Wednesday, April 23, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Backs Michigan on Affirmative Action State Ban

In a 6-2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the state constitutional ban on affirmative action in public institutions in the state of Michigan. This is a loss for the future of racial equality in American higher education.

WASHINGTON — In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.

States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities. Continue reading the main story Related in Opinion

In five separate opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

For more extensive coverage on this ruling, please browse the links below:

NYTimes: American Middle Class No Longer World's Most Affluent

According to the New York Times, the American middle class is no longer the most affluent in the world.

While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Nation: The Fifty Most Influential Progressives of the Twentieth Century

In 2010, The Nation published a ranking of the 50 most influential progressive activists of the 20th century. This list includes famous and unsung heroes who were utopians, radicals, and social reformers who were passionate about their issues and as a result left a lasting legacy on American society.

This list includes fifty people—listed chronologically in terms of their early important accomplishments—who helped change America in a more progressive direction during the twentieth century by organizing movements, pushing for radical reforms and popularizing progressive ideas. They are not equally famous, but they are all leaders who spurred others to action. Most were not single-issue activists but were involved in broad crusades for economic and social justice, revealing the many connections among different movements across generations. Most were organizers and activists, but the list includes academics, lawyers and Supreme Court justices, artists and musicians who also played important roles in key movements.

Some of the progressives on the list included educators and social workers: Jane Addams (2), Florence Kelley (4), John Dewey (5), W.E.B. Du Bois (7), and Frances Perkins (12).

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

CRISP: Nancy Humphreys Urges Political Activism for Social Workers

Many students and alumni of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work gathered to pay tribute to Nancy A. Humphreys, who is retiring from her tenure as founder and director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work. During the celebration, she reminded students on why political social work is essential to the field.

Her message: social workers need to be involved in all phases of the political process. She gives three reasons. One, political activity is part of the profession’s mission to be both about helping people to change and working to change society. Second, she believes social workers are uniquely trained to serve in the political arena. And third, because federal, state and local policy-making and legislation increasingly has to do with social services issues, social workers’ knowledge, experience, and understanding of the social welfare system are essential to effective policy making. The bottom line is that if social workers are not willing to participate in politics we forfeit our right to complain about the fairness of the system.