Politics, The Personal, and Social Media

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been building new venues for my writing — my education policy/education politics/disability writing is getting funneled into two new newsletters — The Educated Parent and The Great Leap. Honestly, I love building new websites, so it’s been a lot of fun. 

I’m still deciding what I will do with the Apt. 11D sister sites. I could easily make Apt. 11D a strictly personal-lifestyle site with cooking tips and pictures of my house. I do admire many lifestyle social media empires with beautiful people doing beautiful things. It’s women’s work, being being recorded and memorialized – invisible no longer. Even though, I’m not as cute as I was 20 years ago, when I started blogging, and can’t do influencer-glam shots, I could use my kids as props for my photoshoots. 

But I’m not sure the world really needs another recipe for creme brûlée. And I’m not quite sure how those influencer/creators can write about yoga or sour dough starter, when there are 1,500 people buried in the basement of the ruins of a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine. How can they not use their platforms with millions of follow to scream at the top of their lungs about mass graves and dead children? 

One or two political leaders are trying to make politics into a beautiful trendy influencer thing, including Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I do appreciate their efforts to take public affairs away from the stodgie old people and popularize topics like transportation and housing. It’s also great that they show that politics can be a way of life. For me, I truly cannot separate politics from my personal life. I have strong opinions on everything from disability rights to public housing to international affairs. Politics IS my lifestyle. That’s why I would feel a little ill just writing about food and home decorating all the time, and am very interested in people who use social media to talk about politics.

From the Apt. 11D Newsletter. Read the rest here.

39 thoughts on “Politics, The Personal, and Social Media

  1. Interesting musings here, on when an infuencer is influencing for another purpose (and not just branding themself or their business product, though, of course, with politicians, there’s a mix of since their product is themselves & their politics). And, I hadn’t thought of it in those words, but, agree that Zelenskyy is using his influencing skills in a terrible, terrible circumstance.

    I’ve always thought a potential parallel to you is what Cup of Jo was in the beginning (though not sure, because I didn’t read cup of jo in the beginning, and don’t regularly read it now). (not studio mcgee or Your thoughts about how to market your writing had me looking there, and finding Catherine Newman (“waiting for birdy”) writing there and I was a bit surprised.

    But, I really don’t understand how the jump is made in those blogs (Chris loves Julia, into “Chris quit his day job”. I get blogs starting when someone else is the primary earner (especially these blogs, which require spending money). I think there’s an actual expertise in their (in the “marketing, SEO, . . . ” category that Chris’s day job was).

    I think you should do a “L & S” “where we fall on the important things . . . at a glance” chart: https://www.chrislovesjulia.com/about


  2. I am somewhat disoriented by websites, blogs, etc that mix up serious topics with lifestyle topics. Each has its own place, and they do better separately. I’m even bothered that the NYT has more lifestyle stuff than real news these days. It’s kind of similar to when a political magazine pumps up its coverage of sports. So, I vote for keeping things in their own lane.


    1. I like this blog and its mix, but potentially that’s ’cause Laura doesn’t *really* try to sell stuff (there’s the links in the side bar, and the yearly or so links to things she’s buying). As a comparison to Chris & Julia or Studio McGee or Cup of Jo, it’s not at all the same thing.

      My interests overlap with Laura’s (though I believe, potentially that 10+ years of reading this blog has enhanced my interest in education and education with disabilities more specifically). So, I’m probably a representative of too narrow an audience to give meaningful feedback.


  3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10626735/Ukrainian-Instagram-famous-cat-Stepan-flees-Kharkiv-amid-Russian-bombing-safety-France.html

    “An Instagram-famous cat has escaped war-torn Ukraine and found safety and refuge in France amid Russia’s bombing of the city of Kharkiv.

    “Stepan, 13, who has more than one million followers on the platform, became popular thanks to his amusing photos thanks to his singature grumpy poses.

    “His owner (a woman called Anna) updates his Instagram account (@loveyoustepan) regularly, so when it went silent for almost two weeks, with no posts between March 3 and 16, fans started to worry they may have been hurt or killed by attacks on Kharkiv, where they live.”


    1. Wow, I see the reach of the cat and the effect that has on people’s engagement with Ukraine, but, really do not see what that cat brought to the table as the following was developed. And, I like the occasional cat. This cat is cute, but so are most cats.

      Find it both intriguing and mysterious, and maybe some of the result is just random, but really want to understand and there are people studying why a particular cat goes viral (and people making the decisions that cause it to go viral).


  4. I’m taking a week off to rebrand Apt. 11D. All the education and disability stuff is going elsewhere, for sure. Not sure what I’m going to keep here and what’s going to get tossed. It might just be family, food, books, and light/general politics.


    1. Are there guides you are following to do the rebranding to work for your goals?

      I’m very intrigued by how people make money on these ventures (which, I think, is not something that fits in the niches you are developing), so am not expecting you to do research to answer the question for me, so just musing.

      I’m trying to follow more closely for Etsy for an organization I’m involved with which is part of an Etsy initiative. Etsy resembles Substack in that it asks people to pay for the product (rather than relying on ads), but, unlike Etsy, which is very tangible physical goods for the most part (printables are a significant part of some sellers work, I think, with instructions, patterns, etc, so that’s the exception).

      Say, I think I’d pay $5/month (the number suggested in one of the articles I read) for what I currently get from 11D. But, in order for that to become a real income, you’d need 1-2 thousand people like me and I’m guessing that probably doesn’t exist (expendable income, a liking for the collection of your interests, *and* a long existing relationship with the blog). Niche newsletters are less likely attract me but might subscribe anyway to support (like, I largely do to culture report/website that I want support).


      1. This website is free. I don’t put too much time into it, so I’m cool with just fooling around to see what flies and what doesn’t.

        For a while this website was a place to showcase my writing elsewhere, but I would rather chew off my left arm than write for some of the publications that I’ve dealt with over the years. The newsletters r going well. Once I get a certain number of readers, I will charge for premium content. I’m still deciding what I’ll put here after I take out the education and disability stuff.


  5. A few corrections about Higher Ed for disabled students:

    True, colleges do not provide disabled students with *modifications.* An example of a modification in a public high school might be, instead of writing a five page paper, yours only has to be two. The work load is modified in this example by being reduced.

    An example of an*accomodation* might be, you get extended time on tests. Same work load and standards, just met in a slightly different manner.

    IDEA does not apply in colleges but the ADA does and as a result, you are entitled to *accomodations.* They align with the accommodations listed in your final IEP.

    So if your final IEP provides you with notes from the teacher (because your disability interferes with your ability to take notes during lectures) or time and a half for tests, that is what the college must provide (but first you must register with the college’s disability services office, which will coordinate the provision of the accommodations).

    The college will not increase what’s on the IEP, if you got time and a half for tests, the college will not give you double time. Also worth noting is the provision of notes is spotty. Sometimes professors will ask for a student volunteer to share their notes with you and if they are bad note takers, oh well.

    But overall yes, parents eventually realize that fighting over IEPs is the good old days.


    1. Yes, there are accommodations, but they are very, very limited. Ian, for example, doesn’t need extra time for his assignments. He does need to be reminded to pay attention to key information that a professor might say. For example: is the test going to be open or closed book? He needed to be taught how to read a syllabus and how to apply for accommodations and a million other things. I had to do that. The school didn’t help him.


      1. Laura wrote, “He does need to be reminded to pay attention to key information that a professor might say.”

        This reminds me of what a mom from our private school was saying.

        Her son has dyslexia, and school was sending multiple massive emails with the important details deep in the text.

        The mom has been asking school for a while to put the key information at the beginning of the email.


    2. I’m still liking what’s written at the Bellevue College (used to be called community college but has rebranded with all our colleges). They seem to act as a coordinator of services, including help in executive function and learning how to do college.


      The distinction between accommodation and modification seems like an important difference.

      (In contrast I was not excited about Rutgers program, first because it cost extra money, but also because getting into Rutgers is not an open program and is so much more expensive than Bellevue college.


  6. Yeah, something like reading a syllabus would be probably subsumed under a reading comprehension goal than listed separately. Attention and executive processing issues should be noted in the MFE and compensatory strategies discussed in the IEP but all this makes you wonder, what good is that with someone whose disability includes being unable to generalize well?

    Just because you have strategies to pull the main points out of an essay does not mean you will be able to pull the main points out of a syllabus. Such is autism’s black hole of generalizing impairments.

    What public schools teach is limited by education law. So they aren’t obligated to discuss the finer points of being disabled while a college student, like be sure to register with the Disabilities Services office.

    Some might, our high school hadbl exemplary transition services (the two main forces have since left, one retired and the other, about to burn out, switched careers, so I don’t know if I can use the present tense, don’t have enough current information).

    Muddling through is the nature of this stage, Rock on!


    1. Ohio mom — as one in the weeds, how does the Bellevue college program read to you?

      The population I know is 2E, autism with FSIQ above 135, and some are hoping programs like Bellevue’s Neural Navigators are enough, but where are pitfalls?

      One benefit I see at a community college (I know second career moms taking classes there — it has a respected design program) is that the professors are less.Iikely to roll their eyes at accommodating (unlike some R1 universities)


  7. I can’t answer any questions specifically about Bellevue, isn’t that in Seattle, and I am in southwestern Ohio. Though the fact that I’ve heard of Bellevue and its program may say something.

    I can tell you what has worked for Ohio Son (who is only one E) at our local, nothing special community college.

    First, he lives at home, which removes all the issues that would come with living in a dorm and fending for himself.

    Second, he receives gobs of support, in the form of us reminding him of what he needs to do (which he needs much less of as time goes by), a heavy reliance on Rate my Professor in choosing classes, and probably most importantly, crackerjack private tutor he meets with once a week during the school year. I realize this suggestion may not be helpful unless you can find your own Blaire.

    He only takes one or two classes a semester — he tried three in the beginning and that was too many balls to juggle for him.

    He often used to forget to register with Disability Services until doing badly on the first test because he ran out of time. Or maybe it wasn’t forgetting but I case of “I can do this myself!” I hear this is pretty typical among non-typical students, definitely something to keep an eye out for.

    Spendthrifts that we are, we have occasionally encouraged withdrawing (without getting a refund) when a class turns out to be a disaster.

    One thing I’ve noticed about our community college, which is very vocationally-oriented, is that the classes that are part of a vocational pathway are much more rigorous than the general liberal arts ones. So he skipped biology classes, which nursing and horticultural students need, and took an astronomy class for the science requirement. Likewise, the computer graphic classes, which are required for that major. But the general liberal arts classes like Film Criticism, Pyschology, etc., were doable for him.

    This isn’t true of the other nearby community college, which is a feeder school for the University of Cincinnati (a state school). That school has no vocational majors, and classes are designed to be comparable to the ones at the main campus.

    What else can I tell you? At Son’s CC, all incoming students take English and math placement exams. Depending on your score, you may have to pay for a non-credit developmental (remedial) reading and writing class before you can take English 101; the same for math except that there are two levels of developmental math (Son tested out of the first level). My impression is that this is pretty typical of CCs. They expect their students to need lots of extra help, it’s built into their structure,

    His college also has a class a friend’s son sarcastically referred to as “College 101,” which I think is also pretty typical at CCs. It was a class how how college “works”: things like how to read a syllabus, how college differs from high school, study skills, social aspects like diversity and consent, self exploration (what are my strengths and weaknesses as a learner?), and so forth.

    So far, Ohio Son is thrilled to be in college; he remains the C student he always was. I might have preferred for him to go to a non-degree specific autism program where you live in a dorm and practice living and social skills (lord knows he could use those things) but he wasn’t having any of that.

    Which gets me to my last point. You might want to know that four year College programs for nontypical students fall into two categories.

    The non-degree ones needless to say, have no academic requirements.

    The degree programs require you meet the same requirements (HS GPA, SAT/ACT) as anyone else applying. These schools give extra help with things like organization and time management but not with academics or social or living skills. Depending on the student, this may not be enough support for even a twice-exceptional.

    Hope that helps. Maybe your student can try a class first in a preferred subject area before committing as a matriculated student? CCs tend to be very flexible.

    Good luck, keep us posted.


    1. Ohio Mom said, “First, he lives at home, which removes all the issues that would come with living in a dorm and fending for himself.”

      We have one big kid that I am concerned would not eat regularly if living in the dorm. That’s actually one of the biggest current obstacles to that kid living independently. Paradoxically, the kid is scrupulous about feeding the cat 4 times a day…

      “He only takes one or two classes a semester — he tried three in the beginning and that was too many balls to juggle for him.”

      I’ve mentioned it before, but MIL is a psychologist who works with adults with brain injuries, and one of her recommendations is to keep very moderate class loads–starting with 1-2 courses at a time for her clientele.

      “Spendthrifts that we are, we have occasionally encouraged withdrawing (without getting a refund) when a class turns out to be a disaster.”

      With our college student, we do a check-in after the first week of class to see if any course should be dropped. She dropped one course fall freshman year, one course spring freshman year, and did 4 courses those semesters. Starting fall sophomore year, she’s been managing 5 courses. Husband and I long ago made peace that she is on a 5-year plan, and that’s OK and in many ways preferable. I did my BA in exactly 4 years and nobody gives you a cookie for that.

      We also keep an eye on advising deadlines and similar and I do stuff like drawing up a list of possible courses. The college student makes a lot of final decisions, but it’s helpful if I do a little ground work before she meets her advisor. We also coach her through emails to faculty when she doesn’t know how to proceed.


      1. Sometimes we catch the need to withdraw early enough in the semester —that’s our goal. But best laid plans…


    2. OhioMom, I find your comments extremely enlightening and really appreciate the time you take to respond with specifics (I think I also said the Ohio site with information that you linked to was extremely interesting. To clarify, though, I don’t have 2E children (though I know some in my neck of the woods). I ask the questions because I think it’s important to understand circumstances other than my own when thinking about public policy.


  8. Ian is totally independent academically in math and tech classes. But his reading comprehension skills are terrible and have only gotten worse since March 2020, when his eduction effectively ended. We’re working like crazy to get him through reading requirements to become a matriculated student, but he’s not there yet. He might have to do that remedial English class this summer, and will “help” him intensely.

    Our local community college has nothing for autistic kids with normal IQs. They have a program for disabled kids with IQ between 60 and 80, but that’s not Ian. They have the kids act as greeters in the student lounge or help with food prep in the cafeteria. It’s apparently a really nice program.

    The other nearby community college – 25 minutes away – works with an outside group called “College Steps.” https://sunyrockland.edu/services/accessibility-services/college-steps/ This does sound very appropriate for Ian. I’m gong to look into it. It costs money. Not sure how much.


  9. Around here, support programs are about $20,000 a year (two semesters).

    Add that on to tuition for a four year college of let’s say about $30,000, and you are approaching Ivy League rates.

    But a community college is a lot more affordable than a four year college. Plus it takes half as long.

    I have to say, discussion like this one make me appreciate the services I have around here. Before Covid there were lots of area transition-focused workshops (sponsored mainly by the local children’s hospital but also by other agencies), a yearly conference, a bi-annual special needs college fair sponsored by our high school, and lots of opportunities for informal information sharing. I learned a lot without even looking to learn it.


    1. That’s awesome, Ohio Mom. I started from scratch with no support, no information from anyone. It’s been a full time job this year getting up to speed. Honestly, I’ve spent at least 40 hours per week figuring everything out for Ian. And we still need to hire a lawyer, because the school districts’ 18-21 is so horrifically bad, and I want them to pay for a private program. Our meeting is on Monday. I’m also going to sue them because they stopped educating him back in March 2020. He missed 1-1/2 years of high school and nobody gave a shit.


  10. That’s awful.

    I wonder why blue state New Jersey is so bereft of transition services while red state Ohio is pretty robust. You’d think it would be the other way around.

    I know it’s statewide here because I belong to some statewide disability Facebook groups and they are always announcing stuff like “Charting the Life Course Workshop in Akron” or “Stable Accounts and Financial Planning presentation in Toledo.” It’s all on Zoom these days of course.

    Good luck with wrangling with the school! Ian deserves his education!


  11. It may very well be that there are more supports in Ohio for families with moderate to low need autistic *children* (“low need” is the new nomenclature for “high-functioning”) but Laura’s family arguably lives in a best place for a family with a moderate to low need autistic *adult.*

    It’s an urban area and so has lots of places to potentially work as well as a good public transportation system (for the individuals who may never drive or own a car, for whatever reasons).

    A number of years ago, Peter Gerhardt (an autism educator specializing in adult issues who is from of all places, New Jersey) was invited to Cincinnati to speak.

    That was his answer to the question, Where is the best place for my soon-to-be-adult child to live: an urban area because there will be places to work and earn money, and public transportation. He felt those two things were the bottom line.

    Laura’s son has something else in New Jersey that he wouldn’t have anywhere else, a strong and good-sized extended family, with members in his generation who will be available to keep an eye out for him after Laura and her husband can no longer.


    1. Yes, Ian is very fortunate. He is a short train ride from google offices in downtown Manhattan. He will be okay once we get through the next two or three years.

      I have had to deal with a lot on my own because our district used to send everyone out to private programs, but they just started up a new program during covid with massive staff shortages in special ed and with a new school board that was elected by the anti-tax contingent in town, And Ian is a huge outlier.


  12. NY Times link “Who’s Unhappy With Schools? The Answer Surprised Me”The clickbait title is terrible, but the answer is that the majority of parents are satisfied with their schools (and with their public schools). That’s true for me (even during the pandemic). So, it’s important to listen to the parents who are not satisfied with their schools and to parents whose children lost education during the pandemic and I can only do that by listening to others and trying to understand the needs. And it’s also important to know that there are people who are satisfied (who are less likely to be visible voices, because things are working for them) so that we can try to understand what isn’t working.


    1. Yeah, no. I don’t have time to click on that link, but I will later. There is a trick to understand parent poll on education issues, and I have to see if they NYT writer did that.

      Check out the article in today’s Times about how rich Democrats aren’t willing to do the tough reforms in education to benefit all kids, because their kids are benefiting from the status quo. And as a result the Republicans are taking over the issue.


      1. Laura wrote, “There is a trick to understand parent poll on education issues, and I have to see if they NYT writer did that.”

        Really interested in that!


    2. I read today’s NYTimesarticle: Why Are We Letting Republicans Win the School Wars?. Definitely some dueling polling, including the difference between polling parents v polling everyone on school issues (the article I linked to argues that there is a divide between parents and non-parents on satisfaction with schools with parents reporting more satisfaction — though I can’t speak to specifics on the technicalities of polling).

      The premise of the article, that Republicans are gaining ground on voters who cite education and that as a result “Democrats are going to need to rethink a core assumption: that education is the key to addressing economic inequality.” I’m unsure what policies the opinion writers are advocating in response. I actually agree that progressives need to rethink the core argument (that education will solve all problems) and talk openly about the changing economy: gig work, labor protections, UBI, at will employment and the insecurity it engenders in employment, supports for those who can’t make it I our market-based economy (including, but not limited to those with identified developmental disabilities). But I think the authors are really only publicizing a political reality — Democrats are more closely identified with education, so when voters (including non-parents) are dissatisfied, they blame Democrats (even when the other ideas are banning parts of history curricula).

      (BTW, I will never be the commenter who expects a response and gets annoyed because I’ve developed an unhealthy parasocial relationship!)


  13. The point about ADA accommodations above is an interesting one. We used to have a really good disability resource center, headed by two great women who strongly stressed that accommodating disability was a justice issue (until they left due to budget cuts and threats of layoffs). They handled a whole variety of situations, including visual and hearing impairments, mobility issues, learning impairments (like dyslexia), chronic illness, and pregnancy, with a whole variety of accommodations. I worked with them almost every semester.

    I would think that they would have – if alerted to the situation – figured out a way to provide accommodations for Ian. If our poorly funded regional, rural comprehensive would have been on top of it, surely there are 4-years out there that are. I had the impression that viewing accomodations as a justice issue was becoming important in the field. Or is the problem that autism is not categorized as a disability in the same way as these other things? Should it be?


    1. I think a story we’re hearing for differences in how individual experiences pan out is individual dedication by overworked employees who are now retiring or burned out (OhioMom’s and af’s examples). I am hearing similar stories from dedicated teachers and lawyers and employees of not-for-profits and nurses. I don’t see where we go forward, honestly. I’m in a bit of despair. I’m not the one trying to provide the services, but feel the lament of those who are. There’s so much need and so much fatigue.


  14. This popped up on another blog I’m reading & I thought was really interesting:


    I think this is true of much of the West, not just the US. But really explains to me how relatively small groups have managed so much ‘capture’ of the public bandwidth.


    1. In the YouGov article, you find that their main explanation is that people regress to the mean (50%) in their estimates of populations. They overestimate small ones (left handers, transgender people) and underestimate big ones (people who own a car, Christians). YouGov’s analysis thinks the political dimensions are overblown (even though it’s a bit nuts that people think 30% of Americans live in NYC!).

      I do think the dimensions of what people think they know and how it influences their views (and voting) is fascinating.


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