New book from Scholastic studies the nature and variety of reading pleasure, and the psychological value of reading popular genres like romances, vampire stories and dystopian fiction
A new book examining the nature and variety of pleasures students get from reading popular genres shows the educational benefits of and often-rigorous intellectual and psychological work involved in reading books like vampire stories, horror, fantasy, romance and dystopian fiction.
In Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want – and Why We Should Let Them , published by Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL), authors Jeffrey D. Wilhelm (Boise State University) and Michael W. Smith (Temple University) present what they learned over five years of research into the pleasures that motivated the reading lives of avid adolescent readers of texts often marginalized by parents, teachers and cultural commentators.
Might kids gravitate to the kinds of texts they need to meet specific developmental challenges at a particular point in their human development? Might passionate readers of marginalized texts—those books that many parents and teachers disapprove of at some level—be choosing books that help them build on and develop new interests, become competent in new ways, and grow beyond their current selves? These are among the questions Wilhelm and Smith answer in the book.
In Reading Unbound, Wilhelm and Smith argue that pleasure should play a more central role in school-based reading instruction and in work done outside of schools to promote literacy and reading. They explore ways to make the various kinds of pleasure they identify more central to the work of school, and also how to build on and extend reading pleasure to meet existing curricular goals and expectations. Through the powerful voices of the teens that Wilhelm and Smith interviewed, readers discover the books, authors, genres, and topics that engage students intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally as they work to figure out who they are in the world and who they want to become.
Web Site: http://www.scholastic.com
Childhood Arthritis Often Misdiagnosed
Recognizing Warning Signs Key to Preventing Disability
Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common chronic illnesses affecting children, yet it often goes undetected or misdiagnosed when symptoms first appear. This July, Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation is focusing on increasing awareness of early signs and symptoms of juvenile arthritis and resources available for families affected by the disease.
Often a child complaining of achy joints is diagnosed as having "growing pains," a phenomenon believed to be the result of the natural growth process. Now it's known that joint pain, stiffness and swelling in or around the joint may be early signs of a serious, inflammatory rheumatic disease.
"When joint pain, swelling or stiffness occurs in one or more of your child's joints for at least six weeks, it's important not to assume these symptoms are temporary, and to get a proper diagnosis," says Arthritis Foundation Vice President of Public Health Policy and Advocacy, Dr. Patience White. "Early medical treatment of juvenile arthritis can prevent serious, permanent damage to your child's joints and enable her to live an active, full childhood."
Contrary to general belief, infants, children and teenagers can get arthritis. Approximately 300,000 children are affected by juvenile arthritis. While there is no known cure, there has never been a more optimistic outlook for children with juvenile arthritis. Advances in research have produced new treatments that moderate and even stop the effects of juvenile arthritis, preventing significant disability in later years.
In a continued effort to reduce the heavy burden of juvenile arthritis, disability and cost of this chronic disease, the Arthritis Foundation is leading the way to conquer this disease through increasing:
Awareness and support:
Juvenile Arthritis Conference – Taking place July 18-20 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County hotel in Anaheim, California, the nationwide conference is held annually for families affected by juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. Specific educational tracks focus on issues relating to parents, teens/young adults, children affected by arthritis and their siblings. In addition, the conference offers families a chance to network with each other and learn new techniques for managing juvenile arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
Advocacy – Eleven states do not have a single doctor who specializes in treating children with juvenile arthritis. Arthritis advocates speak out for federal support to train more pediatric rheumatologists and for more research funding to help children with all forms of juvenile arthritis.
Advancing the Quality of Life for Children with Arthritis – For more than 60 years, the Arthritis Foundation has been a leader in advancing treatments and a cure for juvenile arthritis. Currently, the Arthritis Foundation funds researchers working in the field of juvenile arthritis, totaling a commitment of more than $1.1 million in 2013. These researchers are investigating a wide range of topics, from how environmental and genomic factors might play a role in triggering juvenile arthritis, to collecting data and evaluating the efficacy of standardized treatment plans, to the development and testing of a smart phone app to help children cope with pain. The Arthritis Foundation also is proud to provide $2.4 million in grant money to date to support the Childhood Arthritis & Rheumatology Research Alliance (CARRA), a national organization of pediatric rheumatologists who have joined together to answer critical research questions.
Juvenile Arthritis Registry – Efforts to track drug side effects and establish treatment benchmarks through a registry aim to benefit future juvenile arthritis treatments.
About the Arthritis Foundation
Striking one in every five adults and 300,000 children, arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability. The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) is committed to raising awareness and reducing the unacceptable impact of this serious and painful disease, which can severely damage joints and rob people of living life to its fullest. The Foundation funds life-changing research that has restored mobility in patients for more than six decades; fights for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions who live with arthritis; and partners with families to provide empowering programs and information.
Tips for Gaining Financial Freedom and Self-Sufficiency
1. Secure Your Financial Records
These documents include your birth certificate, drivers license, passport, bank account and credit card information, insurance policies, etc. Keep these documents with a trusted family member or friend, or obtain a bank safety deposit box. Also set up a P.O. Box to conceal all of your important mail from your abuser. This is essential to prevent identity theft or damage to your credit. Change your ATM and debit card PIN codes, as well as your online banking and email passwords. It is particularly important to close any joint banking or credit card accounts before you leave, in case your partner racks up charges. Remember that as long as there is an outstanding balance on a joint account, both parties are responsible for payment. You can also contact the Social Security Administration if you need to obtain a new Social Security number (SSN).
2. Know Where You Stand Financially
Knowledge is power, and it is critical that you understand where you stand financially. That means knowing your main sources of income, bank account balances, property owned and debts owed. If your spouse or partner has had control of the family finances, do you know if your bills—including the premiums on your insurance policies—have been paid? A lapsed policy or unpaid credit-card bill could create financial problems down the road, so try to learn as much as possible about your financial position when you are leaving an abusive situation.
3. Build a Financial Safety Net
Once you have a good idea of your financial picture, you are in a better position to plan your exit. You know what assets and liabilities you are dealing with and can begin envisioning how your life will be on your own. Begin with estimating your income and expenses to see if the money you earn right now will allow you to meet your basic needs. Also, start a savings plan and create an emergency fund so you have a safety net if things get difficult financially once you leave.
4. Make Necessary Changes to Your Insurance Plans
Auto Insurance: If you plan to take a car with you when you leave your abuser, you will need to get separate auto insurance coverage immediately. And if you buy a new car, you should purchase a new auto policy before the car is registered .Make sure you are removed from any joint auto policies as that may protect you from possible liability if your former partner is involved in an accident and gets sued. Keep in mind that moving to a different area or to a different state, or changing from a secondary to a primary driver on a vehicle can affect your auto policy rates.
Renters Insurance: When you move out of the house, it is likely you will be renting a place to live and will need to purchase a renters insurance policy. This will protect you in the event your belongings are stolen or destroyed by an insured disaster. An actual cash value policy pays to replace your belongings minus a deduction for depreciation, while a replacement cost policy pays the full amount that it would cost to replace the item today. Choose your deductible carefully: With a low deductible you will pay higher premiums, while a larger deductible means you will pay less for the policy, which can be useful if you are living on a smaller income—just keep in mind that you will pay more out-of-pocket in the event of a loss.
If you are installing a security system in your home because you are now living alone, let your insurance company know as the upgrades may qualify you for a discounted rate. You may also want to take a home inventory of your belongings, as it can make getting the right amount of insurance and filing a claim much easier. It may also help you in the division of property if you are going through a divorce. The I.I.I.'s free Know Your Stuff® – Home Inventory software makes creating and updating a home inventory simple, and with secure, online storage you can access your inventory anywhere, anytime. There is also a companion home inventory mobile app available in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.
Life Insurance: Unfortunately, if a life insurance policy on your own life is payable to the abuser, and you do not own the policy, you cannot change the beneficiary. However, if you do own the policy, you have the right to change the beneficiary, and probably should. With group insurance through your employer or an association, you can also change the beneficiary. When your beneficiary is a child or an elderly parent who has or could develop cognitive difficulties, they most likely will be unable to file a death claim on their own. So you should be careful to designate a guardian whom you trust to file the claim and use the money to care for your beneficiary.
If you have children or other dependents who would be affected financially by your death, it is important to get your own life insurance as soon as possible. Opting for term life insurance, which provides protection for a specific period of time, typically offers the greatest amount of coverage for the lowest initial premium cost and can make buying enough coverage affordable.
5. Maintain Good Credit
Having a good credit report is going to be essential when it comes to starting your new life, as it can help you more easily rent an apartment, get a new credit card and get better rates on your insurance—it can even affect your ability to get a job. The best way to keep your credit intact is to start making changes as soon as you have reached the decision to leave your abuser. Take care of your current debts and avoid missing any payments. Alert creditors if there is a change of address so that bills will continue to be received from all joint accounts and no late fees are incurred. Remember, women who drop their husband's name and use their maiden name will not erase the credit history established under their married name, as it is tied to social security numbers, not names. Establish a new credit record under your own name, especially if all previous credit was held jointly with your spouse. In order to expedite this process, consider turning existing joint credit cards, gas cards and retail accounts into individual accounts. Doing this will mean not having to re-establish your credit should you file for a divorce.
Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor your credit often. Most financial institutions provide credit monitoring services, such as Privacy Guard, at low costs. You can get a copy of your credit report by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or www.equifax.com; Experian: 1-866-966-1067 or www.experian.com; TransUnion: 1-877-680-7275 or www.transunion.com; FREE Annual Credit Report www.annualcreditreport.com, or 1-877-322-8228. By checking your credit score, you can see if your credit has been adversely affected by your partner's actions. It will also show if there are any shared debts that are being neglected and can point you in the right direction when canceling any joint accounts.
6. Seek Assistance
If you are in a precarious financial situation, or have limited money management skills, it may be difficult to implement some of the steps mentioned above so it is important that you use all the assistance available. The biggest misconception held by people in abusive relationships is that they are alone and cannot get help. This is completely false. There are many programs and organizations that can help. Local domestic violence programs, libraries, the Internet and faith-based organizations are all places that you can go to get assistance, and many offer free workshops and seminars that can help you with money management.
"Consistently, victims of domestic violence tell their advocates that the biggest obstacle to leaving the violence, staying away from the abuser and staying safe is not being able to provide for themselves financially," said Rita Smith, executive director, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Additionally, many abusers have ruined the credit of their victims in order to make it hard for them to leave. The financial education provided by the Insurance Information Institute can be life saving, and will make a real difference immediately for many, many people."
Plan for your safety by contacting a local domestic violence program to discuss your options and learn about the community resources you can access for support (i.e., emergency assistance funds, shelter, utility assistance, rent assistance, public benefits and affordable housing as well as legal aid). To locate a program in your community, contact that National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Social Security Office
The U.S. Census Bureau released annual poverty figures today, revealing that 15 percent of Americans—including one in five children—lived in poverty in 2011.
At 46.2 million, the number of people living in poverty in 2011 increased for the fourth consecutive year, though the percent change in poverty data was not statistically significant from 2010. This information follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Sept. 5 announcement that 14.9 percent of American households—including 16.7 million children—suffered from food insecurity in 2011.
The official poverty numbers do not account for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), or the Child Tax Credit (CTC). If the data accounted for SNAP, it would show 3.9 million fewer people in poverty, including 1.7 million children. If it accounted for the EITC, the number of people in poverty would fall by 5.7 million people, including 3.1 million children.
"Federally funded programs play a tremendous role in reducing poverty and helping to keep hunger at bay, but the official data often excludes their impacts,"said Michael Beckmann, Bread for the world. "As Congress works to reduce the deficit, we urge members to not cut these programs, as it would do more harm than good as our economy continues to rebound."
This data comes the same day Circle of Protection leaders plan to debut exclusive videos featuring President Barack Obama's and Governor Mitt Romney's positions on hunger and poverty. At a press conference today, members of the Circle of Protection discussed the new videos by both presidential candidates.
For more than a year, leaders of various Christian denominations and agencies have come together to advocate for a "Circle of Protection" around funding for programs that are vital to vulnerable people in the United States and around the world. The Circle of Protection is composed of more than 65 heads of denominations, relief and development agencies, and other Christian organizations. The videos can be viewed at www.circleofprotection.us/elections.
Mayors Discuss Urgent Need for New Strategies for Clean Water
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) hosted a panel discussion on Thursday, May 31 about the urgent need for regulatory reform as aggressive unfunded water mandates are guided by outdated regulatory approaches and collide with the ability of cities and their rate payers to pay for them. During the discussion, Mayors called on Congress to either amend the Act or ask EPA to change the way it implements the Act to meet a more current, cost-efficient and smart approach.
Currently, the third most costly municipal expenditure for cities is providing safe and adequate water and wastewater infrastructure. Additionally, inflation, population growth and an aging infrastructure base continue to increase the needed investment each year. Yet, even with these pre-existing costs, EPA continues to pursue an aggressive program of advancing new water regulations and enforcement actions that expand a city's responsibility, but offer only marginal environmental or health benefits.
Despite struggling with severe budget cuts, local government, more than any other level of government, continues to invest public resources in ever growing amounts to clean water goals: $50 billion in 1995 to over $103 billion in 2009; a total of $1.6 trillion from 1956 to 2008. Meanwhile, the Federal Government provides less than $2 billion per year to the States who provide loans, not grants, to local government. Estimates of needed investments over the next 20 years are staggering, and are often in the trillions of dollars.
At USCM's urging, the EPA unveiled in October 2011 a new Integrated Planning and Permitting Policy (IP3) that is intended to provide a framework for sewer overflows and stormwater management allowing federal, state and municipal governments to collaborate more effectively.
However, cities continue to be frustrated by the way in which the EPA, and especially EPA's regional offices, is implementing the Clean Water Act and contend that the agency's overall expectations that local government continually increase investments to comply with clean water rules is unrealistic and ignores the reality of limited public finances.
Below is the list of mayors who participated in the panel (see quote sheet below):
Hallandale Beach, FL Mayor Joy Cooper - Chair, USCM Environment Committee
Chicopee, MA Mayor Michael Bissonnette - Vice-Chair, USCM Environment Committee
Chattanooga, TN Mayor Ron Littlefield
Lima, OH Mayor Dave Berger
Omaha, NE Mayor Jim Suttle
MODERNIZING SOLUTIONS: The EPA's fledgling Integrated Planning and Permitting Policy (IP3), a new regulatory model, is potentially a welcome answer to balancing the need to invest in progress toward clean water goals without over taxing low, moderate and fixed income households. Thus, mayors are suggesting that EPA either revise the Act or to change the way it is being implemented. More suggestions are listed below:
Amending the Clean Water Act
Require EPA Accountability for Identifying the Cumulative Cost Impact of Water and Wastewater Mandates and a Realistic Accounting of Public Benefits
Consider a Congressionally Imposed Cap on Overall Water Compliance Costs
Institutionalize Flexibility and Incentivize Smart Investments
Shield Local Governments from Third Party Suits if they are Engaged in a Permit to Achieve Compliance
Match Compliance Schedules to Local Affordability
Adjusting the EPA Regulatory Approach
EPA Should be Partners not Prosecutors
Clean Water should be Measured by Results not Headlines Touting Forced Billions of Dollars of Investments, Penalties and Fines
Recognition that Cities are Directly Addressing the Nexus of Human Settlements and Large-Scale Natural Phenomenon Which Need Long-term Planning, and EPA Resources Should be Redirected to Build Watershed Planning Capacity at the State Level
Quotes from Participating Mayors
"As Mayors, we don't have the luxury of focusing on only one issue," said Hallandale Beach (FL) Mayor Joy Cooper, Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Environmental Committee. "We have to look at the whole array of environmental needs and given our financial constraints, determine the best course of action that best protects the health of our citizens, our environment, and our economy."
"Cities have so many local challenges to meet including coming up with the most efficient and cost-effective ways to address local water and infrastructure needs as well as unfunded mandates," said Chicopee (MA) Mayor Michael Bissonnette .
"This is the perfect time to call for a 'Time Out', to pause, catch up on improvements, and not add more of a financial burden on our ratepayers."
"Cities continue to shoulder an overwhelming responsibility of compliance," said Chattanooga (TN) Mayor Ron Littlefield . "I look forward to the day when federal regulations are administered on a regional basis. Forthcoming change has been discussed and promised for decades yet never implemented. This unequal enforcement encourages sprawl and unsustainable development on the perimeter of municipalities and contributes to numerous water quality problems without the offenders being held to the same standard of regulation. Something has got to change soon."
"The current situation facing communities is neither productive nor sustainable," said Lima (OH) Mayor Dave Berger . "Congressional action is absolutely necessary: Congress needs to either appropriate sufficient grant funding to meet the CWA obligations as they are being enforced by USEPA, or pass amendments to the CWA which provide adequate relief and flexibility for communities facing unaffordable mandates."
"Omaha has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to allow city's flexibility in achieving clean water standards," said Omaha (NE) Mayor Jim Suttle . "We believe we could reduce the costs of our Combined Sewer Overflow Project by exploring new technologies and incorporating stronger green solutions."
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,309 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/usmayors, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/usmayors.
SOURCE The U.S. Conference of Mayors
AVG STUDY SHOWS YOUNG KIDS LEARN TECH SKILLS BEFORE LIFE SKILLS
Small children today are more likely to navigate with a mouse, play a computer game and increasingly – operate a smartphone – than swim, tie their shoelaces or make their own breakfast. This is according to a new ‘Digital Diaries’ study from Internet Security Company AVG (www.avg.com. AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at how children's interaction with technology has changed.
This second piece of research polled 2,200 mothers with Internet access and with children aged 2-5 in the U.S., Canada, the EU5 (U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain), Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The mothers were given a list of tech skills and a list of life skills and asked which ones their very young children had mastered. The key results are as follows:
1 - More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike. 58 percent of children aged 2-5 know how to play a 'basic' computer game. For the U.K. and France that jumps to 70 percent. Even 44 percent of 2-3 year olds have the ability to play a computer game. By comparison, 43 percent of kids 2-3 can ride a bike
2 - More kids aged 2-5 can play with a smartphone application (19 percent) than tie his or her shoelaces (9 percent). Almost as many 2-3 year olds (17 percent) can play with a smartphone application as 4-5 year olds (21 percent)
3 - More small children can open a web browser (25 percent) than swim unaided (20 percent)
4 - There is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls. As many boys (58 percent) as girls (59 percent) can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call (28 percent boys, 29 percent girls)
5 - Mothers aged 35 and over are slightly better at teaching their kids 'life skills.' For example 40 percent of toddlers with mothers aged 35-plus can write their own name compared with 35 percent of toddlers with mothers aged 34 or younger
6 - European children aged 2-5 lead their U.S. counterparts in knowing how to make a mobile phone call (44 percent in Italy vs. 25 percent for the U.S.), playing a computer game (70 percent U.K. vs. 61 percent U.S.) and operating a computer mouse (78 percent France vs. 67 percent U.S.)
“Technology has changed what it means to be a parent raising children today – these children are growing up in an environment that would be unrecognizable to their parents. The smart-phone and the computer are increasingly taking the place of the TV as an education and entertainment tool for children,” said AVG CEO, J.R. Smith. “As our research shows, parents need to start educating kids about navigating the online world safely at an earlier age than they might otherwise have thought.”
AVG Digital Diaries is a series of studies looking at children of different age groups. With this year long piece of research, AVG aims to conduct a comprehensive study about children's technology habits. The first piece of research, entitled ‘Digital Birth’ released in October 2010, found that most babies and toddlers have an online footprint by the time they are six months old.
AVG is a global security software maker protecting more than 110 million consumers and small businesses in 170 countries from the ever-growing incidence of Web threats, viruses, spam, cyber-scams and hackers on the Internet. AVG has nearly two decades of experience in combating cyber crime and one of the most advanced laboratories for detecting, pre-empting and combating Web-borne threats from around the world. Its free, downloadable software allows novice users to have basic anti-virus protection and then easily upgrade to greater levels of safety and defense when they are ready. AVG has nearly 6,000 resellers, partners and distributors globally including Amazon.com, CNET, Cisco, Ingram Micro, Play.com, Wal-Mart, and Yahoo!
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