Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sanity for Superheroes: In God We Trust: Applying the Lemon Test for Public Funds for Parochial Schools

Sanity for Superheroes: In God We Trust: Applying the Lemon Test for Public Funds for Parochial Schools

In God We Trust: Applying the Lemon Test for Public Funds for Parochial Schools

In God We Trust:  The Lemon Test and Public Funds for Parochial Schools Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M  Guiding Questions 1. How can school vouchers reach a balance between serving the public interest and preserving individual freedoms and rights?  2. What additional arguments can be presented for against the use of school vouchers for parochial schools? 3. How is the issue of school vouchers for sectarian institutions different or similar from issues surrounding prayer in school? 4. What are the common issues relevant to both charter schools and voucher programs? This article will address concerns regarding the long-term outcomes of school choice and voucher programs. Specifically: do school vouchers exacerbate the inequality between the rich and the poor? Since I believe that health care and education are both social goods, I have some reservations about letting the free-market run amok during such a critical point in history. Is it wise to allow for-profit market forces to dictate public goods when natural rights are at stake?  The shortcomings of the Medicaid managed care programs, Medicare supplemental insurance policies, and demonstration projects such as the privatization of prisons provide sufficient evidence of the dangers of profit driven corporations in American culture. Corporate scandals with food and other suppliers contracted by the Board of Education in New York City in the late 1990's provide excellent examples of how easy it is for private companies to manipulate funds away from the target recipients. It was not too long ago that private managed care companies offered gifts to boost enrollment by enticing desperate Medicaid recipients to join their plans. This marketing strategy is simply offensive when we are dealing with a social good albeit health care or education. Vulnerable populations are frequently exploited through corporate contracts and there is little reason to believe that for-profit conglomerates would treat public schools or economically disadvantaged students and families otherwise. Arguments on both sides of the school voucher issue are very similar to those presented for and against charter schools and free-market school choice. Smrekar (1998) presents four key issues that have been at the center of the school choice debate: (1) economic, (2) political; (3) social justice; and (4) pedagogical. The economic argument in favor of school choice points out that our current public education system resembles a monopoly. Proponents argue that the introduction of choice into the educational marketplace will promote competition and force schools with poor performance records to improve or close (Friedman, 1968). The political argument is centered on the democratic ideal that the freedom to choose where your child attends school is a fundamental right. The political argument also triggers strong feelings about the role of education in a democratic society. There are those who feel that the public school is intended, at least in part, to create a common set of core values that is best served by the public sector.  At the core of the political school choice argument is a debate regarding the benefits of providing a common set of experiences in a democracy versus promoting individual choice and liberty (Smrekar, 1998). This issue, while not dead, was challenged in 1925 when the Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) in favor of parents who sent their children to private school. This argument continues today and is at the center of both school choice and curriculum debates. The social justice argument is a bit more complicated and there is little agreement on any front. Proponents argue that school choice empowers the poor to participate in the education of their children by giving them the same options available to wealthier families in the United States. According to a 1997 poll in USA Today, 47% of parents would send their children to private schools if they had the financial resources (Doyle, 1997). Information is an essential component to any school choice program. In order to ensure social equity in school choice programs we need to be sure that the "poor" are fully informed of their choices and are not taken advantage of in the open market. Research has shown that the act of "choosing" has positive effects on the school environment and promotes parental involvement in their children's education (Doyle, 1997). Additional components of the social justice argument have focused on the nuts and bolts of choice programs, and point out how there are several different ways that choice programs may (wittingly or unwittingly) promote social inequity (Cookson, 1995). Such arguments focus on transportation problems, admissions policies, the availability of information, and how we define "choice" and implement policies regulating recruitment, enrollment and performance of participating schools, (Cookson, 1995; 1997). The pedagogical argument points out that school choice programs are better suited for the individual needs inherent to a pluralistic society. Although some feel there is value in providing core curriculum and a common set of basic skills, there is a current trend towards specialty schools that focus on the arts and sciences, technology, vocational training, etc. Educators look towards successful magnet schools as examples of the pedagogical success that demonstrated the importance of school choice and parental involvement as indicators of educational outcomes. Some educators fear that the introduction of school choice and voucher plans would prompt the best students to leave public schools and that this would have a negative effect on the overall climate of public classrooms. Among the various school voucher programs, there is considerable controversy surrounding the program design that gives qualified individuals the choice to attend parochial schools using public funds. Traditional arguments against this type of school voucher program have focused on the constitutionality of using state funds for sectarian institutions. In theory, public schools are believed to be completely independent of religious institutions and provide a place where young adults can join together and develop a core set of "American" values and "democratic" principles. Just this year, states such as Tennessee have modified the curriculum to include Bible class in publicly funded classrooms. It is not yet known how this will be implemented given the number of students who did not meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks. They are just now trying designing the course content and have not yet selecting the text to be used next fall (2008). Historically, the church had a key role in the education of children in America. During the National Period (1780-1830), churches were used to educate children, and the King James Bible was used as a reader in these classrooms (Smrekar, 1998). Derek Neal (1997) points out that much of the current sentiment against Catholic schools is not a reflection of their excellent performance record, but rather an indication of the anti-Catholic sentiment which swept the country during the late part of the 19th Century (Neal, 1997). Neal argues that until that point, there was no contest to religious education as long as it was Protestant. Catholic schools have traditionally served the children of the working class. They were a major socializing force earlier in the century and continue to succeed with children who might otherwise fall through the cracks in public schools. Despite tapering enrollment, Catholic schools remain a viable force in the private sector providing a reasonably priced private education to American children. Neal conducted a study that looked at the graduation rates of minority children attending Catholic schools compared with children attending public schools in the inner cities. Controlling for demographic variables, (parent's education, parent's occupation, family structure, and reading materials at home) closer analysis revealed graduation rates for urban minorities are 26% higher in Catholic schools compared with public schools in the same communities. Although Neal found similar benefits for whites and in suburban communities, this effect was most profound for urban minorities. Other studies have focused on identifying the qualities that make Catholic schools successful. A number of factors have been identified by Bryk and Lee, including active parental participation and the benefits of school choice in creating an inclusive community that fosters a common set of values and ideals (Bryk & Lee, 1995). Interestingly, the very same variables found to enhance the performance of Catholic school students are remarkably similar to the reported benefits of magnet schools and choice programs. Despite the excellent performance records of Catholic schools, there are currently no voucher programs that allow parochial schools to participate in state funded voucher programs. The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it can also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the student's free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America. Voucher programs typically undergo strict scrutiny for all four reasons mentioned above, but this issue is especially true of any choice or voucher program that channels funds into Parochial schools. For this reason, Catholic schools and other schools with religious affiliations have been excluded from voucher plans up until this point. It is not politically viable to institute a choice or voucher program at any level (at the district, state or national level) since similar plans have historically presented long-standing, hard-fought, legal challenges to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Since the Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue, most challenges up until this point have taken place in state courts[1]. These state decisions have been split, and while there are a few voucher programs operating in Wisconsin and Ohio, neither permits sectarian schools to participate in their programs. Milwaukee designed a voucher system that included parochial schools in 1995 but later revised their proposal after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against expansion into religious schools (Kremerer & King, 1995). School choice programs that involve vouchers have not been tested in the Supreme Court, but there is a long history of court cases that challenge the flow of money from the public sector into private, sectarian institutions. The recent pattern of Supreme Court rulings has lead some legal scholars (Kremerer & King, 1995) to conclude that school vouchers would pass constitutional muster under the following circumstances: 1. Provides payments in the form of scholarships to parents of school age children 2. Allows parents to choose among a variety of public and private sectarian and nonsectarian schools for their children 3. Gives no preference to sectarian private institutions Voucher programs up until this point have encountered substantial resistance from the legal community and a number of civil rights and political organizations. This becomes more pronounced when the voucher model includes sectarian institutions in the model plan and state court rulings have been inconsistent in decisions surrounding the constitutionality of voucher programs. The definitive case regarding school voucher programs is Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The Court's ruling in Lemon was based on three components that came to be known as the "Lemon Test." The Lemon Test applies the following to any Constitutional challenge of the Establishment Clause: 1. The government action must have a secular purpose 2. The primary effect must neither advance, nor inhibit religion 3. It must not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion Since voucher programs do not generally provide support directly to the institution, individual freedom and choice remain intact. Individual families are empowered by educational vouchers since they choose the school and religion appropriate for them. Qualified schools are not determined by religious affiliation and all schools are required to adhere to state and federal regulations that increase accountability. Similar issues came before the courts in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) as well, however Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)) is considered to be both the landmark and test case currently before the courts. The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it could also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America. Teacher's unions are resistant to bring in a new system that has the potential to upset their job status and security. It will likely be a number of years before we truly understand the effects of magnet schools and can evaluate the implementation of school choice programs that are already in place. Because we are dealing with such an essential human, social good, it is my recommendation that we do not implement a largest-scale voucher program until issues of access and equity are resolved on other public fronts. We must ensure real choices for the students and families who are not information savvy and may be limited in their ability to recognize the real value of their options. We must find a way to ensure the equitable distribution of resources so that education truly does will empower the poor. Is it time to apply the Lemon Test to school vouchers?   You decide. References Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1994). School choice: The struggle for the soul of American education. New Haven: Yale University Press. Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1995). ERIC Digests: School Choice. Doyle, D.P. (1997). Vouchers for religious schools. Public Interest, 127, 88-95. Haynes, C.C. (1993). Beyond the culture wars. Educational Leadership, 51(4), 30-34. Houston, P.D. (1993). School vouchers: The latest California joke. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(4), 61-64. Kremerer, F.R. & King, K.L. (1995). Are school vouchers Constitutional? Phi Delta Kappan, 77(1), 307-311.  Kremerer, F.R. (1995). The Constitutionality of school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter,101 Ed. Law Rep. 17. Kremerer, F.R. (1997). State Constitutions and school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter, 120 Ed. Law Rep. 1. Neal, D. (1997). Measuring Catholic school performance. Public Interest, 127, 81-87. [1] Including a decision that was handed down regarding a choice plan in Ohio. (12/18/2000) Elyssa D. Durant © 2007-2014


1. How can school vouchers reach a balance between serving the public interest and preserving individual freedoms and rights? 

2. What additional arguments can be presented for against the use of school vouchers for parochial schools?

3. How is the issue of school vouchers for sectarian institutions different or similar from issues surrounding prayer in school?

4. What are the common issues relevant to both charter schools and voucher programs?




This article will address concerns regarding the long-term outcomes of school choice and voucher programs. Specifically: do school vouchers exacerbate the inequality between the rich and the poor?

Since I believe that health care and education are both social goods, I have some reservations about letting the free-market run amok during such a critical point in history. Is it wise to allow for-profit market forces to dictate public goods when natural rights are at stake? 

The shortcomings of the Medicaid managed care programs, Medicare supplemental insurance policies, and demonstration projects such as the privatization of prisons provide sufficient evidence of the dangers of profit driven corporations in American culture. Corporate scandals with food and other suppliers contracted by the Board of Education in New York City in the late 1990's provide excellent examples of how easy it is for private companies to manipulate funds away from the target recipients.

It was not too long ago that private managed care companies offered gifts to boost enrollment by enticing desperate Medicaid recipients to join their plans. This marketing strategy is simply offensive when we are dealing with a social good albeit health care or education. Vulnerable populations are frequently exploited through corporate contracts and there is little reason to believe that for-profit conglomerates would treat public schools or economically disadvantaged students and families otherwise.

Arguments on both sides of the school voucher issue are very similar to those presented for and against charter schools and free-market school choice. Smrekar (1998) presents four key issues that have been at the center of the school choice debate: (1) economic, (2) political; (3) social justice; and (4) pedagogical.

The economic argument in favor of school choice points out that our current public education system resembles a monopoly. Proponents argue that the introduction of choice into the educational marketplace will promote competition and force schools with poor performance records to improve or close (Friedman, 1968).

The political argument is centered on the democratic ideal that the freedom to choose where your child attends school is a fundamental right. The political argument also triggers strong feelings about the role of education in a democratic society. There are those who feel that the public school is intended, at least in part, to create a common set of core values that is best served by the public sector. 

At the core of the political school choice argument is a debate regarding the benefits of providing a common set of experiences in a democracy versus promoting individual choice and liberty (Smrekar, 1998). This issue, while not dead, was challenged in 1925 when the Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) in favor of parents who sent their children to private school. This argument continues today and is at the center of both school choice and curriculum debates.

The social justice argument is a bit more complicated and there is little agreement on any front. Proponents argue that school choice empowers the poor to participate in the education of their children by giving them the same options available to wealthier families in the United States. According to a 1997 poll in USA Today, 47% of parents would send their children to private schools if they had the financial resources (Doyle, 1997).

Information is an essential component to any school choice program. In order to ensure social equity in school choice programs we need to be sure that the "poor" are fully informed of their choices and are not taken advantage of in the open market. Research has shown that the act of "choosing" has positive effects on the school environment and promotes parental involvement in their children's education (Doyle, 1997). Additional components of the social justice argument have focused on the nuts and bolts of choice programs, and point out how there are several different ways that choice programs may (wittingly or unwittingly) promote social inequity (Cookson, 1995). Such arguments focus on transportation problems, admissions policies, the availability of information, and how we define "choice" and implement policies regulating recruitment, enrollment and performance of participating schools, (Cookson, 1995; 1997).

The pedagogical argument points out that school choice programs are better suited for the individual needs inherent to a pluralistic society. Although some feel there is value in providing core curriculum and a common set of basic skills, there is a current trend towards specialty schools that focus on the arts and sciences, technology, vocational training, etc. Educators look towards successful magnet schools as examples of the pedagogical success that demonstrated the importance of school choice and parental involvement as indicators of educational outcomes. Some educators fear that the introduction of school choice and voucher plans would prompt the best students to leave public schools and that this would have a negative effect on the overall climate of public classrooms.

Among the various school voucher programs, there is considerable controversy surrounding the program design that gives qualified individuals the choice to attend parochial schools using public funds. Traditional arguments against this type of school voucher program have focused on the constitutionality of using state funds for sectarian institutions. In theory, public schools are believed to be completely independent of religious institutions and provide a place where young adults can join together and develop a core set of "American" values and "democratic" principles. Just this year, states such as Tennessee have modified the curriculum to include Bible class in publicly funded classrooms. It is not yet known how this will be implemented given the number of students who did not meet the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) benchmarks. They are just now trying designing the course content and have not yet selecting the text to be used next fall (2008).

Historically, the church had a key role in the education of children in America. During the National Period (1780-1830), churches were used to educate children, and the King James Bible was used as a reader in these classrooms (Smrekar, 1998). Derek Neal (1997) points out that much of the current sentiment against Catholic schools is not a reflection of their excellent performance record, but rather an indication of the anti-Catholic sentiment which swept the country during the late part of the 19th Century (Neal, 1997). Neal argues that until that point, there was no contest to religious education as long as it was Protestant.

Catholic schools have traditionally served the children of the working class. They were a major socializing force earlier in the century and continue to succeed with children who might otherwise fall through the cracks in public schools. Despite tapering enrollment, Catholic schools remain a viable force in the private sector providing a reasonably priced private education to American children. Neal conducted a study that looked at the graduation rates of minority children attending Catholic schools compared with children attending public schools in the inner cities. Controlling for demographic variables, (parent's education, parent's occupation, family structure, and reading materials at home) closer analysis revealed graduation rates for urban minorities are 26% higher in Catholic schools compared with public schools in the same communities. Although Neal found similar benefits for whites and in suburban communities, this effect was most profound for urban minorities.

Other studies have focused on identifying the qualities that make Catholic schools successful. A number of factors have been identified by Bryk and Lee, including active parental participation and the benefits of school choice in creating an inclusive community that fosters a common set of values and ideals (Bryk & Lee, 1995). Interestingly, the very same variables found to enhance the performance of Catholic school students are remarkably similar to the reported benefits of magnet schools and choice programs. Despite the excellent performance records of Catholic schools, there are currently no voucher programs that allow parochial schools to participate in state funded voucher programs.

The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it can also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the student's free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.

Voucher programs typically undergo strict scrutiny for all four reasons mentioned above, but this issue is especially true of any choice or voucher program that channels funds into Parochial schools. For this reason, Catholic schools and other schools with religious affiliations have been excluded from voucher plans up until this point. It is not politically viable to institute a choice or voucher program at any level (at the district, state or national level) since similar plans have historically presented long-standing, hard-fought, legal challenges to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Since the Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue, most challenges up until this point have taken place in state courts[1]. These state decisions have been split, and while there are a few voucher programs operating in Wisconsin and Ohio, neither permits sectarian schools to participate in their programs. Milwaukee designed a voucher system that included parochial schools in 1995 but later revised their proposal after the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction against expansion into religious schools (Kremerer & King, 1995).

School choice programs that involve vouchers have not been tested in the Supreme Court, but there is a long history of court cases that challenge the flow of money from the public sector into private, sectarian institutions. The recent pattern of Supreme Court rulings has lead some legal scholars (Kremerer & King, 1995) to conclude that school vouchers would pass constitutional muster under the following circumstances:

1. Provides payments in the form of scholarships to parents of school age children

2. Allows parents to choose among a variety of public and private sectarian and nonsectarian schools for their children

3. Gives no preference to sectarian private institutions

Voucher programs up until this point have encountered substantial resistance from the legal community and a number of civil rights and political organizations. This becomes more pronounced when the voucher model includes sectarian institutions in the model plan and state court rulings have been inconsistent in decisions surrounding the constitutionality of voucher programs.

The definitive case regarding school voucher programs is Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The Court's ruling in Lemon was based on three components that came to be known as the "Lemon Test." The Lemon Test applies the following to any Constitutional challenge of the Establishment Clause:

1. The government action must have a secular purpose

2. The primary effect must neither advance, nor inhibit religion

3. It must not result in excessive governmental entanglement with religion

Since voucher programs do not generally provide support directly to the institution, individual freedom and choice remain intact. Individual families are empowered by educational vouchers since they choose the school and religion appropriate for them. Qualified schools are not determined by religious affiliation and all schools are required to adhere to state and federal regulations that increase accountability. Similar issues came before the courts in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (268 U.S. 510 (1925)) as well, however Lemon v. Kurtzman (403 U.S. 602 (1971)) is considered to be both the landmark and test case currently before the courts.

The reason for this is quite simple, but not necessarily correct or in the best interest of our children. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the use of public funds in religious institutions. However, it could also be argued that it is unconstitutional to exclude parochial schools from voucher systems because it violates the free expression of religion. In addition, voucher programs require a conscious decision on the part of the student and the parent. The state does not enforce a blanket endorsement of any one religion. I use Catholic schools as an example because they represent the majority of parochial schools in urban America.

Teacher's unions are resistant to bring in a new system that has the potential to upset their job status and security. It will likely be a number of years before we truly understand the effects of magnet schools and can evaluate the implementation of school choice programs that are already in place. Because we are dealing with such an essential human, social good, it is my recommendation that we do not implement a largest-scale voucher program until issues of access and equity are resolved on other public fronts. We must ensure real choices for the students and families who are not information savvy and may be limited in their ability to recognize the real value of their options. We must find a way to ensure the equitable distribution of resources so that education truly does will empower the poor.

Is it time to apply the Lemon Test to school vouchers? 

 You decide.



References

Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1994). School choice: The struggle for the soul of American education. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Cookson, P.W., Jr. (1995). ERIC Digests: School Choice.

Doyle, D.P. (1997). Vouchers for religious schools. Public Interest, 127, 88-95.

Haynes, C.C. (1993). Beyond the culture wars. Educational Leadership, 51(4), 30-34.

Houston, P.D. (1993). School vouchers: The latest California joke. Phi Delta Kappan, 75(4), 61-64.

Kremerer, F.R. & King, K.L. (1995). Are school vouchers Constitutional? Phi Delta Kappan, 77(1), 307-311. 

Kremerer, F.R. (1995). The Constitutionality of school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter,101 Ed. Law Rep. 17.

Kremerer, F.R. (1997). State Constitutions and school vouchers. West's Education Law Reporter, 120 Ed. Law Rep. 1.

Neal, D. (1997). Measuring Catholic school performance. Public Interest, 127, 81-87.

[1] Including a decision that was handed down regarding a choice plan in Ohio. (12/18/2000)

Elyssa D. Durant © 2007-2014



^ed 

Educational Law, Finance and Public Policy

Top Down Policy Failure in Public Education by Elyssa D. Durant, Ed.M.

Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) does not have the answers, nor does our newly elected Mayor who recently launched an aggressive media campaign to recruit new teachers willing to work within the constraints our over-regulated, under-funded public schools. This article MNPS News glossed over the magnitude of the desperate situation in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).

But it does raise questions about the hiring and retention practices by the Board of Ed. The basic fact that students are not making adequate progress is a reflection of the top-down policy failure by MNPS and the Board of Ed. Students are not making adequate progress, and teachers are being shuffled around in a desperate attempt to fix a problem that they do not fully understand.
This data seems to support the need for performance based incentives such as the study on performance incentives at the National Center for Performance Incentives on the Peabody Campus at Vanderbilt University. Teachers in the experimental group receive a $15,000 bonus if their students demonstrate a pre-determined level of achievement and demonstrate proficiency. In conjunction with the RAND corporation, data will be collected twice a year: at the beginning of the academic term to establishing the baseline level of competency for each student. Data is then collecting at the end of the year to measure achievement. Several waves of data will be collected and evaluated over the next several years will be evaluated in conjunction with the RAND Corporation.
In order to fix our broken schools, we need to look at schools that work. There are in fact public schools in urban neighborhoods that are successfully educating the students despite limited budgets, supplies, and adequate funding. So what is it about these schools that allows them to successfully educate disadvantaged, at-risk students and how can we replicate their success?
As an educator employed by MNPS, I earn $10.46 / hour (without benefits) teaching at-risk students. What does this say about the fiscal priorities of our community? My graduate degree in education is from the very same university that Mayor Karl Dean attended in New York City. What does that say about our values as a society? What does that say about the value of a graduate degree from the Ivy League?
I called HR and the "Certificated Office" to inquire about obtaining a provisional teaching license and alternative certification, I was simply told that I was not eligible for alternative certification and without additional coursework, and tuition and fees, I was not deemed qualified to teach in Metro. I am not qualified to teach in Metro since, apparently, Metro "does not teach education." What a joke. To make matters worse- I had to pay them to find out that I was not even qualified to work with Head Start. I went to Head Start! Shouldn't that be enough? I find it difficult to believe that a city so desperate for teachers is not willing to bend the rules just a little or waive the application fee for anyone who is willing to work in such a hostile environment.
The state Department of Education could not offer any realistic solution to the simple fact that I cannot afford to pay the fees associated with the application fees certification requirements. If the Mayor really needs applicants, perhaps the city should comp the application fees necessary to be considered for employment. They are strangely unfamiliar with the political process, and teachers are expected to implement and carry out policies that were designed by academic professionals or educational consultants. If MNPS truly wants a better-qualified staff, then the Mayor, the Board of Education, and school administrators need to take a closer look at the methods used to recruit, retain, and reward qualified individuals willing to sacrifice their financial stability for a career in public service.
The high rate of student mobility is compounded by the constant shifting of school personnel. Many schools may just lose the few experienced, dedicated teachers they still have left have, to surrounding districts, cities, and states. Such instability in the system may even prompt the younger set to leave the profession all together and discourage future teachers from applying for jobs in Metro. Now that I realize my education was a complete waste of time and money, is it any wonder that I am ready to give up on teaching and maybe even ready to leave Nashville for good. The local hardware store has more to offer including benefits!
Everything we know about the positive outcomes in neighborhood schools is their strong reliance upon community buy-in and parental involvement. One thing that makes magnet, lottery, charter schools, parochial, and private schools so good is the fact that parents, teachers, students, and administrators fight to get in, and fight to stay there. The act of choosing, in effect, leads to an enhanced sense of community and builds a supportive, consistent, and structured environment.  Calling rezoning and teacher shuffling in Metro "Project Fresh Start" is ridiculous-- it would be more accurate.




  • The state Department of Education could not offer any realistic solution.
  • The high rate of student mobility is compounded by the constant shifting of school personnel
  • The Board need to take a closer look at the methods used to recruit, retain qualified educators.

  • Elyssa D. Durant © 2009-2017

    Friday, February 10, 2017

    Trigger Warnings


    How the Trigger Warning Debate Exposes Our F*cked Up Views on Mental Illness

    A person sits on a bench holding a cup of coffee, looking worried.
    A person sits on a bench holding a cup of coffee, looking worried.

    Two college students return to campus after both were present for an act of violence.

    One of them was physically injured in the incident. In order to return to class, he asks to have space around his desk to allow him to stretch, because sitting still for too long would aggravate his injury.

    How would you feel about his request? Would you understand why such an accommodation would help him heal? Expect his professors to oblige?

    Now, the other student's pain isn't visible – it's emotional. 

    He wasn't physically hurt, but he lost a loved one, and he's traumatized. Certain reminders have resulted in panic attacks, and he'd rather not experience that again – especially not when he's trying to move on with his life and get an education.

    So he also makes a request, asking his professors if they can give him a warning before covering material that relates to the type of violence that took away his loved one.

    How would you feel about this student's request? 

    What he's asking for is a content warning, also commonly called a trigger warning. And it's a huge source of debate.

    You may have come across some of this debate recently after the University of Chicago dean of students sent out a letter to tell incoming freshman not to expect trigger warnings.

    People actually dismiss the needs of people with chronic illnesses and physical and visible disabilities quite often, so I don't want to take away from that.

    But it is noticeable that when it comes to an able-bodied person experiencing a temporary injury and needing support to heal, there's usually not much debate about whether or not they should be allowed in class with crutches, a cast, or extra space around their desk.

    The sharp contrast between this acceptance and common attitudes towards trigger warnings reveals something disturbing about our society's approach to trauma and mental illness. 

    Just like it's normal for the body to need healing after physical violence, it's perfectly normal for someone's mind to need healing after a traumatic event. 

    That's why a diagnosis like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) exists – not because something's "wrong" with someone who's struggling after trauma, but because it's natural for trauma to have an impact on one's mental health. 

    But we don't seem to understand that as a society. People like that dean and all of his supporters think that accommodations for traumatized students are unnecessary, and even wrong.

    I've been through both sexual violence and intimate partner violence, and my recovery is an ongoing process. 

    I don't experience panic attacks from reading about rape or partner abuse, but I do feel the impact when people are disparaging survivors of trauma. And I'm sure as hell not going to criticize other survivors for needing a warning. 

    That's because I've also worked with many other survivors, and if there's one thing I've learned about healing, it's that it's different for everyone. There's no one "right" way to feel or respond to trauma. 

    But if you're opposed to the use of trigger warnings, clearly you've taken the side that states there is such a thing as a "wrong" way.

    So let's not make the mistake of thinking this debate is only about trigger warnings. Let's dig into how people really feel about trauma and mental illness when they decide that trigger warnings are wrong. 

    1. We View Mental Illness as a Weakness

    On most college campuses, there's a group of people who require protection from injury on a regular basis. 

    But we don't call them weaklings – we call them athletes. 

    And you can bet that your school administration doesn't complain about having to "coddle" your star football players by giving them helmets and padding before they take a hit. 

    But when a survivor wants to protect their mental health by getting a warning before they face a difficult topic, people frequently use the word "coddling" to refer to their needs. 

    Just read some of the recent comments on an Everyday Feminism article about trigger warnings: 

    "I cannot stand the wussification of American society." 

    "If people are too fragile that a mere mention of their symptoms may bring back their trauma, they are certainly not good enough to engage in the academic world."

    These are common sentiments among those who oppose trigger warnings. They conflate being affected by trauma with being weak, and decide that those who need trigger warnings aren't "good enough" to be among those who are unfazed. 

    This, in spite of the fact that so many survivors on college campuses aren't there to avoid sensitive topics. They're there to learn, just like everyone else, and they're determined to do this in spite of their personal obstacles, just like everyone else.

    Some people need to work full-time while they're in college in order to attend school. Some need scholarships. Hell, everyone needs to pay for it somehow, so some rely on that parental trust fund that will get them through debt-free.

    I hope you wouldn't judge someone for having different financial needs than you do. Mental health needs are similar – accommodating them simply allows different people with different sets of circumstances to access the same opportunities that you have.

    Facing difficult topics sure doesn't make you weak. Facing them after directly experiencing trauma takes strength – even with the help of a warning.

    You know what could also help people face difficult topics? A lifetime without ever being personally affected by trauma. 

    But I wouldn't call you "weak" if that's the reason you don't need a warning.

    2. We Define 'Strength' as Emotional Unavailability

    Strength and healing can show up in so many different ways. Nothing has taught me this important lesson more than working with other survivors of violence. 

    For instance, while I did peer advocacy counseling with Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the oldest LGTBQIA+ anti-violence organization in the US, I met survivors who needed to face their trauma head-on, survivors who needed more time before they could talk about it, survivors who checked out emotionally at the mention of their trauma, and more.

    None of them were wrong. Each was on their own unique path of learning to cope with what they'd been through. 

    Consider what it means that many of us are so eager to have engagement with disturbing topics in settings like college classrooms, but don't want toactually  acknowledge that these topics might disturb us.

    I'm one of those who strongly believes that we should be engaging with issues like sexual violence, abuse, and violent oppression. That's why I write about them so much. 

    So my support of trigger warnings doesn't mean avoiding them altogether. I believe we should engage with them in a way that acknowledges their real impact. 

    If you think we should all approach traumatic topics with as much emotional engagement as we'd have for a math problem, then what you're really asking is for people to disconnect from the emotions that naturally arise around emotional topics. 

    There's nothing wrong with acknowledging that something is painful. But society says that people deserve to be punished for being "delicate" if they do.

    I've heard people compare survivors needing trigger warnings to military combat veterans, saying that veterans don't "whine" about society not taking care of their feelings. 

    But they say this as if veterans aren't also suffering – as if they don't have high rates of PTSD and suicide. Clearly, something needs to change if we believe that people are only strong if they endure painful feelings without support.

    3. We Accept Suffering as Normal – But Healing Is Asking for Too Much

    The idea that survivors who need trigger warnings "can't handle the real world" is a common accusation. People say that we've all been through hard things, but the rest of the world is unfazed.

    It's pretty sad that we can acknowledge that there's so much suffering in the world, but get angry at people who have the nerve to cope with that suffering in a way that others can see. 

    The attitude goes something like this: "The rest of us have unhealed trauma, so why shouldn't you?"

    Are you using "edgy" humor to talk about painful issues without acknowledging that they're painful? That's cool, bro.

    Are you breaking down only when nobody can see you cry? Fine, as long as you never admit to it. 

    But admit to needing support to face something without being re-traumatized? How dare you be so entitled.

    One guy in the Everyday Feminism comments said that he used to have night terrors after being bullied – but he got over it without needing trigger warnings, so he didn't see why anyone else should need them, either.

    But he had just as much control over his night terrors as someone would over daytime panic attacks – as in, not much control at all. 

    Do you know what it feels like to have a panic attack? Find out from Patrick Roche, then ask yourself if trying to avoid such a terrifying experience really amounts to being "entitled."

    Nobody should have to suffer through the impact of trauma without support to heal – and the fact that it's the norm for people to feel like they just have to "suck it up and get over it" does not make it okay.

    It's okay to ask for what you need. But if you don't personally take that route, don't shame others for doing so. 

    4. We Think Trauma Defines Someone or Something

    The way some people talk about opposing trigger warnings, you'd think we were talking about something much more significant than a few words in front of a text.

    According to them, it's censorship! It's the end of free speech! It's destroying an entire generation! It's the downfall of society! 

    Let's cool down for a second and think about what this means. 

    Our society seems to think there's something wrong with identifying as a victim

    If you've been through something hard in the past, but you got over it, that's fine – but acknowledge that it still affects you, and you're said to be doing a bad thing by "victimizing" yourself. 

    And some people say they oppose trigger warnings not because they're against survivors, but to protect the integrity of the classroom. They say that warning that a text contains disturbing material could influence students to focus only on that disturbing material, making them think that's all the text is about.

    This feeling makes sense if you think trauma is so significant that acknowledging its impact defines all of who someone or something is.

    We think that being a victim means you're permanently "broken," and that being a perpetrator of violence means you're not human, but a monster.

    And thinking of violence this way means we don't have to face the fact that it's an everyday part of our world – instead, it's such an unusual thing that acknowledging its impact means being unable to acknowledge anything else.

    But I promise you that's not the case. 

    I can recognize that trauma has an impact on me without having it define the whole of who I am. I can say that one aspect of a text might have an emotional impact on its readers without claiming that that aspect is all there is to it.

    A trigger warning is just a few words out of the entire course of a survivor's day, one line to read over the course of their entire lives. 

    It doesn't define them. And we don't have to be so averse to victimhood that we can't even talk about it without it taking over everything. 

    5. We Think the Way We Handle Things Should Be the Only Way

    As a society, we sure do love to judge people who do things differently than we do. 

    Find out someone has a different kind of culture, sex life, or relationship style than you do? Judge away!

    And this unfortunate habit comes up in trigger warning debates, too. 

    It's interesting how our society has such a stigma against going to therapy, but bring up trigger warnings, and suddenly everyone's a tireless advocate for "exposure therapy." 

    Exposure therapy involves gradually facing reminders of your trauma in a safe, controlled environment under the supervision of a specialized therapist. It can help retrain your brain to face your triggers without being re-traumatized, but it doesn't force people to face things without their consent – and it uses other coping techniques to avoid re-traumatization.

    Having someone with PTSD "toughen up" to just deal with their triggers at any given time is not the same as exposure therapy.

    For me, the fact that I'm used to hearing stories of survival is part of the reason I can read reminders of my trauma without being thrown into a panic attack. 

    But am I going to tell everyone else that they need to go lead support groups and counseling sessions about the things they've been through in order to heal? Hell no! It's not for everyone, and that's okay. 

    The fact is that what works for one person won't work for everyone. And believing that everyone should heal like you do doesn't make you an expert – it kind of just makes you an asshole.

    Do you know what happens when people decide their wellness practices are the only valid wellness practices? 

    They judge people who take medication for not trying yoga instead, or judge people who go to therapy for not just trying prayer, or judge people who cry in public for not keeping their tears behind closed doors.

    See a pattern here?

    Every single person has a different set of needs – so there will always be someone who needs something you don't.

    If directly facing difficulties has helped you, that's great. But you'll save yourself and others a lot of trouble if you drop the idea that anyone who doesn't heal like you do deserves to be judged. 

    Maybe a trigger warning seems silly to you because you don't need it. Luckily for you, that means the presence or the absence of a trigger warning doesn't have an impact on your life.

    So you'll be just fine if you step back from this debate and let people ask for what they need without being judged.

    ***

    All of this shows that we as a society really need a shift in how we understand emotional needs, mental health, and responses to violence and trauma. 

    The status quo says that we should all suck it up, get over it, keep moving forward without ever acknowledging the impact that trauma can have.

    And we can learn a lot about our culture by noticing how "controversial" it is to suggest changing the status quo. 

    "Welcome to the real world," you'd say to someone who'd like a warning before they face a sensitive topic.

    I'd like to invite you to face reality, too. The reality is that trauma affects many different people in many different ways. 

    It's okay to acknowledge painful feelings, to approach sensitive topics not only as sources of new ideas, but also sources of deep emotional reactions, and to accept that traumatic events affect our emotional and mental health. 

    A trigger warning won't stop you from facing painful realities – but it'll definitely help some people face them, and continue healing from the impact of them, too.

    Maisha Z. Johnson is the Digital Content Associate and Staff Writer of Everyday Feminism. You can find her writing at the intersections and shamelessly indulging in her obsession with pop culture around the web. Maisha's past work includes Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the nation's oldest LGBTQ anti-violence organization, and Fired Up!, a program of California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Through her own project, Inkblot ArtsMaisha taps into the creative arts and digital media to amplify the voices of those often silenced. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @mzjwords.



    ^ed 

    Trigger Warning Debate


    A person sits on a bench holding a cup of coffee, looking worried.
    A person sits on a bench holding a cup of coffee, looking worried.

    Two college students return to campus after both were present for an act of violence.

    One of them was physically injured in the incident. In order to return to class, he asks to have space around his desk to allow him to stretch, because sitting still for too long would aggravate his injury.

    How would you feel about his request? Would you understand why such an accommodation would help him heal? Expect his professors to oblige?

    Now, the other student's pain isn't visible – it's emotional. 

    He wasn't physically hurt, but he lost a loved one, and he's traumatized. Certain reminders have resulted in panic attacks, and he'd rather not experience that again – especially not when he's trying to move on with his life and get an education.

    So he also makes a request, asking his professors if they can give him a warning before covering material that relates to the type of violence that took away his loved one.

    How would you feel about this student's request? 

    What he's asking for is a content warning, also commonly called a trigger warning. And it's a huge source of debate.

    You may have come across some of this debate recently after the University of Chicago dean of students sent out a letter to tell incoming freshman not to expect trigger warnings.

    People actually dismiss the needs of people with chronic illnesses and physical and visible disabilities quite often, so I don't want to take away from that.

    But it is noticeable that when it comes to an able-bodied person experiencing a temporary injury and needing support to heal, there's usually not much debate about whether or not they should be allowed in class with crutches, a cast, or extra space around their desk.

    The sharp contrast between this acceptance and common attitudes towards trigger warnings reveals something disturbing about our society's approach to trauma and mental illness. 

    Just like it's normal for the body to need healing after physical violence, it's perfectly normal for someone's mind to need healing after a traumatic event. 

    That's why a diagnosis like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) exists – not because something's "wrong" with someone who's struggling after trauma, but because it's natural for trauma to have an impact on one's mental health. 

    But we don't seem to understand that as a society. People like that dean and all of his supporters think that accommodations for traumatized students are unnecessary, and even wrong.

    I've been through both sexual violence and intimate partner violence, and my recovery is an ongoing process. 

    I don't experience panic attacks from reading about rape or partner abuse, but I do feel the impact when people are disparaging survivors of trauma. And I'm sure as hell not going to criticize other survivors for needing a warning. 

    That's because I've also worked with many other survivors, and if there's one thing I've learned about healing, it's that it's different for everyone. There's no one "right" way to feel or respond to trauma. 

    But if you're opposed to the use of trigger warnings, clearly you've taken the side that states there is such a thing as a "wrong" way.

    So let's not make the mistake of thinking this debate is only about trigger warnings. Let's dig into how people really feel about trauma and mental illness when they decide that trigger warnings are wrong. 

    1. We View Mental Illness as a Weakness

    On most college campuses, there's a group of people who require protection from injury on a regular basis. 

    But we don't call them weaklings – we call them athletes. 

    And you can bet that your school administration doesn't complain about having to "coddle" your star football players by giving them helmets and padding before they take a hit. 

    But when a survivor wants to protect their mental health by getting a warning before they face a difficult topic, people frequently use the word "coddling" to refer to their needs. 

    Just read some of the recent comments on an Everyday Feminism article about trigger warnings: 

    "I cannot stand the wussification of American society." 

    "If people are too fragile that a mere mention of their symptoms may bring back their trauma, they are certainly not good enough to engage in the academic world."

    These are common sentiments among those who oppose trigger warnings. They conflate being affected by trauma with being weak, and decide that those who need trigger warnings aren't "good enough" to be among those who are unfazed. 

    This, in spite of the fact that so many survivors on college campuses aren't there to avoid sensitive topics. They're there to learn, just like everyone else, and they're determined to do this in spite of their personal obstacles, just like everyone else.

    Some people need to work full-time while they're in college in order to attend school. Some need scholarships. Hell, everyone needs to pay for it somehow, so some rely on that parental trust fund that will get them through debt-free.

    I hope you wouldn't judge someone for having different financial needs than you do. Mental health needs are similar – accommodating them simply allows different people with different sets of circumstances to access the same opportunities that you have.

    Facing difficult topics sure doesn't make you weak. Facing them after directly experiencing trauma takes strength – even with the help of a warning.

    You know what could also help people face difficult topics? A lifetime without ever being personally affected by trauma. 

    But I wouldn't call you "weak" if that's the reason you don't need a warning.

    2. We Define 'Strength' as Emotional Unavailability

    Strength and healing can show up in so many different ways. Nothing has taught me this important lesson more than working with other survivors of violence. 

    For instance, while I did peer advocacy counseling with Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the oldest LGTBQIA+ anti-violence organization in the US, I met survivors who needed to face their trauma head-on, survivors who needed more time before they could talk about it, survivors who checked out emotionally at the mention of their trauma, and more.

    None of them were wrong. Each was on their own unique path of learning to cope with what they'd been through. 

    Consider what it means that many of us are so eager to have engagement with disturbing topics in settings like college classrooms, but don't want to actually acknowledge that these topics might disturb us.

    I'm one of those who strongly believes that we should be engaging with issues like sexual violence, abuse, and violent oppression. That's why I write about them so much. 

    So my support of trigger warnings doesn't mean avoiding them altogether. I believe we should engage with them in a way that acknowledges their real impact. 

    If you think we should all approach traumatic topics with as much emotional engagement as we'd have for a math problem, then what you're really asking is for people to disconnect from the emotions that naturally arise around emotional topics. 

    There's nothing wrong with acknowledging that something is painful. But society says that people deserve to be punished for being "delicate" if they do.

    I've heard people compare survivors needing trigger warnings to military combat veterans, saying that veterans don't "whine" about society not taking care of their feelings. 

    But they say this as if veterans aren't also suffering – as if they don't have high rates of PTSD and suicide. Clearly, something needs to change if we believe that people are only strong if they endure painful feelings without support.

    3. We Accept Suffering as Normal – But Healing Is Asking for Too Much

    The idea that survivors who need trigger warnings "can't handle the real world" is a common accusation. People say that we've all been through hard things, but the rest of the world is unfazed.

    It's pretty sad that we can acknowledge that there's so much suffering in the world, but get angry at people who have the nerve to cope with that suffering in a way that others can see. 

    The attitude goes something like this: "The rest of us have unhealed trauma, so why shouldn't you?"

    Are you using "edgy" humor to talk about painful issues without acknowledging that they're painful? That's cool, bro.

    Are you breaking down only when nobody can see you cry? Fine, as long as you never admit to it. 

    But admit to needing support to face something without being re-traumatized? How dare you be so entitled.

    One guy in the Everyday Feminism comments said that he used to have night terrors after being bullied – but he got over it without needing trigger warnings, so he didn't see why anyone else should need them, either.

    But he had just as much control over his night terrors as someone would over daytime panic attacks – as in, not much control at all. 

    Do you know what it feels like to have a panic attack? Find out from Patrick Roche, then ask yourself if trying to avoid such a terrifying experience really amounts to being "entitled."

    Nobody should have to suffer through the impact of trauma without support to heal – and the fact that it's the norm for people to feel like they just have to "suck it up and get over it" does not make it okay.

    It's okay to ask for what you need. But if you don't personally take that route, don't shame others for doing so. 

    4. We Think Trauma Defines Someone or Something

    The way some people talk about opposing trigger warnings, you'd think we were talking about something much more significant than a few words in front of a text.

    According to them, it's censorship! It's the end of free speech! It's destroying an entire generation! It's the downfall of society! 

    Let's cool down for a second and think about what this means. 

    Our society seems to think there's something wrong with identifying as a victim

    If you've been through something hard in the past, but you got over it, that's fine – but acknowledge that it still affects you, and you're said to be doing a bad thing by "victimizing" yourself. 

    And some people say they oppose trigger warnings not because they're against survivors, but to protect the integrity of the classroom. They say that warning that a text contains disturbing material could influence students to focus only on that disturbing material, making them think that's all the text is about.

    This feeling makes sense if you think trauma is so significant that acknowledging its impact defines all of who someone or something is.

    We think that being a victim means you're permanently "broken," and that being a perpetrator of violence means you're not human, but a monster.

    And thinking of violence this way means we don't have to face the fact that it's an everyday part of our world – instead, it's such an unusual thing that acknowledging its impact means being unable to acknowledge anything else.

    But I promise you that's not the case. 

    I can recognize that trauma has an impact on me without having it define the whole of who I am. I can say that one aspect of a text might have an emotional impact on its readers without claiming that that aspect is all there is to it.

    A trigger warning is just a few words out of the entire course of a survivor's day, one line to read over the course of their entire lives. 

    It doesn't define them. And we don't have to be so averse to victimhood that we can't even talk about it without it taking over everything. 

    5. We Think the Way We Handle Things Should Be the Only Way

    As a society, we sure do love to judge people who do things differently than we do. 

    Find out someone has a different kind of culture, sex life, or relationship style than you do? Judge away!

    And this unfortunate habit comes up in trigger warning debates, too. 

    It's interesting how our society has such a stigma against going to therapy, but bring up trigger warnings, and suddenly everyone's a tireless advocate for "exposure therapy." 

    Exposure therapy involves gradually facing reminders of your trauma in a safe, controlled environment under the supervision of a specialized therapist. It can help retrain your brain to face your triggers without being re-traumatized, but it doesn't force people to face things without their consent – and it uses other coping techniques to avoid re-traumatization.

    Having someone with PTSD "toughen up" to just deal with their triggers at any given time is not the same as exposure therapy.

    For me, the fact that I'm used to hearing stories of survival is part of the reason I can read reminders of my trauma without being thrown into a panic attack. 

    But am I going to tell everyone else that they need to go lead support groups and counseling sessions about the things they've been through in order to heal? Hell no! It's not for everyone, and that's okay. 

    The fact is that what works for one person won't work for everyone. And believing that everyone should heal like you do doesn't make you an expert – it kind of just makes you an asshole.

    Do you know what happens when people decide their wellness practices are the only valid wellness practices? 

    They judge people who take medication for not trying yoga instead, or judge people who go to therapy for not just trying prayer, or judge people who cry in public for not keeping their tears behind closed doors.

    See a pattern here?

    Every single person has a different set of needs – so there will always be someone who needs something you don't.

    If directly facing difficulties has helped you, that's great. But you'll save yourself and others a lot of trouble if you drop the idea that anyone who doesn't heal like you do deserves to be judged. 

    Maybe a trigger warning seems silly to you because you don't need it. Luckily for you, that means the presence or the absence of a trigger warning doesn't have an impact on your life.

    So you'll be just fine if you step back from this debate and let people ask for what they need without being judged.

    ***

    All of this shows that we as a society really need a shift in how we understand emotional needs, mental health, and responses to violence and trauma. 

    The status quo says that we should all suck it up, get over it, keep moving forward without ever acknowledging the impact that trauma can have.

    And we can learn a lot about our culture by noticing how "controversial" it is to suggest changing the status quo. 

    "Welcome to the real world," you'd say to someone who'd like a warning before they face a sensitive topic.

    I'd like to invite you to face reality, too. The reality is that trauma affects many different people in many different ways. 

    It's okay to acknowledge painful feelings, to approach sensitive topics not only as sources of new ideas, but also sources of deep emotional reactions, and to accept that traumatic events affect our emotional and mental health. 

    A trigger warning won't stop you from facing painful realities – but it'll definitely help some people face them, and continue healing from the impact of them, too.

    Maisha Z. Johnson is the Digital Content Associate and Staff Writer of Everyday Feminism. You can find her writing at the intersections and shamelessly indulging in her obsession with pop culture around the web. Maisha's past work includes Community United Against Violence (CUAV), the nation's oldest LGBTQ anti-violence organization, and Fired Up!, a program of California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Through her own project, Inkblot ArtsMaisha taps into the creative arts and digital media to amplify the voices of those often silenced. Like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @mzjwords.



    ^ed 

    ^ed