Thursday, July 21, 2011

Memphis Tennessee School Board Refuses To Open Schools Until City Pays $55 Million

(CNN) -- Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, will not open for the new school year until the school board receives at least $55 million of the money it is owed by the city.

The Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners voted on the delay Tuesday night. However, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. told CNN Wednesday he is working toward a resolution, and "the children will not be caught in the middle."

The board vote indefinitely delayed school opening "pending the resolution of a long-standing funding dispute with the City of Memphis," school system attorney Dorsey Hopson said in a statement.

The board says it is owed a total of $151 million, according to the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis. That includes what the city still owes for the 2008-09 school year, shortfalls on two subsequent school years and $78 million for the upcoming year.

The board wants $55 million immediately to open the schools, Martavius Jones, school board president, told CNN Wednesday. That "is the magic number," he said.

Board members passed a resolution asking that the remaining $23 million be paid after the city collects the funding in taxes, according to CNN affiliate WMC. Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash was directed last week to cut that $78 million from the current budget, WMC said.

Schools had been set to open August 8, with teachers due to report August 1.

"Someone has to assume responsibility for the collective education of the children in the city of Memphis, and I don't think the City Council can be exempt from that responsibility," board member Sara Lewis told WMC Tuesday night.

The school district sued the city in 2008 because of the funding dispute, Hopson said.

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Ohio Educators Take Back Scolding Of Mount Vernon School Teacher

The Ohio Department of Education is rescinding a "letter of admonishment" from the record of a Christian teacher who was fired for integrating his beliefs in the classroom, according to a report.

The state agency also is looking into the Rutherford Institute's charges that the due process Linkrights of the teacher, John Freshwater, were violated and Education Department regulations were broken. The institute said Freshwater was not notified properly, nor was he given the opportunity to defend himself.

WND has reported on Freshwater's fight several times, including when the Rutherford Institute decided to join the case involving the Ohio teacher who was fired after he kept a Bible on his desk and suggested that students "think critically about the school's science curriculum, particularly as it relates to evolution theories."

Freshwater, a 24-year veteran in the classroom, was suspended in 2008 by the Mount Vernon School District in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

Campus Crusade For Christ Changes It's Name To "Cru" Removes Christ

Campus Crusade for Christ, one of the largest Christian ministries in the world, announced on Tuesday that it is ditching its old name and adopting a new one – Cru.

The 60-year-old organization decided on the name change partly because of the negative associations that the word "crusade" carries.

"It acts as a barrier to the very people that we want to connect with. It’s also a hindrance to many Christians who would like to partner with us but find the word Crusade offensive," the ministry said in a statement.

As many as one in five persons who were willing to consider the Gospel became less interested in talking to CCC after hearing the name, the organization found.

"We are changing the name for the sake of more effective ministry."

Over the past two years, a team of 30 staff worked with branding agencies and came up with hundreds of new name suggestions. In all, there were 1,600 names that were proposed.

The Board of Directors signed off on the name Cru this year.

While Cru – a nickname that began at the local level in the mid-90s – effectively removes the word "crusade" and its negative connotations from the organization's name, it also does away with the word "Christ."

The ministry insists that they are not trying to eliminate "Christ" from its name. In fact, the name change allows them to more effectively serve its mission of taking the Gospel to the world, the organization maintains.

"Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name."

Steve Douglass, president of CCC, stressed, "Our mission and DNA remain the same." That mission, he explained, is "to give every person on the planet the opportunity to say yes to Jesus."

"It is all about fulfilling The Great Commission."

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