TCA Podcast, – “Conversations with Consequences,” Episode 58 – Surviving The COVID Quarantine With Meghan Cox Gurdon & Jim Wahlberg!

On this week’s Conversations with Consequences, Dr. Grazie Christie and TCA colleague Maureen Ferguson speak with Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal about her book, “The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction.” Shedding light on what families can do together during these days of isolation, Meghan shares some enlightening research on how reading-aloud to your family members–of any age–can be good not only for the soul, but the brain. The children’s book critic also shares some must-reads as we approach these summer months.

With so many living alone and feeling the impact of the quarantine, TCA colleague Ashley McGuire joins Grazie for a moving chat with former addict Jim Wahlberg of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. The trio discuss some alarming statistics on what some health officials are calling ‘deaths of despair’ and how we, as Catholics, can help bring light into the lives of those suffering around us.

1. Increasing school choice opportunities: Vouchers, scholarships and tax credits will help low-income families implement school choice, By Scott Walker, The Washington Times, May 29, 2020, Pg. B1, Opinion

Every child deserves access to an excellent education. It should not matter what a student looks like, where she or he lives or what her or his parents do for a living. It may be in a traditional public school like the one my children attended or a charter, choice, private, virtual or home school that is right for their family.

On Wednesday, I spoke to supporters of quality education in one of the hardest-hit areas in America: New York City. The nonprofit Champions for Quality Education supports more than 32,000 students in 121 under-resourced Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of New York. Of the students they serve, 70 percent live near or below the federal poverty line. Additionally, 28 percent are not Catholic, and 58 percent are minority students. The values and the education they receive in these schools are critical to their success.

The shutdown of schools in New York and across the country has been a real challenge for students, parents and teachers. It is particularly difficult for private schools that do not have the same funding streams as public schools. A nationwide survey of private schools from Ed Choice showed that 65 percent of the leaders of the schools said they were “extremely” or “very” worried about their families struggling financially. Fifty-one percent said they were “extremely” or “very” worried about losing enrollment next year.

That is true all over the country.

Unless they receive some assistance from a voucher, scholarship or tax credit, many of these families will not be able to afford to keep their children in the school of their choice. Not only is this bad for the students and their families, but it will also be a significant financial burden on the taxpayers when they shift to public schools.

The best approach is to continue to provide opportunities or parents to pick the school of their choice. Now is the time to keep support through vouchers, scholarships and tax credits. It is also the time for other states and jurisdictions to consider adopting similar programs. We need to remind policy-makers that this is important for both the education these students receive and the relief it provides to public schools.

Today, more than ever, every child deserves access to an excellent education.

Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin.

2. Illinois church reopening restrictions ‘not mandatory’, By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, May 29, 2020, 6:00 AM

The state of Illinois relaxed its restrictions on churches on Thursday, after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh ordered the state to respond to three lawsuits brought by churches.

At a press conference May 28, Gov. JB Pritzker said that the state’s public health department would be issuing “guidance, not mandatory restrictions” for faith leaders to hold religious services, loosening the state’s restrictions on religious gatherings during the pandemic.

The Thomas More Society, which had filed several lawsuits on behalf of several Illinois churches against the state’s public health restrictions, said the announcement was a victory for religious freedom.

3. Federal judge weighs Delaware coronavirus restrictions on churches, including ban on Communion, By Randall Chase, Associated Press, May 29, 2020

A federal judge is weighing whether to issue a restraining order to prohibit Delaware’s governor from imposing limitations on worship services because of the coronavirus.

After a telephone hearing lasting nearly hours Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Colm Connolly indicated that he would issue a ruling Friday after receiving more information from state attorneys about Democratic Gov. John Carney’s restrictions.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Allan Bullock, a well-known Wilmington pastor and community activist, claimed that Carney’s restrictions on worship services are unconstitutional and discriminatory.

4. House passes bill condemning China’s treatment of religious minorities, By Catholic News Service, May 29, 2020

In a late vote May 27, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a measure condemning the Chinese Communist Party for forcing Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities into indoctrination camps in the country’s Xinjiang region.

The Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, which passed 413-1, also recommends a tougher U.S. response to the human rights abuses suffered by these religious minorities. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, was the only opponent.

5. For top U.S. virus experts, faith and science work together, By Elana Schor, Associated Press, May 28, 2020, 12:01 PM

The relationship between faith and science has faced its share of strain during the coronavirus pandemic — but for some scientists leading the nation’s response, the two have worked in concert.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins founded a nonprofit focused on “the harmony between science and biblical faith.” Anthony Fauci, NIH’s senior infectious disease specialist, has said he isn’t active in organized religion but credited his Jesuit schooling with burnishing the values that drive his public service.

And Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, describes his faith and his public health work as mutually reinforcing.

6. Religious freedom in jeopardy as China passes new Hong Kong ‘security laws’, By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency, May 28, 2020, 1:25 PM

A Hong Kong cardinal told CNA that changes to Hong Kong’s status in China could threaten the religious freedom of Catholics and other religious believers.

The legislature of China on May 28 approved a resolution to impose new “security laws” on its formerly autonomous region, Hong Kong— a move pro-democracy protestors and Catholics in the country fear will undermine Hong Kongers’ freedoms, including freedom of religion.

The new laws aim to criminalize anything Beijing considers “foreign interference,” secessionist activities, or subversion of state power, the Washington Post reports. The laws also could allow Chinese security forces to operate in the city.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, Bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, told CNA that he worries that the new laws will be used to subvert the freedom of religion that Hong Kongers currently enjoy.

TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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