Studies have found that millennials are greatly influenced by mass media such as films, music and hip hop culture which serve a function in identity formation, lifestyle choices, and perspectives on critical areas of their lives. For many students, especially minority urban youth, hip hop texts serve as a basis for the formation of notions of self within and outside of formal educational spaces. An important shift in the focus of teacher training discussions is the move toward a willingness to make inquiry student-focused, rather than predominantly teacher-focused. In addition to the political and legal mandates imposed by No Child Left Behind legislation, there is a moral imperative to investigate and develop ways to best meet the needs of all students, especially those most in danger of truly being left behind. In ‘A Hip Hop Pedagogy: Effective Teacher Training for the Millennial Generation,’ Dr. Carol A. O’Connor explores factors contributing to the enhancement of teacher preparedness and provides answers to the questions… How does formal teacher training prepare teachers to meet students’ needs? How does experiential training affect teacher preparedness? How do the characteristics of students from diverse backgrounds impact teacher preparedness? What recommendations do teachers propose to inform practice and enhance preparedness? The significance of Dr. O’Connor’s timely study lies in its likely contributions to policy, practice, and the amelioration of the harmful neglect of student needs. It also may result in the refinement of existing theories of learning, the generation of new theories, and may serve as a starting point for additional research in these areas. These contributions to the body of knowledge are expected to occur within a current societal context where greater accountability for performance and achievement is expected of students, teachers, and administrators.
In Dr. SaFiya D. Hoskins’ study, White Faculty at HBCUs: Perceptions of Racial Climate, white faculty members shared their experiences in making sense of their perceptions of Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campuses. As such, participants discussed their perceptions of diversity, campus involvement, collegial and faculty-student interactions. In addition, situations they encountered or perceived as discrimination or racial conflict were discussed. Through the participants’ shared experiences, both positive and negative, themes emerged relative to their perceptions of racial climate. This study gives voice to a population that is absent from the literature on faculty at HBCUs. Furthermore, this study can inform policy and practice about enhancing racial climate for faculty at HBCUs and Historically White Institutions (HWIs). -Ubiquitous Press
THE ADVENTURES OF BOUKI AND RABBY:
COTTAGE IN THE CLOUDS
Bouki, a greedy cowardly goat, and Rabby, a witty courageous trickster are long time friends. On the search for food, the two buddies find themselves in a spirit cottage. However, the occupants are on their way home! The two have a history of beating the odds but this one might take more than luck.
Bouki and Rabby are beloved characters in Bahamian Folklore. After reading this hilarious misadventure they will be two of your favorites!
Available at Amazon.com in paperback and on Kindle
Over the past decade or two, the idea of mentoring has become increasingly popular. Lots of companies now offer mentoring programs, where executive-level professionals support their younger colleagues’ success. Mentoring programs have been created specifically for women, people of color, the disabled, and other groups for whom having a supportive and knowledgeable advisor might be especially helpful. Youth mentoring has evolved as a means to help young people understand how to operate in the grown-up world.
However, the tradition of having someone to support you with his or her wisdom and experience is probably as old as the human race. In any tribal society, younger members depended upon the older members to pass on their hard-won knowledge and insight about how to stay safe, find food and shelter, understand the world around them.
The word “mentor” as applied to such a person has its roots in Greek mythology. In the Odyssey, Mentor was a character who advised and protected Odysseus’ son Telemachus. Then, in 1699, a novel called Les Aventures de Télémaque, (“The Adventures of Telemachus”), included the character of Mentor as Telemachus’ tutor. He was the hero of the story, and the modern usage of the term “mentor” seems to have arisen from that book.
So, finding and having a mentor isn’t just a modern fad; it’s a time-honored practice that has served us well for many thousands of years. And as with most things, there are good mentors and there are not-so-good mentors. What can you do to make sure you’re getting one of the good ones?
Over the years, as I’ve observed mentoring relationships of various sorts, and have been asked by others to mentor them, I’ve noticed some qualities that seem to distinguish truly good and helpful mentors from those who are indifferent – or even harmful. Based on that experience, here are five core qualities to look for in a mentor:
Self-reflection: If you want someone to share their wisdom with you, they need to have wisdom to share. Some people simply don’t spend much time thinking about their own experience; a person can be quite knowledgeable and successful without having reflected much on how they got where they are today. However, just hearing about what someone has done is much less valuable than hearing about why they did it, and about their understanding of why it worked or didn’t work. My father, one of my most important mentors, was great at seeing the key patterns and principles in his own experience, and passing those on to me. His insights about his life have helped me avoid innumerable pitfalls in my own life.
Discretion: In a good mentor relationship, you need to be able to be honest about your own life and circumstances – and you need to be confident that your revelations won’t go beyond your mentor. If he or she can’t be trusted to keep confidences, your relationship will be superficial at best – damaging at worst. I know of one mentee who shared with his mentor, in confidence, his frustrations about his boss’ poor delegation — only to discover, when he was later called on the carpet, that the mentor had told his boss. The mentor said that she’d done it to “create more openness between them” – but, unfortunately, that strategy backfired, and the mentee was left with a worse relationship with his boss than before.
Honesty: If you’re brave enough to ask your mentor for advice, he or she needs to be brave enough to give you a straight answer. If you’re contemplating taking a new job, for instance, and you explain the situation and ask for your mentor’s point of view – he or she should give it to you, unvarnished. I was in that situation a few years ago, and told my mentee that it didn’t sound like a great opportunity; I thought she was overqualified, and would soon be bored with the job. She responded that, while she agreed, she believed she could quickly get promoted. I encouraged her to look more closely at that part of the organization and decide whether that was a realistic expectation, or wishful thinking on her part. She ultimately chose not to go for the job, because on deeper exploration it looked as though there was
actually very little possibility for advancement.
Curiosity: This one may seem counter-intuitive – isn’t it the mentee’s responsibility to be curious about the mentor? Yes. And…if the mentor isn’t curious about you: who you are, how you’re wired, what’s important to you, what you’ve done so far and how it’s working for you – it’s unlikely his or her advice will be very helpful. It will more likely be generic wisdom that won’t be targeted to you at all. One mentee was thrilled to be connected with a very senior, very experienced executive in his organization. But after the first few months of being dazzled by the big names and big experiences the mentor threw around, the mentee realized that she knew nothing about him, and wasn’t sharing anything much that he could apply to his own career.
Generosity of Spirit: This is essential. A great mentor wants you to succeed, and he or she will actively support your success with words and action. The great mentor will never be envious or feel threatened by your growth; he or she will congratulate you on your triumphs and help you recover from your setbacks. The generous mentor will make connections or offer resources that could be useful to you whenever he or she can. Most important, a generous mentor believes in your potential, and communicates that to you freely and with hope. The generous mentor supports you to become the person you want to become.
Having a mentor can be helpful; having a mentor who is self-reflective, discreet, honest, curious, and generous can be life-changing.
Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, have once again made the nation consider the durability of racial injustice as a defining factor of the American experience. Black children go to increasingly segregated schools, experience significantly less mobility than whites and are far more likely to be incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. The American Dream has always been defined by upward mobility, but for black Americans, it’s harder to get into the middle class, and a middle-class lifestyle is more precarious.
There are numerous factors that help explain why blacks have lower levels of upward mobility, but a surprisingly unpersuasive one is family structure. Conservatives like to tout the research of Raj Chetty and others who find that, “The fraction of children living in single-parent households is the single strongest correlate of upward income mobility among all the variables we explored.” But this observation comes with a caveat — children in two-parent households fare worse in areas with large numbers of single parents. There is reason to believe the causation is reversed. Rather than single-parent households causing low upward mobility, low upward mobility and rampant poverty lead to single-parenthood.
Two researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research — Melissa Schettini Kearney and Phillip B. Levine — find that single motherhood is largely driven by poverty and inequality, not the other way around. They write:
The combination of being poor and living in a more unequal (and less mobile) location, like the United States, leads young women to choose early, non-marital childbearing at elevated rates, potentially because of their lower expectations of future economic success.
A report by the British Rowntree Foundation had a similar finding: “Young people born into families in the higher socio-economic classes spend a long time in education and career training, putting off marriage and childbearing until they are established as successful adults.” Women in the slow track, in contrast, face “a disjointed pattern of unemployment, low-paid work and training schemes, rather than an ordered, upward career trajectory.” This is largely due to “truncated education.”
Most recently, Bhashkar Mazumder finds that, among those between the late 1950s and early 1980s, 50 percent of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income scale remained in the same position, while only 26 percent of white children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income scale remained in the same position. His research finds that the role of two-parent families for mobility is less important than conservatives assert. While living in a two-parent households increases upward mobility for blacks, it has no effect on upward mobility for white children, nor does it affect downward mobility for either race. If marriage has a significant effect, it is not marriage per se, but rather income and parenting effects that are at work; married people by default have more incomes and more time to spend with children. The solution, then, is paid leave, universal pre-K and government-provided daycare, not wealthy conservatives clutching their pearls and chastising young people for not getting hitched.
So, marriage fails to explain black-white gaps in mobility. What, then, is responsible for the lack of upward mobility among blacks?
1. Housing segregation
Racial segregation explains how it’s so easy for the black middle class to slip back into poverty. As sociologist John R. Logan writes, “The most recent census data show that on average, black and Hispanic households live in neighborhoods with more than one and a half times the poverty rate of neighborhoods where the average non-Hispanic white lives.” This has profound implications for upward mobility.
A 2009 study by Patrick Sharkey finds that, “Neighborhood poverty alone accounts for a greater portion of the black-white downward mobility gap than the effects of parental education, occupation, labor force participation, and a range of other family characteristics combined.” Sharkley finds that if black and white children grew up in similar environments, the downward mobility gap would shrink by 25-to-33 percent. As the chart below shows, black children are far more likely to grow up in high poverty disadvantaged neighborhoods, which makes upward mobility difficult. (Source)
2. War on drugs and mass incarceration
The war on drugs disproportionately targets people of color: One in 12 working-age African-American men are incarcerated. While whites and blacks use and sell drugs at similar rates, African-Americans comprise 74 percent of those imprisoned for drug possession. The U.S. prison population grew by 700 percent between 1970 and 2005, while the general population grew only 44 percent. The effects of incarceration on upward mobility are profound.
Bruce Western finds that, “by age 48, the typical former inmate will have earned $179,000 less than if he had never been incarcerated.” This impact, however, is more profound for blacks. Western finds that incarceration reduces lifetime earnings for whites by 2 percent, but Hispanics and blacks by 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively. All of this means that men who are incarcerated will live a life at the bottom. For men who begin life in the lowest income quintile, only 2 percent of those who are incarcerated will make it into the top fifth, while 15 percent of those who are not incarcerated will.
3. Segregated employment opportunities
In “When Work Disappears,” Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson points to the importance of occupational segregation — the fact that African-Americans who are often concentrated in poor urban areas struggle to get jobs in the suburbs or places with a long commute. Only 2.9 percent of white workers rely on public transportation, compared to 8.3 percent of Latino workers and 11.5 percent percent of black workers.
An excellent example of occupational segregation is in Silicon Valley, where data released after pressure from advocacy groups like Color of Change suggests that at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google and eBay, only 3 to 4 percent of workers are black or Hispanic. However, a study by Working Partnerships USA finds that, “While blacks and Latinos make up only 3 to 4 percent of the disclosed companies’ core tech workforce, they are 41 percent of all private security guards in Silicon Valley, 72 percent of all janitorial and building cleaning workers, and 76 percent of all grounds maintenance workers.” (Source)
Much of the problem is social networks. Recent research by Nancy DiTomaso finds that favoritism perpetuates inequality, even in the absence of racial bias. She finds that most employees relied on social networks to obtain a majority of the jobs they held in their lifetime. Because social networks tend to be segregated, this fosters occupational segregation. Miles Corak shows that many children get their first job through their parents, further solidifying the effect of social networks on occupational segregation.
Marianne Bertrand finds that changing the names on résumés to those that are traditionally white or black affects call-backs for jobs. White-sounding names were 50 percent more likely to get called for an initial interview. She also finds that whites with better résumés were 30 percent more likely to get a call-back than whites with worse résumés, but for blacks, more experience only increased call-backs by 9 percent. Another barrier to employment can be social networks.
4. Wealth gaps
Wealth is an important part of a middle-class lifestyle. When a family or individual is struck with illness or the loss of a job, wealth provides support. When a child attends college or is trying to get on his or her feet, a family with wealth can help pay the bills. The large wealth gaps between black families and white families, then, helps explain why black families have such high levels of downward mobility. The recently released Survey of Consumer Finances allows us an opportunity to examine wealth gaps. Matt Bruenig finds that, “The median white family has a net worth of $134,000. The median Hispanic family has a net worth of $14,000. The median black family has a net worth of $11,000.”
Between 2007 and 2010, all racial groups lost large amounts of wealth. However, the effects fell disproportionately on Hispanics and blacks, who saw a 44 percent and 31 percent reduction in wealth, compared to an 11 percent drop for whites. This was due to blacks and Latinos disproportionately receiving subprime loans, both because of outright lending discrimination and housing segregation. A recent research brief by the Institution on Assets and Social Policy finds that the wealth gap between white families and African-Americans has tripled between 1984 and 2009. They find five main factors responsible for driving the gap, which together explain 66 percent of the growth in inequality. The factors, in order of importance, are number of years of homeownership, household income, unemployment, college education and financial support or inheritance.
5. Two-tiered education system
The U.S. increasingly has a two-tiered education system, with students of color trapped in underfunded schools. (Source) A recent study finds that, “schools with 90 percent or more students of color spend a full $733 less per student per year than schools with 90 percent or more white students.”
Schools today are becoming more segregated, rather than less segregated. The average white student attends a school that is 72.5 percent white and 8.3 percent black, while the average black student attends a school that is only 27.6 percent white, but is 48.8 percent black. These schools are underfunded and understaffed. In 2001, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit after 18 public schools had “literature classes without books,” computer classes where students discuss what they would do if they had computers, “classes without regular teachers” and classes without enough seats where students stood in the back.
Mazumder finds that student scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (a comprehensive test taken toward the last few years of high school) can help explain differences in upward mobility between blacks and whites. He also finds that completing 16 years of education is a crucial factor in upward mobility. The fact that AFQT scores help predict upward mobility is often used by those who argue that racial differences in intelligence largely explain differences in upward mobility. However, since the AFQT is taken in high school, a better explanation is that differences in AFQT scores represent the combined impacts of poverty, bad schools, wealth gaps, substandard healthcare and segregated employment opportunities working together to reduce long-term mobility.
The idea that there are biological factors reducing upward mobility for African-Americans is both odious and entirely false. As Nathaniel Hendren told me when discussing his research:
We can absolutely reject that theory. In order to believe that theory, you have to believe that the spacial differences across the U.S. are differences in some kind of transmission of genes. Suppose you move from one area to another and you have a kid. Does your kid pick up the mobility characteristics of the place you go to? Now obviously, your genes don’t change when you move. What we find is that kids start to pick up the mobility characteristics of the place they move to, and they do so in the proportion to the amount of time they end up spending in that place. The majority of the differences across places are casual. If people lived in different places, they would have different outcomes.
This all leads to the saddest conclusion — were it not for poorly conceived policies, we could have more upward mobility in the U.S. While conservatives like to point at cultural factors and throw up their hands, a far more productive solution is to redress our massive public policy problems — like the war on drugs and dropout mill schools — that are proven to reduce upward mobility.
The conservative mind-set is ahistorical — we are told to throw away the legacy of slavery and segregation and expect blacks to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, ignoring the structural dynamics keeping them down. Research by Graziella Bertocchi and Arcangelo Dimico finds that counties with higher concentrations of slave ownership in 1870 had higher levels of poverty and racial inequality in 2000. Matthew Blackwell finds that Southerners who live in counties with higher levels of slave ownership in 1860 express more racial resentment and are more likely to oppose affirmative action. As Marx noted, “Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”
This article originally appeared on Salon.
Although many Americans are aware that their local police forces are steadily acquiring military-grade weapons from the Pentagon, news that local school districts are also the beneficiary of the firepower is eliciting an outcry from citizen groups.
Just one month after the shooting death of African-American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, which brought military-grade vehicles and weapons onto the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in response to an outbreak of protests and riots, Americans are wakening to the realization that their school districts are also being militarized.
At least 26 school districts have participated in the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which since the 1990s has provided free military surplus goods, including mine-resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and M16 rifles.
Last week, for example, the San Diego Unified School District Police Department (SDUSD) announced that it had received from the federal government a $733,000-dollar Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) similar to those used in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In June, the Los Angeles Unified School District also received a MRAP.
Although the 18-ton vehicle does not come with any weapons, citizens and watchdog groups are wondering exactly what type of emergency would require the use of an armored vehicle.
Although America’s localized arms race has been explained as a way for helping police fight against terrorists and drug cartels, the militarization of school police departments has been explained by incidences of violence on school grounds, most notably the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which left 15 dead, including the two perpetrators of the shooting spree, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
This week, almost two dozen educational and civil rights groups sent a letter to Pentagon officials, urging them to halt the controversial practice of militarizing US school police departments, which have been reported in California, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Michigan.
“Adding the presence of military-grade weapons to school climates that have become increasingly hostile due to their over-reliance on police to handle routine student discipline can only exacerbate existing tensions,” said the protest letter, signed by a number of groups, including the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Children’s Law Center and Public Counsel.
Democratic congressman Adam Schiff said while there was a role for surplus military equipment going to local police forces, “it’s difficult to see what scenario would require a grenade launcher or a mine-resistant vehicle for a school police department.”
The call for school police departments to return the military equipment they received from the Pentagon has been met with a mixed response.
Rick Stelljes, the chief of Florida’s Pinellas county schools police, said he had acquired 28 semi-automatic M16 rifles through the program. Although the firearms designed specifically for battlefield conditions have never been used, they are “something we need given the current situation we face in our nation. This is about preparing for the worst-case scenario,” Stelljes told AP.
Jill Poe, police chief in southern California’s Baldwin Park school district, said she would be handing over three M16 rifles acquired under her predecessor.
“Honestly I could not tell you why we acquired those,” Poe said. “They have never been used in the field and they will never been used in the field.”
President Barack Obama in August ordered a review of federal programs that allow state and local law enforcement to acquire military-grade weapons and equipment.