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

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