youth


Dear Readers,

I love my blog! I don’t spend enough time here, but this blog has been with me since 8th grade and has been a good friend. But now I am graduating and moving on to a new blog: Cassie at College.

Have you ever been to any kind of graduation ceremony where they didn’t explain that commencement is about new beginnings and not about closing things down? I think it’s a lie. Or a myth. Or wishful thinking. But I AM starting something new —- my college career.

With high school graduation, I am formally graduating from my first blog Political Teen Tidbits and moving on to my brand new grown-up college blog right over at Cassie At College!

The themes and colors there will change when I get a chance to play with all that, but I will always be me.  Still politically left, still writing about prison and drug reform, and adding in my feelings and experiences moving from the world of high school to the world of college.

Maybe in four years from now, Peanut Butter and Betsy will buy me the “Cassie at Law School” website or “Cassie in the Working World”.  Some day I might even buy my own site!  And of course, one of us needs to reserve PresidentCassie2032.com.

Please visit the new site and follow me on my journey to Princeton.

Generation Change book cover

Tengrain at Mock, Paper, Scissors was recently asked to review a book, and because the target audience was people under 30, he asked me if I wanted to take on the project. I agreed, then emailed him and a few other people about how to go about reviewing a book I didn’t like. Taking only some of their advice, this is the result.

Cassie

Generation Change by Jayan Kalathil and Melissa Bolton-Klinger fails in its attempt to encourage the Obama Generation to continue the campaign for change. Published by Skyhorse Publishing and subtitled “150 Ways We Can Change Ourselves, Our Country and Our World” this book is geared toward readers under age 30. The unsigned description on the back cover indicates that the “fun, witty, and optimistic approach [is] sure to attract readers of all ages” but the font size and writing style are more appropriate for middle-class or wealthier sixth graders. If reduced to a size 12 font, with chapter titles at size 14, the book would likely fit into 150 pages rather than the current 210.

Would you pay $12.95 to read a book that tells you to “Stay Young at Heart” and devotes a chapter to flossing? The best suggestion is #5, which encourages us to blog for good. We’re already doing that. “Find the cause that keeps you up at night and get blogging!”

(more…)

Dear Levi & Mercede,

I was sorry to hear about your mom’s arrest and plea for drug use and selling drugs.  I was even more sorry that it’s in the newspapers and on the blogs, and that people are making fun of her.

I am around your age (nearly 18) and my mom has been in jail for almost eight years on drug charges, so I know some of what you are going through.

I am also completely a busybody and am going to use this blog post to give both of you some advice.

  1. Go to Alateen.  Or ACOA.  Or someplace that’s NOT your church where you can learn about addicts and addiction how none of this is your fault and that you can’t cure your mom.  Also, Mercede, if there’s a support group in your town or in your HS for kids who have a parent in prison, GO!
  2. Mercede, I don’t know who you are living with these days, but my brother became my guardian when he was 18, and he was way too young.  And that’s without being a father himself or having reporters and photographers following him around.  I hope that you stay with a family, a whole, real family, at least until you finish HS.
  3. You will find out really soon who your real friends are and who thinks a lot less of you because your mom is in jail.  Sometimes even good friends can be insensitive, but at least they still like you for who YOU are.  Some kids are incredibly creepy and think it’s cool to know someone who knows someone in jail.  Stay away from them.  Same thing with overly curious adults.
  4. People will ask you what they can do to help.  It’s a dumb question, but if they ask twice, tell them to do something to improve life for prisoners and provide treatment for addicts.  You may even want to join organizations that encourage treatment instead of prison for addicts.
  5. Stand up for your mom. Make sure that the lawyers and guardians and corrections people all know that someone is watching and that someone cares. I don’t visit anymore, but I do have an adult in my life who communicates with my mom and with the prison.
  6. Because your mom is an addict like my mom, and because we watched our moms use drugs instead of facing problems head-on, all three of us can become an addict more easily than most people.  So learn what the signs are, and be careful, and watch out for each other.

We all need to work on making this country less inclined to incarcerate addicts and more inclined to help them find treatment.  And that starts with making sure that drug use is not a crime.  Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it’s not working for drugs.

I hope you do go to Alateen and counseling and get all the help you need to not have to ride your mother’s roller coaster addiction.  You didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it, but you can learn healthy ways to get through the next few years.

Your friend,

Cassie

President Obama got in a lot of trouble this week when the press took a still picture from a video and made it seem like he was looking at a 16 or 17 year old girl’s ass in a tight dress. A few comments on this.

  • That’s NOT what he was looking at. Watch the whole video.

US Magazine says this:

Pictures can be deceiving.

Yesterday, a photo surfaced of President Barack Obama seemingly checking out the backside of a 17-year-old junior delegate at the G-8 summit in Italy.

But new video tells a different story.

See Obama’s “Just Like Us” moments.

It appears Obama wasn’t sneaking a peak; instead, he was just helping another young delegate down the stairs.

But French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s intentions aren’t as clear.

The Head of State — who’s married to former model Carla Bruni — keeps his face drawn toward the 17-year-old.

  • I am a 17 year old girl and I know that if I wear sexy clothes and walk a certain way, MOST men will look at me. It’s the reason I wear short skirts some times and don’t wear them other days. So what if he DID look? Who cares? It’s not like she had an ID out that showed her age.
  • Girls and women have the power to dress the way we want to dress in the United States. And be who we want to be. We don’t all need image consultants, and we don’t all mind if men look at us when we walk past.

How cool is it to have a first lady who thinks that getting A’s is cool! After the Bushes telling acting like being stupid is the coolest, I really like Michelle Obama’s message. And her clothes! (But not the turquoise sweater.)


The reality is that I think we need more women role models who are famous for something that doesn’t involve their husband, but Michelle Obama is still the coolest ever!

This is from BBC:

The world needs strong young women to pave the way for the future, an emotional US First Lady Michelle Obama has told schoolgirls in London.

Mrs Obama was close to tears as she addressed the excited crowd at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, north London.

She told them: “We are counting on every single one of you to be the best that you can be.”

Mrs Obama is in the UK with husband Barack for the G20 summit.

Her visit to the North London school was greeted with much excitement by pupils and she sat smiling, riveted, as Year 11 pupil Grace Hollowell and the school’s junior choir performed the Whitney Houston hit Believe.

Mrs Obama, a mother of two girls herself, smiled and watched intently throughout the other performances, which also included a modern-day staging of The Tempest, and a presentation on the school’s new Learning To Lead scheme.
‘Strength and dignity’

The First Lady high-fived one pupil after the performance before she took to the podium for her speech.

As she addressed the crowd, Mrs Obama choked up, saying: “Wow. I can’t follow that. Let me tell you, I am just very touched and moved by all of you.”

There isn’t a full transcript, but BBC describes it really well:

(more…)

about sex? And teen pregnancy? And what you are worth?

I’ve had different talks with different people, and virtually no information at all from school, but I really like the message in this article. It’s directed to moms and not kids, but that has never stopped me before.

As news of Bristol Palin’s breakup with fiancé Levi Johnston fans the flames of the never-ending debate about sex education, my thoughts keep turning to Sarah. I wonder if she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Would she offer something in addition to abstinence education? Will she change what she says to Willow and Piper?

As a mother, I think about what I will tell my young daughter about the millions of teenagers like Bristol Palin who get pregnant before they’re ready. What will I be able to say to prevent her from joining the statistics?

And when I start imagining “the talk” we’ll have, I realize that very little of it will actually have to do with sex. It will be more about the need for self confidence, an inner strength and the ability to say no to things she isn’t ready to do, to not want to please someone so badly that she’ll do something she knows is risky to earn or keep their love – whether that’s to have unsafe sex, to take drugs or to stay with someone who demeans or abuses her.

The author also talks about relationship violence and manipulation when she speculates:

(more…)

A friend sent this to me, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how it can be legal.  Or constitutional.

Internet Free Speech Ruling Favors Burlington School Administrators

In a key ruling on Internet free speech, a federal judge has found that school officials were within their rights when they disciplined a Burlington high school student over an insulting blog post she wrote off school grounds.

Avery Doninger’s case has drawn national attention and raised questions about how far schools’ power to regulate student speech extends in the Internet age.

But in a ruling on several motions for summary judgment Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz rejected Doninger’s claims that administrators at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her rights to free speech and equal protection and intentionally inflicted emotional distress when they barred her from serving as class secretary because of an Internet post she wrote at home.

Does he think they didn’t harm her? Or that the school didn’t violate her rights? Read on.

(more…)

girl suspended for highlights in her hair

One of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog was about dress codes. At the time, in Dress codes at school and at work, I asked people’s opinions about dress codes and was fairly comfortable with my school’s policy. I wrote about it again when a student (and her family) sued her school about Tigger and Winnie the Pooh socks.

Now I am glad that my school isn’t as restrictive as Desert Wind School in Socorro, TX. There, an 8th grader is missing prom and graduation because of highlights in her hair. Not purple highlights. Not 5 foot long extensions. Just highlights. And I think she looks pretty cute!

This is from a TV station in El Paso:

Desert Wind School student Denise Guerrero, 14, knew it was against school policy to highlight her hair and she also knew the consequences: if she didn’t remove the highlights, she would miss out on her prom, class field trip, graduation ceremony and soccer games.

“Because I couldn’t be with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things,” said Guerrero.As KFOX reported, Guerrero was assigned to in-school suspension or SAC a month before the end of the school year because she has blond highlights in her hair. She was also told she couldn’t participate in any school activities.Her parents filed a grievance with the Socorro Independent School District. They disagree with the school’s policy and they state other students and teachers color or highlight their hair at Desert Wind School.

But her family disagrees:

“According to their policy, highlights are a distraction. Why isn’t it a distraction by teachers, only by the students,” said Rafael Magallanes, Guerrero’s stepfather.

The principal responded to the grievance and echoed what district officials had told KFOX before. They say the dress code only applies to students and it is applied equally, fairly and thoroughly for all students.Just one week before the end of year activities at Desert Wind, Guerrero discovered the school would not amend the policy. She was told her hair had to go back to her natural color if she wanted to participate in school events. Guerrero said she stood her ground because she felt the policy is not fair. She knew she would be sacrificing events and memories she will never relive.”Soccer, my favorite sport, which I couldn’t get in because of a policy which couldn’t be changed, that’s what hurt me the most,” said Guerrero.Guerrero’s parents could have continued with the grievance process but this year was Denise’s last. Previous Stories:

Slideshow: Eighth Grader Suspended For Hair Color

But the point is, what’s too much restriction for a public school? Banning profanity is one thing. Banning blond is just stupid.  It could be worse.  She could have hair like THIS:

This is TAKS week here in the Texas schools. As a 10th grader, I take four tests this year. Some years we take two and other years three or four, but this is the big year that determines how well our school does compared to other schools. For us as students, every year matters because certain classes are open or closed for the following year depending on whether we pass or fail the tests. But for the school, 10th grade test scores are the ones that decide how well the whole school does. Some schools can even close if their scores are still low.

The Texas Education Agency has told the Austin school district that it needs to use the word “probable” — not “possible” — when referring to the closure of Johnston High School, district officials said.

The shift in verbiage was made at the suggestion of state officials who are part of Johnston’s oversight team because they wanted to underscore the urgency of the situation at the school in East Austin.

Agency officials have said the school, which has received “unacceptable” ratings for the past four years, will be closed or put under alternative management if it fails to achieve an acceptable rating this year.

Under the state’s accountability system, schools are rated “academically unacceptable” if they don’t meet target graduation rates and goals on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.

Are we being deliberately undereducated or miseducated? Is our whole generation being purposefully denied essential elements of a meaningful education as a byproduct of spending all of our schooling preparing for tests? Is that an accident?

Here’s the disturbing part. The bureaucrats don’t care if WE improve individually from year to year. They don’t care if our CLASS improves. They only care that we do better than last year’s 10th grade, even if they were a bunch of idiots or a bunch of screw-ups or a bunch of genii. By extension, BETTER doesn’t mean that our average is higher than last year’s class. It means that a larger percent of white kids pass (70%) than last year; a larger percent of black kids, a larger percent of immigrants, a larger percent of girls, a larger percent of poor kids, a larger percent of left-handed kids, and a larger percent of soccer players who only eat ice cream for breakfast.

This means that kids like me who get 90% or 99% every time only spend a THIRD of our school time learning how to answer the test questions and regurgitate essays. The poor kids, meanwhile, who got ONLY 60%-80% spend ALL their time on nothing but test practice. Kids in honors or pre-AP or advanced classes learn some other material and get interesting projects from time to time, like in-class debates, short story assignments and geometry construction projects, but the kids in academic or regular classes have every single test look like a TAKS question. That is not an exaggeration.

Last year, my test scores were all above 92%. I could go down by 10 points in every single subject and no one would care. If I went down 20 points, my brother would wring my neck and I’d probably have to drop some honors classes and possibly lose the chance for AP US History, but the state and the government STILL wouldn’t care. I would be within acceptable parameters.

Our school would still show improvement even if every single kid in honors right now dropped to 71% as long as one kid whose older sibling failed last year passed this year. That’s crazy!

Clearly they don’t care whether we as individuals pass as long as the scenario I have presented makes my high school look good. What’s the point? Could it be that the point really is to dumb down yet another generation; to keep us from learning about the Constitution and our rights. Only in understanding them both may we learn when our republic is at its BEST.

Some teenagers are stupid! And some are just uninformed. They NEED to start giving us the real facts or kids will be killing themselves trying to stay healthy. I wrote about teen pregnancy and sex education previously here and here and here.

Nobody Could Have Predicted…

And on and on…

ORLANDO, Fla. — A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state.The survey showed that Florida teens also believe that smoking marijuana will prevent a person from getting pregnant.

State lawmakers said the myths are spreading because of Florida’s abstinence-only sex education, Local 6 reported.

The kids I know have a lot of opinions about race, but I’d say that in my HS, only about 30% of the kids care at all about politics, and most of them don’t know a lot about the issues. Most opinions are no more complicated that “Dude, that ain’t right.” or “Well he’s a Christian so I agree with him.” But Feministing has this great video up about HS kids in NY talking about Barack Obama, politics and race. The video is kinda long, but really worth watching.

Sorry for the light posting during my vacation. Been having way too much fun to pay a lot of attention to politics. Good thing that people sometimes send me links like this one!

New Poll: 12 Year Olds Know Congress Could Cut War Money, Adults Believe Congress Powerless to End Iraq Occupation

By David SwansonA pair of new polls may suggest the power of falsehoods repeated ad infinitum on our televisions and in our newspapers. The first poll asked 2,000 American 12 year olds whether Congress has the power to end the occupation of Iraq. Minorities believed Congress did not, or believed it could do so if the Democrats had larger majorities. But a 61 percent majority of those polled believed that Congress could simply stop funding the occupation, and that the Democrats in Congress had sufficient majorities to accomplish this without any Republican assistance.

read more

I’ve written before about prison camps for teenagers and the abuse that happens there, but this one’s the worst I have seen described INSIDE the U.S. Nothing, NOTHING these girls did could justify this. Never!

AP: 13,000 abuse claims in juvie centers (AP)

ADVANCE FOR MARCH 3; graphic shows state by state statistics on juvenile abuse; two sizes; 1c x 2 1/8 inches; 46.5 mm x 54 mm; 3c x 5 7/8 inches; 146 mm x 149.2 mmAP – The Columbia Training School — pleasant on the outside, austere on the inside — has been home to 37 of the most troubled young women in Mississippi.

If some of those girls and their advocates are to be believed, it is also a cruel and frightening place.

The school has been sued twice in the past four years. One suit brought by the U.S. Justice Department, which the state settled in 2005, claimed detainees were thrown naked in to cells and forced to eat their own vomit. The second one, brought by eight girls last year, said they were subjected to “horrendous physical and sexual abuse.” Several of the detainees said they were shackled for 12 hours a day.

These are harsh and disturbing charges — and, in the end, they were among the reasons why state officials announced in February that they will close Columbia. But they aren’t uncommon.

Across the country, in state after state, child advocates have deplored the conditions under which young offenders are housed — conditions that include sexual and physical abuse and even deaths in restraints. The U.S. Justice Department has filed lawsuits against facilities in 11 states for supervision that is either abusive or harmfully lax and shoddy.

Still, a lack of oversight and nationally accepted standards of tracking abuse make it difficult to know exactly how many youngsters have been assaulted or neglected.

(more…)

According to the New York Times, more teenage girls are blogging. The author of the article seems confused or surprised by this since “THE prototypical computer whiz of popular imagination — pasty, geeky, male — has failed to live up to his reputation.” Ack! Whose imagination?

animated pencil smileyThe Times describes many girls who have glittery sites (just like my about page and my valentine’s day post!) but they don’t write much about girls who blog about important things like news and politics.

Vanessa at Feministing wrote about the Times article, criticizing their portrayal of teenage girls. She encourages the Times to look for more content from girls.

huggy kiss teddy bear animatedWell some of us do all of the above! We blog about important things in the national news and we blog about the Dixie Chicks. We analyze politics and conduct interviews and find glittery valentine teddy bears.

If you want to read some good writing from teenage girls AND guys, check out these sites:

YOUTHinkLeft

Our Descent Into Madness

Peace Takes Courage

ThinkYouth

Politics, real life, and puppies. Cute fonts even on my site! Live with it NYT!

Super delegates each have the same voting power as regular delegates. And each of the regular delegates represents about 10,000 actual democratic voters. So …. how can someone who was too young to vote in the 2004 election be old enough to be a super delegate?

Well, there is at least one, Jason Rae, a 21 year old college student from Wisconsin.

Click here for the video.

Huffington Post also has a story on this.

Someone please tell me how this is not torture or child abuse.

The device has been used to combat anti-social behaviour

There are no plans in England to ban the use of devices which emit a high-pitched sound to disperse groups of teenagers, the government has said. But it stressed the Mosquito devices, which can cause discomfort to youngsters’ ears, should be “a last resort” against anti-social behaviour.

The children’s commissioner and other critics want a ban, saying the gadget is indiscriminate in who it targets.

Some stores say the devices can be useful against anti-social youths.

We will continue to tackle the underlying problems through better neighbourhood policing
Government spokesman

In a statement issued after the calls for a ban, the government said: “‘Mosquito alarms’ are not banned and the government has no plans to do so.

“Obviously no-one would want to have to use a device like this, and it should very much be seen as a last resort.

“We will continue to tackle the underlying problems through better neighbourhood policing, giving young people alternative things to do in their spare time and, where necessary, using the powers we have put in place to prevent anti-social behaviour.”

Human rights

The device has proved popular with councils wanting to tackle nuisance problems, and some 3,500 are estimated to be in use in England.

It works on the basis that a person’s ability to hear high frequencies tends to decline once they reach their 20s.

But a new campaign called “Buzz off”, led by the children’s commissioner for England and backed by groups including civil liberties group Liberty, is calling for them to be banned.

Critics say the “Mosquito” targets all young people and not just those who may be causing a nuisance.

They say its use to disperse gangs is a breach of children’s human rights.

Removing the ability to use tools like Mosquitoes will make life harder for retailers that face real problems
James Lowman, Association of Convenience Stores

Sir Al Aynsley-Green, children’s commissioner for England, said children and young people were being demonised, “creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old”.

In Scotland, work towards a ban on the use of Mosquito devices has been under way since last year.

Scotland’s commissioner for children and young people is pursuing the issue with the Scottish government, the police, supermarkets and the manufacturers.

But Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said the body would “fully support” the use of the device as a “last resort” in situations where staff and customers were intimidated by anti-social youths.

Mr Lowman, whose association represents 33,000 local shops, said: “Removing the ability to use tools like Mosquitoes will make life harder for retailers that face real problems.

“It would also reinforce the retailer’s view that, whilst many in government are quick to blame the retailer for anti-social problems created by gangs of youths, they are unwilling to make those same young people accountable for their own actions.”

Graphic showing loudness and pitch of everyday sounds

Next Page »