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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Multi-Generational Family Ties



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We’ve heard about all the college grads moving back home, and about the sandwich generation caring for parents and children. But more and more, it seems to be the grandparents who are making the necessary sacrifices to ensure financial stability

Grandparents helping their children and grandchildren is nothing new; that’s what family is for. But the extent of the support — whether it’s providing a place to live, caring for young grandkids, covering back-to-school shopping or paying college tuition — has increased with the fragile economy.

At the height of the Great Recession, nearly two-thirds of America’s grandparents were providing an estimated $370 billion in financial support to their grandkids over the previous five years, according to a [2011] survey by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. That averages out to $8,661 per grandparent household.

And now it’s not elders moving in with their kids because of financial straits, it’s the other way around.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, approximately 51 million Americans, or 16.7 percent of the population, live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation, under one roof. The Pew analysis also reported a 10.5 percent increase in multigeneration households from 2007 to 2009. And a 2012 survey by national home builder PulteGroup found that 32 percent of adult children expect to eventually share their house with a parent.

“It used to be older people whose money had run out who were living with their children, and now it’s the next generation that can’t keep up,” says Louis Tenenbaum, a founder of the Aging in Place Institute, which promotes “multigen” remodeling.

And grandparents are thinking about their grandchildren’s future, as they are contributing to 529s more and more.

Parents still contribute the lion’s share of funds invested in 529 accounts. But contributions from grandparents now make up about 9.5 percent of the total, according to the most recent data from the Financial Research Corp, which tracks 529 investments. . . The trend isn’t lost on financial services companies, and many are starting to market 529 investment opportunities directly to grandparents as a result.

Here’s a list of guidelines for financially assisting children and grandchildren.

 

 

 

Prince William Needs Lessons on the Car Seat



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On the Family Finance Front



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The Wall Street Journal had two pieces on family finances yesterday that caught my eye. The first from Rebekah Bell is about graduating from college debt-free. She starts her analysis with these sobering statistics: 

Figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reveal that 37 million Americans have student loan debt. About two-thirds of students receiving bachelor’s degrees borrow to fund their education, with the average student debt at an all-time high of $26,000. Total student-loan debt is estimated to be $1 trillion.

Only 38% of borrowers are making payments on their loans. The rest are either still in school, postponing payments or not paying them back. Almost one in 10 students who started repayment in 2009 defaulted within two years. At least 40% of student borrowers put off a major purchase such as a car or home because they couldn’t afford it, and many are delaying marriage and families.

She goes on to suggest several strategies to help avoid crushing college-loan debt, from accumulating as many “non-premium rate” educational credits from varying sources (including high schools, online courses, and summer-school classes at a local community college) to several ideas for generating income during your college days. Read more here.

Then I saw an opinion piece by Demetria Gallegos about parents’ veto power on their children’s purchases. With kids carrying hefty balances as they stash away generous gifts from grandma and money from lucrative babysitting gigs, it can be difficult to teach them to forego pricey items and to think about the future. 

[My husband] John and I have had to articulate a policy around savings, and how the girls can spend it.

The general principle: “Until they’re 18, we have the right to deny them spending it on things we don’t approve of,” says John. “Our name is on the bank account.”

The girls buy this argument – up to a point.

“I understand if you keep us from using it on things like drugs, but since it’s our money, it should be our decision,” says Emily. . . .

Jamie, 16, agrees that John and I are within our rights to control withdrawals. “You should have more influence in our bank accounts,” she says. “You’ve been putting money in that account for years. That’s your investment in us, so you should have a say in it. . . .Our insistence on holding the reins, however, doesn’t mean that the money is untouchable. In the same way their allowance teaches them to manage cash in hand, we want the savings account to give them lessons in delayed gratification. 

I know it’s a struggle in our household. More here.

 

 

 

Men and Women are the Same — Except When Women Are Better



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A recent New York Times article makes a fascinating claim: that females make males more generous, brothers who have sisters are more sympathetic, and corporate execs who have baby girls are less tight-fisted than execs who have bouncing baby boys.

But wait just one second. Don’t liberals tell us all the time that gender is a social consctruct and that men and women don’t have unique roles? 

So maybe liberals believe men and women are the same, except — of course — when women are better.

Presumably, this is an interesting, feel-good article that makes us all happy that there are males and females who complement each other by playing their specific gender roles. But wait just one second.

Liberals tell us all the time that – as in a recent BuzzFeed article — that men and women are the same.

- See more at: http://rare.us/story/french-men-and-women-are-the-same-except-when-women...

Presumably, this is an interesting, feel-good article that makes us all happy that there are males and females who complement each other by playing their specific gender roles. But wait just one second.

Liberals tell us all the time that – as in a recent BuzzFeed article — that men and women are the same.

- See more at: http://rare.us/story/french-men-and-women-are-the-same-except-when-women...

Showtime’s Virgin Tales Shows Ultra-Conservative Sexual Mores -- For Better or Worse?



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Showtime has a new documentary that shows a subculture that doesn’t believe in even  kissing before marriage:

The documentary, slated to air on Showtime later this month, follows the Wilson family, American Evangelical Christians who believe not only in waiting until their wedding night to have sex, but even to share their first kiss. “Virgin Tales” focuses on two years in the lives of the Wilson parents, founders of the Purity Ball, as they prepare their seven children for their vision of romance and marriage. 

“It’s interesting not just with the physical aspect but also a psychological and certainly these days there is a political aspect to it,” director Mirjam von Arx told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I was astonished to learn how many people there are that are sharing their beliefs, and not only in America, but there is a movement gaining strength even aboard like in Europe. A lot of parents say their kids are a lot more conservative than when they were young.”

Writer E. Stephen Burnett, however, does not think this is a good thing:

For some Christians, those beliefs are one and the same. But are biblical commands to walk by the Spirit in light of the Gospel, treat spiritual family with purity, and repent of sexual sins, no longer enough? Do we also need (Talmud-like?) rules about not even kissing before marriage, human fathers acting as family “priests,” and women refusing to attend college?

He  goes on to express further concerns and dubs this movement the “Romance Prosperity Gospel:”

  • Why do many abstinence promotions focus only on women’s purity? Why do others emphasize fathers helping daughters, an emphasis simply foreign to Scripture?
  • Why make “documentaries” to push beliefs that are at best extra-biblical? (See also: Divided, which accuses youth ministry of not simply being a bad idea but of ruining families and churches.)
  • How does showcasing one’s virginity – encouraging others to think about a particular woman having or not having sex! — fit with biblical truths about humility and modesty?

Interesting points. However, culture is always obsessed with sex — even of the supposedly non-existent kind (for example, Preachers’ Daughters on Lifetime). In other words, I’m sure this documentary will generate much conversation amongst liberals who scoff at the idea of maintaining sexual purity. And maybe it will also cause those of us who value Biblical principles to have some soul-searching conversations as well.

See the trailer for Virgin Tales here:

 

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Two Tales of People with Disabilities Seeking Independence



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Most of us can only imagine the struggles, along with the unique joys, of raising a child with Down syndrome or another disability. One of the hardest aspects must be the decisions regarding your child’s ability to work and live outside your home.

The Washington Post had two stories recently which highlighted two aspects of these decisions. The first was a heartwarming story about a bakery in Chantilly, Va., that is employing many people with varying disabilities, giving them valuable work skills as well as some independence. 

Wildflour [is] a cafe, bakery and catering business in Chantilly where two-thirds of the employees have intellectual disabilities. Started in 1994 by a special-education teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools, the nonprofit organization has expanded to employ more than 50 people. . . . Wildflour trains them as prep cooks, packagers and greeters, and sends them home with more than just a paycheck.

The idea, said the general manager, Alberto Figueiredo Sangiorgio, is to give them marketable skills — and to build self-esteem.

“This is a job,” said Sangiorgio . . . They don’t come here to be babysat. Our expectation is they’re going to learn something and they’re going to do better than they’re doing now.”

On the other side of the coin was a story about a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome who is seeking to live with friends and not in a group home, as her parents wish.

Margaret Jean Hatch, a diminutive blonde known as “Jenny,” learned to read at the age of 6, has volunteered on political campaigns (always for Republicans) and once, after finding a job she wanted, showed up repeatedly until she got it. She also has Down syndrome, an IQ of 52 and tends to shower affection on strangers as well as friends. . . .

The case, which began in August and is set to continue this month, has captured the attention of both major advocacy groups and residents in the Hampton Roads area, who have turned the phrase “Justice for Jenny” into a mantra. For many, the legal fight is about not just who Jenny Hatch is but also whom she represents. . . .

The details of the story reveal just how difficult these decisions often are, as society tries to find a balance between protecting the vulnerable while reinforcing their personal autonomy.

Read more here and here

 

 

Children’s Chances of Upward Income Mobility? That Depends on Where You Live



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And, more accurately, on your family dynamics, your local schools, your ties to the community, and whether or not your city is an “innovation hub.” 

With income mobility, as with real estate, location matters a lot. According to a New York Times analysis of new research, a lower-income kid in the bottom 20% growing up in Atlanta has a 4% chance of making it to the top 20% vs. an 11% chance for a lower-income kid growing up in San Francisco or San Jose. In other words, depending on where you live in America, upward mobility could be at Scandinavian levels or at the lowest levels found among advanced economies.

 

Credit: The New York Times

Credit: The New York Times.

The research reveals four main reasons for a greater chance of upward mobility: dispersion of poor families amongst mixed-income families, two-parent households, better schools, and more civic involvement. Things that were not so much significant factors: liberal focal points like taxes (tax credits for the poor/higher taxes for the rich), college tuition rates, or the amount of extreme wealth in the area. 

Read here for more ideas about what an effective agenda for promoting upward mobility would include.

 

Credit: The New York Times

 

 

The Middle-School World of Instagram



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I came across this thoughtfully written blog post by Sarah Brooks thanks to GeekMom.com (which is a great site with articles ranging from “A New Bridge in Three Days? You Just Watch” to “Winners of the STEM Video Game Challenge” as well as the likes of “3 Nights of Disney Fandom to Include Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel Specials”).

She offers great advice on being aware of the perils that come with the fun of the photo-sharing site Instagram which is all the rage with middle-schoolers.

We’re no longer in world of handwritten “circle yes or no” notes between two people; your kids are living social lives on a completely public forum.

This is not new information.

But, taking it a step further: have you considered that your child is given numerical values on which to base his or her social standing? For the first time ever your children can determine their “worth” using actual numbers provided by their peers!

Let me explain . . .

Your daughter has 139 followers which is 23 less than Jessica, but 56 more than Beau. Your son’s photo had 38 likes which was 14 less than Travis’ photo, but 22 more than Spencer’s.

See what I mean? There’s a number attached to them. A ranking . . .

My intent is to dig a little deeper into the impact these sites can have on your kids. To start thinking about how to safeguard childrens’ hearts and minds against what appears to a 12 year old to be concrete numerical evidence about their value and popularity.

The author had such a big response, with so many helpful comments, that she wrote a follow-up, and also this quick primer about SnapChat.

Time to go have a conversation with a certain eighth-grader in my house . . .

 

Political Correctness at the Expense of Safety and Security



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As Jack Fowler mentioned today on The Corner, the Gatestone Institute published a story yesterday about the epidemic of rapes by British taxi drivers and the rise of sex crimes by “child grooming gangs” in the U.K. And the government and the police are often hesitant to go after the perpetrators. Why? Because they are Muslim.

Apparently these assaults on British women and children have been going on for years. As for the taxi assaults, legislation requiring the licensing of all drivers was passed five years ago, but enforcement has been lax. So unlicensed cabbies troll for unaccompanied women and then attack them. A judge has said, ”It appears that nobody can travel in minicabs with any degree of assurance of safety.”

The situation has become so dangerous that “women-only” taxi firms have started up, employing only female drivers to drive only women to their destinations.

Is this something American moms will have to face one day? Political correctness at the expense of our children’s safety? Will society place so much shame on speaking out against those Muslims who are not the peace-loving, women-respecting citizens we do know that our daughters will be left for the taking? Will law enforcement ignore crime waves perpetuated by thugs simply for fear of offending their co-religionists?

I’d like to think: never; not here. But I imagine most Brits thought the same.

Why Are Young Men So Averse to Marriage?



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It goes far beyond “getting the milk for free,” though that does play a part. Helen Smith, author of Men On Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – And Why It Matters found that it wasn’t a lack of maturity but a rational response to new societal norms.

It seems that fewer and fewer people in general are getting married these days, and even fewer men seem interested. Men no longer see marriage as being as important as they did even 15 years ago. 

According to Pew Research Center, the share of women ages eighteen to thirty-four that say having a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose nine percentage points since 1997– from 28 percent to 37%. For men, the opposite occurred. The share voicing this opinion dropped, from 35 percent to 29 percent.

The reasons why fewer men are choosing marriage range from the fact that fathers command less respect than they used to, to fears over losing male friends or losing living space. The biggest reason, however, is just that many perceive the single life to be better than ever.

Full story with more reasons here.

 

Kids Don’t Care About Color



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You may have heard about the Cheerios commercial that stirred up some racists in this country. It was referred to as a controversial commercial by some — including the makers of the video below – but most folks had absolutely no problem with the ad and thought it was adorable. (Yes, count me in.)

The lesson we should have learned from the popularity of the musical South Pacific decades ago still rings true: Kids don’t see any problem with an interracial couple.

Now, can we take the overwhelmingly positive response to this video as an indication that the claims of racism at every corner — especially in the past few days — are exaggerated? It’s definitely food for thought.

 

Newsroom: Like Watching the Inner Lives of People who Hate Me



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I was recently asked to write a weekly article following HBO’s Newsroom, a drama about an anchorman who apparently — in the first season — decided to save network news by telling the truth and covering only “important” stories. I’d heard from friends that the show leaned left. Really, left.  However, since it was by Aaron Sorkin, the creator of West Wing, I decided to give it a chance. 

Here’s why I turned down the job, and why you — quite literally — can’t pay me to watch another episode.

On the Baby Front



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Trying to prevent the deaths of infants left in their car seats.

An emergency c-section leads to a greater risk of a stillbirth in the next pregnancy, and a non-emergency c-section leads to more difficulty conceiving.

A computer-based analyzer of a baby’s cry can detect what the human ear can’t and is able to determine health issues.

Eating fish during pregnancy lowers anxiety levels.

Walking the walk: Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wa.), the only woman to give birth to two children as a congresswoman, is about to break her own record as she is expecting her third child.

In anticipation of the pending birth of a royal baby, some interesting naming trends in the U.K.

 

 

So What Happens When All Birth Control Is Free and Easily Available?



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Apparently, many women still use abortion over and over again as a means of preventing motherhood.

Such is the case in the United Kingdom, where contraceptive coverage is universal, according to The Telegraph [emphasis mine]:

Official statistics for 2012 reveal that a record 37 per cent of all abortions performed in England and Wales last year were repeat procedures.

The figures include more than 4,500 women who underwent at least their four abortions, 1,334 on at least their fifth and 33 women who have terminated nine or more pregnancies.

The story also says that the number of abortions in the U.K. has dropped slightly, more sharply among teens, but that the number of late terminations and those on the grounds of fetal abnormalty rose. Almost half were chemically induced, rather than surgically, and 91 percent were prior to 13 weeks gestation.

 

Why Are Parents So Reluctant to Have Their Kids Enter Politics?



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Certainly there are many reasons why 64 percent of American parents, according to a Gallup poll taken earlier this month don’t want a child — neither a son nor a daughter — to go into politics. But, unfortunately, Gallup didn’t ask for specific reasons.

It’s probably largely because congress is viewed so negatively these days; it’s less likeable than root canals and used-car salesmen. And women in general are less inclined to enter the fray of politics themselves, so it’s no surprise that they are even less likely than men to want their children to do so.

I find it interesting that, when you view the demographic breakdown, Republican parents are less likely than Democrats to want a child to seek political office. 

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So I pose the question, “Why?” – not because I don’t understand all the reasons not to encourage your child to run for a political position, but because I think there is a great need for good leaders. People are currently seeking office for all the wrong reasons. Good conservative leaders could help turn things around. Of course, the political arena is full of pitfalls. Of course, no one wants to see their child dragged through the muck. But we have to take back what it means to be servants of the people. There is no way that is going to happen if good parents who are raising good leaders steer them clear of legislative positions. Public offices will be dragged down to even further depths.

It would be hard for me to say whether my own children could withstand the slings and arrows. I would like to think that with our support they could. But I refuse to summarily rule it out just because too many politicians are doing the job wrong. We must be fearless or surrender to those who will prevail without merit.

Dept of Ed Supports Pregnant and Parenting Students



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A couple of weeks ago the Department of Education released new Title IX guidance geared to support the academic success of pregnant and parenting students. The National Women’s Law Center took note:

It has been 40 years since the passage of Title IX and 22 years since the Department of Education last released guidance related to pregnant and parenting students. While pregnant and parenting students are protected by the non-discrimination provisions of Title IX, many students and school administrators need a strong reminder of what is required by Title IX. The educational attainment statistics for pregnant and parenting students are staggering:

  • For female students, pregnancy is the most common family-related reason for dropping out of high school;
  • Twenty-six percent of young men and women who have dropped out of high school — and one-third of women — said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school;
  • Only 51 percent of young women who had a child before age 20 earned their high school diploma by age 22; and
  • Only 2 percent of young women who had a child before 18 earned a college degree by age 30.

The lack of educational support puts pregnant and parenting students in a precarious situation — often unemployed or underemployed, earning less, and having to rely on government benefits.

The Law Center went on to say that they receive weekly calls from students dealing with these kinds of issues, and that hopefully these new guidelines will help schools recognize their obligations to help support these students and their families.

Feminists for Life also applauded this development, as they have been advocates for the rights of pregnant and parenting students on campuses for some 19 years. They work with colleges and universities across the country in developing local resource guides, holding forums with staff and students, and offering their committed support.

Learn more about FFL’s efforts – and how you can send a pregnancy resource kit to your alma mater’s campus – here.

 

Mom Heads Org Dedicated to Preventing Kids’ Sports Injuries



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In anticipation of all the sports camps this summer, the Washington Post highlighted an organization which is headed by a mom who has seen her own daughter face the challenges of a sport injury.

More than 38 million children and teens play sports in the United States each year, according to Safe Kids Worldwide, and it’s taking a toll. About one in three kids playing team sports is injured seriously enough to miss practice or a game. Those who play multiple sports that put pressure on the same body part are at an increased risk for injury.

Kate Carr is president and chief executive of Safe Kids. She says [her daughter] Ally is trying to condition her knees to better withstand the pressure that volleyball and softball put on them.

Her organization, which works to prevent childhood injuries, is trying to raise awareness of youth sports injuries and teach children, parents and coaches how to prevent them or minimize their effects.

“We [need to] begin to help our children understand that if you want to have a lifetime of being active, you have to protect your body while you’re young,” Carr said. “If you don’t, it will either limit your ability to play this sport that you love or it will cause a lifetime of damage.”

 The story also includes a list of the causes, signs, and symptoms, as well as treatments, for the most common sports ailments and injuries.

 

Large Families Have Health and Social Benefits, Are Not as Expensive



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Colin Brazier, the British author of an upcoming release — and father of six himself — teamed up with a Swedish researcher to test some of the old theories about large families.

Not only did they find that raising children was much less expensive with each addition, but there were many health and social benefits as well. 

[R]ecent studies showed growing up with a sibling was a shield against some food allergies and serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and some cancers, but did not explain why there was not more protection for children who spend a lot of time with others in day care or school.

In a previous piece for the Daily Mail, Mr Brazier said: “One study, of half a million Army conscripts, revealed that one in ten only-children developed asthma. In the largest families the figure was closer to one in 200.”

He argued that children in larger families learned to walk and talk earlier than only children because they are encouraged by their siblings, and show greater emotional intelligence. He also said they are better at waiting their turn.

“Some of the most recent evidence even suggests that a child with a brother and/or sister will have more evolved language skills and do better at exams,” he wrote.

As a mom of seven, I am clearly biased on this one. And I sincerely believe that everyone knows what number is right for them, whether it be zero, one or 19. I also sincerely believe that too many parents buy into the prevailing sentiments that having a large family is too expensive, or that children from large families don’t get enough attention. As Clare Halpine wrote so accurately on The Corner today, we have to “re-think our negative assumptions” about raising children in today’s world.

Obviously, large families present certain limitations and have their own challenges, but if parents feel a calling to expand their family — either through another pregnancy or through adoption/fostering — they should consider letting go of the conventional constraints. They should follow their hearts.

The Lone Ranger: “Cynical. Bankrupt. Brutal. Anti-American. A Catastrophe.”



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After writing about Monsters University below, I thought I’d pass along this review of The Lone Ranger. I’m not sure, but I don’t think the author liked it. Here are the clues:

When the film first brings together the man who will be the Lone Ranger, the horse who will be called Silver and the Indian called Tonto, there’s a sequence with Tonto leading Silver and the unconscious Ranger unceremoniously dragging behind. Then the horse stops to pass excrement — before dragging the Ranger’s head right through the pile of poop.

There, in a nutshell, is the movie’s attitude toward its source material.

and

One of the most head-scratching things about this movie is that Disney had the gall to debut such explicitly anti-American fare over the Fourth of July holiday. Consider a set piece with the band playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” under a banner reading “A Nation United” at a railroad ceremony as Tonto commandeers one of the trains, in the process tearing the bandstand to pieces and ripping down the “Nation United” banner. The heroes almost literally pull apart the united nation in order to stop the bad guys.

I haven’t seen the movie, nor am I planning on seeing it.  However, I wanted to pass along the review in case you moms and dads were considering taking the kiddos.  After all, you don’t want to waste your day off from work on something that might work against the values you’re trying to instill in the kids this Independence Day weekend.

Read the whole review here.

Monsters University Is Far from Leftwing Propaganda



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Like many of you, my husband and I packed up our three kids and headed to the movie theater this weekend to see the latest Pixar movie, a sequel to Monsters, Inc. called “Monsters University.” It was a delightful little film – maybe without as much heart as other great Pixar flicks like Wall-E, Finding Nemo, or Up – that the whole family enjoyed. That’s why I was surprised to read an article by Inside Higher Ed’s Kevin Kiley who portrayed the movie as leftwing propaganda:

But more than a comment on college, Monsters University is a film about diversity, the innate differences between individuals, and the institutions and situations that help foster connections and understanding between those individuals. Which makes it fitting that the film is released today in the shadow of a potential landmark Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action expected to come next week.

The movie is about the challenge of limited talent and the realization that hard work can only take one so far – and sometimes not even as far as people who are just “born with it.” But it’s also about what students in the social and intellectual crucible of college can learn from each other and how those interactions shape worldviews and change lives.

One can walk away from the movie with the impression that the administrators and faculty at Monsters University would happily join in the amicus brief filed in the affirmative action case by a group of private university administrators who said “a diverse student body adds significantly to the rigor and depth of students’ educational experience. Diversity encourages students to question their own assumptions, to test received truths, and to appreciate the spectacular complexity of the modern world. This larger understanding prepares . . . graduates to be active and engaged citizens wrestling with the pressing challenges of the day, to pursue innovation in every field of discovery, and to expand humanity’s learning and accomplishment.”

It’s like we didn’t see the same movie. The French family felt the film was a nice send up of the modern university’s self-importance – a mockery most conservatives would applaud.  [Spoiler alert!] 

Mike Wazowski is the little one-giant-eyed green monster lovingly voiced by Billy Crystal. When he was a kid, he wanted to become a “scarer,” a monster who harnessed “scream energy” from frightened children. (The fact that this G-rated movie was able to pull off this plot without scaring my five year old was pretty impressive indeed.)  But the university professors and administrators didn’t believe he was born with the natural talent required to become a scarer. Student James P. Sullivan (John Goodman), who goes by the nickname “Sulley,” is the exact opposite of Mike. Sulley is lazy, rude, and floats by on his good name and inherent confidence.

What I loved about the movie is what Kiley disliked:

The other surprising lesson from the end of the film (Spoiler Alert) — and where it arguably makes its biggest departure from the current understanding of higher education – is that, after getting expelled from MU, Mike and Sulley manage to achieve success without earning their degrees, by working their way up the bureaucracy at Monsters Inc.

That notion certainly plays into the popular zeitgeist that questions the value of a college degree, reinforced with the Gateses and Jobses and Zuckerbergs that have captured public imagination. But it is an ending that certainly runs counter to the data. While several prominent college dropouts have made names for themselves by starting companies and creating innovative products, the idea that, in the modern economy, a pair of college dropouts could work their way up from the mailroom to the scaring floor in the world’s largest corporation strains credulity.

I guess I should admit now that I’m one of those stories that “strain credulity.”  I’ve dropped out of three colleges, my highest degree is from Henry County High School in Paris, Tennessee, yet I’ve managed by the grace of God to create a writing career with two books on the New York Times best seller lists. I almost can’t believe it either. But the idea that hard work can propel you into success is hardly leftwing propaganda. Rather, this is a deeply American idea – one that my parents taught me and their parents taught them. (In fact, my dad is another example of what I call an American success story – he dropped out of high school six times before joining the Army, getting his GED, and later getting his college degree in his fifties. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet!)

Kiley described this denigration of college as “the biggest departure from the current understanding of higher education,” which might be true.  Perhaps in some circles, the “current understanding” of college is that it’s a necessary step after high school that students must take to ensure future success. However, as college costs skyrockets “beyond credulity,” many are taking a second look at actual value of higher ed. The currently bad state of the economy doesn’t necessarily suggest that people should keep spending tens of thousands of dollars at college, only to get spat out into a faltering, jobless market. Clever students might wisely choose another route. (This would have the added benefit of avoiding the rampant liberal indoctrination prevalent in colleges today.)

Far from being propaganda, Monsters University is a delightful film about believing in one’s dreams and working hard . . . and it’s a great story regardless of one’s political affiliation.

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