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We Use This Word So Often We Probably Don't Realize We're Saying It. Who Knew It Could Hurt So Much?

For a long time, I could drop the f-bomb in front of my kids and they wouldn't even notice. But if I said this word, my toddler and preschooler would scold me. And rightfully so, because I taught them not to use it. After all, I want my kids to help other kids feel better about themselves, not worse, especially when they have different abilities.

We Use This Word So Often We Probably Don't Realize We're Saying It. Who Knew It Could Hurt So Much?

Elijah McClain was a kind, unique, and gentle soul, according to those who knew him. He was a vegetarian and a pacifist who worked as a massage therapist. He played his violin for shelter kittens during his lunch break because he thought the animals were lonely.

One evening two summers ago, McClain was walking home from a convenience store, waving his arms to music he was listening to on his headphones, when Aurora police approached him after getting a call about a "suspicious" man in the area. McClain was wearing a ski/runner's mask, which his sister said he often did because he tended to get cold easily. Police tackled him to the ground and held him in a carotid hold—a restraint technique banned in some cities for its potential danger. He was given a shot of ketamine by paramedics. He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital and died there three days later.

He was a 23-year-old Black man. He was unarmed. He wasn't a suspect in any crime. And his last words to the police were absolutely devastating.

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Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

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via The Marshall Project

There are few situations that are more stressful than being incarcerated. The threat of physical violence looms over everything. You are separated from the people you love. Your personal freedom is all but gone.

One stressor that's seldom discussed is the psychological abuse people experiencing incarceration must endure from prison staff, namely their corrections officers.

This form of punishment was outlined in a thesis by Patrick Doolittle, a senior at Yale studying criminal justice, called "'The Zo': Disorientation and Retaliatory Disorientation in American Prisons."

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Public education is one of the most complex issues under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has made it far more complicated. The question of how to meet the needs of kids who come from diverse families, communities, and socioeconomic circumstances—not to mention having diverse mental strengths, interests, and challenges of their own—is never simple, and adding the difficulty of living through a pandemic with its lack of certainty, structure, and security is a whole freaking lot.

Kids' individual experiences during the pandemic have varied greatly. While the overall situation has been hard for everyone, some kids have actually thrived at home, away from the rigid schedules and social quagmire of traditional school. Other kids have floundered without the routine and personal interaction, while still others are stuck in terrible home situations or have needs that can't be met by parents alone. Some kids are being greatly harmed by missing school.

Educators, politicians, public health officials, and parents have gone around and around for the past year trying to figure out what smart, what's safe, what's necessary, and what's not for kids during COVID-19. Many of us are worried about the mental health and educational struggles children are facing. There are no easy answers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

However, there is an attitude that we can take that will serve all our children as more kids move back to the classroom. A 40-year veteran of our education system, former New York teacher and administrator Therea Thayer Snyder, wrote a letter on Facebook that has resonated with teachers and parents alike. In it, she describes what our kids have experienced during the pandemic, how academic standards and measures no longer apply, and what schools can do to help kids process what they've been through. It reads:

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