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What Do You Have in Common with a Low-Income Indian Mother? More Than You Think

Imagine this: You wake up early, as always, to prepare breakfast for your family. Wiping the sleep from your eyes you shuffle to the kitchen...

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Imagine this: You wake up early, as always, to prepare breakfast for your family. Wiping the sleep from your eyes you shuffle to the kitchen and light the stove—out comes billowing black smoke that immediately fills the room. Business as usual. You put on a pot of water to boil porridge. Your 3-year-old is now awake and comes over to watch you cook. They lean against soot-blackened walls and cough chronically as you continue cooking, learning how it’s done. You try to keep low, below the acrid smoke, as you feed the stove and stir the porridge, eyes watering. Breakfast should be ready soon, which is good because the rest of the family is waking up. As the porridge simmers, your mind turns to the day ahead—fetching wood, carrying water, going to market, preparing dinner… Overhead the coal-black thatch roof crouches over you, suspended on a pillow of smoke, but you pay it no mind. After all, it’s been that way since before you were born.
Smoke is known to be toxic. It kills young children around the world at a rate exceeded only by the drama and trauma of childbirth. The negative impact on adult heart disease and life expectancy from cooking in kitchens such as this is well documented. To those who understand the ramifications of breathing smoke and who, importantly, have exposure to other cooking methods, the harm is literally written on the soot-covered wall.
But that’s just the point. You, and the billions of other people who routinely cook their meals in this fashion, don’t know any other way. Your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all cooked like this. And even when you and your peers are informed as to the harm of your approach, you persist. It seems far-fetched to think that a pervasive and ancient cultural practice could be such a vicious killer. Besides, it’s what you know and are comfortable with—it’s what everyone does. So you continue, and the lungs of your family continue to fill with smoke.

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School Safety Takes More Than Guns, It Requires Attention to the Deep Roots of Violence

If our sole response to guns in schools is more security personnel, then our only plan is to stop a rampage with brute force.


In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, where 20 young children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman, the issue of school safety is on the mind of every parent and educator. No one disputes that our schools must be safe and our children must feel safe inside of them. But the debate over how to achieve that goal has become a national conversation with many ideas, from allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons to stationing attack dogs inside schools.

Here in Los Angeles, we have increased police patrols in schools and this week, Superintendent John Deasy will put a proposal before the School Board to hire 1,087 new part-time aides at elementary, middle, and span campuses. This staff will be performing security duties as well as conflict mediation. As the Los Angeles Unified School Board representative for District 4, I support adding this additional layer of security to our schools and will support adding school police officers to middle and high schools as well. But our schools and our children will not be safe until we take a holistic and comprehensive approach to ending violence by increasing mental health services and focusing on social-emotional learning models (SEL) that are proven to decrease problem behaviors and increase academic success.

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Should Colleges Give Grades For Emotional Intelligence?

Asheville-Buncombe TCC plans to give grades on soft skills like getting along with others and being on time.


When we talk about educating our way out of the skills gap, the discussion tends to focus on how we funnel more students into science or technology majors or helping current workers gain in-demand skills. But companies aren't just looking for employees with specific content knowledge and skills. They want folks with "soft skills"—emotional intelligence and social graces—too. So if we need to educate and train the next generation to be ready for the 21st century workforce, should colleges be emphasizing and giving grades on those too?

That's the plan at North Carolina's Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. According to Inside Higher Ed, the school intends to give "workplace readiness certificates" to students who demonstrate mastery of soft skills.

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