Saturday, January 31, 2009

**Sigh** In Defense of Self and the South...

Friday morning I was agitated, to say the least, when I read this headline for a post about the House vote for the stimulus plan over at Brilliant at Breakfast. Today, not so much. I fired off some comment, promising a great and enlightened post on the subject on Monday and set about doing the research.

Normally, I read everything they write and generally agree with their take on things. But yesterday's headline just pushed all my buttons. I admit it and maybe you will think I'm a bit crazy for taking that post to this level. What can I say? You all know how I react when my buttons are pushed. I will say this is the only post I am ever going to write on this particular subject as I know it is an exercise in futility. People are going to believe what they believe and there is no amount of agreement, proof, coaxing, teaching, pleading or anything else that will change their minds on this subject. So here is my defense of self and the South.

I was born four days after the Brown v Board of Education decision. Looking back on it now, that decision shaped my life and I had no choice but to become who I am, to believe what I do and to have done all that I have, trying to right the wrongs of my region. Still, it pisses me off, I can not help it, when some New Jersey Yankee, with all the superiority that comes simply from being a Yankee, decides all that I am is a racist, bigoted idiot because I was born in the South, specifically in, yes, I'm going to say it, that hated word, Mississippi.

In this post I am not going to offer excuses for any actions that took place before, during or after the Civil War, simply, a few facts. Acknowledging that it went way to far, I am going to say that most of it can be offered as simple "knee-jerk reaction" and were the shoe on the other foot, I would bet my life the totality of the reaction would have been the same. In fact I know it would. There's an article on Wikipedia here about the nation's reactions to forced busing for desegregation. Take note, there is only one southern city included in the write-up...can you say assimilation. We were, by then, already assimilated and had very few problems comparatively.

So first let's talk some history about slavery and how it came to be.

Excerpt taken from here

"Whether it was officially encouraged, as in New York and New Jersey, or not, as in Pennsylvania, the slave trade flourished in colonial Northern ports. But New England was by far the leading slave merchant of the American colonies.

The first systematic venture from New England to Africa was undertaken in 1644 by an association of Boston traders, who sent three ships in quest of gold dust and black slaves. One vessel returned the following year with a cargo of wine, salt, sugar, and tobacco, which it had picked up in Barbados in exchange for slaves. But the other two ran into European warships off the African coast and barely escaped in one piece. Their fate was a good example of why Americans stayed out of the slave trade in the 17th century. Slave voyages were profitable, but Puritan merchants lacked the resources, financial and physical, to compete with the vast, armed, quasi-independent European chartered corporations that were battling to monopolize the trade in black slaves on the west coast of Africa. The superpowers in this struggle were the Dutch West India Company and the English Royal African Company. The Boston slavers avoided this by making the longer trip to the east coast of Africa, and by 1676 the Massachusetts ships were going to Madagascar for slaves. Boston merchants were selling these slaves in Virginia by 1678. But on the whole, in the 17th century New Englanders merely dabbled in the slave trade.

Then, around 1700, the picture changed. First the British got the upper hand on the Dutch and drove them from many of their New World colonies, weakening their demand for slaves and their power to control the trade in Africa. Then the Royal African Company's monopoly on African coastal slave trade was revoked by Parliament in 1696. Finally, the Assiento and the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) gave the British a contract to supply Spanish America with 4,800 slaves a year. This combination of events dangled slave gold in front of the New England slave traders, and they pounced. Within a few years, the famous “Triangle Trade” and its notorious “Middle Passage” were in place.

Rhode Islanders had begun including slaves among their cargo in a small way as far back as 1709. But the trade began in earnest there in the 1730s. Despite a late start, Rhode Island soon surpassed Massachusetts as the chief colonial carrier. After the Revolution, Rhode Island merchants had no serious American competitors. They controlled between 60 and 90 percent of the U.S. trade in African slaves. Rhode Island had excellent harbors, poor soil, and it lacked easy access to the Newfoundland fisheries. In slave trading, it found its natural calling. William Ellery, prominent Newport merchant, wrote in 1791, “An Ethiopian could as soon change his skin as a Newport merchant could be induced to change so lucrative a trade as that in slaves for the slow profits of any manufactory.”[1]

Boston and Newport were the chief slave ports, but nearly all the New England towns -- Salem, Providence, Middletown, New London – had a hand in it. In 1740, slaving interests in Newport owned or managed 150 vessels engaged in all manner of trading. In Rhode Island colony, as much as two-thirds of the merchant fleet and a similar fraction of sailors were engaged in slave traffic. The colonial governments of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania all, at various times, derived money from the slave trade by levying duties on black imports. Tariffs on slave import in Rhode Island in 1717 and 1729 were used to repair roads and bridges.

The 1750 revocation of the Assiento dramatically changed the slave trade yet again. The system that had been set up to stock Spanish America with thousands of Africans now needed another market. Slave ships began to steer northward. From 1750 to 1770, African slaves flooded the Northern docks. Merchants from Philadelphia, New York, and Perth Amboy began to ship large lots (100 or more) in a single trip. As a result, wholesale prices of slaves in New York fell 50% in six years.

On the eve of the Revolution, the slave trade “formed the very basis of the economic life of New England.”[2] It wove itself into the entire regional economy of New England. The Massachusetts slave trade gave work to coopers, tanners, sailmakers, and ropemakers. Countless agents, insurers, lawyers, clerks, and scriveners handled the paperwork for slave merchants. Upper New England loggers, Grand Banks fishermen, and livestock farmers provided the raw materials shipped to the West Indies on that leg of the slave trade. Colonial newspapers drew much of their income from advertisements of slaves for sale or hire. New England-made rum, trinkets, and bar iron were exchanged for slaves. When the British in 1763 proposed a tax on sugar and molasses, Massachusetts merchants pointed out that these were staples of the slave trade, and the loss of that would throw 5,000 seamen out of work in the colony and idle almost 700 ships. The connection between molasses and the slave trade was rum. Millions of gallons of cheap rum, manufactured in New England, went to Africa and bought black people. Tiny Rhode Island had more than 30 distilleries, 22 of them in Newport. In Massachusetts, 63 distilleries produced 2.7 million gallons of rum in 1774. Some was for local use: rum was ubiquitous in lumber camps and on fishing ships. “But primarily rum was linked with the Negro trade, and immense quantities of the raw liquor were sent to Africa and exchanged for slaves. So important was rum on the Guinea Coast that by 1723 it had surpassed French and Holland brandy, English gin, trinkets and dry goods as a medium of barter.”[3] Slaves costing the equivalent of £4 or £5 in rum or bar iron in West Africa were sold in the West Indies in 1746 for £30 to £80. New England thrift made the rum cheaply -- production cost was as low as 5½ pence a gallon -- and the same spirit of Yankee thrift discovered that the slave ships were most economical with only 3 feet 3 inches of vertical space to a deck and 13 inches of surface area per slave, the human cargo laid in carefully like spoons in a silverware case.

A list of the leading slave merchants is almost identical with a list of the region's prominent families: the Fanueils, Royalls, and Cabots of Massachusetts; the Wantons, Browns, and Champlins of Rhode Island; the Whipples of New Hampshire; the Eastons of Connecticut; Willing & Morris of Philadelphia. To this day, it's difficult to find an old North institution of any antiquity that isn't tainted by slavery. Ezra Stiles imported slaves while president of Yale. Six slave merchants served as mayor of Philadelphia. Even a liberal bastion like Brown University has the shameful blot on its escutcheon. It is named for the Brown brothers, Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses, manufacturers and traders who shipped salt, lumber, meat -- and slaves. And like many business families of the time, the Browns had indirect connections to slavery via rum distilling. John Brown, who paid half the cost of the college's first library, became the first Rhode Islander prosecuted under the federal Slave Trade Act of 1794 and had to forfeit his slave ship. Historical evidence also indicates that slaves were used at the family's candle factory in Providence, its ironworks in Scituate, and to build Brown's University Hall.[4]

Even after slavery was outlawed in the North, ships out of New England continued to carry thousands of Africans to the American South. Some 156,000 slaves were brought to the United States in the period 1801-08, almost all of them on ships that sailed from New England ports that had recently outlawed slavery. Rhode Island slavers alone imported an average of 6,400 Africans annually into the U.S. in the years 1805 and 1806. The financial base of New England's antebellum manufacturing boom was money it had made in shipping. And that shipping money was largely acquired directly or indirectly from slavery, whether by importing Africans to the Americas, transporting slave-grown cotton to England, or hauling Pennsylvania wheat and Rhode Island rum to the slave-labor colonies of the Caribbean.

Northerners profited from slavery in many ways, right up to the eve of the Civil War. The decline of slavery in the upper South is well documented, as is the sale of slaves from Virginia and Maryland to the cotton plantations of the Deep South. But someone had to get them there, and the U.S. coastal trade was firmly in Northern hands. William Lloyd Garrison made his first mark as an anti-slavery man by printing attacks on New England merchants who shipped slaves from Baltimore to New Orleans.

Long after the U.S. slave trade officially ended, the more extensive movement of Africans to Brazil and Cuba continued. The U.S. Navy never was assiduous in hunting down slave traders. The much larger British Navy was more aggressive, and it attempted a blockade of the slave coast of Africa, but the U.S. was one of the few nations that did not permit British patrols to search its vessels, so slave traders continuing to bring human cargo to Brazil and Cuba generally did so under the U.S. flag. They also did so in ships built for the purpose by Northern shipyards, in ventures financed by Northern manufacturers.

In a notorious case, the famous schooner-yacht Wanderer, pride of the New York Yacht Club, put in to Port Jefferson Harbor in April 1858 to be fitted out for the slave trade. Everyone looked the other way -- which suggests this kind of thing was not unusual -- except the surveyor of the port, who reported his suspicions to the federal officials. The ship was seized and towed to New York, but her captain talked (and possibly bought) his way out and was allowed to sail for Charleston, S.C.

Fitting out was completed there, the Wanderer was cleared by Customs, and she sailed to Africa where she took aboard some 600 blacks. On Nov. 28, 1858, she reached Jekyll Island, Georgia, where she illegally unloaded the 465 survivors of what is generally called the last shipment of slaves to arrive in the United States.

1. Hugh Thomas, “The Slave Trade,” N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1997, p.519.
2. Lorenzo Johnston Greene, “The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620-1776,” N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1942, p.68-69.
3. ibid., p.26.
4. “Brown University committee examines historical ties to slavery,” Associated Press, The Boston Globe, March 5, 2004"

Next, let's talk about the Port of New Orleans:

Taken from The Georgia Heritage Council:

"While the New England state legislatures postured against slavery in the first half of the 19th century, their people were continuing to make money on the Slave Trade and enjoying the fortunes they amassed trading in slaves for over two centuries.

When they went to war to invade the Southern States, their real purpose was to eliminate an economic threat to their shipping trade and ports posed by the lower tariffs in the Confederate ports of Charleston, Savannah, Mobile and New Orleans. Numerous editorials from Northern newspapers document their concern. The abolition of slavery was but a false and transparent justification for war they unveiled over a year after the hostilities began. The war was about enforcing federal revenue laws and protecting New England shipping interests and protecting markets for Northern manufactured goods. These arguments are advanced in more detail elsewhere.

If the manufacturer at Manchester [England] can send his goods into the Western States through New Orleans at less cost than through New York, he is a fool for not availing himself of his advantage...If the importations of the counrty are made through Southern ports, its exports will go through the same channel. The produce of the West, instead of coming to our own port by millions of tons, to be transported abroad by the same ships through which we received our importations, will seek other routes and other outlets. With the lost of our foreign trade, what is to become of our public works, conducted at the cost of many hundred millions of dollars, to turn into our harbor the products of the interior? They share in the common ruin. So do our manufacturers...Once at New Orleans, goods may be distributed over the whole country duty-free. The process is perfectly simple... The commercial bearing of the question has acted upon the North...We now see clearly whither we are tending, and the policy we must adopt. With us it is no longer an abstract question---one of Constitutional construction, or of the reserved or delegated powers of the State or Federal government, but of material existence and moral position both at home and abroad.....We were divided and confused till our pockets were touched." ---New York Times March 30, 1861

"The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing....It is very clear that the South gains by this process, and we lose. No---we MUST NOT "let the South go." " ----Union Democrat , Manchester, NH, February 19, 1861

From a story entitled: "What shall be done for a revenue?"
"That either revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the ports must be closed to importations from abroad.... If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe.....Allow rail road iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent, which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York; the railroads would be supplied from the southern ports. ---New York Evening Post March 12, 1861, recorded in Northern Editorials on Secession, Howard C. Perkins, ed., 1965, pp. 598-599."

Now I'm not about to give you a history lesson on the Civil War itself. I'm assuming here, that you get the gist of what happened. So lets move on to Reconstruction, shall we? oh, wait I did want to include this excerpt from the Transcript of the Confederate Constitution, Section 9, 1-4

1. The importation of negroes of the African race, from any foreign country, other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
2. Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.
3. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.
4. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves, shall be passed.
Else where, it also, to be fair, gives the states more power over the decision.

There is a pretty good description of what the south was like after the war here. I'm not going to include it in this post but I suggest you go read it. Because if you do, then and only then, can you understand where the hatred, blame and retaliation comes from.
No description of the South after the war would be complete unless it included Carpetbaggers. Here's a cleaned up version, suitable for general consumption:

"Reconstruction Begins

As soon as the war ended, in November of 1865, reconstruction began.

It was a complicated time, full of important political characters, healthy debate, corruption, greed and goodwill alike. The entire nation had changed forever, and it was during these decades that it was decided whether this change would be for better or for worse.

Enter the Carpetbaggers

After the war, one of the conditions of the surrender of the Confederacy was that thousands of ex-confederate politicians throughout the south were to step down from their places of privilege and power. This left many openings all over the land for new political prospects to come in and take over. Many who recognized this need and sought to fulfill it, mainly with their own selfish aspirations in mind, were citizens from the north, usually middle and even upper class, who looked at the south as almost a new frontier, full of land and opportunity.

These northerners moved to the south during the reconstruction period in droves, hoping to receive a position of power in the southern land, either for their own gain or for the genuine desire to see reconstruction move along; to satiate their abolitionist tendencies by keeping the peace amongst whites and the newly freed black citizens.

These peripatetic settlers were known throughout the nation as carpetbaggers. The name is said to have come from the fact that many of them carried all their belongings in carpetbags as sort of a cheap form of luggage.

As might be expected, the carpetbaggers during reconstruction didn't get the warmest welcome to those who were still holding onto pride in their southern cultures and lands, and didn't much appreciate the fact that northerners were coming in and exploiting the system, being offered positions as mayors, city councilmen and even congressmen. This resulted in a great deal of negative feelings between all of the different parties scheming for control of the south during reconstruction, and served to make what was already a complicated period even more so."

So, I've written all that to say this...Understanding is the key, forgiveness is the solution. Someday we have to move past all the hurt, blame and anger. With the election of our new president I had hoped that day had finally come until I read that title. So, Jill the next time you feel like dogging on the South by using the "N" word in your title, please count to ten and re-think your title choice. If you had bothered to look up the election stats you would see we have come a long way from the South of the 50's and 60's. I'll leave you with this as it suits my mood today...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blagojevich has been Convicted and Ousted as Governor of Illinois

Can you say Amen!


This rambling started with my email to Amerah last night and apparently I can't stop.

The first thing that's bugging me is, President Obama's continued efforts to appease the GOP and for all his troubles what it got him was a big fat zero in votes for the stimulus package. I way screw them and what they want, we elected you to be our leader because we believed in what you stood for, were sick and tired of what they stood for and where their politics have gotten us.

Next...Rush Limbaugh...I know...I swore his name would never grace my blog, but this is a prime example of why. Seems as though Clear Channel Communications has just given that oxycontin-popping idiot a 50 million dollar a year contract for the next eight years, which will, after all the perks, probably net him closer to 100 million a year. Oh, and this is the best part:

"Clear Channel Communications is laying off 1,850 employees, or about 9% of a total workforce of 20,500. Although the company declined to release specific figures for the different divisions, trade press reports say Clear Channel Radio laid off about 1,500 employees as part of the cutbacks."
Media Post Publications.You have to sign up to get to the link.

Guess the money for Rush has to come from somewhere, right? I wonder what the idiot's politics and beliefs would be if he were to lose it all and end up on the streets like so much of America has in this past year. I would be willing to bet, since the bastard has no morals or strength of character anyway that he would head straight for his gun to end it all. Hey, Rush, inside the mouth is the best place to get the job done.

Now, on to HGTV. First, let me say that for the most part I love HGTV. It saves me from going totally insane when there is nothing to watch on cable for days on end. I can watch Property Virgins, Candice Olson's Divine Design, Color Splash, and basically the entire lineup for days. I even watch the re-runs, which is very unusual for me. Yes, I might have a slight addiction problem with it. My problem is with the Dream Homes. Let's get real. True, we are conditioned from birth to believe we should dream of homes like this and I admit I do, but the reality is that most of us could not afford the dream home even if we were to win it. Income taxes on a 2 million dollar winning would be $666,667. Now granted, the latest home in Sonoma is worthy of dreams, but here is my many of your actual winners have actually gotten to keep these dreams? With the economic downturn, have you ever considered purchasing a tract of land and putting multiple homes on it so that many winners could actually afford to own one of your homes. Hey I've got about creating a totally green neighborhood complete with 25 or so affordable, nicely decorated homes for the contest? Talk about diversity! See, you could not only promote your network but you could take credit for producing America's first totally diverse green neighborhood. :) I'm sorry, I made myself laugh on that one.

Then there is my daily rant, in my head, about the corporate idiot CEO's that manage to keep on with their arrogance and still keep their jobs. I love to rag on AIG but lately they've been keeping their heads down and have given me nothing, which in itself makes me nervous wondering what they are up to. Corpwatch lists them as number one on their top ten worst companies of 2008 list. Citicorp has been most in the news this week with the case of the appearing-disappearing 50 million private jet purchase.

One last thing...Madoff. Take him down to Gitmo and waterboard him until he gives up the offshore account numbers so all the rich people can get their money back and stop whining about having to take the subway for the first time, or having to let their "housekeepers" of 30 years go and all the other drivel coming from these people. While you at it load up the SEC too. Here's a list of his victims.

K, I'm done for today.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pisser Mondays...

I was going to save this for last because I want you to read the entire post, but I can not get it out of my head. You know it's going to be a pisser Monday when:

The first thing you see when you open up your email and click on the Alternet notification for the day is this: "How Women Can Bleed Green." Now, it's been awhile since I needed these products but I was fascinated by the title so, much to my chagrin, I clicked on the link. The article speaks of how women are polluting the environment by using tampons, non-biodegradeable pads and the like and offers "greener" solutions. I thought surely this article was written by some perverted male. No, the author is female and apparently researched her topic with great enthusiasm. Click the links if you want the stats on how much women actually flush each year. This is where she got me:

"Most women are not aware that safe, ecologically sound, lower-priced alternatives exist."..."Word of mouth is vital."

"Most obvious among "green" alternatives are washable cloth pads and pantiliners. These are not your grandmother's cloth pads. Today they're available on the Internet and come in a wide variety of funky patterns and materials, from hemp to organic French terry cotton to microfleece.

Washing cloth pads is actually easy -- after rinsing and soaking them in a container of cold water with a secure lid, you can run them through the laundry and machine or line-dry them. Done.

If you are out or at work, you can store the used pads in a "wet" bag and soak them when you get home.

A few other useful sites are, and

So I thought, ok, I'll bite and try to keep an open mind. Maybe in my younger days I might have been open to the idea, for the sake of the planet and all, but the idea of having to carry the used ones around with me all day until I could get home and soak them, nixed that idea. You see, I never attracted a man in my life unless it was that time of the month so I know I must emit some powerful pheromones around that time. Can you imagine what would happen if I had an extra one in my little carry bag? I'd be like the pied piper of the menstruous cycle with men following me everywhere. On second thought...

Then there is the cup, which fits in your vagina and holds the entire day's flow until you can get home and empty it. Can you imagine trying to remove that thing without spilling a drop? either and as one who would never use OB tampons because they didn't have an applicator you can believe I would never be inclined to use a cup. I'd probably flush it down the toilet anyway and not only be out thirty bucks but then would have the guilt of knowing I just flushed something potentially dangerous to the environment down the toilet and had defeated the purpose. The Diva site seems to be the most extensive for this method, but there are others listed in the AlterNet article.

Ok, now that you are totally grossed out or totally enthralled...on to pisser Mondays

Most of you don't know I've been sick for about three weeks now. It started with my "gut" thing. I have "Barrett's Esophagus" which is a pre-cancerous condition caused by acid reflux, to put it simply. Basically when it flairs up it feels like you have a large brick right at your diaphragm and some idiot is punching you in the gut right where it is. Not fun. About the time I get that under control I get the crud. The sore throat, dry cough, stopped up nose, fever, etc. I call my doctor to find out when I can be seen only to find out she has flown the coop and ah, no, they don't have any idea where she went. Yeah, right. I am devastated. It takes me a long time to find a doctor I respect and who respects the fact that I know my body, my habits and my finances better than they ever will. This is generally what I want when I go in. I want six months of my medicine prescribed to me so I only have to fork out that office visit twice a year, because it's all I can scrape together and yes, that's going to include antibiotics. If I don't have them on a regular basis then I end up with the upper respiratory stuff that lands me in a $15,000 hospital room and I just can't have that. I want my inhalers (2) and any samples you might have of Lipitor and Caudet. With all that I can lead a pretty normal life. I don't need lectures or disapproving looks. Hell, I don't even want to discuss it at this point in my life. I've had ten good years with someone who took very good care of me and made all the discoveries that needed to be made and taught me how to deal with it all. But now I have to go through the endless struggle of trying to find and break in a new doctor who is going to decide that they need for me to start all over with the explanations and descriptions and such. How's that for a pisser.

The last pisser for the day has to do with travel, more specifically my route to take the boy to work and bring him home. It's a great route and involves very little traffic and early morning stress. I love it and it took us a minute to discover the best and quickest one. Well it seems as though MDOT has decided to kill it, at least for the time being. Granted, it's a needed improvement, but still...

So I'll leave you with that and hope that your day is off to a better start than mine :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

President Obama Delivers Your Weekly Address

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Plan – By the Numbers will be updated regularly after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bettye LaVette's Up on the Blues Page

After her awesome rendition of Sam Cooke's "It's Been a Long Time Coming" at the Inaugural Celebration with Jon Bon Jovi, I thought y'all might like to hear more. Who knew Jon could sing the blues? :)

Advance Directives/End of Life Care Section Added

The title link will take you to the Elder issues/Disability page.

Thanks to social work emergency for reminding me :)

Best Stupid Headline of the Week

Winehouse Does a Good Turn, World Doesn't Spin Off Axis

Wait! Think twice before you click that link! There's a picture of Amy in a, really, I'm serious. Well, just keep the Pepto handy if you can't resist.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sign a Letter Supporting Child Tax Credit Help for 13 Million Children

Email from The Coalition on Human Needs:

"Deadline: Wednesday, January 28

This is a time of new beginnings. The nation needs recovery and renewal very badly, and we have high hopes that the new Obama Administration and the 111th Congress will help us get there.

A House proposal to increase the Child Tax Credit for families with very low earnings would help more than 13 million children - and helping them will produce jobs and boost the economy. But there are reports the Senate's version will help fewer children. If you are authorized to do so, please sign your organization's name to a letter that urges Congress to help more poor families with children in the economic recovery legislation it will soon enact.

To view and sign your organization's name to the letter go to:

The House economic recovery bill, soon to reach the floor, takes the very important step of ending the current minimum earnings requirement to receive the Child Tax Credit.

This really matters.

Here's an example of how much more help the House bill provides:
A family with two children and full-time minimum wage earnings ($14,500) would receive the full $2,000 CTC under the House plan ($1,000 per child), but only $900 under current law. That extra $1,100 will do a lot to help families struggling in the recession.

We need many organizations from every state in the nation to sign this letter. Congress needs to see that when they propose significant support for poor families, service providers, religious organizations, policy experts, consumer and advocacy groups will care and weigh in. The Child Tax Credit improvement is one part of a very large economic recovery bill that we believe takes the right approach in targeting much aid to the low-income people who need it most - not only because it prevents hardship, but because economists tell us such aid does the most to create jobs. For more information about the proposals so far, see CHN's Human Needs Report (at We want the final legislation to be as strong as possible - signing this letter will help. It will be sent to every Representative and Senator.

Who should sign the letter? Organizations (agencies, groups, congregations, businesses, unions, etc.) - local, state, or national in scope - who care about the needs of low-income people. Please only sign if you are authorized to represent your organization. If you're an individual and not representing a group, you can send your own letter to Congress.

Individuals can help too! To sign an individual letter that will be emailed to your Representative and Senators, click here:

Thanks! And take strength from new beginnings!"

For state by state estimates of the number of children this bill will help go here.

The ABC's of Domestic Poverty--Teaching

Tools you can use...


An Extended Word Problem for Grades 3 and Up

A Math and Art Activity for Grades 6 and Up

A Lesson on Work, Class and Access for Grades 9-12


Blog for Choice Day

Every year I dread and hate this day, the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. This is the one day that I allow myself reflection on my decisions to abort. Although they were many years ago and I have given myself much grief for them, I cannot support any other legislation than one distinctively for a woman's fundamental right to choose what is best for her own well-being and yes, I am Catholic.

When I chose to convert to Catholicism I knew this would be a struggle for me within the church's teachings, but within that conversion I also found forgiveness and understanding and a self-understanding reconciliation that I had not formerly embraced.

I won't tell you how many I had because, frankly, I have blocked almost that entire period from my memory, but I can tell you this...I was very young and I felt totally alone to make the decision. There was approximately a fifteen year period of decent in my life when my Lord carried me because I felt I had no guidance, I had no support and I made the only choice I could make. It was my body, it was the quality of life of my unborn child and it was my choice and I own that. I thank God every day for carrying me through that time and for giving me the gift of free will and I thank Roe v Wade for that freedom to choose. I know for certain if I had not had those available to me at the time I would not be here today writing this.

Today I was searching through the writings of John Paul II in search of a quote to help me on this day. I found it in his


Section 18

"The eternal mystery of generation, which is in God himself, the one and Triune God (cf. Eph 3:14-15), is reflected in the woman's motherhood and in the man's fatherhood. Human parenthood is something shared by both the man and the woman. Even if the woman, out of love for her husband, says: "I have given you a child", her words also mean: "This is our child". Although both of them together are parents of their child, the woman's motherhood constitutes a special "part" in this shared parenthood, and the most demanding part. Parenthood - even though it belongs to both - is realized much more fully in the woman, especially in the prenatal period. It is the woman who "pays" directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman. No programme of "equal rights" between women and men is valid unless it takes this fact fully into account."


I've said it over and over again on this blog but I will repeat it now. If men were held as accountable for children as women are then there would be virtually no need for abortion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama's First Day--Awesome!

I would say he hit the ground not running but at a sprint, wouldn't you?

Don't Forget! Tomorrow is Blog for Choice Day 2009

Click the title link to sign up.

"On January 22, 2009 – the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – we are asking pro-choice bloggers to join us for the fourth annual Blog for Choice Day!

Blog for Choice Day provides us with an opportunity to raise the profile of reproductive rights in the blogosphere, all the while celebrating Roe's 36th anniversary. Plus, it's a great way to let your readers and the mainstream media know that a woman's right to choose is a core progressive value that must be protected and advanced during this historic time. And it's always been amazingly successful, thanks to you.

This year's topic: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?"

Don't Forget to Update the Addresses is now

The interactive page where you can keep in touch with the President and make suggestions has changed to The Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs (OPL-IGA)

The weekly video address will be published every Saturday morning and can be found here.

It's a New Day

Well, my butt is numb and my eyes are basically swollen shut from watching all the festivities on television from Sunday until late last night. I cried through the entire HBO show. I cried whenever the news commentators would go out to talk to the crowd and everyone choked up when they tried to speak about how they felt about being there to witness the inauguration. I cried when I saw all the beaming faces with tears running down their faces because I knew how they felt. I boo hoo'd when the lady opened up her coat and had all her ancestor's pictures pinned to her coat so they could be there too. I cried when President Obama and Michelle had their first dance serenaded by Beyonce singing "At Last." I cried when you could tell she was fighting to sing that song, having to look away several times in order to keep singing and not break down in the middle of the song. Most of all though, I cried during his speech. It has been so very long since we have had a president we could truly call a leader. One that exudes the power, confidence, stamina and sheer force of will that this country needs and the rest of the world expects.

One of the things that amazes me the most about President Obama is that he knows us. All of us. I don't think we have ever been able to say that about a president. Ever. I have intentionally not been watching him on television during the transition. I've been reading but not watching. I wanted to see the transformation without any pre-conceived notions. Yesterday, it was like watching what, 66 days ago, was a wet behind the ears boy (not that he was, by any means) become a fully self-actualized man. Amazing. Here's the oath and the speech, in case you missed it.

I looked for a video that didn't have embedding disabled but all I could find were the lyrics to's song "It's a New Day" which when I heard it last night for the first time pretty much summed up how I felt and I suspect summed up how much of the nation felt this morning.

"I went asleep last night
Tired from the fight
I've been fighting for tomorrow
All my life
Yea I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
'Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Have finally came true

It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day
It's a new day

It's been a long time coming
Up the mountain kept runnin'
Souls of freedom kept hummin'
Channeling Harriet Tubman

Kennedy, Lincoln, and King
We gotta manifest in that dream
It feels like we're swimming upstream
It feels like we're stuck inbetween
A rock and a hard place,
We've been through the heartaches
And lived through the darkest days

If you and I made it this far,
Well then hey, we can make it all the way
And they said no we can't
And we said yes we can
Remember it's you and me together

I woke up this morning
Feeling alright
I've been fightin' for tomorrow
All my life
Yea, I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Have finally came true

It's a new day
(it's a new day)
It's a new day
(it's a new day)
It's a new day
It's a new day!

It's been a long time waitin'
Waiting for this moment
It's been a long time praying
Praying for this moment

We hope for this moment
And now that we own it
For life I will hold it
And I ain't gonna let it go

It's for fathers, our brothers,
Our friends who fought for freedom
Our sisters, our mothers,
Who died for us to be in this moment

Stop and cherish this moment
Stop and cherish this time

It's time for unity
For us and we
That's you and me together

I woke up this morning
Feeling brand new
Cause the dreams that I've been dreaming
Have finally came true
Yea, I woke up this morning
Feeling alright

'Cause we weren't fighting for nothing
And the soldiers weren't fighting
For nothing
No, Martin wasn't dreaming for nothing
And Lincoln didn't change it for nothing
And children weren't crying for nothing

It's a new day
It's a new day
A new day
It's a new day
It's a new day!"

Amerah sent me this video last week and I promised I would include it in this post. It's beautiful, if a bit graphic, and doesn't really seem to fit with the spirit of this brand new day, filled with all the sparklies of promise and hope and change. What struck me, when I first saw it, was just how many had come before President Obama to pave his way and the huge mountain of sacrifice and talent he is standing on. What a lineage :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Get Your Free Inaugural Sticker

Click the title link to be taken to the ordering page.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emily's List 2009 Power to Change Inaugural Luncheon

"There are very few moments when you get to see history in the making, and this is one of those moments.

Only days before President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office, there is an incredible feeling of excitement. Here at EMILY's List, we're hard at work putting the finishing touches on our 2009 Power to Change inaugural luncheon to celebrate this historic event. I so wish you could be here with us -- but I wanted to make sure you knew you could share in this historic moment via live streaming video tomorrow on our website!

Click here at 12:00 p.m. EST Sunday to watch Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security-designate Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Labor-designate Hilda Solis, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi join together to celebrate the progressive change that's taking place. We'll also be joined by newly sworn in Senators Kay Hagan (NC) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH), along with Governor Bev Perdue (NC).

Remember, you and other EMILY's List members around the country played a crucial role in setting our country on a new course -- and now it's time for us to commemorate this historic event.

Thank you for standing with EMILY's List and our special guests to celebrate our Power to Change!

Click here to watch the event live on Sunday!

Warmest regards,
Ellen Malcolm"

Please Scroll Down :)

There are five new posts below this one and some are lengthy. I was on a roll yesterday. :) From now until Tuesday or probably Wednesday I will be hunkered down waiting for snow and the inauguration. I don't know about you but this has been the longest 66 or whatever days in the history of mankind.....

Friday, January 16, 2009

Obama Economic Recovery Plan Starts to Take Shape in House--Important Gains; Some Disappointments

"How big must the economic recovery plan be to turn the economic crisis around? What approaches are most likely to create or save jobs and boost economic activity? For the first question, the answer seems to be “A lot bigger than we thought last year or last month.” Past proposals in the neighborhood of $100 - $200 billion have for months been seen as wholly inadequate. The House on January 15 released a plan totaling $825 billion over two years, with $550 billion in direct spending and $275 billion in tax cuts. Prominent economists such as Nobel prizewinner Paul Krugman have advised that an even bigger package is needed.

As to the second question, there is considerable agreement across the spectrum of economists that federal spending to put money quickly into the hands of low-income and jobless people, aid to states to prevent service and job cuts, and measures to save or create jobs through projects that can get off the ground quickly are effective ways to boost the economy. The House bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, emphasizes these approaches.

The Most Effective Boosts to the Economy
According to economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.Com, the single most effective economic recovery measure is an increase in food stamps. For every dollar provided for the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP, the new name for food stamps), $1.73 is generated in economic growth. The House bill includes a two-year increase of about $20 billion, allowing a temporary increase of benefits estimated at 13.6 percent. Advocates have sought a 20 percent temporary increase. An analysis provided by the Economic Policy Institute to the Coalition on Human Needs shows that about 185,000 jobs would be saved or created because people will be purchasing more food.

Zandi’s second most effective measure is an increase in Unemployment Insurance, with $1.64 in economic growth from each dollar of UI spending. The House bill continues through the end of 2009 the federal program providing 26 weeks of additional benefits to workers who exhaust their state unemployment checks. It also raises benefits by $25 per week, and provides funding to states if they choose to expand UI eligibility for disproportionately low-income unemployed such as those who are only able to seek part-time work or have earnings too recent to count in some states’ antiquated unemployment systems. At a cost of $39 billion over two years, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the increased ability of UI recipients to purchase goods and services will save or create nearly 340,000 jobs.

Aid to states to prevent Medicaid, education, or other service cuts is also understood to be an effective way to boost the economy. Again using Zandi’s analysis, a dollar invested here expands the economy by $1.38. The House plan provides $87 billion over two years in an increased federal share of Medicaid costs, plus aid for education and other programs totaling $79 billion. Advocates have been seeking $100 billion towards Medicaid spending and will continue to work towards that level in the Senate. Among the education programs seeing increases: $13 billion in new funding for K-12 education for the disadvantaged (Title I) and another $13 billion to raise to 27 percent the federal share of special education funding through IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). IDEA law set the federal share at 40 percent, but that level has never been appropriated. The 27 percent included here is the highest proportion yet achieved. The economic benefit of the state aid proposed in the House bill would translate into about 1.4 million jobs either saved or created over two years.

Delivering cash to low-income people through tax credits is another effective way to promote recovery. The House bill takes an important step forward by making the Child Tax Credit phase in starting with the first dollar of earnings, even if the family earns too little to owe federal income taxes. Under current law, families with earnings below $8,500 are ineligible for the Child Tax Credit. The benefits to poor families are significant – a family with two children and a parent working full time at the minimum wage (earning $14,500) receives $900 from the CTC now; if the House bill becomes law, their Credit rises to $2,000. In addition, the bill includes a new Making Work Pay credit proposed by President-Elect Obama; it too is available to low-income workers. There is also an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit for families with three or more children (the EITC under current law is higher for two-child families than for those with one child, but does not rise for larger families).

The House bill includes many other important provisions that spur the economy by helping low-income people to be able to buy what they need. Advocates have noted some shortcomings as well. Among the biggest:

Nutrition: although the bill includes increases for SNAP, noted above, for afterschool meals ($726 million in the Child and Adult Care Food Program), for Senior Nutrition programs ($200 million), and for improvements to WIC’s information systems ($100 million), it does not include any increase for emergency food programs (TEFAP), for WIC food packages for children and pregnant women, or for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Advocates had sought $450 million for one year of WIC funding, $30 million for CSFP (one year), and $330 million for two years’ funding for TEFAP. With emergency food facilities running out of food all around the country and unable to meet rising demand, the need for all these programs is very great.

Jobs: Advocates had hoped there would be provisions calling for a certain percentage of the jobs created through this bill to be targeted to low-income workers, jobless veterans, women, and minorities. Such targeting is not stated; nor is there specific additional funding for transitional jobs (advocates had sought $400 million) that would help low-skilled individuals prepare for employment. The bill includes well over $90 billion in renewable energy, infrastructure, and other areas where hiring will be needed, and overall estimates for jobs saved or created through this legislation range from 3.3 million to over 4 million. Low-income people will need help to compete for the new jobs in this mix. If the help if not provided in the final legislation, the new Administration will have to develop its own strategies for ensuring that low-income, low-skilled workers with very high unemployment rates benefit from the recovery plan.

Housing: Advocates had sought $5 billion a year for two years in the National Housing Trust Fund, which would provide for construction of affordable housing. The construction projects would create jobs as well as invest in housing. No funds were included for the Housing Trust Fund; nor were there increases in rental housing vouchers, badly needed now as rising joblessness and the wave of foreclosures is pushing more people into the rental housing market, often with little ability to pay security deposits.

Other important recovery provisions (two-year funding):

Supplemental Security Income (SSI, $4.2 billion): The House bill includes a one-time increase, equivalent to about one month’s benefits (approximately $450 for an individual), to help the poor elderly or people with disabilities receiving this income assistance.

Child Support Enforcement ($1 billion): Advocates had long sought this restoration of funds cut in the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act. Loss of state child support collection staff has begun in some places; the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that the cut would have resulted in children losing $1 billion a year in uncollected child support.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, $2.5 billion): This provision creates a new emergency fund available in FY 2009 and FY 2010 that states can tap if their caseloads rise. States will be paid 80 percent of increased costs for basic cash assistance, short-term aid, or for subsidized employment.

Early Childhood: The Child Care and Development Block Grant is increased by $2 billion, allowing an additional 300,000 children to receive care. Head Start is increased by $2.1 billion, allowing 110,000 additional children to be served.

Community-based Services:
Advocates and service providers had sought $2.5 billion to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to be added to the $5.1 billion approved as part of the financial bailout bill, in response to rising need for home energy assistance. The House bill includes $1 billion. The bill also adds $1 billion for the Community Services Block Grant for community action agencies to distribute energy assistance, provide weatherization, and carry out many other services, and provides another $1 billion to the Community Development Block Grant, intended for fast distribution of infrastructure funding to local governments, and to help to prevent foreclosures. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program receives $4.19 billion in new funds, to prevent blight from vacant foreclosed properties by returning to the rental housing market, and $1.5 billion goes to the HOME program to renovate and construct housing as well as to provide housing financing in response to the current credit freeze. The bill addresses indications of rising homelessness with $1.5 billion in Emergency Shelter Grants, estimated to prevent 300,000 households from becoming homeless. There are many provisions to make public buildings energy efficient, including low-income housing. Home Weatherization for low/moderate income homeowners and renters is substantially increased, with $6.2 billion (the program is now funded at $227 million a year).

Education and Job Training: In addition to the K-12 education provisions listed above, the bill increases the maximum Pell Grant by $500 for college scholarships at a cost of $15.6 billion. Workforce Investment Act training programs receive an additional $4 billion, covering adults, dislocated workers, and youth (including $1.2 billion specifically for summer jobs for youth). There is also $500 million for Vocational Rehabilitation state grants and $500 million for Employment Services grants to states allow adequate staff to address growing need. Community Service Employment for Older Americans is increased by $120 million.

Health Care: To prevent people from losing their health insurance when they lose their jobs, the bill provides a 65 percent subsidy for the costs of continuing their group health plan under the COBRA law (under current law, the jobless person must pay the full cost). The subsidy to eligible individuals will last for one year; this provision costs $30.3 billion. In addition, the bill adds $8.6 billion for Medicaid to cover the full costs of providing Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals and their dependents who lose their jobs. Community Health Centers also receive $1.5 billion, of which $500 million is intended to serve the uninsured and the rest to be used to renovate clinics. The bill also extends through October 1, 2009 the moratoria previously imposed by Congress on restrictive regulations that the Bush Administration has attempted to implement in the Medicaid and Medicare programs."

Coalition on Human Needs
1120 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 910 Washington, DC 20036
phone: (202) 223-2532 fax: (202) 223-2538 email:

Congress Votes to Release Second Half of $700 Billion Bailout Bill

"Human Needs Report Article

The Human Needs Report is the Coalition on Human Needs' newsletter on national policy issues affecting low-income and vulnerable populations. It is published every other week while Congress is in session.

Article from the January 16, 2009 edition of the CHN Human Needs Report:

Congress Votes to Release Second Half of $700 Billion Bailout Bill

In September, amid concerns that inaction would result in the collapse of the banking system and potentially bring down the global economy, the Bush Administration pleaded with Congress to respond to a request for a $700 billion bailout. In early October, after a vigorous debate and much angst, the House and Senate passed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, (PL 110-343), to stop the financial hemorrhaging. The bill, with few strings attached, called for the immediate release of $350 billion to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to distribute as he determined appropriate, with the second installment not made available until Congress approved a request from the President.

The Act established the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to deal with fallout stemming from over-valued assets, in particular bundles of housing mortgages whose worth plummeted when the housing bubble burst and financial institutions lacked the capital to back the assets. The legislation was intended to provide authority for the federal government to purchase and insure certain types of troubled assets in order to provide stability to the financial industry which, in turn, would extend credit to businesses and individuals. Congress also expected that TARP would assist homeowners by facilitating loan modifications to stem the tide of foreclosures.

By late December the first $350 billion was committed – with large sums of money going to American International Group, Inc. (AIG), Citigroup, Bank of America and other banks, and a lesser amount to the auto industry. The loans to the auto industry fueled concerns that other troubled industries would soon seek TARP money. Congress reluctantly agreed to the loans for “the Big Three” automakers, but placed detailed conditions on them highlighting the absence of conditions in the majority of other TARP transactions.

Lingering concerns about TARP are reflected in the January 9 report from the Congressional Oversight Panel. The report highlights four specific concerns: 1) lack of accountability for what banks are doing with the taxpayer money, 2) the need for more transparent asset valuation, 3) the lack of focus on addressing foreclosures, and 4) the shifting explanations of its purposes and the tools used by the Treasury Department.

On January 12, with the first $350 billion depleted, and at the request of President-Elect Obama, President Bush sought the second half. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act calls for the money to be released unless both the House and Senate vote in favor of a resolution to block the release. Amid lingering concerns about the TARP program, President-Elect Obama solicited Congressional support for the release, and his Director-designate of National Economic Council, Larry Summers, wrote a letter to Congressional leaders expressing the new Administration’s commitment to greater oversight and transparency and an emphasis on using TARP resources to address the foreclosure crisis.
Assurances offered by the Obama team were enough. On January 15, the Senate vote to disapprove releasing the funds failed 42-52. Thus the second $350 billion is now available to the Treasury. While the Senate decision renders a House vote unnecessary, it plans to vote next week to put Members on record. Prior to the vote, Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) plans to offer legislation, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act of 2009 (H.R. 384), to amend the TARP provisions in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act by strengthening accountability, increasing transparency, and requiring the Treasury to take significant steps on foreclosure mitigation. The legislation is not expected to be enacted into law, but is intended to make a statement about the need for the new Administration to make these improvements."

More on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Senate Cloture Vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

"Jan. 15, 2009

On Jan. 15, 2009, the Senate voted to take up the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill that has become a centerpiece in the fight for pay equity. The House has already passed the Ledbetter bill, and the Senate will move forward soon with a debate and vote on the bill.

Unfortunately, we expect that opponents of the bill may try to weaken it with unnecessary amendments. We're urging the Senate to pass the bill without any weakening amendments. Then on to fight for the Paycheck Fairness Act, another key piece of legislation that will build on the Ledbetter bill.

To find out how your Senators voted, view the roll call vote on the Senate website.

If your Senator voted YES:

Call (202) 224-3121. The Capitol operator will connect you to your Senator's office. Please tell the person who answers the phone in your Senator's office the following:

1. I am a constituent. My name is ________.

2. I would like to thank the Senator for voting in support of moving forward on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

3. I hope that the Senator will support the bill without amendments.

If your Senator voted NO:

Call (202) 224-3121. The Capitol operator will connect you to your Senator's office. Please tell the person who answers the phone in your Senator's office the following:

1. I am a constituent. My name is ________.

2. I am disappointed that the Senator voted against moving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act forward.

3. I urge the Senator to reconsider his/her opposition to the bill."

Fact Page--NWLC

Sign the Pledge

Get Involved

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

"January 21, 2009—Join an Online Discussion Learn More about Addressing Technology and Stalking

On January 21, 2009, at 2 p.m. (eastern time), the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), in coordination with the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), will present a Web Forum discussion with Michelle Garcia and Cindy Southworth on best practices for recognizing new technologies and addressing their affects on stalking. Ms. Garcia is Director of the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime. She previously served as President of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and President of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She has more than 15 years of experience working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and advocating for victims' rights on the local, state, and national levels. Ms. Southworth is the Founder and Director of Safety Net: The National Safe & Strategic Technology Project, where she works with private industry, state and federal agencies, and international groups to improve safety and privacy for victims in this digital age. Her efforts to end violence against women have spanned 18 years, with the past 10 focusing on how technology can be used to increase victim safety and how to hold stalkers accountable for their misuse of technology.

Visit the OVC Web Forum now to submit questions for Ms. Garcia and Ms. Southworth and return on January 21 at 2 p.m. (eastern time) for the live discussion. Learn how to participate beforehand so you are ready for the discussion.
Submit Questions"

Latest Email from Martin D. Weiss Ph.D on the Second Round of the Bank Crisis

"Just when everyone thought we’d seen the worst of the carnage in the U.S. banking system ...

Despite the $350 billion in TARP funds Washington already spent to save the big banks ...

Despite Treasury Secretary Paulson’s emphatic assurance to CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that the banks are no longer in danger just a few days ago ...

And regardless of the $138 billion ADDITIONAL lifeline he’s just been forced to throw Bank of America yesterday ...

A new, more virulent strain of the bank panic contagion is now hitting Wall Street!

Just this morning, Bank of America posted its first loss in 17 years — a whopping $1.7 billion in October, November and December — and cut the dividend it pays to stockholders.

Plus, Citigroup, which had already received $45 billion in government handouts, posted its fifth straight multi-billion dollar quarterly loss — $8.3 billion in the last three months of 2008, bringing its total losses for the year to a staggering $18.7 billion!

No wonder Obama’s advisers have freely admitted that they see an increasingly grave banking crisis beginning to unfold! No wonder they have scrambled to gain control over the second $350 billion in bailout funds! And no wonder ...

The Great Financial Famine of 2009
Is Spreading Like Wildfire!

After the prior phase of this great banking crisis struck last fall, U.S. job losses surged, bringing the total number of paychecks lost by U.S. families to 2.6 million for 2008.

The stock market had a nervous breakdown — with stocks plunging as much as 1,000 points in a single trading session and the Dow crashing by nearly a third in less than 30 days.

Reeling from the carnage, many companies delayed, postponed or even cancelled dividend payments to investors — and the Fed slashed interest rates, cutting yields on other income investments.

But now, it’s looking like last year’s disaster was little more than a dress rehearsal for the new phase of the banking crisis that’s beginning now!

This new phase of the banking crisis is compelling new evidence of the great “financial famine” we warned you about in yesterday’s “7 Startling Forecasts for 2009” emergency briefing: At least a full year in which every source of income and profits you count on is in extreme danger.

That’s why we’ve urged you to consider a new strategy to get yourself and your family through this disaster: A practical way for you to keep money flowing to you no matter how intense this crisis gets — and no matter how long it lasts.

And it’s why we’ve decided to leave the recording of “7 Startling Forecasts for 2009” online for a short time: It is absolutely essential viewing for you if you’re concerned about your income and investments in the year ahead.

Just turn up your computer speakers, and click this link to watch this crucial video while it’s still online.

Best wishes,


Please watch the video. You will have to enter your name and email address to be allowed access.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Email from National Women's Law Center

"We just got word that the U.S. Senate will begin voting on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act soon — as early as tomorrow.

We've been waiting for this vote. For over a year now, you have worked with us to advocate on behalf of fair pay for women. And now, President-Elect Obama, and many Congressional leaders, have announced their support for quickly passing pay equity legislation.

The House passed both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act last week. Now the Ledbetter bill is heading to the Senate, and we're hopeful that the Paycheck Fairness Act will not be far behind.

Please send a message to your Senators today urging them to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without amendment.

The fight is far from over. Last year, when the Senate voted on this bill, it came up just three votes short. This year, we have a real chance of reaching the 60 votes needed to move the bill forward.

And the sooner the bill passes, the sooner Lilly Ledbetter can join President Obama at the White House for the bill signing ceremony.

But before that can happen, we need you to contact your Senators for the final push.

Women in this country still make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. And for women of color, the numbers are even worse. This is our chance to make a difference — now, when the economic downturn means women are depending on every penny of their income.

Please contact your Senators today.

Thank you for your support on this issue. Together, we can make sure women are able to fight back against pay discrimination.


Signature - Jocelyn Samuels

Jocelyn Samuels
Vice President for Education and Employment
National Women's Law Center"

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Teaching Plans for the Inauguration

Give yourself plenty of time to explore the links in this post, you might get lost. :) I've told you all about Teaching before. Click the title link for a site map. It is an awesome site maintained by The Southern Poverty Law Center. Today's email from Teaching Tolerance focuses on the election and provides great links for a suite of lesson plans to enhance the classroom learning experience for all grade levels.

"A week from today, Barack Obama will become the first African American to serve as the President of the United States. Teaching Tolerance is pleased to release this suite of lesson plans to add depth to classroom observances.

How We Reached This Racial Milestone
Obama's ascension to the highest office in the land is possible only because so many men, women and children - abolitionists, civil rights advocates and their allies - stood up for justice across the centuries. Today's students can join them."

Defenders of Justice (Grades 3-5)

"In this activity for grades 3-5, students will summarize biographies of individuals who fought racism and helped make it possible for a black man to serve as President of the United States. Along they way, they'll discover that they, too, can take a stand for justice and equality and make the world a better place today."

What Makes a Civil Rights Leader? (Grades 7-8)

"This lesson plan is designed to inspire students to think about what makes a civil rights leader – and to think about how they can become the social justice leaders of their own generation."

An Historic Vote (Grades 9-12)

"In this lesson, students in the upper grades will explore the struggle of African Americans to attain voting rights and develop a greater appreciation for the significance of Barack Obama's election." Dig Deeper

Three Ways to Use Obama's Race Speech in the Classroom

"Three new lesson plans for grades 9-12 offer educators fresh, engaging strategies to deepen students' understanding about race and racism throughout history and today."

Unfinished Work

"In this activity, students in the upper grades will debunk the idea that Obama's election means race and racism are no longer relevant in U.S. society."

What Does 'Post-Racial' Mean Anyway?

"In this activity, students in the middle and upper grades will explore whether Obama's selection as the next president of the United States marks a new era in America, one where race doesn't matter."

Racial Disparities Jigsaw Mini-Unit

"This mini-unit allows students in grades 8-12 to investigate racial disparities and their underlying causes and to identify steps individuals and society should take to alleviate them."

Does Rick Warren Represent Diversity? (Grades 9-12)

"In this activity, students will examine whether the inclusion of Rick Warren at the inauguration actually encourages a "range of viewpoints," or simply reinforces those already present."

The ABCs of Black History Month

"In recent years, African Americans have sought answers and begun to uncover hidden history about their own contributions in the Americas. What they've learned, above all else, is how their own history has been wiped clean from history books. They learned that despite the dire news of headlines and studies, African Americans have made vitally important contributions to American society. They've learned of the personal and public struggle to be recognized as whole humans, and of the importance of education so that today's black children can excel. If black children are to have a culturally strong sense of self, if other children are to see them as whole and intelligent contributors to society, then this is the history that must be passed on."

Inaugural Prayers in History (Grades 9-12)

"In this lesson for grades 9-12, students will examine the practice of including prayers in inaugural ceremonies, focusing on the messages these presidential selections send about diversity and faith in American life."
the Diversity Matrix included with this lesson plan is very interesting.

Exposing Hidden Homophobia Great page with great links!

Hesitation and Hope

"The 2008 election showed us that true progress in the struggle for equality is possible. Yet there is still much work to be done."

Welcome Malia and Sasha to the White House (Grades 2-5)

"In this early grades activity, students will discuss the significance of Barack Obama's presidency and create cards welcoming his children to the White House."

We Are the Peacemakers (Grades 3-5)

Flags for Peace

You can find a multitude of great lesson plans for various subjects and grades at The Educator's Reference Desk: Lesson Plans

Friday, January 9, 2009

Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

"The Toolkit for Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases provides practical and comprehensive guidance on how dependency courts can institute a system of performance measurement and create more efficient and effective operations. The result of a collaborative, broad-based effort between the Children's Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services and OJJDP, the Toolkit provides practical, comprehensive guidance on how to undertake performance measurement to improve child and family outcomes of safety, permanence, and well-being and move toward more efficient and effective dependency court operations. Three leading court reform organizations—the American Bar Association, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—provided technical support, and 12 pilot sites in which the Toolkit was tested also provided critical feedback and input. The Toolkit is designed to help courts:

* Establish their baseline of current practices.
* Diagnose what areas of service delivery they need to improve.
* Make improvements to their operations.
* Track their efforts.
* Identify, document, and replicate positive results.

This publication is divided into five volumes:

Key Measures (NCJ 223567). This 44-page booklet outlines nine measures that OJJDP, the Children's Bureau, and their national partners have identified as key to determining court performance in child abuse and neglect cases. The booklet discusses the goal of each measure, data requirements, calculation and interpretation, and important related measures.

Implementation Guide (NCJ 223568). This 76-page guide provides practical advice on how to set up a performance measurement team, assess court capacity, collect data, and use the data to plan reforms.

User's Guide to Nonautomated Data Collection (NCJ 223569). This 48-page guide provides instructions on how to use instruments to measure court performance. Each chapter is devoted to a specific instrument and describes the purpose of the instrument, provides tips on how to use it, and explains how the data can be used to assess court performance on a national level.

Technical Guide (NCJ 223570). This comprehensive 310-page volume describes all 30 court performance measures for child abuse and neglect cases.

Guide to Judicial Workload Assessment (NCJ 223571). This 72-page guide is designed to help courts establish their baseline practices; diagnose what they need to improve; and use that information to make improvements, track their efforts, and identify, document, and replicate positive results.

This publication series may be ordered in its entirety or as individual publications."

Click the title link to be taken to the ordering page. I have provided you with the links to the abstracts and pdf's below.

Toolkit Offers Guidance for Developing and Implementing Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide
Abstract | PDF |
Describes all 30 court performance measures for child abuse and neglect cases and explains the goals and purpose of each measure. (310 pages)

Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Implementation Guide
Abstract | PDF |
Provides practical advice on how to set up a performance measurement team, assess capacity, prioritize among measurement needs, and plan data collection activities. (76 pages)

Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: User's Guide to Nonautomated Data Collection
Abstract | PDF |
Explains how to use nonautomated data collection methods to enhance performance measurement. (48 pages)

Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Guide to Judicial Workload Assessment
Abstract | PDF |
Presents a method for obtaining data on judicial workloads in abuse and neglect cases, including an assessment of what is required for best practice in these cases. (72 pages)

Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Key Measures
Abstract | PDF |
Outlines nine measures that have been identified as key to determining court performance in child abuse and neglect cases. (44 pages)

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Provides Juvenile Court Statistics

The title link to this post takes you to the home page of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Also, there were two posts yesterday and I would hate to think that you all missed the one on Search Institute. :)

"The National Center for Juvenile Justice has published "Juvenile Court Statistics 2005." The report, developed with funding from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), describes delinquency cases between 1985 and 2005 and petitioned status offense cases between 1995 and 2005 handled by U.S. courts with juvenile jurisdiction."

There are also cool tools for your dataferrett on that page along with Related Links

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Dream Conference

I received this email today from the Child Welfare League of America. Click the title link to be taken to the 40 page brochure in pdf.

"Transform your work! Register now to attend the 2009 CWLA national conference, "Children Today... America's Future!" February 23-25 in Washington, DC. You'll get best practices and cutting-edge research from the child advocacy organization you know and trust.

More than 120 child and family experts will present on timely and important topics in child welfare, including technology, organizational excellence, worker retention, and mental health. Our all-new specialty summits will focus on:

* a trauma-informed child welfare system;
* transformation of residential care;
* leadership development; and
* substance abuse.

Are you specifically interested in foster care and adoption? Choose from 15+ workshops on emotional healing, older child adoption, family visitation, transitioning foster youth, and more. We'll also discuss how to survive and thrive in the Wall Street-to-Main Street crisis. These are conversations you cannot afford to miss!

Join us on Capitol Hill Tuesday, February 24, and be part of the first large-scale effort after the inauguration of President-elect Obama to focus the attention of Congress on children. Advocacy Day participants can also learn more about the sweeping reform brought about by the historic passage of the Fostering Connections to Success Act.

If you attend a conference in 2009, this should be the one!
Browse our workshops and sessions.
Earn up to 18.5 CEUs.

Save money! Register now to beat the rate increase on January 23, 2009. One FREE registration is available for every organization that registers five attendees. To take advantage of this offer, register by calling Nicky Dixon at 703/412-2414."

So if any of you happen to get one of those free tickets because you order five and feel like sponsoring a new, not yet employed social worker with plane fare and a hotel room...I would sure like to go. :)

Search Institute

It's been awhile since I found a site worthy of my readers. Today I found one. I am absolutely astonished at the amount of excellent resources for practitioners, parents and communities found on this site. The title link will take you to the home page for Search Institute. Search Institute is not a totally free site like I usually like to bring to my readers but there is so much useful information available on the site that is free and the prices that I did check out seem to be well within a reasonable range that I just had to bring it to you.

The Developmental Assets page is the one that generated the most excitement. This page provides you with 40 interactive developmental strategies for generating external and internal assets for adolescents 12-18 complete with "take action" drop down menu's. Middle childhood 8-12. Early Childhood 3-5. Activity Generator Conversation Generator

Here is the adolescent page:


* Family Support | Family life provides high levels of love and support.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Start family traditions and rituals such as family service, game nights, season outings, or family meetings.

Give kids space and respect their privacy when they need it.

Give each of your kids a hug today, even if they’re really big kids.

Spend time each week with each of your teenagers individually.

Create a small memory book, memory box, photo album, or private Web site for each of your children.

If you don’t live in the same city as your child, create a care package that includes a pack of cards; a book of crossword puzzles, word jumbles, or drawing activities; and some colorful pens, pencils, or markers.

For more on this topic, see Supporting Youth: How to Care, Communicate, and Connect in Meaningful Ways.
* Positive Family Communication | Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Use mealtimes to learn about one another’s musical tastes. Choose one night each week as music night and rotate who gets to choose.
Be willing to talk during times that are comfortable for your children, such as while riding or driving, or on a walk. Sometimes not having to make constant direct eye contact can make the conversation flow better.

Sending e-mail, telephone calls, handwritten cards, photos, children’s art, and personal letters are all wonderful ways to stay connected with your children’s long-distance relatives.

Hang a whiteboard on your refrigerator or in a common area such as an entryway. Use it to write loving messages to one another or to let everyone know where you are, how you can be reached, and when you will be home.

Regardless of your teenagers’ interests and current involvement, regularly sit down with them and talk through their commitments to school, friends, jobs, and so on. Make sure they are making intentional decisions about what they do with their time, and make sure that their choices are respectful of your family’s schedule.

* For more on this topic, see Conversations on the Go: Clever Questions to Keep Teens and Grown-Ups Talking by Mary Ackerman.
* Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Swap a CD or M3P player with a teen. Listen to the music together if you can, and tell each other why you picked that music.

Find a gourmet goodie buddy. Bake brownies, cookies, or other treats with a young person as a fun way to spend time together.

Send cards or e-mail greetings to young people you know to mark holidays, birthdays, and other important milestones in their lives.

As a way to spend time together, invite a young friend to till, plant, and tend a garden patch or create a container garden with potted plants.

It’s not too late to identify a caring adult who can help take some of the pressure off you during the teenage years. Do you know someone you can bring into a mentoring relationship with your teen who shares your teen’s passion? A colleague? Music instructor? Your child’s employer?

* For more on this topic, see Mentoring for Meaningful Results and Connect 5: Finding the Caring Adults You May Not Realize Your Teen Needs by Kathleen Kimball-Baker.
* Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Have neighborhood celebration on the first or last day of the school year. Invite youth, parents, teachers, and other neighbors.

Organize informal activities (such as pick-up basketball) for young people in your neighborhood. Make plans to do the activity weekly if they are interested.

If you live in an apartment or condominium, spend time in gathering places, such as front steps, courtyards, meeting rooms, pools, laundry rooms, and lobbies. Greet people and try to start conversations.

Let the kids in your neighborhood know they can play basketball in your driveway, cut through your yard to get to school, sled down the hill in your backyard—whatever you feel comfortable with.

Organize a neighborhood bake sale or garage sale, or try a barter day—you and your neighbors can gather to trade items.

* For more on this topic, see Tag, You’re It! 50 Easy Ways to Connect with Young People by Kathleen Kimball-Baker.
* Caring School Climate | School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION If you find out your child is bullying or being bullied, don't add stress by showing your anger, fear, or disappointment. First listen carefully and respectfully while your child explains her or his point of view. Then work together to make a plan to solve the problem.

Talk with your kids — ask about their friends, about what it's like to ride the bus or walk through the lunchroom. Keep talking and asking questions, even when they don't seem anxious to respond. If you know or find out that bullying is going on at school, in a congregation, or in another organization, be sure to report it.

* For more on this topic, see Safe Places to Learn: 21 Lessons to Help Students Promote a Caring School Climate by Paul Sulley and Great Places to Learn: Creating Asset-Building Schools That Help Students Succeed by Neal Starkman, Peter C. Scales, and Clay Roberts.


* Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION When young workers at a grocery store, drug store, or fast food restaurant wait on you, greet them in a friendly manner and compliment them on something (their good work, their unusual hairstyle).

Be patient with young workers! Don’t show irritation if they make a mistake.

Celebrate a young employee’s new job with a lunch date and a tour of your workplace. Talk about your job and the job he or she has been hired to do. Encourage lots of questions.

* For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis.
* Youth as Resources | Young people are given useful roles in the community.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Solicit young people’s input in all decisions that affect them. If you’re on a decision-making board, invite young people to be members—and then really listen to what they have to say.

If you’re in charge of a fundraising or charity event, involve your children or students. They will learn by watching you in action, but they will learn even more if they’re given a meaningful task to complete.

Encourage kids to mentor their peers. Teach them how they can help other youth by listening to them and helping them work through their problems.

* For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis.
* Service to Others | Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Together with your kids, do something for someone else, whether it’s making a financial contribution, baking cookies, or helping someone out.

Make and send cards to hospitalized children, nursing home residents, or people in the military.

Organize a community or neighborhood “closet-cleaning day.” Deliver everything you collect to a shelter or thrift store.

Provide foster care for a pet through an animal shelter or for a friend or neighbor who is out of town or ill.

Organize or participate together in a fundraiser such as a walk or run. Donate the proceeds to hurricane relief, camp scholarships, or other causes.

* For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis and The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
* Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Create a loving, violence-free, safe home environment.

If weapons are ever part of a bullying threat, take the threat seriously. The police need to be kept informed.

Talk with your teen about the connection between driving and emotions. Point out that driving while angry, sad, or preoccupied can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. New drivers need to be in control of their own emotions and alert to the reactions of other drivers.

Remove yourself from a situation immediately if you ever feel troubled enough to use physical or emotional violence against your teenager. Leave the room—go for a walk, visit a neighbor, call a trusted friend or counselor—but physically go somewhere else and calm down.

Parents must decide when a teen’s welfare or the welfare of others is seriously endangered, and take action. If your child is engaging in risky behaviors of any sort, it’s time to intervene, monitor behavior closely, and perhaps seek professional support.

* For more on this topic, see Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to do Great Things by Kelly Curtis and Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


* Family Boundaries | Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Always ask where your kids are going, with whom, and when they’ll be home.

The next time your child lashes out at you, try responding with love rather than anger, such as, “I’m sorry you’re feeling that way right now. I love you, but it’s not okay to act this way.”

Learn to be flexible when setting boundaries and to take the long view. Trends come and go and always will.

Invest in high-quality Internet software that can track all activity, including chats, email, and Web access. Let your teens know you will regularly check on what they are doing online (and then be sure to do it).

If possible, keep computers in the common areas of your home, not in bedrooms, offices, or other rooms where kids can spend long periods of time unsupervised.

* For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
* School Boundaries | School provides clear rules and consequences.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Make sure you and your children know the school rules about dress and appearance, and know the consequences for violating them.

School should feel safe to children. If your child is being teased or bullied—in the classroom, on the playground, or to and from school—be sure to talk to your child's teacher. Great resources are available for teachers and parents to work through bullying issues, so speak up as soon as you believe this is an issue.

Know the dress codes of your kids’ schools, and make sure your kids follow them, even if they tell you “no one else does.”

*For more on this topic, see Safe Places to Learn: 21 Lessons to Help Students Promote a Caring School Climate by Paul Sulley and Great Places to Learn: Creating Asset-Building Schools That Help Students Succeed by Neal Starkman, Peter C. Scales, and Clay Roberts.
* Neighborhood Boundaries | Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Tell other parents when you see their children being responsible or generous in their actions. Try to find opportunities to praise more often than you report misbehavior.

Make your home one that kids want to come to. If kids get rowdy in your home, be calm but firm in re-establishing order.

Meet the parents of your children’s friends. If your preteen wants to go with friends to a movie or the mall without you, call other parents and agree on pick-up times and movie choices.

* For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
* Adult Role Models | Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION If you parent with a partner, make sure you work on keeping that relationship happy and healthy. You, your partner, and your kids will all benefit.

Know when to tell your children you’re sorry. Keep it honest and sincere, avoiding the temptation to soothe your own conscience by offering gifts or other indulgences unrelated to the situation.

Show them that you are brave enough to try again, even when you feel embarrassed.

Make sure children hear adults solving problems in peaceful ways — not with shouting, angry words, or hitting. If you and your child witness bullying or intimidation by adults or children, point it out, talk about it, and think of alternate ways the situation could have been handled.

Model for your children hard work, a good attitude, and respect for others. Avoid bad-mouthing coworkers, sports teams or players, and others with whom you compare yourself or compete.

* For more on this topic, see Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher and Mentoring for Meaningful Results.
* Positive Peer Influence | Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION* For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
* High Expectations | Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.


* Creative Activities | Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Hand down a hobby. Teach a young person a skill, such as quilting, carpentry, or gardening.

Help your children—at every age—find positive outlets for their creative energy. This might include classes, crafts, physical activities, drama, or more.

If you played an instrument when you were younger, take a refresher course. Then set a good example and practice often. Or join a choir, try out for a play, pick up a paintbrush, or write a poem. Share your excitement with your children.

* For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
* Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONScouts and other youth groups are great places for young people to build strong, supportive relationships. Explore youth group opportunities.

Suggest that your kids join a local organization for the summer as a counselor or mentor for children.

Encourage your teens to be involved in some out-of-school programs or activities. If they aren’t interested in options at school, help them identify and research opportunities in your community. Carefully chosen part-time jobs or volunteer situations can also be worthwhile endeavors for teens.

If you think it would help your child, look into a formal mentoring program through your school or a community organization. Many programs can match kids this age with an adult who will be a supporter and friend for years to come.

Many young people have an interest in clubs and organizations at school that do fundraising for causes worldwide. Encourage their leadership and participation.

* For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience, Mentoring for Meaningful Results, Great Group Games.
* Religious Community | Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Adapt your religious and spiritual practices to match your child’s developmental abilities. Children this age may only be able to sit 10-15 minutes (or less) at one time. Offer a quiet activity or book to keep your child engaged.

Encourage your child to talk about her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts, asking questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what she says.

It’s okay for your teen to seek out adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Exposure to different cultures and belief systems can help him evaluate and define his own.

Keep talking with and listening to your child, even if she says things about religion or spirituality that worry or disappoint you.

Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes.
* Time at Home | Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Make sure your kids’ time at home is constructive by setting aside at least one evening a week as family time. Play games, have a family book club, make dinner together, or go on walks, taking a different route each week.

Limit their time on TV, computer, and video games. Many young people choose to be active when not glued to a screen.

Set aside media-free family time on evenings or weekends. Play games, read aloud together, toast marshmallows, listen to music, play outside, go on an outing, or plan some other enjoyable activity together.

As much as possible, honor mealtimes as “connecting times.” Don’t watch TV or stand over the sink as you eat!

Many preteens and teens start dropping activities and wanting to spend more time “hanging out.” Be patient, but also encourage your child to find another activity to try and get involved in.

* For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years and A Moment’s Peace for Parents of Teens: 365 Rejuvenating Reflections by Patricia Hoolihan.



* Achievement Motivation | Young person is motivated to do well in school.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION You can never “overpraise” a child’s abilities. The more able a child feels, the more likely she or he is to continue pursuing ambitious goals.

Use spontaneous rewards with no strings attached. If you expect children to work hard and learn new skills, they probably will. Instead of saying “I’ll take you to the park if you finish your assignment,” say, “You finished your assignment? Great! Let’s go to the park to celebrate.”

Set goals together that will motivate your child. Choose goals that are easy, simple, and doable. For example, goals could include, “I will raise my hand to participate at least one more time a day” or “I will ask my teacher or dad for help when I don’t understand something.”

Monitor your teenager’s stress levels. Some find high school academically competitive and can psych themselves out. Others think high school is a waste of time and try to do the minimum. Talk about how high school is a key part of your child’s life and how he can make the most of it.

* For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
* School Engagement | Young person is actively engaged in learning.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Talk with your children about school and learning. Ask them every day what they did in school, what they learned, what they liked about school, what they didn’t like about it. Stay in touch with their school experience.

Some kids complain of boredom in the classroom. If this is the case, talk with your child and his teacher about enriching assignments to add more challenge. Ask for opportunities that add rigor and depth to your child’s education, and look for mentors and tutors who can help him delve more deeply into subjects that he loves.

When you talk about school, stay positive. Let your children know that you think learning and school are fun and important.

* For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
* Homework | Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Ask neighbors to include their areas of expertise (computers, math, English arts) in a “homework helpers” list to distribute to students. Then encourage students to call neighbors when they need specific help.

Sit near your children when they’re doing homework, and do work of your own: write a letter, pay bills, balance your checkbook, or read work-related material. Continue this routine as children grow older.

Encourage children who participate in after-school childcare programs to do at least some of their homework there so that you have more family time in the evenings.

Encourage your children to form study groups with other students when appropriate. Help them outline complex material, and teach them how to read and evaluate arguments with a critical eye.

When your children ask for help, provide guidance (but don’t give them all the answers right away). Remember, children only need to do their best, not your best.

* For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
* Bonding to School | Young person cares about her or his school.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION If you are able, purchase school t-shirts, caps, sweatshirts, or other school clothing that’s for sale. Wearing these items helps children show pride in their school.

Participate with your child in service projects, such as food drives, conducted by the school. Invite one of your child's friends to join you.

Show that you care about your child’s school. Join a parent-teacher organization, attend conferences and special events, and volunteer in any way you can.

Listen to your teenager when he complains about school or talks about not feeling connected. Is there a specific problem?

Don't forget to identify one caring adult at school as your family's "ally." Aim for at least five caring adults in your teen’s life.

* For more on this topic, see Engage Every Parent! Encouraging Families to Sign On, Show Up, and Make a Difference by Nancy Tellett-Royce and Susan Wootten.
* Reading for Pleasure | Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Bring a young person to look for books at garage sales, rummage sales, and second-hand stores.

Ask children to read to you as they learn to read. Show them that you are excited and proud about their reading.

Ask a teenager to recommend a favorite book. Read the book and start a discussion later about the characters’ values.

Give your child books and magazine subscriptions as birthday and holiday presents.

Make it a family ritual to read together in the evening—with the television, cell phones, and computers turned off!

* For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Group Activities That Help Youth Succeed.


* Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Encourage your kids to donate coins—their own or ones you give them—to good causes.

Investigate volunteer opportunities in your community that you and your teen can do together, such as stocking food supplies at your local foodshelf.

Affirm your teenager when he or she acts in ways that are caring or responsible. Teenagers need to hear that you’re proud of them and that they are making good choices (even when you’re not happy with all their choices).
* Equality and Social Justice | Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Together, choose an organization or group you want to support financially. Spend six months saving and then deliver your donation in person, if possible.

Begin teaching your child the importance of thinking of others who might not have as much as they do. Encourage your kids to “hand down” items they no longer use to charitable organizations.

Identify people (past or present) who have worked for social justice. Discuss their impact on their community or the world.

* For more on this topic, see Make a World of Difference: 50 Asset-Building Activities to Help Teens Explore Diversity by Dawn C. Oparah.
* Integrity | Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Defending personal values may sometimes mean your teens get intolerant or belittling responses from their friends or acquaintances. Your support for your children is crucial.
* Honesty | Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Realize that asking demanding questions (“Did you throw that at your sister?”), when you already know the answers, may corner them into lies if they think you might be fooled (“No, I dropped it and it hit her.”)

Live honestly, even when it's “no big deal”: Return the extra if given too much change, play fair, own up to fibs or made-up excuses.

Make it a game to find dishonesty in advertising. Discuss why companies might want to mislead people or hide some information.

When your children are honest with you about problems, concerns, or sensitive topics, praise them, even if you don't like what you have been told. Separate honesty from other issues.

Keep in mind that kids usually lie because it seems safer than telling the truth. If you suspect your child is lying, try to get at the reason. Say, for example, “I'm having a hard time believing this story, did something happen that you're afraid to tell me?” Or, “There seems to be more to this than what you're saying, what else is bothering you?”
* Responsibility | Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Don’t always bail your kids out of trouble. Help them learn from mistakes.

Don’t nag or rescue your kids when they forget to follow through on a responsibility. Let natural consequences occur (e.g., kids who don’t put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket run out of clean clothes to wear).

Talk about the cost of things you buy and how you make decisions about what to spend.

If you have a pet, encourage your child to take on more responsibility for pet care as he or she matures. If your child is interested in getting a pet, work with her or him to do plenty of research on the care needed for the type of animal you are considering.

* For more on this topic, see Teaching Kids to Change the World: Lessons to Inspire Social Responsibility for Grades 6-12 by Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner and Chris Maser.
* Restraint | Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Talk with your kids about real-life stuff like drugs, alcohol, and sexuality. Let them know your values and expectations.

Talk to your kids—boys and girls—about how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you don’t, you can be sure someone will and they may not share your wisdom.

Some teens think that all parties have to be unsupervised and involve drinking or other illegal activities. Help your children plan fun, “dry” parties at your home or another safe location.

Don’t laugh at or glorify the behavior of people who have had too much to drink, even on television or in movies.

Let your teen know it’s so important to you that they don’t drink, that you will always provide a no-questions-asked-at-the-time ride home if they end up at a party where there is alcohol.

Seize opportune moments to talk, such as after watching a movie or show together that contains content about sexual relationships (even those considered “family” shows often do).

* For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen, Parenting at the Speed of Teens, and Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


* Planning and Decision Making | Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION When your children receive long-term school assignments, offer to help them plan and make decisions in order to finish on time.

Talk children through planning ahead by asking “what if” questions. This will help them think about what needs to be done and identify possible consequences of their decisions.

Encourage your teen to get involved in a long-term project (one that involves planning and coordination) at school or in the community.

Be intentional about letting kids make plans for a family party or event. Let them help make guest lists, plan the budget, shop for food and decorations, and enlist family members to make the event a success.

Provide your children with daily planners to help them organize their homework assignments, tests, and after-school activities.
* Interpersonal Competence | Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Remind your children that they need to treat you with respect, such as saying please and thank you, and acknowledging your presence!

Make it a policy to never speak poorly of others in your home.

Use “active listening” with your children: Ask good questions, paraphrase what they say to make sure you understand, and show that you empathize with what they are saying.

Teach your children—through modeling and explanation—how to use “I” statements to express feelings to one another without making accusations (for example: “I feel angry when you say that,” instead of “You make me so mad, or “You are so stupid.”

Encourage your child to develop friendships of all ages in a number of different settings, such as school, a faith community, your neighborhood, or your extended family.

* For more on this topic, see The Best of Building Assets Together: Favorite Activities That Help Youth Succeed by Jolene Roehlkepartain.
* Cultural Competence | Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTIONPay attention to what you say and how you say it about people, the world, ideas, and so on. Your kids are learning from you.

Teach your kids that everybody has personal values, even though others’ may be different from their own.

Attend cultural events and festivals in your community. If you don’t know of any, try asking a librarian or calling your local chamber of commerce.

When you watch television, see a movie, or play a video game with your children, talk about the subtle messages about diversity. Do all the characters look, sound, or dress a certain way? Are there stereotypes that are reinforced or dispelled? What’s implied about the positive and negative aspects of certain characteristics?

Encourage your teens to have “multi-cultural” experiences by visiting museums, cultural festivals or centers, congregations, or other places where people who share a common culture gather.

* For more on this topic, see Make a World of Difference: 50 Asset-Building Activities to Help Teens Explore Diversity by Dawn C. Oparah.
* Resistance Skills | Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Be aware that some young people participate in unhealthy rites of passage involving things like hazing, gambling, sexual activity, or substance use. Talk with your children about how their peers mark life changes. Then, together with your children, make some positive plans of your own.

Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator and becomes more so as your child matures. Talk about the importance of thinking for oneself. Encourage your child to believe in the value of her own good choices.

Reinforce nonviolent resistance skills, such as walking away, being assertive (although not passive or overly aggressive), and finding someone such as a trained peer mediator to help.

Teach your children that kids who pressure them to do things they know they shouldn’t do are not true friends at all. Talk about times when you had to let go of a friendship that wasn’t helpful to you.

Affirm your teenagers when they make good choices. They need to hear what they’re doing right.

* For more on this topic, see Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen and Parenting at the Speed of Teens: Positive Tips on Everyday Issues.
* Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Forgive people of all ages when they make mistakes. Teach young people how to apologize, explain, negotiate, and resolve conflicts peacefully when relationships run into trouble.

If your children hit each other (or kick, bite, and pull each other’s hair), don’t just chalk it up to “kids being kids.” Explain why it isn’t right to hurt someone else, and mediate an apology.

Teach your children about nonviolent resistance by reading about Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandi, and other nonviolent leaders.

Know when to tell your children you’re sorry. Keep it honest and sincere, avoiding the temptation to soothe your own conscience by offering gifts or other indulgences unrelated to the situation.

Allow family members to leave discussions when they are too angry or upset to resolve conflicts peacefully and reasonably. Agree on a time to try again.

* For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos.


* Personal Power | Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION The most important piece of the self-esteem puzzle is personal power—the sense your child gets from knowing they can have an effect on their world. Finding ways for your child to set a goal and achieve it is important.

Help your child learn to brainstorm and choose solutions to problems so that he or she learns to be empowered.

A child’s personal power (self-esteem) might come from successful team work, a rewarding service activity, or remembering to do chores without being told. Look for ways to identify and recognize your child’s growing personal power.

As you watch your teen become more empowered and self-assured, have ongoing conversations about the new responsibilities this age brings and about your confidence in their ability to navigate their expanding world.

Help your children understand the difference(s) between what we can and can’t control. For example, we can control what we say and do; we can’t control what other people say and do.
* Self-Esteem | Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Talk openly and positively about changes happening in your children’s bodies—growth spurts and puberty. When your son’s voice begins to change or your daughter gets her period, celebrate in a way that suits your child—perhaps a special dinner or outing.

Tell your children how proud you are of them. Be sure to let them know you enjoy their company.

When teen acne appears, help children explore options for effectively treating it with frequent face washing, over-the-counter products, and/or dermatologist-prescribed medication.

Tell your kids what’s special about them and that your love for them will never end. Some parents think children just know these things. They won’t, unless they hear it directly from you.

* For more on this topic, see Helping Teens Handle Tough Experiences: Strategies to Foster Resilience by Jill R. Nelson and Sarah Kjos and Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen.
* Sense of Purpose | Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Stock your bookshelves with inspiring books about heroes who have made a difference with their lives.

Tell your children about a time when you really messed up and learned from it.
* Positive View of Personal Future | Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION Encourage your children to spend time in their high school guidance office, reading through career and college planning materials.

Talk to your teenagers about how they feel about themselves and what they envision for their future.

If your teenager is passionate about animals, encourage her or him to consider education or career paths that involve animals when she or he considers post-high school opportunities. There are many.

Ask your kids about their goals and dreams. Help them think about the resources (financial and otherwise) they will need to make these goals a reality.

* For more on this topic, see Just When I Needed You: True Stories of Adults Who Made a Difference in the Lives of Young People by Deborah Fisher.

This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals."

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