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|Youth Today: The 8 R's: Building Community Within Schools||
By Karen Pittman, June 1999
“Shoelace monitor.” This is the new job that a group of four-year-olds asked their teacher to post so they could apply. Their logic: Lots of kids still can’t tie their shoes well. The teacher spends time tying shoes, straining her back and cutting into playground time. The solution: Certify lace tie-ers to help.
|Youth Today: The Algebra of Development||
By Karen Pittman, July 1998
“Youth development is what you’d do for your own kid on a good day. We don’t need a fancy definition to know what to do.” This practical advice was offered recently by Hugh Price, president of the National Urban League. He’s right. We don’t need a fancy definition. We need a functional equation.
|Youth Today: The Black Table||
By Karen Pittman, May 1998
Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? This question was the theme of a paper I wrote 25 years ago for a psych class at Oberlin College — the first white college to admit blacks. It was a question I was asked frequently, as one who was not always, or even often at the “black” table. It was one of my daughter’s key queries when she came home on her first break from Oberlin three years ago, and the theme of a talk I just gave to the prospective students of color being courted by my alma mater. It is also the title of a recent book, written by a Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a black female psychologist, teacher, trainer and advocate who happens to be my cousin. Clearly this is a longstanding question in my family. But it is not just my family.
|Youth Today: The Cost of Being Certain||
By Karen Pittman, September 1998
Certainty, not cost, is what undergirds public support for measures that lock teens away for life. And certainty, not cost, is the key to any effort to build sustainable community resources to support youth development.
Cost-effectiveness research is certainly important: Showing the short-term and long-term benefits of investment, the benefits of investing in one strategy over another, the benefits of doing something versus nothing. But in the end it is certainty that is needed.
|Youth Today: The Education Dilemna||
By Karen Pittman, November/December 1996
Vindicated. Academic competence really is not enough. Japanese students have it. Yet Japanese business and civic leaders are looking for more.
|Youth Today: The Importance of Family||
By Karen Pittman, March 2000
My mom died in early February. The death of a parent is cause for much reflection. In my case, this reflection has reaffirmed the importance of family — an institution that we in youth work are often accused of slighting, if not intentionally sidestepping.
|Youth Today: The Message May Be the Medium||
By Karen Pittman, January 2001
“Has Sarah lost her mind?” This quote — referring to Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) — opened a Washington Post story about a provocative series of public service advertisements launched by the campaign. The ads, developed to spark conversation among teens about the possible consequences of sex, feature controversial words printed in large letters across pictures of young people. The words are embedded in small-print sentences like: “Condoms are CHEAP. If we’d used one, I wouldn’t have to tell my parents I’m pregnant.”
|Youth Today: The Power of Engagement||
By Karen Pittman, September 1999
“Problem-free isn’t fully prepared.” I coined this phrase more than a decade ago to explain quickly to diverse audiences the fundamental difference between the goals of prevention and preparation, and the practices of working from strengths rather than addressing deficits. It stuck. I have threatened to have bumper stickers made, but haven’t.
|Youth Today: The Problem that Won't Go Away||
By Karen Pittman, May/June 1996
It’s back. Henry Foster’s appointment as unpaid advisor to the Clinton-backed National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy ensures that pregnancy is, once again, a national topic. Should it be? Yes. But will this round of attention have lasting impact on the problem? The reality quotient — the relationship between proposed solutions and basic facts — remains depressingly low.
|Youth Today: They Won’t Stay Outside Forever: Black Young Men and Unemployment||
On Saturday, Jan. 30, Washington, D.C., got its second snowstorm in six weeks. Not nearly as big as the first (only 4 to 5 inches) – but big enough that school openings were delayed the next Monday.