On the soft bigotry of low expectations in schools

If you were moving into a new area and talking to your child’s new principal who said, “I’m proud to tell you that only 65 percent of our children fail to meet district standards in reading and writing,” how excited would you be about sending your child to that school? Yet, according to Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Clarice Silber, in their excellent review of where we stand in Connecticut with magnet schools, “Statewide, 35 percent of students were at grade level in reading and writing.”

Voters! Combat outside campaign spending with critical thinking

Freedom of Speech is meant to safeguard democracy, to protect people’s ability to freely engage in public discourse and govern themselves. But when outside donors (often unknown and untraceable) inject substantial sums to influence my community’s elections, such donors overstep the prerogative of choosing their representatives and encroach upon my community’s process of choosing our own.

Parents, your kids are failing math, reading, and writing!

Parents, you need to wake up and get in the game. Your child’s future is at stake. Or, your child will become one of the negative statistics. In some cases it is appropriate to blame the education leadership — especially the commissioner, superintendents, principals, and collective bargaining units — for the ineffective system. However, the love of learning must start at home with parents. It is the parent’s responsibility to make education their priority over all other activities. It is the parent’s responsibility to set high expectations for their child’s behavior and learning and it is the parent’s responsibility to be a positive role model for the child in helping to shape the child’s opinions and attitudes about learning.

Support for the autism community must be bipartisan

From the late 1980s and early 1990s, awareness about autism increased because of the hard work by families, professionals, and self-advocates. As a result, the community became powerful enough to influence the U.S. Congress. Since those eras, more methods like Affinity Therapy and Lego Therapy has been accepted and old methods like Applied Behavior Analysis improved to help future generations. As someone who is majoring as a disability specialist, I am excited to work for the autism community. Despite this excitement, I have a fear in the back of my mind. It involves the current political climate of the country and the possibility of autism policies becoming more partisan, instead of something legislators in both parties generally support.

Overcoming Citizens’ United will require a bipartisan solution

Thirty-nine Connecticut General Assembly candidates, have pledged to vote in 2019 legislative session for the Free and Fair Elections Resolution, which would make Connecticut the sixth state to call for a national convention for the exclusive purpose of proposing a commonsense, nonpartisan U.S. Constitutional amendment on federal campaign finance reform.

What the flu does to your body, and why it makes you feel so awful

Every year, from 5 to 20 percent of the people in the United States will become infected with influenza virus. An average of 200,000 of these people will require hospitalization and up to 50,000 will die. Older folks over the age of 65 are especially susceptible to influenza infection, since the immune system becomes weaker with age. In addition, older folks are also more susceptible to long-term disability following influenza infection, especially if they are hospitalized.

Hartford raises the age for buying tobacco products. It’s a good start.

Congratulations to the Hartford City Council on passing an ordinance that raises the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilman Larry Deutsch, makes Hartford the first city in the State of Connecticut to pass this policy. The ordinance, which includes the purchase of electronic cigarettes, was passed just weeks after an announcement from the State Department of Public Health that the number of high school students using electronic cigarettes doubled in just two years.

Full circle

I was a post-war baby, raised in the 1950s in a racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, sexually repressed, theocratic America. Civil rights for people of color and “queers” were non-existent. Women’s rights were virtually unknown and women’s liberation was widely regarded as a plot to destroy the American family. Legal abortion was more than a decade away and even providing contraceptives to married couples was illegal until 1965 when, in the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared this prohibition an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.