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In my campaign for Minneapolis School Board at Large local journalists have done a decent job relating two of the major themes of my campaign, protecting the privacy of students from obvious online hazards and improving student nutrition by continuing to develop local food sources (e.g. through Farm-to-School programs (link is MN farm to school census infographics).

These seem like good and obvious things. However, they don't tie in very well to "the achievement gap" which is being described as the big issue in the Minneapolis School board race. The urgency to overcome the disparities in educational outcomes is one reason the St. Paul Public Schools justifies its  "Platform for Personalized Learning" SNAFU and the Minneapolis district is going to be vulnerable to slick pitches from technology (and other) vendors who market their goods and services as silver bullets to the racial achievement gap.

The cause of this disparity, in part, is marketing - and all children regardless of race or economic status are targeted by marketers to be susceptible to emotional manipulation. Schools, parents as well as the community, should create spaces that shelter youth from the seduction of the economic culture. A very important book that helps identify these market-driven destructive tendencies and suggests practical experiments to make school experience less stressful and more successful is "Running on Empty: Transcending the Economic Culture's Seduction of Youth" by longtime Anoka-Hennepin teacher and school psychologist James M. Nelson, L.P.

Jim writes:

Sadly, the suffering caused by a value system embedded with greed and opulence is particularly acute for our youth, who, having grown up in this cultural paradign, have no other frame of reference. Some of the pain is an unintended consequence of an economic philosophy of life that is unsustainable, misguided, and destructive. However there is also an intentional psychological manipulation of our youth's desire system by some of the most skilled psychologists on the planet: those working in ad agencies. Ad agencies manipulate humanity's basic urges, turning wants into needs, and creating desires where none previously existed. We will demonstrate the links between this manipulation and the creation of historically unprecedented imbalances that sabotage imbalances that sabotage young people's energy and escalate their emotional pain.

Fortunately, parents and families still have the most direct impact on the health, happiness, and values of children, but the stress and demands on them are also growing. We all share the responsibility to make childhood safe and loving, while instilling values that support mental health and a social conscience.

As an occasional online affiliate marketer and social & search engine marketing expert I know this be true, and it is one of the most obvious reasons to reduce the amount of time children spend on the internet, especially unsupervised. Likewise, other electronic media from console games to movies in the theater are packed full of attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that are very profitable to the corporate or economic culture, but destructive t the individuals that identify too strongly with them. Adults have well established First Amendment rights to create, disseminate and consume material that is likely harmful to minors. Most content rating systems are guidelines and industry self regulation at best, and internet filters are as easily circumvented by curious and tech savvy children as internet dissidents in say Iran, Saudi Arabia or Tunisia. What's more schools and households may be liable to both civil and crimanl penalties if children create illegal content or engage in piracy when provided with unlimited access to internet connections and internet enabled devices.

We have to protect children from the internet as much as we need to protect the internet from kids. We also need to provide shelter and strategies to cope with media inspired self esteem issues, food cravings, and interruptions to rest and sleep. Jim Nelson's book is an eye-opening guide to the real effects of these media-inspired psychic wounds in Minnesota's youth. It is also a recipe book of experiments and habits to cultivate that can begin to make the social environment for children of all races and economic situations in Minneapolis schools one that produces more successful outcomes.

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