Category Archives: General

Better But Not Great

Graphic via fivethirtyeight.com

FiveThirtyEight examines the latest outcomes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress – aka the country’s “report card.”  The assessment measures overall academic improvement in areas such as Math and Reading. Overall, the data seems positive for Latinos and African-American students, however, there are still significant achievement gaps in the data, particularly for the long-term workforce:

“When we look at achievement gaps, it’s really important to look at how those gaps are closing. We want to see all groups getting better,” said Allison Horowitz, a policy analyst at Education Trust, a think tank. “But we want to make sure that students who are low income or of color, who are too often at the bottom of the achievement gap, we want to see them closing that gap by increasing faster than their white or affluent counterparts.”

“This question gets raised in the labor market in terms of wages all the time,” Goldhaber said. “Do you care about whether your wage is going up year over year, or do you care where you stand relative to other people? And I think it’s not an either/or: We care about both. And the degree to which somebody cares about one versus the other depends on the person.”

 

Non-Traditional Needs

As an educator for the last 13 years, I’ve seen the student demographic and socio-economic changes first hand. What hasn’t changed is how traditional higher education is serving the 21st Century non-traditional student:

Higher education has been slow to catch up to this new reality – to the detriment of thousands of students. The ways we provide instruction, finance education, market the college experience, and measure student learning still look much like they did years ago. And as we cling to outdated models, thousands of the college students in this new demographic are dropping out and sinking into debt at higher-than-average rates.

Recent reports, including one released last month by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), highlight this pressing problem. The IWPR report shows that a quarter of those in college today– 4.8 million students – are raising dependent children, and more than half of those students are single parents.

Yesterday’s announcement by President Obama proposing two free years of community college for students is a positive first step, IF it can’t get through Congress.

America by the Numbers


Great Boston Globe piece on long time Latina journalist Maria Hinojosa’s series, America by the Numbers. I’ve watched a few of these episodes and find them refreshing. As the article notes, each demographic change tells a story. Hinojosa makes a sincere effort to understand what these changes mean not only to the group in focus but the U.S. as whole. She’s filling a much needed gap for intelligent and informative discussions on multicultural America, which often isn’t addressed by most mainstream media:

Hinojosa’s content is resonating in part because it does not approach the demographic changes with an inherent sense of controversy, like much of the media do. “The sentiment in many mainstream media newsrooms . . . is that the conversation around demographic change, the Hispanicizing of America, the browning of America . . . was often met with a sense of fear,” says Hinojosa, who was born in Mexico City and grew up in Chicago. “And because I am an American journalist 100 percent but I’m also 100 percent part of that demographic change, I don’t approach this change from a place of fear and panic. I approach it as a journalist and trying to understand what this means.”

Hinojosa is shedding a light on the corners of a new multicultural reality in America, and it’s working. “America by the Numbers” doubled the number of African-American and Latino viewers that typically watch PBS programming, while also maintaining the established audience for PBS news and public affairs.

 

The Starbucks of Panaderias?

A new chain of Mexican bakeries has opened in Los Angeles which adds an “upscale” twist to the traditional Mexican “panaderias.” Some see this as the continued gentrification occurring in parts of East Los Angeles, particularly Boyle Heights. The owner of La Monraca disagrees:

Some persons said the first store’s interior and ambiance was “too fancy” and might turn off customers, Cervantes said. He found such remarks offensive and also took issue with those who viewed the expansion of a Latino firm as a symbol of selling out or unwanted gentrification. Cervantes said Latino and other customers have appreciated the stylish interiors as well as the classic conchas, cuernitos and other Mexican baked goods.

“Nobody likes something that’s run down,” Cervantes said. “We are deserving of the best – just like everybody else.”

Hey, if the concept works for upscale Latino beers that taste like horchata, why not? However, I do like my pan dulce and panaderias a little messy – not perfect. The loud hustle and bustle of panaderias is part of the experience for me. But more power to Mr. Cervantes and his new venture. Yelp scores seem to be very positive. I’ll visit one next time I’m in L.A. – but hope it’s better than this review – I do love my tortas!

Arriba, Arriba, and Away!

Graphic via ComicVine.com

I wasn’t much of a comic book reader as a kid but knew most classic super heroes. As the comic book industry grows leaps and bounds (pun intended), it’s nice to see that some very talented and creative Latino artists are taking diversity and inclusion to a much different level. Granted, some Latino super hero powers are still stereotyped, but hopefully this will change – not only because of Latino artists – but because of the market:

But times are changing as awareness grows that the high proportion of white men working in the comics industry is not reflective of the greater population and the potential readership market. The data crunching website FiveThirtyEight.com recently ran the numbers and found that while attendance at comic book conventions split fairly evenly between genders, only one in four comic book characters is female. Now, as the comics industry is trying to better reflect the market’s demographics, Latinos are slowly growing in influence.

The Base…It’s All About the Base

BuzzFeed News shines some light on how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) has been all talk and no action in efforts to increase the participation of Latino-owned businesses in the expenditure proposal process.  According to BuzzFeed, a 2014 report revealed that only “1.7% of the $500 million the DNC spent on consulting went to businesses that are minority-owned or a minority principal.” Six months after the report, the DNC seems to be scrambling for explanations:

DNC spokesperson Rebecca Chalif said the meetings thus far have been to grow relationships for the future.

At the DNC we are always working to expand our relationships with minority owned businesses and will continue to look for new and innovative ways to bring more people from diverse backgrounds into the party,” she said in a statement. “We know that one of the Democratic Party’s greatest strength is our diversity and we work every day to ensure that the party’s business practices live up to our commitment to that principle.”

Weak. Very weak.

Diversity Initiatives: Speaking the Wrong Language

DiversityInc.

A factor that often gets overlooked in the discussion regarding diversity in organizations is how it impacts the “bottom line.”  While there is no shortage of companies “investing” in diversity initiatives, these efforts are either limited or negligible as compared to the missed market opportunities.  Additionally, they tend to focus on demographic numbers rather than economic impact or market realities. Given that so called diversity initiatives have been in place at most Fortune 500 organizations for at least two decades, the representation of Latinos, women, and other people of color in their workforce is dismal.

Consider these Latino economic factors: Latinos on average spend more money on a daily basis than the typical adult population in the United States, $96 vs. $90; the number of affluent Latino households, those earning over $100K, is growing; Latinos spend over $90 billion annually on groceries; Latinos will represent more than half of all new home buyers by 2020; and more than 83K, mostly tech savvy Latinos, will turn 18 each month during 2015. The list of statistics can go on and on.

The trouble with most diversity initiatives isn’t the goals – it’s the means. Diversity professionals aren’t speaking the right language – the language of business: profit, marketing, consumption, spending, demand, human capital, income, specialization, trade, and employment. Diversity programs need to be reframed to reflect the priorities of business.  Some organizations understand this reality and are adjusting to capture a changing market, others don’t know how.