Karen Pittman's Youth Today Columns

Karen Pittman, executive director of the Forum, used to regularly write a column for Youth Today, the newspaper on youth work. This archive includes articles from her entire stint writing for Youth Today and covers a variety of topics related to children and youth.

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Youth Today: Helping Youth Tell the Truth

By Karen Pittman, September 2004

The truth hurts sometimes, but it shouldn’t hurt the truth tellers. At least that’s what we’ve been led to believe. Not so for the Tiffany Schley, the valedictorian of a Brooklyn high school who was denied her diploma after using her air time at graduation to tell school officials and parents that she and her peers were graduating in spite of, not because of, the school system.

2004-09-01
Youth Today: Hazardous Waste

By Karen Pittman, January/February 1995

1995-01-01
Youth Today: Good, Better, Best. Have We Let it Rest?

By Karen Pittman, September 1997

What is best practice? This was the question put to us by a group of South African programs recently convened to discuss the topic. It turned out to be difficult to answer.

To many abroad, the United States is known as the land of programs. “Best practice”, as exported from the United States, is often seen as synonymous with “best programs.” Defined this narrowly, the idea of promoting best practice has a right-wrong quality that sounds less about building on what works than about replacing what exists. Understandably, grass-roots programs, in the U.S. and abroad, see themselves being assessed or franchised out of business.

1997-09-01
Youth Today: Good for Business, Bad for Kids

By Karen Pittman, November 2004

The Washington Post, Sept. 30: Mayor Anthony Williams gleefully announces that Washington has won the competition to be the new home of the Montreal Expos. According to the Post, Williams has flown in the face of prevailing baseball economics by offering to publicly subsidize stadium construction at a time when most cities are getting out of the business. For this, he promised to raise $440 million, making it the most generous offers in recent history.

2004-11-01
Youth Today: Getting Organized, Getting Heard, Getting Results

By Karen Pittman, May 2005

Polling consistently shows that the public is prepared to invest in its young people. But Congress consistently cuts the budgets of youth programs, while special interests such as makers of ceiling fans, archery equipment, sonar fish finders and tackle boxes receive bigger tax cuts. I consider this a failure of democracy.

2005-06-01
Youth Today: Generators or Batteries?

By Karen Pittman, July/August 1996

If we are a profession, what do we profess? And what are the implications for training? These were the questions asked of the 150 youth workers gathered in South Africa in late March to discuss a national youth work policy. Equality, opportunities, empowerment, self-determination were the answers to the first question. Youth work, they concluded, is about living with youth and modeling a way of life — influencing young people, demanding greatness, building relationships, modeling principles, creating opportunities, encouraging and allowing leadership and empowerment. Of equal importance, it is about creating places, spaces and opportunities for young people to practice and reap the benefits of that way of life.

1996-07-01
Youth Today: Free-Choice Learning

By Karen Pittman, September 2002

2002-09-01
Youth Today: First to Guess, Last to Know

By Karen Pittman, May 2002

There are moments when all your youth work training fails you. I just had one.

My son is one of the most wonderfully bright, witty, head-on-straight people I know. Of my three children, he’s the one I lecture the least. Not surprisingly, he’s the one I talk to the most.

My son is also gay.

2002-05-01
Youth Today: Fighting Child Poverty with Public Leadership

By Karen Pittman, June 2006

The British Government recently made an incredible announcement: It apologized for only managing to reduce child poverty 17 percent over the past five years rather than 25 percent — the progress needed to be on a straight path towards the government’s stated goal of eliminating child poverty by 2020. Officials have promised to redouble their efforts. Sometimes it’s difficult to live on this side of the pond.

2006-06-01
Youth Today: Extending Learning—Will We Ever Get it Right?

By Karen Pittman, October 2007

I had a few hours to read, so I pulled out the folder into which I cram all of the things that catch my eye and might make good material for a column.

Here’s what I read recently:

2007-10-01