Category Archives: Quaker Education

Friends Seminary – Fired Teacher Will Return

A normally reliable source has furnished me a copy of a letter from the Principal of Friends Seminary (or FS)  in New York City,  announcing that “In late January we will welcome Ben Frisch back into the classroom.” (I called FS to ask about it; as of this writing, there was no response.) The full text of the letter is below.

If you don’t know, Ben Frisch is the Quaker teacher at Friends Seminary (“the”, as in THE only Quaker teacher almost a year ago, when this story began), who was abruptly fired last March.

He  got the boot after making a clumsy joke in a geometry class about how his raised arm, illustrating an obtuse angle, was like a “Heil Hitler” salute.

Frisch is about as far from being “Nazi friendly” as you could want. Although he’s a longtime Quaker, his ancestors were European and Jewish, and some were lost in the Holocaust. He doesn’t need a “diversity officer” to brief him on all that. Nevertheless, he was canned within a couple weeks. In a letter to students, the principal, Bo Lauter, wrote, “Our students know that words and signs of hate and fear have no place at Friends . . . .” Continue reading Friends Seminary – Fired Teacher Will Return

Friends Central School Lawsuit: The Fired Teachers Begin to Make Their Case

Let’s review: In February of this year, officials at Friends Central School in Philadelphia abruptly canceled a speaking engagement by a Palestinian Quaker peace studies professor, then suspended and later fired the two teachers who had planned the visit. Much public controversy ensued.

In May, the two former teachers filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging discrimination and retaliation by Friends Central.

Earlier posts on the Friends Central School controversy are:

 here,  here,  here , here & here.

Early last month, Friends Central’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, on the grounds that the two teachers had “failed to state a valid claim,” and that allowing the lawsuit to proceed would see the court  become “entangled” in a religious dispute, which is prohibited by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

On July 31, the teachers’ attorney, Mark Schwartz, filed his response. Prosaically titled, “PLAINTIFFS’ MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT,” it asserted that to the contrary, the teachers’ complaint did state valid claims, further that pursuing it would not require any impermissible meddling in religious doctrines, and that the motion to dismiss should be denied and the case be moved to its next phase, which is discovery of documents and other background, in preparation for a trial. Continue reading Friends Central School Lawsuit: The Fired Teachers Begin to Make Their Case

Earlham, The Grinch, & Sections “M” & “N”

At Earlham College, it’s going to be a tense Christmas this year, especially for faculty and staff.

That’s because, whatever goodies Santa brings, the Grinch will be close behind, snatching away the good cheer and hopes for a happy new year in 2019.

The  Earlham Grinch will be in disguise, but the masquerade won’t fool anybody: the Grinch will be dropping pink slips down chimneys (or for those  gone chimney-free, an email inbox will do).

And while today it may be sweltering summer, with winter holidays seemingly a universe away, Christmas is still on the minds of many around Earlham. That’s because the campus Grinch is already on the loose there, and has
claimed his first, highest-profile victim. Continue reading Earlham, The Grinch, & Sections “M” & “N”

Guilford College President Responds To “Endangered” Blog Post

Guilford College President Responds To “Endangered” Blog Post

Chuck,

As a regular visitor to Guilford College, undoubtedly you have
witnessed the impact a liberal arts education rooted in Quaker values has on students. I think you would agree the world needs Guilford graduates more today than ever. That’s why we’re working overtime to make sure this important college not only survives but thrives for future generations.

Fernandes-Guilford
Guilford president Jane Fernandes, center.

We grieve for our friends at Sweet Briar as they close their college. At Guilford, we are proactive. Recently, we took concrete steps to align our expenses with current and anticipated revenues. But that is only the first phase of a community-wide, multi-year effort that will include revenue-generating initiatives under new and inspired enrollment and marketing leadership. We have a powerful story to tell about student outcomes, and we will make a strong appeal to students and families who will benefit from a Guilford education and want to invest in it.

Here’s how you and others can help: Spread the word to high school students and their families about the life-transforming, Quaker-based liberal arts education available at Guilford College. Let them know we are working to make Guilford as affordable as possible, and that the value of the investment a family makes in this College results not only in graduates who are critical thinkers but in ones who are prepared for immediate employment or graduate school. By the way, our job placement rate for graduates is 85% according to our latest survey against a national average of 58%.

And for those who have both vision and means, support Guilford philanthropically. This, too, is a wise investment. If you believe in the value of Quaker education, support Guilford and schools like it. This is a way to ensure that this unique, valuable educational experience is available to students and their families for many years to come.

Chuck, you have dedicated your life to action for social justice. Help us inspire Quakers and others who care about Quaker education to preserve the best educational opportunity out there today!  Way will open.

Jane K. Fernandes
President

 

A Blogger’s Footnote: Much as I admire Guilford as a Quaker outpost, I’m not in a position to sign up as a college booster or promoter. I encourage ideas and discussion here (and elsewhere): Friends, what can make sure Guilford will “survive & thrive”?

Guilford: Quaker College On The Endangered List?

Guilford: Quaker College On The Endangered List?

At Guilford College in Greensboro NC, the hullabaloo over graduation has died down. And now, a grim summer has begun.

Specifically, the passing out of diplomas was followed by the passing out of pink slips, to 52 staff and faculty. That’s thirteen percent of Guilford’s 400 employees, almost one in seven.

Sweetbriar-RIP-2 Continue reading Guilford: Quaker College On The Endangered List?

Back To Class: Friends, “Our” Schools, And The Shock of Recognition

Friends seminary, Manhattan New York
Friends Seminary, New York City

Settle in, guys and gals; this one is lengthy. But worth it. (It should be especially useful for recovering from an overdose of Supreme Court hearings.)

In a couple of earlier posts– here and also here — many months ago, I mentioned discussions of class as a factor that complicated self-understanding and community-building among Friends today, and promised to return to them at some point.

This is one of those points, precipitated by another New York Times report back  in 2011, describing tensions between some Friends in New York City and an expensive private school, Friends Seminary, which adjoins and shares facilities with the Fifteenth Street Meeting in Manhattan. It seems there are New York Friends who say that ties with the school should be cut. This saga is part of the background to the current issue at the school over the firing of its only remaining Quaker teacher. Continue reading Back To Class: Friends, “Our” Schools, And The Shock of Recognition