Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Targeting Sex Buyers, Not Sex Sellers: Arresting Demand for Prostitution

Targeting Sex Buyers, Not Sex Sellers: Arresting Demand for Prostitution

One of my doctoral students who studies the sex trafficking and exploitation of children says that this documentary is well done. 


Two Los Angeles police officers arrest a john
LAPD officers arrest a john
By Lisa Ko
The following article is presented in conjunction with the broadcast television premiere of A Path Appears on PBS’s Independent Lens (airs Monday, January 26, February 2 & 9; check local listings for the date and time in your area).
With the exception of some counties in Nevada, prostitution is illegal throughout the United States. But for every john or pimp arrested, multiple girls and women — some of whom were forced into the trade while still underage — are often arrested as well. Police harassment and incarceration can subject these women to further injustice, violence, and abuse.
In Massachusetts, police were found to arrest women for prostitution-related offenses far more frequently than they arrest men. The laws themselves are discriminatory: a woman can be arrested for prostitution by standing on a street corner with intention to sell, but johns can only be arrested if they’re caught discussing payments in exchange for sex.
Elsewhere, law enforcement agencies are pursuing a different approach.

The Dallas Police Department views girls in prostitution as sexual assault victims, not criminals. Instead of detention, they’re offered treatment, and seventy-five percent of those who receive it don’t go back. Officers and social workers build trust gradually with the girls, who are then more likely to testify against their pimps. As a result, the number of pimps convicted in the city has risen.
Advocates such as Carol Leigh, director of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network, say that prostitution laws that criminalize selling sex can increase exploitation — a woman may be unwilling to report abuse to the police if she’s also at risk for arrest. Criminalization, as well as the conflation of sex trafficking and voluntary sex work, thwarts women from receiving vital health services and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Neoliberalism Privatization: Impact on Professors and We the People by Rudy Acuña

Neoliberalism Privatization
Impact on Professors and We the People
Rodolfo F. Acuña

Stanley Fish, “Neoliberalism and Higher Education”, wrote that few of his colleagues had ever come across the term “neoliberalism” or knew what it meant.  

According to Fish, neoliberal principles are embedded “in culture’s way of thinking [and its] institutions.” While the term neoliberal is not frequently used, its supporters “mime and extend neoliberal principles on every opportunity.”

On university campuses in a relatively brief time this ideology has changed the mission of academy from an institution searching for the truth to a marketplace.

Privatization is the cornerstone of neoliberalism. Privatization is touted as the silver bullet that will solve the funding woes of “social security, health care, and K-12 education, the maintenance of toll–roads, railways, airlines, energy production, and communication systems.” According to them, the private sector can run them cheaper and more efficiently.

Americans, puzzled as to why Europeans tolerate being taxed so heavily, ask why do Europeans support such an expensive welfare state? The answer is that much of Europe is based on communitarianism, a philosophy that emphasizes the connection between the individual and the community rather than like the U.S. where individualism is taken to an extreme.

Critics of neoliberalism such as Noam Chomsky argue that neoliberalism benefits the rich and increases inequalities “both within and between states.”

Cash strapped public universities, after years of resistance, have succumbed to the failed philosophy of the Reagan Revolution and reproduced a new narrative that claims that the “withdrawal of the percentage of a state’s contribution to a college’s operating expenses” actually increases demand for the “product” of higher education which will lower the cost of delivering it without the need to raise taxes.

Meanwhile, in order to offset the lack of public funding, administrators have raised tuition with students becoming the primary consumers and debt-holders. Iinstitutions have entered into research partnerships with industry shifting the pursuit of truth to the pursuit of profits. To accelerate this “molting,” they have “hired a larger and larger number of short-term, part-time adjuncts.” This has created large armies of transient and disposable workers who “are in no position to challenge the university’s practices or agitate for “democratic rather than monetary goals.”

The problem is aggravated by the fact that most administrators do not know what neoliberalism is. Many come out of the humanities and the arts and those coming out of the social sciences have a rudimentary knowledge of economics.

Neoliberalism in order to grow must build a justification. Take the case of Shirley V. Svorny, a Professor of Economics and former chair of the department. In a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed piece titled, “Make College Cost More” (November 22, 2010), Svorny argued that “Artificially low fees attract some students to higher education who simply aren’t suited to the academic rigors of a university.”  Svorny blamed unqualified students for tuition increases.

As insulting as her premise is the controversy was ignored by the administration and the faculty who increasingly retire to their “professional enclaves…” concentrating on their specialties that lack “a clear connection to the public interest.”

Most public colleges and universities are nonprofit institutions in name only. They are marketplaces pursuing neoliberal agendas.  “Forty years of privatization, stagnant wages, a weak economy, a lack of jobs, and budget cuts have forced college administrators to find alternative forms of funding.”

The market logic is omnipotent. It guides faculty, academic managers and managerial professionals seeking commercial gain related to academic and nonacademic products. Faculty and students are rewarded, and programs are developed whose purpose it is to generate revenue with little attention paid to “pedagogical or knowledge-related outcomes.”  

Few studies are available on the effects of neoliberal discourse on the behavior of students. Research on the motivation, scope, and how they shift institutional priorities are rare. Even Alexander W. Astin’s (1998) study fails “to connect [the theme] to the rise of academic capitalism or the power of neoliberalism.”  

Essential to understanding students’ motivations is knowing the pressures of conformity. The Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci called it the hegemonic project, i.e., the process where the ruling class’s ideas and beliefs become the common sense values of society. Through this process, neoliberalism becomes internalized and unequivocally accepted.

From my experience, the hegemonic process has had a profound impact on administrators, professors and students in making their choices. Students select majors and research topics in terms of marketability.

In my opinion, this mindset spells doom for students at the lower margins as well as ethnic studies programs. Since the 1990s, this has become very noticeable with many new faculty lacking communitarian values common to those in the 1970s.

The importance of the common good has given way to what is good for me, which overemphasizes personal autonomy and individual rights. Asking what promotes the common good is less common.

Neoliberalism also interferes with understanding or dealing with community needs. This is very noticeable among recently hired faculty members. They participate less in student events and faculty governance.

According to Gramsci, the bourgeoisie establishes and maintains its control through a cultural hegemony, Therefore, it is natural that new professors who have spent most of their lives in the academy adopt the culture of the university. For them, bourgeois values represent the "natural" or "normal" values of society.

Forty years ago, these bourgeois ideas were countered by a few ideological members who  sought to construct an academic community. These dissidents heavily influenced intellectual discourse. This potential for political or ideological resistance has weakened, however.

In today’s academy, ideology is passé. There is noticeably less concern for the common good and more with the individual product. New faculty spends less time in the department and more time visiting  colleagues in their discipline than meeting with students or Chicana/os studies faculty.

The first thing some new faculty complain about is the size of their offices. When it is explained that we have small offices by choice – the students have a reception area in exchange for a reduction in the size of our faculty offices – they ask who made this decision? The conversation is about their product and its value.

Other faculty members spend more time in departments of their discipline, although many of these departments have refused to accept them as permanent members. It is the product that is important and they  believe it is enhanced by associating with scholars outside the Chicana/o community.

Part timers often do not want to do anything to damage their product. Take the UNAM (National University of Mexico) controversy: they ignored the political ramifications of neoliberalism. It did not matter to them. Neither did the human rights atrocities in Mexico, i.e., the disappearance of the 43 normalistas.

They are not sellouts in the popular sense of the word. They care about the issues as long as they do not affect the value of their product. Economics for them is an ideology and supply and demand are the only important factors in their decisions, Ultimately what is important is sustaining the value of the product they are selling.

Pathways to Resilience

Pathways to Resilience discusses vital topics including:

Pathways to Resilience by Movement Strategy Center

Check out the new Pathways to Resilience website!

School Closings in Chicago: Understanding Families' Choices and Constraints for New School Enrollment

January, 2015
Marisa de la Torre, Molly F. Gordon, Paul Moore, and Jennifer Cowhy; with Sanja Jagešić and Michelle Hanh Huynh
Full Publication: 

Nearly all students displaced by Chicago's 2013 mass school closure enrolled in schools with better academic ratings than their closed school. However, only one-fifth landed at top-tier schools and nearly one-quarter went to schools that were lower-performing than the welcoming schools assigned to them by the district.  This report tracks the enrollment patters of nearly 11,000 students required to transition to a new elementary schools after the closings. It also draws on interviews with parents to understand how they navigated the enrollment process and why some students ended up in their assigned school while others ended up in schools that were higher- or lower-rated than those assigned to them by the district.

Key findings from include:
  • Nearly all displaced students ended up in schools with higher performance ratings than the schools they had previously attended (93 percent), though most of these schools were not substantially higher performing. While most displaced students did end up in schools with better performance ratings than their previous schools, more than one-third remained in schools designated Level 3, the district’s lowest rating. Just 21 percent ended up in Level 1 schools, the district’s top rated schools. Prior research from UChicago CCSR found that only displaced students who ended up in substantially higher-performing schools (the top quartile in the district) saw improvement.
  • One-third of students did not enroll in district-designated welcoming schools. Of these, more than half landed in schools that were lower-rated than those assigned to them by the district. Because the district targeted most of their transition plans to the welcoming schools, these students also missed out on the extra resources given to the welcoming schools.
  • Proximity to home was the deciding factor in most enrollment decisions. Whether they enrolled in a designated welcoming school, a higher-rated school, or a lower-rated school, most families based their decision first and foremost on location. Indeed, students travelled about the same distance from home whether they attended a high- or low-rated school, suggesting that parents chose higher-rated schools primarily when they were nearby. Although parents were seeking schools that met their children’s academic needs, they also felt compelled to choose a school in their neighborhood, oftentimes because of safety concerns. Finding a school close to home was not simply about convenience but also about practical circumstances and realities, including access to a car and work schedules.
  • For many families academic quality meant something different than a schools' performance policy rating. The way that many parents defined academic quality was different than the official markers of quality represented by the district’s performance policy rating system. For example, many families defined academic quality as having after-school programs, certain curricula and courses, small class sizes, positive and welcoming school environments, and/or one-on-one attention from teachers in classes. Although some families did talk about their school’s official policy rating, most factored in these other "unofficial" indicators of academic quality when making their school choice decisions.

Publication Type:

The Mismeasure of Teaching Time



How Bad Data Produced an International Myth about U.S. Teachers and Misguided Debate about Education Policy

Few matters of international education policy have achieved as much consensus as the claim that teachers in U.S. public schools spend nearly twice as much time leading classes as their counterparts in such high-performing nations as Finland, Japan, and other nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).   Yet this claim is far from true, Samuel E. Abrams explains in a new CBCSE study entitled The Mismeasure of Teaching Time.

Teachers in U.S. public schools work hard, for relatively low pay, and under increasingly stressful conditions because of federally mandated high-stakes tests.  But they do not, as reported annually since 2000 by the OECD in its compendium of educational statistics, Education at a Glance, spend so much more time instructing students than teachers in other OECD nations.

Through repetition by journalists and scholars, this misinformation has become conventional wisdom.  In the process, a myth has evolved misguiding comparative analysis of staffing practices. This myth has moreover obscured telling differences between the structure of the school day in the United States and other OECD nations.  Finally, this myth has overshadowed the critical issue of inferior pay of U.S. teachers in comparison to that of their OECD counterparts. 

Abrams deconstructs the myth by exposing contradictions about teaching time within Education at a Glance; by revealing an error in data collection by the U.S. Department of Education that is behind the figures in Education at a Glance; and by providing detailed documentation of teaching time in the United States from a sample of rural, suburban, and urban school districts.

This study provides readers with a clearer understanding of the workload and challenges of U.S. teachers and refocuses debate about education policy. 
Click here to read the full text of this study. 
CBCSE's mission is to improve the efficiency with which public and private resources are employed in education. We conduct research to determine the costs of educational programs as well as the economic value of program impacts in order to encourage educators, evaluators and policymakers to consider these factors in conjunction with program effectiveness in addressing educational goals.
General Information
(212) 678-3259

CBCSE | Box 181, 525 West 120th Street | New York | NY | 10027

What All Americans Need to Know About How Poverty Impacts Education

The real issue is not teachers, but concentrated poverty.

"For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation."
That is the opening paragraph of a Washington Post story on the new report released by the Southern Education Foundation, which found 51% of our nation's school children in 2013 were from low-income families. Allow me to offer three early paragraphs from that report:
In 40 of the 50 states, low income students comprised no less than 40 percent of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, children eligible for free or reduced-price lunches were a majority of the students in 2013.
Most of the states with a majority of low income students are found in the South and the West. Thirteen of the 21 states with a majority of low income students in 2013 were located in the South, and six of the other 21 states were in the West.
Mississippi led the nation with the highest rate: ­71 percent, almost three out of every four public school children in Mississippi, were low-income. The nation’s second highest rate was found in New Mexico, where 68 percent of all public school students were low income in 2013.
This should have major implications for policies on education at both the national and state levels, because it highlights this truth: the real educational issue in the United States is not and never has been about poor quality among teachers. Rather, it's about the concentration of poverty.
Let me offer some data from recent international comparisons to underscore the point: Finland, the highest scoring nation in recent years, has less than 4% of its children in poverty. Even using somewhat out of date statistics from OECD, which sponsors the PISA tests used to bash US schools in comparison with international competitors, US schools with less than 25% of their children in poverty perform as well as any nation, and those with 10% or less of their children in poverty outperform Finland.
Despite the existence of social welfare programs in this country, we still have a problem of concentrated poverty. Yes, we now offer free lunch and in some (but not enough) cases free breakfasts to children from poverty. But that does not feed them on the weekend, or if school is closed because of weather.
Children in poverty are often food insecure. They may be homeless, or not that far from being homeless. Their families lack consistent sources of money. Even if they have access to health insurance through Medicaid or SCHIP, it often does not cover vision, hearing or dental. They live in neighborhoods where violence may make life itself insecure.
I am going to push fair use by quoting five consecutive paragraphs from the Poststory to provide a sense of this. I understand this may be anecdotal, and the plural of anecdote is not data. And yet, any teacher who has taught students in high poverty situations, as I did briefly before my wife was diagnosed with cancer, has experienced what you will encounter in these five paragraphs:
“When they first come in my door in the morning, the first thing I do is an inventory of immediate needs: Did you eat? Are you clean? A big part of my job is making them feel safe,” said Sonya Romero-Smith, a veteran teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary School in Albuquerque. Fourteen of her 18 kindergartners are eligible for free lunches.
She helps them clean up with bathroom wipes and toothbrushes, and she stocks a drawer with clean socks, underwear, pants and shoes.
Romero-Smith, 40, who has been a teacher for 19 years, became a foster mother in November to two girls, sisters who attend her school. They had been homeless, their father living on the streets and their mother in jail, she said. When she brought the girls home, she was shocked by the disarray of their young lives.
“Getting rid of bedbugs, that took us a while. Night terrors, that took a little while. Hoarding food, flushing a toilet and washing hands, it took us a little while,” she said. “You spend some time with little ones like this and it’s gut wrenching. . . . These kids aren’t thinking, ‘Am I going to take a test today?’ They’re thinking, ‘Am I going to be okay?’
"The job of teacher has expanded to “counselor, therapist, doctor, parent, attorney,” she said.
If you are in a community with high levels of poverty, you are likely in a community that lacks the tax base to provide decent public education, even were the students not already disadvantaged in their basic living situations.
The federal involvement in education beginning with the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act under Lyndon Johnson, who as a young man had taught children in schools populated by the disadvantaged, had as a major goal addressing the needs of such children. But somewhere along the way, too many in this nation seem to have lost their souls when it comes to addressing those in poverty.
When more than half of our school children are from low-income settings, and far too many from situations of severe poverty, how can they - the children - be held responsible for that?  Where is our societal responsibility not to condemn them to a lifetime of poverty? How is it that we have allowed a small percentage to get disgustingly, even obscenely wealthy, without acknowledging and addressing the increasing percentage of our population whose economic situations continue to worsen?
Those of us who teach do all we can to ameliorate the difficulties with which children arrive in our classrooms. But what happens outside school has a profound effect on what we can do in school. We know these children will score lower on the kinds of tests we are using to beat up on public education, but those of us who teach also know that does not mean they cannot learn. Yet it is often precisely these children, who need the enrichment of music and art and poetry and drama and access to the things taken for granted by kids of middle class settings and up, who lose the most when we cut out those "frills" in order to raise scores on tests that really do not indicate a higher level of learning.
51% of our school children are low income.That means we are not a middle class society any more. It 's an example of American "exceptionalism" that should be a matter of deep concern. No, that's not strong enough -- it's an example of a national shame.

UA Professor of “whiteness” explains research that proves the success of Ethnic Studies in TUSD

The video is worth listening to.  Dr. Nolan Cabrera presents on the "Cabrera Report" that was recently used by the 9th Circuit to note the discrimination embedded in the (un)constitutionality of HB2281, the bill banning Ethnic Studies in Tucson USD.


 VIDEO: UA Professor of “whiteness” explains research that proves the success of Ethnic Studies in TUSD

Dr. Nolan Cabrera is a professor at the University of Arizona who studies “whiteness and white racism” in education. He is also the author of the famous “Cabrera Report” which applied advanced statistical methods to analyze the success of students who took Mexican American Studies in TUSD to see if there was any significant increase in standardized test scores compared to the other students.
We begin today’s introduction with what it means to study “whiteness” as a professor.
In a nutshell, according to Cabrera, he studies “the nature of white privilege, how it is maintained (especially within institutions of higher education), and how it can be challenged.”
For the more scholarly of our readers, Cabrera explains:
Whiteness was created to ideologically justify the elevated social position of people of European descent over all others. It maintained that whites were inherently superior beings and therefore entitled to these being at the top of the social hierarchy. Since then, whiteness has been challenged (civil rights movement) and re-articulated as the social norm by which people of all other racial groups are judged while still maintaining the unearned privileges of being white.
Dr. Cabrera was in San Francisco for the Ninth Circuit Federal Court hearing on the constitutionality of HB2281, the bill that banned Ethnic Studies in Tucson. He also attended the Ethnic Studies Now summit at Mission High School before the court hearing and described his study (video below) that proves the effectiveness of Mexican American Studies in closing the achievement gap for Chican@ students.

The study that Dr. Cabrera and his colleagues published was in the prestigious American Education Research Journal and was entitled “Missing the (Student Achievement) Forest for All the (Political) Trees: Empiricism and the Mexican American Studies Controversy in Tucson.
What is amazing is that not only did MAS students do far better than all other groups of students in TUSD, but there was actually a selection bias where the lowest performing students took these classes. These students did bad their freshman year and did even worse their sophomore year. Then after taking MAS classes they outshone their colleagues on standardized tests, even in math!
Furthermore, the more MAS classes the students took, the higher they scored!
Nolan Cabrera explains his study in the video above, and we include excerpts from the federal court trial that cite some of the statistics.
  1. MAS students were 108% more likely to graduate than non-MAS students.
  2. MAS students passed the standardized math test 140% more than non-MAS students.
  3. The writing test, 162%.
  4. The reading test, 168%.
Keep in mind that these students came in with a major academic disadvantage after their sophomore year and became scholars after taking an MAS course, even in their mathematics classes. Even John Huppenthal’s independent study found zero violations of the state law.
So why is Arizona trying to ban classes that finally work in closing the achievement gap for Mexican Americans, and why do they think these young scholars are so dangerous that attempts to ban the classes were put into homeland security bills before become state law?
Perhaps the educated mind of a minority youth in America is the great fear to those in power?