Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What's missing from this picture?

Although I am not a member of a teachers union - either at the national, state, or local level - my wife has not taken that plunge. As such, she continues to receive the union rags that have stopped coming my way. This is fine by me, because I am often amused by the pablum that is written by these birdcage liners.
After reading the January/February 2010 edition of NEA Today, which is put out by the National Education Association, I was absolutely appalled by the article which chronicled the travails of the family you see pictured on the cover.

Meet mom Juanell, and her four children, Chassity, Chauncey, Chaddwick, and Chancellor. The article lists their many challenges: Juanell can only find part-time work at big box stores; she has four children to take care of, including 10 year-old Chaddwick, who has autism; and most challenging of all is that, as the cover story headline says, the family has dealt with homelessness.

The article goes to great pains to verbally illustrate how awful homelessness can be - for a single mother raising her four children, for being one of the four children trying to do homework in a homeless shelter, for all the family members having to experience the humility and humiliation of admitting that they are homeless and need help. It truly was heartbreaking to read what these children had to endure. The author of the article also did her best to show what strong resolve and dedication Juanell, the mother, has toward caring for her children. Says Juanell in the article,
"Nobody wants to say they're homeless. I have a big issue with pride, believe me. But I look at my little people here and say, 'Okay, if it means they're going to get what they need....'"
However, for all the detail that the article's author put into explaining the experiences and hardships faced by this homeless family, one blaring detail was totally and conspicuously missing: the Man of the House.

Where is the father? Was Juanell ever married? Did he leave? Did he ever show up? Was there a divorce or death? Is he in prison? Are the children all from the same father? Nothing was mentioned or even alluded to about the male component that was necessary for the existence of these children.

With that information being totally glossed over, the article naturally made no attempt to explain how having no father or husband in their lives contributed to the very homelessness this family was facing; no mention was made of any responsibility or poor decisions this mother may have had in her role toward making her family homeless. Making that kind of moral value judgement would totally rain down on the pity party that had been painted for the NEA Today readers to absorb.

The fact is that one of the surest ways to make yourself homeless or teeter on the edge of being homeless is to be an uneducated single mother who has lots of kids she can't afford. And the greatest tragedy of all this is what Juanell's choices can possibly do to her children.

According to Ann Coulter, who did much research concerning single parenthood for her book Guilty: Liberal "Victims" And Their Assault on America, choosing to become a single mother is a disaster for children and the country those children will populate as adults. For you Ann Coulter haters, these statistics are not her own; they are footnoted if you care to check:
Various studies have come up with slightly different numbers, but all the figures are grim. According to the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, children from single-parent families account for 63 percent of all youth suicides, 70 percent of all teenage pregnancies, 71 percent of all adolescent chemical/substance abuse, 80 percent of all prison inmates, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children...

A study cited in the Village Voice produced similar numbers. It found that children brought up in single-mother homes 'are five times more likely to commit suicide, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape (for the boys), 20 times more likely to end up in prison, and 32 times more likely to run away from home.' Single motherhood is like a farm team for future criminals and social outcasts.
This neutral oh-woe-is-they stance that the article's author took toward Juanell and her four brood did a disservice toward addressing the issue of what can be done to stop this kind of homelessness in the first place, rather than dealing with the fall-out after the fact. In my opinion, a disservice was also done with the choice of the photograph gracing the magazine's cover. The directions from the photographer or whoever was in charge of the shoot just scream at me from the image: OK, I need you all to look condescending, smug, and victimized. I love it! Stay just like that! I get enough students disrespectfully rolling their eyes at me in my classroom; I don't need the daughter on the left doing that to me in my own home.

Good Day to You, Sir


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. I first found it when you had a post about Ted Kennedy. I almost didn't read it since I thought it would glorify the awful senator.

I can almost "see" the NEA headline, "We ain't got no place to stay." Like these poorfolks were accidentally overlooked when McMansions were being handed out.


Anonymous said...

we shouldn't judge others! just pray for them and their parents and be happy that your kids have both parents to look up to and to support them......... this isn't the kids fault nor the parents they all just need Jesus in their life's like we have!!

Chanman said...

I never said this was the kids' fault - in fact, I specifically mentioned that I felt bad for the kids in this whole situation.

And yes, Anonymous, we should judge others, especially when we are paying for the consequences of their actions. Again, since the article failed to articulate the family's circumstances, I have to assume that this woman made the decision to have four children without the prospect of a stable husband or homelife. She had four chances to make the right decision, and each time, she made the choice not to do so. And my tax dollars pay for those bad choices, so YOU BET I am going to JUDGE this woman. If we judged more in these situations like we once did, we wouldn't have the illegitimacy and breakdown of families that we did see nearly as much of in the past.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Chanman!
I believe you need a larger forum for your opinions.


Chanman said...

Error - the last sentence of my previous comment should say:

...that we did NOT see nearly as much of in the past.

Anonymous said...

Are we not allowed to question one another or proclaim moral absolutes? Did we use the line, "judge not" with Bernie Madoff or Tiger Woods? The issue is perhaps a rush a judgment and a lack of compassion, but I don't see this. We are afraid to ask hard questions which might insinuate that someone has fallen morally.

Calvin is reported as saying, "We are not only permitted, but are even bound, to condemn all sins.... It is His will that we should PROCLAIM the sentence which He pronounces on the actions of men: only we must preserve such modesty towards each other, as to make it manifest that He is the only 'Lawgiver and Judge'"

Another author put it like this: "So what does Matthew 7:1 mean? In this context, Jesus is forbidding forming or expressing conclusions about others by those who won't see or deal with their own sins. Matthew 7:3-5 says, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?...You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly enough to take the speck out of your brother's eye. If, on the basis of Matthew 7:1, you refuse to form and express (when necessary) moral opinions, you are confessing your refusal to see and deal with your own sins. The refusal to exercise moral discernment is a confession of moral bankruptcy! May God embolden you to stop tolerating sin in yourself and others, to your hurt and to theirs!
If, on the basis of Matthew 7:1, you refuse to form and express (when necessary) moral opinions, you are confessing your refusal to see and deal with your own sins. The refusal to exercise moral discernment is a confession of moral bankruptcy! May God embolden you to stop tolerating sin in yourself and others, to your hurt and to theirs!"

When we aske questions of someone, we must be sure to ask them humbly, recognizing that we too have fallen short of the glory of God.

However, it is difficult to suspend frustration at a community that births 70+% of their children out of wedlock and are disproportionately represented on homeless, poverty, and social benefits charts. Would this be the case if fathers were around or if they were married? It did not seem to be when the African American male was better represented in his community.

In Juanell's case, I think a serious dose of compassion would fall from Chanman, and most of his readers, if we found that Juanell was a widow, or her husband left her, etc. But we just don't know because the reporter probably never asked.

But her kids deserve a huge amount of support. If they were my students though I would tell that if they did not want to experience their mother's poverty, they should finish school, abstain, go to college, and leave the hood behind.

If that is judgmental . . .


Texas Truth said...

Chanman: I noticed the lack of a father/husband/baby's daddy/sperm donor immediately. I think we have responsibility and a right to question they following: What gives this woman and her children a right to a national forum without the article giving us all the facts? I do not blame the children, but I guess (and my experience as an educator has taught me in many more cases than not) this woman made the decision to have four children without the means to care for them. If she could not provide for them, she should not have had them. My guess is that she allowed sex to rule her life without thinking of the results. Perhaps a little more education and a little less sexual passion (or lust) would have made a better life for her and hers. We are allowed to question and judge all we want. After all, we are supporting her lifestyle and that of her children.

Hube said...

Chan: I usually just chuck the national NEA mag in the circular file immediately ... b/c of the nonsense that is this cover story.

Anonymous said...

I teach in a school that is about 70 percent just such families. It has gotten harder and harder to do so and a reason I am leaving the teaching profession. Teachers are always blamed for the results we get from students who have trouble getting to class, staying in class, and doing the classwork due to the family circumstances. I have worked so hard for 21 years to make a difference in these kids' lives, but I can't see much success in all that hard work. The tide just keeps coming in.

Anonymous said...

I must add to Texas Truth: I had a sub a few weeks back, a young lady I know very well who has been married for a few years (I was at the wedding) but has no children. Some of my students were badgering her about not having children, that if she really loved her husband, there would be children. The students saw no need to even be married because if you love someone, you have babies with them and that seals the deal. We discussed this at length later because she finds it so hard to believe that kids who come out of such homes, and see the consequences, don't have a desire to do something different.

Chanman said...

Thank you for your candid insight. That story about your sub's experience was eye-opening for me.

Polski3 said...

Something must be done, soon, to reinstate the word RESPONSIBILITY into the national conscience. Across the globe, men/males are getting bashed. Look at the many microloan financial programs; they loan mostly to women. Why? They claim the men would drink it or gamble it away or somehow, lose the money and not repay the loan. Look at this country (USA): when do we hold men/males accountable for their actions ? Why are males who are in prison have the "right" to marry and father children they cannot financially or emotionally support? If our governments want to do something to encourage families, family values and to improve the economic forcast for our nation, why haven't they created tax incentives for families that are intact, for children showing academic growth and achievements?

As for our youth, where are the positive male role models ? Do school bring in successful male role models to talk to the boys about what it really means to get an education, work hard and be a responsible man?

Anyhow, as educators, we have some of this responsiblity. My students see me as someone who is almost always there (going to work), happily married (to a woman), financially and emotionally supporting my family and being a role model to them. Way too many of them don't have this; and tragically, it seems that "class" is a factor. Low social-economic class of peoples seem not to have bought into this.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I think we all tread this road. I, too, have thrown off the shackles of the NEA. I still have to pay a "fair share fee" but I get some of the political money back. Depriving them of one cent is heartwarming. The union has done untold damage to education and their magazine is the worst collection of left wing gibberish I've ever read. Talk about indoctrination. Good post.

Anonymous said...

As an aside...I love my union. Without it I would not have the great salary and benefits that I so enjoy and which make it possible for me to take early retirement from teaching at 57 1/2. My union has always sided with me and helped me in many ways so I am definitely not bashing it.

Chanman said...

I have no problem with a union doing its job, like negotiating a contract. I don't belong to the teachers union because I don't like the way they spent a significant portion of my dues on left-wing political activity that has nothing to do with the purpose of the teachers unions. The only way I could get out of having my dues fund that activity was to quit the union. I still have insurance coverage and everything else a CTA/NEA member has; I just don't belong to those unions. Instead, I belong to the Association of American Educators (AAE). Check them out at

Don, American said...

Is "Chassity" a bastardization of the name Chastity? (When I quit the NEA I felt significantly cleaner, too.)

Chanman said...

Hey Don,
I don't know, but it's quite obvious that this mother did not take a vow of chassity!

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