Category Archives: children

Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

In order to fully appreciate what Eric Holder has done this week (by changing the policies of the U.S. criminal justice system) involves a little perspective. For African Americans who have literally experienced centuries of social, housing, education, job and wage discrimination, the need to rely on government assistance has been greater. Welfare Reform and Drug Laws of the 1990’s increased the burdens on African American families because Racial Profiling has disproportionately affected this population. Historically, these laws and policy changes have denied (and still do in most states), those with a felony any public housing, education, welfare/medical benefits. So, you have a growing population of predominantly African American males cut out of support and also threatening their family assistance if they live in the home.

Hence, the further destruction of the family unit, where fathers are pushed onto the streets with no other choice than to repeat-offend and threaten communities. We have failed as a country with centuries of racism and what were well-meaning policies with destructive unintended consequences.

Ending the overt criminal justice disparities is just one step in a long line of steps and policy changes needed to start valuing the African American male in the home and society. We are all losing with the status quo so I am more than thrilled to see a shift in policies.

Of course, the Hispanic/Latino community has also experienced these challenges in past decades and this commentary does not intentionally leave them out. My point is to highlight the deeply entrenched history of African American policy discrimination that will not go away overnight and will not change for the better until we see where we came from first.

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August 14, 2013 · 6:45 pm

The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies

First of all, I need to make a disclaimer. A portion of this post heading is taken from a wonderful and well-respected book by La Leche League I read over 38 years ago, “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.” I read it during a time when I was preparing for my first child and preparing for childbirth and beyond. This was my first lesson in learning to listen to my body.

This morning, some 38 years later and a lifetime of listening, I was awakened by this thought, “The Womanly Art of Listening to Our Bodies” and how even though the time may not be the best to write this, because I have scholarships to apply for and work to do to prepare for the next semester of grad school, I cannot help but listen to this message and put it out there.

The message is: Our thoughts and feelings (or emotions) are inextricably linked to our bodies! Once we recognize this, the knowledge is immensely powerful. I have been so fortunate to attract mentors and educational opportunities in my life from the days I was a pregnant teen at 15 to my life today, a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8; now the age of 54.

I learned from natural childbirth that “attitude IS everything!” If you think it is pain, it is painful! If you think of it as the process that brings you your angel, then it is manageable.

I learned from 7 years in La Leche League that if you always remember in the back of your mind that breastfeeding is a normal, natural process that mammals have been doing successfully for millenia and trusting this natural process, your milk will come and challenges are only bumps in the road, not roadblocks.

I learned from reading Adelle Davis’ “Let’s Have Healthy Children” that our foods are full of everything we need if we learn to trust the foods that have been provided by nature. We do not have to buy expensive food to nourish our bodies properly. By being more efficient with our food choices, we can bring health to our families within any budget.

I learned from my 10 years working in the field of biofeedback, that the mind and our inner emotions are incredibly powerful and that our body speaks to us continually. Whether we listen or not is the real challenge! When we listen, we reduce suffering and illness and increase our quality of life. When we ignore the signs, we suffer from a variety of ills, including accidents and injuries.

So much more to share and no time to do it right now, but I want to leave you with this thought, please take the time to just be quiet without any outside electronic or other interference at least once every day. Listen and acknowledge and make the little adjustments you know deep down that you will benefit from. Little by little, you will find that the simple adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” will improve your daily quality of life, your health and your future!

Until next time,
Granny Pants
(Oh yeah, this photo was taken of me in 2002. I just found it and had to use it to brighten my day. The Yuba River is in the background. Love that place!)

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January 20, 2013 · 6:48 pm

Grandma Heads Off To College: A Recession Era Tale

ImageGRANDMA HEADS OFF TO COLLEGE

A RECESSION ERA TALE

               I drove through the quiet, manicured suburban Roseville neighborhood I would no longer call home this morning. My swollen eyes and red splotchy face were the affirmation that I had made the right decision not to put on make-up after my morning shower. That was the last shower I would take as a permanent resident in my daughter’s home. At one point, my daughter knocked asking, “Are you OK Mom?” which I answered, “Yes” though I didn’t tell her I had been in the bathroom for an extra-long time this particular morning because I had been balling my eyes out while writing my two little grandchildren, Hudson (4) & Dayton (2) their good-bye, I will miss you cards. I also didn’t tell my daughter that the first time I walked into a drug store to buy a Thank You Card for their family, I started crying so much that I just had to leave!

Yes! Today is the day I headed off to college! Yet, unlike the eighteen year-old, I am leaving behind six of my eight grandchildren, two of my three daughters, my roses, the vegetable garden, most of my belongings (in storage), my two son-in-laws (who probably aren’t crying) and Baxter, my daughter’s ten year-old pug that may not live to my next visit. (I just realized that in my blubbering, that I forgot to say goodbye to Baxter!)

The impetus for my unstoppable fountain of tears is because I am leaving my youngest grandchildren whom I have lived with for most of their little lives. How will I get along without anyone to share with when I see a magnificent bird, an egg shell from a nest or a giant caterpillar? Who will be there to be just as amazed at the sunset as my little 2 year-old granddaughter Dayton, who asked me to pull the blinds up last night so she wouldn’t miss the “set-sun?” Who will care about whether or not the “owie” on my finger has healed yet? Who will be there to never tire of playing card games, like my three oldest grandsons?

Regardless of the monumental suffering these daily dilemmas and others will create for my aching heart, I had to leave! I had to leave for the very reasons my eighteen year-old granddaughter, Elora left her friends and family behind last year to head to college. If I didn’t leave, I would have the pressure of a poverty-stricken or very family dependent retirement looming large over my loved ones. I had to get my rear-end to graduate school quick!

This was never my plan, yet it was always an unspoken dream cast away after decades of repetitive mental reality checks every time I saw those enviable titles after someone’s name that I knew I could never compete with, no matter what I had accomplished in my life: MPH, PhD. EdD. MSW, etc…

If I listed the journeys I have taken to get to this moment, I would never get through this post, so I won’t. Briefly, after losing my home, my retirement, my marriage and with wages plummeting, I only had the hope to work for $12-15 hr. with little chance for benefits, if I worked in the field I Ioved, without those three initials. My daughter and her husband and 2 babies took me in and we have helped each other for the last 2 ½ years. I am so grateful for them and what they did to bring our family together. Truly one of the better outcomes of this recession has been the return of the extended family experience.

Grandiose plans to be a famous author and “child expert” six years ago were quickly dashed during the recession after I self-published my first book, The New Physics of Childhood (IUniverse, 2009).  Not only was it rejected by many because I did not have a credential behind my name like, PhD., MSW, EdD., etc. I realized that the tone of it (due to a lifetime of pent-up experiences) was somewhat arrogant and harsh. I began the rewrite immediately, along with edits by several professionals. Then the publishing industry took a dive and so did my income. It was time to set idealistic dreams aside and make way for Plan X.

Foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce (in that order) were juxtaposed to my extinguished author dreams. I knew that the once well-paid work I had done earlier as a caregiver was a very temporary replacement and sabbatical to my teaching career, yet this job title had lasted for over a decade and seemed it was my only real option for earning income forever, unless I had a Master’s Degree! With a Master’s, I could finally earn the respect of my years, since wrinkles don’t show well on a resume. After researching and allowing the dream to simmer, I knew that a Master’s in Public Health was the only way for me. It would allow me to focus on my passion for Preventive Health Education, while also giving me incredible opportunities to influence public policy and the health of communities. It would also provide me with the potential for a real income and benefits so I can rebuild my life and my nest egg before I allow myself the luxury of retirement in my mid-70’s.

I could have never imagined that when everything was gone, save my beautiful family, that the only option was actually the dream I had so wanted, yet had never uttered or allowed myself to think of. This dream also occupies the same space as my dream to be a well-known and respected author one day. *

For now, the reality is one dream at a time! I prepared for two years by taking brush-up courses and using the time to finally become fluent in Spanish. All of my experiences and preparation in the last two and a half years got me accepted to the 3 programs I applied for! In August, I begin my journey in San Francisco State University’s MPH Program in Community Health Education. Yeah!!!!!!

I am saving money by couch-surfing for a month, while I work in my field of choice, in preparation for grad school. I am not thrilled about taking any student loans out and am hoping my second year in school is funded solely by scholarships and part-time work. I have a lot to accomplish professionally, and am committed to being a full participant in my graduate school experience.

During my undergrad career, I was a single mother raising three daughters. I had no time for friends or campus activities. All I wanted to do was race home to my daughters every day after school. The 3-hour commute to higher education ate up many precious hours with my daughters as it was. Now, I am one mile from campus and by myself to focus on school work, etc. Maybe I will even make some friends, something that hasn’t really been a part of my life with every second going to family. Though I am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time to do much of this or to sit around and play cards while I am in grad school. However, I am already looking forward to visits “back home” to indulge my inner card playing junkie.

Yes, this day, this life, this new chapter is the perfect description of a bitter-sweet moment. I will miss my family in Roseville, but I will actually have more time with my youngest daughter and other grandson, now that I am closer to them.

Beyond the tears and tugging of little heart strings, life is good! I even received a $1,000 scholarship by a wonderful organization that felt compelled by my personal journey. Perhaps there are more angels like this in my future. I sure hope so, because as this Grandma heads off to college, I need all of the angels I can get, yet nothing will take the place of the beautiful family I have waiting for me when I return home after I receive my Master’s in Public Health! It will be the 1st. Master’s Degree in our family, just as my AA & BA were when I received them, years ago. I hope one day I can be an inspiration for my grandchildren so they know that it is never an option to give-up or give-in and that it is never too late for your dreams to come true!

*CONFESSION   – In the middle of preparing to leave for grad school, the writer in me just had to get that one last lick in! I formatted the 30+ years of my children’s stories and printed them out for my grandchildren to read in my absence. More on this project in future posts.

Hasta Luego!  Got places to go, things to do, people to see!

Christina Ivazes

aka Granny Pants

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Filed under Banks, Barack Obama, children, community, Education, Elders, foreclosure, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, jobs, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

10 Study Skills that Really Matter!

Effective study and lifestyle habits are the real factor in academic success, most often superseding economic, intellectual, or age factors.

Personally, I had to learn how to study effectively because I was not taught or required to study as a child. This list of recommendations is for everyone, young and old. It is based on my personal experiences as a student, teacher, caregiver, mother and grandmother.

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES– This is the first step to deciding your study strategies. Everyone has some challenges with studying. Most students have multiple challenges. Knowing your weaknesses and admitting them is the first step to getting your study habits into ship-shape so you don’t waste a single minute of your precious personal time studying in ineffective circles that not only rob you of fun, but also rob you of the best grades and opportunities that you deserve. By eliminating your time wasters and over-confidence when you actually need to increase study time, you will actually have better grades, more energy and have more time for the people and activities you love without those nagging feelings haunting you.

2. IF YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE– Set up a plan to reward yourself with personal time and activities only after you have finished your work or have studied enough to have a good command of materials. Study your most challenging subjects first when you have the most energy. Save easy study tasks like making flash cards last when you don’t need to think as deeply. Isn’t it interesting how it can be very difficult to study effectively at night when we are tired but we are never too tired to talk to our friends! Use this fact to your advantage.

3. IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRACTED– Create a private, comfortable and well-lit space with no distractions. Use earplugs or headphones if needed to reduce environmental distractions. Turn off any computer or phone notifications while studying. Notify your parents and friends when you are studying and tell them that you will return their calls/texts or requests when you are finished. Give yourself a 15-minute reward for personal/free time at the end of every hour of non-stop, focused studying. Make sure you get up and move around during this free time to bring the blood back into your brain that tends to become lodged in the bottom after sitting for long periods of time. (A walk around the block during study breaks can do wonders to energize you and increase your memory.)

4. WRITE CLEAR & DETAILED NOTES WHILE YOU ARE IN CLASS & STUDYING & ENSURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERYTHING DOWN NECESSARY –Do not fall into the “I will remember this” pattern. Back-tracking and searching for information later can be a huge time and energy waster! Tools such as highlighting, side notes on the page and colorful tabs can save time later on.

5. WRITE A STUDY LIST EVERY DAY & BREAK DOWN ASSIGNMENTS INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE TASKS – Do this right after school or first thing in the morning on non-school days. – This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from knowing where to begin. It also makes it easier to check off your priority list and block study sessions which increase the feeling and awareness of your real progress. If you tend to overlook and forget your assignments, check with your instructor after every class to make sure you have all assignments and notes down correctly and thoroughly.

6. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO STUDY IN YOUR BAG OR BACKPACK – Choose the items you are most challenged with so you can study whenever you can. Flash cards or reading assignments are the easiest things to have handy. Make a copy of a complex reading assignment and have in your bag to read and highlight. Whenever you have an unexpected delay or free moment, pull out your studies instead of your phone and you will have more free time to communicate with friends without stress at the end of the day!

7. ENSURE MAXIMUM COMPREHENSION OF ALL MATERIAL BY USING EFFICIENT TOOLS WHILE YOU READ– Before you read anything, understand, read or write down what it is you are supposed to know from reading the passage or chapter. Read the questions however, not the answer choices! Then as you read the first time, highlight any key points that fit your comprehension goals. If you are not able to highlight, write notes as you read, noting the paragraph or page number. If possible, copy the passage and highlight that. Next, re-read the questions and read the passage again, but this time as you read, write notes on what you think the answers or main points are to the assignment. Then go to the questions and see if any match your understanding of the material. If you need to write an essay, you will then have the best notes possible to create your outline!

8. DO NOT SKIP ANY STEPS OR QUESTIONS & UTILIZE ALL AVAILABLE STUDY RESOURCES UNTIL YOU KNOW A SUBJECT INSIDE AND OUTUnless you are repeating information with an “A” mastery level; not just until you think you have it. Mastery comes from repeating exercises, quizzing, re-reading, re-writing and explaining the subject to others. Much of the frustration of studying comes from the missing pieces of information we pretend we know or don’t need. Then we cannot operate with all of our potential and often struggle unnecessarily. Study resources include materials in all media forms such as audio, visual, study groups, tutors and whatever resources the instructor has recommended. Using all of your senses is extremely important, especially if you are challenged with a subject. The more senses that experience the information you are learning, the deeper the knowledge will go and the less likely you are to forget it because you have it understood in a multitude of layers. Remember that the most effective way to comprehend and remember material is to discuss it with others; hence the study group.

9. BE AT YOUR BEST BY ENSURING YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & NUTRITION NEEDS ARE BEING MET – Exercising daily will increase your memory, energize you, keep your immune system strong and prevent insomnia. Getting the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours/night) will also ensure you can think clearly while you are in class, studying and testing. Energy drinks, coffee, tea and/or drugs in the place of sleep, exercise or nourishing meals wear down your immune system, increase insomnia and fatigue, leaving you with less energy and more health problems in the long run. Contrary to popular thought, if you eat snacks with less sugar and/or carbohydrates and instead eat snacks with protein rich snacks, you will have more lasting energy and increased brain functions without experiencing the “carb-crash” which can affect your ability to study properly. A bag of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or jerky are great things to have on hand at all times.

10. RE-ASSESS YOUR STUDY HABITS AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AFTER EVERY TESTING OR GRADING PERIOD – Set yourself up for success, not for failure. It often takes about 1 ½ semesters to adopt effective study habits that become natural. Commit to your study plan if it is working but re-tool it if it is not. Ask your instructor how much you should be studying each day for each class and arrange your schedule around honesty about how much you need to study instead of denial about how much you need to study. Eliminate any extra activities until you are achieving the grades and knowledge mastery you desire. Remember that exercise, sleep, eating properly and an allotted amount of personal time to enjoy life are not extra-curricular activities but necessary for your health, well-being and good grades!

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Filed under children, Education, exercise, Families, Fathers, insomnia, media, mentor, mother, nutrition, prevention, teaching, technology, teenagers, Writing

The 25 Most Important Things

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The 25 Most Important Things To Pass On To My Children and Grandchildren:

1. Be honest and kind with yourself and others. You will save a lot of pain and suffering while attracting more honesty and kindness into your life.

2. Exercise often and as aerobically as you can because 4-6 days of exercise will:

  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Keep your immune system strong, thereby reducing sick days and health care costs
  • Prevent injuries
  • Increase your memory and learning capacity
  • Release stress from your body so it won’t impact your health
  • Keep you fit and healthy and toned
  • Increase your options in life and recreation with a working body
  • Decrease anger
  • Balance your hormones and best of all
  • It’s completely free if you need it to be!

3. Eat real food, especially veggies, legumes and whole grains and eat everything else in moderation. Remember that children’s tastes are developed by what is in the house and what they eat and drink in the first few years. Each food is designed perfectly balanced as nature intended to nourish our bodies. Each step from food’s original form is substandard and less nourishing for our bodies. Our bodies are our vehicles for everything we do and want to do in life so they deserve the best!

4. Develop an appreciation for reading because once you can read, you have the entire world and its history and cultures and fields of study at your fingertips.

5. Education is the key to giving yourself the best chance in life but you also have to give your best to get the full benefits. This means sacrificing personal time now, which you will get back later because then you won’t have to work as hard as a person without an education. Education also means experience. Make an effort to travel out of your home country to understand a little about how the rest of the world operates from direct experience, not heresay. Traveling is some of the most valuable education that you can experience.

6. Do at least 1 thing very well in your life! Devote enough time, even before you are an adult, to become an expert at something! When you are an expert at something, you will always have this expertise to fall back on, even if you don’t decide to make it a career.

7. Forgive yourself and others for anything in the past. It does not serve you to carry the weights of blame or regret around. Not only do they weigh you down, they can also make you physically ill. You will be closer to realizing your dreams and personal well-being when you learn to let go.

8. Visualize yourself doing what you dream to do and remind yourself of this vision frequently! Do not let others dictate your future or change your dreams. A delay or detour does not mean destruction; it may just mean a lesson you need to learn before you are prepared to soar!

9. Start small. Make small changes in yourself before uprooting everyone and your own life. Big changes = big risks. Each time you start over it costs in more ways than one. A person can never get ahead by starting over continuously.

10. Practice compassion with everyone, especially with people who aren’t like you. They may need even more than your friends and family. (Remember that compassion is different from enabling.)

11. Practice service to others as a necessary part of your spiritual fulfillment and soul requirements during your lifetime.

12. Express yourself creatively. Creative expression is a necessary part of each person but it is up to each person to find their own and commit to it, even as a hobby.

13. Addictions are the suffering of tortured souls. If you ever become tempted by an addiction or start suffering from an addiction, you may be suffering from a lack of #11 and/or #12. Start with those first for a deeply lasting solution.

14. Time with family is important, things aren’t. “You can’t take it with you.” Be sure to balance your time with yourself and your loved ones and only have things that serve you in your life, not as items of worship.

15. Learn to listen to, understand and trust the real needs of your body and spirit and obey them. You will save yourself a lot of pain, suffering and money if your body does not have to be sick to rescue you from your own deafness. The more you listen and obey, the more you will develop trust in your own intuition to know what is best for you, thereby leading to more effectiveness.

16. With any new plan, life change or strategy, remember the 3-day, 2 week rule. The first 3 days are the hardest, but you should see some improvement by the end of the 3rd. day (or 3rd.time). The habit and adjustment will become a part of your life after 2 weeks of consistency. Do not deviate if you are experiencing positive results. It is often right when things seem toughest that the light of day is approaching, but we need to stick it out so we can reap the benefits. If you do something 3 times and you see no improvement or progress, move onto plan B. This may just mean a small adjustment or a total 360. It depends on the situation. Listen; really listen for the answers on this one.

17. Maintain your financial reputation, regardless of what you earn. Treat personal debts as seriously as others. You will hold your head higher and will have more opportunities to reach your goals when you are respected by others by keeping your word & commitments. Do not waste your precious dollars on unnecessary expenses like late fees, tickets, overdrafts, higher interest rates & deposits from bad credit, etc. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and you will have more for the things you really need and want, including an emergency fund.

18. Make sure you  get yourself into natural surroundings as frequently as possible. Oftentimes when we don’t feel right it is because we are out of balance. Nothing helps more than a day outside, especially surrounded by trees.

19. Be accountable for your life and ensure your children are accountable for theirs! If you find yourself blaming others and are angry at others for your situation, look in the mirror instead for the solution to your challenges! There is no better way to take back the control of your life than by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.

20. Clear your head of all responsibilities before you go to sleep at night to ensure a restful sleep & take time out for yourself every day. A neutral book is helpful here (and maybe a notepad to write things down so you can let go of them until morning).

21. Only buy what you need and avoid purchasing what you don’t. The benefits are many, but at the very least you will have more money and less clutter to contend with during your day.

22. Take care not to waste what you can prevent from using. We are the stewards of the earth and can get by with so much less. Remember that everything we buy or use requires energy and resources from somewhere and usually involves polluting the earth, water and sky. Any food thrown away has used precious resources (and money) for nothing.

23. When dealing with children, remember who is in charge and it is definitely not the child! Take care to phrase your language to make children accountable for themselves as soon as possible. Take care to phrase your language to make sure they know that you are in charge, not them (even if you have to fake it).

24. Respect all elders by speaking and treating them with kindness and interest for they have seen and experienced many things you may never see or experience. You too will be an elder someday and will deserve the same respect, regardless of your mental or physical limitations or personality.

25. Treat each of your family members and friends as if they won’t be here tomorrow. This will lead to no regrets if ever they are gone; it will make them feel loved by you because we can never have too much affection and caring from those we love!

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Filed under children, creativity, Education, Elders, environment, exercise, Families, Fathers, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, mother, nutrition, Parenting, prevention, Senior Citizens, teenagers

Education Reform and the Over-Inflated, Over-Rated 4-year College Degree

by Christina Ivazes  

 The current state of the US economy, our unskilled labor force, the need for educational reform, and the skyrocketing costs of a college education demand we be smart and efficient about solutions that affect and connect all of the above. Perhaps a better strategy is to back away from the ideal that every American should go to college. Yes, we can all agree that every American should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose. However, to give our students and our nation the best educated and skilled workforce, we should not focus on every American going to college, but first, on every American graduating from high school with two years of career training. This pragmatic strategy offers numerous benefits to our country. 

vh   By becoming more efficient and effective in preparing students for the real world and college, the US will save money and jobs. In 2010, The Fiscal Times reports, “just 56 percent of those who enroll in a four-year college earn a bachelor’s degree…Some students drop out because of the trouble paying the cost—the average college debt upon graduation is a whopping $24,000” (Reynolds Lewis). According to the U.S. Dept. of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the cost of a four-year college education is from $18,900 to $35,500 and rising. We also know that these quotes are a low-average and not really what a four-year is typically costing our college graduates, where $50-$100,000 is a more common estimate today in 2011. And graduation does not necessarily equate employment as we see with a glut of unemployed college graduates today weighed down with inflated student loan and credit card debt. There are jobs however, that are immune to outsourcing and which do not warrant an expensive four-year degree.

Secondary and post-secondary vocational and technical training programs are historically lower in cost with competitive salaries to those earned from four-year college degrees. Matthew B. Crawford advocates for the many benefits of trade-based training in his bookShop Class as Soulcraft, “You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information system or low-level “creative” (53). The Houston Chronicle published an article supporting Crawford’s concept stating, “Mechanics of all types are in high demand and can command a high hourly wage… Many blue collar jobs require training through apprenticeships or vocational training programs and others may require on-the-job training or passing an aptitude test prior to employment” (Nielson). This is not a proposal to eliminate the college track for high school students in America.

Shouldn’t we beg the questions: Why are we so single tracked about how to create a productive & competitive job force? And, shouldn’t we think about downsizing the cost of education along with our lifestyles? The IES reports that in 2008, earnings for an employed four-year college graduate are on average of $55,000/males, $45,000/females per year. Compare the costly four-year college degree with training and apprenticeship (which can begin as a junior in high school) for an electrician who can earn from $34,000 and upwards with no student loan debt with just two more years of post-secondary training for $400-$1000/yr. “Semi-truck drivers…start out making $50,000 annually…and only requires about four weeks of training to obtain a license” (Nielson). Debt free high school training in the trades or technology/health careers can yield from $34,000-$50,000+ per year. Another pragmatic idea Crawford suggests is “even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers” (53).    By increasing high school career training programs, we can create a stronger buy-in for students, reducing training costs while also reducing the costs of high school dropouts for our society.

cgh  The costs of high school dropouts are far-reaching beyond the costs of college dropouts. According to the 2007 report The Economic Losses from High School Drop-outs in California, the significant impact from high school dropouts come from lost tax revenue, Medical and Medicare expenditures, fiscal costs to fight crime, prosecute and incarcerate felons, and increased assistance for both felons and their families. “The economic magnitudes are substantial” (2 Belfield, Levin). After deducting the cost of education, the average total lifetime social gains for a high school graduate is $391,910 per graduate in the State of California, with the savings for black males being the highest at $681,130 (Table 18, Belfield and Levin). My point is not to stereotype but to acknowledge that we need to do everything in our capacity to invest in our high school students to become ready employable adults and/or ready for college, not inmates and/or recruits for drug cartels.

Career and technical training can be a ray of hope for all high school students, not just the disenchanted. Crawford makes a strong case in favor of the trades in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including his highlight on their little recognized intellectual merit, “I quickly realized there was more thinking going on in the bike shop than in my previous job at the think tank” (27). With a PhD. he describes a collegiate fall from grace as a blessing because it led him back to his original high school training as a motorcycle mechanic.  Crawford describes his own cognitive journey as well as those of other tradesmen he interviewed. The conclusion is worth a new focal point in our education reform. In Crawford’s view “Given the intrinsic richness of manual work— cognitively, socially, and in its broader psychic appeal—the question becomes why it has suffered such a devaluation as a component of education” (27). Some may view this idea as undermining a college education, but what Crawford is really pointing out is that “Practical know-how… is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (162). Children and teenagers have always responded positively to the value of hands-on learning, especially when it has a practical application in their lives.

At the age of 16, a teenager’s cognitive maturity starts him or her on the path towards the reality of the adult world and all that entails. You may wonder what cognitive maturity has to do with a broad-based high school career and technical training program, but if students are struggling in school, have no money or family support for college, many see no future in the value of their junior and senior years. Challenged students need full engagement to prevent them from becoming avoidable statistics. By focusing on Math and English proficiency by the end of sophomore year, juniors and seniors can take core subjects and science classes with their half day of training courses to ensure they are ‘college ready’ at graduation. This schedule does not limit a student’s education, it enhances it by making it relevant; it prepares the student both for life and for college should they choose to attend.

 cvb  Though career and technical training in high school is not the solution for every student, it can serve a healthy percentage of our labor force. Some model programs in the US illustrate the potential of every high school, such as the Howard High School of Technology in Delaware.  The 2010 report by the Delaware Department of Education declares, “Howard has a high graduation rate (97 percent) and daily attendance rate (95 percent) and a low serious infraction rate….In addition to an academic program, Howard students choose one of the following career pathways: finance and business; carpentry; computer network administration; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; electrical trades; engine technology; legal administrative assisting; medical assisting; nursing technology; public service; or structural steel detailing.”  This richly diverse program serves a variety of student and community needs. It is a model that deserves replication.

There are still many questions to address in more detail before programs like Howard can be implemented effectively across America.  Questions like: How will we pay for this?  How can we make a solid case for the benefits of high school career training that will not be sabotaged by budget cuts every time state and federal revenues fluctuate? How can we refocus dollars from punitive institutions to education so we can create a higher skilled work force, reduce high school dropouts and prison populations while also reducing student loan and credit card debt? The answers to these questions and are necessary for the design of lasting and effective education reform that will strengthen our economy and society.  Of course, to change the current system, we may also have to challenge for profit college and prison industries that have benefitted by the shrinking of high school career education in the U.S., but it’s a challenge worth taking up.

Work cited

Belfield, Clive R. and Henry M. Levin. “The Economic Losses From High School Dropouts in California.” University of California, Santa Barbara: California Dropout Research Project Report #1, August 2007. PDF.(Table 18) Web. 7 April 2011.

Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft. New York: The Penguin Press. 2009. Print.

Delaware Department of Education. “Delaware Partnership Zone: Howard High School of Technology.” PDF. 2010. 21 April 2011.

Nielson, Lisa. “Highest Demand Blue Collar Careers.” The Houston Chronicle. 2011. Web. 7 April 2011.

Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “High College Dropout Rate Threatens US Growth.” The Fiscal Times. October 28, 2010. Web. 22 April 2011.

 Wei, Christina Chang. “What is the Price of College?” U.S. Department of Education. December, 2010. PDF. (Table 1). Web. 7 April 2011.

 

 

 

 

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MY LIVING WISHES – PART 1

 fufMY LIVING WISHES FOR MY ELDER YEARS (Inspired and influenced by all of the precious elders in my life and those who have cared for them.)

TO ALL OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS,

There will be a day, when I may stop doing things for myself, but they will still be important for me to do.

Who will do them?

Who will make sure I carry them out?  

I will need you to help me do the things that are essential to my health and wellness and state of mind. I will need to be reminded to do them or even have you do them with me, so I can maintain a quality of life that all seniors deserve to have. If for some reason you are not taking care of your own needs, please don’t limit mine. Use my deep down (though not always stated) desire for quality of life to lift you up with me. This is what you did for me when you were a child. You motivated me to care better of myself and now is the time for me to return the favor.  Throughout my life I have also  worked to make sure all I care for have their core needs met for health, wellness and a joyful state of mind. Can you be there for me as well? 

Here is what I ask from you at the very least:

  • I NEED MY LOVED ONES TO HAVE ALL OF MY CONTACT INFORMATION ON DOCTORS, CAREGIVERS, NEIGHBORS, ETC. Perhaps a master list that gets sent to everyone in my family will be the best way to handle this! Also, please make sure I have a copy of this list myself in my wallet or purse and on my refrigerator. (If it can be laminated this is even better!) 

 

  • AS MUCH NATURAL LIGHT AS POSSIBLE. Even if I want to stay inside and close the blinds, don’t let me! Make sure I get outside in the daylight every day for at least ½ to 1 hour. If it is raining, make sure I have all of the blinds open so I get enough natural light! This will help my sleep cycles and other body functions to balance. I need exercise, fresh air and natural light to thrive!    

 

  • PLEASE HELP ME EXERCISE EVERY DAY, especially if I am ever inside without the ability to take a walk. Have me use the stairs as much as possible; have me stretch and dance and do toning exercises. Take me wherever you can to get me walking briskly and move every part of my body in every way possible every day.  

 wer

  • PLEASE MAKE SURE I GET PLENTY OF VEGGIES, FRESH AND COOKED. I need to eat a lot of whole grains and legumes and fresh fruits. I may get lazy and not want to cook for myself. I will need you to cook good food for me! I don’t want a lot of fattening foods or breads or pastas or sweets. Of course, I love these foods and will gladly eat them if they are served to me, but they will be so bad for me. I need for you to take the lead and make sure I am getting the best, especially that oatmeal every morning. A nice pot of homemade soup is something that will help me stay healthy too. P.S. Please don’t microwave the nutrients out of my food (once in a while is ok, but not every day).  nkn
  •  
  • I NEED TO TAKE A SHOWER OR BATH AT LEAST 2-3 TIMES A WEEK. If I get lazy and don’t want to bathe, make sure I do anyway! This is a big issue that I need for you to monitor. Don’t take my word for it! I need to have personal hygiene handled. (Check my fingernails and toenails and give me regular manicures and pedicures-at least every 2 weeks.)  
  •  
  • I NEED MY SHEETS AND TOWELS AND CLOTHES WASHED ONCE A WEEK. Don’t take my word for it. (I may say I have handled things just to keep things easier for both of us.) Make sure my living space is clean and that I have fresh air and sunshine coming into my room.
  •  
  • READ TO ME PLEASE! Because you know how much I hunger for a good story, please find out what my favorite stories are today so you can read them to me when I can’t read to myself!  I adore a clever and beautifully written sentence and find so much joy in hearing them! You can also read me my own writing and journals (or your writing). This may be fun for both of us. I love great movies of course, but I should never stop experiencing the value of good literature.

 

  • I NEED TO EXPERIENCE NEW THINGS ALWAYS. Get me out to museums, live performances, especially great singing and dancing! I love all kinds of new things that are happening from all walks of life. Take me to cultural activities and to neighborhoods for ethnic food and experiences so I can feel connected to the world’s people and feel like I am traveling again. If this is not possible, please let me watch movies set in other cultures. I am a child of the world and need to feel this always.

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE REMINDERS OF MY LOVED ONES. Show me pictures and videos of all of you children and grandchildren and future great-grandchildren. I want to see you as you were when you were babies and as you have grown. 

 

  • I NEED TO SEE AND HUG MY LOVED ONES. Please make sure I have contact with all of you, my loved ones, as much as is possible, even if it is not convenient for everyone! Families are never convenient, though they are necessary! You can just sit me in a corner to observe the goings on of the family and I will be happy if that is all I am capable of.  

  cvb

  • I WANT SOMEONE TO LISTEN THE STORIES OF MY LIFE. Ask me to tell you my stories for as long as I am able. I have so many to share and want to know you are curious about my life. I just may surprise you with one you haven’t heard before!   

 

  • I NEED PEOPLE AROUND ME TO HAVE A LOT OF PATIENCE WITH ME. Please, please, please humor me when I repeat myself.  If you really want to help me feel as normal as possible, pretend that whatever I say is the first time I have said it or asked it. I don’t need the humiliation that comes from realizing my memory is failing me.

 

  • PLEASE TREAT ME WITH RESPECT ALWAYS! Do not ridicule me, tease me, or show your frustrations about my shortcomings as I age. I want to feel that you respect me and do not look down on me for aging. I also want to know that you still respect me for all of the years I have on you, no matter how much I may not show it.

 

  • REMIND ME TO STAY POSITIVE, not pessimistic because we all know that attitude is everything! I may need to be coaxed at times to remember that everything is OK and that there is nothing to worry about.

 

  • MAKE ME LAUGH! Throw humor and laughter into my life whenever possible; even if it is a funny YouTube video or email someone writes.

 

  • I WANT TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE LITTLE PLEASURES IN LIFE. (in moderation of course) like a small piece of dark, dark chocolate or a buttery piece of anything! Oh how I hope I never have to stop enjoying the taste of a perfect cup of dark roast coffee or a perfect ½ glass of red wine. If for some reason I can’t have these things in the future, can you find other things that are almost as good so I can have those little pleasures please?

 

  • I NEED TO HAVE MY BRAIN STIMULATED. Involve me in playing games when you can. I love them so and love to keep my mind active.  Even the simplest game will be okay but don’t dumb me down because I may be able to handle more than you think. Be creative with me please!    dnf

  

  • I WANT TO BE REMINDED OF WHAT I HAVE CREATED IN MY LIFE. Show me the things I have created in my life, like family projects, accomplishments, crafts, structures, writing, etc.

 

  • I WANT TO BE CONNECTED TO FRIENDS (even if I can’t do it by myself or pretend I don’t want to) I may be afraid of making a fool of myself because I have changed but don’t let that stop me! (Maybe you can keep me connected to everyone on my Facebook page for me if I am not able and show me photos.)

 

  • I WANT TO KNOW THAT MY BELONGINGS WILL GO TO PEOPLE THAT APPRECIATE THEM. If I get close to death and no one in the family wants my precious things, please find someone who will appreciate them who understands me.

 

  • IF I AM ABLE TO TRAVEL, GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE ONCE IN A WHILE. Take me to travel with you when you can. I really am a good travel partner and may still be so when I am older.  I love ‘good’ anything, wherever it may be and whatever it may be (that could even mean rap music or the latest music or dance craze or performance art craze)!  

 

  • DON’T LET ME ISOLATE MYSELF! I will always need to be around people on a regular basis; even those who are my age! I may act or say that I don’t, but deep down, I do. Help me with this.      cgh

 

  • HAVE ME WRITE WHENEVER POSSIBLE BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT! Have me write in my journal for as long as I can hold a pen and write anything!!!!! It will help me keep my mind alive and create a record of my life up to the very end.

 

  • I NEED TO SEE THE DOCTOR FOR REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Please make sure that they check everything.  However, if a doctor prescribes any medication or treatment for me, ask them if it is necessary and if there is another option. If you don’t like what they say, get a second opinion. I do not believe that God’s plan is that we should automatically be medicated in our old age and I need you to advocate for me to be without medication if at all possible and to find other solutions based on the cause of my ills, not just the symptoms!

 

  • DON’T DOPE ME UP ON MEDICATION JUST TO MAKE ME EASIER TO BE AROUND! In the long run, you may end up dealing with the side effects of the medication that are even worse than me being without medication.

 

  • ENSURE I HAVE BEAUTY IN MY LIFE. Bring me to see things of beauty: flowers, trees, nature.  I need to stay in touch with life in order to connect with my own will to live.  

 

  • I NEED TO FEEL USEFUL for as long as I am able. Give me things to do so I feel like I am contributing, but don’t work me too much! Even the littlest task can make me feel useful. sdc

 

  • RESPECT MY WISHES FOR DEATH, funeral, burial, belongings and any monetary distribution!

 

  • SHARE MY CARE WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS AND MAKE SURE YOU GIVE YOURSELF PLENTY OF PERSONAL TIME SO YOU HAVE MORE PATIENCE WITH ME!

 

  • THIS MAY SEEM LIKE A LOT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY WHAT YOU NEED TOO, SO HOPEFULLY AS YOU MAINTAIN MY QUALITY OF LIFE, YOU WILL DO THE SAME FOR YOURSELF!

Thank you loved ones for caring for me and being patient with me to the very end! I know it may be taxing, so once again, remember to divide up the duties so not one of you takes it all on! Remember that the ones who are doing the caregiving have their own needs too and that they need a break. That is where each one of you come in! I love you all and so appreciate who you are to me. I hope you will do the same for me!   PART 2- HOW I WANT TO BE TREATED- THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAILS (Coming Soon).

 Love, Mom, Christie, Grandma, Granny Pants

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