The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Blog Archive

Mar 23, 2010


The Plan overview:

The 13 states government's lawsuit against the Federal Government:

Mar 22, 2010

Advice for 2nd Marriages part 1 - FOTF

Psychologist Bill Meier, with guests Ron Deal, Author of The Smart Step Family and couple Jim & Susan Owens, remarried for over 20 years. The topic is remarriage and how to help children blend in to a new family.

Dr. Meier: What was your experience like when you entered into remarriage? Did you find that it was all hearts & butterflies? (laughter) or did things rapidly change for you?

Jim: Well again you have to understand with our marriage, we had 5 children that were blended instantly. My oldest was 13 and they went down to 5 and she had 2 children that were 2 & 3. And instantly you had little boys and little girls and there is a constant problem area that is lurking out there. I think more than anything the discipline of the children and the step parent syndrome are the things that create the problem. Not to mention there’s another mother and another father out there. When the children would go away for the weekend and come back, we would have to go through a kind of a recycle to start over again, when they were back home.

The 2 little boys, when we divorced, we’d have to drive 2 ½ hour to meet their father to pick them up. We tried several times how to break that up to make it a little bit of fun. We discovered that if both of us didn’t go, it’d always be a situation where one son would be in the front seat, one in the back because we’d have to deprogram them back to our household. Because they would be fighting or angry or upset, there’s a lot of issues.

Suzie: Well the dynamics of living in 2 different houses with completely 2 different personalities is very tough.

Jim: And there would be simple things that we would never think about. If they were going camping or fishing w/their father and we didn’t send the right clothes, the right swimming suit. You know there were a lot of little funny things like that.

Dr. Meier: As they talk you can hear that there’s, all of that complexity brings a level of stress to the marriage relationship. One of the things that is most amazing to realize for most people is that the level of stress that remarried couples face the first 2 years is equal to the level of stress that most people experience the first 2 years after divorce. 3 times higher than the normal level of stress in a biological first marriage home. And so what do they do with that? They have to have good conflict resolution skills, good coping skills, good negotiation skills, because if they don’t the stress builds up and it erodes the marriage.

Jim: It ain’t the Brady Bunch is it?

Meier: No, I like to say the Brady Bunch lied!

Suzie: Big misnomer, that’s not it at all. It was awful.

Now Jim & Susan, I’m guessing with both of you, coming out of the divorce, there were some issues with the exes. How was that process for you?

Susan: Well it’s a very hard adjustment for everyone involved. At the time Jim & I remarried, your happy, while you’re in that dating process, very selfish, very single minded, your not really thinking about all the ripple effects that it has. But then the adjustments are phenomenal. The boys father lost his sons! And we moved 350 miles away from him. On the other hand, the boys lost their father. And it was a very hard process for all of us – and to this day (20 years later) it’s still an adjustment that you really don’t think about at the time. And the girls and their mother. It’s very hard.

Jim: And through the years that we’ve been married, things have gotten better. I don’t know how we decided this, but one of the things we’ve done is we never tried to talk ugly or be negative about the other parent. There were times behind closed doors we’d tear it up, but never in front of the kids. If I come out and really say what I feel about the ex, the son feels like I’m attacking his parent and that creates a wedge between me & my step son. We had issues – the oldest son was 4 when we remarried and he was probably the most difficult for me to blend that relationship. And I think that part of what Ron says in the book is you gotta take time, you can’t rush that, And there are so many little issues like that – discipline, when you’ve been raising your children and you discipline them one way and you blend a family, then you have different issues, different things to do – it’s a constant area that you’ve got to work on and be conscious of. A lot of times we would do something, then go behind closed doors and have to go back and say “I’m sorry”.

Susan: Oh yea there were many times the disagreements you have with children in a christian home, single marriage, you have terrible problems with raising children. It’s a difficult thing. It’s VERY difficult being a step parent. Yea, I can’t tell you how many times we went behind closed doors and I told Jim “I don’t agree with that”. Never did this in front of the children, never – in fact our children are now adults, beautiful children and we still, watch out what we say about their other parents.

Meier: Well I admire you two about that because that is actually quite rare. Ron has experienced that in his work. Many couples can’t put aside that bitterness for the sake of their children. In fact, you have a saying in your book “When two elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers”.

Ron: When the elephants are fighting, they’re not aware of what’s going on with the grass. And unfortunately, the hurt, anger, bitterness, pain of the past, with the ex spouse relationship, becomes a barrier to the new relationships. And here the couple thinks it’s about them. And the truth is, it is about them but it’s also about parenting & step parenting. It is also about dealing between households with an ex spouse. It is all of that wrapped up in to one. Again, most couples intuitively know that there’s going to be some challenges but they don’t really know how to navigate all that complexity. And that’s what gets them in trouble.

Mar 14, 2010

Tips for training for an Ironman: Art of Manliness

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Jim Hodgson.

A quick delve into the history of Ironman is enough to inspire in anyone either awe or craven nerdy-ness. This is due to the fact that perhaps the manliest endurance contest in the world shares a name with a cartoon character. Please note that this guide will not help you become Ironman. That would be ridiculous.

What it intends to do instead is help you become an Ironman. This too is ridiculous, but also possible… if you have the sack for it.

I have left out anything that I was able to learn from training schedules and triathlon forums and included instead what I consider to be the most important and yet obscure things I learned in the process of completing my first full distance Ironman race. This is the stuff that I needed to know at the beginning, but was only able to discover when I was in the thick of it.

Mental Toughness

I was standing in line for the start of my first ever real triathlon, a sprint distance race in August of 2008. My triathlon skinsuit was making a garish and comical display of my gut and love handles as I listened to the other guys in my swim wave talk. They were all talking about Ironman, much in the way that a middle school student makes predictions about post-doctoral study.

“I never want to do it. It’s just too long, those people are crazy” one gentleman said, and there was general agreement.

I remember that I was thinking even then, still thirty minutes away from jumping into the water on my first tiny little sprint distance race, that I was going to go all the way to Ironman.

Seven months later, on the course at my first ever full marathon, I was pretty well cooked around the sixteen or seventeen mile mark, and a guy ran by screaming at the top of his lungs, urging everyone onward.

“Keep going! It’s all mental!” he was shouting. There were some doubtful groans from my fellow marathoners.

“Hmm,” I thought. “Is this buffoon correct? Is it all mental?”

I took a quick stock of my various howling ankle joints and leg muscles, and I considered it. Later, both legs cramping solid with ten miles to go on my Ironman run, in danger of being yanked off the course, I had time to reflect even more upon this question. I have spent a great deal of time considering it since then as well, and here is my opinion.

Is it all mental? No. You must train your body to withstand the distance, absolutely.

Having said that, people’s mental image of themselves becomes very apparent when you train with them. If you run with the same 20 people every Thursday, let’s say, soon you will notice that some people are faster than others. My experience was that the distribution of people is pretty much the same each week. Most people are content to stay at a certain level indefinitely.

Each runner is seemingly thinking to himself, “Well, I am faster than Craig, but that George guy is better than me.” At the end of the run each week they will almost always end up between Craig and George.

You must not fall into this mental trap because it will cause you to stagnate. George may very well be faster than you today, but he’d better be on the track all week if he wants to be faster next week, let alone the week after that.

You must think of yourself before you even begin as an Ironman finisher. This is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to help yourself.

So, yes — It is absolutely all mental.

A Word about Training

I advise everyone who is an Ironman hopeful to join a triathlon club. I joined the Peachtree Tri Club and met a lot of great people who are now friends. The club and its members provided invaluable advice and camaraderie as well as clinics and training schedules. It also provided a place for me to swim and some instruction on my swim stroke.

This was important to me because I had the approximate natural swimming ability of an adolescent male bison. Now, at least, I swim more like a trained aquatic bison.

If you live in an area without such a club and intend to train solely on your own, I highly recommend that you consider traveling regularly to be around other people with the same goals as you.

Getting All Triathletic About It… Should I Buy a Carbon Bike?

Triathletes love gadgets. There is a myriad of products designed specifically for triathlon, from bikes to skin lubricants to teardrop shaped helmets to shoes with only one wide velcro strap closure. My advice to you is to steer clear of anything you don’t know for a fact that you need. Otherwise you end up wasting brain energy and financial resources on superfluous knickknackery when the only thing that really matters is your engine.

I never bought a wetsuit, for instance. I rented one for the one race I did that was wetsuit legal. It cost $50 to rent. I wore it during my race and sent it back. Simple as that. There are similar services for bike wheels that are a bargain in my opinion.

Beginners ask me sometimes if I think it’s dorky to do their first triathlon on a mountain bike. I think it’s far dorkier to be slow on a super expensive carbon bike and carbon wheels. You will see a lot of people being slow on very expensive bikes. Laugh inwardly at them, because you know that this is a mental game, not a fashion show.

Having said that, I am a free market capitalist at heart. If you want to buy a nice bike, then by all means do something to help the economy and drop that coin. Just know going in that you are buying a thing because you want the thing. Don’t justify it as something you need to finish.

To quote Ronnie Coleman, arguably the greatest bodybuilder who ever lived, “Everybody wanna be a bodybuilder; don’t nobody wanna lift this heavy-ass weight.”

Wrap it up, B!

I used to weigh 320lbs. I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day. I have lost over 100lbs and given up smoking and regular drinking. I went from no triathlon experience whatsoever through all the popular distances there are in just over a year, from sprint to Ironman, and I am by no means a thin or svelte man even today. I am proud of myself, but my accomplishments are but a wisp of smoke compared to the sea of people who have overcome a dizzying array of illnesses, amputations and sensory deprivation to complete Ironman races.

When I’m trying to put in my mileage and its raining and I am wet and cold I think about how lucky I am to be alive. I think about my mother’s passing due to cancer and how I want her to be remembered by someone who is worth being remembered by. I think about my little niece and the example a man should set for a child. Sometimes I think about girls who have broken my heart.

Ultimately, the physical effort of endurance racing and the mental toughness it requires has embodied for me the single most elusive and important thing that a man needs, in my estimation — a challenge.

No matter how fast I am today, there are always more miles to ride. I can always go harder and be better. There are always people whose mental game I can learn from.

And that, as far as I know, is happiness.

For more adventures and gripping philosophy, you can find Jim practicing the manly art of writing every weekday on his own blog. Check out his story of completing his first Ironman and subscribe by RSS feed or email!

Mar 13, 2010

Hooked: The Bonding Power of Sex review

Funny, I just started reading this book with McKenna and blogged about it to find it on my Family Life email today! Excellent info.

Recently, a mom brought her 14-year-old daughter into my (Freda) Ob/Gyn clinic after just finding out that the girl was sexually active. In taking her sexual history I learned that the young lady had actually started having sex when she was 12 and in the two years since had 14 different partners. When I questioned her about the number of partners, her response was “Well, I only have sex with my boyfriend.”

Our popular culture had led her to believe that it was okay to have sex at 12 or 14 as long as you have a relationship with the person, and for her, it was okay because each guy she had sex with was, at the time, her “boyfriend.”

Now you can play it forward, as I did, and do the math and see how many partners she would have by 18 because obviously these relationships were not long term. So, it was instructive for me to talk to her and her mother about what this would mean to her body physically, psychologically and emotionally. And I had the scientific information to back it up.

One of the important things I had to help the mother understand was that studies have shown that parents are the most influential voice in the decisions of their children. I told the mother that she was actually abdicating her responsibility by bringing her daughter in, asking me to “help her to do what she is doing safely.” Instead, I asked the mother to think about “What is it that you desire for your daughter? What is it that you want to see her do?” Then I asked her to have that conversation with her daughter.

Unknown risks

Parents always find it hard to talk to children about sex. If they have a past of multiple sexual partners, it makes it doubly hard for them to talk to them, especially to give them good guidance—the kind of guidance that will lead them away from being involved sexually until they get married. But that past can also be their credibility. They don’t want their children to make the mistakes they have made.

For a young woman or young man with that kind of a history, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases is obviously very high. But there are also other emotional or physical risks that parents and children both need to be aware of that come with being sexually active outside of marriage as a teenager.

For example, when we do anything exciting, a hormone called dopamine is released in our brain that makes us feel like the world is good, that we have been a success. This hormone makes us want to repeat that activity.

Dopamine is necessary for us because it is what gives kids this excitement about leaving home and taking the huge risk of going out and being independent adults, which is a necessary part of growing up. But that hormone also can be negative because if a kid, for example, enjoys speeding at 100 miles an hour down a twisted road, he gets a dopamine kick for that, too. And the dopamine makes him want to repeat it.

When any of us have sexual intercourse, we have a huge outpouring of dopamine into our brains. It is released when a married couple has sex, which makes them want to repeat the sexual act which then allows them to get pregnant and have babies. But for the unmarried kid it makes him want to repeat that sexual act again and again. It is the same hormone that is secreted with addiction to drugs and nicotine.

Emotionally attached

Another thing teens may not understand is that even with one act of intercourse they will be emotionally attached to the person they are having intercourse with, and that these attachments can last a lifetime. During sexual intercourse, in the female brain there are more receptors for oxytocin, and in the male brain there are more receptors for vasopressin. Both hormones cause the person to feel emotionally attached to the other, even with just one act of intercourse.

So those in a relationship not only have the dopamine that rewards them for the repeating of the act, but also the oxytocin and the vasopressin that makes them feel attached. Thus, we have the name of our book Hooked. You become attached, addicted, bonded to each other.

In marriage, that is a good thing because you will stay attached to each other. Children are reproduced and you bond to those children, care for them, and help them grow up and our human race survives. But if you are 14 years old and have had 14 partners, and are still attached in some way to all 14 of them, you create problems.

All of this results in actual physical changes in the brain. When these hormones flow and send their impulses, they dramatically affect connections or synapses between the neurons in the brain. Those synapses actually are strengthened when we repeat a behavior or they are weakened when we stop. So, when you repeatedly attach and unattach with multiple sexual partners you actually weaken the ability to stay connected. Studies have shown that when people have had multiple sexual partners before marriage they are more likely to divorce because they actually weaken the pathways that are necessary to attach at the deep and necessary emotional level important for marriage.

The immature brain

One of the reasons parents are so important during their children’s adolescent years is because the Prefrontal Cortex – the part of the brain where we make rational decisions and where dopamine has its greatest influence – is not fully mature until the mid-twenties. Teenagers are not brain damaged. It’s just that they are not mature, and any parent of a teenager knows exactly what we are talking about. The growth of these synapses is increased before birth and again when they are in pre-puberty. Then, between puberty and the mid-twenties, the hardwiring is molded and “set” in its mature condition.

So, these adolescents need the judgment of parents to help them through those years with decisions about the future and to consider the consequences that they cannot fully see for themselves. Otherwise these mechanisms we have described as so important for marriage become a trap—an ambush of brain molding and a habit of behavior that can hurt them in ways they cannot imagine, not just for a few months but often for a lifetime.

We find that in every bit of this science we have looked at—the neuroscience, diseases, and so forth—that human beings are designed to be with one other person sexually and monogamously for life. The use of the term “design” calls to mind the intelligent design of God, but it is so amazing that even the secular reproductive anthropologists who would disagree with much of what we’ve said here use the word.

Based on the most modern neuroscience, sex is a whole body experience. The brain is the biggest and most important sex organ of the body. All these hormones in the brain and all these synapses that influence our habits and our patterns of living were designed by God so that we can be connected to one person for a lifetime in marriage.

As parents, that is our assignment: to guide our children so they can experience the very best thing that God has for them.

Dr. Joe McIlhaney and Dr. Freda McKissic Bush are co-authors of Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children. Dr. McIlhaney is the founder and chairman of the Medical Institute of Sexual Health. Dr. Bush has her Ob/Gyn practice in Jackson, Mississippi, and also serves on the board of MISH. Both doctors have served on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Dr. McIlhaney has been hooked to his wife, Marion, for nearly 50 years and Dr. Bush to her husband, Lee, for 40 years.

Mar 12, 2010

Baby Lives after being pronounced Dead

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Books for Parents - HOOKED

The new sex education for parents -

"Hooked - new science (neuroscience) on how casual sex is affecting our children" - Joe McIlhaney Jr MD & Fred McKissic Bush MD

"... scientists have been able to literally view the activity of the brain as it functions. ...Researchers have unlocked a new world of data on what happens between your ears each day. New methods of tracking brain chemicals have allowed scientists to understand when & how much of these chemicals are released and how they influence behavior. We now have scientific studies about brain function & sexual thoughts/behavior that are not only fascinating but are tru breakthroughs in our understanding of oursleves and the intriguing part of our behavior called sex."

...this new science does establish once and for all that more happens during sex than physical activity. ... that the largest an dmost importantn sex organ is the brain and the brain is being molded itself by sexual behavior.

What does a 3 lb brain have to do with one's sex life? A lot, actually. Breakthroughs in the burgeoning field of neuroscience explain the impact having sex has on the developing brains of adolescents and young adults. Through the mounds of scientific data this book simply demonstrates that:

Sexual activity releases chemicals in the brain, creating emotional bonds between partners.

Breaking these bonds can cause depression and make it harder to bond with someone else inhe future.

Chemicls released in the brain during sex can become addictive.

The human brain is not fully developed until a person reaches thei mid twenties. Until then, it is harder to make wise relationship decisions.

Parents & others who care about young people now have the facts to steer them away from making life changing mistakes and lead them toward reaching their full potential.

Culture Challenge of the Week: Sexual Predators

It used to be that a parent's greatest worry was the guy in the trench coat lurking on the edge of the school playground. Now, thanks to the Internet, that creep often hangs out with your son in his bedroom.

Pedophiles prowl wherever children go, and cyberspace is their newest playground. Strangers anonymously scan the Internet and quietly spy in chat room conversations in search of prey. They cunningly study how to masquerade as "friends" to your children, and know just how to manipulate their emotions.

Recent surveys show that 69 percent of teens who are online receive personal messages from people they don't know. Fifty percent of teens who enter chat rooms say they have shared personal information with strangers including their phone numbers, addresses, and where they go to school. And, 73 percent of sexual solicitation online happens while youth are using their home computers. In the worst cases, the cyber-stalkers lure kids to secret meetings where they are sexually abused, and even murdered. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, two out of every five missing teens ages 15 to 17 are abducted in connection with Internet activity.

How to Protect your family from Cyber-Stalkers

Parents, you are the first line of defense. With the proliferation of online p*rnography and perverts seeking their next victim in cyberspace, the job of protecting your kids in the vastness of the Internet can seem overwhelming.

Thankfully, the Internet Safety 101 comprehensive DVD teaching series can help.

Developed by the Enough is Enough organization, Internet Safety 101 equips parents with both technical and non-technical tips. Their "Rules 'N Tools" enables children and families to enjoy all the benefits and wonders of the Internet while teaching children how to avoid danger and make wise choices.

There are a few basic steps you should take right now to protect your child -- before he makes another keystroke.

  • Secure a reliable Internet filter. A fantastic new Internet filter will roll off the production line in the Fall that will also help you filter out unwanted television programming and commercials. Check out For those who don't have televisions, a stand alone great Internet filter is available at

  • Move the computer into a public space in your home

  • Tell your child about the dangers of the Internet, and remind her to never talk to strangers online

  • Order Internet Safety 101

As I mentioned in this column last week, it is my privilege to serve as a pro-bono member of the Enough is Enough (EIE) Advisory Board. EIE President Donna Rice Hughes has committed some 15 years of her life fighting p*rnography and sexual predators, studying Internet usage and technologies, and assembling the most effective ways to protect your children in cyberspace. It took three intense years to develop, produce and pilot Internet Safety 101. The program includes parental control tutorials, cyber-security resources, compelling video vignettes from law enforcement, victims clinicians, and a frightening interview with a convicted sex offender.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, US Department of Justice, supports efforts to protect your kids through EIE and Internet Safety 101 -- shouldn't you?

Mar 11, 2010

A History of Public Education in the United States

I found this extremely interesting. - Rebecca

Editorial Summary

This article explores the history of the United States' public education system, tracing its development from its roots in Puritan and Congregationalist religious schools in the 1600s and subsequently the availability of free elementary education thanks to the efforts of Common School reformers in the 1800s. It continues on to the dramatic changes of the 1900s, culminating in today's highly decentralized (but still very imperfect) system. It explores the impact that many figures of great importance in America's history have had on the education system, and discusses various social, legal and cultural factors that have all influenced public education. The article also touches on issues of racial and gender equality.

Early History

American public education differs from that of many other nations in that it is primarily the responsibility of the states and individual school districts. The national system of formal education in the United States developed in the 19th century. Jefferson was the first American leader to suggest creating a public school system. His ideas formed the basis of education systems developed in the 19th century.

The most preliminary form of public education was in existence in the 1600s in the New England colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The overriding belief on educating the children was more due to religious reasons and was easy to implement, as the only groups in existence were the Puritans and the Congregationalists. However, the influx of people from many countries and belonging to different faiths led to a weakening of the concept. People refused to learn only in English and opposed the clergy imposing their religious views through public education. By the middle of the eighteenth century, private schooling had become the norm.

After the Declaration of Independence, 14 states had their own constitutions by 1791, and out of the 14, 7 states had specific provisions for education. Jefferson believed that education should be under the control of the government, free from religious biases, and available to all people irrespective of their status in society. Others who vouched for public education around the same time were Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, Robert Coram and George Washington. It was still very difficult to translate the concept to practice because of the political upheavals, vast immigration, and economic transformations. Thus, even for many more decades, there were many private schools, and charitable and religious institutions dominating the scene.

The Beginning of the Public Education System

Until the 1840s the education system was highly localized and available only to wealthy people. Reformers who wanted all children to gain the benefits of education opposed this. Prominent among them were Horace Mann in Massachusetts and Henry Barnard in Connecticut. Mann started the publication of the Common School Journal, which took the educational issues to the public. The common-school reformers argued for the case on the belief that common schooling could create good citizens, unite society and prevent crime and poverty. As a result of their efforts, free public education at the elementary level was available for all American children by the end of the 19th century. Massachusetts passed the first compulsory school attendance laws in 1852, followed by New York in 1853. By 1918 all states had passed laws requiring children to attend at least elementary school. The Catholics were, however, opposed to common schooling and created their own private schools. Their decision was supported by the 1925 Supreme Court rule in Pierce v. Society of Sisters that states could not compel children to attend public schools, and that children could attend private schools instead.

High Schools

The first publicly supported secondary school in the United States was the Boston Latin School, founded in 1635. Harvard was the first University in existence at that time. The attendance in secondary schools was very little because the curriculum was specialized and hard. The demand for skilled workers in the middle of the eighteenth century led Benjamin Franklin to start a new kind of secondary school. Thus, the American Academy was established in Philadelphia in 1751. American high schools eventually replaced Latin grammar schools. The rise in American high school attendance was one of the most striking developments in U.S. education during the 20th century. From 1900 to 1996 the percentage of teenagers who graduated from high school increased from about 6 percent to about 85 percent. As the 20th century progressed, most states enacted legislation extending compulsory education laws to the age of 16. It is essential to look at the history of public education along with the events shaping the country in the early years of the 20th century. The Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, wars with other countries, civil rights movement, student protests and the numerous political events within the country all had their effects on the education system too. In the 1920s and 30s, “progressive education” was the word of the day; the focus then shifted to intellectual discipline and curriculum development projects in the later decades.

During the 20th century participation in higher or postsecondary education in the United States increased tremendously. At the beginning of the century about 2 percent of Americans from the ages of 18 to 24 were enrolled in a college. Near the end of the century more than 60 percent of this age group, or over 14 million students, were enrolled in about 3500 four-year and two-year colleges.

The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 provided federal financial support to state universities. Many land-grant colleges and state universities were established through gifts of federal land to the states for the support of higher education. Financial support was extended to the universities and this in turn led to increased research. In addition, the numbers of students attending college increased dramatically after World War II ended in 1945.

Involvement at the Local and Federal Levels

Individual states—rather than the federal government—have primary authority over public education in the United States. Eventually, every state developed a department of education and enacted laws regulating finance, the hiring of school personnel, student attendance, and curriculum. In general, however, local districts oversee the administration of schools, with the exception of licensing requirements and general rules concerning health and safety. Public schools have also relied heavily on local property taxes to meet the vast majority of school expenses. American schools have thus tended to reflect the educational values and financial capabilities of the communities in which they are located.

By the middle of the 20th century, most states took a more active regulatory role than in the past. States consolidated school districts into larger units with common procedures. In 1940 there were over 117,000 school districts in the United States, but by 1990 the number had decreased to just over 15,000. The states also became much more responsible for financing education. In 1940 local property taxes financed 68 percent of public school expenses, while the states contributed 30 percent. In 1990 local districts and states each contributed 47 percent to public school revenues. The federal government provided most of the remaining funds.

During the 1980s and 1990s, virtually all states have given unprecedented attention to their role in raising education standards. A federal report published in 1983 indicated very low academic achievement in public schools. This resulted in states taking up more responsibility and involvement. This report, A Nation at Risk, suggested that American students were outperformed on international academic tests by students from other industrial societies. Statistics also suggested that American test scores were declining over time. As a result, most states have implemented reform strategies that emphasize more frequent testing conducted by states, more effective state testing, and more state-mandated curriculum requirements.
The federal government's activities in the field of education have further centralized American schooling. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 helped create vocational programs in high schools, and the GI Bill of 1944 was the first important federal effort to provide financial aid for military veterans to attend college. In addition, federal civil rights laws require all schools and colleges to conform to national standards of educational equality.

The federal commitment to improve and finance public schools expanded enormously when Congress passed the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. In these two landmark statutes, Congress addressed for the first time such broad problems as expanding educational opportunity for poor children and improving instruction in pivotal but usually neglected subjects, such as science, mathematics, and foreign languages. Other federal acts that addressed educational issues in this period were the Vocational Education Act of 1963, the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1963, and the International Education Act of 1966.

Other Issues

In spite of the belief that public education should be available to every child irrespective of race, gender or economic status, this has not happened in reality. Discrimination in schools on the basis of race and gender has always persisted. Girls were not admitted in schools until many years after the establishment of schools, and even then, they were not taught the same subjects as boys. Since the 1950s, public policy toward education has addressed discrimination issues in education more than educational issues. The federal government has especially been concerned with issues of equality in school districts.

Racial Equality

The first blacks arrived as slaves in the colonies in 1619. By the middle of the nineteenth century there were 4.5 million blacks in this country. The earliest education given to them was by the missionaries to convert them to Christianity. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts established many schools. The southern states opposed the education of blacks because these states were still favoring slavery. In spite of individual efforts, the education of blacks remained very low until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. The literacy rate that was around 5% in the 1860s rose to 40% in 1890 and by 1910 it was at 70%.

During the 1950s segregation by race in public and private schools was still common in the United States. The South had separate schools for African Americans and whites and this system had been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). In the North no such laws existed, but racial segregation was still common in schools. Segregation usually resulted in inferior education for blacks. Average public expenditures for white schools exceeded expenditures for black schools. Teachers in white schools generally received higher pay than did teachers in black schools, and facilities in most white schools were far superior to facilities in most black schools.

In 1954 the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Despite vigorous resistance for many years by many southern states, by 1980 the federal courts had largely succeeded in eliminating the system of legalized segregation in southern schools.

Even after the court rulings, it was difficult to eliminate discrimination in practice. Many whites and middle class blacks had moved out of central cities by the 1970s, leaving poor blacks and rising populations of Hispanic Americans to attend urban schools. Native Americans, who had already lost all their lands to whites, also face the additional burden of poverty, which keeps them away from schools.

Most federally mandated desegregation efforts have been aimed at increasing educational achievement among African American students. However, many educators cite continued inequality in educational opportunities for Hispanic American students.

Gender Equality

Women have been equally discriminated against in American schools. Even in coeducational schools, practically no encouragement was given to the girls. Prominent women educators who have contributed significantly include Catharine Esther Beecher, Emma Willard, Mary Lyon, Jane Addams, Susan Anthony, Mrs. Carl Schurz, and Mary McLeod. They established higher-level institutions for women and offered subjects that earlier educators deemed unnecessary for women. The first coeducational college was Oberlin College (founded in 1833), the first enduring all-women's college was Vassar College (1861), and the first graduate school for women was at Bryn Mawr College (1880).

The emergence of the women's rights movement during the 1960s was a boost against sexual discrimination. Title IX of the 1972 federal Education Amendments prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that received federal aid. Educators are of the opinion that even after all these measures, women do not get equal pay in jobs. Discrimination in professional jobs still exists.


The advancement in technology and learning methods has brought about a lot of change for the better in the public education. However, other social problems that affect the public schools today are violence, drugs, alcohol, smoking, and sex-related issues. The American public school has always been looked upon as a system that inculcates the ideals of equality and freedom in the individual. It has changed historically according to the upheavals in the society. But the pitiful standard of high school education today has left many educators wondering how to improve the system, so much so that in his first week of ascending the Presidency, Bush introduced his “No child left behind” education plan. It is eventually the role of the public that should influence public education, which is not much prevalent now.


[1] Public Education in the United States. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001. (
[2] Department of Education Website. (
[3] Butts, R.F. Public Education in the United States: From Revolution to Reform. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978.
[4] Johnson, J.A., Collins, H.W., Dupuis, V.L. and Johansen, J.H. Introduction to the Foundations of American Education, Sixth Edition. Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1985.

The First 5 Years of Marriage

I love these two. I've heard them a few times and just real good down home advice.

Focus on the Family - Marriage

Mar 10, 2010

Christian Men and Sexuality

Do we have your attention? ;)

I think you'll be surprised to hear this christian perspective on men & their sexuality. I feel sorry for them because we as females understand so little and shame them greatly in what is natural for them. And they keep it to themselves and find no healing or help. I have a tab labeled "Dobson Feeds" which deals with all sorts of marriage/family issues, this was only one series I heard today. I know men, do you? Maybe they could use some understanding today.

Each section is about 5 minutes - very quick listening.

Christian Men & Sexuality Part 1

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Oprah:Confessions of a Semi-Happy Wife

Oh this one will stir people up - and make those that have been married laugh. I chuckled and felt sad for this woman too, because I apparently don't have any friends... (well, I don't..) because Matt is one of the best at times. Standing on the other side of divorce, I don't really the author's seemingly blase' understanding of the reality and ramifications of divorce. Sounds like she could use some counseling for her pizza throwing marriage.

Anyway, sharing the good, the bad & the ugly today. Hope you at least smile once while reading it :) and take in to account where you're own marriage is. Sometimes truth is - well discomforting.

I contemplate divorce everyday.

It tugs on my sleeve each morning when my husband, Will, greets me in his chipper, smug morning-person voice, because after 16 years of waking up together, he still hasn't quite pieced out that I'm not viable before 10 A.M.

It puts two hands on my forehead and mercilessly presses when he blurts out the exact wrong thing ("Are you excited for your surprise party next Tuesday?"); when he lies to avoid the fight ("What do you mean I left our apartment door open? I never even knew our apartment had a door!"); when he buttons his shirt and jacket into the wrong buttonholes, collars and seams unaligned like a vertical game of dominoes, with possibly a scrap of shirttail zippered into his fly. It flicks me, hard, just under the eye when, during a parent-teacher conference, he raises his arm high in the air, scratches his armpit, and then—then!—absently smells his fingers.

It slammed into me like a 4,000-pound Volvo station wagon one spring evening four years ago, although I remember it as if it were last year. He had dropped me off in front of a restaurant, prior to finding a parking spot. As I crossed in front of the car, he pulled forward, happily smiling back over his left shoulder at some random fascinating bit (a sign with an interesting font, a new scaffolding, a diner that he may or may not have eaten at the week after he graduated from college), and plowed into me. The impact, while not wondrous enough to break bodies 12 ways, was sufficient to bounce me sidewise onto the hood, legs waving in the air like antennae, skirt flung somewhere up around my ears.

For one whole second, New York City stood stock-still and looked at my underwear.

As I pounded the windshield with my fist and shouted—"Will, Will, stop the car!"—he finally faced forward, blink, blink, blink, trying, yes, truly trying to take it all in. And I heard him ask with mild astonishment, very faintly because windshield glass is surprisingly thick, "What are you doing here?"

In retrospect, it was an excellent question, a question that I've asked myself from altar to present, both incessantly and occasionally.

"What am I doing here?"

Don't musunderstand: I would not, could not disparage my marriage (not on a train, not in the rain, not in a house, not with a mouse). After 192 months, Will and I remain if not happily married, then steadily so. Our marital state is Indiana, say, or Connecticut—some red areas, more blue. Less than bliss, better than disaster. We are arguably, to my wide-ish range of reference, Everycouple.

Nor is Will the Very Bad Man that I've made him out to be. Rather, like every other male I know, he is merely a Moderately Bad Man, the kind of man who will leave his longboat-sized shoes directly in the flow of our home's traffic so that one day I'll trip over them, break my neck, and die, after which he'll walk home from the morgue, grief-stricken, take off his shoes with a heavy heart, and leave them in the center of the room until they kill the housekeeper. Everyman.

Still, beneath the thumpingly ordinary nature of our marriage—Everymarriage—runs the silent chyron of divorce. It's the scarlet concept, the closely held contemplation of nearly every woman I know who has children who have been out of diapers for at least two years and a husband who won't be in them for another 30. It's the secret reverie of a demographic that freely discusses postpartum depression, eating disorders, and Ambien dependence (often all in the same sentence) with the plain candor of golden brown toast. In a let-it-all-hang-out culture, this is the given that stays tucked in.

This is the Mid-Wife Crisis.

Mind you, when I say Mid-Wife Crisis, I mean the middle-of-married-life kind, not the kind where you go to Yale to learn how to legally brandish a birthing stool. As one girlfriend remarked, it's the age of rage—a period of high irritation that lasts roughly one to two decades. As a colleague e-mailed me, it's the simmering underbelly of resentment, the 600-pound mosquito in the room. At a juncture where we thought we should have unearthed some modicum of certainty, we are turning into the Clash. If I go will there be trouble? If I stay will it be double? Should I stay or should I go?

Our mothers knew better than to ponder such questions, at least not out loud in front of God and the hairdresser. They deliberately waited to reach the last straw until their children were grown and the house was paid for. At 25, they were ladies with lady clothes and lady hairdos—bona fide adults, the astronauts' wives. By 40, they were relics.

But we, we with our 21st-century access to youth captured in a gleaming Mason jar with a pinked square of gingham rubber-banded over the top, we are still visually tolerable if not downright irresistible when we're 30 or 35 or 40. If you believe the fashion magazines—which I devoutly do—even 50- and 60-year-olds are (lick finger, touch to imaginary surface, make sizzle noise) pretty hot tickets.

We are also tickets with jobs and disposable income. If we jump ship now, we're still attractive prospects who may have another shot at happiness. There's just that tricky wicket of determining whether eternal comfort resides in the tried-and-true or whether the untried will be truer.

Our mothers, so old too young, believed that marriage was the best they could get. We, the children of mothers who settled (or were punished for not settling), wonder: Is this as good as it gets?

Our mothers feared being left alone. We crave time alone. Alone-time is the new heroin.

"What are we doing here?"

We were groomed to think bigger and better—achievement was our birthright—so it's small surprise that our marriages are more freighted. Marriage and its cruel cohort, fidelity, are a lot to expect from anyone, much less from swift-flying us. Would we agree to wear the same eyeshadow or eat in the same restaurant every day for a lifetime? Nay, cry the villagers, the echo answers nay. We believe in our superhood. We count on it.

So, did our feminist foremothers set us up for failure? Or were they just trying to empower us so that we wouldn't buy into the notion of having to be a better better half?

Either way, many of us semi–bought into it. As the tail end of the baby boomers/mavericks of Gen X, we still had one foot in the Good Girl pond, or at least the wet footprints leading out of it. In the beginning, we felt obliged to join the race to have it all; being married was an integral part of the contest and heaven forfend we should be disqualified.

Flash-forward to ten years later, when we discover that we can get it all but whose harebrained scheme was this anyway? We can get jobs, get pregnant, get it done. We can try—with varying levels of success—to get sleep, get fit, get control, and get those important Me-moments where one keeps a journal with thought-provoking lists that go "I'm a woman first, a mother second, a laundress third." We get upset, we get over it. What we don't always get is: Why.

My high-powered, high-earning friend discovers that her magnificently indolent husband has been having an affair with a coworker; she threatens to give him the heave-ho, demurs when he demands that she pay the rent on his new apartment, and decides to work it out. For now.


A woman I know, the stay-at-home wife of a mogul—a really nice mogul with multiple houses, a jet, a chef, the whole pizza pie—throws it all over, packs up her two young children, and leaves him in search of greater satisfaction.


I watch in frustration as my son desperately tries to talk to Will through a newspaper or computer screen or whatever other large, flat surfaces fathers place between themselves and filial communication, and yet I know in my heart that I would be mightily hard-pressed to remove this father from his son's house.


Reasons and rationalizations abound and rebound. It doesn't matter whether the infractions are big or small. At a certain point, we stop asking why and start asking how. How did it come to this? How much longer can I go on? When there are no hows left, the jig is up.

I recently stood by as a designer, a mother in her 40s, announced to a group of women that she was divorcing her husband. The women's faces flickered with curiosity, support, recognition, and—could it be?—yearning. Not a one of us suggested that she try harder to make it work. No voice murmured, "What a shame."

Because it isn't a shame. Divorce is no longer the shame that spits stain upon womanly merit. Conventional wisdom decrees that marriage takes work, but it doesn't take work, it is work. It's a job—intermittently fulfilling and annoying, with not enough vacation days. Divorce is a job, too (with even fewer vacation days). It's a matter of weighing your options.

A friend once compared the prospect of leaving her husband to leaving her child's private school: The school wasn't entirely to her liking, but her daughter was happy there; it wasn't what she'd expected, but applying to other schools involved a lot of costly, complicated paperwork and the nagging uncertainty of whether another school would accept her and/or really be that much better.

Another friend viewed divorce as being akin to an extended juice fast: You're intrigued but skeptical, admiring yet apprehensive. Is it dangerous? Does it work? You're not completely sold, but then again, you could envision yourself attempting it down the road.

What this says to me (other than: my friends sure do come up with awfully good metaphors!) is that women don't view divorce as a scary, shadowy behemoth. It's an unpalatable yet manageable task—like changing schools or extreme dieting—that may or may not yield a better result.

To be sure, there will be throngs of angry women who will decry me for plunging a stake into the heart of holy matrimony. "My husband is my lifeline," I've heard said (and that's bad news for the aorta). "My husband and I never fight" is another marital chestnut—again, bad news (not to mention a big fat lie), since according to the experts, the strongest relationships are the ones in which people can continually agree to disagree. "My husband is my best friend," others will aver.

No. Your husband is not your best friend. Your best friend is your best friend. If your husband were your best friend, what would that make your best friend—the dog? When a woman tells me that her husband is her best friend, what I hear is: I don't really have any friends.

But if self-delusion is your particular poison, well, then that's fine, too. Just make sure that when you phone your life-order in, you say, "One self-delusion, please," as opposed to "One perfect marriage." Fantasy, as we all know, doesn't deliver.

Because in the end, that's basically what it's all about: getting your order right. Our day comes down to choices—and it's finally dawning on the long-term wives of the world that divorce may be the last-standing woman's right to choose. We can admit that our marriages aren't lambent, lyrical ice-dancing routines and still decide to push on together to the final flying sit spin. We also realize that divorce is an alternative that's fully within reach, be it now or later or never. The more readily we acknowledge the solid utility of marriage (as one friend's husband put it, "I'm essentially a checkbook and a sperm bank—but I'm okay with that!"), the more ably we can splinter the box of marital fantasy that makes us feel stuck, trapped, obliged. One eloquent swing of the ax and happiness is thrust firmly back into our own hands.

This is not to say dismantling one's marriage will automatically bring happiness; it's the idealization of marriage that needs to be shredded, along with its accompanying bumper sticker WIVES MAKE BETTER WOMEN. If we stay, we stay because we decide to, not because our ankles and wrists have been locked into societal expectations. If, after various efforts, we finally leave, we have the confidence to be the leavers and not the left.

Having choices is a cornerstone of strength: Choosers won't be beggars. "Thinking about divorce is kind of like living in New York City with its museums and theater and culture," a doctor friend of mine said. "You may never actually go to any of these places, but for some reason, just the idea that you could if you wanted to makes you feel better."

Maybe one day, marriage—like the human appendix, male nipples, or your pinky toes—will become a vestigial structure that will, in a millennium or two, be obsolete. Our great-great-great-grandchildren's grandchildren will ask each other in passing, "Remember marriage? What was its function again? Was it that maladaptive organ that intermittently produced gastrointestinal antigens and sometimes got so inflamed that it painfully erupted?"

Yes. Yes it was.

Until that day of obsolescence, we can confront the dilemma and consider the choice a privilege. Once upon a time is the stuff of fairy tales. As for happily ever after—see appendix.

Mar 8, 2010

Relationship Matters: Is Dishonesty sometimes better?

It is tempting, if we've done something that we KNOW will upset our partner, to want to lie to them about it. "It’ll just upset him/her," you may think to yourself. ...rationalize that we are shielding our partner from harm by not divulging this information.

What we are really doing, though, is shielding ourselves from the consequences of our actions. Our partners have a right to make his or her own decision how to act, and how to behave, and this is based on a trusting relationship with us.

...partner deserves to have a full view of the situation to decide how to live a day to day life with us. it is up to us to be open and provide our partner with that clear, honest view.

Mar 1, 2010


Many moons ago, on one of our many drives between Portland and Seattle while dating, Matt & I were having a discussion about our divorces, the pain, life, kids, meeting each other again. I turned to him and said that all the pain, heartache, the lessons, I could see then, were for a purpose. That even some of the pain during childhood, were preparation for our life together, raising our 5 kids together. It was one of the few moments that I've seen Matt cry and it will forever be stuck in my memory banks as a moment of deep revelation. Here is an excerpt from a book I bought for Matt but started to read myself. (Rebecca)

From In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day - Mark Batterson

"Here's the point: God is in the resume building business. He is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities. But those God given opportunities often come disguised as man-eating lions. And how we react when we encounter those lions will determine our destiny. We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges. Or we can chase our God ordained destiny by seizing the god ordained opportunity.

As I look back on my own life, I recognize this simple truth: The greatest opportunities were the scariest lions. Part of me has wanted to play it safe, but I've learned that taking no risks is the greatest risk of all.

Giving up a full ride scholarship at the U of Chicago to transfer to a small Bible college was a huge risk. Asking my wife to marry me was a huge risk. Packing all of our..belongings...and moving to WA DC with no place to live and no guaranteed salary..huge risk. Each of our children...risk.

....But when I look in the rearview mirror, I realize that the biggest risks were the greatest opportunities. Some of those life altering decisions caused sleepless nights. The steps of faith were accompanied by acute fear that caused nausea. We experienced some financial hardships that required miraculous provision. And we had to pick ourselves up & dust ourselves off after falling flat on our faces a few times.

But those were the moments that I came alive. Those were the moment when God set the stage. Those were the moments that changed the trajectory of my life.

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