All your children belong to us

Is This the Creepiest Show Promo MSNBC Has Ever Run? asks Mike Riggs on Reason’s Hit & Run. Host Melissa Harris-Perry said:

We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had a private notion of children, your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.

So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.

Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s we start making better investments.

Hillary Clinton “made this same point more digestible for the public by ladling on warm-fuzzy sauce about a “village” raising a child,” writes Riggs.

Here’s your counterpoint, from 2011, on whether the U.S. is “investing” enough in education. Another half-trillion or so ought to turn things around, I think. No wonder Ron Paul’s getting into home-schooling.

Harris-Perry, a political science professor at Tulane, has a daughter. Or, I guess you could say that a female child with some of Harris-Perry’s genes belongs to the New Orleans collective.

‘I am the first’

In her college admissions essay, Sara recalled her disastrous start as a counselor in the summer bridge program for new students at her San Jose charter school, Downtown College Prep. An incoming 12th grader, she couldn’t control her group of new ninth graders. She wanted to quit — but she didn’t. Sara and her fellow counselors stuck with it, took control and turned their rowdy crew into winners of the spirit award.

When Sara started at Santa Clara University, she felt that she didn’t belong. But she stuck with it, joined clubs and made a place for herself. She had to leave for a year when the money ran out. She worked, saved, came back to finish her bachelor’s degree and now works at a high-tech company.

I met Sara when I was reporting and writing Our School, a book about DCP’s struggles to prepare disadvantaged students for college. I saw her last week at DCP’s event promoting their college success report, I Am the First. The school spent two years surveying its graduates — successful and struggling — to determine what influences college success for low-income, first-generation college students.

At the event, students and graduates held up signs: “I am the first in my family to learn English . . . I am the first in my family to go to high school . . . I am the first in my family to join a college fraternity . . . I am the first to study law.”

DCP is 90 percent low-income and 96 percent Latino; 80 percent of students enter with below-grade-level skills in reading and math. Forty-one percent of parents haven’t completed high school (or, often, started it).

Nearly 500 students have graduated since the first graduating class of ’04. The graduation rate for the first three classes is 40 percent — more than four times the rate for low-income students nationwide.

Those who drop out can talk to a school counselor about how to return to college. One graduate worked for three years in a factory, tightening screws, before going back to community college. He’s been accepted at a University of California at Santa Cruz. He wants to be a history teacher.

What leads to success?

“Empowered” students who take responsibility for their education are more likely to “advocate for themselves” and earn a degree, the survey found. DCP will encourage students to take leadership roles, such as Sara’s stint as a summer bridge counselor.

College counseling should include career counseling: For first-generation students, job one is qualifying for a job.

Teachers are the most important influence on students’ college plans, so DCP plans to make “every teacher a college counselor.”

The school also will devote more energy to helping parents handle the college transition. Sixty percent of DCP students live at home while attending college to save money.

“A college plan must include a financial plan,” the college counselor stressed. Two-thirds of students who leave college do so for financial reasons.

Finally, “college is an inside game.” Students need to be taught the unwritten rules. What do you do about a dreadful roommate? How do you form a study group?  When should you ask a professor for help? DCP will “teach college as a second language.”

Are teachers conservative by nature?

If Republicans showed respect for teachers, they’d discover people with “conservative values” who might enter the “big tent” writes Colleen Hyland, a New York teacher, in The Weekly Standard.  by nature.

Conservative values go hand in hand with teaching. Teachers see the evidence every day that stable families produce well-adjusted kids who succeed in the classroom. Many teachers are people of faith. Most of us are proud Americans who say the pledge every day with our students and mean it. We teach kids how to show respect and use proper manners by modeling them ourselves. We stress personal accountability.

Teachers are receptive to the idea of limited government and local control, Hyland writes. “Layer upon layer of government bureaucracy” forces teachers to  ”spend too much of their day with redundant paperwork, wrestling with standards that are overly complex and often contradictory.”

Get the Department of Education off our backs. . . . Speak about deregulating our classrooms and we are all ears.

Of course Republicans would have to “talk about teachers as if you actually like them,” Hyland writes. Treat them with respect.

Whether it’s coming from administrators or politicians, teachers resent -top-down demands that belittle their expertise and ignore their experience. Give teachers credit for what we do as professionals. We are facing a collapsing American culture that is at odds with education in general. It is that same collapsing culture that unites conservatives in support of traditional -values. Despite voting consistently for liberal candidates who actively court their votes, most teachers I know lead fairly traditional lives that respect faith, family, country, and community.

While some teachers are “entrenched liberals,” others feel “the only respect they receive comes from the Democratic party,” Hyland writes. “They would welcome an invitation into the big tent of the GOP.”

Does she have a point?

 

Too much cheering = no diploma

Darren isn’t the only one annoyed by yahoo-ing family members at graduation ceremonies.

In Cincinnati, a graduate was denied his diploma because of too much cheering by family and friends. He’ll have to perform 20 hours of community service — or get family members to do it — before the school will release his diploma.

A South Carolina mother was arrested for disorderly conduct when she cheered for her daughter. School officials had warned before the ceremony that people cheering or screaming would be booted. At least the penalty — a $225 fine — will be borne by the offender, not the student.

Merry Christmas to all

Christmas is about family. My daughter’s here from New York City. My sister, her husband and my nephew (unemployed college graduate) live nearby. My brother, his wife and their three kids are visiting from Portland.

But my mother’s not here. A few weeks ago, she fell and hit her head. She’s now in a nursing/rehab facility trying to regain her mental abilities.  At first, the doctors said her confusion was a result of the head injury and predicted she’d recover. Then she got worse.

Three weeks ago, my mother was doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. Now she is very confused and disoriented. She starts sentences and can’t finish. Her memory — short-term and long-term — is very poor. She can recognize family members, though.

My sister was there for the first week after the accident. My daughter and I flew down last weekend. My niece and her boyfriend, who live in LA, are spending the holiday weekend with her. Then my brother and his family will drive down to see her. I’m flying down for a second visit in two weeks, when we hope she’ll be going home with a live-in caregiver.

I’m so grateful for being in a family that pulls together in times of trouble as well as cheer.

 

 

Judges redefine parenthood

California courts are redefining who counts as a parent, reports the Sacramento Bee. A woman who never adopted her ex-girlfriend’s children was declared a co-parent by a Sacramento appeals court because she “acted like one – providing for them financially, cleaning up after them when they got sick, and volunteering at their school.”

As a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, the woman couldn’t have adopted the children without risking expulsion from the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the court ruled.

In recent years, courts have assigned parental rights and responsibilities to adults who aren’t biological or adoptive parents, said McGeorge School of Law Professor Larry Levine.

“The state has a great interest in having those who want the benefits of parenthood to take on the responsibilities and obligations that go with parenthood,” he said. “That’s true for straight and gay couples.”

“Now the courts are starting to ask, ‘Who do these children think their parents are?’” said Deborah Wald, who handled S.Y.’s case at the appellate level. “Courts aren’t willing to take children away from people whom they rely upon.”

S.B.’s lawyer, Elizabeth Niemi warned single parents to “be careful about who you allow to have a relationship with your kids.”

‘Nothing worked’

Nathan Glazer’s Warning should be heeded, writes Howard Husock in City Journal.  In The Limits of Social Policy, the Harvard sociologist reviewed the research on education, training and poverty programs including the Job Corps, Head Start, Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the school breakfast program and early-childhood education programs.

“At least some of the states known for high expenditure on education and social needs have shown remarkably poor records.”

“After having done badly in schooling, we do not do well at making up for the failure through work-training programs, though we have certainly tried.”

And crucially: “The evaluations of specific programs that were available during the first ten years after the launching of the [War on Poverty] confirmed the verdict: nothing worked, and, in particular, nothing that one did in education worked.”

A neoconservative, Glazer came to see social policy as grandiose and too focused on “remaking” individuals instead of supporting families, writes Husock.

 Any social policy, he writes in Limits, must be judged against “the simple reality that every piece of social policy substitutes for some traditional arrangement, whether good or bad, a new arrangement in which public authorities take over, at least in part, the role of the family, of the ethnic and neighborhood group, of voluntary associations.”

Traditional agents are weakened and the needy are encouraged to depend on the government, Glazer wrote. That increases the demand for more social programs, which inevitably fail to produce the desired results.

 

 

To unify the family, teen sex sleepovers?

Family life would be happier if U.S. parents let their teen-agers have sex with their lovers at home, argues Amy Schalet, a U-Mass sociology professor, in the New York Times.  For her book, Not Under My Roof, Schalet interviewed 130 white, middle-class, not-very-religious American and Dutch parents.

While American parents think they should “steer teenage children away from relationships that will do more harm than good,” Dutch parents regard teenagers “as capable of falling in love, and of reasonably assessing their own readiness for sex.”

Dutch parents are more likely to talk to their children “about sex and its unintended consequences and urge them to use contraceptives and practice safe sex,” Schalet asserts.

Normalizing teenage sex under the family roof opens the way for more responsible sex education. In a national survey, 7 of 10 Dutch girls reported that by the time they were 16, their parents had talked to them about pregnancy and contraception. It seems these conversations helped teenagers prepare, responsibly, for active sex lives: 6 of 10 Dutch girls said they were on the pill when they first had intercourse. Widespread use of oral contraceptives contributes to low teenage pregnancy rates — more than 4 times lower in the Netherlands than in the United States.

However, “sleepovers aren’t a direct route to family happiness.” Good to know.

The op-ed doesn’t compare sex education, contraceptive use or pregnancy rates for white middle-class Americans and Dutch teens. It’s possible to discuss the risks of sex without providing a bedroom, writes Stephen Kruiser on PJ Media.

A no-sex-under-my-roof policy is a great way to get adult children to move out of the house, suggests Instapundit.

Raise your hand if it feels weird to have sex in your parent’s house with your spouse.  Yes, I thought so.

 

Study: Women scientists don’t face bias

Women’s choices — not male bias — explain why so few women advance in science careers, concludes a study by Cornell researchers Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams, which is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The focus on “sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort,” they argue. “Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.”

Looking at two decades of data, the researchers found that women scientists are more likely than men to step off the career track.

This situation is caused mainly by women’s choices, both freely made and constrained by biology and society, such as choices to defer careers to raise children, follow spouses’ career moves, care for elderly parents, limit job searches geographically, and enhance work-home balance.

Family-friendly policies, such as the option to work part-time and delay the tenure clock, could help women advance in science careers, they write.

Ceci and Williams are married to each other and have three daughters, notes Lisa Belkin in the New York Times.

She links to an interview with Dr. Janet Davison Rowley, now 85, “the matriarch of modern cancer genetics.”  The mother of four, Dr. Rowley worked part-time until her youngest child was 12.