From the Future

Jan Askin
Posted January 17, 2011 from United States

As I read the journal entries of sisters across the world, I reflect upon the opportunities from which I benefited as I grew up and began a career in the United States. After 90 years of activism, starting with the suffragist movement in the early 19th century, my country has learned to value and rely upon the contributions of its women. Today, female enrollment is the equal of male enrollment in university. Female enrollment exceeds male enrollment in post-graduate work!

I recently retired from a successful 36 year career in elementary education, first as a teacher and then as a principal. A generation of activist women paved the way for me to attend college, obtain teaching positions, then become a principal: a figure of authority in a previously male-dominated post. I encountered minimal prejudice and doubts about my job strengths, from unenlightened men.

The World Pulse Journal entries reflect a generation of women who do not live in a world of gender equity, let alone respect, as I have been privileged to do. But I am here to say that it is possible to dissolve the bonds of ignorance and discrimination. It requires strong women willing to work hard and stand up for their human rights.

I applaud the voices rising from this group, as these are the voices that will empower the next generation, as in my country.

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Jan 18, 2011
Jan 18, 2011

Dear Jan,

Thank you so much for posting. Your words lifted my heart for the honor and recognition you give to the women activists of your time. I do give my deep respect to them and we need more women activists to continue the opportunities they had started especially these times of economic meltdown.

Keep posting!

love, Malaya

Monica Clarke
Feb 16, 2012
Feb 16, 2012

Dear Jan

I read what you say about yourself and your dedication to education which has lasted more than three decades, and a thought came to me: I'm at the moment getting together my thoughts for my VOF feature article which is due in three weeks' time. I hope to be writing about the Classroom Assistant (CA) programme which has been successfully tried in Guinea and Sierra Leone for misplaced children in refugee camps. I hope to adapt that programme to reverse the sad situaation of rape in S African schools (see

I wondered whether you have experience of CAs in classrooms in the US which you might share with me - eg Job Specs and Descriptions / Pay scales etc - or just your comments about the support which CAs can lend for the specific protection of girl students in schools? In the developed world, it seems that CAs are there to support teachers, not specifically to protect the children - so if a conflict arises between the word of a teacher as opposed to that of a student (eg bribery / harrassment) then the CA would be expected to support the school and teacher first until it is proved to the contrary - is my thinking correct? In my ideal world the benefit of doubt would be in favour of the student .....

I would love to discuss this with you (and, with your permission, quote you in my next article for VOF) - if you would allow me to.


Jan Askin
Feb 16, 2012
Feb 16, 2012

Dear Monica,

Interesting questions. In California, we take accusations of child abuse very seriously, whether physical, emotional or sexual.

In California, if someone who works with children directly or is in a position affiliated with children's services witnesses abuse of a child, they must contact Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS then conducts an investigation, firstly interviewing the child involved as soon as possible, most often at their school or day care. Depending on the results of the investigation, the adult charged faces prosecution and/or counseling. Those conducting the interview are trained carefully.

If the abuse occurs at a school, there is a designated employee charged with investigating the allegations. An employee can face discharge for abusing a child. CPS is contacted and the above procedure occurs.

There is an inherent difficulty in protecting young children. If no one witnesses the abuse, children often do not know that the treatment to which they are subjected is inappropriate. That is one of the reasons why our laws are so strong. Many children cannot advocate for themselves so we must advocate for them. If someone working with children is aware of abuse and does nothing, they themselves can be subject to prosecution.

In California broadly speaking, the job of “Instructional Aide" involves assisting (under direct supervision) in the supervision and instruction of students; relieving teachers of routine clerical tasks; and assisting students by providing for special care needs.

Monica, I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have further questions. I am happy to communicate further.

Best wishes,


Monica Clarke
Feb 17, 2012
Feb 17, 2012

Thanks Jan, most helpful! Instructional Aide is a new term to me, thanks for that. It equates with Classroom Assistant, and gives me somewhere to start further research. Thanks so much Jan. I will get back to you if I have further questions and need insights. Love and hugs from Monica