Friday, November 21, 2014

SIDS awareness

Radio Commentary

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known by the acronym SIDS, is a tragedy, and a mystery. Despite years of research, its exact causes remain unknown.

It is defined as the sudden death of an infant, younger than a year old, that can’t be explained after a thorough medical investigation.

In California, SIDS is the second-leading cause of death for children between 28 days and a year old. However, parents can take steps to reduce the risks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has these recommendations:

  • Pregnant women should receive regular prenatal care. They also should avoid tobacco smoke, alcohol, and illicit drugs both during pregnancy and after the birth.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in an infant’s presence.
  • When it’s time to sleep, lay your baby on his back, not his stomach, on a firm surface.
  • Share a room, but not a bed, with your infant, and keep all soft objects out of the baby’s sleeping area.

Don’t let your baby get overheated while sleeping.

Other effective steps include breastfeeding, if possible; getting all recommended immunizations for your baby; and having regular “well baby” check-ups.

We don’t yet have a way to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but these steps have greatly decreased the number of deaths. If you have questions, ask your doctor for advice.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Volunteer code

Radio Commentary

Volunteers make a huge difference in our public schools.
If done correctly, volunteering can provide invaluable help for students who are struggling. It can provide an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears to teachers who are working hard to meet the needs of all students.

To help volunteers do their job better, the state PTA created a code of ethics that includes the following items:
  • While I may lack assets my co-workers have, I will not let this make me feel inadequate, and will still help develop good teamwork. My help is valued and important.
  • I will find out the best ways to serve the activity for which I’ve volunteered, and will offer as much as I can give, but not more.
  • I must live up to my promise, and therefore will be careful that my agreement is so simple and clear it cannot be misunderstood.
  • I will work with a professional attitude because I have an obligation to my task, to those who direct it, to my colleagues, to the students for whom it is done, and to the public.
These items are good practices for all volunteers to keep in mind as they strive to make a difference for children.

And that, of course, is the bottom line for all of us.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Giving heartfelt thanks to our community

News column

As we celebrate the season of thanksgiving, we give heartfelt thanks on behalf of our public schools to all the business and community members who supported our local classrooms, families, and children in so many ways.
Even in challenging times it’s clear that we can join hands in partnership and help bolster one of our community’s most valuable assets.

Members of the community help in ways that are impossible to overstate. Parents volunteer in local classrooms. PTA members play invaluable roles at every school. Relatives and friends support fundraisers, and neighbors pitch in at every turn, attending sports events, concerts, and plays. That support means so much to the young people who witness it every day, and see first-hand that the adults around them value what is happening in their classrooms.

I’d also like to thank the local business community whose strong support of our schools is evident in ways both large and small.

Businesses have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support The Teachers Network, a program that recognizes outstanding teachers and spreads successful classroom ideas. That program helps make a difference one classroom at a time, and has demonstrated its worth to local students countywide.

Businesses have also contributed to the invaluable Computers for Families program in the South County and Computer Connections program in the North County. These programs provide low-income students with computers, and help erase the digital divide that separates those with access to technology from those without.

Members of local businesses also help serve as mentors, making themselves available for shadow programs. They pitch in with vocational and career programs at local schools, helping prepare young people for the world of work. Many take part in Career Day programs, and in Principal for a Day, which helps them see first-hand the challenges and accomplishments of our schools, and adding their own expertise as support.

Students in today’s classrooms will be tomorrow’s workforce and leaders. The level of support and the range of resources are both extremely impressive and greatly appreciated.

Of course a tremendous thanks also goes to all the unsung heroes and heroines in classrooms countywide, who make a difference every day in the lives of the children and families they serve. Teachers embody our society’s belief that universal public education is key to meeting the challenges of a changing world. They strive to make every classroom an exciting environment where productive and useful learning can take place, and each student is encouraged to grow and develop according to his or her talents and abilities.

Our teachers reach out to foster the well-being of every student, regardless of ability, motivation, background, race, or beliefs. Teachers also help inspire students to find new directions in life and reach for high levels of achievement. We are thankful for all they do, and for the support from parents, business leaders, and members of the community that is so vital to their ability to succeed.

On behalf of the entire educational system in our county, I offer thanks to members of our community for their support of our classrooms and schools. This is a fitting time to say “thank you” to all whose help is so very valuable.

Day of Farm Worker set for Dec. 7

News release

The arduous work of the agricultural worker will be celebrated and appreciated during the Day of the Farm Worker, a free event sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Education Office’s Migrant Education Program and its community partners from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, at the Santa Maria Fairpark.

The celebration will offer free health screenings, free clothing and books, flu shots, blood pressure checks, vision screenings, fluoride varnish for children under age six, healthy meal demonstrations, physical activity demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, entertainment, and a community agency information fair, including legal and educational services. Food will be available for purchase.

“We all benefit from the wonderful gifts agricultural workers provide to our own families: meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, seeds, nuts, grains, eggs, and much more. It is fitting that we pay tribute to their hard work and accomplishments,” said County Superintendent Bill Cirone, whose office coordinates the event. “Local businesses and organizations also benefit from the products and services consumed by agricultural workers and their families,” he said.

The Migrant Education Program is a national program that provides educational, health, and social support services to eligible children and young adults from birth to 21 years old. California has more than 124,000 migrant children enrolled in its 20 regions. Region 18 serves Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, which are home to more than 2,300 migrant children and young adults. Also part of the Santa Barbara County is Region 22 of the Santa Maria Bonita School District, which serves over 3,400 pre-school to eighth-grade students. Information about whether a child qualifies for services is available by contacting the regional office in Santa Maria at 922-0788 or by asking a Migrant Education Services Specialist at the Day of the Farm Worker event.

“Our nation’s economy depends on the agricultural industry,” Cirone said. “We hope the community will join us in paying tribute to the workers of this vital industry.”

For more information, call the Migrant Education Office in Santa Maria at 922 0788.

No free lunch

Radio Commentary

More than two dozen “lessons for life” were outlined in a book written by Marian Wright Edelman, best known for her position as president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Edelman wrote the book as a letter to her own children, but the underlying wisdom can serve as a lesson for us all.

The first lesson is quite simple: There is no free lunch. You are not entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.

She writes:  “Each American adult and child must struggle to achieve, and not think for a moment that America has got it made.

Especially in the days of instant fame and celebrity through the sports and entertainment fields, it is sometimes difficult for young people to keep their lives and their goals in perspective.

Edelman reminds us that rewards are so much richer and more fulfilling if we have earned them through our own hard work.

She says we must teach our children, by example, not to wobble and jerk through life, but to take care and pride in work, and to be reliable.
A life well lived is embodied in those who serve others, who share their successes, and who give back to those who have helped them.

Many of us know of philanthropists who have accumulated great wealth and are moved to share it in ways that benefit others.
Those we admire most are those who do it quietly without fanfare or without need for public acknowledgment. They do it not for self-glory, but for what they see as the public good.

It’s a good value to instill in all our children.