Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas -- No New Posts Until 2012

This blog will take a short break to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. I will resume regular posts in January 2012. Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year!

In the meantime, you may listen to this lovely song by the late Karen Carpenter.



Remember: Please pray for those who are not as fortunate this Christmas weekend. Whether they need money or a home, let's hope their wishes are granted.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Job loss and foreclosure crisis takes toll on 31,000 kids in Michigan

This is very sad news and shows much the foreclosure crisis has inflicted families. It is no longer a racial or low-income problem. The bad economy is targeting middle-class families too. In Michigan, the number of homeless students in Michigan has jumped more than 300% in the last four years.
In the 2010-11 school year, more than 31,000 homeless students attended school -- 8,500 more than in the previous school year, a 37% spike attributed to the weak economy, loss of jobs and the foreclosure crisis. Overall, the number of homeless students in Michigan has jumped more than 300% in the last four years. Most experts say those numbers are low because many parents are embarrassed to admit they are homeless. And many school districts lack the resources to identify these kids, as required by federal law.


You can read more about the homeless student population below:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Census Update: 1 in 2 Americans Are Poor or Low-Income

More bad news for Americans. The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report that states more Americans are falling into poverty.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans - nearly 1 in 2 - have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Charts: What Is Your Degree Worth?

The New York Times posted a chart that compares return on investment (R.O.I.) for professionals with a bachelor's and graduate degree by field or discipline. Meanwhile, there's another article arguing whether or not the Master's has become the New Bachelor's.

The median earnings for full-time workers with a bachelor's degree in education, social work, psychology was $42,000. With a graduate degree, that increases to $57,000 in education and $60,000 in social work and psychology. In the helping professions, a master's degree is almost necessary for entry-level wages and administrative responsibilities. The second chart below focuses on the postgraduate population by gender in the United States. Men are more likely to work in management, while women are clustered in the teaching and helping professions.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Young and Free Michigan: Get That Job! Tips

I watched this cool video from Young and Free Michigan blog on how to approach your job search in this economy. This is good advice for students and recent graduates.



Ever feel like you'll never get the job you want? Careerbuilder.com has some tips for snagging that awesome career, and you can watch the video to learn about all of it. Isn't that nice?! Have a fantastic weekend!

Stay awesome,

Janelle

Saturday, December 10, 2011

GLM Rankings 2012: Northwestern #2, Michigan #11

The Global Language Monitor ranks the top universities for 2012. Astonishingly, Northwestern (my alma mater) ranked #2 and the University of Michigan dropped a few spots to #11 (last year, they were #1). Congrats to both Wildcats and Wolverines!

After four tries, Harvard returned to the top ranking of American universities by Internet Media Buzz, edging out a strong challenge by Northwestern. The University of California, Berkeley, Columbia, Caltech, and MIT – all finishing within 1% of each other – took the No. 3 through No. 6 positions. Stanford returned to the Top Ten at No. 7, followed by the ever-strong Chicago, the University of Texas, and Cornell.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Applied to Penn GSE!

It's official -- I applied to the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn GSE). I believe this is the next step in my career development. Penn GSE offers many programs and research centers in different educational practice areas (school counseling, educational psychology, literacy studies, urban education, higher education management, and much more). The school also emphasizes diversity and community engagement, especially in the city of Philadelphia. In summary, I like how Penn GSE emphasizes people and community. In my social work program, I focused my assignments around diversity in higher education. Therefore, the field of education makes perfect sense for my personal and career goals. I also believe we as a society must reduce barriers to educational equity (such as poverty!) among low-income and minority communities. I should receive a decision letter hopefully by February 2012. Look forward to an update next year!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Review: Careers for Bookworms & Other Literary Types (2009)

Careers for Bookworms & Other Literary Types (4th Edition) (2009) by Marjorie Eberts and Margaret Gisler, provides practical advice on careers for book aficionados and researchers. The authors list possible job titles in this domain, such as reference librarian for the federal government, associate editor for a travel magazine, book reviewer for a trade magazine, and story analyst for a major Hollywood studio. They quote, "Bookworms are entranced by great literature, captivated by mysteries, enthralled by biographies, fascinated by histories, attracted to nonfiction, and drawn to all books, from encyclopedia to bestsellers."

Job possibilities in this book cover careers in libraries, book publishing, magazines and newspapers, the Internet, entertainment and public relations, education, research, public sector and private sector. Of course, there's the ultimate career for a true bookworm: being an author and writing books. Each chapter contains a brief overview of the history of each field, types of work environment, job qualifications, educational requirements, description of sample job titles, future employment outlook, and list of professional associations and books for further reading.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NYTimes: The Working Poor in America

Since October 2011, the New York Times has been publishing an investigative series about the "Near Poor" (or Working Poor, in my opinion) in America. These are individuals and families who earn too much to qualify for welfare assistance but earn too little to improve their economic situation. Incomes varies by region (as low as $20,000s in the Midwest and South to as high as $50,000s on the East and West Coasts). They may live in neighborhoods or older suburbs undergoing decline, live paycheck to paycheck (just one disaster can ruin their finances), are drowning in debt, and/or may not have health insurance provided by their employer. The young and the elderly struggle to feed their children and keep a roof over their heads.

I congratulate the NYTImes and the U.S. Census Bureau for looking into this growing, but often overlooked, population because the standard federal poverty definition does not calculate the earnings of the working-poor. For instance, you may earn 200% above the poverty line, but the local cost-of-living may force you to cut back financially. In the past decade, many middle-class families are falling into the working-poor category. Unfortunately, many public officials (whose hands are tied to Wall Street) turn a blind eye to their growing pressing needs. This is why the Occupy Wall Street movement is expanding across the nation. It's time to wake up, America.

You may access all the articles below:

Monday, November 28, 2011

LA Times Series on Predatory Used Car Industry

The Los Angeles Times has a three-part series on how predatory used car businesses take advantage ofthe poor by offering short-term contracts on clunkers with interests as high as 30 (!) percent. It pains me when I read these stories and how it affects vulnerable young children. This is just as bad as the housing foreclosure crisis that wreak havoc across the country.

I offer a few solutions: there should be government programs similar to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which mandate banks offer financial assistance to low-income individuals and families financial assistance in owning a house. This program should be replicated in the auto industry as well. In this economy, if you don't have your own personal vehicle, it is extremely difficult to find and keep work. Having possession of a car lifts 87% of families out of poverty! I know what it is like to live in a city without a car; if the job opportunity is not accessible by bus then I cannot apply for that job. Most American cities don't have reliable public transportation unless you move to high cost-of-living areas such as New York City, Washington DC, and Chicago. Please contact your congressional and state representatives to support this national issue.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Design

Happy post-Thanksgiving! Recently, I have redesigned the blog to reflect new changes in my life: I finished my master's degree in social work. As a result, this blog needed a fresh layout makeover. I hope this new design is easier for visitors to find and read information.

However, I am not completely done with my education. I will return to graduate school in the fall of 2012! I won't reveal the name of the school until next month, so for now it will remain a secret. Nevertheless, as a Michigan native, I will always represent the Wolverine state and discuss matters related to Metro Detroit. Stay tuned for more blog posts!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Careers in Focus - Nonprofit Organizations (2008)

Ferguson's Careers in Focus - Nonprofit Organizations (2008) is a comprehensive career resource book for people interested in pursuing careers in the nonprofit sector. Generally, people who work in the nonprofits help others and make the world a better place. They seek a rewarding career that is a good match for their interests, goals, beliefs and passion. Under 200 pages, this book is geared towards high school and undergraduate student populations.

The nonprofit sector employs over 13 million people, and about 1.4 million nonprofit organizations are registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are ten classifications of nonprofits in the United States: arts, culture and humanities; education; environment and animals; health; human services; international/foreign affairs; religious organizations; public/society benefit; mutual membership benefit organizations; and non-classifiable organizations.

Each career profile contains a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities involved in a specific career; the history of that field, educational and certification requirements; quick facts with recommended school subjects, personal skills, typical work environment, future employment outlook and salary range; and advancement opportunities. It also lists professional associations and government agencies that you may contact for more information. Under Social Work career profile, I would add that students should have a strong background in sociology and government if they are interested in macro practice. I definitely recommend this book for social work and social science majors who are considering a career in this vast and diverse sector.

Sample career profiles in this book include:
* Career and Employment Counselors and Technicians
* Director of Volunteers
* Fund-Raisers
* Grant Coordinators and Writers
* HIV/AIDS Counselors and Case Managers
* Interpreters and Translators
* Lobbyists
* Nonprofit Social Service Directors
* Psychologists
* Public Interest Lawyers
* Public Relations Specialists
* Social Workers

Friday, November 18, 2011

Former Corps Member Doesn't Recommend TFA

I found this commentary by Gary Rubenstein, a former alum and recruiter. It is very eye-opening and explains over twenty years why Teach for America (TFA) has become a flawed and destructive model on American public education.
Twenty years ago TFA was, to steal an expression from the late great Douglas Adams — ‘mostly harmless.’ Then about ten years ago they became ‘potentially harmful.’ Now, in my opinion, they have become ‘mostly harmful.’

Though the change happened so gradually, I hardly noticed it, TFA is now completely different than it was when I joined. I still believe in the original mission of TFA as much as anyone possibly can. The problem is, in my opinion, that TFA has become one of the biggest obstacles in achieving that mission.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

WSJ: Earnings and Unemployment by College Majors

The Wall Street Journal analyzed what the median salaries are for 170 college majors. The source is the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Please pay close attention to the median salary AND unemployment rates. Although some traditional pink-collar majors earn much less (i.e., counseling, library science, and early childhood education) than STEM majors, not all STEM majors are doing well in the job market (i.e., military technologies, computer engineering, biomedical sciences).

Below, I list the most common college majors, median earnings ($) and unemployment (%) for those with a master's degree in higher education, social work, or related field.

Higher Education

  • Education Administration: $65,000 (0.0%)
  • Educational Psychology: $35,000 (10.9%)
  • General Social Sciences: $50,000 (8.2%)
  • Intercultural/International Studies: $50,000 (6.6%)
  • Humanities: $45,000 (8.4%)

Social Work

  • Clinical Psychology: $40,000 (19.5%)
  • Community and Public Health: $46,000 (4.1%)
  • Human Services/Community Organization: $38,000 (6.9%)
  • Social Work: $39,000 (6.8%)
  • Sociology: $45,000 (7.0%)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 USCAL Conference on Adult Literacy

ProLiteracy and the American Library Association offered a full program of continuing education and discussion sessions. The opening general session introduced the new “Stand for Literacy” campaign, an opportunity for adult learners and literacy advocates—including librarians—to share their personal literacy stories.
Adult literacy continues to be a serious educational and economic issue in the United States. Currently, there are an estimated 32 million adults living with such low-level literacy skills that reading a children’s picture book or understanding the instructions on a medicine bottle pose a challenge.

That’s what made the first U.S. Conference on Adult Literacy (USCAL), held November 2–5 in Houston, so groundbreaking. Sponsored by ProLiteracy, the conference brought together adult learners, literacy providers, educators, librarians, advocates, and policymakers to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the adult literacy field in the 21st century.

The commitment of adult literacy advocates was renewed and reinvigorated during this inaugural U.S. Conference on Adult Literacy. ProLiteracy and its partners are already looking ahead to the next USCAL conference, scheduled for October 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Congrats to Ohio for Repealing the Anti-Union Bill!

Congratulations, Ohio! Labor collective bargaining rights are still alive.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A year after Republicans swept legislatures across the country, voters in Ohio delivered their verdict on a centerpiece of the conservative legislative agenda, striking down a law that restricted public workers’ rights to bargain collectively.

Labor leaders said their victory contained an important message for Republicans.

“Attacking education and other public employees is not at all what the public wants to see,” said Karen M. White, political director of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest public sector union. “It should resonate with politicians that they’ve gone too far.”

At a news conference Tuesday night, Mr. Kasich congratulated the victors and said he would assess the situation before proposing any new legislation.

“It’s time to pause,” he said. “The people have spoken clearly.”

When asked about the people’s message, Mr. Kasich said, “They might have said it was too much too soon.”

Go democracy! Now, it's time for some celebration music.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Middle Class Students Are Shrinking in College

The percentage of students from middle-income families ($40,000-$100,000) attending colleges and universities has declined significantly since 2005 as rising tuition and costs become unaffordable in this fragile economy.
But the trend has some worried that top-tier, taxpayer-funded universities are increasingly out-of-reach to middle-class students whose families might make too much for significant financial aid but not enough to afford all of the college expenses.

Experts point out that the nation's middle class, overall, has shrunk, which could account for some of the percentage dip at top-tier public universities. They also point out that average in-state tuition continues to rise.

"There has been a real change in the overall distribution of income in the country. It's becoming much more unequal," said Sandy Baum, an economist and policy analyst for the College Board. "That's making many families make difficult choices about college, especially as costs increase."

At all public, four-year universities, the percentage of incoming freshmen from families who make between $40,000 and $100,000 has dropped 8%, while the percentage of incoming freshmen from families making more than $100,000 rose 10%, according to federal data.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What's Your Dream Career? Ambassador

So, I took the Fastweb.com "What Your Dream Career" Quiz and the final results were Ambassador. Since I recently earned my Master of Social Work (MSW) degree, the answer does not surprise me. I have a natural passion for helping people and achieving social justice for all.
Ambassador

Sales representative? No way. Chemical engineer? Not you. With a big heart and a natural knack for smooth-talking, there's no doubt that you could go head-to-head with Angelina Jolie for best humanitarian. Whether you're smoothing over a fight between feuding friends or solving the stickiest of situations, you somehow manage to keep even-keeled under the heaviest of pressures. That's why the perfect job for you would be making sure that people all over the world are happy, healthy, and safe.

And while there may be a lot of competition on the international stage, this world could still use all the caretakers it can get. So make sure to take your heart wherever you go! Believe it — no matter where you work, your coworkers will be glad you're there.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Detroit Free Press: Reading Works Special Issue

The Detroit Free Press has a Sunday Special on improving literacy (and reading) in Metro Detroit. It is said nearly 25 percent of the region (over 50 percent in the city of Detroit) suffers from functional illiteracy (e.g., the inability to read a newspaper, fill out a job application). As someone who cares about the adult illiteracy problem in the region, I am glad that the Detroit Free Press is promoting this social justice issue. Learn more how you can contribute to the cause below. Reading Works -- an organization of diverse leaders from the business, education, media, civic and faith communities -- is dedicated to significantly boosting adult literacy in metro Detroit.

Friday, September 30, 2011

NPR: Finding A Job Is Hard For Even The Most Educated

While this story is over a year old, it still resonates for some people who have advanced degrees and are unable to seek full-time employment in their field. The Great Recession has even affected the most educated, putting them in a disadvantage with salary potential for a decade.
"A lot of people who are qualified for more higher level jobs are settling for more entry positions, and so that's a roadblock for new graduates," Coward says.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

7 Mistakes First Time Job Seekers Make

Whether you're a college or graduate student, you cannot wait to accomplish your first job out of school. Nevertheless, it is important to avoid these seven common mistakes on the job search. Too often, they can derail your chances before the interview process has even begun.
Some first time job seekers may be making mistakes that they are not even aware of. If you have found yourself committing any of the below offenses, stop, and change course immediately.

1. Unprofessional initial contact
2. Missing the interview without calling to cancel
3. Dressing unprofessionally
4. Bringing friends or family to an interview
5. Being unprepared for the interview
6. No thank you letter
7. Using social media in a negative way

If you avoid making these mistakes, you will be well on your way to landing that first job.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CHE: An Open Letter to Graduate Students

Although this advice is over a year old, I find it highly relevant to new graduate students entering school this fall. These are very useful tips!
Today, I would like to address a new group: those students just beginning graduate school, specifically those full-time students enrolled in a PhD program.

As is the case with much of what we do at ProfHacker, the purpose of this post is to make explicit the unwritten rules, norms, and quirks of academia. Not that people will be intentionally keeping information from you; rather, it’s very easy to forget what it was like to be in your position and that what we take as self-evident is actually the product of specific departmental-, institutional-, or field-specific contexts. This letter cannot be a complete manual to finishing your degree in exactly four years (if it was, we wouldn’t be giving it away, that’s for sure!). Rather, it’s a distillation of what we, our colleagues on Twitter, and the commenters here at ProfHacker—a gracious lot, all—learned in our own graduate school experience.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. It forever changed our memories. Please attend one of your local remembrance events. Too many people died on that tragic day. Don't let their memories fade in vain. People need to work together, set aside our differences, and make this a better nation. More than ever, I feel proud to be an American.



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review: From Poor Law to Welfare State (1999)

From Poor Law to Welfare State: A History of Social Welfare in America (1999), by Walter Trattner, covers nearly 300 years of social welfare history with 17 chapters from the colonial period to the Clinton presidency. This is a review of the sixth edition, focusing on the sweeping welfare reform changes in 1996 (PROWA, also known as Personal Responsibility and Opportunity to Work Act) that would further encourage privatization ("work and starve mentality") and create economic disparities between the rich and the poor. The book's strengths is the changes in social welfare between the Civil War (1860s) and Great Society (1960s) periods. Sample chapters include the history of the public health movement, mental health movement, and divisions between charity and settlement house movements in the field of social work.

Trattner highlights the expansion and retrenchment of institutional social welfare policies in the United States. In the past three decades, social welfare has gone through a downward transition, which has alarmed social reformers and progressive leaders. The last two chapters ends on a rather gloomy note for the future: conservative social policy measures prevailed in the federal government by 2000. The Obama administration is attempting to change that by pushing an agenda that would help the working poor. However he faces major opposition from the right and big business. Although the book is geared for urban history and social work classes, faculty and students in mental health, public health, and public policy would also find this a very useful reference.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Michigan's Supreme Court to hear pension tax arguments

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear whether it is constitutional to tax public pensions. Honestly, I hope the Court rules against the GOP because it is shameful to tax pensioners who EARNED their money by working and putting their time into the system. Please contact your legislator to urge the Michigan Supreme Court to struck down this anti-poor and anti-elderly legislation. Don't let the court determine your retirement!
Lansing — Michigan's Supreme Court is to hear arguments today on whether Gov. Rick Snyder's new tax on public and private pension income violates the state constitution.

The stakes are high for Snyder and the GOP-controlled Legislature, which could see a massive hole knocked in not just the 2012 budget but all future state budgets. It's also a big case for pensioners — especially those who get public pensions — who collectively stand to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in additional income taxes if the law stands up.

Justices nominated by the Republican Party have a 4-3 majority on the court. They stress they interpret laws based on their plain language.

In this case, there is sharp disagreement over the plain meaning of a few lines in the Michigan Constitution of 1963, which say the "accrued financial benefits" of each public pension plan and retirement system "shall not be diminished or impaired."

Sunday, September 4, 2011

CHE: Five Reasons the First Week Is Not Like the Rest

It's that time of year again. It is Labor Day weekend. A new school year has begun. The Chronicle of Higher Education posted five reasons why the first week of school (or a new term) is special in higher education. I never thought much about it, but I always looked forward to a new term, new courses, and new perspectives on life. That's what makes college so unique. Welcome back students and enjoy the fall term!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Brazen Careerist: Common Mistakes To Avoid Before Starting Your Career

This advice applies to all college graduates and graduate students in their early-to-mid 20s.

Avoiding these common mistakes can make that transition much smoother:

  • Trying to be too independent
  • Being too adult too soon
  • Ignoring your health
  • Screwing up the job search
  • Putting off savings

DetNews: Michigan Legislature approves 4-year cap on welfare

Michigan Legislature approves 4-year cap on welfare, affecting 11,000 families to lose state aid. Keep in mind that the state of Michigan has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and has been in a one-state recession since the early 2000s. I am not sure where these families will find jobs to cover lost emergency income. The pro-wealthy, Republican-dominated Michigan Legislature should be ashamed of themselves.
Lansing— The state Legislature on Wednesday passed a 48-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits expected to cast more than 11,000 families off the welfare rolls on Oct. 1 — including more than 29,700 children, according to state officials.

The cumulative time limit will save $77.4 million in the budget year that starts Oct. 1, but Democrats and child advocates said they fear it will cause a humanitarian crisis as social agencies are flooded with families who can't pay for rent, utilities or other essentials.

Gov. Rick Snyder, who proposed the cap as part of his 2012 budget, is expected to sign the bill into law.

Monday, August 22, 2011

CHE: Using a Blog in a Independent Study

Although I never did blogging during my independent study times, I thought this could be useful for other students and practitioners who engage in research and social media. A graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis posted this article.
Advantages

Access and Permanence: Whoops, where did I put those lab notes? Umm, what did I call that file, and where on earth is it on my computers? If only I could read my handwriting. . . . The fact that you’re publishing the material onto the internet, making it both semi-permanent and accessible, is a huge advantage.

Organization: Closely related to permanency, blogs can keep thoughts organized. For me, this is best achieved by keeping one thought or article to one post. Posts will be organized by date which is great for seeing the evolution of your study. You can also add tags to your posts to keep them organized by subject.

Ease: Blogging is pretty darn easy. At sites like WordPress.com (which I use, on my professor’s recommendation) and Blogspot, posting is no harder than composing an e-mail or Word document–in fact, students can even often blog directly from Word, reducing any technological friction. There are many free blog hosts out there, so students should be able to find something that matches their style, budget, and technological sophistication.

Advanced Features: While blogging is easy, most providers also have advanced features that students can use as they become more comfortable. You can often schedule posts to appear at a specific date or time; you can make some posts private, requiring a password to see; and you can use analytics to see who is reading your blog (Hi, mom!).
Visibility: Independent studies are, almost by definition, lonely enterprises–but you’re often studying a topic that many people study. If you’re regularly posting your research to a public blog, eventually someone else in your discipline will find you, which can set up interesting conversations.

Accountability: It’s all too easy for independent studies to slip off of the radar of faculty member and student alike. Regular updates to a blog, however, provide a handy way of keeping this from happening, and, at semester’s end, your blog’s record of when everything was published is a perfect way to make sure the proper credit is awarded.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CHE: Women Value Higher Education More Highly Than Men Do

I found these survey results on the Chronicle of Higher Education:
At a time when women are consistently outperforming men in college enrollment and completion, women tend to value higher education more highly than men do and believe it has had a more positive impact on their lives, according to the results of a survey that was released on Wednesday.

The survey, of more than 2,100 Americans, was conducted by the Pew Research Center in March as part of a larger project on public attitudes toward higher education. (Earlier results were released in May.) Slightly more than a third of respondents to the survey held a bachelor's degree or higher.

I also feel as though women must attain additional education for financial self-sufficiency and respect. It is common knowledge that some occupations earn more than others and men with bachelor's degree can earn equal or more than women with master's degrees. If women are not careful, they are saddled with large student loan debts for careers in lower-paying but traditionally female occupations such as social work and education. What do you think of this trend?

Monday, August 8, 2011

MSW Graduation

I have recently earned a Master of Social Work. I am so happy and thrilled to complete another important milestone in my life. School is over, and I will take this time to relax, reflect, and . My next steps are applying for administrative job positions in my practice area and waiting for my limited master social work license. As a future macro social work practitioner, I am proud of my academic accomplishments and look forward to more achievements in the future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Alternet: 8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back

I found this Alternet article, 8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the US Crushed Youth Resistance, which rings so true for many Americans under the age of 35. As a social worker, it concerns me because I am committed to social change and social justice. The corporate elites have made more difficult-to-impossible to fight the status quo and restore equality to this nation. Here are the eight reasons:

1. Student-Loan Debt
2. Psychopathologizing and Medicating Noncompliance
3. Schools That Educate for Compliance and Not for Democracy
4. “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top
5. Shaming Young People Who Take Education—But Not Their Schooling—Seriously
6. The Normalization of Surveillance
7. Television
8. Fundamentalist Religion and Fundamentalist Consumerism

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Role of Libraries in Workforce Development

Libraries play an important role in enhancing adult literacy in the workplace. The American Library Association (ALA) submitted comments to the leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on Friday, urging the committee to consider library priorities for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.

“Libraries play a critical role in providing access to workforce development activities and information related to training services and employment opportunities,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said.

“We asked the committee to recognize the work libraries are already doing to help the public get back to work and to include libraries in this bill so that they will have the resources and support they need to continue strengthening America’s workforce and helping people look for jobs.”

The ALA’s comments outline seven priorities for the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act. Foremost, the ALA asks the HELP Committee to ensure the bill makes public libraries are eligible for funds for employment and training activities and encourages workforce operators to partner with public libraries. The comments also ask the committee to include public libraries as part of state and local Workforce Development Boards and to emphasize the importance of adult digital literacy skills training.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

NASW: Social Work Researchers Should Educate Public

This is a recent NASW blog piece from a scholar who believes social work researchers should take on a more active role against bigotry and change society. Doing so is part of the service to disenfranchised populations and individuals.
A recent editorial in Social Work Research urges social work researchers to more actively aid resistance to media bias and polemical attacks. Matthew O. Howard cites recent public attacks by Glen Beck on Francis Fox Piven, and the subsequent threats on her life by some of Beck’s listeners. Piven herself analyzed the social situation that gives rise to such irrational demagoguery, and maintains that it results from the difficulty the public have in understanding the complexities of legislative and governmental policies. Piven calls the gap between legislative complexity and public comprehension the “blank space in the democratic process.”

Howard urges social work researchers to help “reduce the blank space” in US democracy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

NSW: 14 Ways to Stand Out for New MSW Graduates

In case you haven't noticed, the New Social Worker has an article for new MSW graduates. The author outlines excellent points, and I use them in my job search process. I highly recommend reading.

1. Join, participate, and assume leadership in a professional organization.


2. Network and have social work friends.


3. Start any long-term processes (such as job search, licensure) immediately.


4. Find a mentor.


5. Maintain affiliation with your school or a local school of social work.


6. Consider licensure.


7. Consider different credentials.


8. Remain learned! Engage in continuing education.


9. Be open. Be flexible.


10. Get the best job possible that fits YOUR GOALS AND NEEDS.


11. Identify some role models.


12. Work on your professional speaking and presentation.


13. Social network. Professionalize your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.


14. Have a good, well formatted résumé.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Metro Times: Detroit Public Library's Bookmobile

This is an interesting local story about the origins, mission and impact of the Detroit Public Library's Bookmobile in the community. It shows how public libraries are increasing access to literacy and expanding democracy, particularly in marginalized neighborhoods.

The DPL has operated its bookmobile since 1940. The program is based at the Douglass Branch for Specialized Services on Grand River near Trumbull, which also houses several other programs, like the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Two bookmobiles make the rounds. Each one, a newer-model mini-bus with shelves instead of seats, can hold thousands of books. One is full of children's material and makes stops at public schools in Detroit where the libraries have been closed or aren't staffed by a librarian anymore, rendering them closed anyway.

The other is stocked with genres such as mystery, romance, biography and modern novels. It visits far-flung homes, densely packed senior apartment complexes, and riverfront retirement communities, serving adults who can't make their way to a library on their own. New patrons come by word-of-mouth, or by postings on bulletin boards in recreation centers and retirement homes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Content Coming Soon!

Don't worry, I have not disappeared! My workplace has kept me extremely busy with new assignments and back-to-back meetings that I have little time to write new posts. I will have new content posted next month! Stay tuned.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Career Advice: 11 Lessons for Recent Graduates

For the Class of 2011, graduation is on the horizon. I found this link on LinkedIn, which contains excellent career advice for recent graduates. I think it opened my eyes to who I am and what I would like to become. It is based on the book, "The Seed," by John Gordon.

1. You are here for a reason. The most important thing you can do in life is to find, live and share your purpose. If you don't pursue it, everything else is meaningless.

2. Follow your passion. It so often leads you to your purpose.

3. It's OK if you don't know what your passion is right now. Make it your life's mission to find it, live it and share it. Seek out jobs and experiences that allow you to use your strengths and gifts, to uncover your passion.

4. Beware of hobbies. Just because you love spending time on Facebook doesn't mean you would enjoy working for the company. And just because you love to cook doesn't mean you would enjoy owning a restaurant.

5. Quit for the right reasons. Not because work is hard or you're experiencing challenges. Quit because in your heart you know there is something else for you to do.

6. Learn from every job and experience. Every job, good or bad, prepares you for the work you were born to do.

7. Whatever job(s) you take after graduation, simply decide to serve. When you serve in small ways you'll get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways.

8. Your dream job is likely not the one you dreamed about. So often we end up in amazing careers that have nothing to do with our college degree or childhood dreams.

9. The quest for your purpose will not follow a straight line. There will be mystery, signs, obstacles, victories, dead ends, delays and detours.

10. Don't rush the future. Seeds must go through a process in order to become all they are destined to become; you must go through a process to become the person you are meant to be and do the work you are meant to do. Most likely if you were to get what you want NOW, you are not ready for it.

11. Be the seed. Seeds surrender themselves to the ground so they can be used for a greater purpose. Wherever you work, decide to plant yourself and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose. You will grow into the person you were born to be and produce a harvest that will benefit others and change the world.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Support School Broadband

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has developed a broadband availability map and search engine as part of a collaborative effort with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This education-focused broadband map and database builds upon the NTIA State Broadband Data and Development (SBDD) Program that surveys bi-annually broadband availability and connectivity for the 50 United States, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia. For more information about it, please visit data.ed.gov.

Why should you support school broadband availability? The DOE states:
With broadband, students and teachers can expand instruction beyond the confines of the physical classroom and traditional school day. Broadband can also provide more customized learning opportunities for students to access high-quality, low-cost and personally relevant educational material. Broadband can improve the flow of educational information, allowing teachers, parents and organizations to make better decisions tied to each student’s needs and abilities. Improved information flow can also make educational product and service markets more competitive by allowing school districts and other organizations to develop or purchase higher-quality educational products and services.

Monday, May 16, 2011

NASW: Social Work Is the Profession of Hope

National Association of Social Workers Executive Director Betsy Clark talked about the valuable services social workers offer society during an interview on the Anita Estell Radio Show (To hear the full interview click here).

Social workers help people in all walks of society, including children, the elderly and veterans, Clark told Estell, who is an attorney, lobbyist, and columnist. They are especially needed in these troubled economic times and to serve soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clark said.

Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, also stressed the importance of Congress passing the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act. That bill among other things would create a commission to develop a long-term strategy to maximize services social workers provide clients.

“I really believe social work is the profession of hope,” Clark said at the end of the interview. “And I think what social workers do is to help people reframe their hopes when they are facing broken hopes.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Today is National Library Legislative Day

Contact your elected officials on National Library Legislative Day!

Libraries are increasingly essential in these tough economic times. People are flocking to our nation’s libraries for job and career information, small business research and e-government services as well as support for formal and informal education and lifelong learning. Congress made across-the-board cuts to federal programs in its FY2011 budget, and libraries fill the gaps made when other agencies and services. Unfortunately, libraries are also receiving federal budget cuts.

Even if you can’t make it Washington for National Library Legislative Day on May 9, you can join us by contacting your representatives and senators during Virtual Legislative Day.

Please contact your elected officials with the following requests:

APPROPRIATIONS FY2012

  • Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
  • Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
  • Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
  • Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (School Libraries):

  • Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
  • A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
  • A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
  • Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.

While these issues are the most urgent at this time, there are many other critical pieces of legislation impacting libraries. For full list of key issues that will be discussed at National Library Legislative Day, click here. ALA has also drafted issue briefs on the following areas: Access, Appropriations for Libraries, Broadband & Telecommunications, Copyright, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Government Services & Information, Surveillance & Privacy and the WILL Act.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

10 Ways Libraries Matter in a Digital Age

Greg Landgraf revised a list of ten ways libraries matter in a digital age in American Libraries magazine. He used feedback and suggestions from readers to draft this version. Visit the link for more details about each bullet.

  1. Libraries serve the disenfranchised.
  2. Libraries are a gathering place.
  3. Libraries are a first step to literacy.
  4. Libraries are there for all ages.
  5. Libraries help people use the internet.
  6. … And libraries help people use the internet better.
  7. Libraries are interested in your privacy.
  8. Libraries are hubs for preserving the past.
  9. Libraries are there in a crisis.
  10. Libraries offer the human touch.

Without libraries, social workers would not be able to effectively provide services and resources for their clients.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chronicle: 5 Myths About the 'Information Age'

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article, 5 Myths about the 'Information Age', that debunks historical myths about the future of information technology in society. I am glad that libraries still play an important role in furthering knowledge and fostering community. In fact, the digital divide still exists when it comes to who has access to certain kinds of information.

Here are the five myths that the article explains in greater detail:

  1. "The book is dead."
  2. "We have entered the information age."
  3. "All information is now available online."
  4. "Libraries are obsolete."
  5. "The future is digital.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

NYT: The High Cost of Teacher Salaries

I hold a lot of respect for K-12 teachers. Although I am not an aspiring teacher, I think it is an admirable profession. I found this article, The High Cost of Teacher Salaries, in the New York Times, and I believe the authors are spot-on accurate about the dire future of teaching in America.
At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible.

So how do teachers cope? Sixty-two percent work outside the classroom to make ends meet. For Erik Benner, an award-winning history teacher in Keller, Tex., money has been a constant struggle. He has two children, and for 15 years has been unable to support them on his salary. Every weekday, he goes directly from Trinity Springs Middle School to drive a forklift at Floor and Décor. He works until 11 every night, then gets up and starts all over again. Does this look like “A Plan,” either on the state or federal level?

We’ve been working with public school teachers for 10 years; every spring, we see many of the best teachers leave the profession. They’re mowed down by the long hours, low pay, the lack of support and respect.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Drilldown Detroit Report

Report Finds Detroit is Ready for New Investment

Social Compact and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation's 2009 DrillDown Report for Detroit will serve as a foundation for comprehensive economic development strategic planning for the City of Detroit through 2012.

(DETROIT, MI, February 23) - In the face of the national recession, many of Detroit's neighborhoods are continuing to show strong market strength for retail and other economic investment. The Social Compact 2009 DrillDown Report shows that while Detroit experienced an overall population loss, many neighborhoods remained stable or had grown slightly since the 2000 U.S. Census report. In anticipating a Census 2010 undercount, this information has allowed Data Driven Detroit, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and other local partners to take the offensive in describing what are the city's investment opportunities.

The DrillDown study was managed by Detroit Economic Growth Corporation. "Data Driven Detroit is pleased to be a partner in this effort, as it truly symbolizes our mission of providing accurate and innovative data products to the community," said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit. "The DrillDown's unique methodology allows Detroit neighborhoods to represent themselves through information that is unavailable elsewhere. Furthermore, the willingness of Social Compact to share its methodology with D3 will allow Detroiters to receive DrillDown profiles for any user-defined neighborhood in the city." D3 can be contacted for customized DrillDown reports, please submit requests through AskKurt@DataDrivenDetroit.org


The full 2009 DrillDown Report can be downloaded from any of the partner websites:

· www.degc.org/local-data.aspx/demographics

· www.datadrivendetroit.org

· www.socialcompact.org

Monday, April 25, 2011

Video: Recall Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan

Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan, proposed in his inaugural speech that the residents of Michigan will have to engage in "shared sacrifice" to improve the state's economy. His campaign included ways to bring young people back to Michigan and promote urban revitalization of the state's largest cities (especially Detroit and Grand Rapids). However, he presents a budget that will cut funding to public K-12 and higher education and raise higher taxes on poor families and retirees to support a $1.8 billion tax cut for corporations. As an aspiring http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifsocial worker, this is no "shared sacrifice." Rather, this is a redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. This is morally wrong and mean-spirited. Please spread the word and recall Rick Snyder. The video shows the hypocrisies of the governor.

Friday, April 22, 2011

SWT: Transitioning Social Work Leaders

In March/April 2011 Issue of Social Work Today, social workers gathered in Washington, DC, for the 2010 Social Work Congress, where they identified leadership development as a key priority for the profession as it moves into the next decade. More importantly, the profession needs more input and involvement from young social workers (especially under 40). This will help improve the profession's image and outreach.
And, according to several “30 under 30” participants, the presence of younger faces is needed to help social work tackle the myriad challenges it faces. Social work is not unique from other professions in experiencing a leadership gap as large numbers of older, experienced workers retire. But for social work, this gap comes at a time when an economic slowdown, changes in the political landscape, and competition from other professions are threatening the future of human services. The demand for services is increasing while resources are shrinking. Low salaries and misperceptions about the nature of social work are keeping many people away from the profession

The article also lists five strategies to prepare social work students for leadership:
  • Prepare students to deal with the day-to-day realities of social work
  • Get students involved in professional organizations
  • Connect students with professional mentors
  • Give students tools needed to make the case for social work
  • Nurture leadership at all levels of social work education

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

60 Minutes: Hard Times Generation, Child Poverty on the Rise

The child poverty rate is on the rise as a record number of struggling families fall into poverty. These once-stable families have either lost their jobs or homes to foreclosure. It is estimated that the child poverty rate in the United States will soon hit 25 percent. Nevertheless, our elected officials continue to emphasize personal responsibility rhetoric and ignore poverty reduction policies.

Friday, April 15, 2011

DetNews: Detroit library could close most of its branches

Nearly all of the public libraries in Detroit may close soon. This will leave few opportunities for residents to improve literacy and access the internet. Ironically, Detroit city officials claim that they want to attract new residents and young professionals back to the city, yet they want to reduce trash pickup and close essential public services, including schools and libraries at alarming rates.
The Detroit Public Library could close most of its neighborhood branches and lay off more than half of its workers because of an $11 million shortfall caused by plunging tax collections...

Whatever course commissioners who oversee the system choose in May, residents in an economically challenged city with a functional illiteracy rate of 47 percent are likely to suffer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Future of Macro Social Work in the 21st Century

Last month, a visitor emailed me an excellent article, Social Work Intellectuals in the Twenty-First Century, about the role of social workers in the 21st century. Although I had already responded to the person, I thought it was important to share it with the rest of the community. It talks about critical social theory and the decline of public intellectuals in American society. Reasons listed include an increased emphasis on professionalization and articles in peer-reviewed publications. The focus on research has deterred many promising social work intellectuals from sparking social change and advocating for social justice in newspapers, blogs and other media venues. I can only name two public intellectuals (Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman) in the media today. That's a shame.

I am very familiar with critical social theory, and recently completed a project about critical race theory. Social work is a unique field that focuses on practice, research and social justice. Many professions do not mandate their professionals to pursue social justice goals within their code of ethics. However, too often, social workers have focused too much on the idea of professionalism with individuals and not on important issues, such as becoming a collective-bargaining organization that can advocate for higher wages and safer working conditions. Ironically, the first social workers were community practitioners and activists (settlement house movement) who advocated for social justice and system reform.

I will also discuss a paper written by a social work graduate student at Loyola University Chicago. Her paper focused on strengthening community practice in social work. Some social work educators and practitioners were concerned with the absence of macro theory and practice (system reform work, community organizing, advocacy, social activism, community economic development, and human capital development) in social work education. In fact, many of these activities are no longer associated with the social work profession today. She briefly describes the historical micro-macro divide (Charity Organizations Society vs. Settlement House movement) through three periods of conflict (Progressive era, World War II, and 1960s social movements).

She proposes a community development framework for social workers because "it focuses on the centrality of oppressed people in the process of overcoming externally imposed social problems. She also adopts the Christian Community Development Association's tenets of community development: a) relocation - living in the community to develop shared experiences with clients, b) redistribution - providing collective advocacy of the community to secure needed resources, and c) reconciliation - requires dialogue between groups to acknowledge past and present oppression. Overall, this presentation enlightened me because this is the reason why I chose the social work profession. With its emphasis on social justice and community empowerment, I have a passion to help others and engage in system reform.

What do you think is the future of macro social work in the 21st century?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

AOL: Labor Talks in Full Roar Again, But It's Not the Same

With so much backlash against labor unions in the public sector, I came across AOL articles on why organized labor is more important now than ever. But the question remains, can unions survive in this volatile political climate?
In the bitter aftermath of a showdown with Wisconsin's governor, and as other states move to weaken public employee bargaining rights, unions and their allies dare to hope they can turn rage into revival. This could be a make-or-break moment for a movement that brought the nation the 40-hour week, overtime pay, upward mobility, a storied century of brawls, progressivism and corruption -- and now a struggle to stay relevant in the modern age.

Meanwhile, the second article discusses why the public sector union movement in Wisconsin matters for the rest of the nation. Workers' rights is a national social justice issue. Do you agree?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Krugman: The Forgotten Millions

I found this New York Times article by famous economist and columnist, Paul Krugman, on the unemployed in America. He usually publishes thought-provoking pieces. I agree with him -- why isn't this country creating jobs to lower the unemployment rate? I will go one step further -- does business want to create jobs and hire workers?
So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.

It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.

In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

U-M SSW's 90th Anniversary

Since March is National Social Work Month, I want to highlight the 90th anniversary of the University of Michigan School of Social Work. This is a special moment because the social work program has been ranked among the top three in the past thirty years. Founded in 1921, the School’s total endowment totals over $37 million. The school is also encouraging alumni and current students to participate in community service activities and submit alumni their memories, photos, and video diaries.
The 90th anniversary is an appropriate time to reflect and look ahead as well because it is only 10 years to the School’s 100th Anniversary. We are using this 90th celebration as a way to plan programs which imagine the futures of social work – future students, future faculty, future interventions foci, future methods, future problems.

I feel very excited to take part in this memorable event. In 10 years, the school will celebrate its 100th anniversary. I believe my social work education will make a difference in my ability to help others and promote social justice for all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review: Getting Your MSW (2006)

Getting Your MSW: How to Survive and Thrive in a Social Work Program (2006), by Karen Sowers and Bruce Thyer (a U-M social work alum!), is a comprehensive survival guidebook for prospective and current students who are interested in graduate social work (MSW) programs. The authors are social work professors at Florida State University. It helps orient students to the field of social work in general, the organization of social work education, state licensure requirements, and major professional social work organizations in the United States. In addition, the text is user-friendly to all audiences. The authors use open and honest language. There are nine chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Selecting the Right MSW Program
  • Chapter 2: What Schools Want to Know and How Best to Apply
  • Chapter 3: Strategies for Support and Survival
  • Chapter 4: Getting Started in Graduate School
  • Chapter 5: Understanding the Social Work Curriculum and Internship
  • Chapter 6: School Services
  • Chapter 7: Becoming Licensed and Earning Other Credentials
  • Chapter 8: Finding a Job after Graduation
  • Appendix: Professional Social Work Organizations

The chapters are short and straightforward with important advice, information and references. If you have been away from school for a while, I highly recommend this Getting Your MSW because it will help you become more acclimated to school. The book is generic in a sense that it is applicable to any social work program. Students can also use this guidebook as a supplement to their school's student handbook procedures.

However, if you are looking for more in-depth information about the field of social work as a whole (e.g., statistics, commentary, personal interviews), this is not the right text for that kind of research. The authors do not engage in controversial debates about the advantages and disadvantages of the profession. This is more of a general reference overview for readers who are new to social work and want to gain a better understanding of the admissions and graduate school process.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mother Jones: It's the Inequality, Stupid

A friend referred this damning Mother Jones article on the unequal distribution of wealth in the United States. Have this country truly fallen to such low levels? People's incomes are falling, but companies are making record profits. Where are people's morals? Greed is one of the seven deadly cardinal sins. What happened to checks and balances? No one is looking out for the working people's interests, especially with the nationwide attack against public sector unions.

I posted sample data illustrations below:





Read the article for more charts and tables. We are living through the worst period of income inequality in modern history. If the United States continues on this downward spiral, this country will eventually self-destruct.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Urban Institute: 13 Ways of Looking at Poverty

The Urban Institute recently published a fact sheet, 13 Ways of Looking at Poverty. Overall, I thought the information was concise and dead-on accurate. America, we are retrogressing to Great Depression economic levels. This is not good for the future of this nation.
This factsheet presents a quick overview of recent cross-cutting Urban Institute research on poverty, including 13 key points on poverty's effects on immigration, health care, children, infants with depressed mothers, employment, assets, and neighborhoods.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Social Work Month 2011 Theme

The 2011 theme for Social Work Month is Social Workers Change Futures. There are nearly 640,000 professional social workers in the United States who have dedicated their careers to either helping people transform their lives, or improving environments that make such progress possible.
# Social Workers champion access, equality and fairness.

# Social Workers improve the fabric of society by being advocates for people who need help addressing serious life challenges and exploring their options.

# The Social Work profession was established more than 100 years ago to provide as many people as possible with the tools and support they need to overcome adversity (poverty, illness, addiction, abuse, discrimination, etc.) and reach their full potential.

# The Social Work profession also works to change systems and customs that limit the ability of vulnerable individuals and groups to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
# The nation’s Schools of Social Work promote social work education as a way for socially conscious people to make a significant difference in the world through service and leadership.

# Every day, Social Workers witness the best and worst of human nature. A Social Worker’s success is often defined by the opportunities people enjoy thanks to their intervention.

# Social Workers believe they have a responsibility to effect positive change for the future.

You can find more information, including the toolkit, here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ALA: Protect School Libaries Funding

I received this email from the American Library Association (ALA) President, Roberta Stevens, that the federal government wants to cut funding for school libraries. Please read below for further details on how you can stop this action:
Dear ALA Members,

I am writing to you today to enlist your participation in an association-wide advocacy campaign to protect funding for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.

Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution (CR), H.R. 1, funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. The House version zeroed out the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program. Action now moves to the Senate, which is drafting its own version of the CR.

This is the time to reach out to your U.S. senators by phone or email – and, importantly, to urge others in your communities to do so as well.

The request to your senators is straightforward. In the Continuing Resolution for 2011:

1. Maintain the 2010 funding level of $213.5 million for the Library Services and Technology Act.

2. Maintain the 2010 funding level of $19.1 million for the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program.

Beyond these basic requests, I urge you to share with your senators how you are using this federal funding and how the constituents of your state benefit educationally and economically from library services during these challenging times. Provide examples of how you assist the public with online job searching, preparing resumes, small business development, accessing online information and training, etc.

Inform your senators about the role school libraries play in ensuring students graduate with the skills they need to be successful in today’s workforce. The Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program increases the literacy skills and academic achievement of students by providing them with access to up-to-date school library materials; well-equipped, technologically advanced school library media centers; and well-trained, professionally certified school librarians...

The ALA Legislative Action Center (http://capwiz.com/ala) can assist you with contacting your senators. If you need further help, call Jeff Kratz or Kristin Murphy with the ALA Office for Government Relations at 1-800-941-8478.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

U.S. Labor Union Protests Coverage on YouTube

If you are following the U.S. labor protests, I recommend these websites, Democracy Now! and The Young Turks. These programs are the only news media that cover a balanced depiction of what's happening around the world. Support workers' rights!


Democracy Now: “Democracy Uprising” in the U.S.A.?: Noam Chomsky on Wisconsin’s Resistance to Assault on Public Sector, the Obama-Sanctioned Crackdown on Activists, and the Distorted Legacy of Ronald Reagan


Democracy Now: Billionaire Right-Wing Koch Brothers Fund Wisconsin Governor Campaign and Anti-Union Push


The Young Turks on the Wisconsin Labor Protests

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The New American Shame

From the New York Times, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) created a chart that compares various social and economic measures among developed nations:



The United States ranks near the bottom in terms of community well-being. We ranked worst for income inequality, unemployment rate, food security, life expectancy at birth, prison population, and student performance (math). I hope the American population wakes up and realize enough is enough. Our level is democracy is average, at best, while the rich become richer and the poor become poorer. Overall, we are declining quickly compared to the rest of the world.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Christine Hassler: 20-Somethings and Career Advice

The Huffington Post ran a special article on career development for Generation Y college graduates. The author, Christine Hassler, states that we must become more realistic with our present circumstances:
Let me be clear that my intention is not to blame or point fingers at 20-somethings or their parents. Everyone has been doing the best they could based on their own experiences. And I truly think parents believed what they were telling their children (or at the very least wanted to believe it). But now with two-thirds of graduating seniors moving home and 16 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds unemployed (nearly double the national average) according to the MacArthur Research Network, it seems like the message about becoming independent in our 20's got lost in translation somewhere.

Hassler encourages 20-somethings to become more financially savvy and independent. They cannot wait for their dream job to come or continue to live off their parents' income. She wants 20-somethings to feel empowered and accomplished with their lives.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Detroit Free Press: Criminal System Fails Indigent

I found this editorial on the Detroit Free Press. It discusses the poor state of the criminal justice system for indigent individuals and families.
Michigan must establish uniform standards and oversight of its public defense system -- and assure adequate funding. It is now one of only a handful of states that rely almost entirely on counties to pay for and run their public defender systems.

Shifting public defense spending from local governments to the state; creating, measuring and enforcing statewide standards for indigent defense; and adequately funding such a system were among the most important recommendations unveiled last week in a sweeping report on how to overhaul Michigan's court system.

Although criminal justice is not my background, this editorial also provides policy analysis and recommendations for why the state needs a more just criminal system.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rethinking MLK Day: Poverty in America

First, I would like to congratulate people who took the time out of their busy schedules to attend a social justice-related event on Martin Luther King Jr.'s Holiday. I posted this video because all too often, we focus so much on civil rights and legal segregation that he also had a message on economic justice. He wanted to create a Poor People's Campaign in Washington DC that would protest poverty and inequality in America. Once he visited the northern states, he realized that poverty was the biggest indicator in sustaining health disparities, underemployment, illiteracy and homelessness. Although people needed equal protections under the law, people were still suffering at the mercy of big business.

Today, we live in one of the richest nations with the worst inequality rates. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen each year. Listen to King's speech in the video below. How would you continue his dream in promoting economic and social justice?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Investors, Young Professionals Return to Detroit

People nationwide are learning more about Detroit in the news. If it isn't the primetime cop drama, Detroit 1-8-7, you probably heard of it from TIME's Assignment Detroit series. Investors and young professionals are turning to Detroit to revitalize the city, especially in the Midtown district.
Amid talk of downsizing and abandonment, a new surge of young investors has been moving into Detroit and revitalizing its economy.

"Hotels, theaters, art galleries, charter schools, condos and dozens of restaurants have opened, primarily in abandoned buildings, in the past year or are to open this year in the Midtown, New Center and Woodbridge neighborhoods.

'We are onto something great in this city,' Detroit artist and muralist Jennifer Quigley said. 'People who want art and culture are gravitating here.'

The revitalization is being driven by generous grants, new state tax credits and more investor confidence in the city's ability to attract young professionals, art enthusiasts and others, said Sue Mosey, president of the University Cultural Center Association, a nonprofit community group based in Midtown."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ranking in Top 50 Blogs by Social Work Professionals

My blog has been recently recognized as one of the top websites in the Top 50 Blogs by Social Work Professionals. My blog is ranked #6, and I feel very honored! My blog continues to gain more publicity, and I am delighted that many social work students and professionals enjoy my site.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Article: Challenging Traditional Social Work

I found this article (1995) from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration's The Advocate's Forum newsletter. Although it is over a decade old, I still thought this reflection was an excellent view on the current debate between clinical and macro social work in the profession.
While interviewing for a second year field placement I came across a disturbing comment. "So, you don't have an interest in traditional social work." It was disturbing because, at least in my mind, I do have an interest in traditional social work. I wanted to help individuals negotiate society. I wanted to improve the lives of individuals and change society. I wanted to be Jane Addams with a little Mary Richmond thrown in for good measure. I did not understand what wasn't traditional about my version of social work. After all, I was basing it on the pioneers of the field.

Should the social work profession integrate the two fields? Should all social workers become advanced generalists? Social work is a unique profession that focuses on human behavior in the social environment ("person-in-environment"). Sometimes, I also feel frustrated that there are more clinical positions than organizing/management/policy positions in the human services. While I have enjoyed my educational studies, I do start to wonder how will I market myself to people who are unaware of macro social work practice. The origins of social work had a strong focus on advocacy and social change for marginalized populations. Today, most social workers pursue clinical practice (nearly 70%), become psychotherapists or case managers, and focus more on social control interventions.

This shift is often criticized by macro social workers who feel their needs are underserved and ignored. We need more macro social workers to address new social and legal challenges in the 21st century. Families and communities need advocates who will represent their interests against powerful special interests groups. The social work profession needs to become more unified on social justice issues.

How does this debate affect you?

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011: A New Year, Great Expectations

It is officially 2011. My classes and field instruction have resumed. Ann Arbor looks like a winter wonderland. It is snowing outside my window, and the weather is cold. I am looking forward to this year because I am halfway done with my dual-degree program (3 semesters left) and have 11 months left until graduation. I am very excited and will do my best in my studies. Although I have not been posting much, this blog is my pride and joy. In the past 16 months, I have explored my own professional development. My interests have changed but I believe my social work and information science education will aid me in my future endeavors. I hope you find this blog useful for your needs. I enjoy sharing resources related to contemporary social issues, academics and careers.

Are there topics that I have not addressed on this blog?