When I first began to do the abstracts, I often made huge introductions that expressed why I abstracted and gave my often divergent view from what was abstracted. Of course, this can upset those who fund my work, so these personal observations have largely been removed. Some were just so GOOD that I couldn't just delete them! Here is a collection of what Jay wanted to say about some of the abstracts.
To be honest, I have always been angry at schools and other institutions that seem to use families as tools to accomplish their own ends. The work of families is only seen as an extension of what schools want to have happen -- finishing schoolwork that was left undone; enforcing homework; feeding, clothing, bedding children so that they are proper for the next schoolday. Even fundraising and parent-teacher organizations take family time and money through dubious claims that these things will benefit the children. Recent pushs toward extending the school year, the school day, and creating a virtual kibbutz make plain that schools desire to absorb families into some perverted Hillary Rohdam "village" that they control. These institutions demand so much of families in time and money and then solemnly agree to fill the family "gap" that they themselves worked diligently to create.
My own personal view is that schools and other community institutions should be servants to families as was originally intended. Families got together to hire schoolteachers, sheriffs, and town councils to economize on education, security, and other common needs. Now, the servant is the master. Of course, returning to this original purpose grows more and more impossible as families are torn limb-from-limb by the forces of society and can't even care for themselves independently, much less assert authority over the community, a role now often left to whatever powerful, self-serving entity or person that happens by.
I find it constantly amazing that our local survey points again and again to concerns that are most often felt within the family, where family members are affected by substance abuse, a lack of health care, and a lack of time to meet non-monetary family needs. These concerns often come because the community has failed in serving families AS A SERVANT. If we put the community more in service to families (instead of the other way around), I wager the families could solve many of their own problems without much intervention. God bless the families and stop trying to rip them to shreds!
The paper abstracted here comes out of a commission from an educational agency (much like our RCC#6) and still bears the slant of families taking a form more ammeanable to the needs of schools. In spite of this, it is an excellent look at a promising trend in looking at children as a part of families instead of just as individuals. Also, it tries to put families in a positive light, as opposed to the common view of families as the root of all the problems of children.
Perhaps I abstract it here to bring up a touchy subject: what do we do with the offenders of zero-tolerance laws? Will there will be a big number if this is done right? Shall we build a larger jail? Perhaps halfway houses? Where would money to do such things come from? Along with reducing substance abuse (we hope), will we need to create places and interventions for those we prosecute? Are those who use substances evil or just weak in the face of strong forces? Should we make weakness a criminal offense? What should the punishment be? It may bear some thought.
Also, why do we call it "substance abuse?" Is it like child abuse? Are people hitting and kicking marijuana plants that don't deserve such treatment? Should we call it "Self-abuse with substances" instead? Would that change the way we look at it? Do we lock up the perpetrator of "self-abuse," or provide assistance to the victims of it, considering that they are the same person?
What does a world with zero-tolerance look like? A police state where only mousy thought-slaves (a la Orwell's "1984") can walk the streets while everyone else is in rehabilitation to remove their dangerous independence? This article chills me with its acceptance of the idea of conformance above all else. As a non-conformist, it frightens me and I worry that I will be rounded up someday because I don't behave in the "orthodox" way. When will my nature fall below the line of "tolerance?"
In our work to prevent and reduce substance abuse, we often find ourselves pitted against powerful forces (i.e. money) that want to capitalize on our weaknesses. Sometimes, our enemies work to look like our friends and often succeed. You can look at the anti-smoking ads put out by tobacco companies, as if their owners really put health before profits. (Down, Jay, down.)
Having daughters myself, I am concerned that our society paints them into corners due to stereotypes. Though it is disconcerting to me that the goal is to have girls focus on math and science, as though that was all that was important. I am perfectly able to see that it is also our societal insistance on the importance of hard science over softer topics. Being a practitioner of softer things, I had always hoped that we would be respected for our individuality, but I keep seeing folks, especially women power advocates, sneering at women who choose to take traditional female roles as if they were mindless sheep. I think the softer, family-focused things are perhaps more important than science, that is why I do this.
When I read this, I look at proper attitudes about our girls somewhere between traditional ideas and the thoughts presented here. I agree that we need to encourage girls to try things and find where they fit in. I am also ready to be supportive if they choose to go in directions other than science, even if those directions include those "dispicable" traditional roles. I am sure the authors didn't intend to be science-centric, but they look that way.
Oops! I probably should not have read that again! Now I am upset at the statement that science and math are necessary to be leaders. What a horribly narrow view! Fine, I think women should be forced to stay home with their children for the first five years of life so that they can develop some heart because mothers ARE half of the leaders in the 21st century by being the primary influence on future generations! (Cuts both ways?)
I have been thoughtful of the plight of the poor for some years now. Unlike my liberal siblings, I vehemently oppose our trend to make the poor into governmental laboratory rats for social scientists by giving them public housing, food stamps, and all the regulations that come with them. The poor are the least free people in our nation, not because of their poverty, but because everything about America is ordered upon the citizens' ability to pay for their needs to be met by others. The age of self-reliance is gone.
If you wanted to build your family a cheap house, you would have to study incomprehensible "codes," please narrow-minded and often code-ignorant inspectors ("I have never seen that before so you can't do it"), and pay outragous permit fees that you must pay again and again if you don't build "fast enough." The answer is to pay a contractor many thousands of dollars to do it for you. Resourceful yet poor people are effectively barred from building their own home because the system almost demands that you use an expensive contractor. This is just one example of why the poor must end up in public housing "hell," living on the government dole. Poverty requires you to behave like an incapable ignoramus in America, whether you are one or not.
Every year, people are less and less able to be poor with dignity. My mother's family has been poor for generations, but my generation is the first that has been forced to take government money to feed and house ourselves. I have lost my dignity in being able to provide for my family's needs, though I am far more educated and "moneyed" than my ancestors ever were. I wish I could have been born a hundred years ago.