Musings from an Education Advocate in Our New America

lord-of-the-fliesI can’t be mute on the subject. I can’t, also, stand idly by and sweep this under the rug.

I want to listen and really hear you. I genuinely do. But I’m not sure if ‘agreeing to disagree’ will cut it anymore.

I want to remain active and loving, mindful and passionate.

I want to stand up and voice my concerns, nay my outrage! But I don’t want to halt the conversation. Stay silent, be complicit? Stay silent, be respectful?

Perhaps, it’s too early, still, to remove emotion from our interaction. Perhaps, we shouldn’t.

This is a twist, a turn, in a topsy-turvy world where up is now down and down is round. And I’m spinning, just trying to keep up with it all. How do we start to make sense of these new rules?

What do I say to you?

To you — the teacher, the parent, and especially the student. You are still our future, right?

To you — the supporter, who believes he will rescue us.

To you — the non believer, who questioned him every step of the way.

To you — the holder of the “purse strings”, the upholder of the Writ to our way of life.

To you — the revolutionist, who is shaking things up for better or worse.

To you — the ‘yes man’ who is interrogated under the guise of due diligence yet affirmed in compromise.

To you — the woman who may become my boss, who may have good intentions but who falters in execution.

Maybe we are an island now. Tide in, tide out.

Maybe we are stuck. Would Dante agree?

Chin up. Move on. Stay strong. Press on.

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Terry Tutors Specialized Education Services, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit providing wraparound academic, behavior and advocacy support services for struggling students in southern California. Learn More at TerryTutors.com

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Why Striking Down DOMA was Important for Kids

supreme ctOn Wednesday, June 26, 2013 our Supreme Court issued a landmark decision, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which legally defined marriage as one between a man and a woman. With DOMA gone, it paves the way for marriage equality and changes the lives of families, like this one here.

Just as important it lifts the ban on the federal rights of children of same-sex couples, including employer-subsidized health insurance in which employers did not have to extend health insurance benefits to the partners of LGBT employees or to their children, Medicaid, Social Security income for disabled children, federal financial aid for college based on the taxes of family filings, and immigration rights. [Read more about how DOMA Harms Children.]

Legal supplements such as medical directives, power of attorneys, and domestic partnership agreements will no longer be used as placeholders for a couples rights of care and property because the state marriage license will encompasses those legal capacities. (It’s amazing how much power a simple piece of paper can hold, isn’t it.)

Socially, the stigma of having two moms or two dads (or perhaps even more if the striking down of DOMA will extend to polygamist families in the future) will slowly give way to a societal norm much like the families affected by the historic cases of their time in Loving v Virginia or Brown v Board of Education. It’s important to note that a key piece of evidence in the famous Brown v Board of Education case was the psychological impact report, which indicated that segregation had detrimental effects on children. If a study of similar proportions had been conducted with children of same-sex couples today, we may have seen the same results. Hopefully, this ruling will abate some of the psychological impact that has already been done.

Most importantly, our country has finally recognized a child’s rights in this social battle. Amongst the many remarks that Justice Kennedy gave when he wrote the majority opinion was one that particularly stood out, whereby he recognized the stigma attached to same-sex couples and their families:

And [DOMA] humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.

The striking down of DOMA was important for children because it not only lifts the second-class citizenship status of millions of children but, also, gives them a place at the roundtable, a chance to be heard, in the ongoing equality debate.

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Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.  We’re pretty cool. Go on, check us out!

To Assimilate or Not to Assimilate, That is the Question

melting potJuly 4th is just around the corner, people! While you’re trying to decide  where to spend the holiday and how to get there I thought it might be important to acknowledge a question that, although never asked as bluntly as I’m posing it, nonetheless, permeates the history of our Independence Day: To Assimilate or Not to Assimilate. That is the question.

The Melting Pot

E Pluribus Unum: out of many comes one. America is born and bred on the concept of stirring up the melting pot of  many cultures, religions, ideologies, creeds, and ethnicities and creating an American, one whose foundational concept of respect for each other’s differences is reflected in the law that we follow. That is our hope anyway.

A Little History

In the early 1900’s immigration in the United States nearly tripled! “Why”, you might ask? Well, people wanted to come here to escape persecution and poverty mainly from Eastern Europe, and America’s doors were wide open, ready to accept those who wanted to cultivate this land with new businesses and lots of babies.

Although immigration policies were much more relaxed during this time in history there was still the formality of the Naturalization Ceremony. Before immigrants could be Naturalized they had to attend a series of classes on what it meant to hold American Citizenship. (Today, we call this a Naturalization Test.) During the early 1900’s the INS (now USCIS) had a rather elaborate naturalization ceremony that often included a little skit to illustrate the melting pot concept, whereby a representative from each country would hop into a life-size pot and when they emerged they carried with them an American flag. Yep, I know. Kinda ridiculous. I gotta hand it to our government though as it was certainly a creative way to get the point across.

Immigration Today

Although obtaining US Citizenship is much harder these days due to the in-fighting by our elected representatives and even our neighbors, it is important to remember that all Americans carry with them blood lines that lead back to an immigrant. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a Great-Great Grandmother from Italy or a Mom from Trinidad; we’re all the same–thrown into a great big pot, stirred up with (sometimes questionable) cultural values, and definitely mixed with a lot of patriotic pride to create a truly unique American.

Will My Child Be Better Off If They Assimilate?

I for one am happy I’m a mutt of Scottish, English, Czech, Hungarian, Slovak, and Russian descent. And I feel privileged to live in one of the of the most diverse cities in the nation (Los Angeles). Because I do so I have the opportunity to work with many types of families, including immigrants. Assimilation is a big topic of discussion, especially when it comes to a child’s education. Do I send them to a school where the isolationist viewpoint is part of their education? Do I allow my child to mix with people different from myself? If I do, will my heritage, culture, religion, and language be set aside in favor of the American Way, however that is defined at the moment. The bigger question that is never asked but always wondered is, “Will my child be better off if they assimilate?”

If we take a look back at the reasons our family members came to this country we’ll understand that the gist of this argument rests on equality. I firmly believe that Education Is Still The Great Equalizer. Although money and power will take you far in this country, education will sustain you. In America, we value education because it can transcend race, culture, religion, and language. Education allows us to stir up debates about who is right and who is wrong, creating conflict and angst, hopefully with the end result of becoming more accepting of another’s view even if it doesn’t remotely comport with our own. Parents wrestling with this question are right to worry though because things can get a little uneasy when those views lead to persecution. Although no one should be chastised for their beliefs, and in an ideal America we should be able to have a respectful round-table discussion about our differences, our frustrations and alienations often manifest themselves in unhealthy ways. But we are not a risk averse people. The concept of an American is premised on an unknown figure of hope, one by where if she just reaches a little higher and walks a little farther she can climb out of her station in life and make a new one for herself and her family. I think it’s important, then, to acknowledge the risk in assimilating but more importantly it’s when we stop asking these tough questions that we should all be worried. America is, after all, a nation built on differences and one that continues to strive for tolerance, and that is a risky endeavor; one with a great payoff.

SUBSCRIBE for new posts every Family Friday!

Christine Terry, B.A., J.D., is the Founder & Owner of Terry Tutors, a Private Tutoring, Family Coaching, and Education Advocacy service dedicated to supporting the whole student. She writes this blog as an effort to help Moms & Dads Navigate Generation Z, Honestly. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com. We think we’re pretty awesome! Go on, check us out.