Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The New Social Worker: Achieving Racial Equity through Social Work

The New Social Worker magazine has a new column on racial equity called Achieving Racial Equity through Social Work. The coumn focuses on three principles: Undoing Racism, Learning from History, and Sharing Culture. The column is written by an alliance of antiracist social workers from the Northeast who are committed to dismantling structural racism in American society.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Low-Income Students and Pell Recipients Underrepresented at Top Colleges

The concept of "undermatching" has gained a lot of attention in the media. That is, high-achieving students from low-income students are less likely to apply to (or even enroll in) highly selective colleges and universities. This phenomenon has major consequences: it isolates lower-income students from opportunities they lead to upward mobility-- higher salaries and expanded social networks with students from privileged backgrounds. Furthermore, the value of the Pell Grant has eroded over the decades as the cost of tuition has skyrocketed. A Pell Grant Pell is a partial scholarship provided by the federal government up to $5,775 awarded to students from the lower 40 percent of American household incomes. The future of the Pell Grant is precarious because the amount alone does not cover tuition and fees at top institutions. We need better policies that ensure that lower-income students have access to the same educational opportunities (and the means to achieve them). Otherwise, low-income students are being further left behind.

From the Hechinger Report:

Pell Grants were created by the Johnson Administration through the Higher Education Act of 1965 to encourage colleges to provide ladders of educational opportunity that would help both low-income students and our larger society.

Sadly, 50 years later, the value of the Pell Grants has eroded greatly, and lower income students are dramatically underrepresented at America’s finest institutions — from Ivies to state flagship institutions to top private colleges — where the graduation rates are highest and the financial aid packages strongest. One study showed that only 14 percent of American undergraduates at the top 250 institutions come from families making less than $50,000 per year.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

FDR and the Economic Bill of Rights

During World War II, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed an economic bill of rights that would ensure equality in the pursuit of happiness. During his presidency, FDR was committed to an economic and social recovery plan through the New Deal programs. He believed that social and economic rights embedded in the U.S. Constitution would guarantee security for all Americans. The eight specific rights included:
  • Employment, with a living wage
  • Food, clothing and leisure
  • Farmers' rights to a fair income
  • Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
  • Housing
  • Medical care
  • Social security
  • Education
In an era where the gap between the rich and poor has widened to unprecedented levels, this country need the economic bill rights more than ever. Watch his full presidential radio speech on the economic bill of rights below:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sociology and Civil Unrest in Baltimore

The Everyday Sociology Blog has a recent post on the coverage of civil unrest in Baltimore. While the news media generally focuses on the violent aspects, Karen Sternheimer reminds us to look at the situation from a sociological perspective.

While there are many explanations that can help us understand these events, here are some of the connections my students made, drawing from what they learned about social inequality as well as the criminal justice system:
  1. A sense that there are no consequences for police brutality
  2. The recent history of mass incarceration and the criminalization of low-income people
  3. Joblessness, poverty, and limited economic opportunity
  4. Coverage of violence drowns out legitimate grievances
  5. Racism hasn’t disappeared

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Fight for $15 and Unionization for Working Families

Last month, workers from all kinds of industries came out to protest, support, and express their sentiments on why higher wages and unionization are necessary for working families. Poor working conditions, insufficient pay, lack of benefits, reliance on government assistance, and unpredictable work schedules have psychological and economic costs for working families. The lack of economic security is the reason why workers are voicing out their stories of hardship and seeking economic justice.

From billmoyers.com:
People throughout the US sent a clear message on April 15th that in addition to better wages, people also need better jobs — jobs that provide employees with regular schedules, paid sick leave, dependable hours, benefits and respect.

Several organizations are now stepping forward to act on that message at a national level. On April 29th, the Center for Community Change, Working Families Organization, Jobs With Justice, Center for Popular Democracy, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and dozens of local grassroots partners are coming together to launch Putting Families First: Good Jobs for All. It’s a major economic initiative to reinvest in low-income communities of color and bring jobs — good jobs — to everyone.

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