Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AP: Black voter turnout surpassed whites in 2012 presidential election

According to the Associated Press, a record-breaking black turnout surpassed the white turnout in the 2012 presidential election. I surmise the white turnout decreased due to unfavorable views of Mitt Romney (such as his "I don't care about the very poor" and anti-union comments). Many white voters stayed home for the presidential election rather than voting for either candidate. Given a history of voter disenfranchisement, black voters turned out in droves to keep President Barack Obama in the White House.

WASHINGTON (AP) — America's blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home. 

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press. 

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year's heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

Friday, April 26, 2013

USA Today: Study shows racial wealth gap continues to widen

Nearly fifty years since Martin Luther King's Jr, "I Have a Dream" speech, racial equality has still not come into fruition in the United States. In fact, the new inequality is in the subtle form of financial assets rather than overt discrimination. According to this USA Today article:
Years after the civil rights movement, racial inequality continues to deepen.

The wealth gap between white and African-American families has nearly tripled over 25 years, according to a study released today by the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University.

Although African-American family income has increased over time, white families have accumulated much more wealth. By tracking families, the study found that the gap between white and African-American family wealth increased from $85,070 in 1984 to $236,500 in 2009.

Many Americans still believe that racial inequality is related to individual behavior, choices, character, marriage and child bearing, says Thomas Shapiro, IASP director. But homeownership has been the biggest cause of racial wealth disparity, followed by income, the study found. In the past 25 years, education has failed to be the great equalizer that many expected.

Owning a home has largely benefited white families because they're more able to have family financial assistance for down payments, have easier access to credit and buy homes years earlier than African-American families. As a result, their home equity has increased, providing more wealth and financial security.

In contrast, the study found, African Americans are more recent homeowners who tended to have high-risk mortgages and to be more vulnerable to home foreclosure.

The nation has long-standing roots in racial discrimination in hiring, training and promotion, and in the past 25 years, that has made it harder for African Americans to build income and have a financial cushion, fueling racial inequality, the study says.

Monday, April 22, 2013

DetNews: New owner kicks out residents of low-income apartments in Detroit's Cass Corridor

The social worker in me is appalled by what I have read in the Detroit News. This story is so wrong and immoral. How can someone evict low-income tenants, many of whom depend on disability, from their homes in less than thirty days? The process was expedited (legal loopholes??) so that tenants were not aware and could not object the eviction decision once it became finalized by the state of Michigan. Please share this story with your friends and colleagues. Voice your concerns and outrage over the careless treatment of these tenants.

Low-income residents of three apartment buildings on Henry Street in Detroit's Cass Corridor were abruptly notified Friday the buildings are being sold and the unknown buyer wants everyone out by May 20.

Residents were still in disbelief on Monday.

"This is so wrong, it's just so wrong," said Cathy Griffeth, a resident of the Berwin apartment at 489 Henry, north of the Fisher Freeway service drive. "We had no clue this was going to happen. I'm on disability like a lot of other people who live here. Do they really think we can find some other place just like that?"

The three apartment buildings are on the 400 block of Henry, just west of Cass Avenue. In addition to the Berwin, the other two buildings are the Claridge at 459 Henry and the Bretton at 439 Henry. All are owned by Peter Mercier of Grosse Pointe Farms.

Residents in each building, a total of 96 units, received a three-sentence letter in their mailboxes Friday informing them that Mercier has signed an agreement to sell. It doesn't name the new owner. "And the new owner has requested that all of the apartments be vacated," states the letter.

Along with the letters, the residents were given a state of Michigan document to vacate, which is the step prior to eviction.
Click here for further coverage of the story [04/23/13].

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CHE: More Baby Boomers Struggling to Repay Student Loan Debt

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, baby boomers (age 60 and older) who returned to graduate school to increase their marketability are increasingly struggling to repay their student loan debt.

Student-loan debt is not just a problem for young, recent college graduates searching for their first jobs. Growing numbers of adults nearing the ends of their careers are accumulating such big debt, too, and they don't have a lifetime to pay it back.

In fact, student-loan debt is growing fastest among adults ages 60 and older, with more than two million people in that age group now owing an average of $19,000, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Their default rates are rising, too, and increasing numbers of retirees are seeing their Social Security checks garnished because they fell behind on student-loan payments.

Many of these older borrowers thought they could increase their marketability by earning an advanced degree later in life but are struggling to make ends meet instead. The number of people over age 50 enrolling in graduate schools more than doubled over the two decades between 1987 and 2007, when more than 182,000 enrolled, according to data from a survey published every 10 years by the U.S. Department of Education. The total amount of outstanding student-loan debt among this age group reached $155-billion in 2012.

Friday, April 12, 2013

U.S. News: 8 Red Flags Employers See on Your Resume

As college students prepare for graduation this spring, I want to share with you essential tips on resume-writing by Allison Green, founder of Ask-A-Manager blog, that will help you on the job market. You can read the entire article here.
Hiring managers spend only seconds skimming your resume before making a quick decision about whether to reject you or consider you further, so it's essential that your resume doesn't contain the red flags that will turn them off during that short initial scan. Here are eight red flags that will often put you straight into the "no" pile without further consideration.
  1. A history of job-hopping.
  2. Grammatical or spelling mistakes.
  3. Bad writing.
  4. Overly aggrandized self-descriptions.
  5. Lack of evidence of achievement.
  6. No overarching theme to your career choices.
  7. Lack of professionalism.
  8. Large gaps between jobs.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Support the Student Loan Fairness Act

The Student Loan Fairness Act, which was introduced on March 31, 2013 by House Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), was referred to the Education & Workforce Committee. Something must be done to address the skyrocketing student loan debt in this nation. This bill needs more support from organizations and individuals like you. Share this major news with your friends and colleagues!
This new legislation will be a combination of two bills from the 112th Congress: Rep. Hansen Clarke's Student Loan Forgiveness Act (H.R. 4170), as well as The Graduate Success Act (H.R. 5895).

This legislation would establish a new “10-10” standard for student loan repayment as the new standard repayment plan. In the “10-10” plan, an individual would be required to make ten years of payments at 10% of their discretionary income, after which, their remaining federal student loan debt would be forgiven.

The Student Loan Fairness Act would also combat crushing interest rates of public and private loans by capping federal interest rates at 3.4% and allowing existing borrowers whose educational loan debt exceeds their income to convert their private loan debt into federal Direct Loans, then enrolling their new federal loans into the 10/10 program.

This bill works to jumpstart the economy and adds to the public service workforce by rewarding students who enter public service professions and work in underserved communities with a reduced period for loan forgiveness.

The Student Loan Fairness Act also sends a lifeline to student borrowers who have fallen on difficult times. The bill seeks to ensure that no one will be pushed into poverty because of illness or loss of their job and extends interest-free deferments to unemployed borrowers of unsubsidized federal student loans and those enrolled in the “10-10” repayment plan. It also seeks to replace the current, 10 year “Standard Repayment Plan” for the full amount of the loan balance with the “10-10” plan as the default repayment option for borrowers entering repayment.

The final component of the legislation promotes financial responsibility in higher education and incentivizes students to be mindful of educational costs and for colleges and universities to control tuition increases.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Press Release: Launch of Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP)

This press release had been circulating across the Internet. I am happy that such an organization has been launched because I believe social workers need a greater presence (macro-practice social workers already exist in this domain but are virtually unknown to the public) in social policy analysis and development. Please share with colleagues and allies!

April 1, 2013

Towns Announces Launch of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy

Former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns announced today the launch of the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) will take place at a reception on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at the Monocle Restaurant, 107 D Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.  The institute was created to complement the mission and work of the Congressional Social Work Caucus which then Rep. Towns founded in 2010.

“The Social Work Caucus was created to provide a platform in Congress for the more than 650,000 social workers around the country so that our issues and concerns can be addressed at the federal level,” Towns stated.  “I am committed to seeing that the caucus remains viable and strong and will work through this institute to promote its mission within the guidelines of the House of Representatives.”

Four individuals will be recognized during the reception for their contributions to social work and social policy.  Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, will be honored for her leadership of issues critical to the social work profession and the individuals and families they serve.  Rep. Danny Davis (IL-7) will be recognized for his practice of hosting social work interns in his Washington DC office and for his leadership in passing the Second Chance Act.
Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Clark, the outgoing CEO of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) will be honored for her leadership and advocacy for the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young Social Work Reinvestment Act and for her support of the Congressional Social Work Caucus.  Former Howard University School of Social Work Dean Douglas Glasgow will be honored for his contributions to social welfare policy.

The institute will be directed by Dr. Charles E. Lewis, Jr., who served as Towns’ deputy chief of staff and communications director.  Both Towns and Lewis are professional social workers.  Towns earned his M.S.W. degree at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY and Lewis earned his M.S.W. degree at Clark Atlanta University and his Ph.D. in social policy, planning and analysis at Columbia University School of Social Work.  Angela Henderson, a M.S.W. graduate of Howard University who will complete her Ph.D. there in May, will oversee the day to day operations.

“At a time when social welfare resources are being reduced dramatically, it is imperative that social work researchers and policy analysts make the case to the federal government that it is in the best interest of our country that we provide adequate resources for social services and social science research,” Dr. Lewis stated.  “CRISP will provide the linkage between valuable research being conducted by social work scholars and the federal government.”

CRISP states as its main goals:
  • to expand the participation of social workers in federal legislative and policy processes and create intern opportunities for social work students;
  • to link social work research to policy and legislative deliberations on the Hill; and
  •  to employ strategies to raise social workers’ awareness about the federal legislative process
CRISP is the latest of several institutes that have been created to complement the work of Congressional Member Organizations such as the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Institute, the Hispanic Caucus Institute, and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institutes.  CRISP is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 organization.

Contact: Charles E. Lewis, Jr.  917-570-3116  celewisjr@gmail.com