#5SmartReads - March 7, 2023
Hitha on debt, on making the Scholastic Book Fair even better, and the loss of an icon in the disabilities advocacy world
Credit card debt soars as perks proliferate (Axios)
The economy is weird right now.
Prices on some everyday goods have fallen, while others have steadily increased. Employment numbers are looking solid, but layoffs are still happening. The stock market is ticking back up, and record profits from companies are contributing to that investor confidence (while hurting the consumers, I’d argue).
A new high that is now being reported in mainstream news? Credit card debt - about $1 trillion of it.
And this number only stands to increase as issuers keep sweetening the pot to get new cardholders. But there’s a catch:
“The Fed’s monetary tightening offensive is pushing up borrowing costs — including annual percentage rates, which recently set a record above 19%. For consumers who don’t pay their balances in full every month, the costs can really add up.”
With the end of pandemic emergency programs in May (SNAP, some Medicaid expansion), I expect credit card debt to keep growing just so people can afford to live. And that’s a tragedy in this day and age, and in this country. And with the Fed’s tightening efforts, the people who need relief the most are the most likely to be harmed by this.
How We Hacked The Scholastic Book Fair So That Every Kid Could Buy A Book (Romper)
From incredibly depressing news to incredibly uplifting news, I give you Megan’s experience and tips to make sure every child got a book at her children’s Scholastic Book Fair (aka my favorite day of the school year when I was a kid).
Abbott Elementary’s sponsorship of Scholastic Book Fairs at six Title I schools grabbed Megan’s attention, and helped her secure a regional supermarket to sponsor the fair she was running. Every child left with a book of their choice, with Gerrity’s support and using a sliding scale for book purchasing.
“But for the first time, every kid in our school came to the fair, and no one left empty-handed. Students shopped as classes — we’d never done that before — and they had long, leisurely visits. They browsed. They agonized: Bounce Back: Misako Rocks or The Tryout? (Having read them both, it’s a tough choice.) When they were ready with their selections, the students formed a single line. The transactions looked the same whether money changed hands or not.”
I’ve reached out to Scholastic about funding a book fair for a school. If you are interested in doing the same or getting more information for your company to do so, you can e-mail email@example.com.
Activist Judy Heumann led a reimagining of what it means to be disabled (NPR)
"Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives — job opportunities or barrier-free buildings, for example," she said. "It is not a tragedy to me that I'm living in a wheelchair."
If you watched Crip Camp, you know - and likely fell in love with - Judy Heumann.
A powerful organizer and activist, Heumann shifted how many of us viewed disabilities and learned from her powerful lessons and words - and also know we have a long fight for a truly equal society.
She sadly passed away on Saturday at the age of 75 - but her legacy lives on in the American Disabilities Act (which she aptly described as the floor for achieving equality), and the thousands of lives she’s impacted in her multi-hyphenated career.
Let’s Stop Belittling Care Work - Starting with Mom Influencers (Mother Untitled)
I could devote this weekend’s newsletter to the antiquated narratives around care work and content work around those who work and lead in this space.
But it wouldn’t be as thoughtful and introspective as Jessica Matthiesen’s essay, which not only shows the back end of a content business but also unpacks the stigma, the judgement, and the shrinking of ourselves into the boxes that old men have somehow defined for us decades ago.
It is a privilege to be able to pause your career for family life, and to create content designed to connect us and help us feel less lonely. And while that choice is the privilege, this work - and all care work, really - should receive the respect that other work receives.
“So to the influencers who kept me company in the early days when I felt so alone, and to all mommy influencers aiming to monetize their challenging work, hold your head high. Working in a way that not only has potential to generate revenue; that builds communities, empowers other moms, fulfills creative needs, and makes room for home life is most certainly worth standing up for.”
The Campaign to Sabotage Texas’s Public Schools (Texas Monthly)
What reads like a dystopian tale is sadly the reality in Texas - and the United States as a whole.
And it’s been happening for longer than I quite realized.
This is not a short or an easy article, but a vitally important one as many of us are just entering this fight to protect all kids, a solid education, and values that reflect the country I know we can be.
Emily has two M4L (Moms 4 Liberty) highlights that are worth tapping through as a follow up to this article and to get involved in actually protecting our kids, our communities, and our values.
Because the alternative is terrifying.