March 13, 2010
SOUTH AFRICA—CORPORATE GOVERNANCE CODE APPLICABLE TO CSOS NOW IN EFFECT
The King III Code of Corporate Governance has become effective in South Africa. In a change from the King II Code promulgated in 2009, King III says that it applies to “all entities regardless of the manner and form of incorporation or establishment and whether in the public, private sectors or non-profit sectors.” According to the drafters, the principles contained in the report have purportedly been drafted so that “every entity can apply them and, in doing so, achieve good governance.” It is debatable whether that is true – the Code is full of rigorous requirements that are relevant to companies (and was originally intended to cover corporations regulated by the new Companies Act). Whether it should be applicable to CSOs without some recognition of their special issues and, in many cases, small size, remains questionable. ICCSL will be publishing an article about the King III Code in the April issue of IJCSL.
CHINA—NEW REGULATION OF FOREIGN DONATIONS NOW EFFECTIVE
The Notice (No. 63 ) of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on “Issues concerning the Administration of Foreign Exchange Donated to or by Domestic Institutions” became effective March 1, 2010. Although the regulation states that it was promulgated “to improve the administration of donated foreign exchange and facilitate the donated foreign exchange receipts and payments,” many CSOs and academic leaders are concerned about the tenor of the regulation, according to the South China Morning Post. It requires that “receipts and payments of foreign exchange of domestic institutions shall be transacted through a donated foreign exchange account, which shall be set up at the designated foreign exchange banks (“Banks”) and incorporated into the foreign exchange account management system by the Banks.” In addition, an application to set up a foreign exchange account for a donation must be accompanied by “a certificate of registration of the overseas non-profit organization (with its Chinese translation attached).”
March 9, 2010
Charter Schools Force New York Public Schools to Develop Marketing Strategies
I remember when I was a high school student. Public schools did not develop or maintain marketing strategies. The schools opened their doors, and students students showed up. But all this has changed.
The New York Times is reporting that as charter schools have grown in New York City -- both in number and in popularity -- public school principals "are suddenly being forced to compete for bodies." Accordingly, "among their many challenges, some of these principals, who had never given much thought to attracting students, have been spending considerable time toiling over ways to market their schools."
According to the Times, these principals are
revamping school logos, encouraging students and teachers to wear T-shirts emblazoned with the new designs. They emphasize their after-school programs as an alternative to the extended days at many charter schools. A few have worked with professional marketing firms to create sophisticated Web sites and blogs.
Brochures, fliers and open houses have become all but required in neighborhoods like Harlem, where parents once simply sent their children to the nearby school but now can enter lotteries for two dozen charters.
Indeed, these two groups of nonprofit entities are slugging it out for dominance in the marketplace. Will our education system -- or the art of educating our young people -- be the ultimate winner?
Steps to Starting a New Charity
Yesterday's edition of USA Today contained an article on the steps to starting a charitable organization. The article is written in layperson's language. In addition to the business and tax advice it shares with its readers, the article contains this gem of a quote attributed to Melissa Brown of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University: "You need absolute, passionate commitment to whatever the issue is." Sound advice, I say.
March 8, 2010
Controversy in Boulder
On Thursday, Colorado TV station 9News broke the story that the Sacred Heart of Jesus School, a Roman Catholic school in Boulder, would not allow a student to return next year because his parents are a lesbian couple. The story has since taken off and developed a life of its own. I thought I would survey some of the reaction to the school's decision.
As an initial matter, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver (which has ultimate authority over the school's policies and decisions), defended the decision, saying, according to Catholic News Agency, that “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”
I found some interesting comments on Towelroad.com, a Website that describes itself as "A site with homosexual tendencies." Maybe the most interesting comment I found there was the one that questioned whether the Church would now refrain from enrolling children of parents who are divorced, remarried, or using contraceptives.
I found strong support for the school's decision on a website called Les Femmes -- The Truth: Looking at Life from a Catholic Point of View. There, "Mary Ann" writes:
So a big public thank-you to Archbishop Charles Chaput and the administrators of Sacred Heart. Spend a minute to say a prayer for all involved in the decision and send the Archdiocese of Denver a big thank-you for upholding Catholic truth.
I believe the controversy highlights one of several current conflicts in law and religion -- or maybe society and religion. We would all agree that the school has not broken the law. I'll go one step further and say that as a minister of religion myself and as the former Religious Liberty Director of the New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, I believe the Sacred Heart of Jesus School and the Archdiocese of Denver have every right to formulate and implement school policy in keeping with the tenets and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, how do we reconcile this right with our desire to promote and live in a society free of discrimination? How do we reconcile our view that Sacred Heart of Jesus School is right to stand on Church teachings and refuse to re-admit the student with the Supreme Court's decision in Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)?
We may argue that because sexual orientation is not a "protected class," no public policy arguments could be made to strip the Roman Catholic Church -- or any church, for that matter -- from its Tax-exempt status for denying school admission to children of gay and lesbian parents or -- to make the argument I found on Towelroad.com -- children whose parents are divorced, remarried, or who use contraceptives. But what if, ten or twenty years in the future, sexual orientation were to become a protected class; would churches who stand on what they see as religious principles lose their tax- exempt status?
I'm sorting through this issue in a chapter of my new book (Current Conflicts in Law and Religion). I'd welcome your comments and feedback, either on the Blog or at my e-mail -- email@example.com. Thanks.
Religious Violence Kills 200 in Nigeria
MSNBC.com is reporting that at least 200 people, most of them Christians, were killed in religious violence in three mostly Christian villages in Nigeria on Sunday. According to MSNBC.com, Red Cross spokesman Robin Waubo stated that the violence appeared to be reprisal attacks following the January unrest in Jos, Nigeria, when 300 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.
U.S. Department of Education Announces "Race to the Top" Finalists
In July 2009, the Obama Administration committed $5 billion in federal funds to state governments that embrace the administration's ideas for reforming the nation's schools. The money was to finance the Race to the Top Fund which will require states to meet a series of conditions to earn points and boost their chances of receiving additional Department of Education funding. Grants from the fund will be used to encourage education reforms, with a focus on developing tougher academic standards, finding better ways to recruit and keep effective teachers, tracking student performance, and developing plans of action to turn around failing schools.
In establishing the first phase of the competition, the DOE asked competing states to document past education reform successes and outline their plans to extend reforms using college and career-ready standards and assessments, build a workforce of highly effective educators, create educational data systems to support student achievement, and turn around their lowest-performing schools.
The Department has now announced the sixteen finalists in Phase One of the competition. According to an article appearing in today's Philanthropy News Digest,
Chosen from a pool of forty-one candidates, the phase-one finalists are Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Tennessee. In mid-March, the finalists will present their proposals to the panel that reviewed the applications. The DOE has not set a predetermined number of winners or a set amount of money to be awarded during phase one, though it is expected that no more than half of the $4 billion being awarded directly to states will be decided in the first phase. The phase-one winners will be announced in April, with applications for phase two due on June 1.
PND quotes Education Secretary Arne Duncan as saying:
These states are an example for the country of what is possible when adults come together to do the right thing for children. Everyone that applied for Race to the Top is charting a path for education reform in America. I salute all of the applicants for their hard work, and I encourage non-finalists to reapply for phase two....We are setting a high bar and we anticipate very few winners in phase one. But this isn't just about the money. It's about collaboration among all stakeholders, building a shared agenda, and challenging ourselves to improve the way our students learn. I feel that every state that has applied is a winner — and the biggest winners of all are the students.