Scholarship Researching Woes

So when my cheerios got pissed on and remembering what the non-traditional student mom was posting about, I decided that I was going to look up ways to fund another round of edumacation without taking more loans.

I stumbled upon the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's scholarship for undergraduate transfer students. This would be incredibly good stuff to know for Bayanihan students.

Then I look at the Sallie Mae website, and it has scholarships for black and Latino students exclusively but none for the middling Model Minorities who are yellow and brown, including another Community College Scholarship Fund. I think it's really important that black and Latino students have those sources of support, but what are the networks that help other students?


Right Down Our Alley: The UCR California Community College Collaborative

UCR Via SoCal Minds

UCR's Community College collaborative holding a forum about the Critical Issues facing Community Colleges on June 10th. See here for details.

I didn't know about UCR's Community College Collaborative before 8:00 AM this morning, and now I know and what they do sounds like its right down our alley, except supported by older people with suits and all kinds of brag sheets. They've got some interesting current projects including an investigation of under-represented graduate students and promising practices for transferring.

We should keep a CBS eyeball on them.

In context of promoting the event, they brought up an interesting stat about community colleges:

Dropout rate of the California community college is 75%. ! ? Had never seen a stat like that before.

Perhaps a bit over-inflated to me, but still, given the fact that only 25% of people actually do transfer, and the reality that I almost expect some Filipino, black, or Latino dude that I might meet randomly by the unity that is basketball to be dabbling in some job they hate, it's probably not that far off.

But on the other hand, maybe it's not so grave as these academicians want you to think. There are probably lots of reasons why people drop out and sometimes maybe it's for the better? What good is all this education and degree-achieving if you can haul in some money more quickly and sustainably via other means?


Eerily Similar?

I see Ivan Penetrante and I see Mike Brown, but I've never seen them in the same room at the same time. Could they be...ONE AND THE SAME?!

Ivan Penetrante says he's always busy in San Diego doing community work...

Mike Brown says he's always busy coaching professional basketball...

In addition to their strikingly similar physical appearances, both share the same noticeably vague responses when probed about their whereabouts on various occasions.

Something is eerily similar about these two...there seem to be more than a few "coincidences" linking them

Both of them have the virtually the same physical characteristics as evidenced in the photos above, but the Ivan Penetrante identity bears a much lighter skin pigmentation and stands a conspicuous 5 foot 4. They wear glasses styled from Versace, though the Mike Brown character tends to diversify his selection which is coherent with his identity as a multi-million dollar professional basketball coach while Ivan Penetrante, a self-styled community organizer, holds steadfastly to his brand of Versace glasses. Both claim to have attended Mesa Community College in San Diego, with Ivan Penetrante attending almost exactly 15 years before Mike Brown. The most striking similarity however resides in the both over-explanatory San Diegan dialect, also witnessed in Tony Gwynn.

Both of their identities could not seem more divergent, but this is exactly what Mike Brown/Ivan Penetrante wants you to think. There is a mountain of evidence with a multitude of underlying threads that proves that Ivan Penetrante and Mike Brown are...ONE AND THE SAME!

Let's review the facts shall we:

-Mike Brown, previously an unknown scout in the NBA, assumed the position as NBA Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 2, 2005

-Nine days later, a previously unknown student at UCLA, surfaced at the UCLA PTSP Debut on June 11, 2005 to the surprise of many PTSP members. His name was Ivan Penetrante, introduced as one of the PTSP Bayanihan Project's Peer Advisors. Why was he unknown until then?

-In a chance meeting on Janss steps on the afternoon of June 27th, PTSP Bayanihan Project Director Brian J. Delas Armas encounters his new mysterious Peer Advisor Ivan Penetrante. Ivan Penetrante seems evasive in answering questions strenuously attempting to avoid eye contact with said project director.

-After 2 months, extensive talks, and teeth-pulling Ivan Penetrante finally became Assistant Director of the first full-year of the PTSP Bayanihan in August 2005. Could it be that his coaching job as Mike Brown was holding him back?

-On June 2, 2007, Mike Brown, coach of the Cavaliers leads his team to the NBA Finals

-Having mysteriously "graduated" a quarter before everyone else, Ivan Penetrante resurfaces for the 2006-2007 PTSP debut on June 3, 2007 in decidedly "happier" spirits than usual, even managing to wear a shirt and tie, which he normally does not do. Or does he? Perhaps he was just too drained from travelling to Los Angeles to change from his suit?

Mere coincidences?

I think not.

We have not heard from the likes of Ivan Penetrante nor Mike Brown, but were hoping one of these characters will make an appearance at the 2009 PTSP Debut.

Imported Filipino Teachers

If we were on Family Feud and we talk about jobs people from the Philippines migrate to the US for, we usually talk about nurses and engineers.

Now the survey says teachers as well.

From Teresa Watanabe's article in the LA Times via the Angry Asian Man:

More than 100 school districts, including at least 20 in California, are recruiting from the Philippines, said Los Angeles immigration attorney Carl Shusterman.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has hired 250 to 300 teachers from the Philippines -- the largest contingent among more than 600 foreign exchange teachers overall, a district official said.

...Filipino teachers are lured by far better pay in the United States. Most teachers in the Philippines earn $300 to $400 a month, less than one-tenth what they can pull down in Los Angeles.

It's great that Filipinos can make their money here and get their own form of self- education here, but dang, I can't help but feel a combination of frustration at myself first and foremost for not preparing myself that adequately after graduation, and still somewhat betrayed that as a Filipino-American with an American education and a B.A., it feels like there's still a bunch of hoops I have to jump through just to get a job as a teacher. I could still teach at LAUSD if I really wanted to, but it feels like it might get in the way of other stuff that I might want to do.

Meanwhile, they're importing people in droves who have to get used to all this kind of cultural stuff inside and outside of the classroom. Sounds like the Peace Corps in reverse.

Anyhow, there's a documentary called The Learning. It's about the experiences of these teachers imported from the Philippines teaching in...Baltimore. Baltimore! Bodymore!

Should be especially resonant, especially for you fans of The Wire.

Issues with Remediality and Falling Behind

The crossroad between complete failure and success,
It’s so necessary you pay attention in class
Never tell you the conditions in which to apply to math
Only 65% of your peers freshman year are still here
And half that total will move on
But three out of four will drop out in two years
Add it up and it equals some shit has gone wrong - Geologic, Blue Scholars

After having once been an honors math student, I finished high school kind of behind in my math skill building, placing in Precalculus. "Behind" is a term of relativity And my high school was/is the type where 99% of the graduates went to a 4-year university.

Part of the reason I avoided math, throughout high school, I didn't want to be stuck in the "remediality" of precalculus at UC-Santa Cruz. Of course I knew it wasn't remedial and taught all that I would need to know for the next level, but it felt like punishment for not getting it right the first time.

Punishment is exactly what the remedial classes sound like in this NY Times Article, which draws a link between remedial classes and community college drop-out rates.

More than a million college freshmen across the nation must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree. Poorly run public schools are a part of the problem, but so is a disconnect between high schools and colleges.

BTW, the high school drop out rate in LA reached 34.9%!

Based on my own experience and these stats, my hunch says that there is an explicit and implicit pressure on "failure" and "being behind." Like I said earlier, it seems like a punishment for not doing something earlier. As mentioned in the article, it's a double kick to the shins that you don't even "earn" credits for "remedial" classes. Nobody wants to really hear that they're behind, yet again. And if they are, why bother if you're not really sure you're going to get a pay off from what seems like a "swimming against the tide"?

Under that pressure, students are saying "fuck it" and not going through with anything.

As I have been reading in articles about the consumerist-mindset that has pervaded and perverted the student mindset:

As Rinehart (1993) argues, "Students cannot be considered the primary customer of education for the purpose of educational quality, for this simple reason: students have no conception of what they must learn; they are, after all, students" (p. 59).


Arrows vs. Nets

The learner always begins by finding fault, but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything.

If you could pick one tool to use to survive in the jungle, which would use choose as your tool of survival? The bow and arrow or the net?

Anyone remember when Forrest Gump began that shrimping business, what did he use?

During my freshman year of high school, my English teacher took a paper I wrote as a class-wide example of how NOT to write. He made 30 copies of the first page of a paper we wrote on the Pearl for all other students to read, and proceeded to verbally crap all over it to the amusement of the class and my head-in-hand, foot-in-mouth chagrin. One of his quips that sent the class over the edge in laughter was his imitation of my paper's writing pattern. Apparently, it had been in the same pattern as the automobile driving of an enebriated individual: all over the place, unwieldy, and messy.

That was over 10 years ago, and you could say the same about the last 3 years of my career trajectory. All over the place. At home a lot. Half-the time employed, half the time, not. Been in government, non-government, non-profit, corporate, temporary, permanent, contract, part-time.

Careers I've thought about: water engineering, teaching history at a middle school high school, tutoring, fucking it all and going anarcho-primitivist, the Peace Corps, Real Estate Appraising, basic computer programming, technical writing, urban planning, GIS mapping. The part of my mind focused on the future is an internalization of the externality that is ITT Tech.

In my drive to graduate school, I've been looking at Anthropology programs and similar. Browsing research areas and interests, I also look for these students and professors having gaps in education. Looking at these pages, I've been trying to spot the same unwieldyness, and messiness in their education.

To my chagrin, I don't usually find any, which sometimes gives me a case of the Fuckin' A's.

From an outsiders' perspective, the regularity in these professors' career trajectories has been straightforward and tunnel-visioned, as if they were automatons created in a factory, specifically made for the purpose of doing what it is they do, accomplishing stuff only remote, snobby academic circles care about, and intimidating me.

They are arrows getting at their targets, and hitting it right "on point."

But arrows are only good for the kill.

All over place, unwieldy nets can help you make killings.

Community College Transfer Students Make Less Than 4-Year University Students

...According to Natalia Kolesnikova, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, calculated the data based on the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, a joint project of the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation.

USA Today Report via the awesome Community College Dean blog.

So, basically the lesson is, just go to a 4-year university straight out of college! Duh! Why can't everyone else just do that? I mean, come on!

Ahmad: Rapper/Transfer

Ahmad, the guy who hip-hopped this:

Transferred to Stanford from Long Beach City College just last year.

First reported here in the LA Times.

I first heard his song when someone in my godsis' 6th grade class said they were going to present it during class as the song they could most relate to. Didn't think too much about it, but I love the actual original version.

That song is still in my rotation, especially now that I've found out my academic interests revolve around all kinds of reminiscing. The most resonant line in the song: "Wishing all I had to now was finish homework." A wrinkly, throw-away lyric, anyone find the "iron"?

The dude's 33 now which is still damn young, but the fact that he's done it at that age and still plans to get a Ph.D is a bit inspiring.


A Sneak Peak at the Past & Future of PTSP

This blog has been long due as I wanted to write it immediately after I returned from Hawaii at the end of April. But alas, the life of a graduate student always makes it seem like there's always never enough time....

I attended the Annual Conference of the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) in Honolulu last month. As part of the many "to-do's" for scholars-in-training, I presented a paper on Pinay Nursing Students. Being that that was my first ever solo presentation at an academic conference, I was quite anxious and nervous about not knowing who will show up and throw unanswerable questions at me. It didn't help that Konrad Ng, the brother-in-law of Barack Obama, was presenting next door as well. Long story short, my twelve minutes in the hot seat went well. And the reason why I wrote this blog is really because I want to share about the folks I met in AAAS and how attending the conference was simply inspiring and empowering.

As you all probably know, PTSP was founded in 1997 by Dawn Mabalon and Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, both of whom are now faculty at San Francisco State University. I met both these women at the conference and learned about the incredible work they are doing for the community as academicians.

Allyson founded PEP (Pin@y Educational Partnerships), "a teaching pipeline and a space for the development of critical Filipina/o American curriculum and research." Simply put, it's a group of SF State undergraduates and grad students who go out to low-income high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools, to share critical cultural curriculum that focuses on Filipino/a studies. It's a pipeline because once the K-12 students have been taught by their SF State "teachers", they go on to teach the younger ones (i.e., middle school teaching elementary school, etc.). Allyson started this in 2001 as a service-learning project and PEP has now expanded to six sites.

Interestingly enough, Dawn was one of the four presenters in my panel at the conference. Yes, I was truly honored to be sitting next to our PTSP founder. She is a historian by trade, whose work significantly contributed to the restoration of "Little Manila" in Stockton. Her presentation covered the "Lost Filipinos in Angel Island". When I told her I was part of PTSP in the early 2000s, her eyes lit up and was really delighted to know that the legacy has lived on. For alumni folks like Dawn (and now myself too), when someone knows when we were active participants in our college student org, we become very aware that our age can no longer be kept a secret. Let me tell ya, the woman is hilarious.

And before I forget, I also wanted to share my surprise when I attended the one-hour Filipino Caucus. I had no idea that there were that many Filipino scholars representing in various universities across the country. While I fully recognize that our institutions are still predominantly run by WASPs, I was quite excited about meeting at least 25 Filipino tenure-track faculty members gathered in one room at the caucus meeting. For a Pinay like me who rarely encounters fellow Filipino graduate students in the social sciences, that experience was incredibly empowering. They weren't stuck-up faculty members like the ones we usually encounter on campus. In fact, they're fairly down-to-earth, not to mention, loud, individuals who are just happy to serve as mentors to junior scholars. It was inspiring to hear and see them speak briefly about which institution they're from, what their field of expertise is, and how they've just recently been granted tenure. It's almost like an implicit message directed to a graduate student like me, telling me that I, too, can be in those shoes in the near future.

With that I'd like to end this blog posting. For anybody who is interested in sharing their latest and greatest academic work (i.e., research paper, poster, scholarly paper), AAAS is a great avenue to do so. Their proposal submission deadline is usually some time in the fall, so if you have a stellar paper you've written in any of your courses, check out the website for the submission guidelines. It's a good way to get your feet wet with one of the "must-do" things for graduate school and academe. AAAS conferences are also small enough where you don't feel too lost, but large enough where you have several fascinating research presentations to choose from. And they're usually in fun places like Waikiki. :o) The 2010 conference will be in Austin, TX.


College Isn't For Everybody, But Junior College Is

My last post spoke about knowing your population. Though this does not respresent all community college students, it does touch on many relevant topics. I know a lot of folks who are in this same boat. Brian previously posted a clip of this emcee in a battle. Dude is off the hook.

Dumbfoundead- I Love Junior College

Dumbfoundead's version is a remix of Asher Roth's "I Love College."

I don't know about y'all, but dumbfoundead's version is a lil more relevant to me. I know we all party in college, but really, like that??! Is this a good way to portray higher education? My friends and myself included didn't have the luxury to party like Asher Roth. Do you think it has anything to do with the color of our skin, our social status? What privelage do Mr. Roth and his bros have that allow them to party like this??


Social Investigaion: The Importance of Knowing Your Audience

I heard through the grapevine (aka facebook status updates) that El Camino will be the new outreach site for PTSP next year. This is great news and I am happy that the organization's work is progressing. Congratulations to all those who made it happen!!

With that said, I want to stress the importance of knowing the population you serve. Though we our exposed to great diversity at UCLA, the community college takes diversity to a whole 'nother level. Remember, the majority of CC students do not have the mentality of a typical university student or university bound student. Many of them were students who did not do so well in high school. Many are not sure of what they want to do. Then you have elder students who are returning to school and may not take so well to younger students trying to help them out. These students have a different mentality and may not be very receptive to certain practices or ideas.

Knowing the needs of the population you are serving is crucial. You can't just go some place, set up shop, and expect things to go smoothly. Remember that the methodologies we are trying to share with others are very unfamiliar to them. There is an idealism that comes with being student leaders/activist which sometimes causes one to assume that everyone will take heed to the knowledge you are trying to share. Sometimes we take for granted the fact that the people we are serving have not been exposed to the knowledge we have. Know the people you are trying to reach, do your best to put your self in their shoes, relate to them and know their situations before trying to share your knowledge with them.


"Non-Traditional" Student Mother says more...

As I watch candidate speeches for the new USC Social Work Student Org, I can’t help but feel a little bias as to how a man running for president will address issues that address the needs of parents or women. To my surprise, Nelson Calderon, a candidate running for Social Work Student President, was posed with the question, how would you resolve conflict as student president? Like most candidates, he spoke about mediation, communication, coming to a common ground where both parties are satisfied, compromise and so forth (which are a quality of any good leader). What stood out to me, was the fact that as former undergraduate sociology president at his former university, he took the initiative to address the needs of student parents who complained that they needed childcare in order to go to school. Thus, Nelson Calderon helped to implement a Head Start Program, which is a program funded by the government for low-income parents to take care of their children while parents go to school. That’s a beautiful thing folks.

From what I’ve researched, I understand that a head start program does exist at USC, but I believe it’s still part of the childcare system at USC that had outstanding prices even when subsidized, since I called one time to figure out where the head start program was at USC and was directed right back to where I started.

Graduate students are older and currently life cycling through life. Meaning some are married, balancing a family, or like my colleague, is at the hospital having her first son. The reason I want to emphasize help for the parents is because parents face the additional challenge of taking care of another life, while balancing a career, a family, and school. It’s an additional challenge. They can’t do this if no sufficient support is offered and when people don’t feel supported, there is less motivation there. Let’s face it, graduate school is hard. I’ve heard the “I can’t imagine how you do it” words from other students, but maybe people just have to--to realize and ultimately feel the reality of the situation.

Just in the past two months, I’ve had to call students affairs and talk to the vice president in order to see if subsidies could be available, for example, for part-time students. It took them about a week to finally respond and what they said is, “No,” There are certain guidelines to what is considered a part-time student. For example, they’d have to be a research or teaching assistant... As I was talking to the vice president, who was actually wonderfully polite, I asked her, first of all, there is a reason that part-time students choose part-time, it’s because they are juggling a professional career, graduate school and family. I don’t know about you, but that sure does sound full-time to me. I said, so you expect them to be a teaching assistant or research assistant on top of everything else they do. Unfortunately, “it is what it is.” They expected part-time students to pay $800 for two days per week. How reasonable is that, seriously?

And it’s just the challenges that you face, I found myself writing in my field placement “reasons” to prove why I need a stipend for my internship. I wrote things like “I have a child and I have to pay for his food, clothing, and shelter.” I mean, duh, should I really be writing this right now. I feel that parents should also have priority in regards to reserving open slots for stipend opportunities for field placement at our school since it is basically stipends appear to be awarded to anyone based on need. I couldn’t help but think what were the other justifications of students wanting the stipend? Possibly a sick family member and so forth, which are just as equally important.

It’s really hard to find student’s who are parents here. A classmate of mine who is pregnant actually expressed to me that her field instructor had told her when she got pregnant, “Why would you do something like that?” In addition, she feels that childcare is not even an option for her because of the costs. She is worried about next year as to how it will turn out. She is extremely smart, but I’m sad that she cannot even look at our own school for support when she is basically dedicating or sacrificing herself for the school, which in turn does nothing for her to help her situation. Instead, she feels “it’s her own problem” and even gets comments like that from an instructor? I found myself giving her referrals or baby sitter numbers in the area she lives only hoping they would given her an affordable rate. I felt the questions, her self doubts, and her feeling torn between school and her baby. Sacrificing time with her baby was the chance she was willing to take to go back to school and what was the school going to give her, inconsiderate comments and no childcare? I never really believed in the theory or had the mentality that when you have a child, your life is over. But it appears that institutions are really supporting this. I hate it because I’m at odds with my the institution that I thought I would be proud of.

There’s no better time to advocate for parents than now. It’s now a matter of finding them first in the social work school, then in the larger school. I did enough talking, it’s just time to shut up and do it.

Dom commented below on my earlier blog explaining the importance of personal experience. It's a powerful thing since you are integrating your personal experience to the realities of life. Everyone has personal experiences that makes them see through a totally different lens. It's one thing to complain, talk, read, or write about it, it's about having the guts to take action and actually do something about it. My GABNet sisters, who have really taught me this, have been so persisent with ACTION no matter how far the solution maybe, it's always working towards hope...So remeber that there is.

Goodnite. On a good note, I just came back from LA LIVE and had great spicy jambalaya creme brulee (I don't know how to spell that). It was heck good. Yummy.

--Aileen Malig


Paying In Full As The Ticket to College?

A friend sent me this article from the New York Times and I wanted to share it....
Source: New York Times By: Kate Zernike, March 30, 2009

Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favorably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year.
Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay the full cost in ways that allow the colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind — taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full tuition. Private colleges that acknowledge taking financial status into account say they are even more aware of that factor this year.
“If you are a student of means or ability, or both, there has never been a better year,” said Robert A. Sevier, an enrollment consultant to colleges.
The trend does not mean colleges are cutting their financial aid budgets. In fact, most have increased those budgets this year, protecting that money even as they cut administrative salaries or require faculty members to take furloughs. But with more students applying for aid, and with those who need aid often needing more, institutions say they have to be mindful of how many scholarship students they can afford.

Colleges say they are not backing away from their desire to serve less affluent students; if anything, they say, taking more students who can afford to pay full price or close to it allows them to better afford those who cannot. But they say the inevitable result is that needier students will be shifted down to the less expensive and less prestigious institutions.
“There’s going to be a cascading of talented lower-income kids down the social hierarchy of American higher education, and some cascading up of affluent kids,” said Morton Owen Schapiro, the president of Williams College and an economist who studies higher education.
And colleges acknowledge that giving more seats to higher-paying students often means trading off their goals to be more socioeconomically diverse.
Some admissions officers and college advisers say richer parents are taking note of the climate, calculating that if they do not apply for aid, their children stand a better chance of getting in.
“They think their kids will have more options,” said Diane Geller, a college counselor in private practice in Los Angeles and president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a nonprofit group that represents private academic counselors. “And anecdotally, it would seem that that’s the case.”
“I do think the colleges want to give aid where they can,” Ms. Geller added. “But we all know the economic realities.”

Only the wealthiest institutions traditionally have been need-blind, admitting students without regard to what they can pay. But the definition has often been fuzzy, and this year, it may be more so. Bowdoin College announced plans to expand by 50 students over the next five years, which Scott Meiklejohn, the interim dean of admissions, said would allow it to accept more transfer and waiting-list students, whose applications are not considered on a need-blind basis.

Brandeis University, which is need-blind except for international, wait-listed and transfer students, accepted 10 percent more international students than usual this year, and Gil Villanueva, the dean of admissions, said he expected that the university would take more wait-listed and transfer students, as well.

Middlebury, which is need-blind and pledges to meet students’ full financial needs, will require students on financial aid to contribute more of their work earnings. It has cut its financial aid budget for international students. It is not need-blind for those on the waiting list or for transfers, but the college has not yet determined how many of those students it will take.

“We consider being need-blind and meeting full demonstrated need one of our basic operating principles,” said Patrick J. Norton, the college’s treasurer. “That is one of the last things that we would consider going away from.”
Those colleges that are need-aware typically admit part of the class without regard to ability to pay, but begin to consider it when the financial aid budget runs thin.
This year, many of these colleges say they are more inclined to accept students who do not apply for aid, or whom they judge to be less needy based on other factors, like ZIP code or parents’ background.

“We’re only human,” said Steven Syverson, the dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. “They shine a little brighter.”
The advantage is not across the board; it goes to the students at the margins, the ones who would probably be “maybes” when the admissions committee considered applications. Those students are less likely to get in if they are financially needy and more likely to get in if they can afford to pay.
“This is not the majority of the class, or even the preponderance,” said Rob Reddy, the director of financial aid at Oberlin College. “But it’s a factor.”
Even though there is more financial aid this year, more students are vying for it, so resources do not stretch as far. “It’s not unusual to see families earning $200,000 applying for aid, especially if they have a couple of kids going to college,” said Rodney M. Oto, director of student financial services at Carleton College.

And some campuses are shifting more financial aid to merit aid, money that goes to highly qualified but not necessarily needy students; if tuition is $50,000 and the college offers an award of $7,000, it still gets $43,000, where a needier student might net the college nothing.
Some say it is time to reconsider the cachet that accompanies a boast of being need-blind.
“You can’t say someone should be need-blind unless they have the resources to fund it,” said Dr. Schapiro, at Williams. “It sounds immoral to replace really talented low-income kids with less talented richer kids, but unless you’re a Williams or an Amherst, the alternative is the quality of the education declines for everyone.”

At Carleton, which is need-aware, Mr. Oto said, “I do think we’d all be better off if we were honest with kids that you may not get in because you need assistance, or you need too much assistance.”
Mr. Oto’s fear — shared by many other admissions officers — is that being honest will scare off students who might, in fact, qualify for financial aid.

On the other end, Mr. Oto said: “I suspect it may be a strategy for some folks. We do get the sense that people are getting advice that if you can pay, then you should shoot for the highly selective school.”
Many admissions counselors ascribe the increase in early decision applicants this year to wealthier students’ seeking an advantage. Early decision requires students to attend if they are accepted, so those students give up the ability to negotiate financial aid, and tend to be wealthier.
“Those families in a position to afford the cost of attendance capitalized on that,” said Mr. Villanueva, at Brandeis.

Many colleges, in turn, accepted more students early decision, as a way of securing students in December. Some families have come back and tried to renegotiate aid after an offer of admission, but colleges caution that there is no guarantee: they have accommodated some requests, but told other students that their offers are firm, and in some cases, released students from early decision agreements rather than give a larger scholarship.
If endowments do not rebound, some colleges say that it will be harder to maintain commitments to the needier in coming years.

Tufts says it is reading applications on a need-blind basis this year, but may not be able to continue doing so. William D. Adams, the president of Colby College, told students in a letter that the college would continue its new policy of replacing loans with grants this year, but that he could not guarantee that future budgets would be able to afford to do so. Grinnell College in Iowa also intends to meet a promise this year that no student graduates with more than $2,000 a year in loans, but officials say it may be hard to sustain that.

“These are things you’ll have to pry from our hands,” said Seth Allen, Grinnell’s dean of admission and financial aid. “At the same time, you have to be realistic.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: April 1, 2009 An article on Tuesday about colleges looking more favorably on wealthy applicants referred incorrectly to a pledge by Grinnell College to limit the amount of loans that students must pay back after graduation. The college promises that no student will graduate with more than $2,000 a year in loans — not a total of $2,000 in loans.


Education Is Preparing You For

Dom was visiting Me and Ivan at LA and San Diego this past weekend. Ostensibly it was for graduate school interviewing, but really it was to watch the entire epic series called the Wire.

The Wire is about many things. Drug trade, life on the street corners, politics, media and how its all interrelated. The clip below is from the 4th season and refers to troubled students in public school.

The bald guy doing all the explaining, Bunny Colvin, is talking about how especially troublesome students in a research program fared in some fancy restaurant. The woman interrogating him is trying to gauge how effective that research program is in getting them prepared for a standardized test.

His two big points are:

1) that the testing is really stupid and very very cursory band-aid/excuse for funding, and

2) the education system particularly in West Baltimore is not really relevant to them in their world. Their environment overwhelmingly dominates their life views and education is pretty much an afterthought.


Food for thought:

1) Any parallels, metaphors we can make from LAUSD to the university and college system?

2) How does this apply to the community college?

3) Also interesting for me is the woman's idea that the research program was "socializing" the students rather than "educating" them. Ain't that the same effing thing?


Is Higher Education Just for the Rich?

This was the topic question in Zocalo's event yesterday.

If by higher education, you mean "4-year college" then pretty much, yes. It's been like that for centuries.

If by higher education, you mean "associates or trade tech" then, not necessarily.

It's relatively cheap here in California.

In a world in which the popular discourse from newspapers to educational institutions are championing and maintaining that they provide equal opportunity, we want the answer to the question to be no. We want higher education in its different properties to be for non-rich people too!

A few months ago the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education found that high-income students on average find more financial aid their expenses than low-income students. What does that say about low-income students?

I think it says that they often don't know where to find the resources. I personally was intimidated whenever I had to take care of administrative work. I'll bet that they don't have too many friends or relatives who have done the college thing themselves. They don't have networks of people who've worked it and done the same.

Kevin Garnett Is Going to UCLA

Hmm...I'd consider trading Josh Shipp for him. Anything more is a rip-off.

March Is a Brotherhood

I am not a fan of college basketball at all, but, March Madness is around the corner and I suddenly become an expert. Where do we finish this year?


El Camino College and Santa Monica College

We recently visited El Camino College to get students' input on the conditions, the life at the community college.

Two community colleges, both successful in the fostering of transferring to 4-year universities. Graduate about the same percentage of people.

Santa Monica has the best transfer rates to 4-year universities. They retain freshman at a clip of 65%.

El Camino has the best transfer rate to UCLA and certain other schools. They have a freshman retention rate of over 74%.

What are the things these schools in Los Angeles have that facilitate a transfer to the 4-year university?

One of the things that facilitate university transfer was just having a lot of couneslors. Santa Monica College has 60 full-time counselors and 40 more part-time counselors, as mentioned before in this blog via the LA Times. However, when I asked how many counselors El Camino currently, students said that El Camino had around 6-8 Full Time Counselors.

So what are some of the things El Camino provides? An article in their student newspaper touches on the building of not only transfer agreements between colleges, but also the building of on-campus support networks:

The success to the increase of transfer rates can also be [attributed] to organizations that were built to help students transfer.

Organizations include: the Honors Transfer Program, Mathematics Engineering Science Acheivement(MESA) and Project Success.

This brings up the questions that might be seem obvious on an individual level, but:

1) What networks do community college transfer centers tap into to secure enrollments at 4-year universities? This might be a question for academics and administrations to explore more.

2) If all the resources are there for people to get, why do others constantly miss them? For example, the Measuring Up 2008 report found that on average, students from more affluent, RICHER families are likely to get bigger grants than low-income students.

Is that not bass ackwards or what?

Theoretically, the resources are always there as they might be at any other institution of education, but I suspect that it's because everyone tends to stick with what they know, and what they know often does encompass the tacit, social knowledge needed to navigate the higher education system.

3) To what extent do transfer-facilitation resources exist at other community colleges? Are there the same resources everywhere? Why do students who want to transfer feel the need to be at a certain community college like an El Camino or a Santa Monica? Why not a Los Angeles City College, or a Los Angeles Harbor College?


Hackneyed Schmackneyed: 'Holistic Empowerment' and PTSP Bayanihan

(Sorry, Brian for the delay in posting and thanks, Andrew for the invite)

Hello, all. My name's JP Bareng Schumacher. Here's the obligatory (leadership) resume ala Theresa and Dom:
-Education: El Camino College, AA Psych (c/o Fall 2002); UCLA, BA Psych (c/o 2005)
-Samahang: SPEAR Staff Assistant (Spring 03); SPEAR Peer Counselor (03-04); SPEAR Peer Counseling Coordinator (04-05)
-PTSP: Academics Coordinator (03-05), PTSP Bayanihan Co-Founder and Peer Advising Dev't Coordinator; Co-Alumni Advisor (05-06)

I'm currently working full time for Samahang Pilipino / UCLA Community Programs Office (CPO) as the Director for the SPACE (Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment) Project. From SPEAR to SPACE- who knew?

As the much anticipated focus group at El Camino College nears, I can't help but feel genuinely excited. This event is the result of a determined Bayanihan Coordinator and El Co Site Coordinator (Mr. Andrew Hambre and Mr. Marc Barlis respectively), dedicated PTSP general members, and an exciting collaboration between a PTSP and Samahang Pilipino. Outside of the focus group, the scope and scale of the PTSP / SP collaboration is simply amazing. 4 years ago, such teamwork would have blown my mind (and the mind of my lovely partner in crime, Ms. Theresa Toledo). Come to think of it, it blows my mind now considering just how difficult it was to get PTSP Bayanihan off the ground as a student.

SPEAR and the CPO changed my life- as dramatic a pronouncement as this is, it's absolute truth. In relevance to PTSP, SPEAR training equipped me with the confidence and skills to invest (although, quite painstakingly) the PTSP Executive Board and my Pilipino transfer friends in taking up the cause of Pilipino transfer access to the University. We knew that there was a dearth of data about these access issues, but we also knew anecdotally that our folks were falling through the cracks at the community college. Like Brian said in a prior entry, in those early days (Winter 04), because of the lack of info, 'student driven knowledge creation' was what we worked with and, at the time, epitomized an organization coming into its own to address Pilipino transfer access issues.

As most of you know, PTSP used to be SPTSP- as in SAMAHANG Pilipino Transfer Student Partnership. For my fellow Boardies (shout out to EB 04-05, hahaha) an important document we utilized to shift PTSP back into a progressive direction was the original SPTSP Brochure drafted in 1997. Back then, SPTSP promoted the three R's (Retention, Recruitment, and Research) and according to the brochure, held amazing workshops that promoted academic and holistic empowerment.

Now, Dom is right on when he says that the term 'empowerment' and 'holistic' have become taboo because it's slightly hackneyed now. And let me tell you, some folks (full time staff AND students) that I work with choose not to use this word anymore for that precise reason. But more importantly, Dom is dead on when he talks about just how essential holistic empowerment is regardless if the word is taboo. It's a core outcome for PTSP and Samahang Pilipino, striving to facilitate this amongst its members via general meetings and various other programming and amongst UCLA / CC students via SPEAR, SPACE, and PTSP Bayanihan services and programs.

Holistic empowerment as a means to community empowerment is exactly why PTSP Bayanihan was created. Through working toward your own holistic empowerment, you approach your education very differently. Your education doesn't just live in the classroom- it's in the streets, it's volunteering at a nonprofit, it's what you get out of sharing what you learn with your friends, family, and peers. Further, you realize your education doesn't just belong to you anymore- it's for the betterment of your family AND complete strangers who comprise the nebulous term of 'community'.

When Theresa and I were at El Camino, there was no Pilipino organization to facilitate our Pilipino consciousness, nor was there a Pilipino mentor to engage us in critical thought, Pilipino peer counselors to help us plan out our academic and personal goals, or Pilipino(-American) studies classes. Having transferred and gotten involved in SPEAR and PTSP, we thought it was unacceptable that at the community college, Pilipino 'holistic development' was hinged upon either intrinsic motivation to seek out that self-knowledge at the CC or transferring to a University, possibly deferring critical discussion about identity and education for 2+ years. PTSP Bayanihan was created to do something about that. We modeled PTSP Bayanihan after SPACE and anchored training to what we learned in the CPO through SPEAR and SPACE.

[RANDOM SIDENOTE: I have to applaud the first year staff of PTSP Bayanihan- mostly for undertaking the enormous effort of running a project, the rest for dealing with a recently-graduated, idealistic bugaboo of an Alum Advisor- me. <-- That was for Brian =)]

4 years later, I can't help but feel y'all (PTSP and SP) are right where you need to be. With the current fiscal crisis, classes being cut left and right, student resources diminishing, and the bevy of other access issues, Pilipinos effectively transferring to a 4-year institution is under threat. This focus group will get to the heart of El Camino student needs and will begin anew what Theresa, myself, and so many others have been waiting for- critical dialogue as a means to, say it with me,

"holistic empowerment".

Unapologetically verbose,


PS. Current PTSPers, if you're down for tea and chatting it up with this old fogy about anything from PTSP to post grad life, come visit the SPACE cubicle in Suite 106, Student Activities Center. We'll set up a time to talk.


A Panel Coming Up on Wednesday March 18th: Unaffordability of College

So there's a panel coming up on Wednesday, March 18th about the affordability of higher education hosted by the Lecture Series Zocalo located at the Los Angeles Center Theatre in downtown LA at 7:30 PM. Lasts for an hour, usually some kind of reception afterward. It's FREE, and if you're interested you need to make reservations giving your name, email, and number --- they've never called me. To do that click here.

Who's speaking?

-Los Angeles Community College District Board President Kelly Candaele
-Inside Higher Ed Editor Scott Jaschik
-UCLA professor Patricia M. McDonough, author of Choosing Colleges: How Social Class and Schools Structure Opportunity
-Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College

Lecture series by Zocalo is usually pretty good and interesting, and this time highly relevant to PTSP and all students in general. The people who usually attend those lectures tend to be older, white, and/or are professionals, but I usually went for free food. They used to have a whole lot of food from tamales to quesadillas to only the finest cheeses even smug individuals would not smug.

Unemployment, an Alien's View and Bigger Beefs

It's been a nasty ass brutish, Leviathan-like few weeks for me. Very recently, I was kicked off the ladder and have just taken a backflop into the pool of unemployment.

But to me that's just a petty, unimportant reality that I have to deal with for the time being.

If an alien with humanoid features were to visit planet earth and anthropologize me, he/she'd/it would ultimately see is that I merely lost my form of income generation.

At the individual level, income is only important so far as I acquire the means to eat, drink, shelter ourselves to deal with the elements and store personal conveniences, and perhaps, if I really have the time, reproduce!

If an alien were to visit planet earth and old-school anthropologize us as a society with curiosities and peculiarities, he/she'd write about income-generation as just one activity we simply engaged in to sustain ourselves:

A lot of what humans in what would be labeled "Western" popular and public society do appears to be tied not to making things, but acquiring and consuming things.

Things --- whether they be objects like food or an automobile, services like those provided by a house-maid or an engineer, or experiences like vacations at places, some of which carry greater semantic importance for others, and amusement parks.

The main way to acquire things is done via transaction.

However before a transaction can take a place, an individual needs to go through a process called income generation and accumulation. Income generation and accumulation is a process where humans offer their services in return for the means to participate in trades. After having generated enough income and accumulated enough, humans become free to consummate transactions

This society is highly built on those transactions. There is a high amount of interpersonal dependence because none of the things acquired by humans in this society can be made en masse for the masses by any single individual. However, this interpersonal dependence is rarely acknowledged because many individuals can consummate an almost innumerable amount of trades in the time of one Earthly rotation. Individuals who have low participation levels in this institutionalized acquision of things, either voluntarily or involuntarily, this individual is often labeled and stigmatized by members who can acquire things, and his/her characteristics are scrutinized and/or shunned by many members in society.

So basically, the alien would say that I just don't have an income-producing activity and that I don't have that much a chance of participating in the exchange network, and that I'd probably be ostracized in my society for that.

Link found at www.thisisultimatelypettybullshit.com

In seriousity, even though I can dismiss this dismissal and its ultimately just one ditch in the proverbial road, I will say that I loved what I did, I feel like I was completely mislead, and ultimately got my eye put out like that kid, Arshavin from Slumdog Millionaire. It was truly the biggest what-the-fuck moment of my life.

But, I don't really need sympathy 'cause there's a whole other world waiting out there and things could always be worse. I'm actually afforded a lot of luxuries mainly because I was born here so I'm greatful and I'm going to use whatever advantages I do have to leverage whatever I want to leverage.

However, turning your proverbial attention to the bigger picture, not everyone has the privilege of saying that.

America is the land of opportunity — if you have papers.

There was a very long, but highly informative article a few weeks ago in the LA Weekly about trafficked indentured servants from the Philippines working in a Sherman Oaks health care facility.

Modern-day slavery does exist, but in degrees.

She has shoulder-length black hair, dark skin, a wide, flat nose and eyes that seem perpetually tired. As a teacher in the Philippines, she made less than $100 a month. Now she makes $120 a day taking care of a retired podiatrist named Fred, who is 102 years old.

For three years, beginning in October of 2005, Agnes labors inside the confines of the house on Vernon Street with five other illegal Filipino workers.

Mary and her daughter work 14 hours a day, seven days a week. Between them they make $1,500 a month, a massive amount compared with the family’s combined wages back home.

Why does this stuff happen? Poverty is the root cause. It is the fuel that drives the engine of supply and demand. Supply: abundant cheap labor. Demand: first-world clamor for someone, anyone, to do disagreeable, menial tasks.

A tenth of the population of the Philippines live overseas, a diaspora second only to that of Mexico. The country is a major exporter of labor, the highest relative to population size20of any Southeast Asian country.

Last year, Filipino overseas foreign workers, or OFWs, sent back $14 billion in remittances. This money accounts for one-fifth of the country’s GDP. Remittances have become a pillar of the Philippine economy, and are expected to rise 10 percent next year.

One of every three Filipinos fails to meet the official, arbitrary poverty line set by the World Bank — the infamous $1 purchasing power per person per day.

There are 12 million undocumented workers in the United States according to the PEW Hispanic Center, recognized as having the most accurate figures on this subject. The largest number of these workers — 2.8 million — are in California. Of that 2.8 million, roughly one-fifth are Filipino. At any given time, there are half a million TNTs in California. Elsewhere, they are maids in Hong Kong and Dubai and Kuwait, cooks and crew on cruise ships, hotel workers, nurses and caregivers all over the U.S.

I wonder what the alien would say about trafficking.

Humans from a region called Southeast Asia appear not to be able to acquire as many things as humans from the West. Though the population can offer the same services in the same income-generating and accumulation activities, those activities are not as valued as their counterparts in the West, mainly because their exchange network does not have connections to commodities.

They do not have value because they can only offer their services only to people that they are geographically near. The geographically near individuals consequently do not have as much income or things with which to make exchanges, which means the exchange becomes tautological and ultimately self-defeating.

The only way out is to often times to offer the physical human body.

Link at www.whatsbeefthatsbeefitsalwaysyourownpeoplessometimesitsyourownpeoples.edu


The Unwritten Rules of Ph.D Research

Today, the wonderful world of Scribd ran me right across the book The Unwritten Rules of Ph.D Research.

Interesting, considering that going back to school is almost always on my mind. I'm usually not a fan of self-helppy-ish how-to books, but in this case, I think it's alright.

I've read before that going to grad school is like joining a cult.

For anyone who has been in graduate school, numerous portions of Hassan's outline of the mind-control practices of cults will seem weirdly familiar.

- Behavior control: "major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals"; "need to ask permission for major decisions"; "need to report thoughts, feelings, and activities to superiors."

- Information control: "access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged (keep members so busy they don't have time to think)" and "extensive use of cult-generated information (newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.)."

- Thought control: "need to internalize the group's doctrine as 'Truth' (black and white thinking; good vs. evil; us vs. them, inside vs. outside)" and "no critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate."

- Emotional control: "excessive use of guilt (identity guilt: not living up to your potential; social guilt; historical guilt)"; "phobia indoctrination (irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority; cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group; shunning of leave takers; never a legitimate reason to leave"; and "from the group's perspective, people who leave are 'weak,' 'undisciplined.'"

Lot of professors, TAs I've been around have also remarked, "I wouldn't wish grad school on anyone." Graduate school has been described not as a learning process in terms of "bettering yourself" or "getting more knowledge", but more a "socialization" process where you learn conventions, ways of doings, pecking orders.

The book below speaks to a lot of that socialization process of grad school. Little stuff that you might overlook. They talk about "fitting in" within the culture of academia. They talk about a lot about how getting a Ph.D is like a rite of passage, an elaborate, drawn out hazing ritual you have to get through so you can become a 'peer.' In the end, what these authors seem to be saying is this: those hazing rituals imposed by the universities/institutions are in place to show that you could create, organize, and manage research in your area of discipline by yourself.

The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (MJ Version)

The Hip-Hop Work-Shop

Once upon a time, not too long ago, PTSP had a hip-hop flow to it. We now refer to that year as 2006.

Ha, I kidz, I kidz, ya'll in 2007, 2008, 2009 are hip-hop too.

But I'm just saying, we did hold a hip-hop workshop this one time, and I'm glad it was something we did because it was fun. In our workshop that one fateful February or March day, we represented the 5 elements of hip-hop: breakdancing, MCing, beatboxing, DJing, and graffit-ing.

Why? Well, why the helfck not? We've got our Filipino dance crews up and down, left and right, we've got upcoming MCs on the underground, the l-o-r-d knows we got our DJs. Most of us grow up because it was just there for us and I imagine we relate a lot to its cultural norms and it's stars as opposed to the unspoken hegemonic dominance of white guy culture. I remember being at Disneyland celebrating my lil sister's birthday at around the time Gangsta's Paradise was ripping it, talking with this white teenager named Doug, the first thing I said to this guy was, "Rock music sucks."

I said in my intro post that PTSP had sort of an interrelation with the development of my hip-hop-headiness, let me explain.

One of the first classes I took was a class in ethnomusicology called the Cultural History of Rap. The Roots performed for free at Bruin Plaza and I got to see them live. Ugly Duckling was supposed to show up one time, but ended up flaking. The Blue Scholars represented when no one knew who they were. One of the best classes I ever took was a Hip-hop Linguistics class which was taught by a dude who went to school with John Legend.

PTSP was just a space that encouraged more of that. Freestyling/MCing was always at the PTSP parties thanks to the master MC, EZ, who'd strike up a SY-PHA/cipha/cipher where X-Tian would drop ridiculosity and Dom would flow. B.Saturday was a master beatboxer whose mic failed at the end of SEND 2006. Ivan was/is a poet inspired by Saul Williams and he knows it.

Anyhow, EZ is still busting lines

I knew this dude who went to Slugvilles with me and always thought he was on the verge of killing somebody. I was right. Dude named Tantrum.

Via Bambu Rants

I always wondered how I had such trouble coming up with anything during the ciphas but these guys make it look easy.


On Community Colleges Recent Troubles and Transferring

As the economy is tanking and the job market is collapsing, community colleges are now getting swamped. In two different ways!

Swamped with newer students trying to make better on the job market, and two, swamped from actually acquiring resources to accomodate the new deluge of students.

The LA Times had an article about how the community college system is stretching their capacity in response to a garbage-load of problems: California's state budget cuts in K-16 education, dealing with an uptick in enrollment, and increasingly having trouble at getting students ready for transferring to 4-year universities.

Community colleges are being asked to do a lot. And they always have been asked to do a lot. But when things get to the point of 'overwhelming' and people are asked to do a lot, they go on a mission to cut the 'over' part to ease the passage to 'whelming.' That means, cut the 'inefficiencies!' Which means cut classes! Cut arts programs! Cut the humanities! And cut the crappy students from your classroom!

This guy, a college dean talks more about it.

By definition, though, the needy are inefficient. A student who shows up prepared for college-level work, passes everything the first time without tutoring, and has his personal life together is remarkably cheap to educate, especially in the liberal arts. A student who has academic skills deficits, who needs counseling, and who attends part-time for several years is much higher-maintenance, and therefore more expensive.

When times are relatively flush, we can do some justice to both efficiency and mission. Now, we're being forced to choose efficiency.

Essentially, the people losing out from all this effiency-making and cutting extravaganza are the students who are probably the ones who would benefit most from a college education.

The Public Policy Institute of California touched a bit on what demographic actually stands to benefit the most from a college education in a previous study.

The demographics are usually people of color, usually people from low-income families, usually people with few weak or strong social connections to a collegiate institution or people who've graduated from a collegiate institution.

One of the reasons we did PTSP Bayanihan in the first place was to reach those students.

While picking up a desirable education is getting rough in of itself, transferring is a whole other beast. The same students struggling to get the education struggle to transfer.

"Students who come to two-year colleges generally don't think they can make it," Trice said. "I dispel certain myths about transferring: 'UCLA is made for white people.' 'I'll never make it there.' 'I can't possibly pay for it.' It's a social ceiling."

Community college officials say that 40% of students who are serious about transferring manage to do it. But the Public Policy Institute of California, in a 2006 study, found that only about 25% of the students who are focused on transferring actually make it.

Is it me or does it seem like its getting harder and harder each and every year to transfer? Don't these (culturally-hegemonically-created, which don't seem to prove anything) standards seem like they are getting getting shot to the roof? And were learning and proving exactly, what?

The LA Times article made a quick note about how the community college environment facilitates transferring, something that we all tried to note in Bayanihan's first Academic Year Proposal:

It's no coincidence that Santa Monica College, which has the highest UC transfer rates of any community college, also has one of the biggest counseling staffs, with 60 full-time and 40 part-time advisors, said Dan Nannini, coordinator of the college's transfer center.

Compare that with the 5 or 6 counselors at El Camino or the 2 at Glendale and LACC. It seems like there's just a culture hardwired towards transferring. On the outside, Santa Monica is perceived as the preeminent place of transfer. I'd hypothesize that there's just more opportunity for people at those colleges to be connected to resources and networks that would facilitate transferring. But perhaps people who actually went to Santa Monica and/or El Camino, Glendale would know better than me.


Cognitive Abilities, Environment, PTSP Environment

PTSP was one place for me to think about my academic interest: our cognitive abilities and our environments.

Ever since Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, my Education 130 class about Race, Class, and Ethnicity with Tyrone Howard and spending time at the UCLA Bookstore peering through Mike Rose's book The Mind at Work, combined with my disposition towards anthropology, I've been interested in intelligences and cognitive abilities across different cultures.

Intelligences and cognitive abilities across different cultures is just a more compact, technical way of saying that I'm interested in how environment/context/social network influences many different individuals to become "smart", what they may choose to become "smart" in, or how they can become perceived as "smart" in doing it.

In much of popular discourse, people of color usually are considered "intellectually inferior." A meme passed down from the times of Charles Darwin --- brown people are the more primitive and less evolved. Their ways are backward! They are the sub-level between the chimpanzee and the ideal, fully-evolved, fully-capable white person. You could look thru the history of Western science and medicine, you'd be hardpressed to find people of color making "discoveries" and developments in technology, let alone being celebrated for doing so. Nobody really gives a flarping tuba player about Kitasato Shibasaburo or Percy Julian. If you buy into Western science and medicine is about individuals, virtually white folk from Europe are the only ones with all the rockstar, bro wisdom and genius in the world because they've come up with all the rational, objective, progressive solutions.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond was one of the first books I read to overturn that type of thinking. He asked the question "how did it come to be that white people were the ones making all the technological innovation, the guns, and the steel, while brown peoples were not?

Did it have to do with white people's innate intelligence? Or was it merely, the work of their environment?

The work of environment. Here's a bit of a parable from H.A. Simon in his book The Sciences of the Artificial via the book Cognition in the Wild by Edwin Hutchins about how our intelligence is mostly environmentally-influenced:

As we watch the complicated movements of an ant on a beach, we may be tempted to attribute to the ant, some complicated program for constructing the path taken. In fact...that trajectory tells us more about the beach than about the ant...Rather than watch a single ant for a few minutes, as psychologists are wont to do, let us be anthropologists and move in and watch a community of ants over weeks and months. Let us assume that we arrive just after a storm, when the beach is a tabula rasa for the ants. Generations of ants comb the beach. They leave behind them short-lived chemcial trails, and whereever they go they inadvertently move grains of sand as they pass. Over months, paths to likely food sources develop as they are visited again and again by ants following first the short-lived chemical trails of their fellows and later the longer-lived roads produced by a history of heavy ant traffic. After months watching, we decide to follow a particular ant on an outing. We may be impressed by how cleverly it visits every high-likelihoood food location. This ant seems to work so much more efficiently than did its ancestors of weeks ago. Is this a smart ant? It Is it perhaps smarter than its ancestors? No, it is just the same dumb sort of ant, reacting to its environment in the same ways its ancestors did.

Were humans, were usually known to make our environments. At least, most of us have the freedom to make our environments.

That said, what kind of environments/contexts/social networks do we make ourselves as Filipinos in the Phillippines? What kind of environments/contexts/social networks did our parents, relatives, friends make for us in America? What kind of environments/contexts/social networks do we re-create as Filipinos in America? What kind of environments/contexts/social networks do we re-create as Pilipino Transfer students at UCLA? What kind of intelligences are we making? What are we becoming experts in?


Justice for Filipino American Veterans: Did We Settle and Is This Enough?

Apparently, the Filipino American Veterans of World War Mothereffin' II are just on the verge of receiving compensation they were originally promised by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and nullified by the Missouri Mule. Might I remind you that World War Mothereffin' II was over almost 64 mothereffin' years ago and that those were presidents of the United States in the 1940s and are long dead.

From the Mercury News

The stimulus bill approved by the U.S. Senate on Monday night authorized the release of $198 million to rectify Uncle Sam's postwar snub. About 18,000 Filipino vets who fought in the war under the American flag would now receive up to $15,000 for their service.

In case you don't know what the Filipino vets' struggle is about, here's a little legislative background:

The vets' quest for compensation stems from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision in July 1941 to draft 140,000 soldiers from the Philippines, then an American colony. A year later, Congress passed a law allowing Filipino soldiers to become U.S. citizens with full military benefits. But in 1946, after Filipino soldiers fought and died side by side with U.S. troops, President Harry S. Truman signed two bills denying them citizenship as well as most veterans' benefits. The bills were postwar cost-saving measures that Truman said he regretted.

Basically, the US government entered into a contract with people who sacrificed body, mind, and spirit. But because they weren't viewed as a colony anymore, nor were they regular white people, nor did they have any other leverage otherwise, the US pretty much just ignored the Philippines soldiers. Like...ahhh...you don't exist! Gollymee jeepers, isn't social exclusion fun?!

Because they have been disappointed before, Valdez and other Filipino vets say they won't celebrate until the allocation survives the committee now trying to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the $838.2 billion stimulus bill.

Ivan had been talking to me about his organizing work on behalf of those veterans, and the main thing that I got from him was that whatever they got was probably not enough. The Japanese who had been interned in the US had received more in terms of benefits and recognition. Don't know the exact numbers, they've been long since recognized, apologized to, and received their benefits. With Fil-Am vets, it's like a pittiance they've thrown at us just to shut us the fork up.

We have nice recognition parades in San Fran and Los Angeles on Veterans Day, and a nice monument in Historic Filipinotown. These are good, but it seems like there's a lot more missing.

Lots of people die in 64 mothereffin' years. What's happened to those veterans' families since then? Will their kids be able to reap any benefits?

My grandpa (RIP) back in the Philippines with my namesake was a veteran of World War II, but he wasn't able to come to the US, so he went out and made my dad and 8 other aunties and uncles. My dad wasn't able to come to the US till the mothereffin' 1980s and he wasn't able to finish architecture school because of the lack of money that perhaps my grandpa could've been compensated for.

Read full articles at Mercury News via the Angry Asian Man


Support a Local Community-Minded Filipino on National TV!

So tonight at the Grammys on CBS, they're going to air a bunch of Lincoln MKS Car commercials. I usually wouldn't give a flying mating ritual about the Grammys, CBS, or Lincoln MKS Cars, but in this case I'll make an exception.

One of the Lincoln MKS commercials will be from a local Filipino filmmaker named Patricio Ginelsa. I don't know the guy, but my godsister actually does; she says hes kind of a geek. You might not know him, but you might know his work: he was an associate producer for that Filipino-American classic the Debut, he made the APL Song's Video, and he made Bebot. So the dude is major with Fil-Am stuff.

Patricio recently turned in a proposal as part of this Lincoln MKS young filmmakers contest. Patricio's proposal got into the semi-final stages. The proposal then turned into this music video selling the Lincoln MKS and promoting this song.

As it turns out, there a few more people involved in the video's production.

One of them is this female named Francine whom I know from way back in high school. She's good folks and talks to me on occasion about environmental justice stuff. She was a production coordinator.

The other is Bambu. A Filipino community rap star from Watts and the Native Guns and the organizing group Kabataan-Maka-Bayan.

So basically, the video is basically us on National TV. Although within the context of promoting a luxury product that may upset the environmentally-conscious sensibilities, I think I prefer to just see us out there winning contests and accomplishing stuff. Brings my network of peoples up.

So, 2 Steps to Supporting Their Cause:

1) Go to this website.
2) Vote "Patricio Ginelsa."

Really, really easy, it takes a nanosecond.

Afterward, if you feel it, go to kidheroes.net and see the making of that particular music video. Bambu is the Filipino-Cholo-looking guy who plays the Cupid agent alongside the white guy, and my friend Francine is at the end of the video in a bandana holding up a toast after shooting.


From a "Non-Traditional" Student Mother

The first day of orientation to USC, I attended a seminar for “non-traditional” students defined primarily in terms older students, students with children, and married students. As I departed from the rest of the graduate students all in line to go to the same workshops, I departed from them walking alone into what was probably the smallest orientation I’ve been to all day with 10-13 graduate students...

I knew my experience as a “young” mother, graduate student, and professional worker would make my college experience a “little” different from other graduate students who did not bare the responsibilities of having a child and having to support a child. For the first time, I felt what it was like to be on the “other side” and experience graduate school with certain challenges.

Childcare. I went to an orientation for childcare at my institution to find out that childcare costs were $1800 per month, but wait, you get a subsidy for $800 per month.

Housing. I wanted to apply for family housing. However, costs still ranged from $800-$1300 per month with a few limited spots and all I remember hearing was “we don’t know how long the waiting list will be.”

Healthcare. I am fortunately covered through healthcare at my school and through wishful thinking, I asked my institution if they possibly had an affordable plan for students with children and the answer is “no.”

On top of everything else, I had to worry about the baring the costs of extended childcare, just so I can study later. My daily routine included going to school, going work, picking my child up, cooking for my child, taking him and bath, and putting him to sleep with a book. At about 10pm, I was able to study.

It’s hard enough to bare these responsibilities and it really is such a downer that the university that you go may not offer the aforementioned above. One must question how supportive universities are in general, because this applies across the university system.

What a supportive academic environment looks like is a university is one that:
1. Waives childcare cost.
2. Has guaranteed family housing or more spaces available for students with children.
3. Offers an affordable healthcare plan for students with children.
4. Offers more grants and scholarships for students with children.

These are basic needs that are not addressed and do not hold priority. Hence, I see how one may be adamant to continue higher education because they face real challenges that makes them choose one over the other-- Education or Family? A supportive academic environment would help students with families, not make it a challenge for them.

BUT there are ways and there are resources. With patience, knowledge and time, it’s about knowing and finding what’s out there. If you should ever question whether continuing higher education is worth it, it is. THERE IS HELP, maybe not from your particular academic institution, but THERE ARE RESOURCES. I work with immigrant parents and children and I could honestly say that my experiences and/or attempts to seek resources whether failed or succeed, I know where to direct them. My life experiences have been the most resourceful, first hand experience is powerful and beautiful thing. It’s one thing to read it, but to experience it is something that feel so different.

I’ve come to the conclusion that these issues are not met simply because there are not enough of us to voice the particular concerns. Whether it be at the transfer, undergraduate, or graduate student, our universities are in dyer need of a diversity to voice particular concerns.

Remember what you all represent. You bring something unique to the university. Embrace it, challenge it and make it your greatest strength.


Aileen Malig

Grad School Musings: USC Rules the World Around Me and Filipinos in Grad School in General

These days somehow its USC this and USC that.

My mom works at an elementary school near there.

I am more likely to go there when there's something happening, including this concert they had with that myspace phenomena Passion, and Bambu, this one-woman act show about multiracialism that my co-wager dragged me, to and the latest, a screening of the Linguist with much apologies to the Queen of El Monte.

Almost all the people I know in grad school somehow end up at USC, despite that place costing a bunch of money.

There are quite a few folks I know earning Master of Social Work like Aileen.

There are future nonprofiteers like this one dude who works where I work named Mike.

There is a Ph.D candidate like Chiara in Education who will be doing research on Pinays.

There is one other dude named George at the School of Communications, who helped named Historic Filipinotown, and is looking to bring his research project to the wider Fil-Am community.

Meanwhile at the UC's, all I know is one guy named Paolo in education, who incidentally was a Pilipino UCLA transfer student but not a PTSPer but nonetheless helped us out at PTSP.

I'm curious as to what that's driven by. You'd think by virtue of UC being the public school, they would have more of us. Are they just that more disengaged from the LA community? Do they have impossible standards?

But there's a world beyond USC and UCLA.

Thinking more broadly about peer Filipinos in grad school, in my collection of 460 friends not going to SC or LA, I could almost count the number of people on one hand, (that is assuming I'm not counting finger joints and what not and just the typical phalange digits with the Arabic base-10 system.) Here's whom I know:

-An Economics M.A.
-An Asian Am M.A. going Ph.D
-An English M.A.
-Two Law Students
-A Counseling M.A.
-Two TFA people

I'm also struck by the fact that no one in my circle (with the notable exception of a friend Char knows) at Private Creme-de-la-creme high school where 99% of the graduating class goes to 4-year universities, is even in grad school. Mind you, Creme-de-la-creme High has a garbageload of its students in Grad School, mostly a bunch of law students. But as far as my circle of Filipinos at Creme-de-la Creme goes, were still at nil.

Perhaps that's driven by us being cheap, practical-minded Filipinos.


Chula Vista to UCLA and back

This is attempt no. 2. My previous post was saved and then I erased it because I was quite informal on it and was being overly nostalgic.

My name is Ivan, PTSP alumni 2006 fall (History/English). I was formely a PTSP Bayanihan peer advisor (High School Specialist, 6 months), but a vacancy opened up for the Assistant Director. I officially took the position in November 2005, but before all that during the summer and the fall I think I was already unofficially filling that position.

In my first year at UCLA I went out to a few Samahang meetings and participated as a script writer for PCN, it was a learning experience. However, I didn't really feel in the right place. Aside from cultural performance, I wanted to get more involved with the Pilipino community on campus. Luckily I knew Theresa (through PCN) and JP (my SPEAR counselor). They coerced me into doing PTSP, jk.

I felt that working with transfer students was something I can do, because I remember how difficult it was for me to transfer. So I stepped up and became a peer advisor, then an Assistant Director. It wasn't easy handling internal direction for an outreach project, nor was it easy to relate the needs of the project to Executive Board. It was challenge to be apart of leadership, but it was an experience I am completely grateful for. So thanks goes out to JP and Theresa, for pulling me outta the weeds into student/community organizing.

Of course I cannot speak favorably about PTSP without mentioning the bonds that I have built from my time with the org. Of course it also did help that I lived on Kelton Ave in close (and I mean close) proximity to other PTSPers.

Being a few years out of UCLA, I now understand the opportunity that I had in front of me while I was there. I am currently a community organizer here in the San Diego area, mainly working out of Mira Mesa area (aka 'Manila Mesa'). Without putting down San Diego, I tip my hat off to Los Angeles for what they have. San Diego is in catch-up mode with respect to community organizing in the Pilipino community. We got a different flavor down here (as we should). Each city is different. I am happy that I can I apply what I learned here in my own community.

Currently I am apart of three organizations:

FAVE (Filipino/a Americans for Veterans Equity) - In FAVE we organize youth around the demand for recognition and benefits for Filipno Veterans and their families.

Anakbayan - Anakbayan is a youth organization oriented around social justice issues of Filipinos across the diaspora. Our concerns lie mainly with the National Democratic movement in the Philippines.

KAMP (Kuya Ate Mentorship Program) - KAMP is a collective of Filipino/a youth teaching Philippine History and Culture to High School students (most in Filipino language class), with the intent of establishing Filipino Studies as an elective.

The interesting thing is that my gateway into KAMP and the rest of the orgs I am apart of came from my connections with PTSP alumni. So I currently organize in the San Diego area with PTSP alumni Ana Bravo and Eugene Gambol.

Furthermore, KAMP intially takes it's cues from PEP (Pinoy Educational Partnerships) in SF State. PEP is ran by Professor Allyson Cubales. If I am not mistaken, she is one of PTSPs founding mothers. So imagine my surprise when I join up and I am doing the unity clap again and talking about doing "Sala Talks". Moreover, we base our methodology on Frierean Critical Pedagogy. In short, these connections matter.

If anybody has any questions about my orgs, please feel free to ask me.

In Solidarity,