TTT#376 - Dasani: Invisible Child Conversations with Virginia Vitzthum and Jake Jacobs - 12.18.13

The NY Times Invisible Child: Dasani articles are our focus on this episode of TTT.

Paul Allison @paulallison is joined by one of his colleagues from New Directions Secondary School, Jake Jacobs @NYarteacher and by Virginia Vitzthum @myblinddate , Editor of Youth Communications' Represent magazine The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

Click Read more to see the chat that was happening during this live webcast,
and to find many links to the resources shared during this episode of TTT.

Notes from the Webcast:

Youth Communication on Facebook
Our nonfiction stories and lessons motivate hard to reach teens to read, write, and succeed!
Each issue of Represent includes a lesson guide for social  workers, independent  living coordinators, and other staff that shows  how to use the stories with  teens.
Homelessness (19 stories)
These stories are from Represent and its sister publication, YCteen, which is written by New York City public high school students. 
Represent Essay Contest    
Must be 21 or under to enter;One Simple Wish, a  nonprofit that makes wishes come true for children impacted by foster  care, has generously offered to supplement the cash prizes for  Represent’s writing contest. On top of our prizes of , , and , One  Simple Wish will also give the winners “wish certificates” worth  for first place,  for second place, and  for third place.
Wishes may be things like gift cards, new shoes or clothing, tickets to  an event or amusement park, sports equipment, or other fun extras.  Winners can request their wish by e-mailing One Simple Wish at [email protected]. Wishes will be filled within 30 days of the request. To learn more about One Simple Wish, go to 
Contest Question #119
Deadline: February 24, 2014
Imagine  you are in charge of selecting foster parents for your state or agency.  What are the three most important questions you would ask prospective  foster parents? Then, for each of the three questions, write a paragraph  giving the ideal answer. In other words, answer the questions the way a  good foster parent should.
  • You may only enter the essay contest if you  live in a group home, juvenile detention center, or with a foster  family; or if you used to be in foster care. (Represent is a magazine written by and for young people in foster care.) 
  •  All essays must be true  stories written by you. This is   a non-fiction essay contest; fictional  entries or plagiarized entries   will be disqualified and you will not  be allowed to enter our contest   again. 
  •  If you win, your story  will be published on our website and in our print issue. Tell us if you  want your story to be printed anonymously—but you should still type in  your full name and complete address so we know where to mail your check  if you win.

Chat from December 18, 2013

21:00Peggy George: Hi Paul :-)
21:02Peggy George: coming in great!
21:02Peggy George: I'm really looking forward to learning more about this!
21:05Peggy George: is he the student you had on the hangout this afternoon? I just caught about the last 10 minutes
21:06Peggy George:
21:10Peggy George: This site looks amazing!
21:13Peggy George: That's really exciting to think that the young people are getting paid for their articles when they are published! So empowering!
21:16Peggy George: that is really interesting about the number of foster kids who end up homeless! So sad!
21:17Peggy George: What is Virginia's last name?
21:18Peggy George: That link is all 19 stories on the site written about homelessness
21:23Maribeth Whitehouse: Some of my most troubled students are afraid to share the facts of their lives
21:24Maribeth Whitehouse: - either in writing or orally
21:24Maribeth Whitehouse: Teachers/counselors are mandated reporters
21:24Maribeth Whitehouse: and the kids know it
21:24Maribeth Whitehouse: so they lie on a regular basis about their home life
21:31Peggy George: that makes it so challenging @Maribeth!
21:32Peggy George: it sounds like the magazine provides a way to give them a voice
21:43Peggy George: that is a powerful thought! suspension is like a new kind of homelessness!
21:46Maribeth Whitehouse: Felt like Dasani's story made it clear that schools and teachers need far more resources than they are given to deal with problems their students face
21:46Peggy George: I agree!
21:47Peggy George: what a dilemma for the student to be teased for smelling, fights back and gets suspended
21:47Maribeth Whitehouse: Mother more than approved of fighting
21:47Maribeth Whitehouse: She modeled it and held it up as a point of pride
21:48Maribeth Whitehouse: Security guard and teachers bought coat and other supplies for Dasani
21:48Peggy George: yes and she probably doesn't believe the non-violent alternatives work
21:48Peggy George: it seems like the school was very supportive
21:49Maribeth Whitehouse: Even after they got moved all the way to the Bronx
21:49Maribeth Whitehouse: Principal arranged for mom to serve as a "volunteer" and bring the baby
21:50Peggy George: it's certainly an important story to tell!
21:51Maribeth Whitehouse: the therapy that Dasani went to was a joke
21:51Maribeth Whitehouse: mother only took her to get carfare money
21:51Peggy George: yes-not so much therapy :-(
21:51Maribeth Whitehouse: counseling at my school is on an as needed basis
21:52Maribeth Whitehouse: meaning when there is a crisis
21:52Maribeth Whitehouse: like after a fight
21:52Maribeth Whitehouse: or after a suicide threat
21:52Peggy George: unfortunately that service is not very available in most schools anymore
21:52Peggy George: exactly!!
21:52Peggy George: which is too late!
21:53Maribeth Whitehouse: I agree w/ Paul - there is a teacher's side to the Dansaniesque stories
21:53Maribeth Whitehouse: and the public who thinks we can magically transform the very troubled into model students
21:53Maribeth Whitehouse: have no idea what we face
21:54Peggy George: people tend to respond to something like this by trying to help the individual or family while there are thousands others just like them
21:55Maribeth Whitehouse: exactly!
21:55Maribeth Whitehouse: Michelle Rhee recently wrote a piece about how we are failing our kids
21:55Peggy George: teachers and schools are so often made out to be the villains and get the blame
21:55Maribeth Whitehouse: and never once mentioned the word "poverty"
21:55Peggy George: she doesn't believe that poverty has an impact :-(
21:56Peggy George: I love reading what Diane Ravitch writes about Michelle Rhee
21:56Maribeth Whitehouse: Because it doesn't serve her agenda
21:56Maribeth Whitehouse: me too
21:56Maribeth Whitehouse: was hoping they would debate
21:56Maribeth Whitehouse: but Rhee backed out
21:56Peggy George: I saw that!!! no surprise there!
21:56Peggy George: I would have loved to have heard that!
21:58Maribeth Whitehouse: Dasani's story is only meaningful if it affects policy
21:58Peggy George: excellent point!!! Wish Paul would bring that up for discussion!
21:58Maribeth Whitehouse: You and I are reading each other's posts but I don't know if they do
21:59Peggy George: :-) not usually
21:59Peggy George: sometimes someone in the room is also here (like Chris Sloan and Karen Fasimpaur) but they aren't in the hangout tonight
22:00Peggy George: it's hard for Paul to facilitate the conversation and follow the chat here