Archive | December, 2011

Adult Predators: Teaching children about boundaries

30 Dec

Frequently there are reports in the media that some adult occupying a position of trust has abused that trust and inappropriately had contact with a minor child. Adults accused of inappropriate contact come from all social strata, religions, races, and occupations. Seattle PI.Com is reporting in the article, Voice teacher accused of persuading student to strip to sing better:

A former community college instructor in Tacoma faces accusations that he convinced a student that she could improve her vocal range by getting naking or touching herself sexually.

The News Tribune says Kevin Gausepohl, 37, is charged with seven counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer. The charges he faces are midemeanors.

He is a former music instructor at Tacoma Community College. He is accused of telling a Gig Harbor student — a 17-year-old girl attending college as part of the Running Start program — that he was studying how sexual arousal could change vocal range.

This guy abused his authority and violated his position of trust.

A rudimentary definition of sexual abuse is found at the link Sexual Abuse:

If a child is involved, the following activities are a few examples considered to be sexual abuse:

· Touching of a child’s private parts

· A child touching someone else’s genitals

· Sexual intercourse

· Obscene phone calls

· Watching sexual activity

Keep in mind these examples do not constitute a legal definition of sexual abuse. Each state defines what constitutes sexual abuse in that state. Generally, sexual abuse occurs when an adult person makes sexual contact with a child or there is forced sexual contact by a peer of the child.

For a good description of personal boundaries see the descriptions by Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen who describes both healthy and unhealthy boundaries. 

A personal boundary is a space around yourself that gives you a clear sense of who you are and where you’re going. When you choose who you allow into your physical, emotional and mental space you’re activating your personal boundaries.

For example, if your mother or child asks for a ride to the mall and you can’t say no without guilt, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries. If your colleague consistently sloughs off her work for you to do and you haven’t figured out how to stop, then you’re not protecting your personal boundaries.

The key to healthy relationships is a strong sense of personal boundaries. If your boundaries are collapsed or inflexible, your relationships will suffer….

Healthy Boundaries

Personal boundaries are evident and effective when you know who you are, and treat yourself and others with respect. If you have healthy boundaries, you may:

Feel free to say yes or no without guilt, anger or fear.

Refuse to tolerate abuse or disrespect.

Know when a problem is yours or another person’s – and refuse to take on others’ problems.

Have a strong sense of identity.

Respect yourself.

Share responsibility with others, and expect reciprocity in relationships.

Feel freedom, security, peace, joy and confidence.

How do you set healthy boundaries?

Setting healthy boundaries involves taking care of yourself and knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want. The best time to set personal boundaries is before they’re being encroached upon.

Two steps to healthy personal boundaries:

Be honest with yourself with your true feelings and opinions.

Share your feelings and opinions with others.

The college professor was not who many feel would fit the picture of a molester, but he was. So, are the Mary Kays of this world, molesters all.

What is a Criminal Background Check?

The legal definition of a “criminal background check” focuses upon the review of public records. Legal Definition of Criminal Background Check

A criminal history background information check is the review of any and all records containing any information collected and stored in the criminal record repository of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the state Department of Public Safety, or any other repository of criminal history records, involving a pending arrest or conviction by a criminal justice agency, including, but not limited to, child abuse crime information, conviction record information, fingerprint cards, correctional induction and release information, identifiable descriptions and notations of convictions; provided, however, dissemination of such information is not forbidden by order of any court of competent jurisdiction or by federal law. Criminal history background information generally does not include any analytical records or investigative reports that contain criminal intelligence information or criminal investigation information….

Parents should be aware of any criminal record, but they should focus on crimes of violence and sexual crimes like rape. Is the person a known registered sex offender?

The US Department of State describes the different ways that an individual can demonstrate that they do not have a criminal record. State Department Criminal Records Check

LOCAL POLICE CHECK: Go to your local police department where you reside or last resided in the United States, request that the police conduct a criminal records search and provide you with a document reflecting that there is no history of a criminal record. Local police departments may require your personal appearance in order to conduct the search. Your local police department can phrase this in whatever way they deem appropriate. The document should then be authenticated for use abroad following our guidance on authentication or legalization of documents.

FBI RECORDS CHECK: The Criminal Justice Information Services  centralizes criminal justice information and provides accurate and timely information and services to local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, the private sector, academia, and other government agencies. The subject of an identification record may obtain a copy thereof by submitting a written request to the CJIS . The request must be accompanied by satisfactory proof of identity (consisting of name, date and place of birth, and a set of roll-inked fingerprint impressions) and a certified check or money order for the $18 processing fee. The FBI will not provide copies of arrest records to individuals other than the subject of the record. Requests should be directed to FBI CJIS Division, Attn: SCU, Mod. D-2, 1000 Custer Hollow Rd., Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306. If there is no criminal record, a report reflecting this fact is provided.

If you are interested in a criminal background check, the CASA program lists resources for each state. Casa State Background List

How to Recognize Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

Shelia Wilkinson describes signs of sexual abuse in children. Sexual Abuse Behaviors Among the signs she tells parents to observe are:

1. Pay attention to your child’s posture. If your child suddenly has pain or difficulty sitting or walking, talk to them. Check out their bodies but be prepared that they may fight you on this. Abusers often threaten to harm the children or their families or pets and your child may be terrified.

2. Look for adult behaviors. Suddenly seductive rubbing on or around the genital area, using sexual words or adult, flirty behavior. …

3. Watch for sudden shyness or fearfulness. Refusing suddenly to change in front of others or in gym class is common. So are nightmares, bedwetting and sleeplessness….

4. Know your child’s habits. Are they suddenly eating a great deal more or less? Do they want to be alone more or never alone at all? Are they afraid or reluctant to go places they always enjoyed? Do they talk about or try running away? Daycare, school, friends’ and relatives’ homes, the nursery at church, all seem like safe places but these are the places where kids most often get abused.

5. For older children, pregnancy or contracting an STD may not be promiscuity. It may be sexual abuse. ….

6. Talk to others–discreetly. Getting to know your child’s teachers, principal, nursery workers and sitters is extremely important if you want to ensure your child’s safety.

7. Listen to your child. The last warning sign is the most important. If your child talks about or reports sexual abuse, believe it to be true. The evidence is very clear that this is not something that children make up…..

8. Remember to take action if you have suspicions…..

Don’t be afraid to gently ask your child about their experiences in different settings like school, daycare or recreational activities. Listen to them and any cues they provide. Abuse sometimes happens to infants and toddlers. Since an infant is too young to verbalize what is happening there are certain signs that a parent should look for. Dr. F. Felicia Ferrara’s video describes what parents should observe in infants and toddlers. Infant and Toddler Abuse Parents should look for strange rashes and an unusual fear of people as possible clues that something might be wrong.

What to do if You Suspect Your Child has been Abused or Molested

The National Child Trauma Stress Network  has excellent resource material available. National Trauma Stress Network They suggest the following actions’ if you suspect your child has been abused:

1. Stay calm…..

2. Believe your child, and let your child know that he or she is not to blame for what happened. Praise your child for being brave and for telling about the sexual abuse.

3. Protect your child by getting him or her away from the abuser and immediately reporting the abuse to local authorities. If you are not sure who, to contact, call the ChildHelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453; http:// or, for immediate help, call 911.

4. Get help. In addition to getting medical care to address any physical damage your child may have suffered (including sexually transmitted diseases), it is important that your child have an opportunity to talk with a mental health professional who specializes in child sexual abuse. Therapy has been shown to successfully reduce distress in families and the effects of sexual abuse on children. Many communities have local Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) that offer coordinated support and services to victims of child abuse, including sexual abuse. For a state-by-state listing of accredited CACs, visit the website of the National Children’s Alliance

5. Reassure your child that he or she is loved, accepted and an important family member. Don’t make promises you can’t keep (such as saying you won’t tell anyone about the abuse), but let your child know that you will do everything in your power to protect him or her from harm.

6. Keep your child informed about what will happen next, particularly with regard to legal actions. (For more information on helping abused children cope with the stress of dealing with the legal system, see the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s factsheet, Child Sexual Abuse: Coping with the Emotional Stress of the Legal System, available on the web. 

It is not the child’s fault that he or she has been abused It is the fault of the abuser and parents must emphasize that what occurred is not the child’s fault.

What can Parents do to Prevent Their Child from being a Victim

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should take the following steps. Sex Abuse Prevention

· Talk to your child about sexual abuse. If your child’s school sponsors a sexual abuse program, discuss what he learned.

· Teach your child which body parts are private (parts covered by a bathing suit) and the proper names of those parts. Let him know that his body belongs to him. Tell him to yell “no” or “stop” to anyone who may threaten him sexually.

· Listen when your child tries to tell you something, especially when it seems hard for him to talk about it. Make sure your child knows it’s OK to tell you about any attempt to molest him or touch him in a way that made him feel uncomfortable, no matter who the abuser may be. Let him know he can trust you and that you will not be angry with him if he tells you.

· Give your child enough time and attention. Weekly family meetings can be used to talk about all good and bad experiences.

· Know the adults and children with whom your child is spending time. Be careful about allowing your child to spend time alone or in out-of-the-way places with other adults or older children. Make visits to your child’s caregiver without notice. Ask your child about his visits to the caregiver or with child sitters.

· Never let your child enter a stranger’s home without a parent or trusted adult. Door-to-door fund-raising is particularly risky for unsupervised children.

· Check to see if your child’s school has an abuse prevention program for the teachers and children. If it doesn’t, start one.

· Tell someone in authority if you suspect that your child or someone else’s child is being abused.

The world can sometimes harbor dangers, but parents must be ever vigilant and always aware of their child’s world to prevent predators from robbing their child of their childhood. Hopefully, the vigilance of the parents and the community will prevent more children from an experience that will take away their childhood and sometimes can take their life.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Parents giving liquor to minors: New Mercer Island law

28 Dec

SeattlePI.Com reprinted an article by Amy Graff, which originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Kegging It With the Kids: Is OK for Parents to Drink With Their Teens?Graff reports about a European study of parental influence.

A team of European researchers set out to test the theory that parents can guide their teenagers into drinking responsibly by serving them alcohol. They looked at 428 Dutch families with two children between the ages of 13 and 15. Parents and teens completed questionnaires on drinking habits at the outset and again one and two years later.

The study results, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that the more teenagers were allowed to drink at home, the more they drank outside of home. The reverse was also true, with out-of-home drinking leading to more drinking at home.

What’s more, teens who drank under their parents’ watch or on their own had an elevated risk of developing alcohol-related problems. Drinking problems included trouble with school work, missed school days and getting into fights with other people, among other issues.

The findings, according to the lead researcher on the study, Dr. Haske van der Vorst, suggest that teen drinking begets more drinking — and, in some cases, alcohol problems — regardless of where and with whom they drink.

“If parents want to reduce the risk that their child will become a heavy drinker or problem drinker in adolescence,” van der Vorst of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, says “they should try to postpone the age at which their child starts drinking.”

Well, duh. This is like saying give a college student a ticket to Cancun for Spring Break, they’ll go and have a good time. Hazelton.Org has some good reasons parents should not provide alcohol to children and the reasons can be summed up with the thought, someone has  to be the adult.    

Brian M. Rosenthal reports in the Seattle Times article, New city underage-drinking law targets parents:

Starting next month, Mercer Island parents will be held responsible for underage drinking at their homes even if they are out of town and unaware it is happening.

The recently passed “social host” ordinance, believed to be the first of its kind in the state, will take effect Jan. 13. The measure imposes a $250 fine on those who own, rent or lease property where teenage drinking has occurred.

It is already illegal for adults to provide alcohol to minors or for parents to let their underage children drink. The new ordinance takes the idea of parent responsibility a step further, City Councilmember Mike Cero said.

“What makes this different is that the parents don’t have to have any knowledge of wrongdoing to be held accountable,” he said. “They could be in Timbuktu (and) have no knowledge of alcohol being consumed.”

Cero acknowledged the measure is an extreme step, but he said the need to fight underage drinking outweighed concerns about infringement on personal liberties. He argued that parents have a duty to make sure their children are acting safely.

What is Substance Abuse?

HELPGUIDE.ORG defines substance abuse and also describes some of the traits of a substance abuser.

Drug abuse, also known as substance abuse, involves the repeated and excessive use of chemical substances to achieve a certain effect. These substances may be “street” or “illicit” drugs, illegal due to their high potential for addiction and abuse. They also may be drugs obtained with a prescription, used for pleasure rather than for medical reasons.

Different drugs have different effects. Some, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, may produce an intense “rush” and initial feelings of boundless energy. Others, such as heroin, benzodiazepines or the prescription oxycontin, may produce excessive feelings of relaxation and calm. What most drugs have in common, though, is overstimulation of the pleasure center of the brain. With time, the brain’s chemistry is actually altered to the point where not having the drug becomes extremely uncomfortable and even painful.  This compelling urge to use, addiction, becomes more and more powerful, disrupting work, relationships, and health.  

Although, the focus of this article is children and teens who abuse various substances, there is a widespread problem with their parents and caretakers. A recent report found that many children live with parents who are substance abusers

Almost 12 percent of children in the United States live with a parent who has a substance abuse problem, says a federal government study released this week.

Living in this type of home environment can cause long-lasting mental and physical health problems, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which did the study.

The analysis of national data from 2002 to 2007 also showed that:

·         Almost 7.3 million youths lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused alcohol

·         About 2.1 million children lived with a parent who was dependent on or abused illicit drugs

·         About 5.4 million children lived with a father who met the criteria for past-year substance dependence or abuse

·         About 3.4 million children lived with a mother who met these criteria 

Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational.

eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse 

Substance Abuse Causes

Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.

·         Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.

o                       Chaotic home environment

o                       Ineffective parenting

o                       Lack of nurturing and parental attachment

·         Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.

o                       Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom

o                       Poor social coping skills

o                       Poor school performance

o                       Association with a deviant peer group

o                       Perception of approval of drug use behavior

Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs?

How Can You Recognize the Signs of Substance Abuse?

Parents provides general signs of substance abuse and also gives specific signs of alcohol abuse, and several different drugs, narcotics, and inhalants. The general warning signs are:

·         Changes in friends

·         Negative changes in schoolwork, missing school, or declining grades

·         Increased secrecy about possessions or activities

·         Use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume to hide smoke or chemical odors

·         Subtle changes in conversations with friends, e.g. more secretive, using “coded” language

·         Change in clothing choices: new fascination with clothes that highlight drug use

·         Increase in borrowing money

·         Evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc.

·         Evidence of use of inhalant products (such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products); Rags and paper bags are sometimes used as accessories

·         Bottles of eye drops, which may be used to mask bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

·         New use of mouthwash or breath mints to cover up the smell of alcohol

·         Missing prescription drugs—especially narcotics and mood stabilizers

Remember, these are very general signs, specific drugs, narcotics, and other substances may have different signs, it is important to read the specific signs.

What Steps Should a Parent Take?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps to Takeand each step is explained at the site. If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Questions to Ask a Treatment Facility

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (Center), lists the following questions that should be asked of a treatment center. The Center also has a facility locator and links. Assuming you are not one of those ill-advised parents who supply their child with alcohol or drugs like marijuana in an attempt to be hip or cool, suspicions that your child may have a substance abuse problem are a concern. Confirmation that your child has a substance abuse problem can be heartbreaking. Even children whose parents have seemingly done everything right can become involved with drugs. The best defense is knowledge about your child, your child’s friends, and your child’s activities. You need to be aware of what is influencing your child. Back in the day, my mother would have put a CIA intelligence officer to shame. I thought she and my dad were two crazy old coots. I thank them for being my parents and not wanting to be my friends.

The fact that a parent has to assume the role of their child’s friend says a lot  about their lack of maturity and judgment. Unfortunately, for some children, mom and dad are growing up right along side them.


1.      Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base

2.      Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse

3.      Is Your Teen Using?

4.      Al-Anon and Alateen

5.      Center for Substance Abuse Publications

6.      National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information

7.      WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse

8.      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?

9.      The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

New Haven schools adopt ‘Singapore Math’

27 Dec

Melissa Bailey reports in the New Haven-Independent article, Singapore Math: New Haven Schools Adopt New Method Of Teaching From Abroad:

The new tools emerged as Carr and other elementary teachers try out a new method called Singapore math. In effort to get New Haven kids up to speed with their international counterparts, and in stride with a national Common Core State Standards initiative, the city is rolling out Singapore math to all classrooms in grades K to 5, starting this year with grades K to 2.

The method is based on a curriculum introduced in 1992 in Singapore’s public schools. Teachers take a slow pace, focusing on thorough understanding of the fundamentals of math, with multiple approaches to the same problem. After implementing the new curriculum with its half-million public school students, the Southeast Asian country has been the top-performing nation in elementary math for every year since 1995, sending school districts around the world scrambling to replicate their success.

New Haven tried out the method in a few classrooms last year at King-Robinson International Baccalaureate School and Celentano Museum Academy. Now Rosalie Carr is one of about 260 teachers doing Singapore math this year.

Winnie Hu has an excellent article in the New York Times, Making Math As Easy As 1, Pause, 2, Pause…. It is not clear whether Singapore Math is simply another education fad or there is some true education benefit to the theory upon which the curriculum is based, that children must learn a concept deeply before progressing. Methinks, they are on the right track. See, US Teens Trail Peers Around the World On Math-Science Test

Perhaps the best concise description and information about Singapore Math is found at Home School Math which provides the following review.     

Singapore Math is the actual curriculum used in Singapore from 1982 to 2001 (English is the language of instruction in Singapore).

The Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition (for grades 1-6) series of elementary math textbooks and workbooks uses the Concrete> Pictorial>Abstract approach. The students are provided with the necessary learning experiences beginning with the concrete and pictorial stages, followed by the abstract stage to enable them to learn mathematics meaningfully. This approach encourages active thinking process, communication of mathematical ideas and problem solving. This helps develop the foundation students will need for more advanced mathematics.

The key concept is developing deeper subject matter knowledge. Joy Resmovits has an interesting article at Huffington Post.

In U.S. Students’ Low Math Test Proficiency Could Have Consequences For GDP Resmovits reports:

U.S. students rank poorly in proficiency on both domestic and international math exams, a problem that could cost the country $75 trillion over 80 years, according to a new study.

U.S. students fall behind 31 countries in math proficiency and behind 16 countries in reading proficiency, according to the report released Wednesday, titled “Globally Challenged: Are U.S. Students Ready to Compete?

Resmovits is reporting about the report, Globally Challenged: Are U. S. Students Ready to Compete? The latest on each state’s international standing in math and reading by Paul E. Peterson, Ludger Woessmann, Eric A. Hanushek and Carlos X. Lastra-Anadón.

Here is a portion of the Executive Summary:

Proficiency in Mathematics

U.S. students in the Class of 2011, with a 32 percent proficiency rate in mathematics, came in 32nd among the nations that participated in PISA. Although performance levels among the countries ranked 23rd to 31st are not significantly different from that of the United States, 22 countries do significantly outperform the United States in the share of students reaching the proficient level in math. In six countries plus Shanghai and Hong Kong, a majority of students performed at the proficient level, while in the United States less than one-third did. For example, 58 percent of Korean students and 56 percent of Finnish students were proficient. Other countries in which a majority—or near majority—of students performed at or above the proficient level included Switzerland, Japan, Canada, and the Netherlands. Many other nations also had math proficiency rates well above that of the United States, including Germany (45 percent), Australia (44 percent), and France (39 percent). Shanghai topped the list with a 75 percent math proficiency rate, well over twice the 32 percent rate of the United States. However, Shanghai students are from a prosperous metropolitan area within China, with over three times the GDP per capita of the rest of that country, so their performance is more appropriately compared to Massachusetts and Minnesota, which are similarly favored and are the top performers among the U.S. states. When this comparison is made, Shanghai still performs at a distinctly higher level. Only a little more than half (51 percent) of Massachusetts students are proficient in math, while Minnesota, the runner-up state, has a math proficiency rate of just 43 percent. Only four additional states—Vermont, North Dakota, New Jersey, and Kansas—have a math proficiency rate above 40 percent. Some of the country’s largest and richest states score below the average for the United States as a whole, including New York (30 percent), Missouri (30 percent), Michigan (29 percent), Florida (27 percent), and California (24 percent)….

Performance of U.S. Ethnic and Racial Groups

The percentage proficient in the United States varies considerably across students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. While 42 percent of white students were identified as proficient in math, only 11 percent of African American students, 15 percent of Hispanic students, and 16 percent of Native Americans were so identified. Fifty percent of students with an ethnic background from Asia and the Pacific Islands, however, were proficient in math. In reading, 40 percent of white students and 41 percent of those from Asia and the Pacific Islands were identified as proficient. Only 13 percent of African American students, 5 percent of Hispanic students, and 18 percent of Native American students were so identified….

Here is the citation:

Sarah D. Sparks reports in the Education Week article, Study Helps Pinpont Math Disability

Burgeoning research into students’ difficulties with mathematics is starting to tease out cognitive differences between students who sometimes struggle with math and those who have dyscalculia, a severe, persistent learning disability in math.

A new, decade-long longitudinal study by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, published Friday in the journal Child Development, finds that 9th-graders considered dyscalculic—those who performed in the bottom 10 percent of math ability on multiple tests—had substantially lower ability to grasp and compare basic number quantities than average students or even other struggling math students…

The study, she said, may help researchers and educators understand the underlying causes of persistent math problems and identify the students who need the most intensive instructional support.

Math-learning disability affects about 5 percent to 8 percent of school-age children nationwide, about as many people nationwide as are affected by dyslexia. Yet experts say research on the reading problem has for decades dwarfed studies of math difficulties by 20 to one…

We know that basic numeracy skills are a greater predictor of later success in life than basic literacy skills,” said Daniel Ansari, one of the pioneers in the neuroscience of dyscalculia, speaking at a research forum on the disability held in Chicago last month, who is unconnected to the Kennedy Krieger study.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in education. There should be a variety of options.


  1. NCTM Focal Points and Singapore Math Curriculum
  2. Singapore Math FAQ
  3. What is Singapore Math?
  4. Where’s The Math

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

A baby changes everything: Helping parents finish school

26 Dec

The structure of the American family is changing. Jennifer Ludden reports in the NPR article, When It Comes To Marriage, Many More Say ‘I Don’t’

The share of all U.S. adults who are married has dropped to a record low 51 percent, according to a new report. If the trend continues, the institution will soon lose its majority status in American life.

The report being released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center finds new marriages dropped a sharp 5 percent last year, which is very likely related to the bad economy. Pew senior writer D’Vera Cohn says it fits with a larger trend….

Half a century ago, nearly 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were married. Today, it’s just 20 percent. But the Pew report finds fewer married people across all age groups.

In their place: more singles, single parents, couples living together — many having children without marrying. In fact, some 40 percent of all U.S. births are now to unmarried mothers. But the driving force in the dropping marriage rate? People who do tie the knot are waiting longer than ever.

The Pew report finds the median age when people finally walk down the aisle is at an all-time high — 26 for women and nearly 29 for men. And it’s higher still for the college educated.

Marriage On The Decline (1960-2010)

Marriage On The Decline (1960-2010)


Based on adults 18 and older. Percents may not total 100 percent due to rounding.

Source: Pew Research Center analysis of Decennial Census and American Community Survey Data

Credit: Nelson Hsu/NPR

“Well, it does not mean that marriage is dead,” says Stephanie Coontz, a historian on family life at Evergreen State College in Washington state. She says many of those 20-somethings will eventually tie the knot. The Pew report finds a robust 72 percent of Americans have been married at some point…

Cohn says you already see this — school forms with separate address blocks for “Parent 1” and “Parent 2,” or employers asked about benefits for unmarried partners. Yet even as marriage declines, Cohn says, Americans still revere it….

“On the one hand, we had nearly 40 percent of Americans tell us they think marriage is becoming obsolete. On the other hand, when you ask people who aren’t married, ‘Would you like to get married?’ they say yes,” Cohn says.

Cohn says Wednesday’s report also points to a troubling marriage gap — the rich get hitched; the working class, not as much. Historian Coontz says it’s yet another consequence of the nation’s widening economic inequality. Wages for those without a college degree have stagnated, weakening their power in the marriage market.

“The sort of incentive to get married — because you could rely on a man whose real wages would continue to rise, who would get a pension at the end of it — that incentive has been undermined as well,” Coontz says.

This trend is troubling because it disrupts the stability of many children not only emotionally, but financially as well. Single parents often have difficulty earning a sufficient income to support a family. It becomes more important for single parents to complete education and/or training programs. In order to increase the well-being of children, parents must be helped to complete their education.

Sara Goldrick-Rab and Kia Sorensen have written The Future of Children journal article, Unmarried Parents in College:

Among all undergraduates, the share of unmarried parents nearly doubled over the past twenty years (from 7 percent to just over 13 percent).7 Unmarried parents make up an especially substantial segment of undergraduates from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds. For example, more than one-third (36 percent) of African American female undergraduates nationwide are unmarried mothers, and 15 percent of African American male undergraduates are unmarried fathers. Unmarried parents make up more than one in five Native American undergraduates (21 percent) and 16 percent of all Latino undergraduates (compared with 10 percent of white and 9 percent of Asian undergraduates).8

More than two-thirds of the increase in college attendance among unmarried parents since 1990 is attributable to attendance among unmarried mothers. Although the representation of unmarried fathers has been growing, a greater proportion of the increase in unmarried parents is driven by the attendance of women. Overall, 8 percent of male undergraduates and 17 percent of female undergraduates are unmarried parents.9 Of course, the appearance of these trends may be affected by the way parenting students are counted in federal data.

One reason for the apparent gender disparity among unmarried parents in attending college is that women are more likely than men to choose to begin or reenter college after having children.10 School reentry is common among mothers (even among high school dropouts), and mothers’ rates of college-going tick upward as children get older.11 Data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study indicate that many unmarried mothers wait until they are in their late twenties and their children enter school before entering or re-entering college.12 In fact, 25 percent of women entering college after the age of thirty are not married at the time of entry.13 In addition, parents who are not currently married appear more likely than currently married or cohabiting parents to enter college.14

Despite the fact that more unmarried parenting students are attending college, their attendance patterns, completion rates, and financial circumstances are quite different from those of nonparenting students and, in some cases, from married parenting students and other low-income students.

Rates of College Success
Parenting students who are not married while they are enrolled tend to complete four-year degrees at rates far lower than other college students, on average.15 Among all students who started college in 1995–96, 29 percent attained a bachelor’s degree by 2001, compared with just under 5 percent of unmarried parents. Among unmarried parents, 11.8 percent earned an associate’s degree (roughly the same share as the rest of that cohort), and 30 percent completed a postsecondary certificate (compared with 12 percent of the cohort as a whole). Unmarried parents were much more likely to depart college early, without a timely return to school (46 percent compared with 35 percent).16

One reason for these lower rates of completion is that it can take longer for parenting students to finish degrees.17 In fact, by neglecting these longer time periods to degree attainment, analysts sometimes tend to make ultimate rates of degree completion appear lower than they are. Although delays in completion (and the older age at which the degree is earned) affect labor market returns and employment opportunities, many unmarried mothers nevertheless acquire their postsecondary degrees—but, as Nan Astone and her colleagues put it, they do so “in a discontinuous fashion.”18 According to one study, “one-third (33.7 percent) of low-income single women with children and slightly more than one quarter (28.8 percent) of low-income married women with children take more than 10 years to complete a bachelor’s degree, compared to 15.6 percent of all women, 16.5 percent of all low-income women, and 12.7 percent of all men.”19 Other researchers, examining educational attainment according to early life course patterns, find clear differences in college-going and attainment based on the speed and trajectory of family formation. As table 1 illustrates, 57 percent of individuals who move rapidly into adult roles such as marriage and childbearing attend some college but only 6 percent complete bachelor’s degrees—and they are unlikely to continue pursuing their education at age twenty-four.20 Individuals who do not become parents by age twenty-four and remain unmarried are far more likely to attend and complete college, and many are still continuing their education at age twenty-four….


Figures & Tables


Jenna Johnson has a excellent Washington Post article, How can colleges help teen moms (and teen dads)?

So what can colleges do to help these students? Here are seven ideas from local schools and teen moms:

1) Recruit these young parents: Quite often when a woman becomes pregnant, people stop talking to her about attending college — that is, if they were even pushing the idea in the first place. But a college degree is what could help her get a better-paying job and support her child….

2) Provide as much financial aid as possible: Tuition isn’t the only cost of going to college — there are also books to buy, fees to pay and transportation costs, just to name a few. Plus, every hour that a parent spends studying is one hour he or she is not working. It takes a lot of motivation to keep going to class when you have a family to feed.

The first step is easy: Make sure that teen parents have filled out the FAFSA (likely, as independent of their parents) and are receiving federal financial aid. Several of the Generation Hope scholars have not yet done this and are missing out on thousands in grants….

Beyond that, some schools have set up scholarships that will cover things like transportation or childcare. The College of Southern Maryland provides a number of scholarships for young parents, including the Bradley M. Gottfried “Against All Odds “Scholarship.

And the help can be less formal than a scholarship with an application process. At Trinity Washington University, the Dean of Student Services often gives young mothers Metro fare cards or meal passes for the dining hall. Earlier this semester, Generation Hope leaders heard that one of their students was on the verge of dropping a math class at Montgomery College — because she couldn’t afford a textbook that cost more than $100. Lewis rushed to campus to buy the book for her.

3) Assist with childcare: When I started reporting this story, I figured that the most daunting challenge facing most teen moms in college would be financial or academic. Nope, it’s childcare.

If your campus does not have a childcare center, then help your students apply for local programs or childcare vouchers for low-income parents. But many community colleges and four-year universities have begun to build childcare centers on campus to accommodate the children of faculty and students….

Students at Howard Community College can enroll their children in an on-campus lab school called the Children’s Learning Center. The cost is set on a sliding scale, and many women likely wouldn’t be able to attend class without the service. The program has helped the school increase its retention rate for single mothers in their early 20s, said school spokeswoman Nancy Santos Gainer. More than half of the students who use the center for childcare have a GPA of over 3.0, she said, and 13 percent have a GPA of over 3.5.

4) Support your teen parents: Sometimes that just means smiling and asking how their day is going. Being a teen mother can be lonely, as it’s difficult to make new friends when you have a baby to care for. And some teen moms have been so beaten down by the system as they applied for free prenatal care and WIC or tried to get child support through the court system, that they are afraid to seek out help.

Some ideas for doing this institutionally: Create a student-led support group, match young parents with volunteer mentors, offer a parenting session at freshman orientation, officially add “help teen parents” to the title of someone in the student affairs office, or build a single Web page for teen parents that includes links to all the resources they might need….

5) Help with housing: Along with childcare, housing can also be a challenge for students who are no longer living with their parents. In addition to helping teen parents find subsidized housing in the community, some residential schools also offer affordable “family housing” on campus. This sort of service can not only help undergraduates who are parents, but also older graduate students and young faculty members.

6) Offer a variety of class options: Many young parents have found that online classes work better into their schedules than showing up to campus a few times a week — but that can mean missing out on the traditional college experience. Colleges of all sorts have started to offer a wider range of classes, including hybrid classes (a mix of online and in-the-classroom) and more late-night, weekend and summer courses. They are also setting up satellite campuses that might be closer to where students live or work.

7) Don’t underestimate or pity teen parents: When I sat down to interview one of the Generation Hope mentors, who years ago put herself through Trinity while parenting, one of my first questions was something along the lines of: Wow, how did you do it? She explained that compared to all of the other challenges she had faced in her life, going to college was one of the easiest. She was focused and determined to get an education. She just needed the opportunity and resources.

For a good discussion of why child care is important to students, see the journal article, Contemporary Childcare Issues Facing Colleges and Universities by Marybeth Kyle, William J. Campion, William R. Ogden; College Student Journal, Vol. 33, 1999.

In order for low-income people, particularly single mothers to have a shot at escaping poverty, they must get an education, trade, or vocation. For many, affordable child care is the key determinant of whether they can advance. Alexandra Cawthorne in the 2008 report for the Center for American Progress, The Straight Facts on Women in Poverty describes the issues facing women in poverty. The National Coalition for Campus Children’s Centers has statistics about Children on Campus

College must not only be affordable for many student populations, it must be accessible as well.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Focus on charter schools: There must be accountability

24 Dec

Moi supports neighborhood schools which cater to the needs of the children and families in that neighborhood. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in education. It is for this reason that moi supports charter schools which are regulated by strong charter school legislation with accountability. Accountability means different things to different people. In 2005 Sheila A. Arens wrote Examining the Meaning of Accountability: Reframing the Construct for Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning which emphasizes the involvement of parents and community members. One of the goals of the charter movement is to involve parents and communities.

What is a Charter?

There are several definitions of charter school but this definition from Education Week seems to capture the essence of what it means to be a charter.

According to the U.S. Charter Organization the reasons individuals seek to set-up a charter school are: 

The intention of most charter school legislation is to:

·         Increase opportunities for learning and access to quality education for all students

·         Create choice for parents and students within the public school system

·         Provide a system of accountability for results in public education

·         Encourage innovative teaching practices

·         Create new professional opportunities for teachers

·         Encourage community and parent involvement in public education

·         Leverage improved public education broadly

Business Week has a concise debate about the pros and cons of charter schools featuring Jay P. Greene, University of Arkansas; Manhattan Institute arguing the pro position and Jeffrey Henig, Columbia University arguing against charter schools. The Education Commission of the States succinctly lists the pros and cons of charter schools 

Alison Consoletti has written the report, The State of Charter Schools: What We Know-And What We Do Not-About Performance and Accountability for the Center for Education Reform.

Of the dozens of state and national entities that collect data about charters, only a handful actually document achievement from year to year, and only one — the publisher of this report — formally and annually collects, analyzes, and assesses the schools that are approved, opened and closed from year to year. That general data shows that, not only do charters schools deliver on student achievement, but a substantial percentage of charter schools are closed from year to year for reasons that any school should be closed. Far from a condemnation, these data points suggest a movement that has been amenable to course correction and closure since its inception.

Closing a charter school requires, first, that some government entity has enough data and authority to make an assessment. Second, once revealed, the assessment data must be available to the public and the media, so that pressure can be brought to bear to intervene and account for whatever failures are discovered. Regular, ongoing news reports must reveal the processes that are at play even when no one sees them. The fact that such reports often do result in positive change should make every charter advocate not only proud, but interested to know the facts.

That those facts seem often to escape some charter leaders, who prefer generalizations to clear, unambiguous achievement data (which sadly, is often lacking or unusable) is the reason for this report, which reveals not only that charters are successful, but also that accountability for results is alive and well in a way that is unique to these public schools.

See, Charter Schools Rarely Closed For Academic Performance: Report

There is no one approach that works in every situation, there is only what works to address the needs of a particular population of children. If the goal is that ALL children receive a good basic education, then ALL options must be available.


1.      YouTube Link of Professor Carolyn Hoxby Discussing Charters

2.      PBS Frontline – The Battle Over School Choice

3.      The Center for Education Reform’s FAQs About Charter Schools

4.      WSJ’s opinion piece about charters and student performance

5.      Charter School Students More Likely to Graduate and Attend College

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Cheating in schools goes high-tech

21 Dec

Some colleges in an attempt to curb academic dishonesty on campus are beginning to employ methods one has usually associated with Las Vegas casinos. Minnesota State University Mankato has an excellent newsletter article about academic dishonesty. Richard C. Schimming writes in Academic Dishonesty

A recent survey found that 1/3 of all students admitted to cheating on an examination, 1/2 admitted to cheating on a class assignment, 2/3 admitted to cheating at least once during their college career, and 2/3 have seen classmates cheat on exams or assignments. Paradoxically, 3/4 of those in that survey believe that cheating is not justified under any circumstances. Finally, 1/2 of the students surveyed believe that the faculty of their university do not try to catch cheaters….

The various reasons that students give for cheating can also be instructive in obtaining a picture of academic dishonesty. Gleaned from a variety of sources, the list of student reasons for cheating given below is meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive:

  1. Today’s generation of student has less of an attachment to the institution so that cheating is more impersonal and seen as less painful because of this detachment.
  2. The difficult job market places a premium on a high grade point average so that any means necessary will be employed to achieve and maintain good grades.
  3. Some students believe that professors are cheating them in the classroom by shirking their teaching responsibilities. Therefore, students come to believe that turnabout is fair play.
  4. New entering students find themselves in courses beyond their capability so they resort to cheating to succeed in the course.

The metaphors and social constructs provided by students in surveys can also provide insight into the rationale for academic dishonesty. In one recent study, students used the following metaphors for cheating:

  1. Cheating is just a game, so that it is not important how you win but what is important is that you win.
  2. Cheating is an addiction. Once a student has successfully cheated in some academic context, the urge to continue can become addicting.
  3. Cheating is an easy out. Rather than working hard to master the material, a student can be tempted to use the shortcut of academic dishonesty.
  4. Cheating is a personal dilemma. Students do not begin to cheat because they are ignorant of the potential consequences. Rather the decision to cheat is a difficult decision for most students.
  5. Cheating is theft. The act of cheating robs the institution, the professor, the cheating student, and the other students.
  6. Cheating is a team effort. Cheating does not occur in a vacuum. Where there is a culture that condones cheating and where a student sees other students cheating, academic dishonesty is more likely to flourish.

For some students, cheating starts early. By the time some kids reach college they have already established a pattern of cheating. ABC News has a good report, A Cheating Crisis in America’s Schools

B.A. Birch has posted ‘e-Cheating’ Students Harness High-Tech Tools at Education News:

A new study by Common Sense Media has found that more than 35% of teens ages 13 to 17 with cellphones have used the devices to cheat.

52% of those polled admitted to some form of cheating involving the Internet.

Earlier this year, Omar Shahid Khan, 21, an Orange County student, pleaded guilty to stealing Advanced Placement tests and altering college transcripts. Khan is said to have hacked into the school’s grading system by installing spyware on school computers.

“This is about the pressures that kids are feeling in school,” says Jill Madenberg, a Great Neck, N.Y., college consultant.

“The pressure to do well, the pressure to get into a good college… It’s literally all over the country — it’s an epidemic of sorts.”

cheating cases, they’re just making it harder to detect.

“The naïve folk belief is that cheating never used to be a problem,” Bramucci says.

Trip Gabriel has an interesting article in the New York Times about the University of Central Florida’s attempts to defeat cheaters. In To Stop Cheats, Colleges Learn Their Trickery Gabriel reports about the attempts of the University of Central Florida to stop cheating. Since cheating has become an issue at college campuses, just like bacon and eggs, next comes the study.

Sora Song of Time.Com discusses the inevitable study in the article, Profiling Student Cheaters: Are they Psychopaths?

Psychologists at the University of British Columbia found that students who cheated in high school and college were likely to meet the criteria for psychopathic personality – the type that tends toward a range of bad behaviors, like alcohol and drug abuse, bullying and reckless driving. It’s the same impulsive, callous and antisocial personality that characterizes criminal psychopaths, though, to be fair, student cheaters scored a lot lower on psychopathy questionnaires than actual criminal offenders. (More on Video: Giving Dropouts a Second Chance)

The researchers found that academic cheaters also scored high in two other personality traits: narcissism (people who suffer from grandiosity, self-centeredness and an outsized sense of entitlement) and Machiavellianism (cynical, amoral types who make it a habit to manipulate others). But of the three disordered personalities – together known colorfully as the Dark Triad – psychopathy was the only trait significantly associated with student cheating.

The new paper, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, describes the results of a series of three studies involving nearly 600 college students. (Read a PDF of the paper here.) In each, the volunteers were asked to fill out anonymous personality questionnaires; some participants also took tests of intelligence. Personality questions included: “I like to be the center of attention” (i.e., I may be a narcissist), “It’s hard to get ahead without cutting corners here and there” (Machiavellianism), and “I have attacked someone with the goal of hurting them” (psychopathy).

The conclusion of the study is that the only thing which can be done is to make it impossible for the psychopath to cheat, since they obviously have no impulse control and an appeal to values doesn’t work. One of the frightening prospects highlighted by the article is that it is possible to screen for psychopathic traits in people, but it probably wouldn’t be ethical for schools to do so. So, like the chicken and the egg riddle, society is back at placing the emphasis on strong families, values, and a K-12 education which sets some perimeters. Something to think about.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Improving education: Community schools

21 Dec

There is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education. There is only what works to produce academic achievement in each population of children. That is why school choice is so important. For some communities and for some children, “community schools” might improve education achievement. The Coalition for Community Schools is a great resource for those interested in “community schools.”

A community school is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.

Using public schools as hubs, community schools bring together many partners to offer a range of supports and opportunities to children, youth, families and communities. Partners work to achieve these results:

  • Children are ready to learn when they enter school and every day thereafter. All students learn and achieve to high standards.
  • Young people are well prepared for adult roles in the workplace, as parents and as citizens.
  • Families and neighborhoods are safe, supportive and engaged.
  • Parents and community members are involved with the school and their own life-long learning.

To learn more about the Coalition’s vision of a community school, read the section An Enduring Vision in the Coalition’s report, Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools. Also, watch as the U.S. Secretary of Education speak of the importance of community schools on Charlie Rose.

For more information on what it means to be a community school, read Community Schools: Partnerships for Excellence (PDF, 426k).

Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post has written an interesting article about “community schools.”

In Why community schools are part of the answer, Strauss writes:

Community schools, by directly dealing with many of the out-of-school issues that affect how students do in school — such as violence, family mobility, etc. — help to create the conditions that allow young people to actually concentrate on academics. Community schools seek to create conditions for learning that include:

*Fostering early childhood development through high-quality comprehensive programs.

*Providing students qualified teachers, challenging curriculum and high standards and expectations.

*Addressing the basic physical, mental and emotional health needs of families.

*Creating safe, supportive school climates through community engagement.

There is not a single model of community school initiatives but rather a number of different ones that share common principles, according to the Coalition for Community Schools. The coalition is an alliance of elementary, secondary and post-secondary organizations at the state, local and national level that are involved with education, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services and more.

One of the many models of community schools, which serve millions of children around the country, is called “Schools of the 21st Century,” which provides school-based child care and family support services.

Created by Edward Ziegler, a professor at Yale University who was an architect of the Head Start program, this model is now being used in 1,300 schools across the country and turns regular public schools into year-round centers where different services are provided to families the before, during and after school hours. You can learn about other models here.

The Center for American Progress’ report, Turning Around the Nation’s Lowest Performing Schools by Karen Baroody looks at strategies for turning around low-performing schools.

For more than a decade, Education Resource Strategies, Inc., or ERS, has worked with urban districts to transform the use of people, time, money, and technology so that all students receive the support they need to succeed. Based on this work ERS believes that successful school turnaround also requires district turn-around—fundamental changes in the way that districts think about and provide support for schools. ERS has identified five steps that districts can take in designing and implementing their school improvement programs that will increase the probability that their efforts will achieve lasting improvement:

1. Understand what each school needs. Districts must develop a comprehensive, systematic, and ongoing approach to identify the needs of schools, students, and teachers. Districts must evaluate the needs of current and incoming stu- dents, examine whether the principal and the teachers in the school have the skills required to address student needs, and assess school practices.

2. Quantify what each school gets and how it is used. Districts must identify all resources currently available to each school and understand how effectively schools are using those resources to improve instructional quality and meet individual student needs, through such strategies as teacher assignment and support, student grouping, and daily scheduling.

3. Invest in the most important changes first. Districts must aggressively target those challenges that make persistently low-performing schools different from other schools and provide the additional resources and support that each school needs to overcome the challenges. Key priorities, in order of importance, are to ensure each school has a strong school leader and teachers who collectively have the skills to meet student needs; to make sure that at-risk students receive basic health, social, and emotional support; to implement school designs that organize teaching expertise, time, and attention to match student needs; and to provide each school with the necessary central office support.

4. Customize the strategy to the school. Each school faces its own unique challenges–the needs of its particular students, the quality and skills of its leader and teachers, and the resources it currently receives. Districts must be thoughtful in tailoring the intervention strategy to each school’s most pressing and critical needs.

5. Change the district, not just the schools. Strategies that focus only on changes at individual schools, without addressing the underlying systemwide structures that allowed these schools to fail in the first place, will not achieve lasting improvement. Districts must ensure these schools have the resources and support they need to succeed even after intervention efforts are over, and leverage the lessons learned from turnaround schools to implement broader reforms that support the ongoing improvement of other low-performing schools in the district.

There is no silver bullet—no single solution for how to turn a failing school around. But by taking these five steps district leaders can improve their probability for sustainable and scalable success.

There is no one approach that works in every situation, there is only what works to address the needs of a particular population of children.

The current one-size-fits-all approach does not work.


Making the Difference: Research and Practice in Community Schools

Blank, Martin J.Melaville, AteliaShah, Bela P.

PDF ERIC Full Text 

Connecting the Dots: Progress toward the Integration of School Reform, School-Linked Services, Parent Involvement and Community Schools.

Lawson, HalBriar-Lawson, Katharine

PDF ERIC Full Text

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

School bullying: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency report

20 Dec

The Tanenbaum Center which honors the work of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum has a really good definition of the “Golden Rule” which is stated in an interview with Joyce Dubensky entitled, The Golden Rule Around the World

What’s your own understanding of the Golden rule?

At its simplest, it’s really just “being kind.”  Caring about other people. That means putting that kindness into action and treating people with compassion.  It means trying to understand people’s beliefs and needs. It means not harming others and actively working to eliminate harm.

The Golden Rule is meaningful to me because as a universal value, it can serve as the measure of how to live well in a world of many interesting and exciting differences.

Life would be so much easier if people applied the concept of the “Golden Rule.”

There are frequent media reports about children and school kids who are the victims of bullying and cyberbullying.  Bullying Is Everybody’s Business is a great article by Liz Perle at Common Sense Media. Huffington Post reports about bullying in the article, Facebook and Time Warner Teaming Up to Fight Bullies, States Pass Anti-Bullying Laws  The “Stop Bullying, Speak Up” campaign has information about bullying. Information about the campaign can be found at the Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying, Speak Up Perhaps, the most concise look at bullying comes from a Department of Justice report.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency has issued the report, Bullying in Schools: An Overview by Ken Seeley, Martin L. Tombari, Laurie J. Bennett, and Jason B. Dunkle. Among the study’s findings are:

  • Bullying is a complex social and emotional phenomenon that plays out differently on an individual level.
  • Bullying does not directly cause truancy.
  • School engagement protects victims from truancy and low academic achievement.
  • When schools provide a safe learning environment in which adults model positive behavior, they can mitigate the negative effects of bullying.
  • Any interventions to address bullying or victimization should be intentional, student-focused engagement strategies that fit the context of the school where they are used.

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Increase student engagement.
  • Model caring behavior for students.
  • Offer mentoring programs.
  • Provide students with opportunities for service learning as a means of improving school engagement.
  • Address the difficult transition between elementary and middle school (from a single classroom teacher to teams of teachers with periods and class changes in a large school) (Lohaus et al., 2004).
  • Start prevention programs early.
  • Resist the temptation to use prefabricated curriculums that are not aligned to local conditions.

Increase Student Engagement

Bullied children who remain engaged in school attend class more frequently and achieve more. Challenging academics, extracurricular activities, understanding teachers and coaches, and a focus on the future help keep victimized children engaged in their education (Bausell, 2011). Schools, administrations, and districts that wish to stave off the negative effects of bullying must redouble their efforts to engage each student in school. Typical school engagement strategies include (Karcher, 2005):

•            Providing a caring adult for every student through an advisory program or similar arrangement.

  • Carefully monitoring attendance, calling home each time a student is absent, and allowing students the ability to make up missed work with support from a teacher.
  • Adopting and implementing the National School Climate Standards from the National School Climate Council (2010).
  • Promoting and fostering parent and community engagement, including afterschool and summer programs.
  • Providing school-based mentorship options for students.

See, School Bullying Report Makes Recommendations To Address Issue, Support Victims

Hurting people often hurt other people.

Joyce Meyer

This country and this society is wounded in so many ways, We, must focus on:

A healthy child in a healthy family who goes to a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Adults have to set an example of not only how children should treat each other, but they must set an example of respect for people in general.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Hard question: Does indigenous African-American culture support academic success?

19 Dec

Jesse Washington of AP has written a comprehensive article which details the magnitude of the disaster which is occurring in the African-American community. In the article, Blacks Struggle With 72% Unwed Mother Rate  which was reprinted at SeattlePI.Com Washington sounds an alarm which if you can’t hear it, makes you deaf.

This is not about racism or being elitist. This is about survival of an indigenous American culture. This is not about speaking the truth to power, it is about speaking the truth. The truth is children need two parents to help them develop properly and the majority of single parent headed families will live in poverty. Children from single parent homes have more difficult lives. So called “progressives” who want to make their “Sex and the City” life style choices the norm because they have a difficult time dealing with the emotional wreckage of their lives, need to shut-up when it comes to the survival of the African American community. This is an issue that the so called educated classes and religious communities have to get involved in.

Trip Gabriel reported about more fallout from the failure of the African-American family in the New York Times. In Proficiency of Black Students Is Found to Be Far Lower Than Expected  Gabriel reports:

An achievement gap separating black from white students has long been documented — a social divide extremely vexing to policy makers and the target of one blast of school reform after another.

But a new report focusing on black males suggests that the picture is even bleaker than generally known.

Only 12 percent of black fourth-grade boys are proficient in reading, compared with 38 percent of white boys, and only 12 percent of black eighth-grade boys are proficient in math, compared with 44 percent of white boys.

Poverty alone does not seem to explain the differences: poor white boys do just as well as African-American boys who do not live in poverty, measured by whether they qualify for subsidized school lunches.

The data was distilled from highly respected national math and reading tests, known as the National Assessment for Educational Progress, which are given to students in fourth and eighth grades, most recently in 2009. The report, “A Call for Change,” is to be released Tuesday by the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban public schools…

The search for explanations has recently looked at causes besides poverty, and this report may further spur those efforts.

There’s accumulating evidence that there are racial differences in what kids experience before the first day of kindergarten,” said Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. “They have to do with a lot of sociological and historical forces. In order to address those, we have to be able to have conversations that people are unwilling to have.”

Brian M. Rosenthal’s  Seattle Times article reports about the achievement gap between native African-Americans and immigrant African ethnic groups in Seattle.

In the article, ‘Alarming’ new test-score gap discovered in Seattle schools, Rosenthal reports:

African-American students whose primary language is English perform significantly worse in math and reading than black students who speak another language at home — typically immigrants or refugees — according to new numbers released by Seattle Public Schools.

District officials, who presented the finding at a recent community meeting at Rainier Beach High School, noted the results come with caveats, but called the potential trend troubling and pledged to study what might be causing it.

Michael Tolley, an executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle schools, said at the meeting that the data exposed a new achievement gap that is “extremely, extremely alarming.”

The administration has for years analyzed test scores by race. It has never before broken down student-achievement data by specific home language or country of origin — it is rare for school districts to examine test scores at that level — but it is unlikely that the phenomenon the data suggest is actually new.

In fact, some national experts said the trend represented by the Seattle data is not surprising. They pointed to some studies about college attendance and achievement indicating that immigrant families from all backgrounds tend to put a larger emphasis on education than those families that have been in the country longer.

Traditional factors in low performance, such as poverty and single-parent homes, are generally shared by black immigrants and nonimmigrants alike….

The results, although preliminary, were eye-opening:

Only 36 percent of black students who speak English at home passed their grade’s math test, while 47 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Other black ethnic groups did even better, although still lower than the district average of 70 percent.

In reading, 56 percent of black students who speak English passed, while 67 percent of Somali-speaking students passed. Again, other black ethnic groups did better, though still lower than the district average of 78 percent.

The numbers do have significant limitations, Teoh said. That’s because they are based on home-language information that is entirely self-reported, and the data exclude English Language Learners — an optional program for students who score poorly on an English proficiency test.

Most of all, Teoh said, because the English-speaking category includes students of many black ethnic groups, it’s impossible to compare specific ethnic groups.

At the recent community meeting, much of that distinction was lost on the parents in the audience.

“It’s very alarming that students that were born right here are at the bottom of the barrel,” said Vallerie Fisher, whose daughter is a senior at Rainier Beach. “How is that possible?”

Immigrant experience

The answer to that question may lie in the culture of immigrant families, national education experts said.

Many of those families, who often were relatively wealthy and well-educated in their home countries, have strong social-support systems that emphasize education, said Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Pamela Bennett, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, agreed. She conducted a study in 2009 that found that immigrant black high-school graduates attend college at a much higher rate than black or white students born in the U.S. The reason was that the immigrants had a higher socioeconomic background, she said.

But that explanation may falter when Seattle’s Somali population is considered.

Many of the Somalis, after all, did not follow a normal pattern of immigration. Their families came to the U.S. to escape their war-torn country, many by way of refugee camps. But they still did better than English-speaking African Americans on the tests.

Veronica Gallardo, the director of international programs for Seattle Public Schools, speculated that the trauma experienced by Somali families causes them to value the opportunity education provides. In addition, Somali community groups tend to prioritize education, said Alexandra Blum, who works with the Somali Community Services Coalition, a nonprofit that works to empower families in King County.

Seattle School Board member Betty Patu, who has worked for decades with community groups serving students of color, said she has noticed that all immigrant families, regardless of socioeconomic status, place high value on education.

If you are a young unmarried woman of any color, you probably do not have the resources either emotional or financial to parent a child(ren). If you don’t care about your future, care about the future of your child. If you want to sleep with everything that has a pulse, that is your choice. BUT, you have no right to choose a life of poverty and misery for a child. As for those so called “progressives?” Just shut-up.

There are some very uncomfortable conversations ahead for the African-American community about the high rate of unwed mothers, about the care of women during pregnancy, and about early childhood education in the homes of children.Most important, about the lack the active involvement of fathers of some children.

Time to start talking. The conversation is not going to get any less difficult.


We give up as a society: Jailing parents because kids are truant

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Jonathan Cohn’s ‘The Two Year Window’

18 Dec

Moi has got plenty to say about hypocrites of the conservative persuasion, those who espouse family values, but don’t live up to them or who support corporate welfare while tossing out that old bromide that individuals must pull themselves up by their bootstraps even if they don’t have shoes.

Because of changes in family structure and the fact that many children are now being raised by single parents, who often lack the time or resources to care for them, we as a society must make children and education a priority, even in a time of lack. I know that many of the conservative persuasion will harp on about personal responsibility, yada, yada, yada. Moi promotes birth control and condoms, so don’t harp on that. Fact is children, didn’t ask to be born to any particular parent or set of parents.

Jonathan Cohn reports about an unprecedented experiment which occurred in Romanian orphanages in the New Republic article, The Two Year Window. There are very few experiments involving humans because of ethical considerations.

Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.

In the field of child development, this study—now known as the Bucharest Early Intervention Project—was nearly unprecedented. Most such research is performed on animals, because it would be unethical to expose human subjects to neglect or abuse. But here the investigators were taking a group of children out of danger. The orphanages, moreover, provided a sufficiently large sample of kids, all from the same place and all raised in the same miserable conditions. The only variable would be the removal from the institutions, allowing researchers to isolate the effects of neglect on the brain….

Drury, Nelson, and their collaborators are still learning about the orphans. But one upshot of their work is already clear. Childhood adversity can damage the brain as surely as inhaling toxic substances or absorbing a blow to the head can. And after the age of two, much of that damage can be difficult to repair, even for children who go on to receive the nurturing they were denied in their early years. This is a revelation with profound implication—and not just for the Romanian orphans.

APPROXIMATELY SEVEN MILLION American infants, toddlers, and preschoolers get care from somebody other than a relative, whether through organized day care centers or more informal arrangements, according to the Census Bureau. And much of that care is not very good. One widely cited study of child care in four states, by researchers in Colorado, found that only 8 percent of infant care centers were of “good” or “excellent” quality, while 40 percent were “poor.” The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found that three in four infant caregivers provide only minimal cognitive and language stimulation—and that more than half of young children in non-maternal care receive “only some” or “hardly any” positive caregiving.,0&passthru=YzBlNDJmMmRkZTliNDgwZDY4MDhhYmIwMjYyYzhlMjg

Because the ranks of poor children are growing in the U.S., this study portends some grave challenges not only for particular children, but this society and this country. Adequate early learning opportunities and adequate early parenting is essential for proper development in children.


Michael A. Fletcher reported in the Washington Post article, Nearly one in six in poverty in the U.S.; children hit hard, Census says:

The economic turmoil has pummeled children, for whom the poverty rate last year — 22 percent — was at the highest level since 1993. The rate for black children climbed to nearly 40 percent, and more than a third of Hispanic children lived in poverty, the Census Bureau reported. The rate for white children was reported as above 12 percent.

Cohn recognizes that in a time of economic distress it is difficult to call for massive spending on parent support and early learning programs, but that is what he says the implications of the Romanian study are if early damage to poor children is to be avoided. A conference where MIT was a participant described the economic benefit of early childhood programs NPR has an audio debate about the MIT report

Legislators are correct in their prudence about the budget, but the question is whether they are being, as the saying goes, “penny wise and pound foolish.” So much of economic development and full employment is based on an educated and skilled population. Third world countries are undeveloped for many reasons including unsustainable debt, corruption, and being disadvantaged in the world system of trade. One of the primary reasons that third world countries are third world is the limited education opportunity for the majority of their population.

Politics has always been a tough business, the Ides of March is one example of how brutal politics can be. Many times those who serve do so under tough conditions, often with little thanks. Still it is time to recognize that there must be some investments made for the future and early childhood programs are an example of necessary investment. Just as there are those who reflex ably say no to school choice, there are those who just as reflex ably say no to investing in this country’s future.

Cohn’s article is a must read.


The changing face of poverty
Millions of Americans live in poverty, more families are suffering and hunger is seen growing. (more)

Hard at work but can’t buy food
While the ranks of the working poor grow in number, should employers step up to stop the trend? (more)

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©