Corporate Sponsors in Schools

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or

“The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive and discoverers”

~ Jean Piaget [Swiss Psychologist. Pioneer in the study of child intelligence. 1896-1980]

“The purpose of education is to enable us to develop to the fullest that which is inside us”

~ Norman Cousins [Essayist, Editor associated with Saturday Evening Post 1912-1990]

“America’s noble experiment, universal education for all” may have become but an idealized theory.  In practice it long seemed the impossible dream. However, for the hopeful this statement was a reverie, although the veracity was virtually unrecognizable at best. Still the notion lived on.  The powerful prose marveled many. That is all but believers in a for-profit privatized educational system. Today, corporate aficionados have conquered.  Commerce controls School District Administrators. It shapes decisions made. Countless elementary and secondary school campuses are transformed in accordance.  Big business buys and sells city classrooms.  Our forefathers would have thought present-day headlines could only appear in fictional accounts.  Nonetheless banners blare, “This Class Is Brought to You By. [fill in the corporate enterprise of your choice]”  

A formidable future has found novel ways to weave itself into our city schools.  In  Los Angeles the Unified District Approved Corporate Sponsors in their Schools.

The advantage, or what was posited as such, is shorter summers. “District officials said the plan would benefit students, who will be on a calendar that is more in tune with testing schedules and that mimics the college calendar.” Surely, the public is assured, every pupil prefers to synchronize his or her personal lives with assessment agendas. What child would not wish to coordinate his or her datebook with the desires of school Administrators?

After all, a little learner has nothing better to do than to take a standardized test at the behest of statisticians, test publishers, school staffers, and those policy brokers who sit in stuffy offices. This is the mindset of a society who has forgotten its mission.

Might we consider what occurs when we rely on the rote, the scores, and the easily observable gains? Some social scientists have.  Pedagogues comprehend the corporate world’s involvement in our schools has already influenced or impaired our children’s creativity.  The effect of our belief in efficiency, as extolled by a free enterprise system, has had a huge taken a huge toll on education.  For decades, curriculums have been changed in order to conform to a company culture.  Prospectus and pupil guidelines parallel what is evident in an industrialized economy.  Every effort is examined, rated, and ranked; even originality is observed as though it too can be accurately calculated.

A Box? Or a Spaceship? What Makes Kids Creative  

By Sue Shellenbarger

Wall Street Journal.

December 15, 2010

“Americans’ scores on a commonly used creativity test fell steadily from 1990 to 2008, especially in the kindergarten through sixth-grade age group, says Kyung Hee Kim, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The finding is based on a study of 300,000 Americans’ scores from 1966 to 2008 on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, a standardized test that’s considered a benchmark for creative thinking . . .

Might it be true that an increased industrial presence portends further deterioration?  Even creativity has become but a measure.  Lest we forget as countless adults have; as children many were frustrated by a grade that assessed how we performed on a multiple-choice visual examination.  [I know as an abundantly analytical audio-learner, I was.  Indeed, I still am.]  Nonetheless, as a society we insist that the invisible progression known as learning can be calculated in the details of single appraisal.

In our current educational system, stimulated synapses, or the electrical currents that race through the brain as we process information, are read as if they were currency.  Count the change or experience it through an Educator’s personal transition.  A Scholar, who studied with Theodore R. Sizer, a prominent education-reformer, Shael Polakow-Suransky once affirmed, “Until we start seeing assessments that ask kids to write research papers, ask them to solve unfamiliar problems, ask them to defend their ideas, ask them to engage with both fiction and nonfiction texts; until those kinds of assessments are our state assessments, all we’re measuring are basic skills.”  . . if that. The soon to be second-in-command of New York City Schools in the past understood that what occurs in a young person’s life each day effects his or her performance on a standardized test.

Yet, as The New York Times reports, this same sage now thinks More and “Better” Testing is needed.  Journalist Fernanda Santos writes after a lengthy investigation, “In his evolution from an idealist teacher to a data-mining administrator, Mr. Polakow-Suransky, personifies the seismic changes in education that were beginning to take shape just as he was drawing up his first lesson plans.”

Shael Polakow-Suransky had been an advocate for more authentic, observable, classroom performance and portfolio assessments.  Today, as Chief Accountability Officer of the New York City Department of Education, Polakow-Suransky prepares for another supremely institutionalized position.  As he steps on stage as second-in-command for the New York City School Chancellorship Shael Polakow-Suransky acknowledges that while tests are imperfect, standardized examinations are an essential measurement tool. “To put it very simply,” he said, “how do you know that the kids are learning?”

Perchance, lost in time and space, as is the idea [ideal] of a “universal education for all,” this Administrator, and America, has forgotten how creativity is born and articulated.  Thankfully, there are a few who think imagination is invaluable.  The construct is invisible. Then mind’s eye cannot be captured and  scored, nay measured a stressful testing moment.  Nonetheless, these experts fear that what was once considered fiction, corporate control of curriculums,  is now the folly experienced as everyday life.

Researchers believe growth in the time kids spend on computers and watching TV, plus a trend in schools toward rote learning and standardized testing, are crowding out the less structured activities that foster creativity. Mark Runco, a professor of creative studies and gifted education at the University of Georgia, says students have as much creative potential as ever, but he would give U.S. elementary, middle and high schools “a ‘D’ at best” on encouraging them. “We’re doing a very poor job, especially before college, with recognizing and supporting creativity,” he says.”

In an earlier era, creativity was what we craved.  In America, ingenuity and inventiveness were venerated.  Innovations were highly valued.  Instruction was intended to inspire.  Education was a gift granted by the goodness of our fellow man.   Long before we were an established nation, people in this territory thought it vital; government must “fulfill its responsibility to educate citizens.”  However, over time, this notion has been altered.

Possibly, what was the worse of our educational practices has become the norm.  In truth, equitable access to educational resources has never been veracity in the States.  Now, it is not only thought to be other than viable, it is no longer envisioned as essential.

Privatization has become our newfound instructional priority.  On every street corner people posit, schools cannot, must not, be “controlled” by the State. Innumerable legal residents of the country claim that only their child’s needs matter.  Even these can come at a cost that countless people without children are unwilling to pay. “No new taxes.”  “Cut all tariffs;” these are common cries amongst American citizenry.  Teach the children?

Others believe the price is worth the rewards.  These individuals think if we do not serve our children well, the commonweal will suffer as a whole.  Those who endorse a hundreds years legacy feel certain that privatization would be the death of what delivers creativity and breeds curiosity.  The destruction or deconstruction is already apparent. It has been verified as well as felt.

Education endorsed and encouraged can nurture the future.  Privatization skeptics believe that the more powerful corporations become, the more commerce and calculations will dominate our school system.  Indeed, it has.  Yet, apparently, the Los Angeles Unified School District worries not.  Therefore, Los Angeles Schools Sought Sponsors.  Subsides were found.

What has been a common fear since the first settlers landed at Plymouth Rock is the newer truth in Southern California, in Wisconsin too.  Indeed, in many ways the drift to corporate sponsorship in schools has been slow, subtle; yet, long present.

Some may recall a time when sports stadiums and arenas were named after a team.  Long ago, highways were maintained by government agencies.  At present, fields and portions of freeways are sponsored by for-profit businesses.  So too are our schools.  The times, they have changed.

Much of the public believes this newer reality is better.  For them, the government is just too big.  We must take the State out of our every endeavor. After all, in the United States, free enterprise is the way. An open market is trusted by most to be wiser than any other system.  Businesses, it is said, balance books.  The statistics a company gathers guarantee greater productivity and proof of greater success. Numbers rule.  That is why people currently trust the federal, state, and local budgetary concerns must be our priority.  We, as a nation have no dollars and near nil cents [sense.]

Creativity? Curiosity?  Critical thinking?  These are trends of the past.  Progress?  Only you can decide for yourself.  We might all wonder; what will the children conclude.

References and Realities Realized . . .


To Believe

Milan – 5 Year Old Girl Basketball Star- Basketball Training

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Begin it now.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), [German Poet and Dramatist]

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety- nine who have only interest.

~ John Stuart Mill [Philosopher]

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.

We are born with an innate wisdom.  Each step we take helps us to grow wiser, or more full of woe.  The information we acquire often gives birth to anguish.  Too much elucidation is never enough.  As an infant, we yearn to learn.  Babies gaze, grasp, and get what they desire.  No harm comes to one who cannot move beyond, thus, thrives, in a protected environment.  Those fresh from the delivery room do not harbor expectations.  Few are placed upon them.  Existence, for the newborn, is a game of anticipation.  There are no rules, no regulations, and initially no reprimands.  The littlest children believe and thus, they achieve.  

As the babes develop, they explore beyond a crib.  Tots crawl.  They climb into this or that.  A drawer prompts a dive.  A pool promises a plunge.  When a small one wanders, a caregiver knows not where a tiny youngster will go.  Parents begin to place barriers in the child’s way, more are situated into the young one’s mind.  

Cries of caution come from elders.  “No!”  Mom might say.  “Do not do that,” Dad declares.  “How could you?” sister may scorn.  “Stop it!” the older son spurns.  Babysitters bark.  Guardians disapprovingly grunt.  The smaller sweet soul shrinks back.  He or she begins to understand knowledge is not power.  It is not good to grow the gray matter.  The more you recognize, the less you wish to realize.

“Curiosity,” a child is told, “kills the cat,” and research might end a relationship with the ones who once appreciated inquisitiveness.  A tiny world traveler, as a toddler will talk.  The most oft spoken word is “Why?”  

The inquiry may tickle a mother, father, grandparent, or other older person, at first.  However, after a time, grown-ups tire of what they perceive as too many questions.  In truth, it may be an embarrassed elder does not know the answers, and will not admit to ignorance on any subject.  Perchance, the person the youngster approaches believes the child does not truly care to gather details.  A mature man or woman might surmise to the tot, investigations are but a game.

Frequently, folks who have lost interest in discovery, or determined it is best not to be open to the novel, turn inward.  Fear of disdain from those a little one loves may have dampened a spirit.  Disparagement, invoked by strangers, can also scar an vibrant scientist.  An energetic essences is fragile in the face of foils.  Too many disappointments teach individuals not to delve into discussions or dare to do as they once thought possible.  

Yet, on occasion, a child is groomed to grow.  A nipper snaps with ability not yet quashed.  An innocent does not adopt inhibition.  Reticence is not realized, for rarely; yet thankfully, a naïve creature is given permission to be, to believe, and ultimately, to achieve.  

Some parents plum their progeny.  An instructor may provide incentives.  Inspiration can be caught, or taught.  Five year-old Milan, who dribble three basketballs with ease might remind us that a vision is worth more than money.  Words and wisdom that advance woe do not allow for accomplishments.  As the Triple Threat Academy, amongst the teachers of tiny Milan express. “Every player has the potential to be great, not only on the basketball court, but in the game of life.”

An experience that encourages, will help a little one realize that lessons learned “on the court can help shape their lives off the court as well. Education is a fundamental element” if edification, enlightenment is to be enjoyable.

If wisdom is to be wondrous, those old, and sage, must promise to teach the children well.   The more physically mature must practice as Author Napoleon Hill professed, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

It is the Economy [or Education], Stup**! ©

Perhaps, in this election year, it is the economy, stup***.  President George Bush declares he knows this well.  “I reminded you that I understand that the economy is always a salient issue in campaigns.”  For this oilman President, money matters more than scholarship. 

You, dear reader might recall, at a Yale graduation ceremony, George W. Bush said to the seniors, “To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done.  And to the C students, I say you, too, can be President of the United States.”  The implication is a world leader need not be academically “accountable.”  There are others means towards success and George W. Bush chased these diligently.  He did as generations of his dynasty did before him; he followed the money.

The Baby Bush endows entrepreneurial enterprises.  Examples of Bush the business benefactor are ample; he has long sponsored the rise of the wealthy class and the fall of the masses.  However, in an attempt to appease the many, this noble “decider”  and his Administration is reaching out to the common man, woman, and child.  The benevolent Bush in his infinite wisdom is giving money to educators.

In the closing weeks of the fall campaign, the Bush administration is handing out money for teachers who raise student test scores, [this is] the first federal effort to reward classroom performance with bonuses.

Apparently, the President perceives applause and appreciation  as not enough to encourage excellence in our schools.  He thinks he must send money.  However, just as a disconnected parent doles out dollars to his or her offspring if the child says, does, thinks, and performs, as the parent dictates is proper, Mr. Bush delivers cash only to those that follow his lead.

Our compassionate President, George W. Bush cares not for the quality of learning.  He shows no interest in genuine instruction.  He ignores pedagogical principles.  Mr. Bush only wants results.  He is selling the idea “Teach to the test!” and he is willing to pay for those who do his bidding.

In the world of George W. Bush, rote responses are reasonable; in fact, they are required.  Regardless of their evident and harmful effect on authentic scholarship, Americans stand behind the construct of “accountability.”  Yet, as we evaluate American students knowledge in contrast to those in other countries, we discover the difference is great.  The youth in the United States do not fare well; their counterparts excel.

A study sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development states education and achievement in this country have suffered.

High school students in Hong Kong, Finland and South Korea do best in mathematics among those in 40 surveyed countries while students in the United States finished in the bottom half, according to a new international comparison of mathematical skills shown by 15-year-olds.

The United States was also cited as having the poorest outcomes per dollar spent on education.  It ranked 28th of 40 countries in math and 18th in reading.

Students in the United States are doing less well today than they were only three short years ago.  “The gap between the best and worst performing countries has widened,” said Andreas Schleicher, the official who directed the study and wrote the final report.

George W. Bush, our “C” student President, deems “standards must be meet,” and they are.  However, these newer goals advance a decline in authentic scholarship.  Still Bush rants and rallies on.

Since 2001, Mr. Bush has claimed that testing is the answer.  High scores on rigid and rote evaluations will yield wisdom.  In truth, the reverse is true.

Under the auspices of an Administration obsessed with the “averages,” American students must be accountable.  George Bush believes in the dogma and diligence of tests, and the ranks they produce, above all else.  For him, there is no other valid option.

“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
~ Abraham Maslow

However, in my own life I see the fallacy of this “thinking.”  I recall a time in seventh grade when I became enamored with what was evident.  Be a quiet, well-mannered student, one that memorizes and regurgitates well and “As” will be yours.  I realized as I observed Dawn and Joni, two young girls that were far from the brightest bulbs, that intelligence was not recorded in grades.  Test scores did not document scholarship.  Standards were just that.  In truth, those that meet the requirements, were often sub-standard.

True erudition suffers when testing scores tell the tale.  Critical thinking and all that creates this is lost when we focus as George W. does on grades and rankings.  Please consider this report, Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math, from the, New York Times.

Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush’s signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bush proclaims, “If your measurement system shows that you’re providing excellence for your children, it seems to make sense that there ought to be a little extra incentive.” 

  This prestigious President ignores the obvious, measurement systems may seem to show that “we” are providing excellence; however, other observations demonstrate that testing and the desire to furnish verifiable statistics is burdening our students, schools, and American society.  Let us consider the cornerstone of the Bush Education policy, No Child Left Behind.

Nevertheless, the “hammer” pounds on.  He pulls nails out that do not please him.  He punishes educators, institutions, and districts.

Please allow me to present a scenario that might help illustrate why focusing on testing or “teaching to the test” might not make sense when truly learning is the goal.  I ask you to reflect on your own life as a pupil.  Please place yourself in this situation.

You have a test to take.  The subject may be math; it may be science, English, or even history.  There are so many facts, figures, and formulas to remember.  You gather all your notes; your corrected homework assignments, your books, and you cram your brain with information.  You create flash cards.  You memorize answers to any possible question, to every probable query.  You recite the facts that you recall.  You ask family members to quiz you.  You call your classmates to ensure that you have all the particulars.  You sleep on your books hoping the knowledge will filter in through osmosis.  You wake early and review your books again.  You read your notes as you walk, drive, or ride to school.

You receive the exam, and wham; you realize that you know all the answers.  You do well.  An “A+” is your grade!  Then 5 minutes later, five hours later, five days later, five months later, or especially and even 5 years later, you know none of this information.  You did not learn it for a lifetime, but memorized it for a moment, only a minute, or two, maybe longer, yet not for all eternity.

Might I ask, does the grade reflect authentic understanding, astuteness, or intelligence.

I believe, and evidence supports my contention, rankings, standings, and statistics verify little of  what is really important.  For some they are a reflection of frustration; for others they exemplify an ability to solve puzzles.  A few are able to memorize; they can manipulate a system.  However, rarely do “standardized tests” report the essence of erudition or scholarship.  Substantiating the knowledge gained by a student or a class is not a simple process.  This determination cannot be graphed.  What can be calculated is the predictable predilection the President shows towards testing. 

I ask, in instructing our students, in facilitating growth for individuals, or for society at-large, does the practice of testing or teaching to the test truly advance wisdom.  Will we grow an imaginative, innovative, and inventive populace if we focus on the folly of testing?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
~ Albert Einstein

For me, a quality education offers the opportunity to blossom.  If subjects are taught in a way that promotes a genuine love of learning, then all else follows.  Remember a time when you wanted to learn.  perchance riding a two-wheeled bicycle was important to you.  Your mind was alert; you concentrated on your mission.  for me this desire to achieve became a daily endeavor.  I would devote time and energy to learning how to ride.

I spent hours each day and each evening pedaling around my Mom ‘s car while it was parked in the garage.  With one hand I would hold on to her vehicle, with the other I held the handlebars of my new mode of transportation.  I trained myself to maintain my balance.  The sessions were rewarding, even when I failed or fell.  I felt accomplished.  Learning how to do what passionately held my interest day in and day out was not work; it was a pleasure.

There is a reason that they say, “You never forget how to ride a bike.”  For that knowledge is priceless.  The longing to learn creates a lasting impression..  For me, that is what school must be in order to be truly effective.

Educators must be facilitators, mentors intent on originating autonomy.  I think the truest skill we need to teach is thinking.  It is a talent that too often is breed out of us.  When pupils, or people think there is an evolution.  Encouraging experiences are the catalyst for such growth.  I believe instructors, parents, and  administrators must be more cognizant of this virtue.  We all must be sensitive to students and not the statistics they generate.

“Learning is something students do, NOT something done to students.”
~ Alfie Kohn [American Lecturer, Author]

Whether we consider ourselves teachers or students, we will forever be both, simultaneously.  Every [human] being effects every other.  We gain knowledge we give wisdom.  I believe it is vital to consider that we are all Don Quixote; we can dream the impossible dream and then create it.  We all need and crave a supportive, patient, gentle, trusting soul that believes we can be what we want to be.

One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety- nine who have only interest.
~ John Stuart Mill [Philosopher]

Please review the musings of another educator.  Perchance, this writing will ring true for you.

What Testing Means for Children

All in all, increased testing results in increased pressure on teachers and children.  In a school guided by developmental concerns, teachers place much less emphasis on the tests.  If, however, tests play a significant role in grade advancement, or the tests are the primary basis for the school’s so-called accountability, teachers feel compelled to spend considerable time preparing children to take the tests.  In such settings, the tests become the school curriculum.

Preparation usually begins many weeks before the actual testing.  During this period, two to three hours a day are often devoted to practice tests and exercises, all alien to the ongoing instruction and the usual student response patterns.  The teachers readily acknowledge that the questions comprising the practice exercises, similar to those on the real test, are “trivial and unimportant.”  Moreover, the possible responses contain words that children likely have never seen and certainly don’t use.  The practice time is wasted time, yet some teachers believe it is important to waste the time: they are preparing students for the test. 

By the time the three days of real testing is completed–after children have been admonished to “get a lot of sleep,” “remember that this test is very important,” “take all your books off your desks,” “leave your calculators at home,” “keep your eyes down on your own papers” and “ask no one for help”–weeks, sometimes months, will have passed. 

Time for real books will have been sacrificed for time spent reading isolated paragraphs and then answering several multiple-choice questions.  Rather than posing problems for which math might be used, in the process coming to a natural and deeper understanding of math concepts, time will have been spent on reviewing skills such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, and division–all in isolation.  Little time will have been given to science and social studies, other than the concentration on factual information that isn’t particularly useful or generative of on-going interest.  Time is a valuable commodity; it should not be wasted in this manner.

However, it is. 

Now, with money, cold hard cash coming from our compassionate Commander, George Bush teachers, administrators, and districts will again be called upon.  They must decide.  Do these educators wish to sacrifice their students and themselves for the almighty dollar, or do they wish to truly deliver wisdom.  Will rote be the ruling or will inspiration, imagination, and innovation again return to our American classrooms.

United States citizens claim to be concerned; they perceive competition worldwide.  Yet we knowingly,  have allowed American students to enter the marketplace ill prepared.  Americans have ignored what matters, the quality of life, living, and learning.  We as Americans have not advanced the passion for knowledge.  May I offer . . .

“A man without passion would be like a body without a soul.  Or even more grotesque, like a soul without a body.”
~ Edward Abbey [American Author.  Essayist.  1927 to 1989]

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” 
~ Henri Frederic Amiel [Swiss Poet, Philosopher, Critic 1821 to 1881]

Economics, Education, Evaluation . . .
President Bush Holds News Conference. Cable News Network. October 11, 2006
Bush returns to Yale for commencement speech. Cable News Network. May 21, 2001
Money starts flowing in teacher bonus program. Cable News Network. October 23, 2006
Schools Cut Back Subjects to Push Reading and Math, By Sam Dillon, New York Times. March 26, 2006
The Bush Dynasty. CBS News. August 31, 2004
Bush Family Value$, By By Stephen Pizzo. Mother Jones. September 1, 1992
U.S. Students Fare Badly in International Survey of Math Skills, By Floyd Norris. New York Times.  December 7, 2004
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
John Stossel’s ‘Stupid in America,’ ABC News. January 13, 2006
American Students Failing to Meet Global Standards. The Center for Education Reform (CER). September 26, 2006
Why “No Child Left Behind” Will Fail Our Children. FairTest. The National Center for Fair & Open Testing
No Child Left Behind, US Department of Education
No Child Left Behind Fails to Close Achievement Gap, By Claudio Sanchez. Weekend Edition. Sunday, January 8, 2006
Candidates agree that No Child Left Behind has failed, By Charles Hallman. Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. October 25, 2006
Every Child Left Behind, By Britt Robson. City Pages. March 10, 2004
State Lawmakers Fault ‘No Child Left Behind’, By Scott Simon.  Weekend Edition.  Saturday, February 26, 2005
Education and No Child Left Behind, Hosted by Tom Ashbrook. On Point, National Public Radio.  March 29, 2006
Bipartisan panel to study No Child Left Behind, By Greg Toppo, USA Today. February 13, 2006
What Is Wrong With Standardized Testing The National Center for Fair & Open Testing
On Standardized Testing, By Vito Perrone. Association for Childhood Education International. 1991
No Child Left Behind? National Education Association. May 2003

Single and Married Parents Spend More Time With Children. Much is Lost

© copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

Decades ago on October 16, I was born into a family that admittedly wanted no more children.  My mother was not working; nevertheless, before and after my birth she was rarely home.  My natural father did not wish to entertain the notion of a newborn.  With my birth, he decided to focus on life far from the family house.  During my youth it was thought, parents spent time with their progeny.  However, mine did not.

On October 16, 2006, a report was released, “Married and Single Parents [are] Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds.”  This too, is not as expected.  New York Times Journalist, Robert Pears reveals, “Mothers are spending at least as much time with their children today as they did 40 years ago, and the amount of child care and housework performed by fathers has sharply increased.” 

Thousands of personal diaries were analyzed and assessed by University of Maryland researchers, Sociology Department Chairwoman Suzanne M. Bianchi, Professor John P. Robinson, and Melissa A. Milkie. 

For the purposes of this study, parents were asked to chronicle all their activities on the day before an intensive interview.  The findings were published in a new Russell Sage Foundation book, “Changing Rhythms of American Family Life.”

Ms. Bianchi worked for the United States Census Bureau for sixteen years.  There she developed an interest in family life.  The research done for this study builds on her work as a demographer.

In discussing this investigation, Bianchi stated, “We might have expected mothers to curtail the time spent caring for their children, but they do not seem to have done so.”  She continues, “They certainly did curtail the time they spent on housework.” 

The researchers found that “women still do twice as much housework and child care as men” in two-parent families.  But they said that total hours of work by mothers and fathers were roughly equal, when they counted paid and unpaid work.

Using this measure, the researchers found “remarkable gender equality in total workloads,” averaging nearly 65 hours a week.

These words appear and many other glowing evaluations appear early on in the Times article.  It would seem at first blush parents are pursuing a balanced relationship with their offspring.  Perchance they are.

I offer some of the other appraisal for your consideration.

“It seems reasonable to expect that parental investment in child-rearing would have declined” since 1965, when 60 percent of all children lived in families with a breadwinner father and a stay-at-home mother.  Only about 30 percent of children now live in such families.  With more mothers in paid jobs, many policy makers have assumed that parents must have less time to interact with their children.

But, the researchers say, the conventional wisdom is not borne out by the data they collected from families asked to account for their time.  The researchers found, to their surprise, that married and single parents spent more time teaching, playing with and caring for their children than parents did 40 years ago.

For married mothers, the time spent on child care activities increased to an average of 12.9 hours a week in 2000, from 10.6 hours in 1965.  For married fathers, the time spent on childcare more than doubled, to 6.5 hours a week, from 2.6 hours.  Single mothers reported spending 11.8 hours a week on child care, up from 7.5 hours in 1965.

Wow, this realization is truly wonderful.  One could surmise that Americans discovered the truth, just as our former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich did.  There is no true balance.  People must choose their priorities.  Do they desire a glorious career or a fabulous family?  Some in the study did decide.

? Many couples delay having children to “a point later in life when they want to spend time with those children.”  People who are uninterested in raising children can “opt out of parenting altogether,” by using birth control.
? Families are smaller today than in 1965, and parents are more affluent, so they can invest more time and money in each child.
? Social norms and expectations have changed, prompting parents to make “greater and greater investments in child-rearing.” 
  [Yet, this is part of the problem as I see it]
? As couples have fewer children, they feel “pressure to rear a perfect child.” 

Ah, the “perfect child.”  The young person of today is followed or pushed by the ideal parent.  Perhaps this explains much.

Parents today are spending time with their children as they drive them hither and yon.  The youth in America are enrolled in everything.  According to the publisher of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, By Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., Nicole Wise, and Robert Coles . . .

Parenting today has come to resemble a relentless To-Do list.  Even parents with the best intentions strive to micro-manage every detail of their kids’ lives and live in constant fear that their child will under-perform in any area – academic, social, athletic.  Lists and schedules, meetings and appointments invade every moment – and the need to be the best is a philosophy dominating – and undermining – our own sense of self as well as our children’s.

In my own life I may not have been given the structure that constant companionship or parental supervision provide.  However, I was given the freedom to think, to be, to imagine, to invent, and to inspire myself.  I was able to fashion a life that reflected my inner most joys.  Activities were not imposed upon me.  I immersed myself in personal pursuits.  My parents did not choose my interests; nor did they force me to compete.  I was deprived of their time, and rewarded with many opportunities. 

I learned to enjoy my own company and to create an unparalleled community.  The world of me, myself, and I was wondrous, full and expansive. It included my grandfather, who took care of me frequently.  Mary, my caregiver was my daily companion, and though for the first five years my Mom was not fully physically present, she was totally, emotionally there for me. 

My Mom recognized her own need to be a better parent and person and set out to become so.  In the interim, she consulted regularly with Mary.  She established a connection with me by expressing her desires to Mary.  She discussed child-rearing in depth and detail  She knew what she wanted for me.  My Mom ensured that my upbringing was the best it could be until she could again fully join me and advance my greater growth.  I was given time to play and contemplate. 

My resources were inspirational readings, paper, pencils, and toys tailored for investigation.  Egg poaching pots and pans were early energizers.  Coloring books were considered too restrictive for a creative soul.  Thus, structures were my own.  I was encouraged to explore, to be curious, and to be the best of scientists.  The phrase often uttered in my family was, “Ask, and you shall receive.”  Gifts were not meaningless materials; they were loving and thoughtful trinkets, gems, words of wisdom and gestures of support.  What was given was invaluable, encouragement and engagement.

In recent years, many child development experts have voiced increasing concern over the fact that children are accorded little time or encouragement to engage in imaginative play.  Too many children are overscheduled with school and other activities, according to these experts.

Even sports, in which an adult sets the framework, leave little room for the development of creative thinking in children, these experts say.

When children do have time to play, they too often play with a pre-programmed electronic toy or sit in front of a screen — television, computer, or hand-held game — responding to a scenario created by someone else, experts say.

As a result, children are developing a “problem-solving deficit disorder,” says Diane Levin, a child development expert at Wheelock College in Boston. “Developing imagination and creativity is essential for children to develop problem-solving skills.” 

Today, we as a society are saturated in standards.  As parents, producers, and power-mongers we seek accountability.  We prefer systems and forego freedoms.  We teach our children to do the same.

In educational settings, they must engage in collaborative learning projects.  In sports, they are trained to be part of the team.  Throughout their young lives, our offspring are prepared.  They must attend the “best” schools and receive honors for their studies.  They are readied for their proper role in society.  They, just as their parents, will occupy an “appropriate” station.  The young today need not think; nor are they taught how.  They, as their employed mothers and many fathers have no time for such supposed silliness. 

In today’s society, thinking is not considered necessary.  We are taught to quote facts and use these to formulate a life.  Our life is expected to be parallel to that of others. 

Intellectually we may feel free to be who we are; however, in truth, conformity, not deep thought is the guiding light, and publicly accepted principle that many of us follow.  We, as a population, are as many employed mothers . . .

On average, the researchers said, employed mothers get somewhat less sleep and watch less television than mothers who are not employed.  [The latter may not necessarily be a bad thing.]  . . . they [employed mothers] also spend less time with their husbands.

Sadly, I suspect, we as a nation are not teaching our children well.  We present information and demand prevailing tenets.  Society states, “There is a need for scientists and mathematicians.”  Teach the formulas, the facts and create technicians.

Administrators and those in favor of “accountability” say, “Forget the Fine Arts; they do not yield the fruits we as a nation need to survive.”  Apparently, the need for curiosity and creativity is void.  Thus, we stuff the minds of our children with statistics; we command them to “meet the standards.”  We no longer require, nor do we teach our young to think.

As this New York Times article concludes, in 2006, nothing is as it appears.  Couples may stay together, though they rarely spend time with each other.  Husbands and wives are not friends; they barely know each other.  People, partners are busy.  Families run from here to there, mindlessly.  People do not realize their dreams, though they constantly race towards them.  They believe there may be other possibilities; yet, they never conceive these.

I surmise that parents spending more time with their children may not breed what we human animals crave.  The connections we yearn for are lost in the dust as we scurry about.  We are rushing, chasing a career, our children, or the competition; yet, we forfeit our selves.  Our souls are lost.  Only on occasion do we imagine what we might be within.  We are too busy, too busy to breathe.

In today’s world, hours, minutes, and seconds, man-made constructs govern us.  We measure these as though they can be quantified and qualified.  We treat our children and time as tangibles.  Researchers want to theorize the more time together the merrier; however, in reality this is not true.

I propose we not evaluate schedules when appraising the value of a relationship.  Instead, I invite each of us to assess reciprocal reverence in the parent child connection.  This characteristic is not necessarily visible or verifiable.  Calculations cannot always determine excellence within such a bond. 

If parents tell their children what to think, say, do, feel, or be in a moment or in many moments, this will not gratify the souls of our youth.  It will not engender closeness.  Nor will it make our offspring better human beings.  Time spent together may be important.  However, it is not more critical than what we do with our time.

  • I offer another glorious essay by Helaine Olen.  This exposé also evaluates the parent child relationship in 2006.  ‘Gifted Child Industry’ Preys on Parents’ Insecurities, does not paint a pretty picture.

    References for your review . . .

    You may subscribe to the New York Times Online Newspaper without cost or obligation.  It is free.
    If you prefer to read the article online without subscribing, please click on this PDF [Portable Document Format] version of the exposé.

  • PDF “Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds,” By Robert Pear. New York Times October 16, 2006
  • “Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds,” By Robert Pear. New York Times October 16, 2006
  • “Changing Rhythms of American Family Life,” By Suzanne M. Bianchi,John P. Robinson, Melissa A. Milkie
  • Suzanne M. Bianchi. Maryland Population Research Center
  • John P. Robinson. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
  • Melissa A. Milkie. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
  • Russell Sage Foundation and the American Sociological Association
  • Census Bureau. U.S. Government Census Bureau
  • The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, By Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., Nicole Wise, Robert Coles
  • Experts concerned about children’s creative thinking, By Karen MacPherson. Post-Gazette. Sunday, August 15, 2004
  • The Family Leave Act, By Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor. New York Times November 8, 1996
  • For Parents: How To Raise a Kid Who Cares. Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can’t Read, Write, or Add, By Charles J. Sykes
  • Summary Dumbing Down Our Kids, By Charles J. Sykes
  • Dissecting the Dysfunctions That Lead Down the Path to Divorce, By Kathleen Kelleher, Special to The Los Angeles Times. Monday, September 18, 2000
  • Keeping Art Alive Under No Child Left Behind Act [NCLB], By Ellen R. Delisio. Education World® 2006
  • O, Say, Does Your Class Know the National Anthem?, By Ellen R. Delisio. Education World® 2006
  • Standards, Assessment and Accountability. U.S. Department of Education
  • Parent-Child Relationship Quality Depends on Child’s Perception of Fairness, By Jeremy Diener. Journal of Family Psychology. August 11, 2004
  • Accountability; History Textbooks Receive a Failing Grade ©

    A New York Times article, “Schoolbooks Are Given F’s in Originality,” caught my attention.  It stated that two of this nation’s most prominent history textbooks were virtual duplicates.  The authors were not the same; however, the words within these books were.  I was not totally surprised to see this, for I have often mused, “Who writes our history?”  We read the words within textbooks, repeat these, and recognize the specifics as fact.  Yet, how do we know that what we read is true.  According to the New York Times,  much of what is presented is not as it appears.

    Authors and academician whose names appear on the textbook cover do not pen what is within.  Dead authors do.  Ghostwriters compose even more; their contributions are expansive.  These indistinct individuals construct a convention.  Then we, a trusting public, accept what these unknowns inscribe.  What most of us believe is valid is not a universal veracity.

    Things change in the translation, much to the chagrin of noted authors.  When told that text within his book, “America: Pathways to the Present,” was essentially the same as that found in “A History of the United States,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Daniel J. Boorstin, Brooks Mather Kelley, and Ruth Frankel Boorstin, author, Historian Allan Winkler, stated “They were not my words.”  He continued, “It’s embarrassing.  It’s inexcusable.”  Yet, he excused it.

    Professor Winkler said he understood the editorial perils of textbook writing, but wanted to reach a wider audience.  He said he was not motivated by money.  Named authors share royalties, generally 10 to 15 percent of the net profits, on each printing of the text, whether they write it or not.

    Allan Winkler, a Historian at Miami University of Ohio, who supposedly wrote the 2005 edition of “Pathways,” book with Andrew Cayton, Elisabeth I. Perry, and Linda Reeder, was now making history, though not necessarily writing it.

    According to The New York Times, much of the text offered in the 2005 high school editions of each of these history textbooks was identical.  In discussing the September 11, 2001 tragedy or the Persian Gulf wars the verbiage was effectively the same.  We might conclude history no longer guides our textbook writings; power and money do.  Surprise!  Significant stories of eons gone by now must be short, sweet, and yes, even stup**.

    The American Textbook Council reports, the problem is

    what educators, critics, and journalists informally refer to as “dumbing down.”  Many history textbooks reflect lowered sights for general education.  They raise basic questions about sustaining literacy and civic understanding in a democratic society and culture.  Bright photographs, broken format and seductive color overwhelm the text and confuse the page.  Typeface is larger and looser, resulting in many fewer words and much more white space.  The text disappears or gets lost.  Among editors, phrases such as “text-heavy,” “information-loaded,” “fact-based,” and “non-visual” are negatives.  A picture, they insist, tells a thousand words.

    What appears in black, white, and is read all over is not as it appears. Authors are not as noted, and facts are flimsy.

    As editions pass, the names on the spine of a book may have only a distant or dated relation to the words between the covers, [it is] diluted with each successive edition.

    This according to people within the publishing industry.  Authors themselves make similar assertions.

    Again, the American Textbook Council states,

    Textbook content is thinner and thinner, and what there is, it is increasingly deformed by identity politics and pressure groups.

    Apparently, Political Action Committees produce much of the literature.  Politicians exert their power; they want those with these groups to vote for them.  Money and the market are influential. A contract with a major school district is worth tens of millions of dollars in profit.  If a State Department adopts a textbook series, the bucks will surely pour in.  Publishing is a business and we know businesses have their own self-interest at heart.

    Asking academicians to document a dynamic occurrence or two can deplete profits, and that would not be economically wise.  Therefore, it is rarely done anymore.  Historians may write the first edition, from there on, no one knows who authors a text.

    Professor Winkler, one of the authors of “America: Pathways to the Present,” said he and his co-authors had written “every word” of the first edition, aiming to teach American history from a sociological perspective, from the grass roots up.  But, he said, in updated editions, the authors reviewed passages written by freelancers or in-house writers or editors.

    He said the authors collaborated on their last major revision before September 11, 2001, working with editorial staff members in Boston.  But he said that after the attacks, he was not asked to write updates and was not shown revisions.

    “There was no reason in the world to think that we would not see material that was stuck in there at some point in the future,” Professor Winkler said.  “Given the fact that similar material was used in another book, we are really profoundly upset and outraged.”

    However, this practice is not a new one.

    Susan Buckley, a longtime writer and editor of elementary and high school social studies textbooks who retired after 35 years in the business, said that “whole stables” of unnamed writers sometimes wrote the more important high school textbooks, although in other instances, named authors wrote the first editions.  In elementary school textbooks, Ms. Buckley added, named authors almost never write their own text.

    She said even if named authors did not write the text, they had an important role as scholars, shaping coverage and reviewing copy.

    What that role might be is illusive.  It escapes many that read of this situation.

    Nevertheless, the concept and customs do not go unnoticed.  The watchful eye of William Cronon, a Historian at the University of Wisconsin, Madison is aware of what is happening in the textbook publishing world.  Mr. Cronon authored the statement on ethics for the American Historical Association.

    He said, textbooks are corporate-driven collaborations efforts.  The publisher governs the market.  They have well-defined rights to hire additional writers, researchers, and editors.  They may make major revisions without the authors’ final approval.  The books typically synthesize hundreds of works without using footnotes to credit sources.  The reason for these declaratory privileges is profit and a conciliatory stance to those in power.

    Professor Cronon affirms,

    “This is really about an awkward and embarrassing situation these authors have been put in because they’ve got involved in textbook publishing.”

    Textbook publishing is an industry like all others; the driving force is the desire to increase earnings.  Publishers must be innovative, imaginative; yet, they need not be truly instructive.  It is assumed educators will do that.  The printers of textbooks create a market regardless of a need.  Publishing houses know they have a captive audience.  Curriculums change little from semester to semester.  However, the text is altered regularly.  The publisher must create a demand so that they can offer a supply.  They have bills to pay.

    In a recent Washington Post article, Textbook Prices On the Rise, journalist Margaret Webb Pressler reported,

    the California Student Public Interest Research Group found that the average release time between textbook editions is 3.8 years, regardless of whether the information has changed since the previous version.  Of the textbooks surveyed, new editions cost 58 percent more than the older version, rising to an average cost of $102.44.

    Publishing corporate bigwigs cut corners as they relate to production and quality; however, they never lower the prices.  School districts know this, as do college students.  Again, according to the Washington Post,

    The National Association of College Bookstores says wholesale prices of college textbooks have risen nearly 40 percent in the past five years.  And students are finding that many of the same books are sold overseas at much lower prices.

    Yes, textbook publishing is quite beneficial.  The printer of these volumes realizes great earnings.  Textbook writing can also be quite a prize; authors satisfy their yearnings.  A textbook writer may achieve fame and perhaps, further his or her fortune. Allan Winkler acknowledges this.

    “I want the respect of my peers,” Professor Winkler said.  “I’ve written monographs, biographies,” but these reach a limited audience.  “I want to be able to tell that story to other people, and that’s what textbooks do.”

    Schoolbooks do tell a substantial story, though it may not be the tale Mr. Winkler or we expected.

    Thus, I ask again, “Who writes our history?”  The answer is, publishers, guided by profits, politicians promoting favorable policies, pressure groups, then historians.  After all, Historians seeking acknowledgment from their peers do submit their anecdotes; however, these contributions are less important.  Over time, historical accounts will be lost, just as our past is.  Apparently, profits and power are our only presents [presence.]

    • Author and Professor, James Loewen was kind enough to visit Be-Think and read this exposé.  He offered his reflections, and I realized I was remiss in acknowledging Mr. Loewen in my missive.  Now, I wish to present this prominent researcher and writer.

    With thanks to James Loewen, the staff of the New York Times became aware of the conundrum existing in our schools.  Dr. Loewen disclosed the fact that high school Social Science textbooks are not as they appear to be.  It was his awareness for the sad the state of affairs that enhanced the knowledge of others.  I wish to publicly acknowledge a wise and wonderful scholar, James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, and now Sundown Towns.  Please visit the James Loewen webpage and ponder further.

    Read What is Written, if you choose . . .

    Schoolbooks Are Given F’s in Originality, By Diana Jean Schemo. The New York Times. July 13, 2006
    “America: Pathways to the Present,” By Andrew R. L. Cayton, Elisabeth Israels Perry, Linda Reed, Allan M. Winkler
    “A History of the United States,” written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Historian Daniel J. Boorstin and Brooks Mather Kelley, Ruth Frankel Boorstin
    Allan Winkler, Organization of American Historians
    Daniel J. Boorstin 1914-2004 The Library of Congress
    America: Pathways to the Present, This Prentice Hall “History” Text Is Essentially a Propaganda Tract By John Fonte. The Textbook League.
    Widely Adopted History Textbooks American Textbook Council.
    American Textbook Council.
    Testimony of Gilbert T. Sewall, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing. American Textbook Council. September 24, 2003
    Doing It by The Book, Textbook Publishers Profiting from Students’ Loss. By Tim Paulson. Corporate MOFO.
    Textbook Prices On the Rise, Frequent New Editions, Supplemental Materials Drive Up Costs, By Margaret Webb Pressler. Washington Post. Saturday, September 18, 2004
    California Student Public Interest Research Group
    Frequently Asked Questions About Textbooks The Association of American Publishers (AAP)
    Directory of Publishers and Vendors, Education Publishers, AcqWeb.
    Getting Started Creating A Textbook, By David A. Rees, Southern Utah University. Society of Academic Authors.
    When Government Writes History, A Memoir of the 9/11 Commission. By Ernest R. May. The New Republic. May 16, 2005

    Teach The Children; We Do.

    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Days ago, I published a piece that I knew was controversial.  I posted it here at Be-Think and at Village Blue. In my original writing, I examined the vocal discussion surrounding a child’s molestation.  A group of twelve boys, all between the ages of eight and six were responsible for this attack, though many said negligent teachers were.  Few if any spoke of the boys’ parents or more importantly, in my mind, what we, as a society teach. I did.

    I suspected my stance might not be considered correct by some, even though my intent was to teach peace.  The incident raised the “hackles” of one reader; s/he did think the teachers needed to be more vigilant.  Possibly, that may be true.  However, for me, this all too frequently stated focus was distracting.

    I felt and feel there was so much more to discuss.  That brings me to this writing.  I want to expand my sharing.  I think it may be helpful if I offer examples that are more practical.  I would like to present ones that most anyone can relate to.  I have decided to make public my reply to the person that thought my stance unsettling.  I invite you, dear reader to discuss, to offer opinions, and to help me reflect.

    The treatise, “Second-Grade Girl Attacked. “Where Were the Adults?”  Everywhere! ©,” was lengthy and offered many examples of how we “adults” teach aggression and actively demonstrate our love of war.  The missive mentions bully, badgering, belittling, and hints at many other forms of similar behavior.  I might have documented what children watch on television, or I could have gone where I later went, to the daily doings that teach.

    I felt, the comment received at Village Blue was one that did as the newscasters and school administrators were, it blamed the teachers, poor supervision for the attack.  I disagreed.  I believe looking at the parts and not the whole is ultimately, an exercise in futility.  Yes, the minutia is important, though I think it can ignore more of the minute details than it addresses.  A broader perspective, inclusive of the ditty-gritty I regard as more helpful.  This may be why I realized a need to present everyday occurrences.

    The respondent interpreted my disagreement as a closed door.  That was not and will never be my intention.  I inscribed what I hope facilitates greater understanding . . .

    Dear [name excluded with respect] . . .

    Yes, absolutely, I wrote to evoke a gentle discussion.  After all my contention is that too often we, as “adults” are not peaceful and then wonder why indiscretions such as this might occur.  We do not ponder what we create; we merely blame others for their role.  People, society, often negate their own role.

    No one can monitor everyone, everywhere.  The thought, I think is unrealistic.  If we watch what we model, and ourselves we can do wonders.

    Let me illustrate with examples that are more practical.  A parent and child are at a pool.  It might be a neighborhood swimming-hole or a backyard facility.  It matters not.  The parent might be reading, chatting, or applying skin screen to his or her own skin.  For a moment, they are not fully engaged while observing their child.  The youngster gets caught in a trap, takes a dive, looses balance, swallows water . . .it could be anything.  Instantly, they are gone, badly injured, permanently debilitated.

    I trust the parent will blame him or herself, the spouse might too, and then there are the grandparents.  This example applies only to the idea of supervising the young.

    Yes, this is a totally different circumstance than an assault.  Please allow me to continue.  With one exception, I was thirty-nine years old before I was yelled at.  I had no idea.  Many communicate this way.  Screaming can be heard daily, in their homes.  Hostility reigns.  Elder persons set this example.

    Please accept another.  For well over a decade I swam at a public pool.  It was an adult-only facility, persons needed to be twenty-one or over to enter.  A sign was posted stating this.  It was also a community pool; association fees were paid.  Residents needed to register for the privilege of using the amenities.  I swam there daily.  Rarely was there a week that went by without “adults” bringing in their children.  They argued when asked to leave.  Many knowing violated the instructions.

    This was an upscale, well-educated neighborhood.  There was a family pool one short block away.  Nevertheless, these wise and wonderful financially successful, and professional people, esteemed throughout society did as they did, regularly and often.

    Do I think this is the only aspect of life that they treated with disregard; I do not.  People tend to be extremely consistent.  Might these people ignore the rules in many areas of their lives?  Do we know whether aggression is their preferred behavior?  Is rebellion their habit?  Do we know what they were taught as children?  We certainly can observe what they are teaching their progeny.

    We can accept that there is too much to change and that we cannot do it all, or we can speak aloud, write, discuss and hopefully create a society that is more reflective.  Individuals, and we as a whole, need to know that blaming benefits no one.  We all have much work to do.

    It is only the giving that makes us what [who] we are.  – Ian Anderson.  Jethro Tull . . . Betsy

    I closed my response there; however, please permit me sneak in a bit further.  May I mention what occurs in front of our youths faces, on television and in their homes.

    On screens across the country, for more hours than they eat or sleep, our young view violent programming.  Cartoons, movies, even situation comedies immerse our progeny in satire.  The young learn it is better to lampoon, ridicule, and make fun of their friends and family, than it is to engage them lovingly.  Sexual content is also shown.  Physical intimacy is viewed as that; it is often void of emotional bonding.  “Making love” is a tool for manipulation, power, and pandering.  How lovely.  What a world we create for our youth.  We teach them well.

    In living rooms and street corners everywhere, we as a society learn how to survive, thrive, struggle, and relate.  Sadly, it is rarely a pretty picture.  We war, wail, worry, and weep; seldom do we grow beyond what is.  We see the cycle; yet feel powerless to change it.  Excuses are made.  There is too much, too many, it is all too overwhelming.  I think it is not.  I trust that we can take a step at a time and ultimately, change the world.  I want to work towards this.  I ask you to join me.

  • Officials: 1st- and 2nd-grade boys sexually assault girlCNN News. Wednesday, May 10, 2006
  • How To Behave so your children will, too! by Sal Severe. Child Development Institute
  • Constant Yelling Can Be Just As Harmful to Children as Physical Abuse Adults and Children Together Against Violence
  • Yelling Parenting and Child Health
  • Relationships Within The Family Psychological Self-Help
  • Screaming at children seldom helps, may hurt New York Times, November 14, 2004
  • Interpersonal Conflict and Effective Communication By Donna Bellafiore. Copyright Simmonds Publications
  • Passive-aggressive behavior Wikipedia
  • Bullying: Facts for Schools and Parents, By Andrea Cohn & Andrea Canter, Ph.D., NCSP, National Association of School Psychologists
  • Fostering Goodness: Teaching Parents to Facilitate Children’s Moral Development Marvin W. Berkowitz, PhD. Marquette University
  • Understanding Dysfunctional Relationship Patterns in Your Family The Counseling Center
  • Second-Grade Girl Attacked. “Where Were the Adults?” Everywhere! ©

    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Today the news is flooded with reports; a second grade girl was molested.  She is eight years of age.  Her attackers, twelve boys, were between the ages of six and eight.  Adults, nationwide, are in a tizzy.  Interviews are being conducted with the principal of Columbia Accelerated Community Educational Center.  Board members are being consulted publicly.  Parents are speaking out.  Neighbors are in an uproar.

    In this north-side St. Louis school, 400 students, pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, were exposed to an awful crime; aggressions of the most awful sort were inflicted upon a young girl.  There is much uproar and repeatedly the words are stated, “Where were the adults?”

    Once this transgression was discovered, two teachers were dismissed.  One instructor was easily eliminated for her status was only temporary.  Legally, s/he was not bound to the system; s/he was a long-term substitute teacher.  The other was asked to leave; s/he has been suspended.  Investigations are pending.

    The dynamics are feverously discussed.  A playground, by its nature is difficult to view in full from any given angle.  There are nooks, crannies, and blind spots.  Children are can hide or become invisible.  Buildings are barriers and there are other natural obstructions.  That matters not.  The clamor continues, “Where were the adults?”  Why were the teachers not more vigilant?  Why did the authorities not move about more quickly, carefully, or find a way to be in infinite places simultaneously.

    As of yet, I have heard no calls to increase playground personnel, not that I think this would have truly made much of a difference.  Yes, it would be nice if “adults” were more visible during playtimes.  However, if there were more elders, I do not believe the attack would have been any less likely.  Children can and do wait for a better time or for circumstances that are more amenable.  If I had heard a discussion proposing the possibility of more supervision, I would feel the same disgust and distress I am experiencing now.  It is the query that bothers me, “Where were the adults?”

    The sight of an older individual does not deter thoughts that are already born.  Our youth have seen elders all of their lives and it is the behavior of grown-ups, immature grown-ups, that stimulates aggressions such as these.  Nevertheless, society is surprised and appalled by this event; and I wonder why.

    For me the burgeoning question, “Where were the adults?” is a ridiculous one.  They were everywhere.  They are all about in a child’s life.  The wise, weary, and wrinkled ones have ample influence, more than they know or are willing to accept.  They, the elders teach the children through their actions and inaction.  Grown-ups, with their fully developed minds [ha!] and bodies, teach our youth well.  They model.

    Children of any and every age see what older persons do, say, feel, think, and are; they witness the foolishness, the fetishes, and the all too familiar fanaticism of mature minds and they mimic.  The young are well aware of seniors’ obsession with sex, violence, badgering, and bullying.  They observe indiscriminate wars; they experience verbal, physical, and mental battles.  They learn.

    Young persons witness the wounds and weapons wielded by their parents, guardians, protectors, and heroes.  They notice the pleasure adult people experience when inflicting pain.  We, the “adults,” mold the minds of our youth.  The precious brains of the naive absorb what they are exposed to.  They soak up what they are shown; they are little sponges.

    Each day, hour, and minute we teach the progeny what to do, say, feel, think, and be!  They watch as we perform.  I feel certain their dreams are filled with the follies of their elders.  Wow, what a nightmare.

    Children watch the boob tube.  For many it is their constant companion and baby-sitter.  They go to the movies, view music videos, play games, and are praised when they win.  They are taught to beat the clock, the rest, and the best of them.  Scores are being kept for what is tangible.  Honorable acts or behaviors receive little no recognition.

    Western civilized society instructs its youth to battle, belittle, besiege, at any opportunity.  Tease, taunt, and tell everyone you are right and they are wrong, then you will be noticed.  Children want to be noticed; so too do “adults.”

    Diplomacy is but a dream.  Empathy is a fleeting notion; evolution at present seems only a myth.  “Where were the adults?”  They were everywhere and nowhere to be found!

    I offer the following articles for your review.  Typically, I would incorporate them in the text.  However, I do not want to preach.  I long ago realized reflection, personal pondering is the best, if not the only way knowledge is acquired.  Wisdom comes when we are ready for it, open to it, and searching.

    I cannot force you to seek or discover; nor would I wish to.  I have my own learning to do.  I can only care, share, and hope that you will choose reflection and growth.  I know that is a challenge.  It has been mine.  Here are some interesting assessments in answer to the question, “Where were the adults?”  Read as you desire.

    Adult On Adult Aggressions With Sexual Overtones, Authority Figures Involved

  • Torture At Abu Ghraib By Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker. May 10, 2004

    A fifty-three-page report, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba about Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse was not meant for public release.  Yet, The New Yorker magazine was able to obtain a copy.  The document was completed in late February 2004.  This study reveals what those “adults” in positions of authority can and did do.

    Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

    Homeland Aide Faces Cyber-Sex Charges CBS News April 5, 2006

    A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department was put on unpaid leave Wednesday after being charged with preying on a child through online sexual conversations with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.

  • Why Duke’s Response Was So Slow By PaulCuadros/Durham.  TIME Magazine

    Duke University officials were slow to respond to the rape allegations against members of the lacrosse team because Durham police officials doubted the accuser and grossly underestimated the seriousness of the allegations, according to a report released on Monday by a special committee formed to examine the administration’s role in the incident.

    Adult On Adult Aggressions . . .Waging, Wanting War

  • Bush Wanted War, By Richard Cohen.  Washington Post Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Bob Woodward says in his book, “Plan of Attack,” that not only was Bush fixated on Iraq, but by Thanksgiving of 2001, he already had told Don Rumsfeld to prepare a plan for the invasion of that country.  “Let’s get started on this,” the president said, cautioning the defense secretary not to tell anyone”

    . . . what was in Bush’s gut — not his head, mind you, but that elusive place where emotion resides.  It was there, in the moments after 9/11, that Bush truly decided on war, maybe because Saddam had once tried to kill George H.W. Bush, maybe because the neocons had convinced him that a brief war in Iraq would have long-term salutary consequences for the entire Middle East, maybe because he could not abide the thought that a monster like Saddam might die in his sleep — and maybe because he heard destiny calling.

  • The Coming Wars, By Seymour M. Hersh, January 24, 2005

    Bush has an aggressive and ambitious agenda for using that control?”against the mullahs in Iran and against targets in the ongoing war on terrorism?”during his second term.

    Adult On Adult Aggression . . . Bullying, Badgering, Belittling

  • U.S. policies toward immigrants unjust, By Shiva Bhaskar. Daily Bruin University of California-Los Angeles.  May 30, 2003
  • Police Sexual Abuse of Teenage Girls By Samuel Walker and Dawn Irlbeck June 2003

    Police sexual abuse of women includes a disturbing pattern of police officer exploitation of teenage girls. The majority of these cases, moreover, involve girls who are enrolled in police department-sponsored Explorers programs designed to give teens an understanding of police work.

  • Rodney King reluctant symbol of police brutality CNN News
  • Adult on Adult Aggression As Related To Competition, Cheating, Corruption

  • Pressure for good grades often leads to high stress, cheating, professors say By Barbara Palmer
    According to Denise Clark-Pope, a lecturer in the School of Education . . . “In every class where a test was administered, there was cheating.” Students feel as if their life success depends on getting the top SAT scores and the highest grades, she added. The students “know [cheating] is wrong; they tell me they wish they didn’t do it,” she said. “But they feel like the most important thing they do is get the grades, by hook or by crook.”

    Reality Television With Violent Tendencies

  • Survivor
  • Fear Factor
    Adults Influence on Child Development

  • The effect of adult influence on children’s preferences: compliance versus opposition. By Brehm
    The present study examined the effects of adult influence on the choice preferences of first and fifth grade girls and boys. It was found that when the adult directed the children as to which choice alternative to choose, all children (both grades and both sexes) preferred that alternative advocated by the adult. When however, the adult’s influence attempt was followed by another adult’s stating that the child should choose whatever he/she wanted, first graders displayed oppositional behavior (preferring the alternative not urged by the first adult), while fifth graders continued to comply with the first adult’s influence. These results suggested that oppositional behavior in first grade children may occur as a function of conflict between adults regarding adult control over the child.

    Care for your community . . .

  • The Effects of Electronic Media On A Developing Brain
  • Frontline Examines Impact of Television on Society in “Does TV Kill?”
  • Television, Violence, and Children
  • Children, sex, and the Internet By Heather Little -White, Ph.D., Jamaica Gleaner Sunday, May 7, 2006
  • The Influence Of Music and Music Videos American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry