Posts tagged ‘Family’

September 6, 2011

Unemployment’s Far-Reaching Effects

by Vince

Ezra Klein digs into a few studies that exposes the health and educational pains inflicted on pupils and families as a result of unemployment:

Last year, Mike Konczal flagged a 2009 study by Ann Huff Stevens and Jessamyn Schaller of UC-Davis that examined the relationship between parental job loss and children’s academic achievement, drawing on data about job loss and grade retention from 1996, 2001 and 2004 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation:

We find that a parental job loss increases the probability of children’s grade retention by 0.8 percentage points, or around 15 percent. After conditioning on child fixed effects, there is no evidence of significantly increased grade retention prior to the job loss, suggesting a causal link between the parental employment shock and children’s academic difficulties. These effects are concentrated among children whose parents have a high school education or less.


In the end, the researchers concluded, “one percentage point higher unemployment rate leads to a 0.3 percentage point increase in the probability that a child repeats a grade.” If this is true, Konczal points out, the cumulative impact of unemployment is staggering. “There are roughly 55 million students in K-12 in the country right now. If unemployment is 1% higher that means, roughly, 165,000 additional years of schooling will be repeated,” he writes.

But just as children are at higher risk of underachieving, education budgets are being slashed across the country as the economy remains anemic and the politics of austerity have taken hold. It’s a continuous pile-up that could have lasting damage that goes well beyond sheer employment numbers.

November 29, 2010

Drawing a Line

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan is a major critic of Sarah Palin. He draws conclusions on Palin that I disagree with and documents her life and her families (in my opinion) way too much. He digs up and into issues she has with her family and delves into what is seemingly every aspect of her singular life. I draw the line when it comes to judging how she raises her children.

What Palin has done is use her children, having failed to actually rear them. She is still doing it on her reality show. That she has gone so far as to use and thereby abuse a child with Down Syndrome whose interests are clearly in seclusion, careful nurturing and care, and constant parental attention, tells you a huge amount.

I believe that the media cannot report everything to us, especially what goes on behind closed doors. With that being said, what Palin does do out in the public is rather questionable. Then again, that is how she chooses to ‘campaign’ and live her life (when writing her recent book, she was down in California living in an apartment writing until 5 in the morning).

Her first decision was agreeing to run for vice-president with a months’ old child with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenage daughter. You do that, your kids will be at least somewhat in the public eye. But she blindsides the campaign with the teen pregnancy, puts out her own press release about it the Saturday before the convention, and in the same chaotic weekend, the campaign also has to deal with the bizarre details of her one-month public pregnancy and bi-continental, airplane labor with Trig. Anyone one who genuinely cared about the privacy of her kids would have either said no or been extremely careful to release the information as soberly as possible.

And what happens thereafter? She pushes her daughter into a public spotlight, subsequently making her an abstinence advocate, and supporting her appearance on a reality show. She engages in a public family spat with the father of her grandson, Tripp. And she parades a special needs infant in front of the press, dangles him half-naked in front of book tour crowds, uses him constantly as a rhetorical campaign prop, and cites him at almost every speech to appeal to pro-life voters. She also uses her son, Track, to appeal to veterans and the military. She brings her children with her throughout her now two-year campaign for national office, disturbing their schooling and rendering them vulnerable to further inquiry from the tabloids, even as they strike deal with tabloids for their own stories.

To be disgusted by this spectacle is emphatically not a double standard.

What Palin has done with her young children is unprecedented. Think of how Obama strictly protects his daughters, and how George W. Bush did the same. Yes, Romney and McCain involve their offspring in politics – but Meghan McCain is a critic of the GOP, and Romney’s kids stuck to Mormon gee-whiz isn’t Daddy great stuff. None of them actively enlisted their kids in reality show television.

On a final note, check out Sullivan’s note/caveat on Palin’s defense of her “North Korean allies” gaffe.

September 12, 2010

Frustrated with Changes in Adolescence

by Vince

John J. Miller, who I usually somewhat appreciate reading, is frustrated with this new “emerging adulthood” class:

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned a factoid in a NYT article on “why so many people in their 20s are taking so long to grow up.” Now I’ve had a chance to read the whole thing. It’s a mix of interesting empirical data and psychological hooey. Let’s focus on the hooey. The article suggests that we must recognize a new “life stage” known as “emerging adulthood,” in which people who are adults but have not yet fully matured must engage in “identity exploration” and embrace their “sense of possibilities.” You know: Anything but finding a steady job, a good mate, and starting a family. It’s basically an excuse to put off adult responsibilities until after you’ve turned 30, gussied up by people with Ph.D.s.

It is sad that Miller comes off as caring more about money being spent via “programs” (oh lordie) than the lives of transitioning young adults. This is another more well guised version of nostalgia: let’s move back in time and have you get married before 25 and get on with your life. Miller is vague as to what a “fully matured adult” looks like let alone “growing up”. Does that mean holding a full time job? You can do that and get married and still hate your job, dislike your decisions, and be possibly more immature in some ways than those still finding their way.

We all fall to prejudicial “wide brush” myths but they are still not good. Not all young adults are lazy, striving to put off growing up till your 30’s. This is the change in our families coming out into the open. A study which I can’t locate at the moment documented families and their children over a 30 year span. In a nutshell, those who had divorced parents took longer to find a job or their way in life than their counterparts who had their parents stick together.

It may not be as simple as a short shrift assessment by some avowed fiscalists to conclude on young adults.

September 5, 2010

Summer Breeze

by Vince

The title comes from the song by the Isley Brothers Summer Breeze. I felt that breeze embrace me today on a hike through the Pennypack Watershed.

The feeling only came once or twice but it was there. This weekend is the unofficial end of the summer. The breeze pushed me forward into this next season of the year. I feel ready for it and this hike today helped serve as a refresher.

The rolling hills, endless woods, vast tree nurseries, and endless hiking paths made up this mornings excursion. I felt it set me free from the franticness of life. It provided solitude all the while we each were together as a family. At one point, we made our way through a long forest trail. It felt so remote and was actually named ‘Siberia’ by the park guides.

MJ found little spots and snagged pictures as we went. She has special eyes for those little moments and places.

How sweet it was.

September 4, 2010

Change in Pace

by Vince

MJ and I have moved in to our loft. It is a different pace of life than I have ever been use to. We are sharing a log cabin in the woods with some family.

This week, I was able to take separate hours sitting around a campfire burning cardboard/wood and raking leaves.

If I hadn’t spent my time around a campfire or cleaning up the leaves, I would of been inside on the computer feeding franticness to my mind.

It is a change in epiphanies, too. Usually, I would think of having epiphanies while reading but my mind wanders to new places while watching a campfire or tending to the grounds. Even reading three books to my little niece is a change in pace that I am grateful for. This new living situations has us basically without TV which leads to more reading. Thank goodness I enjoy reading.

So MJ and I sit here at the Green Goddess coffee shop waking up to some strong coffee. We are in the 215 for a long weekend and soaking up some quite time at the moment.

I have some exciting news blog related. Another friend of mine, Charles Myers, is joining up to blog here. I see Charles as brilliant and I am blown away by how much knowledge he fills in his brain. Look for some of his work here and also check his personal blog here.

Today is bbq day for us. The smells, family swooping in, and last bits of summer are here all the while passing by. Let’s enjoy what we have this weekend.

August 24, 2010

Picture of the Day

by Vince

As the caption reads:

Sometimes, the best defense is knives. Lots of knives.

More awkward family photos here.

August 14, 2010

Beyond Money, Test Scores, and the Failure of Schools

by Vince

A reader wrote in to the Daily Dish with an exceptional note on family involvement in relation to excelling in education:

also hated the line of argument pursued by one of your readers. I’m a foster parent, in a school district that still engages in integration motivated busing.  Our black foster child was behind grade level when she came to us last summer, even though she was coming from a suburban school with very high test scores.  We live in the significantly more affluent (predominantly white) neighborhood of the two this school serves.  The other neighborhood is low income and a mix of Latino and black families.  The test scores from our neighborhood match the high scores of our school district, while the test scores from the other neighborhood fall well below acceptable levels.

To give her an opportunity to catch up, our daughter was placed in a class with one of the top teachers in the school and in a reduced sized classroom (16 kids). This classroom was divided between kids who were performing well (majority white) and kids who needed work (mostly students of color).  Over the course of the year, our daughter made significant strides in her test scores, reading ability, and math skills.  I do not believe the other struggling children who entered her class saw the same level of success.

It was clear to me that as beneficial as the smaller class size and skill of her teacher were, they would have all been wasted had our foster daughter not been getting four simple things from us:

1. A regular bed time
2. Regular meals
3. Set time to do homework every night
4. Parental involvement and expectation

I’m a huge liberal, who believes in proper school funding and smaller class sizes.  However, I’m tired of the belief that schools are failing simply because of underfunding.

These schools, and their students, are failing because of what is going on at home.  Either the parent is physically absent, which could be caused by everything from a a need to work multiple jobs to outright neglect, or the parent is uninvolved.

I know there are times in which a lack of proper funding harms a school and the performance of its students, but not to the extent that entire systems are failing 50, 60, 70 percent of the students in many cities.  That is caused by a standing social and economic problem, one that manifests itself in race due to the lingering effects of segregation and economic inequities drawn on racial lines.

But it is not because Federal, State and Local Governments aren’t putting enough money into the district.  No amount of money being thrown at the school district will fix it.  Only good jobs in urban areas, that provide for stable families, will change that problem.  It seems that since we have no easily identifiable solution to that problem we rely too much on talking about the need for more funding for schools.  More dangerously, it makes us focus our efforts for a solution on only one area, even if that area won’t address the problem.

More personal stories here and here.

August 13, 2010

A Soldier’s Homecoming

by Vince

I feel my emotions bubbling up.

Hat Tip: Joey P

July 12, 2010

Saving Heirlooms

by Vince

Opinionator describes the art of saving family stuff:

The desire to pass objects on to one’s offspring is part of our longing for immortality. Even folks in the “die broke” crowd, determined to enjoy their remaining assets rather than leave them to the ungrateful grandkids, may secretly hope the family will love and honor their dearest possessions. In a culture of scarcity, useful things are rarely discarded, but in a land of superabundance and incessant newness, inheriting a household packed to the windowsills with books, furniture and memories of drunken holiday infighting can be more burden than blessing.

July 9, 2010

For some of the Worshiping Fathers

by Vince

Mars Hill Church reminds those it pertains to of the importance of leading your family into a lifestyle of worship when church is over:

As a pastor who leads others in worship through song and teaching, there is an overwhelming temptation to value what happens in public over what happens in private. It’s so easy to value public gifts over private faithfulness, and what happens on a stage more than what goes on in your closest relationships. This is true in many areas, but one of the most troubling is the neglect of fathers in leading their families in regular times of family worship.

I was deeply convicted of my inadequacy in this area when I heard Don Whitney lecture from his excellent book Family Worship a few years ago. I was on autopilot with my family. My schedule was full and I felt very important to be so busy. I got up every day, went right into work mode, and returned every evening tired, spent, and looking to turn my brain off. I had everything backwards as I neglected my first and most important congregation—my family. I had no idea the opportunity I was missing; an opportunity to speak into my daughters’ young lives—not to mention the unequaled joy of seeing my kids grow in faith in Jesus.