Looking at Friends and Education in 2010

It has been almost ten years since FRIENDS JOURNAL prepared its last special issue on Friends and Education—the previous one appeared in January 2001. Now, as then, we invited submissions on a variety of perspectives, from Friends schools to Friends involvement in public schools, to homeschooling, and to raising the broader context in which education takes place.

There are a few changes this time. For the special issue in 2001, we solicited articles directly from known authors. For this 2010 issue, that is not the case. In response to a call for submissions that we printed twice in the magazine, posted on our website, and sent out via mass email, we let authors take the initiative in submitting all of the articles we received. In some instances authors queried us in advance about what they were planning to write, but the overall initiative came from them.

This time, in the end we received 38 completed submissions. Of these, we found that nine did not meet our needs, and that another six needed enough further work by the authors to render them unready for us to consider at this time.

That left 23 articles—all of which we deemed strong and ready to share, with only the usual amount of editing on our part. But only about eight features fit in FRIENDS JOURNAL. What to do?

First, we set aside four articles to publish at a later time. And of the remaining 19, we opted to divide them between our magazine (ten articles) and nine articles on our website, http://friendsjournal.org.

As some may have noticed, our website has been buzzing with more and more content recently. We are pleased to bring you more quality Quaker thought and life today by using this online space. We realize that readers without ready access to the Web may miss out, and we are sorry for that. But we see this solution as preferable to not publishing all the strong submissions that we receive.

We regard the articles that appear on the Web and in the magazine to be of equal quality; no effort was made to keep "better" articles for one or the other location. In dividing the articles, we aimed for a good distribution of topics in each set. The tables of contents of both sets appear on pages 3 and 4.

We are very pleased with the material that we have prepared for you. The overall outreach of Friends is likely more concentrated in the realm of education than in any other field. Friends teach in and administer public schools; Friends run a large number of schools ourselves; and many Friends educate children at home. It has been said that the spiritual underpinnings of the Religious Society of Friends are particularly suited to educating and nurturing children, and our success shows that others beyond our Religious Society agree with this conclusion. But how Friends schools fit into Quakerism today is not uncontroversial, and our selection of articles in this issue includes one that raises deep questions about our purpose in maintaining these schools. We commend all of these articles to you—and, as always, we invite your responses for our Forum or for posting on our website.

Looking forward to next year: An announcement of our two topics for 2011 special issues appears on page 4. We encourage you to consider what you would like to see in those issues and, if you feel so led, to submit an article—or to encourage someone else to do so.