Posts Tagged ‘money’

Left Behind

May 18, 2011

I read an illuminating and provocative essay recently about how, and why, the No Child Left Behind Act has failed—and I thought it worth sharing in this space.  It happens to have been written by my older son, Nate Dolin, as a paper for his Junior year history class.  He became interested in this issue having volunteered in several public elementary school classrooms, having worked with special needs/autism spectrum children and tutoring kids who struggle in their public middle school… and having been faced with numerous inequities, subsequently found himself wondering why things are as they are.

So, if we want our kids to be encouraged to consider growing up to help, perhaps even to step up and educate, the next generation of kids… our future grand children, we are well-served to deepen our understanding of why things may be as they are.


Left Behind

The No Child Left Behind act seeks to leave no child behind in terms of academics, but the intentions of the act will never be met.  Even though President Bush claimed that the act was having a “dramatic effect” in 2008, the average white student scored 28 points higher on the reading section than the average African American student, and 26 points higher on the math section.[i]  Since the White students are obviously not inherently smarter than the African American student, what is causing the immense score gap?  Is every child in America really treated equally?  If society believes all children should have an equal opportunity for education, why are the most disadvantaged children being left behind, why is excessive testing proving to be more harmful than beneficial, why can’t the “supposed” intentions of the act be met, and why do some argue that the act was intended to benefit the economy rather than the children?

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Adulthood begins at 27

June 16, 2010

This is a season when the dust is starting to settle around all our recent graduates, ranging from kindergarten to graduate school.

I have long argued in my own writing that adulthood no longer actually occurs in our culture at the point that most of us say that it begins (twenty to twenty-two).  A recent New York Times article by Patricia Cohen, Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer bears this out with an accruing host of facts and figures.

Social scientists and policy makers are noticing that there is a newly emerging phase in many Americans’ lives in which they are no longer adolescents and not yet adults.  Obama’s shift to allow children up to twenty-six to be on their parents’ health insurance plans, as well as shifts in the average age for marriage now (27 for males, 27 for females) underscore the late blooming trend.

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Singularity is forever, but it’s not for everybody?

June 14, 2010

A rather provocative article by Ashlee Vance in the New York Times, Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday, raised a host of intriguing questions.  Essentially the article is about the idea of technological “singularity” where humans and machines will, according to some, meld and then immortality (or at least dramatically extended lives) will be possible.

These ideas, being explored by the best and the brightest (at least in the realm of computer science and bio-technology), distill down, in the end, to incredibly un-modern, rather more of the same, ends:  an elite “school” in which elite connections are made to further capital ventures in a rarefied grab for power, money, control and the hubristic cockeyed quest to become God and live forever (how old school is that?  Think conquistadors, explorers and myriad seekers of fountains of youth, treasure and the like who basically annihilated native peoples everywhere they went).

Yes, technology is zooming forward but no, it will not allow us to live “forever.”  Firstly, “forever,” is a concept that rests upon the notion of its opposite—time.  Once we get past time, then there is no “forever,” there just is.  Secondly, being rather restless and childlike, I’m not sure what these boys would do with themselves if they had forever on their hands.  In fact it’s those inevitably idle robotic avatar hands that might likely become the devils playthings after all—out of sheer boredom and the angst resultant from the ego elevated above the Self (like a child who kills his parents and then panics at being an orphan).  Given how bored many people are with their short span of days, what would people actually do with immortality?  They would probably eventually meditate and learn non-action and transcend the illusion of matter altogether—yet one could do that without actually making the forever machine since… we’re already soaking in it.

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June 13, 2010

I’m soon to be fifty, but right now I’m still 49, and so I must admit that I was slightly deflated to receive my AARP Card in the mail (or at least my “offer,” of one—not that I don’t appreciate how the sample card is twice as big as any regular sort of card that would currently fit into my pre-retirement wallet—and with letters so big as to be not blurry to aging eyes).

Still, when I think “retirement,” I think luxury; Janice Ian singing, “I learned the truth as seventeen, that love was meant for beauty queens and high school girls with clear skinned smiles who married young and then retired.”

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My kid the… squatter?

June 12, 2010

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine by Jake Halpern, The Freegan Establishment fascinated me from a parenting perspective.

It is about several people, who seem at first glance as lost souls, who have squatted in homes and worked to create an alternative approach to living—eschewing money, yet working diligently to fix up a crumbling and abandoned mansion while dumpster diving to secure food.

The squatters open the house to residents who contribute, and to drifters who are welcome for a day or two, but who must apply to be accepted (based on bottom line contributions they can make via work) if they wish to stay longer.

Several things intrigued me about this social experiment:  the history of a Brit who fell upon hard times in the 17th century and formed a short-lived utopia free of money which he later wrote extensively about, which in turn inspired the “digger” movement in 1960s San Francisco, which all relates to Thoreau, Marxism, materialism, communism and a host of great social, political and psychological questions.

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The Undersea World of Jed Clamp-it

June 7, 2010

In the old days nursery rhymes like “Ring around the Rosie” were actually about bleak things like the plague.  In the spirit of getting medieval on the primeval black death tragically washing up on certain beaches, I found myself humming the theme to “Beverly Hillbillies,” but with some different lyrics spilling out.  Sing it with me—in honor of all our collective children.

Come and listen to a story ‘bout a Pig named Big

A company so rich it went dig, dig, dig.

From the bottom of the sea it was pumping up the crude

Until a pipe went bust and Big Pig’s being sued.

By everyone… Shrimpers.  Governments.

Well the next thing you know Big Pig is in the shit;

Execs and lawyers whisper, “we gotta get away with it.”

Said “Pretending that we care is probably the key,”

So they piled in the jet and they flew to “I can’t see.”

Facts that is:  dead birds.  Tar balls.


Well now it’s time to say good bye to Big Pig and all his bitches.

And he’d like to thank you folks fer kindly givin’ him the riches.

Yer all invited back again to this travesty.

To have a heapin’ helping of bitter irony.

Con artist that is.  Purveyor of fine sea food.

Throw another shrimp on the engine.

Y’all don’t get sick now, y’hear?

Learning how to see

May 7, 2010

I found myself rather choked up recently listening to an NPR profile of a new book—Dorthea Lange:  Drawing Beauty out of Desolation.  The strange thing was that I was moved by the story of an artist who made a difference for all our collective children… at the expense of her own children.

Something about the angst, the drive, the ambition, the woundedness struck me as more deeply human than might a story of a more conventionally “good” mother.  I have often been struck by the pain of parents who were unable to optimally care for their children, sometimes due to psychosis, sometimes to economics, perhaps even from narcissism… yet I have always glimpsed the anguish peeking out from the nearly drawn shutters of the psyche.

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Los Angeles

April 30, 2010

I grew up in Chicago and I always loved Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” (HOG Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat… City of the Big Shoulders”).  Yet I now live in LA where our anthems are perhaps Jim Morrison’s “LA Woman” (I see your hair is burning…”) and Randy Newman (“I Love LA…”).

Having been around the Hammer Museum lately and seeing a great crowd show up for discussions on Jung and depth psychology and the collective I, who is not a joiner by any stretch of the imagination, felt deeply heartened, encouraged and delighted with my city of the last twenty-two years.  A friend recently emailed me to say “I’m in your hometown this week,” to which I replied that we should have lunch, to which he corrected that he meant the City of Big Shoulders.  I suddenly realized that LA has truly become “home” at least for now, at least for my body.

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Aging out of being cared for… or about

April 14, 2010

A recent NPR story about Aging out of Foster Care brought many memories and emotions from days toiling in the trenches of non-profit mental health back to the forefront of my mind.  As our kids near 18 many of us think about college for them, however, for 30,000 foster teens this year alone, the arrival of their 18th birthday means not the guided transition to college or the co-facilitated exploration of quasi-independent living, but the end of support altogether.

In a sense, at least at first glance, the core of this issue is money; yet I would argue that the true core of the issue is consciousness—the will of the group to see itself as a group, with no one beyond the reach of true caring.  When I worked as a group home therapist, kids counted the days until turning 18—a time they imagined that they would magically have their own apartments, their own cars, girlfriends and good jobs (if they thought about work at all).  Emancipation was the dream of freedom and a better life, but as the day actually neared, nerves became more the issue than elation and cold feet or not, those feet had to hit the road.

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Love that makes us crawl

April 8, 2010

A reader inquires, “When is enough ever enough?  My eight-year-old is driving me nuts with this stuff!  No matter how great the holiday/vacation/ meal/present (fill in the blank) there is ALWAYS something lacking in his eyes.  It was either not what he expected, not what he really wanted, or isn’t as much as someone else’s.

I’m just at a complete loss on how to help him feel satisfied with what he currently has rather than what might have been.  I know I’m not alone on this, and maybe this is normal developmental stuff for 8-year-old boys growing up in Hollywood, surrounded by images of gluttony and excess.  But I still struggle with how to help him enjoy the moment and appreciate what is right in front of him.

We read Thich Nhat Hanh (Pebble in Your Pocket) and other lovely books on this similar topic (Three Questions, Zen Shorts), and I’m hopeful these are getting in to the place in his heart where this hole is, but I’m lost for what to do real-time.  We do lots of talking about what is going on at the moment (and follow-up later), but it always leads back to he simply *wants*.  He wants more of everything.  Help!”

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