children must learn to live and the deeper world in which they will always to some extent be rooted. Despite our best efforts, top-down bureaucratic strategies have not produced schools that are coherent communities of purposeful learning. Nor have such strategies done enough to reknit the fabric of shattered urban communities and families."

In his book, Glenn builds a case that faith-based organizations should play a far more active role in American schools and that they can do so while receiving public funding. He identifies government policies in the U.S. and other countries that demonstrate how this can work and he offers specific recommendations for how faith-based schools and agencies can protect their integrity as they enter such partnerships.

Glenn believes that faith-based schools and social agencies have been particularly effective, especially in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. However, many oppose providing public funds for religious institutions, either on the grounds that it would threaten the constitutional separation of church and state or from concern it might dilute or secularize the distinctive character of the institutions themselves. Glenn tackles these arguments head on in his book and in his public lectures.

Glenn's background gives him an insider's perspective on education. He is a professor and chairman of Administration, Training, and Policy Studies at Boston University School's of Education. He is the author of a variety of books, including The Myth of the Common School and Educating Immigrant Children. And he served for almost 20 years as the Director of Urban Education and Civil Rights for the Massachusetts Department of Education. He also is an associate minister at inner-city churches in Boston.

Glenn will be on Calvin's campus the entire week (July 17-22), leading a workshop for local teachers on teaching children for whom English is not their first language. Called "Effective Schooling for Language Minority Students," the workshop looks at how schools can best educate language-minority students with limited English proficiency.

Read the Grand Rapids Press article.

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Contact Phil de Haan.