School Fundraisers and Inequality


I’m a card-carrying member of three parent school associations. I write the weekly newsletter for the special-education parents’ group and help organize social events for disabled kids. But my involvement is minimal compared to the extraordinary efforts by others who raise money for schools in our town. With fundraising skills honed by former careers in business and law, these parents tap into the deep pockets of residents to collect large sums of money, which purchase items as small as a doormat in front of the school for muddy boots to costly gifts, like Chromebooks for every child. These groups also assist those in the community who are less affluent, providing college scholarships and helping create social connections for marginalized families with special-needs children.

But is all this work from parent-school groups—work that is done with the best of intentions—unfairly increasing advantages in already privileged communities? Are my volunteer activities magnifying the differences between rich and poor school districts? Education policy experts disagree about the impact of these groups in schools.

More here.

Procrastination Sunday

I need to pull a rough draft of an article together today. I dragged my feet for days, and I really should have about tidy 800 words by now. I’ll add another 500 tomorrow from info that I get from interviews. What do I have? Ten unread .pdf files, vague plans, and a lede with too many prepositions.

And instead of plowing through the .pdf files and forging through the always cursed first draft, I’m playing dumb video games and ordering bathing suits from Lands End. I’m should just go and get a job at the GAP. I’m very good at folding sweaters. But before that happens, I’ll blog for a bit.

Okay, I want predictions about 2016. Is Trump really going to get the nomination? What does Sarah Palin do for his ticket? Could we really have a Sanders-Trump election? Will Bloomberg jump in as an independent? Give me answers.

Hidden Hunger on the College Campus


College conjures up images of all-you-can-eat dining halls, midnight runs for pizza, tubs of ice cream in the dorm-room fridge, and ethnically sensitive burritos. I remember working in the dishroom of a dining hall as a student and grabbing trays of half-eaten burgers and pancakes from the conveyer belt, dumping all the mess into large trash cans. If anything, college is associated with an excess of food, where students gain the “Freshman 15.”

Recent research on hunger at colleges opens serious questions about those assumptions.

More here.



A couple of months ago, I stopped writing things that I thought other people wanted to read, and started writing stuff about topics that I found interesting. It’s much simpler. No more mind reading and second guessing. No more self flagellation if an article didn’t make it to a top ten list.

Now, I write about I want to learn about or people that I want to talk to. It’s really fun. With the Atlantic title, even super busy people return my calls. I’ve met some real characters in the past year. People have cried. I was offered a bribe.

One of my favorite pieces to research was the one that I did on Sesame Street and autism, because I met so many inspirational people. Actually, I think I cried during one of those interviews. I talked to one woman who organizes Broadway-frendly shows for autistic kids in her spare time. I also talked to a representative from the Yale Child Study Team who provided technical support for this Sesame Street initiative. In the course of the conversation, I mentioned that I had a kid with autism. When she offered to put him on the top of their two-year waiting list for an evaluation, I quickly said yes.

Next week, I’m working on a piece about hunger on college campuses. It’s going to be a tough week to squeeze in interviews, because we’ll be in New Haven half the time, so I’m lining up tomorrow’s early morning phone calls right now.


Spreadin’ Love 669

Three good articles about class and taxes. Bryce Covert says $250,000 isn’t middle class. Megan McArdle says that Democrats would have to raise taxes on this group to pay for their programs. And the richest find new ways to hide their money.

Eat healthy-ish.

I’m cleaning up the house for the New Year with Hoarders Buried Alive on TV. I find mental illness very motivating.

I’m ignoring the boys as toss out all the Christmas crap. Ian is blissfully playing video games. Jonah and his friends are trying to figure out plans for tonight.

“What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” “I don’t know.” He’s on a group chat with twenty clueless teenagers trying to hash out plans without firmly commiting to one plan, in case something better comes along.

I’m making a big pot of chili with the hopes that they will end up here. If they don’t, I’ll track Jonah with the “Find my Phone” app all night. I would like a “How Drunk is My Teenager?” app, please.