Short Takes on Liberal Concerns

National studies show that average parents now spend only 3.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children.

Cell phone imageThe stunning and incontrovertible reality of the dominance of digital media (social media) in the lives of American parents and children is resulting not only in a breakdown of actual communication within families but also among adolescents as well. We’ve seen teenagers sitting side by side and texting each other rather that talking. We’ve seen families out to dinner in a restaurant all focusing on their smart phones…or more often…adults talking to each other while their children are staring into their phones and texting friends.

These studies indicate several things: that children can no longer deal with boredom, they literally lack the capacity to be bored so they fill that time on their phones; when school bores them they turn to easily obtained drugs and so drug addiction among teenagers is becoming a national epidemic. Teen age anxiety levels grow higher every year. Because they fear missing something, they are always on their phones as they try to share every moment of their lives with friends.

Anxious, their emotional intelligence suffering, they fear making decisions; fear dealing with new situations. Teens have had so few experiences with face to face reality and communication that college life becomes immediately overwhelming and there is no escape into social media for them. College mental health facilities – larger than ever before – are unable to cope with the demands of freshman for mental health guidance. There are month long waits for counselors.

This has all been going on for so long that college teachers complain that students don’t want to respond to each other in class, fearing opposite opinions and attitudes they don’t like. While this may be true, another reason for the lack of a class involvement is that students don’t know what to say or how to say it…and so remain silent note-takers, ready to study for an exam but not for conversations with fellow students.

The end to all of this will come when restrictions are put on time spent with social media in very early childhood. In 2004, kids spent an average of 6.5 hours a day on digital devices; today kids spend over 9 hours a day hooked into them. Parents must set rules early and stick to them through the years. Not easy.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS CONTINUE TO FAIL

There is a general understanding that the worse a public school does in educating children, the more consultants will be hired to help make that school better. That approach rarely works.

The latest example of failure is the $714 million spent by the DeBlasio Administration to help 94 failing schools in the NYC public school system to achieve a passing grade.

The whole business of failing schools has been with us for more than a decade. The central idea was that if a school fails to reach a certain academic standing, the Principal and teachers can be replaced as seen fit by the Administration without interference from the unions involved.

And so it came to pass at the conclusion of the last year in NYC that 94 schools failed and consultants were brought in to make a difference in summer school work giving each a chance to arrive at a ‘passing grade’.

Despite the expenditure of almost three-quarters of a billion dollars, only three schools managed to arrive at that passing grade. 91 others failed.

The result was so dismal and the expenditure so great, that Letitia James, NYC Public Advocate and a loyal member of the DeBlasio Administration despite the fact that her job calls for her to be just the opposite, actually was critical of the Mayor and his soon-to-be-retired again, Schools Chancellor, Carmen Farina.

Failing schools image 2Complaints about a specific program and its obvious failure is one thing, but where are the local and national complaints about the failure of America’s public schools? The graduation statistics, clearly adjusted up as often as possible, reveal these shocking results: nationally 66% of our high school graduates are not ready for college work; in NYC that rate is 75% not ready for college. Nationally 60% of those attending community colleges drop out before completion of their two year program and in a more shocking number, 40% of those attending four year colleges drop out before graduation. Now while some part of that number may be due to financial pressures, the majority is about academic failure.

Is there a single politician in America talking about this?

The failure continues into its fifth decade because despite authentic studies which prove that our schools of education are not properly preparing teachers to teach, no one will take up the call to make changes. We can yell “fire” all day long and no one will respond.

When will our children become as important to us as we say they are?

Obamacare, Trumpcare, Ryancare: Healthcare in America is worse and more costly than ever.

Desperate to cover their inability to be ready after eight years of complaints and 83 votes to repeal Obamacare, the House of Representatives will just barely approve their new American Healthcare Act…unless the opposition to it from senior citizens holds them up. No matter. If not now, soon.

What the new act will not do and what the Affordable Care Act never did, was reduce the cost of healthcare. What the new act will do is end healthcare coverage for an additional 24 million people rolling back the effort the Obama Administration made to make healthcare more inclusive. True conservatives argue that the key is to cut costs not cover people. Sadly their approach is to cut costs by simply dropping healthcare coverage for millions. The actual costs of healthcare keep going up with no end in sight.

What is true now and has been for decades, even as our physicians and scientists win Nobel Prizes while our delivery of healthcare slips further and further behind others in the industrial world, is that our healthcare system is about profits for the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries and not the care of people.

Sanofi building logoSome of this is so outrageous that it speaks for itself. American scientists, with funds provided by the U.S. Army – which funds billions in medical research because our large military must be cared for – have developed a vaccine to stop the Zika virus. The drug is manufactured and sold by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Sanofi. The cost to Americans for this vaccine is set at $129,000 a year; the cost for Canadians is $30,000.

So Americans paid for its development and now must pay one astounding price, while another country pays more than four times less for the same drug.

This is just one of dozens of examples. Everyone has a story about needing to use the Internet to buy drugs from Canada because American prices are skyhigh.

Will this ever stop? Only when the insurance industry and Big Pharma are no longer permitted to buy the votes of our Congress. Nothing has stopped them so far as some of our leading office-holders are deeply beholding to them for significant campaign contributions.

Because nothing has changed the rules and regulations of campaign funding, money will continue to buy the systems in America which need to change for the better…which need to reflect the very reason for their existence in the first place: to help people.

Making money for a few has nothing whatever to do with ‘helping people’…but unless the American people wake up – and are much better educated – what we’ve got is not going to change. But didn’t we just say that our system of education has been failing to educate our people for 40 years? Yes, we did.

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