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January 16, 2017

This week’s family-related news coverage included a scathing attack on standardized testing, a gay woman’s personal story about the travails of marriage and divorce, a review of a children’s book set in a prison, a look at how the cost of raising a child outpaces inflation, an in-depth interview with the outgoing US Education Secretary, a touching story about how one father, now sober, relishes the moments with his young daughter, a heartfelt and strikingly honest account of one young man’s journey and “divorce” from the foster care system, and finally the US Supreme Court is looking at the issue of whether our nation’s schools are adequately meeting the needs of children with disabilities.

Poet: I Can’t Answer Questions on Texas Standardized Tests About My Own Poems Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, January 7, 2017 When I realized I couldn’t answer the questions posed about two of my own poems on the Texas state assessment tests (STAAR Test), I had a flash of panic — oh, no! Not smart enough. Such a dunce. My eyes glazed over…The only way to stop this nonsense is for parents to stand up and say, no more. No more will I let my kid be judged by random questions scored by slackers from Craigslist while I pay increased taxes for results that could just as easily have been predicted by an algorithm.

I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both Meredith Maranjan, The New York Times, January 7, 2017 Like most early same-sex-marriage adopters, my wife and I had intermingled our hearts and lives but kept our finances and property separate. And yet I was in for a much longer, costlier [divorce] contest.

Raised in a Prison, The Warden’s Daughter Decides It’s Time to Find a Mom NPR Staff, January 8, 2017 In his latest book, The Warden’s Daughter, children’s author Jerry Spinelli tells the story of Cammie O’Reilly, who lost her mother when she was a baby. Cammie has grown up in the Hancock County Prison, where her dad is the warden. With her 13th birthday approaching, Cammie decides it’s time to find a mom, so she seeks out maternal support from the female inmates.

Parents, Save Up: Cost of Raising a Child is More than $233K Mary Clare Jalonick, PBS, January 9, 2017 Since 1960, USDA has compiled the annual report to inform — and probably terrify — budget-preparing parents…The main costs include housing, food, transportation, health care, education, clothing and other miscellaneous expenses.

Schools Can Save Lives: An Exit Interview with the US Education Secretary Cory Turner, NPR, January 9, 2017 At the helm of the Education Department, John B. King followed the polestar that had guided him as a teacher, principal and as deputy secretary under Duncan: protect kids, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized — children of color, English language learners, students with disabilities and those living in poverty. The most important thing according to King is: “Kids need to feel safe and supported in school. For some kids, kids like me, school may be the only place that is consistent, supportive and safe in their lives.”

An Unexpectedly Beautiful View of Fatherhood, from the Bathroom Floor Joshua Mohr, The Washington Post, January 10, 2017 I’m 40 now, clean for seven years. I got so lucky, in fact, that I get to sit here with toothpaste on my face, sprawled on the bathroom floor in a whole new way, in the best way.

After 20 Years, Young Man Leaves Foster Care on His Own Terms Commentary Heard on All Things Considered, NPR, January 11, 2017 Walking into court for my very last time as a foster youth, I feel like I’m getting a divorce from a system that I’ve been in a relationship with almost my entire life. It’s bittersweet because I’m losing guaranteed stipends for food and housing, as well as access to my social workers and my lawyer. But on the other hand, I’m relieved to finally get away from a system that ultimately failed me on its biggest promise. That one day it would find me a family who would love me.”

High Court Considers Higher Standard for Students with Disabilities Sam Hananel, Associated Press, PBS, January 11, 2017 The court is considering an appeal from the parents of an autistic teen in Colorado who say their public school did not go far enough in helping their son. Most of the justices indicated during arguments that school districts must offer more than the bare minimum of services to children with special needs. A ruling is expected by the end of June.

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