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June 6, 2016

Last week’s family-related news coverage included the tale of a divorced couple running a global business together, musings on what to do when you’re dissatisfied with your choice in spouse, a report on one school district’s efforts to reduce absenteeism, a summary of the Iowa Supreme Court’s ruling on life in prison without parole for juveniles, and an opinion piece on the importance of early childhood intervention.

The Divorced Couple Who Built a Global Shoe Company Kate Stanton, BBC News, May 22, 2016 In 2006 the Foxes got married in their early twenties, in 2009 they started business together, in 2012 (under the strain of working together) they got divorced, but stayed business partners. Today, with an amicably divorced couple leading the way, the Foxes’ can proudly report their company is growing and going global.

Iowa Court Rejects Life Without Parole for Juveniles Dave Philipps, New York Times, May 27, 2016 In a split decision the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole is unconstitutional — amounting to cruel and unusual punishment. The Court wrote that juvenile character is “a work in progress” and children receiving a life sentence should be given the chance to be released for good behavior once they have fully matured.

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person Alain de Botton, New York Times, May 28, 2016 The author of the novel “The Course of Love” muses on why so many marriages end in divorce and what to do when you wake up ten years after your wedding night and find you’ve married the wrong person. In de Botton’s words: “The good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person. We mustn’t abandon him or her, only the founding Romantic idea upon which the Western understanding of marriage has been based the last 250 years: that a perfect being exists who can meet all our needs and satisfy our every yearning.”

What One District’s Data Mining Did for Chronic Absence Elissa Nadworny, NPR All Things Considered, May 30, 2016 Chronic absence is defined as a student missing more than ten percent of the school year (or roughly two days per month). In the United States 5 million students a year are chronically absent, leaving them more likely to drop out of school. In one Michigan school district educational leaders are tackling this problem head on with the Challenge 5 initiative — in which they have challenged parents to strive for less than five absences in a school year. Three years into the Challenge 5 initiative student absenteeism is at an all time low — just last month, they had perfect attendance.

Too Small to Fail Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, June 2, 2016 “According to James Heckman, a Nobel-winning economist at the University of Chicago, ‘The greatest barrier to college education is not high tuitions or the risk of student debt; it’s in the skills children have when they first enter kindergarten.’ Kristof writes that it’s time for our national debate to move away from free tuition and minimum wages to something that might matter much more — “early intervention programs for needy kids.”

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