Friday, July 27, 2012

President Obama launches African-American education initiative

According to CNN and MSNBC, President Obama will issue an executive order for the establishment of an African-American higher education initiative. My academic background is improving access and retention to higher education for African-American students. Thus, I support the President's initiative wholeheartedly because education in this country should address the social, emotional and economic needs of African-American youth.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced an initiative he said will give African-American students greater access "to a complete and competitive education from the time they're born all through the time they get a career."

Speaking Wednesday night at a National Urban League gathering in New Orleans, Obama said he has issued an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, saying, "A higher education in a 21st century cannot be a luxury. It is a vital necessity that every American should be able to afford," he said.


The official added that the initiative would be housed in the Education Department, which will work with the Executive Office and other Cabinet agencies to identify practices that will improve African Americans’ achievement in schools and colleges. The administration official did not yet know how much funding the program would receive but said more information would be released Thursday when the president signs the executive order.

Click here, here, and here for more information about the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review: Careers in Education -- 4th Edition (2004)

Careers in Education -- Fourth Edition, by Roy Edelfelt and Alan Reiman, is a comprehensive vocational guide for job seekers who want to explore a wide range of opportunities in education. Currently, educational institutions employ over 12 million people, making it one of the largest employment sectors in the country. The authors state "... citizens and policymakers realize that high-quality education is related to a vibrant democracy, quality of life, innovation, and global competitiveness."

The first two chapters define the historical and contemporary development of education in the United States. Other chapters present a detailed description of different career paths in education, preparation for specific career (career patterns, how to find employment, related careers, nontraditional employment, and working conditions), salary and fringe benefits, and firsthand accounts (such as pros and cons and expert advice). Near the end of the book is a directory of national education-related organizations, professional associations and government agencies.

I think this book is a good guide for recent college graduates and career changes who need an introduction to careers in education. The descriptions are very detailed and covers a wide range of institutions (public, private and non-profit sectors). Once you have read this book, you will realize that the opportunities are endless and could help you discover your niche.

  1. An Introduction to Careers in Education
  2. Teaching in K-12 Schools (public and private)
  3. School Administration (principals and superintendents)
  4. Central Office Administration and Supervision
  5. Special Services (This includes art/music teachers, physical education teachers, school library media specialists, school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, reading specialists, ESL teachers, special education teachers, school nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists and audiologists)
  6. Teaching, Research and Administration in Higher Education (two- and four-year colleges and universities)
  7. Adult and Continuing Education
    (This includes independent learning programs, professional development programs, and federal graduate programs)
  8. Education in Business and Industry (training and development)
  9. Careers in Governance and Control of Education (federal education agencies and councils and associations)
  10. Directory of Education Organizations

Saturday, July 21, 2012

LA Times: Retooling Teach for America

The Los Angeles Times has an opinion piece that resonated with me on why I think the current format of Teach of America is bad for both college graduates and the most disadvantaged children in America's schools. It demonstrates further proof that Teach for America needs major reform, possibly lengthening it (in my opinion) to a minimum of three years because it takes time and practice to become an effective teacher. TFA also hurts teacher recruitment and retention for those school districts who desperately need professionals who are highly committed to the teaching profession.
Being a great teacher has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. I knew I had found my passion the first time I stood at the front of a classroom at Jordan High School in South Los Angeles during my TFA summer training five years ago. But it took me several years of teaching psychology, government and world history to feel truly competent. Those first couple of years in the classroom are a huge learning curve for any teacher, and it seems arrogant to think that just because the TFA kids went to good schools and got good grades, they'll instantly be able to teach. It's no wonder the longtime teachers at some schools resent these upstarts. The two-year commitment means that many of the program's participants leave just as they're getting to the point at which their students will really benefit.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Levine: Could Civic Engagement Be the Key to Economic Success?

In the Huffington Post, Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), believes more civic engagement will improve the economy in the United States. His research focuses on civic engagement and deliberate democracy.

Thomas Ehrlich, editor of Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, defines civic engagement as
"...working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. It means promoting the quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes."

Levine uses these five factors to measure civic engagement: attending meetings, helping neighbors, registering to vote, volunteering and voting. A new report, Civic Health and Unemployment: Can Engagement Strengthen the Economy, has been released that explores the relationship between civic engagement and economic resilience. I think the results of this report coincides perfectly with the upcoming presidential election. I also believe educational institutions and community organizations need to do a better job in promoting civic participation in young people. A well-educated citizenry will preserve democracy and improve the future direction of this nation.

In September 2012, the National Conference on Citizenship will hold its annual meeting in Philadelphia. The 2012 theme is "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Exploring the Link Between Civic Engagement and Employment."

[UPDATE: 10/16/2012]: Campus Compact released a white paper, Engaged Learning Economices: Aligning Civic Engagement and Economic Development in Community-Campus Partnerships, that focuses on the impact of merging campus civic engagement and economic development in local communities.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

If You Decide to Go to Graduate School

If you are considering graduate school, think about the advantages and disadvantages of more schooling. Make sure the program of study is right for you. Don't go into a field just because it is hot or prestigious. It may be very dismal in a few years from now. For instance, familiarize yourself with the current career prospects of law school graduates.

First, I must praise 100 Reasons Not to GO to Graduate School. Although the blog is targeted towards doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences, some of their advice also pertains to professional students. It makes you seriously consider the pitfalls of graduate life before you apply.

I will list the blog's reasons, other posters' reasons, and my reasons on what you should know before you decide to go to graduate school:

  1. Stay out of debt.
  2. Go to a prestigious school.
  3. Finish as quickly as possible.
  4. If you are a recent college graduate, give yourself time to adjust in the real world (i.e., get a job, volunteer, or teach abroad) before jumping back into school.
  5. Treat graduate school like a full-time job.
  6. Seek advisors who have a successful student placement record.
  7. Pursue every professional development opportunity you can in graduate school (e.g., internships, co-op programs, writing workshops, and field practicums).
  8. Graduate school is NOT an escape from reality.
  9. Don't apply for the wrong reasons.
  10. Pursue graduate school because the career path you want requires it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: 101 Careers in Social Work (2009)

101 Careers in Social Work (2009), by Jessica Ritter, Halaevalu Vaakalahi, and Mary Kiernan-Stern, is a comprehensive career guide that highlights the interdisciplinary nature of social work and unconventional, cutting-edge career options with a social work degree. For current and advanced social work students, this book may not meet your expectations because it only provides basic career information. Overall, it is a very reliable resource for career services and library bookshelves.

This book is an essential career guide for those new to social work. It summarizes the origins of social work, explains educational requirements and licensure process, and provides financial aid and job hunting tips. The career sections include an overview of the practice area, sample job titles, practice area competencies and skills, best and challenging aspects of the job (including firsthand accounts), compensation and employment outlook, self-assessment checklist, recommended readings and websites, and exercises to test your knowledge of the specific social work area. I highly recommend this book for career planning and exploration.

This book covers 101 social work career paths in the following areas:

  1. Child Welfare
  2. School-Based and School-Linked Services
  3. Older Adults (Gerontology)
  4. Health Care
  5. Mental Health and Addiction
  6. Crisis Intervention
  7. Criminal Justice and the Legal Arena
  8. Forensic Social Work
  9. International Social Work and Human Rights
  10. Poverty and Homelessness
  11. Politics and Public Policy
  12. Community Practice
  13. Human Service Organizations
  14. Research and Academia
  15. Non-Traditional Social Work (Journalist, Attorney, Mediator, and more)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Census: More young adults live in big cities than suburbs

According to the U.S. Census, for the first time in a century, most of America's largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs. In a weak job market, young adults are shunning home-buying and staying put in bustling urban centers.
Driving the resurgence are young adults, who are delaying careers, marriage and having children amid persistently high unemployment. Burdened with college debt or toiling in temporary, lower-wage positions, they are spurning homeownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities.

While economists tend to believe the city boom is temporary, that is not stopping many city planning agencies and apartment developers from seeking to boost their appeal to the sizable demographic of 18-to-29-year olds. They make up roughly 1 in 6 Americans, and some sociologists are calling them "generation rent." The planners and developers are betting on young Americans' continued interest in urban living, sensing that some longer-term changes such as decreased reliance on cars may be afoot.

This is the reality: emerging as a new generation of renters due to stricter mortgage requirements and mounting student loan debt. If you can live in a city with a superior mass transit system, you won't need to heavily rely on a car. Big vibrant cities also have a greater concentration of career-advancing jobs. It is also difficult to qualify for a credit card or line of credit from a financial institution if your debt-to-income ratio is too high. Are we Generation Debt?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Daily Finance: America's Biggest Gifts

Happy Independence Day! While people play American patriotic music, fire up the grills and enjoy the fireworks, Daily Finance reminds us how our American government influenced history, rebuilt nations, and changed the way we live today. You may not agree with everything listed on the website, but I am a proud American and feel thankful to be a citizen of this great nation. Look at America's most expensive gifts in history:

  1. Louisiana Purchase
  2. Marshall Plan (WWII)
  3. Manhattan Project (WWII)
  4. The Cold War
  5. Apollo Moon Landing
  6. Interstate Highway System
  7. The Wall Street Bailout

Let's not forget this rendition of "God Bless America" by Celine Dion.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

National Low Income Housing Coalition: How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State?

Do you ever wonder how many hours does it take for someone earning minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the United States? The number of hours varies per state. Nevertheless, it is very alarming that the most vulnerable (i.e., teens, single parents, individuals with only a high school diploma or GED, individuals working in retail and service jobs) cannot afford housing expenses. In extreme cases, depending on the metropolitan area, more than half of a person's monthly income goes towards rent! If you are a college graduate with student loans, your monthly income leaves little for discretionary spending once you have paid for housing, utilities, and food and groceries. The National Low Income Housing Coalition created this infographic below to illustrate the growing disparities between the minimum wage and the affordability of housing.