Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America | Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project

As the various candidates for the office of President of the United States define themselves and throw their hat in the ring, we should probably take a good look at their position on the American workforce and the American workplace. Especially important will be how economic policy affects these two important areas of life–both the quality of life for most working families in the country and the quality of life at the community level as it relates to access to quality education and training for working families.

More via How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America | Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Family Policy, Job Sector, Mortgages, News, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Economy, Polls and pollsters, Presidential Election, Public Policy, Unemployment, Vote, WeSeeReason

Ignore Emotional Intelligence at Your Own Risk – Claudio Fernández-Aráoz – Harvard Business Review

Understanding ourselves within the social and psychological context we share with those we interact with every day is vital for success in any social endeavor.  Emotional Intelligence or “EI” is an important theoretical framework for understanding the importance of mastering the motives and passions that we personally embrace and those of others we interact with within the context of working with and through others.  One way of looking at this social context is interpersonal communication.  Another is Emotional Intelligence; which is an important area of human behavior and psychology being developed and practiced by management and human resource gurus today.  The field has matured in terms of leading representatives whose ideas and constructs are grounded not only in sound research but the workshop of practice. This month’s Harvard Business Review has a useful article by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a leading practitioner.

“Call it Grant vs. Goleman. Two academic heavyweights face off on a topic that every student of leadership and HR cares — or at least hears — a lot about: emotional intelligence. Wharton professor Adam Grant kicks it off with a LinkedIn blog post, “Emotional Intelligence Is Overrated,” arguing that “it’s a mistake to base hiring or promotion decisions on it” and that “even in emotionally demanding work, when it comes to job performance, cognitive ability still proves more consequential than emotional intelligence.” Daniel Goleman, the psychologist credited with coining the term EI (and, full disclosure, a friend), issues his rebuttal, “Let’s Not Underrate Emotional Intelligence,” questioning the specific assessment of EI used by Grant, and referring to the various studies conducted by “The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence.” And the comments fly.”

More via Ignore Emotional Intelligence at Your Own Risk – Claudio Fernández-Aráoz – Harvard Business Review.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Culture Think, Pop-Psychology, WeSeeReason

Linking Research to Public Interest

At the Policy ThinkShop we are constantly trying to discover and share the most comprehensive and reliable public policy resources available to support you in your efforts to master specific policy areas.  One of these areas which impacts every aspect of our personal, public and private lives is education policy.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is a good resource for everything education policy:

“As part of its mission to “promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good,” AERA has enlisted the expertise of its members to provide comment on Supreme Court cases and federal legislation to support this mission.

Amicus BriefsAERA has provided scientific evidence in legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in cases involving social justice in education.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin 2012:  Amicus Brief Brings Education Research to Bear in Major Affirmative Action Case.

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education 2006: Both cases, ruled on jointly by the Supreme Court, focused on district policies encouraging integration that allowed for race to be used as a “tiebreaker” for public choice of high schools in Seattle and as a factor in determining elementary school assignments in Louisville.

Grutter v. Bollinger 2003: Challenge of University of Michigan Law School admissions policy that the plaintiff unsuccessfully argued gave applicants from underrepresented minority groups a greater likelihood of being accepted than white applicants.

Gratz v. Bollinger 2003: Challenge of University of Michigan undergraduate admissions policy that allocated a certain number of points to applicants from underrepresented minority groups.”

More via Linking Research to Public Interest.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, consumers, Education Policy, Education Reform, Parenting, Public Policy

Jobs Return to Peak, but Quality Lags – WSJ

America’s work is work, but it’s not working very well.   Let us explain.

The world economy has been transformed the American job market does not now seem able to sustain the large middle class that many argue made American great and unique.

“The U.S. finally clawed back all the jobs lost since the recession hit in late 2007, a watershed in a grindingly slow recovery that finds a labor market still in many ways weaker now than before the downturn.U.S. payrolls in May hit an all-time high after the first four-month stretch of job creation above 200,000 since the boom days of the late 1990s, according to the Labor Departments latest employment report. In all, employers added 217,000 jobs last month, nudging payrolls above the prior peak in January 2008.”

More via Jobs Return to Peak, but Quality Lags – WSJ.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Blogosphere, Job Sector

Addressing Deep and Persistent Poverty: A Framework for Philanthropic Planning and Investment

Given the last decade of a deep and lingering economic downturn, mortgage failures, Wall Street scandals and scams that brought much misfortune to the otherwise fortunate, poverty is no longer a controversial topic that afflicts the few and shakes the policy corridors of Washington.  The new poverty, according to most experts, affects families and children, the hard to employ and many struggling families who face their at home kids’ college loan bills without the benefit of Jr.’s paycheck.

Perhaps now is a good “quiet and tranquil” time to study the issue of the less fortunate without the cacophony of stakeholder voices drowning out reason.  Perhaps now that Occupy this and that has all but disappeared, the issue of poverty can occupy the voices of reason …

To be sure, the JPB foundation and the Urban Institute have recently partnered to produce an intelligent overview and analytical tools for looking, not only at poverty, but at what they term “deep poverty.”

The Policy ThinkShop provides you with the following link at an article to peruse the issue or the following downloadable report which will give you a deeper look at the deep poverty issue:

“The JPB Foundation engaged the Urban Institute to provide background on the problem of deep and persistent poverty in the United States. This paper summarizes the history of US antipoverty policies, synthesizes existing knowledge about poverty and deep poverty, and presents a framework for understanding the complex and multi-faceted landscape of antipoverty efforts today. It also draws on interviews with over 30 experts, philanthropists, and thought leaders in the field to review and distill the most current thinking about promising strategies for tackling deep and persistent poverty. Drawing on these facts and insights, we present a series of questions and choices that any foundation wishing to invest in this area would be well-advised to consider.”

More via Addressing Deep and Persistent Poverty: A Framework for Philanthropic Planning and Investment.

Filed under: ACA and Medicaid, access to education, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Feminization of Poverty, Medicaid Expansion, News, Public Policy

Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications

Perhaps one of the most terrible things about life is that it ends.   At the same time, the fragility of life is perhaps what also makes it beautiful and precious for many of us.  And so, it is perhaps most painful when we have to see others die than it is to finally succumb ourselves.  In the behavioral health profession this process of experiencing the death of others is referred to at grief and loss…  Most of us do not handle it very well.  Both the lead up to it, the moment when it happens and then our often long process of trying to understand and deal with it.

The Policy ThinkShop recommends the following Harvard medical resource to help you broaden your perspective on death and dying–the inevitable crisis we often face more than once in our lives.


“Compassionate advice for dealing with the loss of a loved one. The loss of a loved one can be a profoundly painful experience. The grief that follows may permeate everything, making it hard to eat, sleep, or muster much interest in the life going on around you.

This emotional maelstrom can affect behavior and judgment. It’s common, for example, to feel agitated or exhausted, to sob unexpectedly, or to withdraw from the world. Some people find themselves struggling with feelings of sorrow, numbness, anger, guilt, despair, irritability, relief, or anxiety.

While no words can erase grief, Coping with Grief and Loss can help you navigate this turbulent time.

In its pages, you’ll find advice on comforting yourself, commemorating your loved one, and understanding the difference between grief and depression. You’ll also find special sections on coping with the loss of a child, parent, or spouse.

Coping with Grief and Loss also includes information on navigating life when a loved one is terminally ill, on end-of-life planning, and on ways to talk about death.

Loss affects people in different ways. There is no “right” way to grieve, and no timetable or schedule for grieving. This Special Health Report aims to help you cope with the loss of a loved one at your own pace and in your own way. It offers numerous physical, emotional, and social strategies that help healing take place.”

More via Coping with Grief and Loss: A guide to healing when mourning the death of a loved one – Harvard Health Publications.

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Death and Dying, News

The U.S. Hispanic population has increased sixfold since 1970 | Pew Research Center

There is no larger, more monolithic group in the US with less power and with less representation at all levels of the civic and private sectors of American society.  Of the 53 million hispanics, a whopping 33 million plus are Mexican American.  This means that the current immigration impasse is largely, both internally and externally, a Mexican problem.  You can think of it as a “Mexican American Problem” or as purely a Mexican problem but in any case, Mexican Americans are a relatively monolithic community with a strong sense of their past, and an ongoing connection to the mother land (incidentally, Mexican Americans do not have to divide their loyalties between North America, i.e., the USA, and modern day Mexico, because the lands between the Rio Grande and the territories beyond the Alamo have largely been one continuous playground to a Mexican community that can easily claim to be Native American.  The so called “pilgrims” have a weaker claim.

Answering the question “Why have Hispanics/Latinos been in the US for so long and achieved so relatively little?” would go a long way towards unlocking America’s potential and promise of another American century of success.  The clock is ticking and American leadership and policy makers are asleep at the wheel.  The Latino community leadership is asleep as well…

“The Hispanic population grew to 53 million in 2012, a 50% increase since 2000 and nearly six times the population in 1970, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, the overall U.S. population increased by only 12% from 2000 to 2012. Hispanic population growth accounted for more than half of the country’s growth in this time period.

U.S. Hispanic Population in 2012

Much of the growth is occurring in a relatively small geographic area. A Pew Research Center analysis last year found that the 10 largest counties by Hispanic population accounted for 22% of the national Hispanic population growth between 2000 and 2011. Half of these counties are located in California.

Nationally, Mexicans are the largest Hispanic origin group but the composition of origin groups varies by geographic area. For example, while Mexicans represent a majority of Hispanics in all but 11 states, Puerto Ricans are the largest group in New York and New Jersey and Cubans are most populous in Florida.”

More via The U.S. Hispanic population has increased sixfold since 1970 | Pew Research Center.

Filed under: access to education, analytics, Blogosphere, consumers, Culture, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Education Policy, Education Reform, ethnicity in politics, Immigration, Latin American Alliances, Latinos, Leadership, Minority Males, New American Electorate, New Electorate, News, Public Policy

How to Get Your Employees to Think Strategically |

Today’s economic challenges have stressed organizational budgets, personnel departments, changed the skill set mix needed to move an organization forward, and have left smaller workforces to take on a seemingly larger and more complex workload.

This means you have to lead better, work smarter and be more strategic.  But you cannot do it alone.  Delegation is still a critical success factor in your own leadership success and delegating to someone who is not capable of understanding your strategy or in helping you further develop, tweak and implement it, is unacceptable in this new brave work environment of scarce resources and perhaps opportunities.   You get one team and limited resources…. You need to promote your strategy and you cannot afford to miss your mark.

The Policy ThinkShop provides you with the following article to help you in your leadership success journey….

From the Harvard Business Review we recommend:

Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization

“In study after study, strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders. And while there is an abundance of courses, books, articles and opinions on the process of strategic planning, the focus is typically on an isolated process that might happen once or twice per year. In contrast, a true strategic leader thinks and acts strategically every day.

So is there a way to encourage routine strategic thinking throughout the organization?”

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“Below, read his five tips for how to carry out this process.”

Dish out information.

Kabacoff says that you need to encourage managers to set aside time to thinking strategically until it becomes part of their job. He suggests you provide them with information on your company’s market, industry, customers, competitors, and emerging technologies. “One of the key prerequisites of strategic leadership is having relevant and broad business information that helps leaders elevate their thinking beyond the day-to-day,” he writes.

Create a mentor program.

Every manager in your company should have a mentor. “One of the most effective ways to develop your strategic skills is to be mentored by someone who is highly strategic,” Kabacoff says. “The ideal mentor is someone who is widely known for his/her ability to keep people focused on strategic objectives and the impact of their actions.”

Create a philosophy.

As the leader, you need to communicate a well-articulated philosophy, a mission statement, and achievable goals throughout your company. “Individuals and groups need to understand the broader organizational strategy in order to stay focused and incorporate it into their own plans and strategies,” Kabacoff writes.

Reward thinking, not reaction.

Whenever possible, try to promote foresight and long-term thinking. Kabacoff says you should reward your managers for the “evidence of thinking, not just reacting,” and for “being able to quickly generate several solutions to a given problem and identifying the solution with the greatest long-term benefit for the organization.”

Ask “why” and “when.”

Kabacoff says you need to promote a “future perspective” in your company. If a manager suggests a course of action, you need to him or her ask two questions: First, what underlying strategic goal does this action serve, and why? And second, what kind of impact will this have on internal and external stakeholders? “Consistently asking these two questions whenever action is considered will go a long way towards developing strategic leaders,” he writes.

More via How to Get Your Employees to Think Strategically |

Filed under: access to education, analytics, Blogosphere, Culture, Economic Recovery, Job Sector, Leadership, News, Organizational Development, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. –

The business world is always selling us something.  And thank God!  

Buying and selling is a huge part of our culture.  Measuring the value of what we own and what that means to us and those around us is also central to our social experience and identity.  America is about progress and the pursuit of happiness is at its very essence; we must always strive to have things and be places.  Understanding our place in the American social hierarchy  may not be as simple as counting our possessions though.  We are all Americans but we are not all equal–not even close.  Being an American is real.  But what about the so called “Middle Class”?  Have you seen it?  Do you possess a piece of it?  Are you standing in it?  If you can make a good argument that you are in it, will your children share as lofty an address?

Today’s NYTs clamors about yet another elusive metaphor that we have lived by: The Middle Class.  Illusive and metaphor because we cannot be sure if it really ever existed, at least not in all its Hollywood and public media glory.  Like the nuclear family propelled and burned into the public mind by popular TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” the middle class is a very inclusive category which most Americans strive to get into;  and yet another very important segment labors to stay above and beyond it (including today’s infamous top 1%).

For hundreds of years the extended family and agrarian life dominated gender relations, work, time and leisure.    The modern middle class and Levittowns (Levittown was the first suburb and is considered the “archetype” for America’s suburbs America’s.) are an economic creation buttressed by Hollywood and Madison Avenue cultures.  The Nuclear family of “Mom, DAD and Children,” can be similarly understood as an ideal.   Nevertheless, in perhaps a nostalgic way, today’s popular media considers the Middle Class in danger of disappearing, if nothing else, from our imaginations.  In historical terms the middle class was here for about a relative minute.  Gone so soon?

“In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.”

via The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. –

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, New American Electorate, News, Parenting, Philanthropy, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Economy, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, WeSeeReason

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