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??