Monday, October 29, 2012

Considering a Career in Student Affairs?

As National Careers in Student Affairs Month comes to a close, I found these wonderful Chronicle of Higher Education articles about the many possibilities that you can pursue with a career in student affairs.
Last updated in 2011, I highly recommend this blog for career advice: Inside the Search

Prospective and current students should also become familiar with the two largest student affairs professional organizations in America:
  • American College Personnel Association
  • National Association for Student Personnel Administrators
[UPDATE: 02/05/2013]: NASPA released a webinar entitled "Successful Careers in Student Affairs." You can watch the video below.

Watch live streaming video from higheredjobs at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: Professionalism and Social Change - From the Settlement House Movement to the Neighborhood Centers, 1886 to the Present (1987) by Judith Ann Trolander

Professionalism and Social Change: From the Settlement House Movement to the Neighborhood Centers, 1886 to the Present (1987), by Judith Ann Trolander, is a historical research study on the controversies and decline of the American settlement house movement (1886-1986). The post-WWII settlement houses experienced rapid professionalization and change: black male staff replaced white female staff, and neighborhoods changed with urban renewal and and black migration to the cities.
Settlement houses historically fulfilled their purposes in two ways: it provided immediate educational and recreational services and brought about social reform (and thus alleviated social problems) in their respective communities. In the 1980s, the social work profession was transitioning from social reform and political action of the 1960s to psychotherapy and direct services delivery. This change corresponded to the growing conservative political climate at the time. In some ways, the timing and publication of Trolander's book encouraged further discussion about the future of settlement houses (and community social work in general) when its influence was diminishing in the new era of privatization and devolution.

Settlement houses participated in three major reform periods in the 20th century: the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), the New Deal (1930s-1940s), and the Great Society (1960s-1970s). In my opinion, the settlement house movement was shaped by social, external forces rather than its influence on the community. In return, settlement houses adapted to new clienteles in order to influence social change. Settlement houses played a significant role in formulating the current social welfare structure as well as experimenting with social services. Professionalism and Social Change is an excellent book to read if you are interested in urban social welfare history.

Judith Ann Trolander is Professor Emerita of History at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She received her Ph.D. in American History and M.S. in Library Science from Case Western Reserve University.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NPR: Detroit-Area Students Say They've Been Denied The Right To Read

Last year, I highlighted the growing illiteracy problem in the Detroit area. I also wrote a paper about how this was a social injustice issue in my social work program. Below is more evidence on how struggling school districts failed to teach remedial education to underprivileged students.
Eight Detroit-area public school students returning to classes this week are plaintiffs against a school system they say has failed them. Their families and the American Civil Liberties Union say that the Highland Park school system has denied the students the right to learn to read, and that the state has a responsibility to fix that. Michelle Johnson has five children in Highland Park schools. Her daughter is heading into the 12th grade, but can read at only about the fourth-grade level. "It's heartbreaking every morning when you get up and people look in your face and say, 'Oh, that's that lady, her daughter can't read,' " Johnson says. ... The lawsuit accuses the state of failing to enforce a Michigan law that says students who do poorly on standardized reading tests — which are given in the fourth or seventh grades — must receive remedial help to bring them up to grade level. Rosenbaum is asking a judge to enforce that law. "The fact is that this is the first 'right to read' case, but it won't be the last," he says. "The reality is that there are children throughout Michigan and throughout the country whose ZIP code is determining their educational opportunities."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Times Higher Education World Rankings 2012-2013

Below are the 2012-2013 Times Higher Education World Rankings of my alma mater, Northwestern University, and current university for graduate studies, the University of Michigan. In a previous post, both social work and higher education are ranked #1 at Michigan.

Northwestern University - 19th Place
2012 Word Reputation: 35th Place

With Ann-Margret, Warren Beatty and Charlton Heston among its alumni, Northwestern's annual musical revue, Waa-Mu, has launched scores on the thespian path. A private university on the shores of Lake Michigan, its 240-acre campus accommodates more than 16,000 students taught by around 2,500 staff.

University of Michigan - 20th Place
2012 World Reputation: 12th Place

A month before he was elected President, John F. Kennedy came to Michigan and first endorsed the ideal of public service abroad for young Americans that later found expression in the Peace Corps. In 2009, enrolments across 28 schools and colleges on three campuses numbered 58,089, and the institution had amassed 1,400 student organisations and 8 million library books.

Monday, October 15, 2012

50th Anniversary of the Port Huron Statement at the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan will host a conference (October 31-November 2, 2012) that marks the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement.

In June 1962, dozens of activists belonging to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) met in Port Huron, Michigan, to draft a manifesto for a new era of protest. The Port Huron Statement grasped the spirit of the Black Freedom Struggle, the peace movement, and the anti-colonial revolution abroad. It presented a radical vision of social justice and what democracy in action could mean—and it spread the word about an awakening New Left (1958-1965) that would soon shake the world.
“A New Insurgency: The Port Huron Statement in Its Time and Ours” is free and open to the public. Leading activists past and present as well as distinguished scholars will examine the radical movements of the late 1950s and early 1960s and compare them with today’s “new insurgency”—from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, the “indignados” and anti-austerity rallies of Europe, and mass student campaigns from Chile to Quebec.
Click here for the Residential College Summer Read of The Port Huron Statement and The Sharon Statement.

This would be a great event to attend for those persons interested in social movements, community organizing, and participatory democracy.


Friday, October 12, 2012

DetNews: How Detroiters feel about their city

The Detroit News published a three-day series exploring the attitudes of Detroiters about their city, leaders and services.
The series will explore residents' outlook for the future as well as their opinions on the quality of public safety and transportation. It will also highlight their attitudes toward the leadership of the mayor, city council and governor. Finally it will provide a look into Detroiters' feelings about their available education options and hopes for their children's future.
Below are links to the articles:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sign the petition: Reform Internship Requirements for Social Work Students

Deona Hooper, an MSW graduate from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, created this petition on, which seeks to reform the CSWE internship requirements for social work students:
Social Work Students are paying high tuition and are going in debt to work for free. Higher education use to mean a better life. A better shot at the American Dream. Agencies are benefiting, Schools of Social Work are benefiting, but what about the person assuming all the debt and cost? The purpose of the internship is to gain work experience. However, students are being turned away from jobs and not being considered for positions due to lack of experience. Students are being told that their internships don't count as experience. It suppose to be a learning experience, right?

Working Practitioners are having to leave jobs as Social Workers to work free as Social Workers if they want that coveted degree. Where is the lesson in that? We do not live in an era where leaving a job is feasible when it can be avoided. No other profession demands the amount of hours required by a social work degree for no pay and no guarantee of health insurance benefits for all students. The profession that does, if any, are not paying the salaries that social workers will make when entering the job market. Those folks are going to much higher paying jobs.


A culture is being created where only those with privilege or who can live with their parents can afford a social work degree. Don't keep out compassionate people without means from entering the profession.

For those who don't understand the petition, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) handles accreditation for bachelor's and master's social work programs. It sets and monitors the social work curriculum in the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Social work students must complete a minimum of 900 hours in field instruction with a licensed master social worker as their supervisor to become eligible for graduation. Yes, I said a minimum of 900 hours! Your current experience with an agency does not count if it is not listed under the social work program's approved list of field placement sites. Furthermore, some social work programs only accept students who can commit to full-time enrollment.

These strict requirements force social workers and prospective applicants to make tough decisions about whether this is the right career path for them. The MSW is preferred for administrative and research positions, yet it is very costly to earn this degree. While I was fortunate to have a paid social work field placement (and another paid campus job) in graduate school, I knew too many classmates who had unpaid internships AND applied for food stamps through the course of their study (4 semesters). I believe this is unacceptable because the social work profession doesn't attract affluent students (i.e., business, government, and law) who can afford to work for free with prestigious employers. However, most social work applicants come from working- and middle-class backgrounds who need the most financial assistance. The average entry-level master's social worker earns a salary of $37,000, but will owe more in student loan debt than they will earn in their entire first year on the job.

Social work has a proud social justice legacy, but the CSWE needs to revise its curricular standards so that it doesn't privilege one group of people (white, middle-class women) over historically marginalized populations (racial/ethnic minorities and the poor). According to NASW Workforce Center, the social work profession is currently 85% white women. Please spread the word about this petition to your classmates and colleagues. Continue this discussion because it will take all our voices to promote any real positive change to the internship requirements.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Teach for America: A Glorified Temp Agency (NYTimes)

Some readers are already aware that I am anti-Teach for America (TFA). For liberal arts graduates, TFA sounds good on paper: the brightest college graduates from the best colleges serve a two-year commitment to teach disadvantaged students in the nation's most struggling school districts). However, TFA actually weakens pubilc-sector unions and public education in general. In college, I saw TFA heavily recruit my classmates and promote the (false) advantages of charter schools. But my problem with current urban education policy began before I started college.

Here is my story: In 2000, the Michigan state legislature (at the time, John Engler was governor) voted to dissolve the union that represented school administrators (assistant principals and principals) in Detroit Public Schools. Essentially, DPS school administrators became at-will employees who lost 10 percent of their salary (under DPS superintendent Kenneth Burnley) and paid a higher percentage towards their health premiums. The passage of this law had negative consequences for my mother, who began her career as a teacher and became a school administrator through promotions. By losing the right to form a union, my mother and her colleagues lost their voice--they lost the power to protect themselves in the workplace. I was just a high school student, but I witnessed first-hand how a union-busting law could potentially hurt middle-class families. (You can read more about the Detroit case in Collective Bargaining in the Public Sector: The Experience of Eight States by Joyce M. Najita, James L. Stern.)

The New York Times opinion by Julian Heilig, associate professor of educational policy and planning and African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin, eloquently states how I feel about TFA.

Teach for America is essentially a glorified temp agency. According to my calculations, more than 80 percent of the recruits leave for graduate school or another career before their fourth year, taking with them all the training and recruitment dollars taxpayers and universities have invested in them — as much as $70,000 a year. As I discuss in a 2010 National Education Policy Center research brief, the debate about whether these teachers produce gains or losses in their students' test scores rages on in academia. The high turnover among these temporary teachers undermines students' achievement at the schools where they are placed — a concern that civil rights and parent groups have raised repeatedly as Teach for America lobbies to have its teachers hired in the districts the critics' children attend, even when there are no shortages.

Sadly, Teach for America is a revolving door of inexperienced teachers for the students who most need a highly qualified one. As applications to the program at Harvard and other highly selective institutions of higher education are burgeoning, now is the time for the organization to start require corps members to make at least a five- to seven-year commitment and to become certified. Then Teach for America (and the districts that hire the group) would know which individuals are serious about making a difference in the classroom and which see a teaching stint with Teach for America as simply a résumé builder.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Back-to-back! Detroit Tigers crowned division champions for second straight year

Detroit Tigers, congratulations on the back-to-back American League Central Division championship! Good luck in the World Series!

The Tigers were crowned division champions for a second straight year Monday night, clinching a postseason berth for the 14th time in franchise history following their 6-3 win in Kansas City.

After trailing the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central for most the season, the Tigers gained sole possession of the division in late September and never looked back.

They became the first team in the American League to clinch their division en route to earning back-to-back postseason berths for the first time in 77 years.
UPDATE: Miguel Cabrera became the first player in 45 years to win Major League Baseball's Triple Crown after finishing the 2012 season on Wednesday leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. The Detroit Tigers slugger, who had a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI, is the first player to win the award since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

UPDATE #2: Congratulations Detroit Tigers, for sweeping the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Is National Careers in Student Affairs Month

October is National Careers in Student Affairs Month. The National Association for Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) has a website that serves as a resource for both students and administrators to increase awareness and appreciation for the field of student affairs. I also provide links below in case you want to learn more about student affairs:

For prospective students who are applying to higher education and student affairs master's programs, I wish you good luck in the admissions process!