Friday, September 28, 2012

Emancipation Proclamation is 150 Years Old!

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which established a date for the freedom of more than 3 million slaves of African descent in the United States.
The proclamation was a presidential order and not a law passed by Congress, so Lincoln then pushed for an antislavery amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ensure its permanence. With the passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, slavery was eliminated throughout America (although blacks would face another century of struggle before they truly began to gain equal rights). - History Channel
This historical milestone (150 years!) is significant in two ways:

First, the Emancipation Proclamation recast the American Civil War as a fight against slavery rather than only to preserve the Union. This was a huge political gamble for President Lincoln because he was uncertain that the anti-slavery movement would prevail. After the South seceded, there was no political reason to tolerate slavery. The decree provided moral inspiration for the North and discouraged European countries from supporting the Confederacy (South). It also had the effect of permitting the recruitment of African Americans in the Union (North) army. By 1865, nearly 180,000 African American soldiers had enlisted in the Union army.

Second, the Emancipation Proclamation inspired future generations of African Americans to recognize the United States as their permanent home. This decree solidified the notion that African Americans could fight for equal rights and integration. During the next 100 years, African Americans established churches, mutual aid societies, and educational institutions and adopted nonviolent social change techniques (sit-ins, marches, and court cases) in order to gain political power at the community and national levels. African Americans also joined the armed forces to serve their country against fascism abroad and racial prejudice at home. These efforts would point the way to the rise of the American civil rights movement.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. highlighted the Emancipation Proclamation's legacy in his famous "I Have a Dream" (1962) speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. A hundred years later, King states:

“This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
Please visit the White House blog for more information.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Social Work Documentary, "American Winter"

This upcoming documentary needs your help! The production needs additional funding. The link also includes a trailer and donations.
The almost-completed documentary “American Winter” examines the plight of Portland, Ore., residents who are struggling economically in the wake of the Great Recession. The documentary includes footage of social workers who operate 211 call lines that help the needy find a variety of services, including groceries from food banks, help paying utilities and emergency shelter. The film is directed by Joe and Harry Gantz, the makers of HBO’s award-winning series “Taxicab Confessions.” The brothers also did Showtime’s “Sexual Healing,” a sex therapy show featuring National Association of Social Workers member Laura Berman, DSW.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kolb Learning Styles Results: I am a Diverger!

In my higher education course on academic affairs, students filled out a Kolb learning styles quiz based on experiential learning theory. When I finished, my results revealed that I am a Diverger. According to Kolb:
"Divergers have characteristics opposite from convergers. Their greatest strengths lie in creativity and imaginative ability. A person with this learning style excels in the ability to view concrete situations from many perspectives and generate many ideas such as in a "brainstorming" session. Research shows that Divergers are interested in people and tend to be imaginative and emotional. They tend to be interested in the arts and often have humanities or liberal arts backgrounds. Counselors, organizational development specialists, and personnel managers tend to be characterized by this learning style."
According to this description, Divergers like to sit back and reflect on issues that they feel most passionate about. They are imaginative and are good at coming up with ideas and seeing things from different perspectives. Essentially, they are people-oriented brainstormers. Given my background in macro social work, the description does sound like me. I like to read novels, reflect about current issues, and brainstorm solutions to social problems.

If you have taken this quiz, what kind of learning style do you have?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chronicle: The Problem of Hunger on College Campuses

Few people would think there is a hunger problem among college students. Whether they are ineligible for food stamps or feel shameful about their current financial situation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, money worries keeps students going to campus food banks.
"Hunger on campus is part of a lingering national problem that grew after the financial crisis that began in late 2007. In an unforgiving economy, many students across the country struggle not only to pay tuition but also to buy food. Colleges and nonprofit groups have noticed, and more are reacting. Food pantries are cropping up on two-year and four-year campuses nationwide, including, in recent years, at Oregon State University, the University of Georgia, and Valencia College. At Bunker Hill Community College, volunteers from the Greater Boston Food Bank recently gave out truckloads of groceries to needy students."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chronicle: Today's Students - Same as Always, But More So

In the Chronicle of Higher Education, Arthur Levine and Diane Dean explore what concerns current undergraduate students in postsecondary education and how they differ from previous generations. Their research also analyzes how social, economic, and technological factors have shaped their worldview.
What is familiar is that current undergraduates are little involved in campus life, disenchanted with politics and government, more issue-oriented than ideological, engaged in community service, utilitarian in their goals for college, weak academically, frequenters of psychological-counseling services, eager consumers, and partial to sex and alcohol. Just more so, in each category, than their predecessors.

What is different is that there are stark contradictions between student beliefs and the realities of their lives; a gulf between their dreams and the diminished conditions of the world in which they live. Consider this:

  1. Most college students (89 percent) say they are optimistic about their personal futures but pessimistic about the future of the country (65 percent).
  2. Three out of four undergraduates expect to be at least as well off as their parents, but four out of five do not expect Social Security to be available when they retire.
  3. Current undergraduates have the most inflated grades in 40 years, but a majority (60 percent) believe their grades understate their academic ability, even though nearly half (45 percent) have had to take remedial courses.
  4. Undergraduates want change, but they are timid rule followers.
  5. Today's students are simultaneously the most connected and disconnected generation in collegiate history.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Social Workers in Congress and Upcoming 2012 Election

Did you know there are seven social workers serving in the 112th Congress?
Meanwhile, I found more social work news around the web:
  • The New Social Worker celebrated Jane Addams' birthday (September 6). The magazine also published a 1998 article about the legacy of the settlement house movement (see link).
  • How do President Obama and former Governor Romney compare on important social work issues? NASW released a 2012 Presidential Candidate Position Chart on the latest social policy issues, such as children and families, jobs and the economy, and civil rights. The Chronicle of Philanthropy also released a presidential candidate position chart on nonprofit issues.
  • A full text of First Lady Michelle Obama's terrific and inspirational speech at the Democratic National Convention is now available on the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Freep: 27% of Michigan workers in low-wage jobs

More economic disturbing news has been released from the Michigan League for Human Services on the current job market in Michigan:
New data from the Michigan League for Human Services, a research and advocacy organization, show that 27% of all Michigan workers, or nearly a million people, are stuck in positions where they can barely earn a living.

Of the seven occupations that employ the greatest number of workers in Michigan, five have a median wage that will not bring a family of four out of poverty, according to the MLHS.

These occupations are: retail salespeople, cashiers, food preparation and service workers, waiters and waitresses and janitors and cleaners.

"In the jobs where most people are working in our state ... five of the areas don't support families," said Gilda Jacobs, CEO and president of the MLHS. "That's kind of a red flag."

Meanwhile, I hoped everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend. We, as social workers and educators, must help support and preserve benefits and working conditions for the middle class.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

NCES: Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study

A new federal report by the National Center for Education Statistics highlights significant gaps that exist in access to and persistence in American higher education by race and gender -- but has little to say about inequalities by socioeconomic status.
The primary focus of the Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study is to examine differences between males and females overall and within racial/ethnic groups. The racial/ethnic groups of interest include Blacks, Hispanics, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. The secondary focus of the report is to examine overall sex and racial/ethnic differences. In addition to the indicators, this report also includes descriptive multivariate analyses of variables that may influence male and female postsecondary attendance and attainment in different ways.