Teachers Are Not Prepared For Students With Special Needs

Students in Montclair State University’s dual-certification program (Jackie Mader / Hechinger Report)

Strong progress has been made to integrate students with disabilities into general-education classrooms. Educator instruction hasn’t kept up. When Mary Fair became a teacher in 2012, her classes often contained a mix of special-education students and general-education students. Placing children with and without disabilities in the same classroom, instead of segregating them, was a growing national trend, spurred by lawsuits by special-education advocates.

But in those early days, Fair had no idea how to handle her students with disabilities, whose educational challenges ranged from learning deficits to behavioral disturbance disorders. Calling out a child with a behavioral disability in front of the class usually backfired and made the situation worse. They saw it as “an attack and a disrespect issue,” Fair said.

Over time, Fair figured out how to navigate these situations and talk students “down from the ledge.” She also learned how to keep students with disabilities on task and break down lessons into smaller, easier bits of information for those who were struggling.

No one taught her these strategies. Although she earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate in math instruction for both elementary and middle school, she never had to take a class about students with disabilities. She was left to figure it out on the job.

Many teacher-education programs offer just one class about students with disabilities to their general-education teachers, “Special Ed 101,” as it’s called at one New Jersey college. It’s not enough to equip teachers for a roomful of children who can range from the gifted to students who read far below grade level due to a learning disability.

A study in 2007 found that general-education teachers in a teacher-preparation program reported taking an average of 1.5 courses focusing on inclusion or special education, compared to about 11 courses for special-education teachers. Educators say little has changed since then.

A 2009 study concluded that no one explicitly shows teachers how to teach to “different needs.” Because of time constraints, the many academic standards that must be taught, and a lack of support, “teachers are not only hesitant to implement individualized instruction, but they do not even know how to do so,” the report stated.

Fair says teacher-preparation programs should be doing more. At the very least, “You should have a special-education class and an English language learner class,” she said. “You’re going to have those students.”

Between 1989 and 2013, the percentage of students with disabilities who were in a general education class for 80 percent or more of the school day increased from about 32 percent to nearly 62 percent. Special-education advocates have been pushing for the change—especially for students who have mild to moderate disabilities like a speech impairment—in some cases by suing school districts.

Some research shows as many as 85 percent of students with disabilities can master general-education content if they receive educational supports. Supports can include access to a special-education teacher, having test questions read aloud, or being allowed to sit in a certain part of the classroom.

Students with disabilities who are placed in general-education classrooms get more instructional time, have fewer absences, and have better post-secondary outcomes. Studies also show there is no negative impact on the academic achievement of non-disabled students in an inclusion classroom; those students benefit socially by forming positive relationships and learning how to be more at ease with a variety of people.

Alla Vayda-Manzo, the principal of Bloomfield Middle School about 30 miles outside of New York City, said she’s seen the benefit of inclusion for students. The school serves about 930 students, nearly 20 percent of whom have a disability, according to state data. When students with disabilities are included in classrooms with their peers, Vayda-Manzo said the high expectations and instructional strategies “lend themselves to those students being more successful than they would be had they been in a separate, self-contained environment.”“It’s not just getting a child included … that is only a small portion of the battle.”

But as more districts move to make classrooms inclusive, they’ve been caught flat footed when it comes to finding teachers prepared to make the shift. Academic outcomes for students with disabilities have remained stagnant for years, even as more students with special needs are integrated into general-education classrooms. Students with disabilities are less likely to graduate and more likely to earn an alternate diploma that is not equivalent to a general diploma in the eyes of many colleges and employers. And year after year, they score far lower than their peers on standardized exams.

Experts say the problem is that it takes much more than just placing students with disabilities next to their general-education peers: Teachers must have the time, support, and training to provide a high-quality education based on a student’s needs.

Mike Flom, a parent and co-founder of the advocacy group New Jersey Parents and Teachers for Appropriate Education, said many factors impact inclusion’s effectiveness. His twin sons, now in seventh grade, were placed in an inclusion classroom beginning in fifth grade. Initially, Flom said his sons had “mixed reviews” on whether inclusion was beneficial.

“I think the teachers were really motivated to be helpful,” Flom said. “I don’t know the extent to which they were permitted to do the things, or had enough training to do the things, that were required to be more effective.”“It’s not just getting a child included … that is only a small portion of the battle,” he added.

These days, Mary Fair navigates her classrooms with ease. She has learned through experience how to teach students with a variety of disabilities and works with a veteran special-education teacher to modify lesson plans and tests.

On a recent morning in a seventh-grade math-inclusion classroom at Bloomfield Middle School, Fair and her co-teacher, the special-education teacher Christina Rodriguez, started a lesson on the order of operations.

Fair stepped up to the front of the classroom as Rodriguez circulated to make sure students were on task.“We’re starting order of operations,” Fair said. “It’s something you did in sixth grade, but today we are doing it differently.”“Ms. Fair, I want to see if they remember,” Rodriguez said to Fair, who smiled and nodded.“Put your hand up if you remember what the order of operations is,” Rodriguez said.More than half of the students raised their hands

“Who remembers ‘PEMDAS’?” Rodriguez asked, referring to the mnemonic device used to remember order of operations (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, Addition and Subtraction). More students eagerly shot their hands in the air.

Fair cut in and explained that although they learned PEMDAS in sixth grade, they were going to learn a new rule about the order of operations today. “Take your yellow paper and fold it horizontally,” Fair said, referring to a yellow sheet of paper that sat on each student’s desk.“Like this,” Rodriguez said, holding up a piece of paper and demonstrating how to fold it horizontally.“Like a hamburger,” Fair added.

To an outsider, it’s impossible to tell who is the general-education teacher and who is the special-education teacher. Both Fair and Rodriguez have desks at the front of the room. They switch off during lessons, effortlessly picking up where the other has left off. They both give directions and explain content. They are careful not to fall into what educators say is a common trap: seeing general-education students as the responsibility of one teacher, and special-education students as the responsibility of the other.

That’s how a good inclusion class should be, Rodriguez said, but it takes practice and time. Like Fair, Rodriguez didn’t receive any training in special education before she entered the classroom. She became a teacher through an alternate program. When she got a job teaching special education six years ago, she relied on strategies she learned while working as an aide in a class for students with autism. In 2014, she received her master’s degree in teaching students with disabilities from New Jersey City University; she now teaches a class for Montclair State University’s dual-certification teacher-preparation program.

Although most traditional teacher-preparation programs nationwide do include some training on students with disabilities, usually in the form of one course over the entirety of the program, educators say this course is often generic and perfunctory. Aspiring teachers also may be given assignments in other classes that require them to adapt a lesson for a hypothetical special-education student.

Fair said she had some assignments like those, but “we didn’t really know what we were talking about, because we weren’t taught it.” Her colleague, the science teacher Jessica Herrera, said she was only offered one class in special education—called “Special Education 101”—when she went through a traditional teacher-preparation program in New Jersey.

“A lot of my training was for that ‘middle of the road’ kind of kid,” Herrera said. “I was prepared for the regular ed student.” In her 13 years as a teacher, Herrera has taught some inclusion classes; she said she picked up strategies from working with “good special-education teachers.” When she earned her master’s degree from Montclair State, she was finally taught how to teach a “range of learners,” she said.

Fair and her co-teacher Rodriguez say there are certain things they wish were included in all teacher-education programs, like an explanation of the different kinds of disabilities and ways to address the various struggles students may encounter. They also say teacher preparation should include more classroom management and “subtle ways” to keep students focused and on task.

Mimi Corcoran, the president of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), said teacher preparation should better address topics in special education. “We do a disservice to the teachers we’re sending [to schools] in the way we’re training, and we’re doing a disservice to kids,” Corcoran said. “We’ve got to step up to the plate and think differently and act differently, and that’s hard because everybody gets comfortable and systems are hard to change.”

Some teacher-preparation programs are trying to better prepare graduates to teach students with disabilities, especially in inclusion classrooms. At Syracuse University, George Theoharis, a professor and the chair of Teaching and Leadership, said the school’s elementary special-education program has been one of the leaders nationwide in training educators for inclusive education.

Every teacher who graduates from Syracuse’s Early Childhood or Elementary Education program is dual-certified in special education and spends time in inclusion classrooms. Theoharis says it’s an approach that more preparation programs should take. “All of our programs need to be inclusive,” Theoharis said, referring to teacher preparation. “Regardless of what job teachers get, people need to be prepared to work with all children and see all children as their responsibility.”

At Montclair State, students can receive a dual certification in special education and a subject-level or grade-level range. The school also offers a unique concentration in “inclusive iSTeM,” which specifically prepares science, technology, engineering, and math teachers for inclusion classrooms. Students in the program receive a Master of Arts in Teaching, a certification in math or science, and are endorsed by the state as a teacher of students with disabilities.

Jennifer Goeke, a Montclair State professor and the program coordinator, said the dual-certification program prepares teachers to be hired as either a general- education or special-education teacher. “They know how to perform both roles easily and effectively,” Goeke said.

On a recent afternoon, Goeke was holding class in the Bloomfield Middle School media center. She asked her 17 students to first discuss issues they were having in their “fieldwork classrooms,” where they are currently observing and working with general- and special-education teachers. She listened to a few descriptions of struggles and then reminded her students that part of their job is to be an example for other teachers.

“I’m not trying to minimize or trivialize what you might be learning in your content area,” Goeke said. “It’s very important that you have a strong grounding in the methodology and the philosophy of your discipline … and know how to teach your content.” But, Goeke added, “You have to remember that most people do not have any diverse learners in mind. Their training did not teach them to take those students into account.”

In Montclair’s program, students work with two mentor teachers for a year in an inclusion classroom and in small-group settings. They receive extensive training in how to work with students with disabilities as well as how to effectively teach content, like math and science, or grade levels, like early education or elementary education.

Bloomfield chose to partner with the iSTeM program in 2012, and has hired two graduates of the program, and offered teaching positions to several more, who eventually chose jobs in other districts. The Bloomfield Principal, Vayda-Manzo, says the graduates of the program are “like unicorns in the field,” as it’s rare to find teachers who are dual-certified in general and special education.

Current teachers at Bloomfield have also benefited from iSTeM, Vayda-Manzo said. The program provides professional development for inclusion teachers at the school who agree to be mentor teachers for iSTeM students, and those teachers also observe each other and work with professors from Montclair State. Vayda-Manzo said the school makes sure co-teachers have the same planning periods so they have time to plan lessons together each day.

Herrera, who mentors iSTeM teachers, said the professional development provided through the program has improved her ability to teach students with disabilities. “I feel like I got a lot of additional strategies through that,” Herrera said.

On-the-job training is essential to ensure teachers have the skills needed to teach all students in their classroom, especially those teachers who may have attended teacher preparation years ago or missed out on training about disabilities, according to Mimi Corcoran of NCLD. “We have to be fair for the educator,” Corcoran said. For “many that are already in field, the concepts of special education and how to include kids has shifted, and [teachers] need the supports.”

Vayda-Manzo said it has been an easy choice to continue the program.“I saw the impact that it made in our inclusion classes,” Vayda-Manzo said. “We saw tremendous gains.”

By Jackie Mader

Source: Teachers Are Not Prepared for Students With Special Needs – The Atlantic

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What Is Really Driving “Inflation” Today

Roughly speaking — very roughly – there are five theories, and two subsidiary theories, proposed by different groups of economists and others to explain rising prices, or “inflation” so-called:

  1. Bad monetary policy – the central bank “printing too much money” which effectively devalues the currency relative to the value of real goods and services, driving prices up
  2. Corporate Greed – companies exploiting the public, squeezing higher profits and driving prices up
  3. Rising Inflation Expectations – a psychological explanation, which strangely holds that if the public thinks prices will rise, that alone can cause prices to rise
  4. Supply Constraints – bottlenecks in the economy that create shortages of key goods (e.g. energy and other commodities), driving prices up
  5. Demand Pressure – an economy that is running “too hot” with excessive demand that leads buyers to be willing to pay more, driving prices up – which is often explained as the result of… [these are the subsidiary theories]
  6. Loose fiscal policies that give consumers too much “extra” cash to spend, like tax cuts or stimulus checks
  7. Wage increases driven by workers’ demands for excessive compensation

These are more than mere theories. They represent distinct and comprehensive worldviews, expressed in broad economic philosophies and partisan political platforms.

Which explanation, or worldview, is correct? The question is important, because different theories lead to different and often mutually incompatible policies. A full answer would call for a book-length treatment. But two general points underscore the complexity of the problem:

“Inflation” – which, to be clear, refers very specifically to a measured rise in posted prices of the items in a market basket of goods and services defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – seems like a simple symptom, but it can be and likely always is very complicated with multiple contributing causes; in other words, several of these factors may be causally relevant at the same time

“Inflation,” so defined, is not the same “always and everywhere” (pace Milton Friedman) – just as a fever in a person can arise from many different causes – some innocuous, some annoying, some lethal – a rise in prices can issue from various sources of stress in the economy, not all of which should carry the same weight in spurring public policy

In the concrete present moment, however, “all of the above” is not a satisfactory answer. Policy-makers – at the Federal Reserve especially, but elsewhere in government – as well as investors, trying to anticipate the direction of the financial markets – need to decide which of these factors – supply, demand, the money supply, psychology – is likely to predominate today, as the immediate guide for action.

The Federal Reserve – following a prevailing fashion in economics – appears to have decided that the psychological explanation carries the greater weight right now. Fed officials have resorted to tough talk, and performative interest rate rises, to try to knock down our inflationary expectations going forward. If they can somehow calm our feverish expectations regarding future inflation – Fed policy folks speak of preventing our expectations from “de-anchoring” – and if it brings actual current inflation down, that will constitute the much-desired “soft landing.”

But there is a harsher tone now emerging from the chorus. If (we are told) throwing cold water on the public psyche is insufficient, it may become necessary to inflict damage on our standard of living, to reduce actual demand. How? By raising the unemployment rate for example – as Larry Summers has urged:

“‘We need five years of unemployment above 5 percent to contain inflation—in other words, we need two years of 7.5 percent unemployment or five years of 6 percent unemployment or one year of 10 percent unemployment,’ Summers said during a speech at the London School of Economics.”

We need 10% unemployment? This is what a “hard landing” means? According to this view, it will be necessary to inflict actual economic pain on millions of people.

To support this explicitly nasty policy, the sainted Paul Volcker is invoked – he who “broke the back of inflation” 40 years ago – although Larry Summers is more than ready to claim credit for this grim insight.

Frankly, this is an obscene recommendation. But it is worse than that — it is also wrong.

It’s The Supply Chain, Stupid

Step back even a little from last month’s CPI headlines, and the first important Hard Fact to acknowledge is the obvious one: The world economy has been slammed and shaken by three once-in-a century external shocks in the space of less than two years.

  • Covid, the worst global pandemic in 100 years
  • The Invasion of Ukraine, the first major war in Europe in 75 years
  • Monetary stimulus on a massive scale, unprecedented since World War II

Like tossing that boulder into a small pond, the effect is chaotic disruption of all important trends. The chart for almost every economic measure, whether demand-side, supply-side, or monetary, shows whiplash.

The Big Picture is a carnage of dislocation. All the normal trends and relationships are broken. Beginning one fine day in March 2020, Consumer Demand shifted violently down, then violently up, and always and especially “sideways”– i.e., consumers, in lockdown, or working remotely, unable to pursue many normal activities, or simply becoming cautious as the pandemic spread uncertainty everywhere, altered their buying patterns dramatically. As has been widely noted, there was a major displacement of spending away from the consumption of services, and in favor of the consumption of goods (durable and nondurable).

In dollar terms, over a 30 month period, consumer spending on services fell about $1.5 trillion from the trend line while purchases of durable and nondurable goods increased by about the same amount.

What all this amounts to is a recipe for putting the supply chains that serve our economy under extreme, but temporary stress. Consider the implications of the shift to goods over services.

Many services are entirely performed in a defined location (e.g., restaurants, hair salons, healthcare) – where there really is no physical supply chain as such (although the service providers may be hampered by supply problems for the goods used in performing the service). Many other services have migrated online (e.g., banking, or streaming media).

“Goods,” however, are physical objects – boxes of cereal, automobiles, microchips – that must be assembled or manufactured (from other physical inputs, with their own supply chains), inventoried, packaged, trans-shipped (often from a great distance), delivered to the end customer, tracked and cared for all along the way.

When one speaks of supply chains, one is speaking about the “goods” side of the ledger. Greater spending on goods rather than services puts a much heavier burden on real supply chains. Suddenly injecting a trillion dollars of additional demand for all sorts of physical products ripples through these tightly-coupled networks. Small glitches can derail or delay the process of “fulfillment.” For want of a nail, etc. –

In addition, there is the information deficit created by the shocks described above. Physical supply chains rely on accurate information flow from customers to manufacturers and vice versa (and all the intermediate parties). But the chaotic nature of the past 30 months has disrupted this process. It has blown up the forecasting models that customers use to place orders and manufacturers use to prepare for them.

The auto industry is a case in point, where the initial impact of the pandemic triggered classic defensive responses from the car companies, which quickly cut back orders to many parts suppliers on the assumption that the auto industry was about to enter a severe recession. When the opposite happened – consumer demand quickly surged above pre-pandemic levels – the automakers were unable to restock the parts they had canceled. The drastic losses in revenue they suffered, especially from the inability to procure semiconductor components, have been well documented. (More on that in an upcoming column).

Sheer complexity is another problem. Physical supply chains have ramified enormously, in scale and geographical dispersion (i.e., globalization). The example of the moment is the semiconductor industry, which comprises a vast eco-system with tens of thousands of critical or near-critical suppliers, reaching across the entire world. A White House report recently underscored the boggling intricacy of the supply network that underlies the digital economy.

“The Semiconductor Industry Association notes that one of its members has over 16,000 suppliers, more than half outside the United States, and that a semiconductor may cross international borders as many as 70 times before reaching its final destination.”

Then there is “science” – specifically, the science of modern logistics management, as it is taught in leading universities and disseminated through international standards bodies. Doctrines of “lean manufacturing” and “just-in-time inventory management” have been widely adopted, and they have squeezed the margin of safety out of the system in pursuit of mere efficiency.

All across the manufacturing world, traditional “shock absorbers” (e.g., physical inventory) have been stripped down to bare minimum levels. All this leads to the crisis which is now driving the price trends in the global economy. The New York Federal Reserve has recently developed a measure of supply chain stress. That stress level has exploded.

This is the primary cause of the inflation today: the supply constraints. Inflation is not being driven by “excess demand” in any permanent sense (once the stimulus checks are spent). At this point, it is certainly not being driven by growth in the money supply(which has fallen now back to levels below the long term average). [Two large questions related to the monetary causality theory are to be noted:

The efficacy, or more generally, the wisdom of aggressive money supply expansion in response to the pandemic crisis in the Spring of 2020

The nature of the lag between the money supply expansion, or now, its return to normal levels, and the effect on prices

Those issues will be sidestepped for now, with this passing comment: whatever the merits of the expansive policies in 2020 – and I think they were well-justified by their chief objective, properly realized, i.e., the avoidance of a severe recession at the time – the growth of M2 has been declining rapidly for at least 18 months, which means it is approaching the point where it should begin to show a deflationary effect.]

As to the Expectations theory of inflation, which the Fed seems to be hanging its hat on for now, that is also a large topic for another day – but available measures of inflation expectations are not showing the surge in public concern for future inflation – the dreaded “de-anchoring” – that the theory looks for as the root cause of price instability.

And finally, as for the Corporate Greed theory, this too finds no real support in the realm of factuality (although it has plenty of political voltage in some precincts).

Good News & Bad News

“It’s the Supply Chain” – has become the answer to everything, it seems. But it really is the answer to the question of what is driving “inflation” right now. Supply chain stress comes in many forms – shortages, bottlenecks, dislocations geopolitical (Ukraine), medical (China’s Covid-Zero policy and the shutdowns), and more pedestrian cases, like –“One of the world’s most legendary companies has run out of trademarks – that little blue oval emblem that reads ‘Ford.’ Reports say that their supplier cannot deliver the right number of blue emblems like the ones that Ford puts on the back of its F-150 trucks…

The average car has over 30,000 parts. The F-150 comes with six engine options, seven trim levels, and so many options that some estimates say there are over 20 million possible configurations. But, that little badge, that nameplate, that trademark, has to be there. Reports say that Ford thought about alternatives like laser etching or retrofitting the trucks when the badges become available. Doubtless some people would have bought the car without the Ford badge affixed. Many or perhaps most would just wait. With all of the supply chain issues, we have really hit the end of the road with this one.”

It’s a great little vignette, but then, it’s not so little. “Ford on Monday said it expects to have about 40,000 to 45,000 vehicles in inventory at the end of the third quarter that couldn’t be shipped to dealers because they were awaiting needed parts. Many of these vehicles are high-margin trucks and SUVs and the shortages primarily involved parts other than semiconductors, the company said.”

The Good News is that supply constraints of this sort are almost alway self-correcting. Businesses and consumers don’t sit in limbo. They respond, build new capacity, fix transportation problems, expedite shipments, increase supply; customers defer purchases, find substitutes, wait it out or work around, innovate. The market mechanism does actually function, even if imperfectly and with a lag. The shocks suffered in the last two years have been severe, but the supply chains are beginning to clear. (More on the specifics in a future column.)

The Bad News is that policy makers seem to have panicked (along with the media, who gave up hope almost immediately). I thought for a while that Fed Chairman Jerome Powell had the backbone to stand against the chorus of bad advice he was getting from so many quarters, and allow the system to find its footing again. But the pressure to “Do Something” has prevailed.

We have now entered the chapter of “performative monetary policy” – taking measures which everyone knows will (1) have no positive effect on supply chain problems – there is nothing the Fed can do to speed up the delivery of those blue oval logos – but (2) may well cause real economic havoc. Fighting inflation by “reducing demand” – which, perversely, means raising prices (like on your mortgage), and throwing millions out of work (as Volcker did) – is one of those ideas John Maynard Keynes warned us about

“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”

My first career: I spent 25 years in the high-tech segment of the wireless technology industry, involved in the early development and commercialization of digital wireless

Source: What Is Really Driving “Inflation” Today

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Coping with Grief During a Pandemic

Since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have experienced loss, sadness, anxiety, and grief. You will often hear how losing a loved one changes you for the rest of your life.

You learn to move forward in life carrying with you the cherished memories of this person and the love they brought into this world, into their relationship with you. For many, this is one of the hardest things they will ever experience in their life. It’s never easy, whether you have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one or losing a loved one due to an illness or cancer, that may have included stays in a hospital or hospice setting.

Pre-pandemic, one vital aspect of this process that helped us grieve was being surrounded by our loved ones and friends. Being present with your loved ones as they were in the hospital, being present with loved ones at a viewing or mass, being present with your family and friends at a luncheon after the funeral, just being physically present with others helped us to cope.

Currently, we are almost a year into the isolating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and unfortunately, like everyone, I have felt loss. Like others worldwide, I missed casual visits with friends and family, holiday gatherings, having my children’s education interrupted, struggling to adapt to zoom and other online video tools, fear of contracting COVID-19, etc.

The list can go on! My family also experienced two personal losses within a very short time frame. Both were my uncles; both were my mother’s brothers. One uncle contracted COVID-19 and passed away in under a month, and my other uncle lost his lengthy battle with cancer.

How the Pandemic Impacts the Grieving Process

In any time period, losing a loved one is a very difficult experience. You will hear individuals experience stages of grief and loss, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Maneuvering through these stages is often supported in part by aspects that we are missing because of the pandemic. One of the elements that are different is not being able to hug someone, to give or receive a simple embrace!

People often say that you might not remember what people say, but you will remember how they made you feel. An embrace of love, support, and I am here for you without saying a word is missing these days. Further, visitation limitations in hospitals and nursing homes due to the pandemic have strongly impacted the grieving process.

This deepens the void felt in the time with a loved one who is sick leading up to their passing. This may cause us to feel like we missed out on being there, caring for, and helping our sick loved ones feel like they are not alone. Also, some people are nervous about attending the viewing and funerals. Constraints on large gatherings impact how many people can attend, and even those who attend are spaced far apart.

The purposeful distancing helps to keep it safe in the pandemic but takes away some of the comfort in gathering together to mourn. Some wanted to attend but also wanted to make sure they were safe. In regards to my uncle, one family friend explained, “I really wanted to go, have closure, pay my respects and love to him and all of his loved ones,” but due to COVID-19 and his physical health concerns, was not able to attend.

Recommendations to Help with Loss During a Pandemic

This pandemic has had a huge impact on how we cope with grief, and it may lead us to use some new methods to help us through the tough times. If you or someone you know is dealing with a loss, the recommendations below may help to ease the pain and additional loneliness felt when losing a loved one.

Therapy. Seeing a therapist can help you process your grief and sadness.

Group Therapy (Bereavement groups). Attending a bereavement group can help you connect with others who have lost loved ones. It also may help with feeling like you are not alone and learn coping strategies from others that may better support this extremely difficult time for you.

NAMI or other support groups. Joining a group like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or other support groups such as those offered on social media platforms. This will help you broaden your scope of supportive networks. These groups and support networks are often at zero cost and can be extremely beneficial.

Support and Time. There is no specific way to mourn a loved one. For some, it may take a long time to pass through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). For those supporting someone who lost a loved one, just being present with them (virtually or physically distanced) and encouraging them to talk about their loved one is extremely beneficial.

They may not remember what you said, but surely will remember how you made them feel. This is especially true with grief – just knowing that you are there, listening, and offering comfort means so much!

Talk. Continue to talk about your thoughts and feelings related to the frustrations, anxiety, sadness, and grief due to the loss of the loved one. Shutting down, avoiding, and isolating can be an instinctual response with grief and understandable due to the significant loss.

Talk about the good times you had with the person, talk about the anger you have related to your situation, talk about the sadness that you have about the loss. The most important thing is to express yourself.

Pictures of your loved one. Looking through pictures of my uncles really helped me and my family. Remembering good times, funny moments, and speaking about their character, values, and personality was extremely beneficial to my family.

Memorialize the loved one. There are various ways you can memorialize your loved one. Some ideas are dedicating and planting a tree, flower, or garden for your loved one, contributing to a local charity, creating an online memorial, or creating a picture box.

Engage in Self-Care. Take care of yourself. Yoga, meditation, walks, music, exercise, gym, and eating right are a few things that can help you during a time of grieving.

Be kind to yourself. Losing a loved one is one of the hardest situations a person can experience. Self-compassion throughout this experience is one aspect that may help you process your grief. This is also easier said than done.

A beautiful quote by Rick Hanson from his book Just One Thing is “you can have compassion for yourself- which is not self-pity. You’re simply recognizing that ‘this is tough, this hurts,’ and bringing the same warmhearted wish for suffering to lessen or end that you would bring to any dear friend grappling with the same pain, upset, or challenges as you.”

By: Patrick McElwaine Psy.D.

Patrick McElwaine is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and also Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He is an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at Holy Family University and a faculty member at the Beck Institute.

Source: Coping with Grief During a Pandemic | Psychology Today

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Why Fears Of A ‘Government Crackdown’ On Bitcoin Are Overrated

A consistent thread about bitcoin has been that if it succeeds, it will inevitably invite government legislation and regulation to shut it down. This has been a backhanded critique of sorts advanced by investors like Ray Dalio who are “on bitcoin’s side”, but worry about its success attracting the attention of the state powers that be.

This isn’t an altogether surprising or irrational fear. We live centuries after the establishment of the nation-state as all-powerful welfare state, military, and taxation hub. It’s clear that state powers are often only reined in by “political” constraints (rather than physical or technical ones). Could governments shut down bitcoin if they wanted to?

This is probably a lot harder than one might think. Bitcoin is somewhat resilient to government crackdowns because of its origin, and the way the network is built. While states, if focused enough, could probably inflict some damage to bitcoin if it was a central state objective across the board, there are many factors for why a “government crackdown” on bitcoin is overrated for destroying the network.

1- It requires large-scale coordination among many different multilateral bodies and states

Since bitcoin is internationalized, it would require consent and coordination among almost every nation-state in order to effectively crack down on bitcoin. While the major world powers (such as the United States and China) have a bloc-like effect, and whereas there has been more coordination (often US-led) on issues such as climate change and corporate tax rates, when you look at issues as diverse as COVID-19 and the tit-for-tats of “strategic rivals” and Olympic boycotts — it is still difficult to see countries focusing on bitcoin in unison.

Large-scale coordination would be required to shut down the network in any meaningful way: otherwise, people could transact and support the bitcoin network in other nations or even in space. A slow nation-by-nation ban can affect the network: at an extreme, an unlikely state-led ban in the United States might choke off bitcoin from American-led financial systems and markets with near-total global reach. Yet, so long as bitcoin was trans-actable across other states, a “global ban” could not be accomplished nor a “government crackdown”.

2- There is no central node that states can really pressure

One of the most unique points about bitcoin is that there is no central leader figure to pin down. Satoshi’s disappearance, and Hal Finney’s untimely death, have led to a situation where there isn’t a “company CEO” or some other central leader to go after. While there are pressure points nation-states can use to pursue their objectives (for example, physical concentration of miners, key technical contributors still constrained by borders), there isn’t a central one, but rather a set of diffused ones.

We saw this when the Chinese state banned bitcoin mining in its territory: did that spell the end of bitcoin? No: miners simply shifted their equipment elsewhere, and within a few months, hash rate was as high if not higher than what it was before.

States are not used to dealing with organizations like this: they are used to dealing with multinational corporations to a certain extent, but there are usually a set of central pressure points and leadership that a state can lean on to get that corporation to adhere to certain rules and regulations. That, due to bitcoin’s unique creation story, is very unlikely to happen with any attacks on the bitcoin network.

3- Code is speech

In the United States, code is regarded as “protected” speech — software source code which powers bitcoin is protected by the First Amendment. In order to attack the distribution of code that powers bitcoin, countries like the United States would have to fundamentally change themselves and subvert long-held covenants of limited powers and the rule of law. This is not impossible (bitcoin, over a decades and even centuries long time horizon is a bet that (some) technical constraints are better than purely political ones for maintaining rule of law) but would be very out of character, and probably politically untenable.

4- States can be induced by bitcoin for commercial and other reasons

The Internet may never have been encrypted at all — export controls were initially placed on encryption, and commercial uses were seen skeptically. However, states partially relented when the commercial possibility of the Internet became clear. Now encryption powers communications as well as online banking and e-commerce sales.

This is not something states like: the Five Eyes and allied countries want to subvert end-to-end encryption and authoritarian states like the Chinese state either have backdoors or other mechanisms to promote social control. Yet it shows that, when faced with something that might threaten national security, the need for states to show GDP outcomes and to deliver wealth to their peoples might override their preferences in other areas.

As more and more countries adapt bitcoin in some fashion, this pressure will become larger until perhaps one day, we might see a bitcoin-friendly bloc of nations emerge similar to the Cairns Group for agriculture. Some will find that their domestic power-generation is more efficiently parsed through open-source bitcoin rather than supporting the fractional reserves of other countries. The more states are turned over to supporting the bitcoin network, the harder it will be for other states to attack it.

5- Bitcoin’s threat model has long included state-level powers

The way bitcoin is implemented makes it (more) prohibitive for any centralized collection of computers to disrupt the system. With more than 170,000 PH/s of hash rate securing the system (as of the date of writing) from a coordinated 51% attack (where an attacker could take over the system and propogate invalid spends in order to down the system for legitimate users, or to benefit monetarily from it), a projected security budget of around $45-60mn a day, and enough stakeholders .

(From investors, code contributors, analytics firms, miners and businesses — and now governments — that accept bitcoin) who have placed their financial livelihoods on monitoring the chain such that bitcoin could be secure beyond its fundamental dynamics — bitcoin is large enough to warrant significant resources for any attack, resources that wouldn’t be available for just any nation-state, and which would have to be continually deployed in a way that would make it hard to obscure who the attacker was.

We live in a heady time where “magic Internet money” has suddenly become the concern of Clausewitz readers around the world. As bitcoin grows more prominent, the possibility that it attracts state powers to disrupt or fully coopt it grows — yet those who play some part in the network, either from investing, transacting or supporting its infrastructure, can rest assured that the system has some inherent properties that make it more resilient than you might expect to even the strongest of attacks.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I was one of the first writers in 2014 to write about the intersection of cryptocurrencies in remittance payments and drug policy with VentureBeat and TechCrunch.

Source: Why Fears Of A ‘Government Crackdown’ On Bitcoin Are Overrated

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