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.