Monday, December 31st, 2012
As we turn our calendars to 2013, it’s only natural to look back at the year we’re leaving behind. To that end, Parents.com has published our picks for the top parenting stories of 2012.
Because the piece was written by your very own Parents News Now blogger, I can share with you that the original list contained 11 stories, on topics ranging from autism to to politics to vaccinations and food safety. As the year drew to a close, though, the scandal that led to the resignation of Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, and the unspeakable tragedy of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, necessitated last-minute additions to the feature.
Click here to see the full list of the top 13 parenting news stories of 2012.
Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful 2013, and looking forward to continuing to provide you with the news that affects you, your children, and your families.
Categories: Must Read, Parenting News | Tags: 2012, Autism, Elmo, food safety, Kevin Clash, New Year, parenting news, parents, Parents.com, politics, vaccination
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
The editors of Parents.com have been reporting on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we chose three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them offered a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)
By Amy Julia Becker
Yesterday, I tried to talk to my kids about the election.
William, who is four, was setting out a game based on Richard Scarry’s Busytown. “So, William, do you know there’s an election tomorrow?”
He shook his head.
“Do you know who our President is?”
“Obama,” he said, without looking up, placing Huckle and Sally into their respective holders.
“Do you know what the President does?”
He shook his head again. “Mom,” he said, finally meeting my eyes. “I’m ready.”
I abandoned the conversation.
When Penny, who is almost seven, came home, I said, “Pen, do you know there’s an election tomorrow?”
She looked at me earnestly but also shook her head.
“Do you know who our President is right now?”
She went on to tell me that he should be president again because she loves him. She also made it clear that she has no idea what a President does, and when I mentioned that he lives in Washington, D.C., she promptly pointed to the state of Washington on the map of the United States. Clearly our family civics lessons are not up to par.
But then I thought back to my own childhood, and I realized that although I had a vague awareness of the Reagan/Mondale contest in 1984, the first election I can remember with any detail was in 1988, when I was eleven years old. One of my father’s best friends was working for the Dukakis campaign. My father is a lifelong Republican, so I was intrigued by the dinner conversations between these two. Up until then, I recall no interest in or even awareness of the political life of this nation. My kids may well be following in my footsteps.
After months of attending to this campaign, I plan to vote for President Obama today, and I hope I will have occasion to explain my choice to Penny and William in the years to come. I am voting for Obama because I think he is the more credible of the two candidates, given Romney’s history of equivocation on abortion, health care, and clean energy. I am also voting for Obama because I am liberal enough to support (in broad terms) his economic policies and health care reforms, and because I am conservative enough to think a transition will be more disruptive to our economy than a continuation of the past four years. Not only will I vote for Obama, but I think he will win, and I look forward to talking to my children about his victory.
But if Romney wins today, what I want my kids to understand won’t differ much. Although I suspect that Obama and Romney are more similar on many issues than their campaigns and fervent supporters might want, I know they are different men with different backgrounds and different policy positions. The reason my words to our children won’t change is that no matter who holds the office of the President, no matter their policies on economics or education or international relations, we will continue to live in the United States of America. And I will teach my children to be proud and grateful that they are growing up as citizens of this nation, no matter which man becomes the next President.
The wonder of American elections is that we routinely watch power transfer from one party to the next without fear of bloodshed. Sure, politics in America can look ugly. We’ve endured an election filled with attack ads that misrepresent both men’s positions. We’ve heard accusations of communism and racism and elitism. And yet Election Day comes, and each and every adult citizen of this nation has the opportunity to cast their vote, to participate in choosing the one(s) who will lead us for the next four years.
It will be a while before I’m talking with my children about the Constitution, or checks and balances, or the philosophical role government should play in the lives of ordinary people. But as a parent, I am relieved to think that I will go to bed tonight without fear. No matter who comes to power, our country will not erupt into civil war. No matter who comes to power, ethnic or religious groups opposed to the person in power will not be targeted for elimination. No matter who holds the highest office in the land, we will still share in common our constitutional rights, our declaration that each and every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As my children get older, I hope I will do my part to educate them about American history and politics and economics and social issues. I hope they will watch Presidential debates and argue with me and with one another when it comes to defense spending and the minimum wage and abortion rights. But I’m also glad that they don’t need to pay attention to this election. I am grateful to be a citizen of the United States of America, and to rest secure in the integrity of this union, come what may.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
The single greatest predictor of whether a child will vote when he or she reaches age 18 is whether or not the child’s parents voted in the most recent election, a new study has found. More from The Washington Post:
The single best predictor of whether a person will vote when first eligible and will later become a lifelong voter comes down to one discreet action by that person’s parent: Whether that parent voted in the presidential election just before their child could vote.
That’s one of the takeaways from a long-term study of families nationwide that has shed some of the only light political scientists have on parent-child political influence.
Laura Stoker, a political scientist at the University of California, Berkeley who co-directs the study, told me that a parent’s vote at the time of adolescence is the only consistent variable in any analysis of predicting whether a young adult will vote.
The study, which Stoker joined mid-way through, began in 1965, when another political scientist, Kent Jennings, interviewed more than 1,660 high school seniors and their parents about their political leanings, participation and affiliation.
Researchers then reinterviewed the group in 1973, when the younger subjects were 26; in 1982, when they were 35; and in 1997, when they were 50. The last year, researchers also interviewed the third generation.
Image: Election ballot, via spirit of america / Shutterstock.com
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
The education law known as No Child Left Behind has some new flexibility, President Barack Obama announced today, in that states can now opt out of some of the law’s elements if they meet certain requirements. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act’s Flexibility program will allow states to receive waivers protecting them from federal sanctions if their schools do not perform up to the law’s standards.
Ultimately, Obama said in a statement, the changes are meant to free troubled schools to find ways other than standardized testing to raise achievement levels in their classrooms, if those schools do not meet the law’s rigorous standards. “The purpose is not to give states and districts a reprieve from accountability, but rather to unleash energy to improve our schools at the local level,” he said.
Under the plan Obama outlined, states can ask the Education Department to be exempted from some of the law’s requirements if they meet certain conditions, such as imposing standards to prepare students for college and careers and setting evaluation standards for teachers and principals.
Despite allowing states to do away with the approaching 2014 deadline, Obama insisted he was not weakening the law, but rather helping states set higher standards. He said that the current law was forcing educators to teach to the test, give short shrift to subjects such as history and science, and lower standards as a way to avoid penalties and stigmas.
To qualify for a waiver, states would have to show they had a plan to help low-performing schools. A majority of states are expected to apply for waivers, which will be given to qualified states early next year.
(image via: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/)