Help kids by helping their parents

Loved Paul Tough’s What Makes Children Succeed.  It’s a great book not only for parents, but for anybody interested in human behavior and… how to make children succeed.  He’s got a new book out with the nitty-gritty on how to teach kids grit (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Or, actually, the difficulty in figuring just how to teach kids resilience.  There was a nice summary of it in the Atlantic.

Of course, so much of this comes down to parenting.  And we are, to a degree, caught in a cycle where middle-class parents teach the lessons that help their kids become middle-class adults, but lower-class parents are much less likely to parent in these optimal ways.  Not to be classist, but lower-class parents could really benefit from parenting more like middle-class parents.  Tough also had a recent NYT Op-Ed on the importance on helping parents to actually be better parents:

IN 1986, in a few of the poorest neighborhoods in Kingston, Jamaica, a team of researchers from the University of the West Indies embarked on an experiment that has done a great deal, over time, to change our thinking about how to help children succeed, especially those living in poverty. Its message: Help children by supporting and coaching their parents.

The researchers divided the families of 129 infants and toddlers into groups. The first group received hourlong home visits once a week from a trained researcher who encouraged the parents to spend more time playing actively with their children: reading picture books, singing songs, playing peekaboo. A second group of children received a kilogram of a milk-based nutritional supplement each week. A control group received nothing. The interventions themselves ended after two years, but the researchers have followed the children ever since.

The intervention that made the big difference in the children’s lives, as it turned out, wasn’t the added nutrition; it was the encouragement to the parents to play. The children whose parents were counseled to play more with them did better, throughout childhood, on tests of I.Q., aggressive behavior and self-control. Today, as adults, they earn an average of 25 percent more per year than the subjects whose parents didn’t receive home visits.

The Jamaica experiment helps make the case that if we want to improve children’s opportunities for success, one of the most powerful potential levers for change is not the children themselves, but rather the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the adults who surround them… [emphasis mine]

Of course, part of this means remediating the tremendous stress that living in poverty brings.  One thing we know for sure– growing up in a stressful environment is bad for kids and poverty is stressful.  Tough’s conclusion:

Nurturing the healthy development of infants and children, whether in the home or in the classroom, is hard and often stressful work. What we now understand is that the stress that parents and teachers feel can in turn elevate the stress levels of the children in their care, in ways that can undermine the children’s mental health and intellectual development. The good news is that the process can be reversed, often with relatively simple and low-cost interventions. To help children living in poverty succeed, our best strategy may be to first help the adults in their lives.


Bernie throws over the board

Sadly, the more I get to know Bernie, the less I like him.  Sure, I appreciate how he has made some important contributions to how we should be thinking about progressive politics in this country, but, damn, if he isn’t an increasingly cranky, nearly delusional, old man.  His response to Clinton truly clinching the nomination takes the cake:

In a speech of striking stubbornness, he ignored the history-making achievement of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, who became the first woman in American history to clinch the presidential nomination of a major political party.

Mr. Sanders waited until 15 minutes into his speech to utter Mrs. Clinton’s name. He referred, almost in passing, to a telephone conversation in which he had congratulated her on her victories. At that, the crowd of more than 3,000 inside an aging airport hangar booed loudly. Mr. Sanders did little to discourage them.

Tuesday was, undeniably, Mrs. Clinton’s night, a milestone for women in politics and civic life 95 years after the 19th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote.

But by Wednesday morning, all eyes were on Mr. Sanders. Would he be generous or petulant? Would he let go or keep battling?

At almost every turn, he was grudging toward Mrs. Clinton, passing up a chance to issue the kind of lengthy salute that many, in and out of the Democratic Party, had expected and craved.

“It’s a blown opportunity to build bridges that are going to be extremely important in the fall,” said David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents, both Democratic and Republican. He worried that Mr. Sanders was becoming “a grumpy old man.”

The raw math is brutal and indisputable: Mrs. Clinton has not just crossed the threshold of 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination. As of Tuesday night, she had succeeded in winning a majority of pledged delegates, a majority of the states that have held primaries, and the popular vote.

This would be the time, under normal circumstances, for a primary rival to acknowledge insurmountable odds, salute a prevailing opponent and begin the work of stitching together a divided political party…

Far from backing down, Mr. Sanders promised to take his campaign to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer, raising the possibility that he could remain in the race, without ever conceding defeat, until July.

“We will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get,” Mr. Sanders thundered.

To take Drum’s succinct summary:

Hillary Clinton won a majority of the pledged delegates, a majority of the superdelegates, and a majority of the popular vote. If you can’t stand her regardless, that’s fine, but a clear majority of Democrats preferred her to Bernie Sanders. Nothing rigged, nothing corrupt, nothing unfair. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

Meanwhile, even some top Bernie aids have had enough. Via Ezra:

Over at Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere and Gabriel Debenedetti have a dishy look inside the last days of the Bernie Sanders campaign. You should read it in full (seriously, go do that right now). The main takeaway is that Sanders’s aides know they’ve lost; the candidate doesn’t…

The characterizations of Sanders’s state of mind aren’t particularly flattering either. Aides portray him as angry, hurt, and actively deluding himself about both the reasons he’s losing and the possibility he may still win…

It’s worth being sympathetic here. No campaign looks good in its dying days, and the end of a long, exhausting primary will leave any candidate angry, emotional, and focused on slights and thin reeds of hope. My guess is the Sanders who ultimately ends this campaign will prove much more circumspect than the Sanders who appears in this article.

Even so, the Sanders who appears in this article seems to be unnerving even his top aides, and any campaign that leaked this much to Politico is not in a functional place.

I’ll give Bernie some time to cool down and think better of his approach, but at the moment he strikes me as not at all unlike a young child, who upon just learning they have lost a board game has decided the appropriate response is to take the board and throw it over, scattering pieces everywhere.

Cutting taxes on rich > combating racism

Damn did I love German Lopez’s post on Paul Ryan and Trump yesterday:

Let’s be clear with what Ryan is saying here: A presidential candidate making blatantly racist remarks is regrettable, but tolerable as long as he supports massive tax cuts for the wealthy, reforming Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, and changing welfare programs. Those are generally the focuses of Ryan’s agenda, and the last item was the point of his press conference in the first place.

This is what economists sometimes call a “revealed preference.” If you just asked an elected Republican whether he cared more about holding the line on racism or taxes, you might not get a real answer. But Trump is forcing those choices to actually be made, and tax cuts are winning…

It is, of course, entirely possible to support tax cuts, entitlement and welfare program reforms, and the rest of the conservative economic agenda without being blatantly racist or making blatantly racist comments. Ryan proves that, as do other Republican candidates who ran for president and lost, including Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich.

But in trying to achieve their agenda, Republicans are aligning with someone whom they are, at the same time, criticizing for “textbook” racism. It’s a hard position for the conservative movement, but politicians should be clear about what they’re saying.

And Vox’s Andrew Prokop as well:

Indeed, Trump’s racism has now become so unmistakable that leading Republicans are no longer even trying to deny that it exists. Instead, they’ve moved to acknowledging it and condemning it — but maintain that Trump is worth supporting anyway…

This is the position Republican elites have put themselves in: arguing that despite Trump’s racism, he should still be the next president of the United States because of his views on other policy issues. That Trump’s racism is an unfortunate thing but something they’re willing to live with. That opposition to racism is no longer a bedrock value of the Republican Party but rather something that can be compromised away.

This might strike some as incoherent, but it’s arguably clarifying. After all, Republican voters overwhelmingly believe that “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities,” according to the Public Religion Research Institute’s American Values Survey:

It is clear that GOP voters don’t view bigotry against Hispanic Americans as a particularly big problem in this day and age. And in announcing that he’ll continue to support Trump despite his “textbook” racist comments, Ryan is simply moving where his party’s voters already are — and clarifying the decision the American electorate as a whole faces.

I actually have genuine sympathy for non-racist, committed Republicans.  They are in a tough spot.  But the more Trump is Trump, the more he is making it easier for them to actually do the right thing.

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