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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."

Emotional Intelligence must not be limited to academic punditry or entrepreneurial conquest … | LinkedIn

EQ Wordle Paul

We can all agree that extremely intelligent people can disagree and sometimes succumb to irrational feelings, misunderstandings and conflict. It is not enough to be smart. It is also important to get along with people, to understand them, and to express ourselves in pleasant ways that help us all get along.

We all at one time or another let our emotions carry us to places we thought we could never reach and some places and situations we never intended to be in. Emotions are an important part of our successes and failures and that includes the emotions that drive the actions of others who impact our journey. It is hard to imagine that learning to manage our emotions and to better understand the emotions of others is not an extremely desirable thing that we can pursue in a straightforward manner. But for many it is not. The concepts that cover this important topic, “emotional literacy” and “emotional competence” can be summarized in the operational definition of emotional intelligence.

Definition of Emotional Intelligence (EQ): “… the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. We posit that life tasks such as those described by Cantor and her colleagues and constructive thinking defined by Epstein are laden with affective information, that this affective information must be processed (perhaps differently than the cognitive information), and that individuals may differ in the skill with which they do so. Emotional intelligence is also a part of Gardner’s view of social intelligence, which he refers to as the personal intelligences. Like social intelligence, the personal intelligences (divided into inter- and intra­ personal intelligence) include knowledge about the self and about others. One aspect of the personal intelligence relates to feelings and is quite close to what we call “emotional intelligence.” John Mayer and Peter Salovey, 1990

Emotional intelligence (also known as “EQ”) is an idea that grew up in academia, was popularized on pop psychology shelves and, more recently, has been made useful in leadership development and organizational management circles. From its conception, it was juxtaposed to the idea of Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Its lofty intellectual beginnings notwithstanding, EQ has been embraced by so many for so many reasons that its early paradigmatic intentions may now be lost to the many.

If the intelligence scale we call “IQ” has been controversial, EQ has been equally misunderstood. Even if we can all agree on a definition and on appropriate applications of EQ theory, it’s behavioral health benefits cannot be implemented through quick short-term programs nor can it’s salutary outcomes be made sustainable without a significant transformation in our health education and K through 12 school educational systems. Many of the individuals, that could benefit from the competencies that learning and having good EQ promises, are neither fortunate enough to access the education nor in social circumstances conducive to self improvement pursuits. In a more mindful and egalitarian world, more complex ideas may achieve greater buoyancy and utility. EQ is no exception.

Popular ideas live in the minds of the many and, perhaps because of their simplicity and utility, become sustainable and prolific for both producers and consumers. The dilemma is, however, that society often needs ideas that are more complex in order to solve and address vexing modern problems. To Goleman’s credit, in part due to his efforts, EQ is being applied through his numerous consulting activities and, for example, in his supportive role helping to organize a set of conferences that led to the publication of a 1997 book by John Mayer and Peter Salovey (Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications) addressing possible emotional intelligence and social skills applications to address child development and conflict resolution in school systems (the academic team that initially developed the “theory” that led to EQ as a useful framework for researching and teaching the role that emotions play in achieving personal, social, and organizational success). Aside from this collaboration, though, much of what is popularly understood about EQ has been disseminated through Goleman’s consulting and pop psychology success NYTs best seller style.

Academic ideas and constructs more often tend to be quite different from popular ideas. They differ in that their currency tends to require intellectual specialization, academic environments akin to monasteries, and individuals with a broad understanding of the numerous currents and variables that give academic products their place in the refereed conversation of the nation’s professorial ranks. Emotional intelligence is an important flashpoint for forces with differing origins yet, ideally, common destinations–thinking individuals wanting to promote social good and noble ends. Daniel Goleman and Adam Grant are two such forces; they are social communicative pundits in the ongoing tug of war that will define the proper and productive utility, and place, of emotional intelligence, as a leadership and workforce development concept. According to Grant, Goleman goes too far in trying to apply EQ to business intelligence, heretofore an area reserved for things more mathematical and tangible. Goleman has been given a professional home on the pages of the prestigious Harvard Business Review, an instrument of both Grant and Goleman’s alma matter. A key question would be: Is EQ being misapplied or is the environment where it needs to be applied unready for its heuristic promises? Given the challenges, faced or ignored, by today’s business and organizational leaders, can we afford to dismiss this popular tool?

Adam Grant published a provocative article on LinkedIn formulating a critique of Goleman’s more global approach to EQ. Unfortunately, Grant’s article includes academic claims and posturing that is clouded by his overall trivial tone. We need a greater focus on academic rigor and the pursuit of more robust theoretical constructs that can yield progress towards EQ program development and implementation, in the area of behavioral health, for example. This seriousness seems to be lacking at the present time–certainly in Grant’s article (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20140930125543-69244073-emotional-intelligence-is-overrated?trk=prof-post).

We may be exceedingly amazed to see academics, intellectuals, pundits, and intellectual entrepreneurs spar, in the marketplace of ideas, in order to promote their worth and place in the market. The debate seems omnipresent as it crosses many borders through the Harvard Business Review, on blogs, and here on LinkedIn. Certainly, Adam Grant steps into the breach and tries to hold Goleman to task for what he sees as academic obfuscation. Interestingly, he borders on ad hominem intentions and plain teasing. Perhaps Adam Grant is pandering to this electronic social media medium and finds such rhetorical tools necessary. Perhaps the conversation that is sought here with leaders understands that today’s leaders are not Plato’s philosopher kings. Indeed, Grant does not seem to see the business of management outside of specific emotional terrain so touchy feely as Goleman would. It is plain to see that Daniel Goleman’s place is secure, as the high priest of pop psychology, because his Ph.D. in Psychology and his perch on the NYTs allowed him to popularly run with the “EQ” concept and build an entrepreneurial empire which may outlive him and the rest of us. To be sure, the spoils from the ensuing popular media endeavors have favored Goleman’s lot, EQ’s intellectual forefathers have not similarly gained (John Mayer and Peter Salovey). This does not bode well for future intellectuals lacking entrepreneurial prowess. You will find Mr. Grant on LinkedIn though, promoting his intellectual wares; he’ll do just fine.

Interestingly, we can look at Salovey’s dissertation from way back in 1986 for the early intellectual ground from which the concept of EQ grew (P. Salovey, The Effects of Mood and Focus of Attention on Self-Relevant Thoughts and Helping Intention, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Yale University, 1986). We can also look at the role of popular psychology in our culture to find similar ground for Goleman’s efforts and success. Mayer and Salovey are the original promoters of the ideas and of the intellectual history which gave intellectual buoyancy to the concept. Daniel Goleman refers to his encounter with the work of these two men in a passing way and diminishes their importance by alluding to the lack of stature of the journal in which they published the original 1990 article “Emotional Intelligence.” Goleman has turned the work of these men into a cottage industry and his published retort to Grant shows his ability to popularly promote the term “EQ” in contrast to feebly defending it. Perhaps Goleman is safe behind the popularity curtain always protecting his wizard like reputation. Up and coming scholar, Adam Grant, rightly exposes Goleman’s use of the concept as less relevant outside the parameters of academic rigor and of the realms of possible scientific discipline and emotive applications. The academic trial only seems to be beginning, though, and the popular court is woefully incapable of sequestering an appropriate jury to reach a useful verdict that would bridge the cerebral gap between academic thinkers, intellectual entrepreneurs and the laboring rank and file. Given EQ’s arguably heuristic potential and the millions that are being made from its application or misapplication, we can’t have some thinking of it as business and the rest of us as “nobody’s business.”

The concept has grown to mean so many things to so many people that it now means specifically very little within the confines of academic, intellectual or theoretical query. Salovey and Mayer’s contributions to modern management and leadership are now popularly distant from their original rigorous work. The popular development of that work may possibly have obstructed the original potential of Salovey and Mayer’s ideas and constructs, further obfuscating the road to needed progressive managerial and leadership applications. Goleman has made it common coin and personal gain–neither being efforts which have contributed significantly in taking the concept further along its original intellectual journey; nor has it helped in the building of necessary theoretical constructs that can give us an applied framework that allows for clarity regarding how and when it is useful as a heuristic model for organizational, group, or individual purposes. To be sure, Goleman now makes these claims; but his arguments are devoid of the rigor evident in the original works of the real pioneers from which the potentially useful constructs originate.

Centuries have passed since the monastic catacombs of the original academy, with its religious literati and the ensuing work of the eventually enlightened philosophers and scientists. That is work that was preserved and discriminatingly shared through coveted books and into modernity. But all that has now changed and continues to change. Academia is only one voice in a cacophony of social and intellectual media now fueled by e-commerce and consumed on billions of instantaneous screens. Ideas are now increasingly, and literally, in the clouds, ubiquitous cannon fodder for daily consumption; their value and retention seems now to be more tethered to the common cause than to the lofty undertaking. Can you imagine that?

More via Emotional Intelligence must not be limited to academic punditry or entrepreneurial conquest … | LinkedIn.

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Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Education Policy, Education Reform, Leadership, Literature & Literati, Mass Media and Public Opinion, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Pundits, Social Media, Using Social Media, 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

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.

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

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. – NYTimes.com.

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

Your kid got “As” and you did all you could possibly do to ensure their success… But Jr. is still dependent on you and you are trying to prepare to retire and rest? How can this be???

The National Center for Education Statistics is following the young.  It is doing so for very important reasons.  What becomes of America’s youth post educational experience?

This query is significant for most today because the recent deep and lingering recession has shaken many of the tenets families have long taken for granted: Go to college, do well, graduate, marry well, do well…  This “fairy tale” may no longer be the case for a significant number of young adults.  This is especially troubling for baby boomer parents who have experience a lifetime of social mobility and progress.  As the baby boomers age, they are increasingly troubled by an unexpected contradiction in today’s economy:  you may have done all the rights things and your parents may have done their very best, and you are still not ready for success years after you left your university cocoon.

The Policy ThinkShop invites you to read and comment on the following report by the National Center for Education Statistics so that you can help us give perspective to the growing debate addressing the inadequacies of our educational system as these relate to the emerging labor market.

Full Report courtesy of The Policy ThinkShop: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014363.pdf

“The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) tracks the educational and developmental experiences of a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores in the United States.1 This First Look report provides a descriptive portrait of these 2002 tenth-graders a decade later, when most were about 26 years old and had been out of high school for 8 years. In so doing, this report draws heavily on information collected during the 2012 third follow-up data collection.2 By this time, many members of the cohort had already completed postsecondary education, started or even changed careers, and started to form families.”

More via: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2014363

Full report at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014363.pdf

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Blogosphere, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, News, Parenting

What’s So Bad About Income Inequality?

Adam Smith played an important part in our understanding of how society affects the evolution of civil society and business.  As mathematics and reason improved economic theory through the development of rational choice theory, econometrics and mathematical modeling, economists took an important role at the governance table of most democracies.

The current deep and long recession and the troubling recovery, however, have cast some doubt on prevailing economic theories and their pundits and disciples.   Perhaps the turning points were the Enron scandal and Madoff caper because the inequality that pervades America today is not going away.  Somehow we have arrived at the moment when we are looking at values and relative differences between those who climb the ladder and those for whom there seems to be no ladder at all.  As America continues to be decided on ideological grounds and social space and social relations continue to be segregated in terms of education, access to higher paying jobs and wealth, it becomes increasingly difficult to see an American future where a large middle class supports the notion that everyone who tries hard can make it here.  That is a significant problem that is now seemingly being institutionalized as the American economy fails to create a necessarily clear and reasonable path between birth and upward mobility.

“One interpretation of the Pareto Principle, which suggests that 20% of the people own 80% of the wealth, is that there\’s no point in being angry about that inequality. Maybe the 20% is doing better than you because they went to college and you didn\’t — but that\’s not hurting you.

Dr. Deaton: I agree with the Pareto Principle, but you can be hurt by that kind of inequality, and that can happen in many different ways. If a bunch of people get extremely rich but nothing happens to your income, that\’s OK. But if they use their wealth to start buying the government, for instance, then it\’s not OK, because you don\’t get your share in the democracy anymore.

I\’ll give you an example from the U.S. right now. If you\’re a drug manufacturer and you come up with a blockbuster drug that does very well, eventually the patent runs out. Your business could let the patent run out and let the generics manufacture that drug, which is what\’s supposed to happen. But your company could also spend a lot of money lobbying Congress to get an extension of your patent. That\’s an example of blocking equality, and it hurts people. And economists have been very weak on that.

Like everyone, we economists specialize in what we do. So economists think we\’re the gods of income; we tend to think about well-being in terms of income, and we don\’t worry too much about the other things that contribute to well-being, such as health, education, or participating in a democratic society. But not having access to an important medicine doesn\’t show up as a share of GDP.

When we think about well-being, we can\’t just think about wealth. That\’s one of the things we\’ve learned from the Gallup World Poll — how important many other elements are to a person\’s satisfaction with his life.”

via What’s So Bad About Income Inequality?.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, Job Sector, News, Political Economy, Pundits

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – NYTimes.com

Communication and information have been important drivers of civil society, as groups, individuals and even nation states are able to use what they know and what they share with others to improve important aspects of social relationships in areas like public relations, collaboration, mutual understanding, trust building and the ability of individuals to express and assert their social needs and civil rights.  As more and more information is being collected on all aspects of our daily lives and that information is accessed by third parties for purposes not necessarily related to the initial rationale for which the information was gathered in the first place, issues arise regarding the use of that information and how that use impacts an individual’s freedoms and rights; such as:

  • Privacy
  • Ownership of personal information
  • Access to information
  • Ability to explain and defend ones rights or needs with your own information that reflects your ability to determine and express yourself.

Information that is collected on us increasingly impacts our health, privacy, political freedom and economic opportunities as various parties know more about us than we often know about ourselves and/or interpret information about us that is collected, understood and explained by others.

Our optimism regarding technological progress in the area of information technology, knowledge management and the social narrative others have about our identity is increasingly being questioned.  The NYTs has a provocative article on how information impacts the educational system which is so often decisive in the lives of our children, friends and family members.

“WHEN Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County, Colo., public schools, heard about a data repository called inBloom, she thought it sounded like a technological fix for one of her bigger headaches. Over the years, the Jeffco school system, as it is known, which lies west of Denver, had invested in a couple of dozen student data systems, many of which were …”

More via Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – NYTimes.com.

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How to reduce health inequities? | LinkedIn

One of our Policy ThinkShop bloggers posting on other social media regarding poverty policy, or the lack there of, in our country ….

Thanks for the report updating the latest ideas on our ongoing discourse on poverty and for getting us to think about the important connections between education, poverty and health.

The report rehashes, mostly academic, arguments regarding race, statistics, the infamous 1969 poverty measure and the poverty measure’s successive fabrications. I was in graduate school at the University of Chicago in the mid 80s when William J. Wilson led a “one man band” against the Reagan Administration’s and Charles Murray’s assault on “the welfare state, the welfare mother, and so on…”

I sat in Prof. Gary Orfield’s office one day while he fielded a call from the then Ronald Reagan stacked Civil Rights Commission which Prof. Orfield was a member of. It was a turning point for me in how I would henceforth see the role that well-meaning advocates play in our government’s institutions. After nearly four decades experiencing health and human services policy and planning in our nation’s state and local systems, that lesson still holds—facts are not enough, we must do. The problem becomes who is the “we”?

MOre via How to reduce health inequities? | LinkedIn.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, Culture Think, Education Policy, Family Policy, Feminization of Poverty, Health Policy, Maternal and Child Health, Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, News, Philanthropy

Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in U.S. homes, even among non-Hispanics | Pew Research Center

Do you speak Spanish?  America, like the rest of the “Americas,” speaks Spanish quite fluently, prevalently and often.  Despite the illusion that North America is monolingual and that being monolingual is somehow more “American,” the truth is that America has been multilingual for hundreds of years prior to the landing of the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria, followed by May and Flower–the Mayflower, that is, much later.

The original experience of  the inhabitants of the Southwest, for example, included migration patterns by the native peoples of Central America across the Rio Grande and all the way up into the Dakotas and back.  For over a thousand years, the natives of what much later became North America spoke numerous languages and roamed what would become America.  The first settlement at St. Augustine, you could say, established the continent’s first European language–Español.

St. Augustine was founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts – making it the oldest permanent European settlement on the North American continent.

Today, America’s strong and vibrant Spanish heritage is prospering as many of us feel right at home speaking the original colonial language.  According to the Pew Foundation,

“A record 37.6 million persons ages 5 years and older speak Spanish at home, according to an analysis of the 2011 American Community Survey by the Pew Research Center.

Spanish is, by far, the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. The next most spoken non-English languages are Chinese (with 2.8 million speakers), Hindi, Urdu or other Indic languages (2.2 million), French or French Creole (2.1 million), and Tagalog (1.7 million).

The number of Spanish speakers in the U.S. has grown rapidly in recent decades, reflecting the arrival of new immigrants from Latin America and growth in the nation’s Hispanic population. Today 34.8 million Hispanics ages 5 and older speak Spanish at home.

However, not all Spanish speakers are Hispanic. According to our analysis, some 2.8 million non-Hispanics speak Spanish at home today. That places Spanish at the top of the list of non-English languages spoken by non-Hispanics along with Chinese and ahead of all other languages.

(The U.S. Census Bureau measure of non-English language use captures how many people say a language other than English is spoken in the home but does not capture how well or how often the language is spoken).

Who are the 2.8 million non-Hispanics who speak Spanish at home? Some 59% trace their ancestry to non-Spanish European countries such as Germany, Ireland, England and Italy. An additional 12% say they are of African American descent. Nonetheless, about one-in-five (18%) non-Hispanic Spanish speakers trace their heritage to a Spanish-speaking country. By comparison, among the non-Hispanic U.S. population ages 5 and older, about two-thirds (64%) trace their ancestry to non-Spanish European countries, 13% say their ancestry is African American and 1% trace their heritage to a Spanish-speaking country.

Nine-in-ten (89%) of non-Hispanic Spanish speakers were born in the U.S., a share similar to that for all non-Hispanics ages 5 and older (91%).

The racial composition of non-Hispanic Spanish speakers mirrors that of the U.S. non-Hispanic population. Overall, three-quarters (77%) of non-Hispanics who speak Spanish at home are white, 14% are black, and 9% say they belong to some other racial group. Among the non-Hispanic U.S. population ages five years and older, 76% are white, 14% are black, and 9% are some other race.

Many non-Hispanic Spanish speakers reside in a household where at least one other member is Hispanic. Overall, 26% of non-Hispanic Spanish speakers live in these types of households. By comparison, just 3% of all non-Hispanics ages 5 and older live in such households.

Three-in-ten (28%) non-Hispanics Spanish speakers who are married live with a Hispanic spouse. By comparison, only 2% of non-Hispanics are living with a Hispanic spouse.

When it comes to English proficiency, eight-in-ten (80%) non-Hispanics who speak Spanish at home say they speak English “very well”, 11% say they speak English “well”, and 9% say they speak English “not well” or do not speak English.  This compares with 96% of all non-Hispanics 5 years and older who speak English only or speak it “very well”, 2% who speak English “well”, and 2% who speak English “not well” or do not speak English.”

via Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in U.S. homes, even among non-Hispanics | Pew Research Center.

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Income-Based Diversity Lags at Many Public Universities – NYTimes.com

Why do we so vigorously debate affirmative action?   Truth be told, policies purported to address inequality in our society are neither affirmative nor very “active.”

The value of the idea that underrepresented groups within mainstream institutions is a problem greatly relies on who is defining and  how these groups are defined.  The following article in the NYTs raises some interesting issues in this area which show that many in our society are beginning to question how and why we quantify and measure representation within our learning communities.

“Opponents of race-based affirmative action in college admissions urge that colleges use a different tool to encourage diversity: giving a leg up to poor students. But many educators see real limits to how eager colleges are to enroll more poor students, no matter how qualified — and the reason is …”

via Income-Based Diversity Lags at Many Public Universities – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, consumers, Culture Think, Demographic Change, Discrimination, Education Policy, Education Reform, ethnicity in politics, ideology,

Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist

Affirmative action rears its ugly head once again as the usually intellectually rigorous London Economist magazine publishes an article (link below) making an argument on the deleterious effects of affirmative action policies for beneficiaries, institutions and societies in general.

The main problem with the article is that it sees people of color (or ethnic minorities) as both the “weak classes” and the beneficiaries of these policies.  The article writer fails to understand that a good number of people belonging to the so called “majority” or “white” as the article calls them, are also tremendously disadvantaged and cyclically in poverty by region and sometimes by religious group or region of the country (Catholics compared to Episcopalians and people from the Appalachia region compared to New Yorkers).

The overwhelming majority of people in America are so called “White.”   Poverty is not simply a skin color problem.  Affirmative action is not perfect and plenty of examples can be found of cases in which it is abused or inappropriately taken advantage of.  This does not mean that there’s no need to address historical differences between groups that have experienced circumstances which precluded their development in the educational and business fields, for example.

When  society invests in the children of the poor to ensure that future generations can continue to prosper and contribute to society in greater ways we all benefit.

When specific groups have been locked out for so long that lack of education, sophistication or opportunity defines their relationship to society, then society has a responsibility to address that condition.  Whether we see that “responsibility” as a moral or as a self interested proposition, does not really matter.  The fact is that when societies invest in their citizens they benefit all of society and improve their lot vis a vis other societies who experience the drag and social dislocation caused by an underclass.  The following article in the Economist fails to understand this simple logic.  Read it and tell us what you think?

“ABOVE the entrance to America’s Supreme Court four words are carved: “Equal justice under law”. The court is pondering whether affirmative action breaks that promise. The justices recently accepted a case concerning a vote in Michigan that banned it, and will …”

via Social policies: Time to scrap affirmative action | The Economist.

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