supporting families

Schools do not have to wait until poverty is fixed to ensure that their antiquated ed model works well for everyone .... schools can be strong players in the work of ending poverty if they can change their mission from being a factory manufacturing credentials to providing families learning services that they choose and control.

Schools have been over-empowered as institutions in the US primarily because compulsory attendance has so greatly restricted the input of parents, the natural allies of the child. And so we commonly hear of schools planning programs that will help fix the family, or help train and educate families on how to be families. Why employees within a mass institution like the schools should teach families how to be good families, I have no idea. Schools feel very authoritative on this level, and routinely characterize families as the first schools.  Schools want to help the family they undercut, penalize and threaten. Indeed, as frustration with the schools has grown, many technocrats want to remake the family so we can fix the schools. This is completely backward and a sign of great institutional overreach.

Schools create great stress on families when they use the factory model for twelve long years. Schools could provide more support for families by making education itself a fully public social service, something families could access with much broader control and participation. That's real choice, not the faux choice of corporate charter or local public run as a factory: neither of these offer families any real choice at all.  Families that could choose services and customize schedules could transform their lives. Schools that supported families could transform communities.

We need it.  The family is under stress.

American Depressions | Tikkun Magazine:
"...  There is now an opportunity for the wider ethical spiritual morality of the community associated with Tikkun and left-leaning evangelicals connected to Sojourners who develop their social, economic, personal, and political morality, and who see political activity as an expression of morality taken into the world. We on the Left have an opportunity to champion our own moral, ethical, and spiritual vision to Americans who desperately need both morality and hope for a better world. Evangelical promotion of the centrality of personal connection and family gives the Left an opening to advocate material and psychological support for all kinds of families. The Left urgently needs a family program to address the mass breakdown of U.S. homes and families."

American Depressions | Tikkun Magazine:
"The living standard of Americans deteriorated psychologically as well. In American culture, women provide most of the emotional labor to make home a warm and comfortable place for men and children. It is women who usually arrange children's social lives and activities, from play dates to dental appointments. Women are usually the directors of adult social life as well. Indeed, women are usually in charge of emotional life for the entire family. The more women work outside of the home without social support in the form of child care programs and domestic help, the more stressed, overworked, and emotionally unavailable they become. Overwhelmed women have less energy for the roles of social director and organizer, as well as emotional and physical caregiver. Households are hurting emotionally. When Bush took office in 2000, he cut many of the already hobbled social programs that allowed families to survive. Families are in trouble."

The Decline and Fall of Parental Authority | | AlterNet
"Not long ago, I might have heard parents talk as if their kids’ problems—drugs, school failure, or acting out—were matters for individual families to resolve, sometimes with the aid of a therapist. Now, I’m seeing mothers and fathers challenge the entire social, educational, professional, and economic context of childrearing—a system, they increasingly believe, that’s made effective parenting almost unachievable."

Parent-child bond shown to be more crucial than income - The Irish Times - Fri, Mar 09, 2012:"“What happens between children and their parent matters whether they are in a lone parent family, in a socio-economically deprived area or not,” Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said. How parents interact with children can be “hugely protective” even in adverse situations.

Daily Kos: What’s so bad about American parents, anyway?:
"..the United States is one of only three countries in the world, along with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea, that have no federal paid parental leave policy. After President Richard Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Childcare Act of 1971, which promised to ensure quality, affordable child care, American parents were left to fend for themselves. In a country that pays its child-care workers less than its janitors, that is a time-consuming, expensive and often fraught search. Child-care costs, which consumed 2 percent of the average family budget in the 1960s, now take up 17 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, second only to a mortgage or rent."


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