Tuesday, September 30, 2014

White Privilege, Explained in One Simple Comic
White privilege can be a tricky thing for people to wrap their heads around. If you’ve ever called out white privilege before, chances are you’ve heard responses like “But I’m didn’t ask to be born white!” or “You’re being reverse racist.”

The next time that happens, just show the nay-sayer this succinct comic by Jamie Kapp explaining what white privilege is — and what it isn’t.

Continue reading here.



Miller on Common Core, Teacher Evaluation, and NCLB Renewal

Miller on Common Core, Teacher Evaluation, and NCLB Renewal

Add California Democrat Rep. George Miller's name to the list of policymakers who think a "smart pause" is warranted before tying teacher evaluations to tests aligned to the Common Core standards.
"You have to give teachers the opportunity to be fully developed in the presentation of this material," said Miller, who serves as the top Democrat on the House education committee, at an event promoting the Common Core at the Center for American Progress Friday. "If they are fully developed, you have something to evaluate." Continue reading here.

Totalitarianism, American Style

 Powerful piece by Chris Hedges on the anticipated crushing of dissent that stands to befall those that challenge the corporate state. 


Could Bilingual Education Mold Kids’ Brains to Better Resist Distraction?

More on the research in bilingual education and its positive impact on our brains:

Researchers now believe that when people learn another language, they develop cognitive advantages that improve their attention, self-control and ability to deal with conflicting information.


Could Bilingual Education Mold Kids’ Brains to Better Resist Distraction?

| September 29, 2014 |

134031979By Samara Freemark and Stephen Smith, American RadioWorks
For decades, psychologists cautioned against raising children bilingual. They warned parents and teachers that learning a second language as a child was bad for brain development. But recent studies have found exactly the opposite. Researchers now believe that when people learn another language, they develop cognitive advantages that improve their attention, self-control and ability to deal with conflicting information.
Today the benefits of bilingualism are being put to the test in schools all across Utah.
Arrowhead Elementary is just one of the more than 100 public schools in the state that have launched language immersion programs in the past five years. At Arrowhead, that language is Mandarin. Other schools across Utah have created programs in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German.
Supporters of immersion education argue that learning a second language is valuable preparation to participate in the global economy. But parents are most excited about what language learning could do for their children’s brains.
The first-graders of Arrowhead Elementary in Santa Clara, Utah, are giggling. Their math teacher, Jing Sun, has just made a little subtraction joke. She drew red circles on a whiteboard, erased one, and asked, “Where did he run away to?” The kids think it’s hilarious.
It’s a joke that could be made in any first-grade math class across the United States — except that here, in southern Utah, in front of a classroom full of blond children in braids and crew cuts, Sun is speaking Mandarin Chinese. That’s the only language she speaks in the classroom: English is, emphatically, not allowed here. And the students in this class, who have been in Arrowhead’s Chinese program only about two months, seem to understand almost everything Sun is saying.
Students in a Chinese immersion program learn their numbers in Mandarin by counting pieces of cereal. (Stephen Smith)
Students in a Chinese immersion program learn their numbers in Mandarin by counting pieces of cereal. (Stephen Smith)
At Arrowhead Elementary, half of the kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders spend half of each day in classes taught entirely in Mandarin Chinese. This model of language education is known as dual immersion: The students learn civics and reading in English, and math and science in a second language. Arrowhead implemented its immersion program three years ago, hiring native Mandarin-speaking teachers through a partnership between the Chinese government and the state of Utah. Principal Susan Harrah initially faced some resistance from parents and staff.
“Our faculty just weren’t ready for it,” Harrah said. “A lot of them weren’t dual immersion teachers, so a lot of them had — not bitter feelings, but they didn’t want to have any part of any type of a language program at all.”
Arrowhead kindergarten teacher Jackie Fonnesbeck did not support the change. “I was very worried about the math, because that’s where they’re learning the basics, and I felt like they needed to have a good, strong base in English before they learn it in Chinese.”
Three years into the program, Arrowhead’s immersion skeptics have become its greatest fans. Test scores for immersion students at the school are slightly higher than they are for non-immersion kids. There’s a waiting list to get into the program. And the school’s teachers — even the English-language ones — are now big supporters.
“It’s fun to see them learning and talking in Chinese,” Fonnesbeck said. “It’s amazing these children can do this, because I sure can’t. The younger they get started, the better off they’re going to be. You’re in awe when you see it.”
Teacher Ping Ji at Arrowhead Elementary. In Utah immersion schools, teachers speak no English to their students. (Stephen Smith)
Teacher Ping Ji at Arrowhead Elementary. In Utah immersion schools, teachers speak no English to their students. (Stephen Smith)
Brain researchers who study bilingualism believe that the act of juggling two languages strengthens the brain system that helps people pay attention. That strong capacity to focus might be what leads to better academic performance in some children who grow up bilingual or attend language immersion programs.
Canadian psychologist Ellen Bialystok, at York University in Toronto, studies how the brains of bilingual people work in comparison to people who speak just one language. She wires up the skulls of test subjects from both groups to an electroencephalograph (EEG), a device that records electrical activity produced by neurons in the brain. One of the experiments she performs is called the Eriksen flanker task, which measures a person’s attention and ability to screen out unwanted stimuli. Bilingual people generally perform better on the test than monolinguals.
In Bialystok’s cognitive performance lab, the test subject watches a computer monitor that flashes a set of five arrows arrayed in a line. Depending on where the center arrow is pointing, the subject clicks a computer mouse in her left or right hand. The arrows flanking the central target add cognitive noise to the pattern. The subject has to ignore those arrows and focus on the center one. The speed and accuracy of the test subject’s reactions are measured by the computer. The EEG detects how hard her brain had to work to sort out the target arrow from the flanking noise.
Bialystok believes bilinguals are better at tuning out the noise. Their brains may have a stronger “executive control” system because of the need to switch, mentally, between languages.
“What we now know based on massive research is that both languages are always active [in the brain] to some degree,” Bialystok said. So if French were her first language and English her second, “Why don’t half my sentences come out with French words by accident?” she asked.
That rarely happens in bilinguals, Bialystok said, because the executive control system — a network in the brain’s frontal lobe — is busy focusing the mind’s attention on English, screening out the French words. The network is a kind of traffic control system that helps organize and regulate thinking. When a bilingual person calls on the network to manage the traffic of dual languages, it gets stronger.
“Bilinguals are more efficient in resolving mental competition,” said psychology professor Judith Kroll, an expert on bilingualism and director of the Center for Language Science at Penn State. “They’re apparently able to keep languages separate while keeping them both available and active in their minds at the same time.”
Today, bilingualism is seen as having cognitive benefits, but that wasn’t always the case. When Bialystok was an undergraduate in the 1960s, psychologists saw bilingualism as a disadvantage.
“There was a profoundly pervasive belief that languages were hard for children,” Bialystok said. “And that if you made a child bilingual you risked, to quote a textbook of the 1950s, ‘mental retardation.’ ”
In our contemporary, multitasking society, notions have changed. A bilingual person with a strong executive control system may have an edge. “Everything that we do that requires focused, selective attention — ignoring salient distractors that are trying to compete for attention, shifting between two things that we are trying to do at the same time, manipulating information — that is all frontal lobe, executive function stuff,” Bialystok said.
In functional MRI scans of test subjects doing the flanker task, researchers can see that the part of the brain that is believed to house the executive control system uses less blood flow in bilinguals. It’s not working as hard.
Researchers have also discovered that bilingualism may provide some protection for the brains of aging people. Studies show that the onset of dementia occurs later in the brains of bilingual people. The executive control system, researchers say, is the last one to fully develop (think teenagers) and the first to decline, but strengthening it may slow that decline.
Bialystok and Kroll say one reason language can have such a profound effect on the brain is because of how deeply we are steeped in language. We use language constantly, to speak, to read and to think. Compare that to time spent in other cognitive activities such as practicing music or making mathematical calculations.
“Over the course of your life, you have vastly more experience using language than most of these other domains,” Kroll said.
Kroll and Bialystok caution not to get too far in front of the research by making assumptions about the benefits of bilingualism. Scientists are still working to determine exactly what mechanism makes bilingual brains gain greater executive control. And there’s no guarantee that growing up bilingual, or in a language immersion program, will prove beneficial for any given individual.
Immersion education is growing in the rest of the country. California and Minnesota have long been leaders in immersion, and Delaware recently implemented a new program modeled after Utah’s. According to the most recent numbers from the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), immersion education has been steadily increasing in the United States since the 1970s. In 2011, CAL counted almost 450 immersion programs across the country. Today, that number is almost certainly higher, as Utah in particular adds schools to its statewide program.
But language education in general is actually declining across the country, especially in the lower grades. Between 1997 and 2008, the percentage of elementary schools offering foreign language instruction dropped from 31 percent to 25 percent. And the numbers are even more striking when you consider only public schools, where the percentage of elementary institutions offering language education dropped from 24 percent to 15 percent over the same period.
Numbers like these make Gregg Roberts, Utah’s dual language coordinator, irate. “What are you thinking?” he says. “Why are you staying monolingual? Why do you think this will benefit your students in the 21st century? Why would you not be offering this benefit to your students?”
When it came time to register her boys, Tiger and Justin, for first grade, Stacy Steiner of Southern Utah had a choice: put them in Horizon Elementary School’s Chinese immersion program or enroll them in the school’s standard English program. Stacy was intrigued by immersion, but she was also nervous, particularly about Justin, who sometimes struggled in school.
“I was a little concerned about him not having the foundation they get in first grade,” Steiner said. “I thought that adding a language to that would be a challenge. So there was a lot of angst over that at the beginning.”
In the end, she chose immersion. On the first day of school Justin said he expected his instructor to teach Chinese “the normal way”: by saying something in Chinese and then telling the class what the words meant in English. But when they went into class, “She [couldn't] talk any English — only Chinese!” he said. “And so I was like, ‘OK, how do we do this? This is going to be so hard.’”
Steiner said that she worried through the whole first month of classes about how her boys were doing, immersed in a language they had never heard before. That changed at the first parent-teacher conference.
Steiner has a recording she made of the meeting. On the screen, Justin sits with his teacher, reading from a sheet of Chinese characters. “Justin wasn’t reading English that fast last year,” Stacy marveled. “I was warned ahead of time that I would be surprised at how much they’d learned. But nothing really prepares you for that.”
Last year, Justin struggled in school. This year, he’s making A’s. She says the boys’ success learning Mandarin Chinese has changed the way she pictures their future.
“It has absolutely broadened my plans for my children,” she said. “I’m excited to see what they do with it.”
This article originally appeared on American RadioWorks and is part of an hourlong radio documentary called the Science of Smart. You can listen to the full documentary here and download the American RadioWorks podcast on ideas in education.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Most don’t support rating teachers on student scores, survey find

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014

Most don’t support rating teachers on student scores, survey find

A majority
of Americans don’t support using student test scores to evaluate
teachers, but do believe evaluations should influence whether a teacher
is fired, according to a new survey.

46th annual “Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools”
conducted by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa International, an educators’
organization, found that 61 percent of respondents opposed plans – like one in Georgia – to make student test scores 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation.

and several other states are launching new, high-stakes evaluation
systems that influence decisions about hiring, firing, certification and
— for some — pay. Many are tied to a $400 million federal grant called
Race to the Top. Georgia recently said it would ask for another year
before fully launching the controversial evaluation system.

respondents disagreed with using student scores to rate teachers, but
65 percent said it was “very important” evaluations be used as evidence
in a teacher’s dismissal. A smaller number, 46 percent, felt strongly
about linking evaluations to pay or bonuses.

Results from the study are based on a phone study completed by 1,001 adults across the nation.

Respondents also said they trusted public school teachers and indicated support for more rigorous teacher preparation programs.

Dumbing Down America's Teachers

Dumbing Down America's Teachers

I, too, am offended by the suggestion that advanced degrees in teaching do not matter.

Such nonsense!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

President Obama’s broken promise on undocumented migrants - Equal Times

This is very disappointing. -Angela

President Obama’s broken promise on undocumented migrants - Equal Times


David Bacon

US President Barack Obama recently announced that
he will not take any action to suspend the deportation of undocumented
migrants until after the November election.

On 6 September 2014, a White House official told the New York Times:
“Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the
President believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the
long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce
administrative action before the elections.”

<p>Migrants walk along the rail tracks after getting off a train during their journey toward the US-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico.</p>
Migrants walk along the
rail tracks after getting off a train during their journey toward the
US-Mexico border in Ixtepec, Mexico.

(AP/Eduardo Verdugo)
Continue reading here.

Ego, money and false promises: Michelle Rhee’s big secret and the collapse of education “reform”

Ego, money and false promises: Michelle Rhee’s big secret and the collapse of education “reform”

Interesting read in light of a new poll conducted by PDK and Gallup that says, “a majority of Americans (77 percent) continue to trust and have confidence in their public school teachers.”


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Texas' New Public School Textbooks Promote Climate Change Denial and Downplay Segregation

This relates to my previous post on Moses, the U.S. Constitution and accuracy in social studies textbooks.  Important debate continuing today at Texas' State Board of Education.


Texas' New Public School Textbooks Promote Climate Change Denial and Downplay Segregation

And they could end up in your kid's classroom too.

| Wed Sep. 17, 2014 10:48 AM EDT
Citizens gathered outside a 2010 Texas State Board of Education meeting to protest changes to the social-studies standards.
The battle over Texas textbooks is raging once again. On Tuesday, hundreds of citizens turned out for the first public hearing on the controversial social-science materials now under review as part of the state's contentious once-in-a-decade textbook adoption process. During the all-day proceedings, activists and historians pointed out numerous factual errors and complained that the books promoted tea party ideology while mocking affirmative action and downplaying the science linking human activity to climate change. "They are full of biases that are either outside the established mainstream scholarship, or just plain wrong," Jacqueline Jones, who chairs the history department at the University of Texas-Austin, said from the podium. "It can lead to a great deal of confusion in the reader."
Other speakers raised concerns about the treatment of religion, especially the tendency of some books to play up the role of Christianity in our nation's founding. Kathleen Wellman, a professor of history Southern Methodist University, noted with dismay that a popular civics text was filled with references to Moses and claimed that the biblical prophet had inspired American democracy. If the draft texts are adopted as is, she argued, Texas children could grow up "believing that Moses was the first American." Conservatives, meanwhile, complained that the books gave too much space to liberal figures such as Hillary Clinton.
It's a high-stakes debate. Because Texas has one of the nation's largest public school systems and some of the most rigid textbook requirements, publishers have traditionally tailored textbooks they sell nationwide to the Lone Star market.

Ads by Rubicon Project

Tuesday's hearing comes on the heels of several reports claiming the proposed social-science textbooks, which span grades K-12, are rife with bias and factual errors. One analysis commissioned by the Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit watchdog that advocates church-state separation, found that some materials downplayed the hardships blacks faced under segregation and "gave nods to neo-Confederate arguments" that states' rights rather than slavery was the driving issue behind the Civil War. The group also maintains that some books take a tea party line on issues such as taxation. As an example, TFN cites a passage in the high school American government text submitted by Pearson, the world's largest textbook publisher:
In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. taxes are "what we pay for civilized society." Society does not appear to be much more civilized today than it was when Justice Holmes made that observation in 1927. However, "what we pay" has certainly gone up.
The book makes no mention of the potential benefits of taxation, including safety net programs such as Social Security and Medicare, that have been adopted since 1927 and have slashed poverty, especially among the elderly. In another chapter, the Pearson text takes aim at affirmative action with a cartoon showing two aliens in a space ship landing on Earth. Pointing toward a man in a suit and tie, one of them exclaims: "This planet is great!—He says we qualify for affirmative action!" The only context is a caption asking readers to parse the cartoon's meaning.
Another report, released Monday by the Oakland-based National Center for Science Education, which has previously clashed with the Board of Education over its dubious treatment of evolution, highlights a handful of "deeply concerning" passages in those social-science texts that deal with climate change. The report cites a passage in the teacher's edition of the sixth grade World Cultures & Geography text issued by McGraw-Hill, the nation's second largest textbook publisher:
Scientists agree that Earth's climate is changing. They do not agree on what is causing the change. Is it just another natural warming cycle like so many cycles that have occurred in the past? Scientists who support this position cite thousands of years' worth of natural climatic change as evidence. Or is climate change anthropogenic—caused by human activity? Scientists who support this position cite the warming effect of rapidly increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The book goes on to quote two reports on global warming. One is from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global outfit comprised of climate scientists who have assembled a vast body of evidence that human beings are to blame; the other is from the Heartland Institute, a conservative think thank, which has a long history of shilling for dirty industries (including Big Oil) and has tried to undermine the science linking human activity to climate change. "Scientists who study the issue say it is impossible to tell if the recent small warming trend is  natural," reads the Heartland passage quoted in the book. "Thousands of peer-reviewed articles point to natural sources of climate variability that could explain some or even all of the warming in the second half of the twentieth century."
Pearson's fifth-grade social-studies book contains a similarly skewed description of climate change:
Burning oil to run cars also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some scientists believe that this carbon dioxide could lead to a slow heating of Earth's overall climate. This temperature change is known as global warming or climate change. Scientists disagree about what is causing climate change. 
In reality, as NCSE points out, there's no indication that climate change is a passing phase, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity is the primary driver.
Besides distorting the underlying science, NCSE's programs and policy director Josh Rosenau says many of the 104 social-studies textbooks up from review give climate change short shrift. "In this day, social-studies education ought to include an in-depth discussion of climate change," he told Mother Jones. "There are serious policy implications. There are cultural, geographic, and economic consequences. But if you include the topic, it becomes a flash point with conservatives on the Board of Education."
The current crop of textbooks were written to comply with a set of standards that the Texas State Board of Education, then controlled by a group of ultra-conservatives, crafted in 2010 with input from a cadre of hand-picked "experts." Among them were conservative culture warriors such as David Barton, a self-styled historian with deep ties to the Republican Party who argues that the principle of church-state separation is a myth. As a result, the books are required to glorify free-market capitalism, promote America's Christian heritage, and pay tribute to conservative icons, such as Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly.
Comments from Tuesday's hearing will be forwarded to publishers, who are allowed to make changes but tend to be wary of doing anything that will put them at odds with the board. The final vote on which books to adopt will be held November. Under a new Texas law, board members can only vote to reject books that have blatant factual errors or fail to meet at least half of the state's requirements, meaning it may be too late to address some of the concerns raised by Texas citizens. As Republican board member Thomas Ratliff put it last week, "If there's a complaint about the standards, that ship has sailed."
Ratliff struck a more diplomatic note during Tuesday's meeting. "This process is not going to be perfect," he said. "These books are not going to be perfect from anybody's perspective, and so what we got to do is remember these are put in the hands of hopefully trained professionals that will teach these subjects in a fair balanced and comprehensive way to get these kids ready to think for themselves."

Live-Blogging the Texas Social Studies Textbooks Public Hearing

Texas' State Board of Education is currently discussion social studies textbooks as part of our adoption process.  While I totally dig Moses, I agree with SMU Dallas history professor Dr. Kathleen Wellman that Moses' connection to the  founding of the U.S. Constitution is highly problematic as follows:  
She flatly rejects these requirements as “ahistorical” and calls the textbook passages about them overt factual errors: “The most problematic is Moses, who shows up everywhere [in the textbooks] doing everything.” She suggests that the publishers tried to conform to the flawed  requirements without really knowing how to do so. Board member David Bradley asks whether Wellman is affiliated with and compensated by TFN. Her (entirely accurate) answer is no to both. Bradley’s continuing petty attempts to suggest that scholars are influenced by TFN rather than having formed their own professional opinions in their many years of
research, writing and teaching are not surprising.

On the topic of (in)accuracy, I'm sure that these textbook are also not acknowledging the influence of American Indians, specifically, the Iroquois nation and its Constitution upon the American Constitution. 

The debate continues today.  You can follow this blog for more info from the Texas Freedom Network.


Live-Blogging the Texas Social Studies Textbooks Public Hearing

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States in 2013

Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance in the United States in 2013
Today’s report from the Census Bureau shows that key indicators of poverty and family income improved in 2013. Moreover, there is reason to believe that this progress has continued into 2014, as the labor market has strengthened and millions have gained health insurance coverage. At the same time, the data also offer a clear illustration of the large amount of work that remains to strengthen the middle class in the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression. To address this challenge, the President will continue to do everything in his power to ensure that hard work pays off with decent wages and financial security. And he will also continue to push Congress to take constructive steps that invest in job creation, boost wages, and ensure equal pay for equal work.


1. The overall poverty rate declined to 14.5 percent in 2013 due to the largest one-year drop in child poverty since 1966. The poverty rate for people under age 18 fell by 1.9 percentage point from 2012 to 2013, equivalent to 1.4 million young people lifted out of poverty. Poverty rates for other age groups (18-64 and 65+) were little changed. The official poverty rate for 2013 remains above its pre-recession rate. This official poverty rate does not reflect the full effect of anti-poverty policies because it excludes the direct effect of key measures like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Notably, the EITC was expanded in 2009, and those expansions were subsequently extended. Accounting for such policies would reduce the number of people counted as being in poverty by millions.

2. Real median income for family households rose by $603 in 2013 but remains below pre-crisis levels. Income gains in 2013 were driven by family households, as overall median household income (which also includes households with single people living alone or with unrelated individuals) also rose, but by a smaller $180. As discussed below, there is reason to believe that this progress has continued into 2014. Nevertheless, the typical family has still not seen its income recover from the deep recession which came on top of a decade in which incomes stagnated for the middle class, itself part of a longer-term trend of increasing income inequality.

3. While still too wide, the gender pay gap narrowed slightly in 2013, with the female-to-male earnings ratio climbing above 78 percent for the first time on record. Looking over the last thirty years, the gender pay gap narrowed in the 1980s and 1990s, but progress stalled in the 2000s. Indeed, the female-to-male earnings ratio had been unchanged, on balance, from 2002 to 2012. The progress made in 2013 reflected a $817 increase in average earnings for female full-time, year-round workers. At the same time, earnings for men and women are still far from parity. This issue remains a high priority for the President, which is why earlier this year he built on previous steps and signed an Executive Order that will empower workers at Federal contractors to negotiate for fair pay. The President will also continue to push Congress to take steps like passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.

4. Children and the elderly were much more likely than non-elderly adults to have health insurance coverage in 2013, reflecting the contributions of public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Eligibility for public insurance coverage contracts sharply at age 19, the age at which the more generous Medicaid/CHIP eligibility rules that apply to children cease to apply, and expands sharply at age 65, the Medicare eligibility age. Among non-elderly adults, insurance coverage generally increased with age, except that young adults ages 19-25 were slightly more likely to have health insurance than slightly older adults ages 26-34. Insurance coverage among adults ages 19-25 has increased markedly in recent years due to the Affordable Care Act’s dependent coverage provision, which permits young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn age 26.
These Census Bureau estimates are part of the first set of estimates produced using a revised suite of health insurance questions in the Current Population Survey. These revised questions are designed to address longstanding shortcomings in the older questions and will generate a more accurate picture of health insurance coverage going forward. The methodological change does mean that these data are not suitable for evaluating changes in insurance coverage from 2012 to 2013. Nevertheless, other data out today from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey showed that coverage expanded modestly from 2012 and 2013, and data released by the National Center for Health Statistics showed a sharp increase in coverage from 2013 through early 2014. For a detailed analysis of all of the health insurance coverage data released today, see this companion blog post.

5. The data released today by the Census Bureau cover the calendar year 2013, and so do not reflect the notable improvement in the labor market seen over the first eight months of 2014. In particular, job growth so far this year has averaged 215,000 per month, up from 194,000 per month last year. As of August, the unemployment rate was down 1.1 percentage point from a year earlier, with three-quarters of that decline due to falling long-term unemployment. Further, average hourly earnings for private production and nonsupervisory workers were up 2.5 percent from a year ago, the largest year-over-year increase since 2010. While data on poverty and family income in 2014 will not be available until this time next year, the recent labor market data suggest that those figures will likely show further improvement as families continue to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Next year’s report is also likely to show that health insurance coverage increased sharply in 2014, reflecting an improving economy and, much more importantly, the effects of coverage expansions under the Affordable Care Act. Notably, an analysis published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that the uninsurance rate among non-elderly adults dropped by 5.2 percentage points from late 2013 through the second quarter of 2014, corresponding to 10.3 million people gaining coverage.

Jason Furman is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Betsey Stevenson is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Need Teachers of Color

Quote from within:

Moreover, in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson Mo., and the multiple protests, workplace diversity and retention has taken on a heightened significance. Families and students from minority-majority communities and school districts have intensified calls for greater representation of minorities in civic, law-enforcement, and education professions. In other words, teachers and police officers need to reflect the communities they serve and maintain a deep affinity for and with their children and citizens. Diversity-employment policies, diversity training, and even the election of an African-American president are not enough. Until there is a shift in the workforce to match the overall shift in population demographics, racism and racial tension will remain a strong current in this country.


September 9, 2014
Published in Print: September 10, 2014

We Need Teachers of Color

Article Tools

Texas Dreamers embrace politics even as they face an uncertain future

I am so proud of our DREAM Act students here in Texas.  They have been leaders of a movement nationwide. Here's a story on them in this morning's Austin American-Statesman.


Texas Dreamers embrace politics even as they face an uncertain future

By Jonathan Tilove - American-Statesman Staff

Andrea Gonzalez Garnier, who graduated last spring with a government degree from the University of Texas, and Pedro Villalobos, now in his second year at UT Law School, are Dreamers. They are called that because they are among the nearly 50,000 students to take advantage of the Texas Dream Act since Texas 13 years ago became the first state to offer unauthorized immigrants in-state tuition at colleges and universities.Calling it the Dream Act, calling them Dreamers, was intended to present them in the most uplifting, aspirational terms, offering an image of young people who have been inculcated in the American dream in the only home many of them have ever really known, striving to share in its promise.
But it is even more apt than that, because Dreamers like Gonzalez Garnier and Villalobos live lives of surreal extremes, of sublime “I must be dreaming moments” amid a restless undercurrent of cold-sweat anxiety that one day they might learn that it really was all a dream, that they are being sent back to a place they barely know.
Despite their uncertain futures in this country, Gonzalez Garnier and Villalobos have become deeply involved in politics, volunteering for campaigns and meeting statewide candidates and presidents. Their activism is a hallmark of a new generation of immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America who not only are embracing the American dream but trying to shape it.
Of the pinch-me moments, there was state Sen. Wendy Davis, seated between Villalobos and Gonzalez Garnier at the Democratic State Convention in Dallas in June, just before Davis ascended the stage to accept her party’s nomination for governor.
At the convention, Villalobos was assigned by Democratic State Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa to help draft the party’s platform on immigration, working the computer’s “Command F” to find and remove any use of the word “illegal.”
The week before the convention, the pair met Hillary Clinton at BookPeople in Austin. Gonzalez Garnier, 21, plans to defer law school until she can help try to elect Clinton president.
Last year, Villalobos introduced Vice President Joe Biden at a West Lake Hills fundraiser — identifying himself as undocumented, he hailed Biden as “someone who will always have our back.” At 23, Villalobos has met five American presidents, more than most heads of state can claim.
And yet, in the 13 years since the Texas Dream Act was enacted, the attitude of many Texans toward Dreamers has curdled. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll found in June that about half of Texas voters want to see them not just stripped of their in-state tuition but deported along with every other undocumented immigrant in the state.
‘The future of activism’
Now comes U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, casting the November election nationally as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s apparent plans to expand the very policy — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — that protects Villalobos and Gonzalez Garnier from being deported. To Cruz, it’s a lawless amnesty that precipitated this summer’s crisis on the border, with a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America, at great peril to themselves, trekking across Mexico to Texas.
“I don’t like to think about it, but they are playing with my life,” Gonzalez Garnier said of the efforts to end DACA. “My life hangs in their hands, and I do think it’s a kind of political football.”
If it is, University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, who has studied the “politics of in-between,” said it is well to remember that it was activism among those residing in the country without authorization, which first became apparent during the immigration protests of 2006, that proved decisive in persuading Obama to embrace DACA in 2012.
“At first I didn’t understand how to be politically involved and not be able to vote,” Gonzalez Garnier said.
But she has come to see political involvement as a way to compensate for not having the vote by encouraging others to exercise the franchise she cannot.
In the eyes of Latino voters, said Barreto, co-founder of the polling and research firm, Latino Decisions, DACA was the most popular thing Obama has done and the single biggest reason he rolled up the huge margins with Latino voters that were crucial to his re-election.
“These kids are the future of activism in this country, and it’s beautiful. They’re smart, and they’re committed, and they’re focused,” said Ana Yañez-Correa, director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
If Republicans repeal the Texas Dream Act and end DACA, she said, it will be to their ultimate regret: “I think it will be the downfall of the Republican Party.”
‘Coming out as undocumented’
The Texas Dream Act offered in-state tuition to any public college or university in the state to unauthorized immigrant students who have gained admission. They must have graduated from a high school or received a GED diploma in Texas, have lived in the state for at least three years and have signed an affidavit affirming they are seeking legal residency.
According to the most recent numbers available from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, between 2002 and 2012, 45,803 students have taken advantage of in-state tuition under the act.
But “Dreamer” has also come to refer more broadly to those who would have benefited from a federal DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act — which has never passed Congress, but which would have permitted similar students a pathway to temporary, then permanent legal status and ultimately U.S. citizenship — and to those who are now covered by DACA, which Obama initiated in June 2012 as a stopgap measure in the absence of a national DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are 1.8 million immigrants in the United States who either are eligible or might become eligible for “deferred action,” a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to those who meet certain requirements: they are under age 31; they entered the United States before turning 16; they have lived here continuously for at least five years; they have stayed out of serious legal trouble, and they are either in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED certificate or served in the military.
There are an estimated 300,000 beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries in Texas, more than any other state but California.
For the last two years, DACA has enabled Gonzalez Garnier and Villalobos, both of whom were born in Mexico but grew up in Houston — Gonzalez Garnier arrived when she was 8 and Villalobos when he was 3 — to rest easy, and both have applied for a two-year extension.
“For me, the thing that always comes to my head was being able to have a driver’s license,” said Villalobos. “With DACA you get more freedom, you feel like you have more room to breathe.”
“I can work now,” he said. “This is some sort of small validation that this is my home country, that America is my home country.
“Honestly, I cried when I first held my Social Security card.”
As his mother admonished him when he started to talk openly about his status, “If there is anything we’ve taught you from a young age, you don’t tell people, this is something you don’t do.”
Villalobos has come to view his public affirmation of his status as an obligation.
“I think when people think of an undocumented immigrant, they think of someone not like me, someone not like Andrea,” Villalobos said. “I’m in law school. I just graduated from I think the best college in the state. I think that’s what gets lost in the debate, that we are contributing members of society, we pay taxes, we’re not criminals. By me coming out as undocumented, I’m putting a face to it, I’m injecting my story into the discussion.”
‘We don’t have Perry anymore’
According to the National Immigration Law Center, at least 17 states provide in-state tuition for unauthorized immigrant students.
The Texas Dream Act passed the Legislature in 2001 with only four dissenting votes and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry.
A decade later, Perry would pay a steep political price. When he ran for president, he came under fire from other Republican candidates for supporting the in-state tuition. At a debate in September 2011, he defended himself: “If you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought there through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”
The moment he uttered those words, Perry’s candidacy was doomed, said Texas Christian University political scientist Adam Schiffer, who closely tracked the polling and social media over the course of the GOP nominating process. Perry’s “oops” moment at a debate two months later was, Schiffer said, merely the coup de grace.
As he contemplates another run for president, Perry is cutting a very different figure on immigration, sending National Guard troops to help secure a border that he depicts, thanks to federal neglect, as a sieve for criminal aliens, even terrorists.
GOP primary politics notwithstanding, the DREAM Act remains popular with the general electorate, said Barreto, the University of Washington political scientist.
“About the only segment of America that is opposed to the DREAM Act is tea party sympathizers. Even among mainstream Republicans there is broad support for the DREAM Act,” he said.
But in Texas, where the tea party holds sway in the Republican Party, attitudes on immigration have been hardening.
The difference between Texas Republicans and Democrats on immigration could not be starker.
The 2014 Texas Republican Party platform called for “ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.”
The Democratic State Convention adopted a platform that called for expanding DACA until comprehensive immigration reform is enacted and that opposed any effort to repeal in-state tuition.
“Every session this law has been under attack, and every session it’s been saved because of Perry,” said Yañez-Correa, of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
But, come the next legislative session, Yañez-Correa said, “We don’t have Perry anymore.”
“I’m concerned that the Legislature will deliver a bill to the governor’s desk in the next legislative session to repeal the Dream Act given the current makeup of the House and the Senate. As governor, I will veto a bill that comes to my desk that attempts to do that,” Wendy Davis told the American-Statesman in a recent interview.
If Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is elected governor, a veto is far less likely.
“Greg Abbott believes that the objective of the program is noble. But he believes the law as structured is flawed and it must be reformed,” Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said when the issue arose last year.
‘They are Texans’
A national Latino Decisions poll in June found that 62 percent of registered Hispanic voters “personally knew an undocumented immigrant, including 30 percent of Latino voters who said they have a family member who is undocumented, and an additional 32 percent saying it was a friend. A third of Latino voters said they knew an individual or family facing detention or deportation.”
But amid Democratic fears that any announcement from the Obama administration of executive actions on immigration before the November election might swing crucial Senate races in states like Louisiana and Arkansas — and Senate control — to the Republicans, the president announced last weekend that he was postponing any action until after the election.
Barreto believes that, on balance, that was a mistake for Democrats, particularly in a place like Texas.
“Our polling indicates very clearly that had Obama moved forward with his executive action on immigration, Latino voters would have been much more enthusiastic about voting, and for voting Democrat,” Barreto said.
Cruz seized on Obama’s retreat as a sign of weakness.
“The decision to delay amnesty until after the election is an attempt to avoid accountability,” said Cruz, whose father, Rafael, came to the United States from Cuba on a student visa, and then, when that ran out, applied for and received political asylum.
DACA is amnesty, Cruz said, and, “Amnesty ensures that tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of little boys and little girls will continue to be victimized, to be physically abused, to be sexually abused. Amnesty is not compassionate, it is not humane. It is exacerbating a crisis at the border. It is lawless and it is wrong.”
Legislatively, Cruz can’t win on the issue anytime soon. The Democratic-controlled Senate won’t approve the legislation ending DACA that was passed, with Cruz’s active encouragement, in the House. Obama would veto it if they did. Also, Cruz’s legislation is written such that, theoretically, it wouldn’t strip those already covered by DACA of its protections.
But Cruz and his fellow Republicans in Congress and the Texas Legislature aren’t Gonzalez Garnier’s and Villalobos’ only concern.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision held that immigrant children who turned 21, as they both have, while waiting to be issued a family-based visa, have to get in the back of the line and start the process all over again.
Villalobos had been in line for permanent resident status with his parents since 1996. His parents are still waiting and then, only once they get approved can they petition on his behalf, starting the clock for him on another potentially decades-long wait.
Gonzalez Garnier’s mother and brother are now permanent residents, her father’s application is still going through, but, having turned 21, she’s back at square one.
Also, under new rules, when her number is called, she would have to return to Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where she is from in Mexico, while federal officials process her application, which could take weeks, months, years. “It depends,” she said. “They never tell you anything.”
In the meantime, she tries to stay focused on her very American dreaming.
She owes her interest in politics to the TV show “The West Wing,” and her becoming a Russian studies minor to a curiosity piqued by the Disney movie “Anastasia.”
She came to UT hoping to major in international relations — she dreamed about a career with the CIA — until she realized it required her to study abroad and that she can’t do that with any expectation that she’d be able to return.
Gonzalez Garnier and Villalobos got to know each other through the University Democrats at UT, and they both worked on Celia Israel’s campaign for state representative.
“We were building a campaign, and we just wanted them to be on the team,” said Israel, whose district includes parts of North and Northeast Austin and Pflugerville. “We didn’t particularly care that they’re here with or without papers. They were here with their heart and their soul, and that was what was important to me.”
Israel said she also admires their willingness to “come out.”
“It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but I’ll make a correlation to myself as a gay woman, a lesbian,” Israel said. “If you keep it inside and don’t tell anybody about it, what good is it? Come out of the closet. Be who you are, be honest about who you are and let the chips fall where they may. And I’ve learned to do that with my sexuality and, it may be dangerous to make that connection, but I see these kids having that freedom of simply saying, `I am who I am. Take me for who I am,’ and I was happy to take them for who they are because they care deeply about their state, they’re not going back to their country of birth. They are Texans.”

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15–Oct. 15

From: U.S. Census Bureau []
Sent: Monday, September 08, 2014 1:56 PM

Subject: Profile America Facts for Features: Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15-Oct. 15

U.S. Census Bureau News

Hispanic Heritage Month 2014: Sept. 15–Oct. 15

1392398081523In September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week, observed during the week that included Sept. 15 and Sept. 16. Congress expanded the observance in 1989 to a monthlong celebration (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) of the culture and traditions of those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Sept. 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.


54 million

The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2013, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority. Hispanics constituted 17 percent of the nation’s total population. Source: 2013 Population Estimates

1.1 million

Number of Hispanics added to the nation’s population between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013. This number is close to half of the approximately 2.3 million people added to the nation’s population during this period. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, National Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic origin , See first bullet under “Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin”


Percentage increase in the Hispanic population between 2012 and 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, National Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic origin , See first bullet under “Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin”

128.8 million

The projected Hispanic population of the United States in 2060. According to this projection, the Hispanic population will constitute 31 percent of the nation’s population by that date. Source: Population Projections


Ranking of the size of the U.S. Hispanic population worldwide, as of 2010. Only Mexico (120 million) had a larger Hispanic population than the United States (54 million). Source: International Data Base


The percentage of those of Hispanic origin in the United States who were of Mexican background in 2012. Another 9.4 percent were of Puerto Rican background, 3.8 percent Salvadoran, 3.7 percent Cuban, 3.1 percent Dominican and 2.3 percent Guatemalan. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic/Latino origin. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey: Table B03001

States and Counties

34.4 years

Median age of Hispanics in Florida, the highest of any state in the country. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, State Characteristics: Median Age by Race and Hispanic Origin

10 million

The estimated population for those of Hispanic origin in Texas as of July 1, 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, State Characteristics: Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin


The number of states with a population of 1 million or more Hispanic residents in 2013 — Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, State Characteristics: Population by Race and Hispanic Origin


The percentage of all the Hispanic population that lived in California, Florida and Texas as of July 1, 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, State Characteristics: Population by Race and Hispanic Origin


The percentage of New Mexico’s population that was Hispanic as of July 1, 2013, the highest of any state. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, State Characteristics: Population by Race and Hispanic Origin

14.7 million

The Hispanic population of California. This is the largest Hispanic population of any state. Source: 2013 Population Estimates

4.8 million

Los Angeles County had the largest Hispanic population of any county in 2013.

Source: 2013 Population Estimates


Miami-Dade County in Florida had the largest numeric increase of Hispanics from 2012 to 2013. Source: 2013 Population Estimates


Number of states in which Hispanics were the largest minority group. These states were Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Source: 2013 Population Estimates, PEPSR6H and PEPSR5H and

Families and Children

11.9 million

The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2013. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table F1


The percentage of Hispanic family households that were married-couple households in 2013. For the total population in the U.S., it was 73.2 percent. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table F1


The percentage of Hispanic married-couple households that had children younger than 18 present in 2013, whereas for the nation it was 40.3 percent. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table F1


Percentage of Hispanic children living with two parents in 2013, whereas nationwide it was 68.5 percent. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table C9


Percentage of Hispanic married couples with children under 18 where both spouses were employed in 2013, whereas nationwide it was 58.0 percent. Source: Families and Living Arrangements: Table FG-1

Spanish Language

38.3 million

The number of U.S. residents 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2012. This is a 121 percent increase since 1990 when it was 17.3 million. Those who hablan español en casa constituted 13.0 percent of U.S. residents 5 and older. More than half (58 percent) of these Spanish speakers spoke English “very well.”

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey: Table B16001 and Table DP02 and Language Use in the United States: 2012


Percentage of Hispanics 5 and older who spoke Spanish at home in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey: Table B16006

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance


The median income of Hispanic households in 2012. Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, Table A


The poverty rate among Hispanics in 2012 was 25.6 percent. Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, Table B


The percentage of Hispanics who lacked health insurance in 2012, down from 30.1 percent in 2011. Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012, Table C



The percentage of Hispanics 25 and older that had at least a high school education in 2012. Source: American Community Survey: 2012 Table S0201 (Hispanic Origin)


The percentage of the Hispanic population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2012. American Community Survey: 2012 Table S0201 (Hispanic Origin)

4 million

The number of Hispanics 25 and older who had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2012. Source: American Community Survey: 2012 Table C1502I

1.3 million

Number of Hispanics 25 and older with advanced degrees in 2012 (e.g., master’s, professional, doctorate). Source: American Community Survey: 2012 Table B150021 (Hispanic origin)


Percentage of students (both undergraduate and graduate) enrolled in college in 2012 who were Hispanic. Source: School Enrollment Data Current Population Survey: October 2012, Table1


Percentage of elementary and high school students that were Hispanic in 2012. Source: School Enrollment Data Current Population Survey: October 2012, Table



Percentage of the Hispanic population that was foreign-born in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table: S0201


Percentage of the 10.3 million noncitizens under the age of 35 who were born in Latin America and the Caribbean and are living in the United States in 2010-2012.



Percentage of Hispanics or Latinos 16 and older who were in the civilian labor force in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table: S0201 (Hispanic) and B23002i


The percentage of civilian employed Hispanics or Latinos 16 and older who worked in management, business, science and arts occupations in 2012. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey, Table C24010I



The percentage of voters in the 2012 presidential election who were Hispanic. Hispanics comprised 7 percent of voters in 2010. Source: News Release: Census Bureau Reports Hispanic Voter Turnout Reaches Record High for Congressional Election

and Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2012: Table 2

Serving our Country

1.2 million

The number of Hispanics or Latinos 18 and older who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey: Table B21001I


Source for statements in this section: Statistics for All U.S. Firms by Industry, Gender, Ethnicity, and Race for the United  States, States, Metro Areas, Counties, and Places: 2007, Table SB0700CSA01

Data for 2012 are being collected.

2.3 million

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 43.6 percent from 2002.

$350.7 billion

Receipts generated by Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, up 58.0 percent from 2002.


The percentage of businesses in New Mexico in 2007 that were Hispanic-owned, which led all states. Florida (22.4 percent) and Texas (20.7 percent) were runners-up.

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030 or e-mail: .


Sept. 8, 2014