Education & Schools
50 Years Later, It’s Time to Accept School Prayer Ruling, Bible Scholar Says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:07
Religious Training is the Job of Churches, Families

This summer marks 50 years since the Supreme Court ruling that effectively banned official prayers in public schools.

Ever since, wave after wave of proposed bills and amendments have sought to undo that ruling – or at least circumvent it.

And now, a former minister says prayer as government-sanctioned religious training never had a place in public school classrooms anyway.

Students are free to pray, individually, to their heart’s content, says former minister and NASA engineer Charlie Webster, author of Revitalizing Christianity (

“If we as Christians are looking to the government to instill biblical values in our youngest citizens, then we’re in bad shape,” says Webster “Any time the church wants the state to teach morality and biblical matters, we’re definitely on the wrong path.”

After working as an executive for the space shuttle program, Webster earned a master’s degree in New Testament studies and taught that subject at the college level. He offers a list of reasons why official school prayer could never be a good source of religious training, including:

• Religious pluralism: America is a melting pot of nationalities, cultures, ideas and especially religions. “If we did allow the reading of sacred writings and public prayers in schools, we Christians want to think that they would always be compatible with our beliefs,” he says. “But in this country, government must give equal time to all religions within a community. It would be extremely difficult – if not impossible – for schools to provide meaningful training for all the religions represented by their students.”

• Differences in the specifics: Even among Christians, different groups have disparate beliefs, customs and viewpoints. Again, there are too many to expect schools to address each in a meaningful way.

• Prayer in school was largely ignored: I know because I was one of those who joined my classmates in ignoring them.

• Pew’s rising “unaffiliated” percentage: In addition to religious variety, the Pew Research Center shows that more than 16 percent of 35,000 polled Americans check the “unaffiliated” box. They include atheists, agnostics and those who believe in nothing in particular. Whether non-believers are teachers or students, Webster says, their presence would present a number of dilemmas if official school prayer were sanctioned.

“The truth is that it was not what happened in schools that affected the moral fiber of this country; it was what happened in homes and churches,” Webster says. “Today, comparatively few Christian homes devote a significant amount of time to religious training, and more and more the same is true of churches.”

Nowadays, many churches have resorted to gimmicks in an effort to draw in more followers, he says. These attempts do more to distract from the Christian message than promote it, Webster says, and government-based policies have much the same effect.

“Instead of trying to find a political solution, we need to do our own jobs,” he says. “If all Christians did that, any political decision would be of no significance at all. The world is starving for what we as Christians are supposed to have, but we’ve left it behind.”

About Charlie Webster

A former minister with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biblical studies, Charlie Webster has taught the New Testament at the college level and has served as a minister. He is currently an engineer for NASA.

Area Residents Are Among DePaul University's 2012 Graduating Class PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Ximena Beltran   
Monday, 23 July 2012 12:42

CHICAGO, IL (07/20/2012)(readMedia)-- DePaul University announced the following local area residents were among its 113th graduating class this summer:

Alexandra Corbin of Davenport

Mark Lazio of Davenport

Serving more than 25,000 students, DePaul University is the nation's largest Catholic university and offers programs, many nationally ranked, in the liberal arts and sciences, education, commerce, law, computer technology, music and theater. Additional information about DePaul's exceptional academic programs can be found at

UI helps students across state take AP courses through online academy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Hawkeye Caucus   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:49

In Iowa, geography does not determine opportunity.

The Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA) provides Advanced Placement (AP) courses to every high school in Iowa with a focus on small/rural schools ranging from Denison to Danville.  AP courses are college-level and nationally recognized for their rigor and as indicators of college readiness.  High scores on the national AP exams in various academic areas can provide a high school student with college credit.

IOAPA is part of the University of Iowa College of Education's Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

IOAPA is completely online and gives every Iowa student the opportunity to take AP courses and exams regardless of the size of school or community.  IOAPA is currently funded by the Iowa Legislature and underwrites the cost for the student.  Since the start of IOAPA in 2001, more than 10,000 students from communities across the state have taken AP courses.  The course completion rate has been over 90 percent, which is remarkable for online courses.  Also, Iowa students taking courses through IOAPA have consistently scored above the national average on AP exams.  The message is simple:  Give Iowa students a chance at a high-level academic challenge, and they will not only step up to the challenge, but will perform at a high level.


Zane Scott-Tunkin, a teacher and mentor at Colfax-Mingo High School: "The IOAPA is a great resource for schools that do not offer an on-site AP Program."


IOAPA was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as one of the nation’s top six programs to feature in its report, “Connecting Students to Advanced Courses Online: Innovations in Education” (2006).  To find out more about IOAPA, visit

Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium is sold out PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:02

(DES MOINES) – The governor’s office today announced that the Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium next month is sold out.

In May, Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds joined Education Director Jason Glass to announce they would host the Iowa Teacher and Principal Leadership Symposium on Friday, Aug. 3, at Drake University in Des Moines.

Branstad said he and Reynolds are holding the symposium to focus on how to organize schools to treat teachers as instructional leaders, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

Symposium speakers and panelists will share their thinking about shared principal and teacher leadership.  We’ll hear about why this matters, how it’s being done in this state and country, and how top-performing school systems around the globe approach this issue.

Symposium registration was open to the public, including educators, school board members, business leaders, parents and legislators. More than 700 Iowans are expected to attend the all-day conference.

“Teacher leadership will be at the heart of our 2013 legislative package because it is critical to give students the knowledge and skills they need to be well prepared,” said Branstad.

“We also recognize that growing expectations for students place even more demands upon teachers, without always providing teachers the support needed to meet those demands,” said Reynolds. “Stronger, shared principal and teacher leadership can help schools do that more effectively.”

Branstad and Reynolds stressed that the symposium is about ending the outdated practice of teachers working largely in isolation in their classrooms and moving toward greater collaboration to help students learn more. Some Iowa schools have already set off in this direction, and two of them will be on hand at the August 3 symposium: Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

Branstad and Reynolds note that their October 2011 education blueprint included a four-tier teacher leadership and compensation structure, with master, mentor, career and apprentice teachers. When they took the blueprint out on the road to town-hall meetings across the state, Iowans raised good questions about it would be put into operation.

So the decision was made to study the issue further, and make recommendations to the 2013 Legislature.

In February, Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass announced the members of a new Iowa Teacher Leadership and Compensation Taskforce, which is meeting monthly. Its report is due Oct. 15.

“The status quo is not serving our children well. We have to set the bar higher,” said Reynolds.

Here are just a few statistics that drive that home:

  • Nearly 23 percent of Iowa third-graders don’t read proficiently on state tests.
  • Just 33 percent of Iowa fourth-graders read at proficient or advanced levels on the exam known as the nation’s report card.
  • In math, just 34 percent of Iowa eighth-graders are proficient or advanced on that exam.
  • Only 35 percent of Iowa eighth-graders are proficient or advanced in science.

“Our children deserve better,” said Reynolds. “A stronger, shared principal and teacher leadership model can help us make faster progress toward restoring Iowa schools to best in the nation, and giving all students a globally competitive education.”

To learn more about the symposium, go to:

About Iowa Interactive

Iowa Interactive built and manages the official Web site for the state of Iowa ( and partners with state and local entities to bring new government services online.  Iowa Interactive is a service of IOWAccess and is managed by the Department of Administrative Services and the eGovernment firm NIC (NASDAQ: EGOV - News).

About NIC

NIC Inc. is the nation's leading provider of official government websites, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The company's innovative eGovernment services help reduce costs and increase efficiencies for government agencies, citizens, and businesses across the country. Our popular self-funded solution allows government to put in-demand services online without using taxpayer funds. The NIC family of companies currently provides cost-effective eGovernment solutions for more than 3,500 federal, state, and local agencies in the United States. Additional information is available at

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Summer Camp at Rivermont! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Education & Schools
Written by Rivermont Collegiate   
Friday, 20 July 2012 13:24
There are still 2 more weeks of Summer Camp at Rivermont Collegiate!

4th-8th Grades:

Have some fun with your favorite gym teacher and his mom, Mrs. Pillow in Physical Adventures with Mr. Pillow.  Learn about different cultures and their unique art techniques in Cultural Art (this class will share their art with the 1st-3rd graders in Cultural Food)!  Sign up for Murals and create a beautiful mural to be donated to Juan Diez Rancheros,

a non-profit horse ranch in Davenport that provids programs for abused or tramatized kids. Or, go on a bug hunt with Mr. Knupp in Insect Collecting. (There are lots of openings in these 4 classes)

1st-3rd Grades:

Have some fun with your favorite gym teacher and  his mom, Mrs. Pillow in  Physical Adventures with Mr. Pillow.  Learn about different cultures and cook some of their food in Cultural Foods (this class will share their food with the

4th-8th graders in Cultural Art)!  Go on a bug hunt with  Mr. Knupp in Insect Collecting, or do some wild and crazy science experiments in Wacky Chemistry. (There are still several openings in these 4 classes)


Learn about growing tomatos, peppers, and more in Edible Plants.  Jump into fantastic science experiments with Soaking up Science or Science Superstars.  Learn about life under the sea in Commotion in the Ocean. (Space is very limited in these 4 classes)
Don't miss out on the best summer enrichment camp in the Quad Cities! Click the link above to download your brochure today!

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