“Muslim Students, Education and Neoliberalism” (Haywood & Mac an Ghaill, eds.)

This month, Palgrave Macmillan releases “Muslim Students, Education and Neoliberalism: Schooling a ‘Suspect Community,'” edited by Máirtín Mac an Ghaill (Newman University) and Chris Haywood (Newcastle University).  The publisher’s description follows:

This edited collection brings together international leading scholars to explore why the education of Muslim students is globally associated with radicalisation, Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 8.35.21 PMextremism and securitisation. The chapters address a wide range of topics, including neoliberal education policy and globalization; faith-based communities and Islamophobia; social mobility and inequality; securitisation and counter terrorism; and shifting youth representations. Educational sectors from a wide range of national settings are discussed, including the US, China, Turkey, Canada, Germany and the UK; this international focus enables comparative insights into emerging identities and subjectivities among young Muslim men and women across different educational institutions, and introduces the reader to the global diversity of a new generation of Muslim students who are creatively engaging with a rapidly changing twenty-first century education system.  The book will appeal to those with an interest in race/ethnicity, Islamophobia, faith and multiculturalism, identity, and broader questions of education and social and global change.

Grume & Caher, “The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise of a Village Theocracy and the Battle to Defend the Separation of Church and State”

In April, Chicago Review Press will release “The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise of a Village Theocracy and the Battle to Defend the Separation of Church and State” by Louis Grume (former executive director of the New York State School Boards Association) and John M. Caher (Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications with the New York State Unified Court System). The publisher’s description follows:

Twenty years ago, in the middle of the night and on the last day of the legislative session, the New York State Legislature created a publicly funded school district to cater to the interests of a religious sect called the Satmar, an insular group of Hasidic Jews that objects to, among other things, female school bus drivers. The rapidly growing sect had bought land in rural Upstate New York, populated it solely with members of its faction, and created a village called Kiryas Joel that exerted extraordinary political pressure over both political parties. Marking the first time in American history that a governmental unit was established for a religious group, the legislature’s action prompted years of litigation that eventually went to the US Supreme Court. As today’s Supreme Court signals its willingness to view a religious viewpoint like any other speech and accord it equal protection, the 1994 case, Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, stands as the most important legal precedent in the fight to uphold the separation of church and state. In The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel, plaintiff Louis Grumet opens a window onto the Satmar Hasidic community, where language, customs, and dress have led to estrangement from and clashes with neighboring communities, and details the inside story of his fight for the First Amendment and against New York’s most powerful politicians. Informed by numerous interviews with key figures such as Governor George Pataki, media accounts, court transcripts, and more, The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel not only tantalizes with a peek at cynical power politics driven by votes and Supreme Court justice squabbling and negotiation; it also provides an important demonstration of how a small, insular, and politically savvy religious group can grasp legal and political power. This story—a blend of politics, religion, cultural clashes, and constitutional tension—is an object lesson in the ongoing debate over freedom of versus freedom from religion.

Neutrality Partiality

I have a short essay on the Library of Law and Liberty site involving the idea of religious neutrality when it comes to American public and private education. It was occasioned in part by the Colorado Supreme Court’s recent decision invalidating, pursuant to its state Blaine Amendment, a local program that would have made tuition scholarships available to certain students, which the students could then use to pay to attend private religious and nonreligious schools. I criticize the decision but use it to talk about certain broader issues. Here’s a bit from the conclusion:

Focusing on these details of Colorado law, however, obscures certain larger questions. If “sectarian” truly does mean “Catholic,” and even if it means, as Black’s Law Dictionary says, “of, relating to, or involving a particular religious sect,” then any state Blaine Amendment with this language would be subject to constitutional challenge under the Supreme Court’s free exercise law. “Sectarian” does not sound particularly neutral; or, to the extent it does, it sounds in the rather counterintuitive neutrality of state-endorsed religious hostility. Yet even this perspective on the question of neutrality passes over the colossal non-neutrality of the government’s systematic and exclusive funding of its own putatively religion-neutral schools, to the detriment of able students—many of them from poor and educationally underserved communities—who would greatly benefit from private religious schooling. Neutrality between religion and non-religion seems to demand a plainly partial allocation of resources. Or, one variety of government neutrality—no funding of religious schools—obstructs the achievement of another—educational opportunity.

The question of the place of religion in American educational life—whether in the nation’s public schools or in its position on private religious schools—will not be answered by neutrality talk, for the fundamental reason that nothing in the projects of American education is or ever has been neutral toward religion. From the very first, it was precisely the non-neutrality of the state toward religion that has been one of the prime catalysts of cultural and legal development in American education policy, public and private. There is an understandable tendency among some opponents of state Blaine Amendments such as Colorado’s to reduce them to simple expressions of non-neutral anti-Catholicism. Often they were that, but they were more.

To understand them merely in these terms—as lamentable examples of “discrimination”—domesticates them. It consigns them to a history from which we have happily progressed now that we have entered an epoch in which the making of discriminations of any kind is taboo. It puffs us up with the Whiggish certitude that to repudiate the Blaine Amendments is to rid ourselves decisively of the very real problem they addressed. That problem—how to foster through education the common civic culture upon which the American polity, even still, depends—does not vanish by easy, self-congratulatory resort to the voguish platitudes of antidiscrimination. The Blaine Amendments were woefully inadequate responses to that problem, but responses nonetheless. The empty bromide of religious neutrality is no response at all.

“Methodism in Australia: A History” (O’Brien & Carey, eds.)

In May, Ashgate will release “Methodism in Australia: A History” edited by Glen O’Brien (Sydney College of Divinity) and Hilary M. Carey (University of Bristol). The publisher’s description follows:

Methodism has played a major role in all areas of public life in Australia but has been particularly significant for its influence on education, social welfare, missions to Aboriginal people and the Pacific Islands and the role of women. Drawing together a team of historical experts, Methodism in Australia presents a critical introduction to one of the most important religious movements in Australia’s settlement history and beyond. Offering ground-breaking regional studies of the development of Methodism, this book considers a broad range of issues including Australian Methodist religious experience, worship and music, Methodist intellectuals, and missions to Australia and the Pacific.

Miah, “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation”

Next month, Palgrave Macmillan will release “Muslims, Schooling and the Question of Self-Segregation” by Shamim Miah (University of Huddersfield, UK). The publisher’s description follows:

‘Integration’ or the supposed lack of it by British Muslims has been a 9781137347756ubiquitous feature in political, media and policy discourses over the past decades, often with little or no evidence base. This book is particularly timely as it draws on empirical research amongst both Muslim school students and parents to examine the question of ‘self-segregation’ in the light of key policy developments around ‘race’, faith and citizenship. It aims to contribute towards a national debate on segregation, schooling and Muslims in Britain through deconstructing the received wisdom of ‘Muslim separateness’.

Brinig & Garnett, “Lost Classroom, Lost Community: Catholic Schools’ Importance in Urban America”

Next month, the University of Chicago Press will publish Lost Classroom, Lost Community: Catholic Schools’ Importance in Urban America by Margaret F. Brinig (University of Notre Dame) and Nicole Stelle Garnett (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows.

In the past two decades in the United States, more than 1,600 Catholic elementary and secondary schools have closed, and more than 4,500 charter schools—public schools that are often privately operated and freed from certain regulations—have opened, many in urban areas. With a particular emphasis on Catholic school closures, Lost Classroom, Lost Community examines the implications of these dramatic shifts in the urban educational landscape.

More than just educational institutions, Catholic schools promote the development of social capital—the social networks and mutual trust that form the foundation of safe and cohesive communities. Drawing on data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods and crime reports collected at the police beat or census tract level in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Margaret F. Brinig and Nicole Stelle Garnett demonstrate that the loss of Catholic schools triggers disorder, crime, and an overall decline in community cohesiveness, and suggest that new charter schools fail to fill the gaps left behind.

This book shows that the closing of Catholic schools harms the very communities they were created to bring together and serve, and it will have vital implications for both education and policing policy debates.

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