Category Archives: Education

Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

Government Policies have Failed the African American Family

In order to fully appreciate what Eric Holder has done this week (by changing the policies of the U.S. criminal justice system) involves a little perspective. For African Americans who have literally experienced centuries of social, housing, education, job and wage discrimination, the need to rely on government assistance has been greater. Welfare Reform and Drug Laws of the 1990’s increased the burdens on African American families because Racial Profiling has disproportionately affected this population. Historically, these laws and policy changes have denied (and still do in most states), those with a felony any public housing, education, welfare/medical benefits. So, you have a growing population of predominantly African American males cut out of support and also threatening their family assistance if they live in the home.

Hence, the further destruction of the family unit, where fathers are pushed onto the streets with no other choice than to repeat-offend and threaten communities. We have failed as a country with centuries of racism and what were well-meaning policies with destructive unintended consequences.

Ending the overt criminal justice disparities is just one step in a long line of steps and policy changes needed to start valuing the African American male in the home and society. We are all losing with the status quo so I am more than thrilled to see a shift in policies.

Of course, the Hispanic/Latino community has also experienced these challenges in past decades and this commentary does not intentionally leave them out. My point is to highlight the deeply entrenched history of African American policy discrimination that will not go away overnight and will not change for the better until we see where we came from first.

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August 14, 2013 · 6:45 pm

Grandma Heads Off To College: A Recession Era Tale

ImageGRANDMA HEADS OFF TO COLLEGE

A RECESSION ERA TALE

               I drove through the quiet, manicured suburban Roseville neighborhood I would no longer call home this morning. My swollen eyes and red splotchy face were the affirmation that I had made the right decision not to put on make-up after my morning shower. That was the last shower I would take as a permanent resident in my daughter’s home. At one point, my daughter knocked asking, “Are you OK Mom?” which I answered, “Yes” though I didn’t tell her I had been in the bathroom for an extra-long time this particular morning because I had been balling my eyes out while writing my two little grandchildren, Hudson (4) & Dayton (2) their good-bye, I will miss you cards. I also didn’t tell my daughter that the first time I walked into a drug store to buy a Thank You Card for their family, I started crying so much that I just had to leave!

Yes! Today is the day I headed off to college! Yet, unlike the eighteen year-old, I am leaving behind six of my eight grandchildren, two of my three daughters, my roses, the vegetable garden, most of my belongings (in storage), my two son-in-laws (who probably aren’t crying) and Baxter, my daughter’s ten year-old pug that may not live to my next visit. (I just realized that in my blubbering, that I forgot to say goodbye to Baxter!)

The impetus for my unstoppable fountain of tears is because I am leaving my youngest grandchildren whom I have lived with for most of their little lives. How will I get along without anyone to share with when I see a magnificent bird, an egg shell from a nest or a giant caterpillar? Who will be there to be just as amazed at the sunset as my little 2 year-old granddaughter Dayton, who asked me to pull the blinds up last night so she wouldn’t miss the “set-sun?” Who will care about whether or not the “owie” on my finger has healed yet? Who will be there to never tire of playing card games, like my three oldest grandsons?

Regardless of the monumental suffering these daily dilemmas and others will create for my aching heart, I had to leave! I had to leave for the very reasons my eighteen year-old granddaughter, Elora left her friends and family behind last year to head to college. If I didn’t leave, I would have the pressure of a poverty-stricken or very family dependent retirement looming large over my loved ones. I had to get my rear-end to graduate school quick!

This was never my plan, yet it was always an unspoken dream cast away after decades of repetitive mental reality checks every time I saw those enviable titles after someone’s name that I knew I could never compete with, no matter what I had accomplished in my life: MPH, PhD. EdD. MSW, etc…

If I listed the journeys I have taken to get to this moment, I would never get through this post, so I won’t. Briefly, after losing my home, my retirement, my marriage and with wages plummeting, I only had the hope to work for $12-15 hr. with little chance for benefits, if I worked in the field I Ioved, without those three initials. My daughter and her husband and 2 babies took me in and we have helped each other for the last 2 ½ years. I am so grateful for them and what they did to bring our family together. Truly one of the better outcomes of this recession has been the return of the extended family experience.

Grandiose plans to be a famous author and “child expert” six years ago were quickly dashed during the recession after I self-published my first book, The New Physics of Childhood (IUniverse, 2009).  Not only was it rejected by many because I did not have a credential behind my name like, PhD., MSW, EdD., etc. I realized that the tone of it (due to a lifetime of pent-up experiences) was somewhat arrogant and harsh. I began the rewrite immediately, along with edits by several professionals. Then the publishing industry took a dive and so did my income. It was time to set idealistic dreams aside and make way for Plan X.

Foreclosure, bankruptcy and divorce (in that order) were juxtaposed to my extinguished author dreams. I knew that the once well-paid work I had done earlier as a caregiver was a very temporary replacement and sabbatical to my teaching career, yet this job title had lasted for over a decade and seemed it was my only real option for earning income forever, unless I had a Master’s Degree! With a Master’s, I could finally earn the respect of my years, since wrinkles don’t show well on a resume. After researching and allowing the dream to simmer, I knew that a Master’s in Public Health was the only way for me. It would allow me to focus on my passion for Preventive Health Education, while also giving me incredible opportunities to influence public policy and the health of communities. It would also provide me with the potential for a real income and benefits so I can rebuild my life and my nest egg before I allow myself the luxury of retirement in my mid-70’s.

I could have never imagined that when everything was gone, save my beautiful family, that the only option was actually the dream I had so wanted, yet had never uttered or allowed myself to think of. This dream also occupies the same space as my dream to be a well-known and respected author one day. *

For now, the reality is one dream at a time! I prepared for two years by taking brush-up courses and using the time to finally become fluent in Spanish. All of my experiences and preparation in the last two and a half years got me accepted to the 3 programs I applied for! In August, I begin my journey in San Francisco State University’s MPH Program in Community Health Education. Yeah!!!!!!

I am saving money by couch-surfing for a month, while I work in my field of choice, in preparation for grad school. I am not thrilled about taking any student loans out and am hoping my second year in school is funded solely by scholarships and part-time work. I have a lot to accomplish professionally, and am committed to being a full participant in my graduate school experience.

During my undergrad career, I was a single mother raising three daughters. I had no time for friends or campus activities. All I wanted to do was race home to my daughters every day after school. The 3-hour commute to higher education ate up many precious hours with my daughters as it was. Now, I am one mile from campus and by myself to focus on school work, etc. Maybe I will even make some friends, something that hasn’t really been a part of my life with every second going to family. Though I am realistic enough to know that I won’t really have time to do much of this or to sit around and play cards while I am in grad school. However, I am already looking forward to visits “back home” to indulge my inner card playing junkie.

Yes, this day, this life, this new chapter is the perfect description of a bitter-sweet moment. I will miss my family in Roseville, but I will actually have more time with my youngest daughter and other grandson, now that I am closer to them.

Beyond the tears and tugging of little heart strings, life is good! I even received a $1,000 scholarship by a wonderful organization that felt compelled by my personal journey. Perhaps there are more angels like this in my future. I sure hope so, because as this Grandma heads off to college, I need all of the angels I can get, yet nothing will take the place of the beautiful family I have waiting for me when I return home after I receive my Master’s in Public Health! It will be the 1st. Master’s Degree in our family, just as my AA & BA were when I received them, years ago. I hope one day I can be an inspiration for my grandchildren so they know that it is never an option to give-up or give-in and that it is never too late for your dreams to come true!

*CONFESSION   – In the middle of preparing to leave for grad school, the writer in me just had to get that one last lick in! I formatted the 30+ years of my children’s stories and printed them out for my grandchildren to read in my absence. More on this project in future posts.

Hasta Luego!  Got places to go, things to do, people to see!

Christina Ivazes

aka Granny Pants

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Filed under Banks, Barack Obama, children, community, Education, Elders, foreclosure, Grandchildren, Grandparents, Granny Pants, health care, jobs, mother, Parenting, prevention, teaching, The New Physics of Childhood, Writing

10 Study Skills that Really Matter!

Effective study and lifestyle habits are the real factor in academic success, most often superseding economic, intellectual, or age factors.

Personally, I had to learn how to study effectively because I was not taught or required to study as a child. This list of recommendations is for everyone, young and old. It is based on my personal experiences as a student, teacher, caregiver, mother and grandmother.

1. KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES– This is the first step to deciding your study strategies. Everyone has some challenges with studying. Most students have multiple challenges. Knowing your weaknesses and admitting them is the first step to getting your study habits into ship-shape so you don’t waste a single minute of your precious personal time studying in ineffective circles that not only rob you of fun, but also rob you of the best grades and opportunities that you deserve. By eliminating your time wasters and over-confidence when you actually need to increase study time, you will actually have better grades, more energy and have more time for the people and activities you love without those nagging feelings haunting you.

2. IF YOU TEND TO PROCRASTINATE– Set up a plan to reward yourself with personal time and activities only after you have finished your work or have studied enough to have a good command of materials. Study your most challenging subjects first when you have the most energy. Save easy study tasks like making flash cards last when you don’t need to think as deeply. Isn’t it interesting how it can be very difficult to study effectively at night when we are tired but we are never too tired to talk to our friends! Use this fact to your advantage.

3. IF YOU ARE EASILY DISTRACTED– Create a private, comfortable and well-lit space with no distractions. Use earplugs or headphones if needed to reduce environmental distractions. Turn off any computer or phone notifications while studying. Notify your parents and friends when you are studying and tell them that you will return their calls/texts or requests when you are finished. Give yourself a 15-minute reward for personal/free time at the end of every hour of non-stop, focused studying. Make sure you get up and move around during this free time to bring the blood back into your brain that tends to become lodged in the bottom after sitting for long periods of time. (A walk around the block during study breaks can do wonders to energize you and increase your memory.)

4. WRITE CLEAR & DETAILED NOTES WHILE YOU ARE IN CLASS & STUDYING & ENSURE YOU HAVE WRITTEN EVERYTHING DOWN NECESSARY –Do not fall into the “I will remember this” pattern. Back-tracking and searching for information later can be a huge time and energy waster! Tools such as highlighting, side notes on the page and colorful tabs can save time later on.

5. WRITE A STUDY LIST EVERY DAY & BREAK DOWN ASSIGNMENTS INTO SMALL, MANAGEABLE TASKS – Do this right after school or first thing in the morning on non-school days. – This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and prevent you from knowing where to begin. It also makes it easier to check off your priority list and block study sessions which increase the feeling and awareness of your real progress. If you tend to overlook and forget your assignments, check with your instructor after every class to make sure you have all assignments and notes down correctly and thoroughly.

6. ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO STUDY IN YOUR BAG OR BACKPACK – Choose the items you are most challenged with so you can study whenever you can. Flash cards or reading assignments are the easiest things to have handy. Make a copy of a complex reading assignment and have in your bag to read and highlight. Whenever you have an unexpected delay or free moment, pull out your studies instead of your phone and you will have more free time to communicate with friends without stress at the end of the day!

7. ENSURE MAXIMUM COMPREHENSION OF ALL MATERIAL BY USING EFFICIENT TOOLS WHILE YOU READ– Before you read anything, understand, read or write down what it is you are supposed to know from reading the passage or chapter. Read the questions however, not the answer choices! Then as you read the first time, highlight any key points that fit your comprehension goals. If you are not able to highlight, write notes as you read, noting the paragraph or page number. If possible, copy the passage and highlight that. Next, re-read the questions and read the passage again, but this time as you read, write notes on what you think the answers or main points are to the assignment. Then go to the questions and see if any match your understanding of the material. If you need to write an essay, you will then have the best notes possible to create your outline!

8. DO NOT SKIP ANY STEPS OR QUESTIONS & UTILIZE ALL AVAILABLE STUDY RESOURCES UNTIL YOU KNOW A SUBJECT INSIDE AND OUTUnless you are repeating information with an “A” mastery level; not just until you think you have it. Mastery comes from repeating exercises, quizzing, re-reading, re-writing and explaining the subject to others. Much of the frustration of studying comes from the missing pieces of information we pretend we know or don’t need. Then we cannot operate with all of our potential and often struggle unnecessarily. Study resources include materials in all media forms such as audio, visual, study groups, tutors and whatever resources the instructor has recommended. Using all of your senses is extremely important, especially if you are challenged with a subject. The more senses that experience the information you are learning, the deeper the knowledge will go and the less likely you are to forget it because you have it understood in a multitude of layers. Remember that the most effective way to comprehend and remember material is to discuss it with others; hence the study group.

9. BE AT YOUR BEST BY ENSURING YOUR SLEEP, EXERCISE & NUTRITION NEEDS ARE BEING MET – Exercising daily will increase your memory, energize you, keep your immune system strong and prevent insomnia. Getting the right amount of sleep (about 8 hours/night) will also ensure you can think clearly while you are in class, studying and testing. Energy drinks, coffee, tea and/or drugs in the place of sleep, exercise or nourishing meals wear down your immune system, increase insomnia and fatigue, leaving you with less energy and more health problems in the long run. Contrary to popular thought, if you eat snacks with less sugar and/or carbohydrates and instead eat snacks with protein rich snacks, you will have more lasting energy and increased brain functions without experiencing the “carb-crash” which can affect your ability to study properly. A bag of nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit or jerky are great things to have on hand at all times.

10. RE-ASSESS YOUR STUDY HABITS AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AFTER EVERY TESTING OR GRADING PERIOD – Set yourself up for success, not for failure. It often takes about 1 ½ semesters to adopt effective study habits that become natural. Commit to your study plan if it is working but re-tool it if it is not. Ask your instructor how much you should be studying each day for each class and arrange your schedule around honesty about how much you need to study instead of denial about how much you need to study. Eliminate any extra activities until you are achieving the grades and knowledge mastery you desire. Remember that exercise, sleep, eating properly and an allotted amount of personal time to enjoy life are not extra-curricular activities but necessary for your health, well-being and good grades!

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Filed under children, Education, exercise, Families, Fathers, insomnia, media, mentor, mother, nutrition, prevention, teaching, technology, teenagers, Writing

The 25 Most Important Things

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The 25 Most Important Things To Pass On To My Children and Grandchildren:

1. Be honest and kind with yourself and others. You will save a lot of pain and suffering while attracting more honesty and kindness into your life.

2. Exercise often and as aerobically as you can because 4-6 days of exercise will:

  • Help you sleep more soundly
  • Keep your immune system strong, thereby reducing sick days and health care costs
  • Prevent injuries
  • Increase your memory and learning capacity
  • Release stress from your body so it won’t impact your health
  • Keep you fit and healthy and toned
  • Increase your options in life and recreation with a working body
  • Decrease anger
  • Balance your hormones and best of all
  • It’s completely free if you need it to be!

3. Eat real food, especially veggies, legumes and whole grains and eat everything else in moderation. Remember that children’s tastes are developed by what is in the house and what they eat and drink in the first few years. Each food is designed perfectly balanced as nature intended to nourish our bodies. Each step from food’s original form is substandard and less nourishing for our bodies. Our bodies are our vehicles for everything we do and want to do in life so they deserve the best!

4. Develop an appreciation for reading because once you can read, you have the entire world and its history and cultures and fields of study at your fingertips.

5. Education is the key to giving yourself the best chance in life but you also have to give your best to get the full benefits. This means sacrificing personal time now, which you will get back later because then you won’t have to work as hard as a person without an education. Education also means experience. Make an effort to travel out of your home country to understand a little about how the rest of the world operates from direct experience, not heresay. Traveling is some of the most valuable education that you can experience.

6. Do at least 1 thing very well in your life! Devote enough time, even before you are an adult, to become an expert at something! When you are an expert at something, you will always have this expertise to fall back on, even if you don’t decide to make it a career.

7. Forgive yourself and others for anything in the past. It does not serve you to carry the weights of blame or regret around. Not only do they weigh you down, they can also make you physically ill. You will be closer to realizing your dreams and personal well-being when you learn to let go.

8. Visualize yourself doing what you dream to do and remind yourself of this vision frequently! Do not let others dictate your future or change your dreams. A delay or detour does not mean destruction; it may just mean a lesson you need to learn before you are prepared to soar!

9. Start small. Make small changes in yourself before uprooting everyone and your own life. Big changes = big risks. Each time you start over it costs in more ways than one. A person can never get ahead by starting over continuously.

10. Practice compassion with everyone, especially with people who aren’t like you. They may need even more than your friends and family. (Remember that compassion is different from enabling.)

11. Practice service to others as a necessary part of your spiritual fulfillment and soul requirements during your lifetime.

12. Express yourself creatively. Creative expression is a necessary part of each person but it is up to each person to find their own and commit to it, even as a hobby.

13. Addictions are the suffering of tortured souls. If you ever become tempted by an addiction or start suffering from an addiction, you may be suffering from a lack of #11 and/or #12. Start with those first for a deeply lasting solution.

14. Time with family is important, things aren’t. “You can’t take it with you.” Be sure to balance your time with yourself and your loved ones and only have things that serve you in your life, not as items of worship.

15. Learn to listen to, understand and trust the real needs of your body and spirit and obey them. You will save yourself a lot of pain, suffering and money if your body does not have to be sick to rescue you from your own deafness. The more you listen and obey, the more you will develop trust in your own intuition to know what is best for you, thereby leading to more effectiveness.

16. With any new plan, life change or strategy, remember the 3-day, 2 week rule. The first 3 days are the hardest, but you should see some improvement by the end of the 3rd. day (or 3rd.time). The habit and adjustment will become a part of your life after 2 weeks of consistency. Do not deviate if you are experiencing positive results. It is often right when things seem toughest that the light of day is approaching, but we need to stick it out so we can reap the benefits. If you do something 3 times and you see no improvement or progress, move onto plan B. This may just mean a small adjustment or a total 360. It depends on the situation. Listen; really listen for the answers on this one.

17. Maintain your financial reputation, regardless of what you earn. Treat personal debts as seriously as others. You will hold your head higher and will have more opportunities to reach your goals when you are respected by others by keeping your word & commitments. Do not waste your precious dollars on unnecessary expenses like late fees, tickets, overdrafts, higher interest rates & deposits from bad credit, etc. Eliminate all unnecessary expenses and you will have more for the things you really need and want, including an emergency fund.

18. Make sure you  get yourself into natural surroundings as frequently as possible. Oftentimes when we don’t feel right it is because we are out of balance. Nothing helps more than a day outside, especially surrounded by trees.

19. Be accountable for your life and ensure your children are accountable for theirs! If you find yourself blaming others and are angry at others for your situation, look in the mirror instead for the solution to your challenges! There is no better way to take back the control of your life than by looking in the mirror and taking responsibility.

20. Clear your head of all responsibilities before you go to sleep at night to ensure a restful sleep & take time out for yourself every day. A neutral book is helpful here (and maybe a notepad to write things down so you can let go of them until morning).

21. Only buy what you need and avoid purchasing what you don’t. The benefits are many, but at the very least you will have more money and less clutter to contend with during your day.

22. Take care not to waste what you can prevent from using. We are the stewards of the earth and can get by with so much less. Remember that everything we buy or use requires energy and resources from somewhere and usually involves polluting the earth, water and sky. Any food thrown away has used precious resources (and money) for nothing.

23. When dealing with children, remember who is in charge and it is definitely not the child! Take care to phrase your language to make children accountable for themselves as soon as possible. Take care to phrase your language to make sure they know that you are in charge, not them (even if you have to fake it).

24. Respect all elders by speaking and treating them with kindness and interest for they have seen and experienced many things you may never see or experience. You too will be an elder someday and will deserve the same respect, regardless of your mental or physical limitations or personality.

25. Treat each of your family members and friends as if they won’t be here tomorrow. This will lead to no regrets if ever they are gone; it will make them feel loved by you because we can never have too much affection and caring from those we love!

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Jobs and the Elephant in the Room: Immigration Reform

 When Over 11 Million People Residing in a Country Are Not Allowed to Contribute, Everyone Loses!

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bnm (This post is for serious policy makers and those who influence policymakers.)

  The following negative consequences should be enough to spur a sincere effort to address our crippling immigration system during an election season when everything is on the line:

  • Increased border violence between the US and Mexico
  • Decrease in consumer confidence for 11+ million people in US
  • Decreased local, state and federal revenue feeding education, health care, social security and all operating costs
  • Increased oppression, abuse and violence against undocumented females
  • Decreased employer confidence regarding hiring undocumented immigrants
  • Lack of tracking and accountability for undocumented immigrants

Keeping the 11+ million undocumented immigrants in the US living in the shadows is hurting our economic recovery more than anyone dares to assert. What follows are some convincing perspectives on why we need to hurry up and pass immigration reform because the only people that are benefitting from delayed reform are criminals and organized crime.

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.”  Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.

Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants. As we know, these statistics of income disparaties have only broadened since Billiteri’s article.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008).The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform.

The most cost-effective and humane way to recover our economy and dignity as a great America is to put immigration reform in front of all other issues today and begin by allowing undocumented immigrants to be accounted for by issuing special driving cards. Then, we can really begin the recovery by engaging the resources and   cnv contributions of 11+ million people! 

Below is an expanded version of this text for those who wish to read about this issue in more detail:

In a 2007 report by the PEW Hispanic Center, “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill,” over half of the adult US Hispanic population worries “that either they, a family member or a friend could be deported.” The report highlights the domino effects of delayed immigration reform on the total US Hispanic population from “stepped-up deportations, more workplace raids, and restrictions on access to driver’s licenses…” By randomly interviewing over 2,000 Hispanic adults, asking a variety of questions, the study authors found that over three quarters of the 47 million Hispanics in the US disapprove of the current enforcement tactics on undocumented immigrants. This is almost the direct flip-flop of what non-Hispanics feel (PEW). Despite the risks, Hispanic families, both documented and undocumented believe that their children will have more opportunities than themselves by living in the US.

Opportunities are tenuos for a shadow population. The reality of successfully creating jobs and the innovation that leads to jobs under a shroud of the fear is unlikely. The only innovation that takes place in a climate of fear is carried out by criminals, who thrive underground and who have thrived in recent years.

This PEW study on Latino attitudes towards immigration was done in 2007, just prior to the US Recession and the escalating drug war violence in Mexico. Today, as economic opportunities have decreased with increased enforcement in the US along with a climate of intolerance, young Hispanics rejected by US policies are embraced by drug cartels and gun runners from the US to Mexico, vice-versa. This is a situation where we all lose. These concerns and others brought up in the PEW study have only magnified since its publication. These and others are deep threats to quality of life in the US from the perspectives of the people who are most deeply affected.

Three years later, the 2010 U.S. Census estimated a more accurate number of over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S.  Hispanic attitudes towards immigration policies are absolutely pertinent when considering the total US social and economic impacts.  Lack of opportunities for such a significant percentage of our population is worth deeper consideration. Many opposed to allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally do not fully understand the negative implications of purely punitive immigration policies.

In order to learn how to create immigration reform that works, we also need to understand the evolution of this situation as it has transitioned from bad to worse for most of us in the US, not just undocumented populations. Back in 2003, journalist Jim Wasserman wrote an article in the Oakland Tribune reporting on the repeal of California’s SB60: “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” He describes how opponents of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants proposed that California’s SB60, signed by then Governor Gray Davis, presented a security risk to the US. California’s SB60 allowed undocumented immigrants the right to obtain a driver’s license. Governor Schwarzenegger made repeal of this bill a campaign promise for his first 100 days in office. The article emphasizes opinions by the Governor and his supporters, who believed that by preventing undocumented immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses, our streets and country would be safer. There was no mention of the potential domino effects associated with this pivotal event that began the economic downturn along with the free for all policies in the financial market. The repeal of SB60 has negatively affected both the US and Mexico’s economies and national security.

Wasserman’s article touts the Governor’s tough talk and focuses on his promise to keep his word, a promise that failed to recognize California’s status as a high-ranking global economy and the impacts of its’ policies on the US and global arena because, “As California goes, so goes the nation” (Author unknown).

Regardless of illegal status, when you deny 2 million people in California alone the right to drive, this affects their ability to secure employment and to be the consumers our global economy depends upon. Local, state and federal sources lose several revenue streams from driver’s license fees, employment taxes, social security, Medicare, and sales taxes. The lack of opportunity presented by delaying immigration reform has affected buying power, but most importantly, has promoted a climate of fear creating an insecure and apprehensive market even more impactful than Wall Street traders. As an example, both California and Nevada tightened driver’s license eligibility in 2003, denying access to undocumented immigrants. They now have the highest US unemployment rates at 11.9 and 12.5 respectively (Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011). Cutting off economic opportunity has not created jobs.

 “Opponents labeled the law (SB60) a reward for lawbreakers and said terrorists could take advantage of it, easily getting drivers’ licenses and slipping into society” (Wasserman). Isn’t a driver’s license a method of tracking people? Isn’t it difficult to track someone who has no record to track? I and many others believe that having a shadow population operating without accountability only increases the threat to our national security and feeds the need for underground crime. Not only has border crime increased on the US/Mexico border since the repeal of SB60, state and federal revenues have decreased while poverty rates have increased across all cultural lines in both the US and Mexico.

Popular opinion is swayed by political rhetoric and Wasserman’s article depicts the historical rhetoric of 2003. It was published well before the economic downturn giving us the window into the future as we now experience the impact of these policies on the total US population 8 years later.

The 2007 article, “Domestic Poverty” (Billitteri) from 2006 Census data shows the growing rate of poverty in the U.S. while the rate of millionaires has also increased. It highlights that low-skilled immigrant populations are becoming the growing poor in America even as immigrant populations increase, leading to a higher percentage of people in the US living below the poverty level.  It depicts striking statistics of income disparities. As the author exhibits a variety of factors and populations most effected, it is obvious the immigration and tax policies of the past designed to address poverty in America still aren’t producing the desired results.

Articles like Billitteri’s are powerful, yet frustrating illustrations about how ludicrous our economic design is in the US. With objectivity, he recognizes the growing poor among all populations, but especially in the Hispanic community. A poor America is a lose-lose for all! Income disparity in the US has resulted from the Bush tax cuts as much as from our remiss as a nation to fix our broken immigration system.  Creating economic, educational and emotional freedoms will create more revenue and opportunities for everyone, both citizen and immigrants.

Every state has had their own method for tackling the issues of undocumented immigrants. The Indiana Commission on Hispanic-Latino Affairs (ICHLA) worked to create a case presented to the BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) in 2005. This report “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License” was submitted to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Jr. and the Indiana Legislative Council, making it a part of the official Indiana record. It was an appeal in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants the rights to obtain driver’s licenses. It thoroughly outlines safety and national security considerations in favor of allowing licenses. From Indiana’s rural, agrarian culture void of public transportation to the safety benefits, the ICHLA addresses the economic benefits of increasing state and local revenues for relocating immigrant populations.  The report addresses the nuances of documentation and the values of immigrant populations that will only create benefits when they are seen as contributors. It makes detailed recommendations for the development of an accountability program with a “Driving Privilege Card” meant to boost Indiana’s economy and create safer communities through legalized driving for immigrant populations.

In taking a position in favor of driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, the 2005 ICHLA report outlines many of the same issues others have considered. It provides a strong case countering the policies that have led to devastating consequences to national security by creating an unwelcome climate of discrimination.  As part of building an argument in favor of permitting licenses, it also includes how other states like Utah and Washington support a more pragmatic and compassionate policy. It provides pages of wowing statistics on the economic contributions of Hispanics to the US and that there is overwhelming support of other Hispanic organizations for more humane immigration policies. The economic model included as an appendix projects over 16 million dollars in savings for Indiana. By itself this report could tip the scales in congress in favor of a “Driving Privilege Card,” and for immigration reform. One of the most impactful statements in this report is “In addition a 2005 report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, University of Georgia, reported that the current buying power of Hispanics/Latinos in Indiana for 2005 was $ 4,866,103,000.00” (3). But economic consequences of delayed reforms are not the only casualties.

The emotional consequences of living in fear also play a part in the immigration equation. The Psychology of Men and Masculinity is an APA publication covering a wide range of male oriented issues from gender stereotypes to fathering pertaining to males from all backgrounds. A March 2011 article was based on a study titled, “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico” (Galvez, et. al.). It offers an unlikely, yet powerful approach to this argument in favor of legalizing driving for undocumented immigrants. The study and the assertions it makes from the focus groups involved offer a deeper and more compassionate window into the immigrant dilemma and the emotional issues surrounding the driver’s license issue.

One of the most underestimated consequences of delayed immigration reform, combined with increased federal and state enforcement of immigration violations, has been the emotional impacts on the families of undocumented immigrants in the form of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Through four focus groups of men in intervention programs after battering their partners, this research illustrates the many ways that the stress of being undocumented in the US deteriorates the mental and emotional well-being of individuals and their family members, resulting in increased violence directed towards partners. The descriptions of the barriers Hispanics face and how the males experience demasculinization by methodical immigration policies is illuminating. The study also describes tactics male partners use to control undocumented female partners precisely due to harsh immigration driving restrictions, “Many of these immigrants have not had driving experience or a driver’s license issued from their home country, but increasingly are living in urban areas in which driving can be considered a necessity of daily life. This need can be exploited by an abusive man to surveil and control his partner” (Galvez, et.al).

In this heart-tugging case in favor of driver’s licenses, for undocumented populations in the US, nothing strikes deeper than physical abuse and conditions that enable domination over vulnerable populations. No matter what your perspective on immigration is in the US, dominating vulnerable populations is just plain Un-American. The emotional consequences of harsh immigration policies, such as denying driving privileges, are the final arguments in favor of a more humane immigration reform, but perhaps we need more statistics to drive this point home.

Before current Arizona policies were enacted targeting undocumented immigrants, an analysis was presented by the University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy, “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts” (Gans, 2008). This analysis projected fiscal and economic impacts of immigrants on the state of Arizona. It was conducted with the input-output IMPLAN® model of calculating cost versus revenue. It considers in great detail factors such as tax revenues, health care costs, education, sales and property tax, motor vehicle taxes, business taxes, consumer spending, incarceration, etc. Through this input-output model for 2004 costs and revenue of immigrant populations (both documented and undocumented) it was found that immigrants produced tax revenues of $2.4 billion and cost the state of Arizona a total of $1.4 billion, netting a gain of $940 million.

This prescient analysis of political battles to come seems not to have made it to the general public in Arizona, or to Governor Jan Brewer’s office. As an in-depth look into the real numbers of both cost and contributions, this report gives immigration opponents something to chew on. It is yet another example refuting the idea that the costs outweigh benefits. It illustrates with current relevance that by creating economic opportunity, everyone wins. Judith Gans’ extensive experience in immigration policies outlines the contributions of the immigrant community to states in the form of tax revenue generated, especially when immigrants are allowed to contribute. The real test will be in Arizona’s 2011 Fiscal report at the end of this year. Again, driver’s license and immigration reforms will create economic prosperity through tax revenues and this report proves immigrants increase tax revenues when they have the freedom to work and contribute to state economies.

We all know the US cannot deport 11.4 million people (the estimate of undocumented immigrants in the US). If you deny them the freedom to work and contribute to tax revenues, they only become liabilities. It is clear that we need to change how we approach this challenge by elevating immigrants to a point where they can contribute and pay their fair share in running the US.

A driver’s license is the first ticket to economic independence and contribution to society. In the US we sympathize with females in the Middle East, where few have the right to drive a car. We know that preventing a person from having the right to drive is a form of oppression, yet we insist on carrying out these same policies for a significant percentage of the population residing in our own country. Isn’t the bottom line to ensure that those who are here in the United States are accounted for, follow the laws and contribute to our system as a whole so it can run properly with the revenues that equal the population it serves?

WORKS CITED

  • Billitteri, Thomas J. “Domestic Poverty.” CQ Researcher. September 7, 2007. Vol. 17 Issue 31.              
  • PEW Hispanic Center. “2007 National Survey of Latinos: As Illegal Immigration Issue Heats Up, Hispanics Feel A Chill.” PEW: Washington, DC, December 2007. PDF. 28 April 2011. http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=84
  • “Follow-up Report on the Challenges of Obtaining an Indiana Driver’s License.”  The 2005 Driver’s           License/Immigration Subcommittee on The Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (ICHLA).  Web. 2 May 2011.
  • Galvez, G., Mankowski, E. S., McGlade, M. S., Ruiz, M. E., & Glass, N. “Work-Related Intimate Partner Violence Among Employed Immigrants From Mexico.” Psychology of Men & Masculinity. 21 March 2011. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • Gans, Judith. “Immigrants in Arizona: Fiscal and Economic Impacts.” The University of Arizona: Udall Center for Studies and Public Policy. 2008. PDF. Web. 28 April 2011.
  • United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Local Area Unemployment Statistics. April 2011. Web. 7 June 2011. http://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
  • US Census Bureau. “2010 Census Data.” 2011. Web. 3 May 2011. http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/index.php
  • Wasserman, Jim. “Schwarzenegger Signs Repeal of Immigrant License Law.” Oakland Tribune. San Ramon, CA. 4 December 2003. ProQuest Newsstand. Web. 27 Apr. 2011.

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Education Reform and the Over-Inflated, Over-Rated 4-year College Degree

by Christina Ivazes  

 The current state of the US economy, our unskilled labor force, the need for educational reform, and the skyrocketing costs of a college education demand we be smart and efficient about solutions that affect and connect all of the above. Perhaps a better strategy is to back away from the ideal that every American should go to college. Yes, we can all agree that every American should have the opportunity to go to college if they choose. However, to give our students and our nation the best educated and skilled workforce, we should not focus on every American going to college, but first, on every American graduating from high school with two years of career training. This pragmatic strategy offers numerous benefits to our country. 

vh   By becoming more efficient and effective in preparing students for the real world and college, the US will save money and jobs. In 2010, The Fiscal Times reports, “just 56 percent of those who enroll in a four-year college earn a bachelor’s degree…Some students drop out because of the trouble paying the cost—the average college debt upon graduation is a whopping $24,000” (Reynolds Lewis). According to the U.S. Dept. of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the cost of a four-year college education is from $18,900 to $35,500 and rising. We also know that these quotes are a low-average and not really what a four-year is typically costing our college graduates, where $50-$100,000 is a more common estimate today in 2011. And graduation does not necessarily equate employment as we see with a glut of unemployed college graduates today weighed down with inflated student loan and credit card debt. There are jobs however, that are immune to outsourcing and which do not warrant an expensive four-year degree.

Secondary and post-secondary vocational and technical training programs are historically lower in cost with competitive salaries to those earned from four-year college degrees. Matthew B. Crawford advocates for the many benefits of trade-based training in his bookShop Class as Soulcraft, “You’re likely to be less damaged, and quite possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling tender of information system or low-level “creative” (53). The Houston Chronicle published an article supporting Crawford’s concept stating, “Mechanics of all types are in high demand and can command a high hourly wage… Many blue collar jobs require training through apprenticeships or vocational training programs and others may require on-the-job training or passing an aptitude test prior to employment” (Nielson). This is not a proposal to eliminate the college track for high school students in America.

Shouldn’t we beg the questions: Why are we so single tracked about how to create a productive & competitive job force? And, shouldn’t we think about downsizing the cost of education along with our lifestyles? The IES reports that in 2008, earnings for an employed four-year college graduate are on average of $55,000/males, $45,000/females per year. Compare the costly four-year college degree with training and apprenticeship (which can begin as a junior in high school) for an electrician who can earn from $34,000 and upwards with no student loan debt with just two more years of post-secondary training for $400-$1000/yr. “Semi-truck drivers…start out making $50,000 annually…and only requires about four weeks of training to obtain a license” (Nielson). Debt free high school training in the trades or technology/health careers can yield from $34,000-$50,000+ per year. Another pragmatic idea Crawford suggests is “even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers” (53).    By increasing high school career training programs, we can create a stronger buy-in for students, reducing training costs while also reducing the costs of high school dropouts for our society.

cgh  The costs of high school dropouts are far-reaching beyond the costs of college dropouts. According to the 2007 report The Economic Losses from High School Drop-outs in California, the significant impact from high school dropouts come from lost tax revenue, Medical and Medicare expenditures, fiscal costs to fight crime, prosecute and incarcerate felons, and increased assistance for both felons and their families. “The economic magnitudes are substantial” (2 Belfield, Levin). After deducting the cost of education, the average total lifetime social gains for a high school graduate is $391,910 per graduate in the State of California, with the savings for black males being the highest at $681,130 (Table 18, Belfield and Levin). My point is not to stereotype but to acknowledge that we need to do everything in our capacity to invest in our high school students to become ready employable adults and/or ready for college, not inmates and/or recruits for drug cartels.

Career and technical training can be a ray of hope for all high school students, not just the disenchanted. Crawford makes a strong case in favor of the trades in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including his highlight on their little recognized intellectual merit, “I quickly realized there was more thinking going on in the bike shop than in my previous job at the think tank” (27). With a PhD. he describes a collegiate fall from grace as a blessing because it led him back to his original high school training as a motorcycle mechanic.  Crawford describes his own cognitive journey as well as those of other tradesmen he interviewed. The conclusion is worth a new focal point in our education reform. In Crawford’s view “Given the intrinsic richness of manual work— cognitively, socially, and in its broader psychic appeal—the question becomes why it has suffered such a devaluation as a component of education” (27). Some may view this idea as undermining a college education, but what Crawford is really pointing out is that “Practical know-how… is always tied to the experience of a particular person. It can’t be downloaded, it can only be lived” (162). Children and teenagers have always responded positively to the value of hands-on learning, especially when it has a practical application in their lives.

At the age of 16, a teenager’s cognitive maturity starts him or her on the path towards the reality of the adult world and all that entails. You may wonder what cognitive maturity has to do with a broad-based high school career and technical training program, but if students are struggling in school, have no money or family support for college, many see no future in the value of their junior and senior years. Challenged students need full engagement to prevent them from becoming avoidable statistics. By focusing on Math and English proficiency by the end of sophomore year, juniors and seniors can take core subjects and science classes with their half day of training courses to ensure they are ‘college ready’ at graduation. This schedule does not limit a student’s education, it enhances it by making it relevant; it prepares the student both for life and for college should they choose to attend.

 cvb  Though career and technical training in high school is not the solution for every student, it can serve a healthy percentage of our labor force. Some model programs in the US illustrate the potential of every high school, such as the Howard High School of Technology in Delaware.  The 2010 report by the Delaware Department of Education declares, “Howard has a high graduation rate (97 percent) and daily attendance rate (95 percent) and a low serious infraction rate….In addition to an academic program, Howard students choose one of the following career pathways: finance and business; carpentry; computer network administration; cosmetology; culinary arts; dental assisting; electrical trades; engine technology; legal administrative assisting; medical assisting; nursing technology; public service; or structural steel detailing.”  This richly diverse program serves a variety of student and community needs. It is a model that deserves replication.

There are still many questions to address in more detail before programs like Howard can be implemented effectively across America.  Questions like: How will we pay for this?  How can we make a solid case for the benefits of high school career training that will not be sabotaged by budget cuts every time state and federal revenues fluctuate? How can we refocus dollars from punitive institutions to education so we can create a higher skilled work force, reduce high school dropouts and prison populations while also reducing student loan and credit card debt? The answers to these questions and are necessary for the design of lasting and effective education reform that will strengthen our economy and society.  Of course, to change the current system, we may also have to challenge for profit college and prison industries that have benefitted by the shrinking of high school career education in the U.S., but it’s a challenge worth taking up.

Work cited

Belfield, Clive R. and Henry M. Levin. “The Economic Losses From High School Dropouts in California.” University of California, Santa Barbara: California Dropout Research Project Report #1, August 2007. PDF.(Table 18) Web. 7 April 2011.

Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft. New York: The Penguin Press. 2009. Print.

Delaware Department of Education. “Delaware Partnership Zone: Howard High School of Technology.” PDF. 2010. 21 April 2011.

Nielson, Lisa. “Highest Demand Blue Collar Careers.” The Houston Chronicle. 2011. Web. 7 April 2011.

Reynolds Lewis, Katherine. “High College Dropout Rate Threatens US Growth.” The Fiscal Times. October 28, 2010. Web. 22 April 2011.

 Wei, Christina Chang. “What is the Price of College?” U.S. Department of Education. December, 2010. PDF. (Table 1). Web. 7 April 2011.

 

 

 

 

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Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

This Personal & Home Hygiene Guide is for anyone who may need a little more encouragement to ensure they are maintaining a healthy environment. Feel free to copy and print as needed.

 

Personal & Home Hygiene Guide

  • Proper Personal and Home Hygiene is not only good for our health, it also helps others be more comfortable around us, especially in a public or work environment. Proper hygiene helps reduce illness, infection and the spread of disease. Neglect of personal hygiene can interfere with our lives in ways we may not even be aware of. Please review the points below to ensure you are following the best practices for personal and home hygiene.
  • Bathe– At least 2-3 times a week. Take care to clean all of the cracks with soapy water: behind the ears, inside ears, under arms, between toes and entire genital area & anus. The body is continually sloughing off dead skin. Moisture can linger in those cracks, giving bacteria the perfect warm, wet environment to grow. Any foul odor usually signals bacteria. A good soap and water cleaning and drying should eliminate odor. If odor persists after proper, regular cleaning, consult a physician.
  • Wash hair at least every two to three days and ensure hair is combed out because matted hair can house small insects like fleas and lice.
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot.
  • Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. The bacteria that builds up, causing gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain healthy teeth, visit the dentist every six-months for checkups and cleanings.
  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available. If you have an open cut or area of broken skin on your hands, clean and cover with a band-aid and/or use rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself and others when cleaning or when preparing food.
  • When using the bathroom if you have trouble cleaning thoroughly after a bowel movement, you can use wet wipes to make sure you have cleaned entire area thoroughly. Again, any foul odors signal the presence of bacteria that can lead to infections and spread bacteria to others.
  • Wash towels, wash cloths, clothing & bedding regularly. Towels (in kitchen and bath), wash cloths, sheets & clothing should be washed at least once a week. Socks and underwear should be changed with clean pairs daily. Blankets should be cleaned every six months or sooner if stains or smells are noticeable.
  • Shampoo carpets regularly. Ideally, carpets should be shampooed every six months if there are children or animals present and every year for general cleaning to prevent bacteria, odor and/or insects or bugs from getting too comfortable.
  • Mop floors & clean toilet and sink areas. This should be done once a week or more frequently as needed. When cleaning toilet, remember to clean outside of toilet and floor around toilet. If there is ever a urine smell present, cleaning is needed with an anti-bacterial cleaner (bleach or ammonia or disinfectants). *Never use bleach and ammonia products together because the chemical reaction can create a poisonous gas.
  • Keep all countertop areas and surfaces clean & corners free from clutter. All surfaces where food is prepared and/or served should be wiped down thoroughly every day. Take care to store food items in sealed containers to prevent the attraction of bugs and rodents. Put any lose particle of food in trash immediately as well.
  • Remove household trash from inside home to an outside, sealed area. This should be done at least every few days or daily if there is highly odorous food like meats and fish. These foods in the trash will attract flies if not removed from inside the house on a daily basis.
  • Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system.
  • Get sunlight, fresh air & exercise every day. Exercise keeps the immune system strong, muscles toned and organs supplied with oxygen. Sunshine also strengthens the immune system and the bones and helps regulate sleep cycles.
  • Open blinds & curtains to let natural light into your home. Certain bugs and dust mites can only live in a dark environment so letting the sun and natural light in is not only good for your brain, it is good for your home health too!
  • Eat a variety of fresh foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains support organ and digestive health and strengthen immune systems. A healthy body will reduce health challenges.

If you have any additions or suggestions for improving this list, please comment below. I will be using it for an independent living program for people with mild disabilities. It is based on my experiences in the areas where the needs for proper hygiene are the greatest and because I could not find a resource like this anywhere. I will be happy to provide a PDF if you request it.   Granny Pants

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