9/18/13: Jaden Smith, Education, and Media Lies
The media are in a frenzy, libeling teenaged actor Jaden Smith. "According to 15-year-old Jaden Smith, the world would be so much better if we just do away with education," claimed Eurweb. ABC News ranted about "Jayden’s comments saying maybe education [is] not that important…" The Huffington Post scathed the teenaged movie star for "opining on the inherent lack of value of school and education," while Celebrity Café reported, "Jaden Smith took to Twitter last week to claim that education is what is bringing society down."
Hilariously, Examiner.com denounced his "anti-educated [sic] tweets" only one day after their article "Jaden Smith: Grammatically incorrect anti-school rant causes controversy" claimed Smith, "went on a Twitter tirade against education."
This is another example of the stereotypes that distort our news. In fact, what Smith tweeted was not remotely anti-education. Here are the exact words Smith tweeted: "School Is The Tool To Brainwash The Youth. Education Is Rebellion." That is the most clearly pro-education statement one could write in such a limited space, yet the media keep saying Smith was opposing education.Ageist adults like to perpetuate this stereotype that kids are dumb and that they hate school because school makes people smart. But reality is very different. Many students hate our K-12 schools precisely because these students love learning and see school as an obstacle to education. And where do students get the idea school is obstructing their education? Maybe from reality.
According to some sources, Mark Twain once advised students, "Don't let schooling interfere with your education." Luckily, he was old enough that no one accuses him of being anti-education.
8/20/13: The Loss of Elmore Leanard
Crime novelist Elmore Leanard passed away today. He was not only among the most influential authors of the last half-century, he stood out for depicting teenaged characters more honestly than most novelists, and without hatred. Our essay on mystery novels mentioned him briefly. He probably deserved more mention than that.
4/4/13: Film Critic Passes Away
Critic Roger Ebert has passed away. As a website that examines popular culture, The Pro-Youth Pages has crossed paths with Ebert more than once. At times, he’s been among the voices of ageism, denouncing films that empower youth as "implausible". Other times, he’s been among those calling for better treatment of youth, whether denouncing dead teenager movies like Friday the 13th that only exist to serve those who enjoy watching teenagers die, or being among the first to support The Breakfast Club at a time when most critics were scathing it for daring to take teenagers seriously.
Even when Ebert was the voice of ageism, he was often less ageist than those rallying with him. When Kick-Ass was released, for example, Ebert was among those expressing outrage that the film depicted a girl killing adults. But unlike the others, Ebert also denounced the film for showing an adult brutalizing the child.
Roger Ebert will be missed.
2/10/13: Some Thing Called the Face Book
You can now find The Pro-Youth Pages on Facebook. Go there and "like" us so you'll be the first on your block to get new updates from the Pages!
1/27/13: New Content
Your friendly neighborhood pro-youth movie critic sets his sights on The Amazing Spider-Man.
12/2/12: New Content
Just in time for Christmas, we look at how toy store sexism keeps young people oppressed.
11/21/12: Help NYRA Today
For over a decade, the National Youth Rights Association has been our best hope in the fight for youth rights. NYRA has stopped curfew laws, changed school policies, organized rallies for free speech and a lower voting age, and has been a serious voice for young people in America's public discussions.
Now NYRA is in trouble.
This youth-led organization, after a dozen years of growth, hit a terrible year that cost them funding and nearly ended them. In August 2012, NYRA's membership elected a new board of directors who are now turning things around. But to overcome a year of setbacks, NYRA needs your help today.
When people ask me if they can donate money to keep the Pro-Youth Pages going, I always tell them to give the money to NYRA instead. But now NYRA really needs those donations. There are many great causes out there, but if you care about youth rights, no organization is more vital than NYRA.
If you have a credit card, please go to this page and give a donation in whatever amount you can afford. You can make your donation one-time or set it to automatically repeat every month until you stop it. Do which ever is easiest. Don't have a credit card? At many stores (convenience stores and others), you can buy pre-paid credit cards, no credit needed.
Better yet, save NYRA the credit card processing fee by mailing them a check. Don't have a checking account? Go to your post office and get a money order.
If you care about youth rights, this is the time to be a donor. Even a check for $5 or $10 will help the cause. I personally have given to NYRA, and I hope you will join me.
9/28/12: The article Cracked doesn't want you to read
A certain humor website that over-relies on the numbered-list gimmick rejected this article I wrote. So you get to enjoy it ad-free! Just in time for Youth History Month, here is a playful take on some youth history: Top 5 Juvenile Delinquents who Solved World Problems.
4/18/12: WHO'S impressionable??
Kids are stupid. They're impressionable. They can't make informed choices. That's why school officials must make wise choices for them.
Oh, really? Ever hear of the Quadro Trackers? These devises were sold to schools with the promise of helping administrators detect which school lockers contained marijuana. The devise was nothing more than a plastic box with an antenna attached. Until the FBI proved the thing was a complete fraud, some school officials insisted the device was worth the $900 they'd payed for it!
3/29/12: Esquire magazine takes on ageism
3/27/12: Student Expelled for Tweet
Police were called to Garrett High School in Garrett, Indiana to put down a protest. What were the students protesting? Their classmate had been expelled. Not for violence. Not for bullying. Not even for talking back to a teacher. No. High school student Austin Carroll was expelled because he used a swear word. Outside of school. At night. Intended only to be heard by his friends on Twitter.
The horrifying Tweet that got him expelled was a meditation on the F-word. As a former English teacher myself, I find it great that this student was thinking about the English language. But this school expelled him and then stuck him in an alternative school with gang-bangers and drug-addicts. This undermines appreciation of our language as much as it undermines appreciation of the Constitution.
I hope everyone will take a moment to email the principal of this high school: Matt Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let Smith know if you think he should value Free Speech and the English language more than he does.
2/27/12: Cevin Soling Nails it
1/15/12: Kraft Boycott Back on
Back when Philip Morris owned Kraft Foods, we asked youth rights activists to boycott both brands because of Philip Morris's marketing strategy of pushing ageism in order to sell their cigarettes.
Under the financial pressure, Philip Morris refused to cease their bigoted marketing strategy, but to save Kraft Foods, they separated the two companies.
When youth advocates stopped boycotting Kraft, the "food" company thought they were safe. So how did they decide to promote their new "food" products? With the same kind of bigotry Philip Morris used. Kraft has now built a machine to give free samples of their food to adults only. I kid you not. They think this will lead young people to see Kraft's crappy pudding as forbidden fruit and buy it and make Kraft profitable again.
The Pro-Youth Pages is calling for a different result. Kraft needs to learn again that bigotry is bad for business. So we are resuming our boycott of Kraft Foods. Please do not buy any product made by Kraft or Philip Morris.
Kraft Foods must do more than divorce itself from Philip Morris; it must divorce itself from bigotry.
12/17/11: The Film They Didn't Want You to See
Two years ago, Cevin Soling made the documentary The War on Kids, showing how the public K-12 system harms students. In the last two years, this documentary has not been available from Netflix nor most video rental stores. So most Americans have not seen it.
Now you can.
Someone was good enough to put it on YouTube. Who knows how long it will remain there, but if you haven't seen The War on Kids yet, here's your chance to see it for free.
12/13/11: Obama's Betrayal - Fight Back
Barack Obama came into the White House promising that, in his administration, decisions would be "based on facts, not ideology." Now he has broken that promise. The Food and Drug Administration's top researchers know that the morning after pill (known by the brand name Plan B) is medically safe for women of all ages. Yet the Obama administration has taken the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA to insist Plan B be available over the counter only to women older than 17.
Please take a moment to sign this online petition asking Obama to keep his promise and let the FDA do their jobs.
10/24/11: New content
With Halloween a week away, we add a review of the vampire movie Let Me In.
10/11/11: Are Comic Books Going Anti-Youth?
There's been much discussion lately about sexism in comic books. DC Comics' reboot of Catwoman left some angry that the opening pages show, not Catwoman's face, but her chest.
A bigger problem, however, is being left undiscussed, partly because we are all too inured to it: ageism. The opening pages of Catwoman may not show her face, but at least they show her acting competently. How different things are in The Teen Titans' first issue which opens with a bungling teenaged protagonist charging on the scene and taking "a small controlled blaze and turn[ing] it into a towering inferno" and then disappearing "rather than take responsibility for his deadly showboating." No, these quotes aren't from J. Jonah Jameson cartoonishly smearing a misunderstood hero. They're from a responsible journalist describing what the artists have just shown us.
This comic book nerd can't recall ever seeing Batman do that. Or Superman. Or any other hero older than 20. But the Teen Titans are introduced as bunglers.
Comic books used to be aimed at young readers. As we've discussed, comic books started out reflecting ageist attitudes, then gradually grew more youth-friendly. Now it would appear comic books are running back. How sad.
9/27/11: Voting in Municipal Elections
The King of Saudi Arabia announced Sunday he will allow Saudi women to vote in local elections. This is a wonderful step forward for democracy and for Saudi women.
Meanwhile, many women and men in America are seeking the same reform here. A group of students in Lowell, MA are pushing for legislation that, if passed, would give 17-year-olds in their city the same right just granted to Saudi women. Under this bill, 17-year-olds would still be denied votes in state and federal elections, but would be allowed at least to vote in municipal elections.
If the youth rights movement prevails in Lowell, will Americans in other cities join the fight to spread democracy, or will Lowell be the only U.S. town where 17-year-olds march toward freedom in lockstep with Saudi women?
9/18/11: New Proof of GDL's Danger
Graduated Driver Licenses (GDL's) stop teenagers from driving in the name of public safety. Supporters claim these laws make teenagers safer drivers, and that's important enough to rob millions of mobility. But it's a lie.
Yet another study has come out showing the truth about these GDL's. Supporters (mainly insurance companies that profit from ageism) thump statistics showing these GDL laws reduce the number of drivers aged 16-17 dying in highway accidents. But as the new study confirms: A) that reduction is only because there are fewer people in that age-group driving at all; and B) GDL's increase highway deaths among drivers aged 18-19. The longer people wait to start driving, the more poorly they do it.
9/14/11: Quote of the Year
NYRA is stepping up their campaign against drinking age restrictions. On their website, here's the money quote where NYRA nails it:
[O]ver 962 men and women in uniform under twenty-one have died in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for their country, never to be respected under the law as equal members of American society because of current minimum legal drinking age legislation.
9/11/11: New Content — how to Fight Your School
With only a few weeks to go until Youth History Month, we've decided to help those youth who may want to make their own history. Here's a step-by-step guide for students who want to change policies at their schools. From petitions to protests, we show how students can maximize their power. Use it wisely.
9/1/11: NYRA Seeks New Executive
Over the last decade, the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) has risen to become a powerful advocate for youth rights in American politics. It has risen largely because of the passionate laboring of their Executive Director, Alex Koroknay-Palicz.
Last week Koroknay-Palicz announced he is stepping down from his position as E.D. In the tradition of George Washington and Cincinnatus, Alex Koroknay-Palicz solved the problems that were holding back NYRA, elevated NYRA to a strong position where the group can finally flourish even without him, and now that the hard part is over, rather than remain on his throne, he's going back to plowing his fields or whatever Koroknay-Palicz does when he's not solving the world's problems. (Alex Koroknay-Palicz's statement is online.)
The big question now is who will replace him? Can NYRA find a new E.D. who can continue the amazing rise that NYRA has enjoyed under Alex Koroknay-Palicz?
At this point it's hard to guess, but NYRA has one huge advantage they lacked when Koroknay-Palicz started: they have a large enough budget that they can offer their E.D. a salary, meaning the next E.D. won't have to make such a sacrifice to take the job.
Trying to boost what they can offer their next E.D., NYRA is having a special fund-raiser. Nicely enough, an anonymous donor has agreed to match every donation made this month. So if you donate $10, NYRA gets $20. Donate $500, they get $1000. Please go there and pitch in what you can.
7/1/11: Recommended Reading
The Supreme Court rightly stuck down an ageist video game law. No point in us writing about it. NYRA's Eric Goldstein has a great breakdown.
Meanwhile... Salon has published a piece examining the problems of age-limits on elected office.
6/12/11: New content
With the release of X-Men: First Class, we look at Matthew Vaughn's previous film, Kick-Ass.
6/1/11: GA Gets Serious about Sex-Slavery
When the government makes it illegal for teenagers to live independently, some teenagers wind up depending on the worst scumbags. One example of this is forced prostitution. Thank you, Georgia, for taking some responsibility on this issue.