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January 23, 2017

This week’s family-related news coverage included a finding that the children of the Netherlands are the happiest, thoughts on the ever daunting problem of school segregation, a list of banned children’s books that are a “must” read, a deep dive into the vexing problem of older people struggling to pay back student loans for their children or grandchildren, one woman’s take on the advantages of being a single parent, a look at programs to help young people get practical job training that will lead to employment, a sweet story on how President Obama responds to letters he receives from kids, an exposé on how some colleges are disproportionally filled with wealthy students, a touching account of how one family is learning to cope with loving and losing a foster child, a look at how parent teacher conferences are about the parents too, and finally a Ted Talk taking a deep dive into how we need to change how we understand love.

Why Are Dutch Kids the Happiest in the World? Katherine Martinko, TreeHugger, January 10, 2017 In 2013, Unicef released a “report card” that assessed children’s wellbeing in 29 of the world’s richest countries. It concluded that Dutch children are the happiest of all, based on five categories: material wellbeing, health and safety, education, behaviors and risks, and housing and environment.

How the Systemic Segregation of Schools Is Maintained by “Individual Choices” Heard on Fresh Air, NPR, January 16, 2017 Sixty-three years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many schools across the country either remain segregated or have re-segregated. Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal.

The Banned Books Your Child Should Read Perri Klass, M.D. The New York Times, January 16, 2017 “…banned book lists can be a great resource for parents looking for books that teach kids about the world and themselves.” When your children read books that have been challenged or banned, you have a double opportunity as a parent; you can discuss the books themselves, and the information they provide, and you can also talk about why people might find them troubling.

More People Over 60 Are Struggling to Pay Off Student Loans, Report Finds Rebecca Hersher, NPR, January 17, 2017 The number of people 60 and older with student loan debt has quadrupled in the past decade… The vast majority are loans taken out by parents or grandparents to finance education opportunities for young people, with 73 percent of borrowers over 60 reporting that their student loan debt is owed for a child’s and/or grandchild’s education. The conclusion by the CFPB is that older Americans are frequently in a poor position to handle paying back student loans on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

When Married Moms Say to Single Ones: “I Don’t Know How You Do It” Julie Kohler, The Washington Post, January 17, 2017 While single parenting is hard at times, it’s also the easiest, most natural thing that I’ve ever done. The exhaustion I experience co-exists with joy, the frustration with gratitude. A Working Education: How Students Are Learning the Skills They’ll Need to Fill the Biggest Hole in the American Job Market The Atlantic, January 2017 At times called vocational education, CTE (Career and Technical Education) curriculums generally focus on middle-skills jobs — those that require more than a high-school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Now, sparked by a combination of mounting student debt and a high unemployment rate amongst the millennial generation, CTE is gaining renewed, bipartisan focus across the country.

Dear Mr. President: Obama Staff Mobilizes to Answer Kids’ Letters Carol Ritchie, NPR, January 18, 2017 “We have had a big uptick in kids writing to the president after the election, often in the vein of farewell letters, or reflective letters,” Reeves, director of presidential correspondence, says.” “…President Obama has relished the father-in-chief role.”

Some Colleges Have More Students from the Top 1 Percent than the Bottom 60 Percent. Find Yours. The Upshot, The New York Times, January 18, 2017 At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown — more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent. Roughly one in four of the richest students attend an elite college — universities that typically cluster toward the top of annual rankings. In contrast, less than one-half of 1 percent of children from the bottom fifth of American families attend an elite college; less than half attend any college at all.

After Losing a Foster Child, Contemplating Another Meghan Moravicik Walbert, The New York Times, January 19, 2017 The boy we nicknamed “BlueJay” lived with us for almost a year when extended family members stepped forward to take custody of him and his two brothers back in March. In the series Foster Parent Diary, I wrote about the experience of loving and losing him. My husband, Mike, and I are preparing, once again, for foster care adoption. We will consider only children who are legally free for adoption or as close to it as possible.

The Parent-Teacher Conference is Our Report Card, Too Nikkya Hargrove, The Washington Post, January 19, 2017 This year the parent-teacher conferences were more about me than him. More about how his success or failure would reflect upon us, as his parents. It was about the work my wife and I had been putting in to make him a better brother and son; a more caring, proactive participant in our household; and a better student, friend and citizen at school. The parent-teacher conferences were our report card.

A Better Way to Talk About Love Mandy Len Catron, TEDx SFU, November 2015 Talking about love in this way fundamentally shapes how we experience it, says writer and professor Mandy Len Catron. In this talk for anyone who’s ever felt crazy in love, Catron highlights a different metaphor for love that may help us find more joy — and less suffering — in it. By looking at “love…as a collaborative work of art,” this may help us form healthier relationships.

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