Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Count to 10

Radio Commentary

            You would be surprised how much good can result when a parent counts to 10 before responding to a child, especially in a tense situation, according to child behavior specialist Betsy Brown Braun.
            When such a situation arises, pause. Don’t react. Don’t say anything. Avoid making any immediate threats, judgments, or punishments. Just wait.
            The space created by that pause will help you think about your response, and will lessen the likelihood of a “misfire” on your part that could compound the problem.
It is not uncommon for parents who are quick on the trigger to regret what came out in that first rush of reaction.
Hasty judgments, harsh consequences, or dire threats are very hard to take back once they’ve been delivered.
For that reason, it is far better to head them off before they are said out loud.
The simple act of pausing and counting to 10 can buy the time necessary to react appropriately.
The pause can help a parent get closer to a response that is deliberate and wise.
So take a breath, count to 10, and use that time to think through what you really want to say and how you really want to react. It will make most situations much easier to handle.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Domestic abuse

Radio Commentary

Parents often underestimate what their children see and hear. It’s best to assume that children know everything that’s going on in the household.
This is especially the case with domestic abuse. It is estimated that 10 percent of children nationwide live in households where there are violent disagreements.
Even children who do not see violence first-hand are vulnerable to its effects. Overhearing emotional or physical abuse behind closed doors can increase a child’s risk for emotional and behavioral problems.
A child who is anxious about domestic abuse might not say anything, but is likely to act out by misbehaving at home or at school, crying excessively, or wetting the bed.
The best advice, if you are living with domestic abuse of any kind, is to get help right away.
Locally, CALM is a very good resource. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at ncadv.org, also helps victims of violence. 
It can also help to talk to a family or marriage therapist. It takes time to change or eliminate destructive patterns, so be patient.
You can learn to reconcile differences peacefully. The old rule that people should never go to sleep angry can be a powerful life lesson.
What’s important, for the sake of children affected by the situation, is to take the steps necessary to move forward as a family. 

The safety of all involved should remain the primary concern.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Not just workers

Radio Commentary

            Respected author Jonathan Kozol, who is an outspoken supporter of public education, takes issue with the idea that the primary purpose of education should be to create the next workforce.
            He wrote: “The notion of kids as workers raises a question: Is future productivity the only rationale for their existence?”
            “A lot of the things that make existence wonderful are locked out of the lives of children seen primarily as future clerical assistants or as potential recruits to office pools.”
            Certainly education must prepare young people to be productive adults. But there is danger in focusing exclusively on the employment aspect of their lives, he wrote.
            We can’t overlook that they will also need to be consumers, voters, audience members, and participants in our entire culture.
            They may well be parents or volunteers, and may have a hand in running a household or a committee.
            They may coach, they may tutor, they may recycle. After they work, they will likely retire and have more years to contribute and enjoy life well beyond the activities of the workforce.
            Kozol argues passionately that we must remember all these roles that citizens fill in our democratic society.
            We must absolutely acknowledge that most will be workers and must be prepared for those roles. But we must keep that goal firmly rooted in the context of an overall productive existence.
             Otherwise, he warns, we remove the joy that connects young people to their communities and gives meaning to their lives.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Innovations in Education

Gold Rush Days- El Camino School
East- Santa Ynez Valley High School

Innovations in Education

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arts education is essential for all

Newspaper Column
April 9, 2014

Our annual celebration of Arts Education Month, which has just concluded, gives us a great opportunity to remind ourselves why art is so essential for everyone and why it deserves to be supported.
When school budgets get very tight, art and music education tend to be among the early casualties. That is exactly what has happened in recent years as school districts faced tough budget decisions, given draconian state funding cuts.
What is difficult to understand is a political arena and a social context that make such a choice necessary in the first place. It is shortsighted and counterproductive. The arts are not frills — they are essential elements of a complete education, and they often provide the very skills and motivation required for school and career success. 
We’re fortunate that most schools in Santa Barbara County still provide music and arts education at the elementary level, plus theater and more advanced art at the secondary level, thanks to strong community support and districts that understand the value of a strong arts education program. And the reasons to include the arts in a school curriculum are compelling.
The arts represent a form of thinking that is both sensory and intellectual, one that requires the use of imagination and judgment. What’s more, the arts provide unique ways of reaching students who may not learn as well through language and mathematics alone. In addition, studies point to higher levels of involvement and educational achievement among students taking advanced arts courses.
The arts are a form of expression and communication that is essential to the human experience, and they truly deserve a regular place in our classrooms. 
Several years ago, when I co-chaired a state task force on the arts, our report called for a renaissance in K-12 arts education and made clear that every child in school should have equal access to high-quality education in the visual and performing arts. We emphasized the critical need to incorporate the arts into the core curriculum for all students; provide state standards that specify the competencies that students should demonstrate in each of the arts; provide career awareness and preparation experiences; and provide every student with an arts education program that includes access to the arts through technology.
Fortunately, most Americans agree. A Harris Poll found that 90 percent of respondents considered the arts vital to a well-rounded education for all students. Parents recognize that the arts provide a heightened appreciation of beauty and cross-cultural understandings, and that the arts enhance creativity, thinking skills, and discipline. Many young people find great joy in artistic expression. For some, it is an outlet and a source of inspiration. It helps them keep connected to their teachers and their schools. 
The state Board of Education, in declaring Arts Education Month, stated that arts education is an essential part of basic K-12 education for all students, and a way to develop the full potential of their minds. 
Arts education is essential. On behalf of all the children we represent and serve, we should support arts education with all our efforts and resources. Otherwise, we will have drained from our schools the humanity, the creativity, the discipline, and the joy that arts can provide to all our children.