December 18, 2011
Esther J. Cepeda
Stories this photo appears in:
Good parenting can help save kids from unproductive childhoods. And we needn’t even reach a consensus about what constitutes “good.”
All one has to do to rile a group of Hispanics is mention the names of blond, blue-eyed Cameron Diaz or Canadian-born Ted Cruz (both descendants of Cubans) — or even the topic of whether you have to speak Spanish fluently to “really” be Hispanic (San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has become the perfect example of this particular gem) — and there will be an overly tense discussion of what constitutes a “true Hispanic.”
During my holiday break I unplugged completely and finally finished knitting a blanket I had neglected for years. My husband dedicated almost his entire break to mastering the banjo he took up last summer. The kids went sledding and ice-skating. We all did a lot of talking.
Whether for lacking skills, not having enough “hustle” or failing to keep pace, employees who don’t last at startups will quickly find themselves with new opportunities to evaluate whether they worked hard enough to succeed at their job — and whether to work harder at the next gig. After all, there’s great enjoyment to be had from accomplishments born of hard work and determination.
We need to hurry up and kick off that national dialogue by exercising a little follow-through on our kids’ school training. It’s time to begin drama-free conversations about extreme school violence with our children, neighbors, school administrators and school boards as if such a frightening possibility could someday come true.
He does it because he wants to show those people that he cares about them enough to say a few words in their native tongue — especially in times of stress, such as when Mayor Bloomberg addressed Spanish speakers in the middle of emergency briefings last year about Hurricane Sandy.
There are some people who doubt that family dinners are all they are made out to be. After reviewing seven years of reports from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Carl Bialik, The Wall Street Journal’s “Numbers Guy,” noted that there is a correlation, but no firm causal link, establishing that teens who eat dinner more often with their families were at a lower risk of using illegal drugs.
Income levels, specifically labels such as “low-income,” are a big part of the problem in our societal ecosystem. They’re now a Rorschach test for politics that either exemplify those who are struggling or blame them for not achieving enough despite systemic flaws working against them.
Universal preschool is a fine goal. But getting into the neediest communities and teaching parents how to be their child’s first and best teacher cannot be underestimated, much less ignored, as a method for closing persistent achievement gaps.
After years of being taught by only female teachers who valued, seemingly above all else, girls’ advanced verbal, social and stay-in-your-seat abilities, both my sons now finally have a better mix of teachers. Their male teachers may be no more gifted at teaching than their female counterparts, but they bring teaching styles and personalities that are diverse in education simply because they’re men.
Universal parenting school might seem fanciful compared to universal preschool, but it’s an idea that should be given serious consideration if we really want to address all that is holding back today’s students.
Any real shot at an immigration compromise — one that codifies who gets to stay and who must leave — will depend on accurately separating perception from reality. And neither side helps advance that difficult task when they pretend that 11 million people are all angels or devils.
Immigration reform battle is always frustrating, rarely hopeful.
I dream in both English and Spanish, and in my best dreams foreign movie stars don’t reinforce stupid and inaccurate cliches about me on one of the most popular late-night shows on TV.
Until a soundless revolution of quiet-seekers mutes our deafening landscape, I’ll be staying home more and fantasizing about a nice, quiet apocalypse.
Our biggest concern about integrating technology into schools should be that even as we provide students with mastery of the standard tools of business — whether it be slide presentations, email or social media — we risk forgetting a vital piece of the educational puzzle: the ability to communicate for understanding.
Awareness precedes both prevention and reduction. Let calorie counts become as ubiquitous as supersize sugary drinks and then we can have a fair conversation about measuring effectiveness.
For some young people, July is a month for getting in a few last weeks of relaxation before enrolling in college. For others, it’s also the lead-up to what could be one of the worst experiences of their lives. The luckiest of this latter group are steeling themselves against all that could go wrong.
I felt less peer pressure to drink as an undergraduate at a state university with a legitimately terrible reputation as a party school than I have as a professional in corporate settings.
CHICAGO — Former President George W. Bush recently said that “the reason to pass immigration reform is not to bolster” a political party but “to fix a system that’s broken. Good policy yields good politics.”
Teachers in low-income school districts often get specialized training about the culture of poverty in order to better understand their students' lives and take those challenges into account in the classroom. As a high school teacher, I was trained in Ruby K. Payne's "A Framework for Understanding Poverty."
This year, like no other before it, I feel a deep desire to get back to basics. It's been an especially difficult few weeks of tumult over race, same-sex marriage rights, immigration and other issues that highlight our differences rather than our similarities.. I'm
CHICAGO -- Is obesity truly a disease that requires medical treatment and prevention, as the American Medical Association recently proclaimed? Or is it still more accurately a "condition" with too many variables and factors to shoehorn into a neat category?. There are as many opinions on this matter as there
CHICAGO -- Maybe someday, I'll go back to school and re-experience teacher training decades after the current movement to bring rigor to such programs has finally taken hold in higher education.. Perhaps then I could marvel at changes in the currently laughable system of identifying and preparing the K
CHICAGO -- In his revealing book "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," Charles Murray spends hundreds of pages using statistics to illustrate the rising inequality that is increasingly putting the white working class on the path toward generational poverty.
If there's one thing public policy researchers fear, it's that they'll share a finding with the potential to oversimplify a complex, wide-ranging issue.. Such has been the case with a recent Brookings Institution blog post -- "Is Starting College and Not
CHICAGO -- It's fascinating that two Hispanic men -- both of whom are further to the right of where most Latinos stand on immigration -- are at the epicenter of the current reform debate.. Both Cuban-Americans, Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, represent the young
CHICAGO -- "Inclusive" and "diversity" are the buzzwords in corporate America these days. From an employer's point of view, I want my diverse workforce to, as Whole Foods has stated, have "a uniform form of communication."
According to his critics, Stephen King is not only callous to the desires of some of his most ardent fans but also clinging to the past in deciding to release his new book "Joyland" in print only.. But I'm with him on this one.
Mitt Romney is back -- and so is his foot.. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Romney is planning on re-emerging in ways that will "help shape national priorities," such as assisting the Republican Party as it tries to regain its footing with the non-white voters
CHICAGO -- In matters of Latino unity, the prevailing stereotype is that Mexicans, South Americans and Puerto Ricans don't get along.. But if ever there was a reason for all Hispanics to come together behind their Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, it was to support their outrage against MillerCoors for
CHICAGO -- When I saw a recent Pew Hispanic Center report with the sunny title, "Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment," I thought, "What's the catch?"
Judging from reactions to remarks by the president and first lady during separate commencement speeches recently, I have to imagine that it'll be a bit of a bummer for Hispanics if a Latino is ever elected president.. I don't particularly care for Barack Obama's politics, but I hate seeing him
I’m into “Missing una investigacion,” the latest book by Chilean novelist Alberto Fuguet. I’m reading it in Spanish since I have to consciously practice my native language or it vanishes. My family speaks English, lest we leave spouses and children out.
CHICAGO -- It's that time. If you're a teacher in a school with a large concentration of Hispanic students, you're doing end-of-year reviews and preparing for final exams -- and you have kids trickling up to you to let you know they won't be around for them.. This
CHICAGO -- The U.S. Census Bureau released its November voting data and one thing is clear: The so-called Latino Sleeping Giant is still snoozing -- fewer than half of all eligible Hispanics turned out to vote in 2012.
CHICAGO -- Is it just me or is Tony Stark on a health kick?
CHICAGO -- I can easily imagine either of my boys, now 11 and 14, innocently picking up a pint-size, colorful rifle and squeezing the trigger under the assumption that such an item couldn't possibly be anything other than a toy.
CHICAGO -- Our society is on the path to random chaos because our willingness to make exceptions for people has morphed into never-ending feelings of grievance and expectations of entitlement.. Let me illustrate:. While earning my master's in special education, I became aware that the 1975 Education for All
What do you do when you get trapped in a stereotype that doesn't apply -- or just plain hurts?. This is not a trivial question. As Hispanics start populating academia, newsrooms, boardrooms and courtrooms across the country, they face the tricky terrain of interacting with people who have different backgrounds
After a gut-wrenching week of terror, my award for bravery in the face of adversity goes to Ruslan Tsarni.. The uncle of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who are suspected of having carried out the Boston Marathon bombings, stepped into the spotlight and showed uncommon humility and fortitude.. Tsarni did
CHICAGO -- Safety in public schools has been much on the public's mind in the post-Newtown era.
CHICAGO -- I love Mexico Barbie's Chihuahua. There, I've said it.
CHICAGO -- History is littered with examples of innocents who were punished for crimes they didn't commit.. You don't have to think very hard to remember someone who made headlines for an atrocious act only to find out years later the person didn't do it.. When such a thing happens
Unfortunately, we are what we eat. CHICAGO -- People don't know how to eat right. Almost from birth, the food we take in and the way it is marketed conspire to make us addicted and even sick. As a result, all but a few of us will face an early
Unbelievably, the entertainment industry's dearth of ethnic diversity and surplus of stereotypical Latino portrayals have devolved into something unsettling. We've gone from seeing poor representation in films and TV shows to wanting that diverse characters be played by people of the same ethnicity.. My recent compulsion to do a name
CHICAGO -- A few years back, I profiled an identity theft victim who didn't learn that someone had been using his very common Hispanic name to obtain jobs and credit until the IRS came after him for thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes.
Thank you, US2010 Project, for stating the so-often misunderstood obvious: "Hispanic" is not synonymous with "Mexican.". The project, based at Brown University and dedicated to researching changes in American society, has released a report titled "Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexicans." For non-Mexican Hispanics
CHICAGO -- Something bordering on the miraculous happened at my community high school the other night: The parents who speak only Spanish were included and respected in a meeting in a way that did not turn the whole thing into a big
CHICAGO -- A few weeks ago, I approached an apocalyptic-sounding essay in The New York Times titled "The Country That Stopped Reading." Finally, I thought, another pessimist to join me in bemoaning the awful state of reading in America.. The author, David Toscana, was actually writing about Mexico
CHICAGO -- After reading former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's book, "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution," it's very hard to imagine how any moderate, willing-to-compromise person could find much fault with this ode to the many benefits of earnest, hardworking, U.S.-loving immigrants.. Naysayers have already declared
CHICAGO -- For years, I've been saying the "digital divide" -- equal access to Internet-enabled technology -- was destined for the dustbin of history. Its extinction is finally starting to be recognized. But we need to start thinking in terms of a much different digital divide.
CHICAGO -- Though everyone can agree that it's important to cultivate a happy family life, there are those who will despise the idea of running their family like a business.
CHICAGO -- It's not that I don't welcome good news, but here's a caveat to go along with recent reports that children in the U.S. are consuming fewer calories: All calories are not created equal.
CHICAGO -- In a 2011 column, I said President Obama believed that Latino voters were stupid. It pains me to say this, but lately I've begun to wonder whether Latino voters indeed aren't thinking clearly when it comes to immigration.
CHICAGO -- As we begin to see what comprehensive immigration reform could look like, I tend to grit my teeth in frustration with the all-or-nothing crowd.
CHICAGO -- A Pew Research Center report -- "Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants" -- recently verified something that has been the case throughout most of the nation's history: Children who grow up in this country become proud Americans. Prepare for that to change.I
CHICAGO -- Those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that since Christmas, I've been regularly sharing my exercise regimen.
CHICAGO -- Of all the details yet to be negotiated in order to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, the one that really shouldn't stir controversy is the possibility of some immigrants facing a very long wait for citizenship, or not getting it at all.. The point seems like a walk in
To a lifelong resident of one of America's most dangerous, corrupt and racially divided cities, the murder of Hadiya Pendleton has brought to light what really drives coverage -- and outrage -- of unspeakable violence: a virtuous victim.. Did a 15-year-old's
CHICAGO -- Pobrecitameans "poor little girl" in Spanish.. You won't find this word in Justice Sonia Sotomayor's recently published memoir, "My Beloved World."
CHICAGO -- In the course of raising two teenage boys, a mother finds herself wearing many hats, nearly all of them of the rule-enforcement variety. But lately I've found myself in a new role: I'm the "yeah" police.
CHICAGO -- It never ceases to amaze me how two opposing sides can see the same thing so differently.
CHICAGO -- From the moment I heard Rita Moreno's sweet voice trill the r's and hit the accented sounds just right in Jose Gautier Benitez's poem "To Puerto Rico (I Return)," I knew I'd made a wise choice in buying Justice Sonia Sotomayor's memoir, "My Beloved World," as
CHICAGO -- Turnabout is fair play, and in no arena as much as that of student academic achievement. So after several years of hashing out policies focused on the quality of teacher education programs and teacher performance in the classroom, it's only right that the gaze of accountability should turn on parents.
CHICAGO -- Here's an issue that few within the Hispanic community would have me weigh in on: Whether the census should designate Hispanics as a separate race.. Why? Because I see myself as an American first and someone with Hispanic ancestry second. In the eyes of some, this makes me
CHICAGO -- Illinois again finds itself at the center of the controversy over immigration. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will be signing into law a bill that provides driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- to bolster road safety. Uh-huh.
CHICAGO -- We're only one-third of the way through January, yet there's already a strong contender for most ridiculous and overblown news story of the year.. Here are a few hints, and please note that none of these headlines come from the satirical news site The Onion: "Being Overweight
CHICAGO -- Last Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," President Obama said that fixing our broken immigration system is one of the top priorities of his second term. He promised to introduce legislation this year to get it done.. No doubt the president felt the need to reiterate this
CHICAGO -- OK, I've now become a "none." That's what the Pew Research Center calls those of us who either don't practice a faith or prefer to keep our beliefs to ourselves.. Pew's findings from a global study of religious practice also called people like me "unaffiliated." But
CHICAGO -- You have to applaud the White House for its pragmatism in managing expectations the day after President Obama attended a memorial service in honor of the victims of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.. Press secretary Jay Carney defended not having a full agenda for what the president
In reading, diversity trumps 'seeing yourself'. CHICAGO -- It's "Too Many Tamales" season in selected classrooms across the country. The book, a contemporary classic written by Gary Soto and illustrated by Ed Martinez, tells the story of Maria, a young girl who loses her mother's diamond ring as she and
CHICAGO -- Based on the post-election coverage of the immigration issue, you'd think that Republicans have no reason to believe they can ever get Latino voters to pay attention to them.. As the prevailing narrative goes, the GOP will soon be extinct since President Obama has promised yet again
CHICAGO -- Last year, I took some heat for writing about my favorite books that were "Diverse-But-Not-About-Diversity.". I described these works as "really engrossing books I read in 2011 where race, ethnicity or legal status were present -- but only as interesting side details."
CHICAGO -- Let's applaud the best education reform policy proposed this year: A test -- similar to a bar exam -- for teachers.. This suggestion is fundamental, necessary and overdue. One other word comes to mind to describe my answer to education policy observers who are asking whether we should
CHICAGO -- Let's start with a beyond-dispute premise: We need to do everything possible to prevent unwanted teen pregnancy.. But should pediatricians pre-prescribe "morning-after" pills to girls under 17, as the American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested?. Even though I'm the mother of two teen boys, I
CHICAGO -- Just as tone-deafness is a bipartisan ailment, so is hubris -- and I suspect some Hispanics are flying perilously close to the sun.. I've lost count of all the prideful, boasting and sometimes menacing commentaries, blog posts and social media comments about Hispanics' role in President Obama's
Godspeed and good luck to the Walmart workers who are protesting the inexorable "Black Friday" creep -- in the form of 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day store openings. It's just a pity that their efforts are for naught.
CHICAGO -- Hearing that a Louisiana schoolteacher is under fire for making derogatory comments about President Obama's re-election is quite the change of pace from what I'm used to. Here in the president's extremely blue home state, it's often the other way around with Obama considered a political patron saint and Republican candidates and positions referred to in demonizing tones. But partisanship has no place in our classrooms.
CHICAGO -- Of all the morning-after fretting about the future of the Republican Party's relevance in a majority-minority country, GOP strategist Chuck Warren's comment was my favorite: "To be frank, we're a 'Mad Men' party in a 'Modern Family' world."
CHICAGO -- Eight years after the National Endowment for the Arts declared a national reading crisis -- and five years since an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 27 percent of the people surveyed hadn't read a single book in the previous year -- there's a sliver of good news.
Today, even though my kids go to a school that serves majority low-income community and suffers from severe budget shortfalls, the legacy of No Child Left Behind is that I know how my kids are performing overall and over time in the subjects that will determine whether they succeed in college.
For years Manuel Guerra Casas has fought against anti-immigrant legislation such as Arizona's "papers please" law, and for the passing of the federal DREAM Act. Casas is, as the popular slogan goes, "undocumented and unafraid." But more than anything else, he's unsupportive of President Obama -- in fact, he's a vocal and active Mitt Romney fan.
CHICAGO -- For the better part of a year, I've been pulling my hair out about my kids' deep desire to guzzle sugary, high-caffeine "energy" drinks.. Red Bull, Monster, MiO, Rockstar, NOS, 5-hour ENERGY -- you name it, they want it. But these drinks are dangerous.
CHICAGO -- It's become pretty clear that many Hispanics are lining up to support President Obama in his quest to stay in the White House because of his support of the DREAM Act. But if the polls and the reports are accurate, he's getting a really sweet bounce in Hispanic voter approval for merely making a two-year promise he may not be able to keep.
CHICAGO -- In "A Visit from the Goon Squad," Jennifer Egan's 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, she paints a glorious portrait of a future where young people take a distinct pride in themselves and their appearance. If such a future were in the offing, there would be something to feel hopeful about.
CHICAGO -- Several years ago when I was enrolled in a teacher training program, we were taught that bullying was when one person intentionally, aggressively and consistently intimidated another. It was understood to mean habitual cruelty by a strong person to a weaker one.. After several cases since 2010 where
CHICAGO -- In a stirring Washington Post column titled "America to immigrants: 'Give me your tired, your poor' but keep your entrepreneurs," Vivek Wadhwa laments the shabby treatment of immigrant business founders due to our ridiculous immigration laws.
CHICAGO -- I, and I suspect many others, have a love-hate relationship with Hispanic Heritage Month.
Homegrown Hispanics get ignored. A few years ago, I noticed that Latin American artists get a lot of play in the states compared to U.S.-born Hispanic ones.. For instance, in 2010, Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru won the Nobel Prize in literature and it seemed as though no one
CHICAGO -- It's been an alarming few days of obesity-related news.
CHICAGO -- Let me introduce you to my fake Latino children. No, no, they're real children -- it's just their Hispanic bona fides that are in question these days.
Writing is on the wall about education. In Mike Judge's brilliant 2006 satirical science fiction comedy, "Idiocracy," viewers are subjected to a terrifying dystopia: America, circa 2505, after the intelligent people have become extinct.
CHICAGO -- The main thing I took away from previewing the upcoming PBS special "America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa: Clarkston Georgia" is that though the phrase "strength in diversity" has achieved platitude status, it is particularly true when it comes to assimilating new Americans into historically homogeneous communities
Respect, not apples, for these teachers. CHICAGO -- Under normal circumstances, I'd be the first to say that going on strike is the most selfish and reckless thing teachers could do to their communities, their professions and most of all, their students.. These, however, are not normal circumstances -- and
CHICAGO -- In the Hispanic community, conservatives have long been the minority within the minority. But 2012 will mark the year it started to become OK for all minorities to be openly Republican.
Not everyone speaking same language on English push. In a recent news story about the GOP's accelerating conservative turn, a reporter compared the current party platform plank supporting "English as the nation's official language" to its view, back in the gentler 1980s, that Hispanics and others should not "be barred
CHICAGO -- Last week, as I basked in my son's glowing account of his first full day of school, I thought about Talia Bradley and Antonia Ritter.
CHICAGO -- Every once in a while you hear about an education reform measure that just simply makes sense. Newly in vogue: Showing teachers how great teachers teach.
CHICAGO -- I looked at Hispanic dissatisfaction over Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick with more than a little skepticism. After all, if Paul Ryan isn't a suitable choice to the most vocal Latinos who are complaining about the Wisconsin congressman, who would they have preferred?
CHICAGO -- It's been my experience that any time the government announces a new immigration-related plan, there's always plenty of uncertainty and misinformation swirling around before the program goes into effect.
Here's my secret pet peeve: Sofia Vergara. I hate that she so expertly works the dreaded, overdone "sexy, ditzy, bombshell Latina" stereotype that many Hispanic women have worked their whole lives to overcome.
Nation gets more intolerant. CHICAGO -- Did you enjoy the unofficial National Eat Fried Food for Freedom Day on Wednesday?. I declined to participate after awakening to typically hyperbolic emails from the local tea party inviting me to my local Chick-fil-A restaurant to fight against the "lefty movement
Boy Scouts only buying time. CHICAGO -- To all the gay men and women out there deeply offended by the Boy Scouts of America's unfortunate decision to keep out openly gay boys and gay or lesbian adults who want to serve as leaders: Just you wait.
CHICAGO -- As a lifelong super-duper picky eater, one of my favorite stories of first-encounter culture clash is about when Hernando Cortes landed at Vera Cruz near Moctezuma's palace in Tenochtitlan, now present-day Mexico.
CHICAGO -- When people get passionate, they get sloppy. This has always been my beef with immigration activists, whether it's the throw-open-the-borders lobby or the seal-the-country-and-hide-your-women-and-children nativists.
CHICAGO -- Now that we're in the summer reading season, here's a toast to the serendipity of picking a book about one thing and discovering that it's really more about something else -- and much more important than you thought.
Wherever you stand on the issues of state-based immigration enforcement or mandatory health care, I call the decisions a victory for independent thinkers.
CHICAGO — 'Tis the season to be crabby!
Schools go overboard on 'inappropriate'
CHICAGO — Moments after the last Republican presidential candidate debate ended, the ever-breathless blogosphere started wondering if Newt Gingrich was making a play for the Latino vote with his controversial remarks about being humane to America's 11 million illegal immigrants.Of course he was. Gingrich may be many things -- a highly paid consultant to eyebrow-raising clients, a philanderer and a prolific, if ungifted, author -- but he's not ignorant of Hispanic voting power.
CHICAGO — If there's anything good to be said about the substance of the national debate over immigration, it's that even though policy conversations have centered almost exclusively on enforcement measures, the focus is no longer cultural.Back in 2005 when the Hispanic community went into revolt after Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., sponsored a "papers, please" bill that also criminalized those assisting illegal immigrants -- very similar to the ones several states have now passed -- two competing narratives emerged.
CHICAGO --In the most recent example of sending mixed signals about illegal immigration, a federal judge has temporarily blocked Alabama's far-ranging new immigration law, which is widely seen as tougher and more cruel than the infamous "papers, please" one that Arizona adopted a little over a year ago.Voted into law last May, the Alabama statute was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 1. It raised the ire of immigrant advocates and religious groups with its requirement that local police officers check the immigration status of certain suspects and detain the illegal ones. It also put U.S. citizens and legal residents such as employers, landlords and good Samaritans in danger of becoming criminals themselves for knowingly employing, harboring, transporting or renting apartments to illegal immigrants.