Gimme 5: Stories That Parents Should Know This Week

Check out this week’s roundup of the news that parents should know.

The rate of women dying from pregnancy complications is rising

“America is the most dangerous place in the developed world to have a baby.” On average, every day in the US, two to three women die due to a complication relating to pregnancy. Maternal deaths increased between 2000 and 2014, while according to the CDC Foundation, nearly 60% of those deaths are preventable. Mother's_LoveHospitals and medical staff focus on newborn babies, neglecting mothers’ health. While maternal mortality rates have increased, infant mortality rates have decreased. Medical information given to new mothers is insufficient, according to Elizabeth Howell, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Icahn School of Medicine. “The way that we’ve been trained, we do not give women enough information for them to manage their health postpartum. The focus had always been on babies and not on mothers.”

Racial bias begins in infancy

New studies show that racial bias may begin even earlier than previously believed — in infancy. Researchers from the University of Toronto and the Ontario Institute for Studies In Education have found that older infants, from six to nine moths old, associate “own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music,” and, “infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty.” The bias likely caused by a lack of exposure to other-race individuals in infancy. The study helps researchers and advocates pinpoint the origins of racial bias. Dr. Lee, a professor at the Jackman Institute of Child Study, said, “It’s important to study where these kinds of biases come from and use that information to try and prevent racial biases from developing.” (Science Daily)

Research shows importance of closing gender gap in computer science in kindergarten

Girls as young as 6 years old are less likely to view their gender as “really, really smart” than boys of the same age. Beliefs at such a young age affect behavior and jobs later in life — women only make up about 25% of the tech industry. girl ipadNew programs are targeting girls at younger ages, looking to generate interest in coding and other STEM activities. The programs aims to encourage children in, “crafting challenges and assignments that tap into design thinking, writing, and team-building—thus creating multiple avenues for all children to get involved and excited about coding a robot to kick a ball, shoot a basket, solve a social challenge or play hide and seek.” (Forbes)

Though research advances, students with disabilities are forgotten

Bryan Stromer, a graduating student at Vanderbilt University, writes about his experiences as a student with disabilities at the university. He says that although the university complies with federal standards for disability services, staff and students lack an understanding of disability, often leading to uncomfortable situations. Stromer concluded, “I am proud to be graduating from Vanderbilt, and I am hopeful that one day Vanderbilt can be proud of me and my identity.” A spokesperson with the university responded to his letter, stating that the university is, “dedicated to the ongoing work of ensuring that all members of the Vanderbilt community felt supported and both “seen” and “heard” on our campus.” (Washington Post)

DeVos booed during commencement speech

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was booed during her delivery of a commencement speech at historically black Bethune-Cookman University. During the speech, students stood and turned their backs to the speaker. Betsy_DeVos_by_Gage_SkidmoreDeVos advocates school choice, stating in the past that historically black colleges and universities (which were founded during segregation) were “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” Fedrick Ingram, 1996 Bethune-Cookman graduate, told CNN DeVos should have done research before she made the comment, “Your job is to be committed to academia and know exactly what you’re talking about, … what context you’re saying it in.”

Not everybody disagreed with the choice of Secretary DeVos. A group of graduating students met with DeVos before the address and some felt, “she was genuinely interested in us,” according to graduate Ca’Netta General. (CNN)