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Esther Cepeda

Stories by Esther

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CEPEDA: Wrong in any language

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.

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CEPEDA: Education that's not to the point

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.

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CEPEDA: College yes, but boot camp first

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.

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CEPEDA: Overcoming generational poverty

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."

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CEPEDA: Revering our national anthem

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

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CEPEDA: Obesity disease categorization could lead to better treatment

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

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CEPEDA: On teacher training, miles to go

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

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CEPEDA: Dropping out does have its cost

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

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CEPEDA: Rubio and Cruz -- GOP superstars

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

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CEPEDA: When leaders are seen as scolds

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

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CEPEDA: Our hang-ups with official languages

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.

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CEPEDA: Missing school -- for vacation

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

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CEPEDA: A very lethal plaything -- real guns that look like toys

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.

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CEPEDA: Accommodation Nation

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

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CEPEDA: Shrugging off words that hurt

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

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CEPEDA: Hollywood still doesn't get it

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

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CEPEDA: Stealing an identity and a childhood

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.

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CEPEDA: Staying together to get ahead

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

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CEPEDA: A gesture that translates

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

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CEPEDA: Jeb Bush's contradictions

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

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CEPEDA: Voices for the voiceless

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.

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CEPEDA: In reading, the experience counts

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

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CEPEDA: Stereotype busters

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."

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CEPEDA: Georgia documentary opens some eyes on immigration

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

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CEPEDA: Making lunch something to chew on

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.

CEPEDA: Hispanic voters are in the mainstream on most issues

For me, the most difficult thing about a full week of news reporting and punditry regarding President Obama’s historic embrace of same-sex marriage has been getting buffeted by worn-out stereotypes about how Hispanics will act on the revelation at the ballot box in November.

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CEPEDA: In classrooms, quality counts

CHICAGO -- Every few months, a handful of education reform advocates push the idea that the public education system's woes could be fixed if only there were more black or Hispanic teachers in classrooms.

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ESTHER CEPEDA: Not a fan of the new 'lady' Legos.

CHICAGO — My sons are aghast at what we call the new "Lady Legos." So am I.

ESTHER CEPEDA: Fixing my smile

CHICAGOThis column is for all the crooked-toothed adults out there: Tell me if you can relate to this story.When I was a child, I dreamed of getting braces.. As my more-affluent schoolmates started getting them, my own request was denied because the cost put them out of my

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ESTHER CEPEDA: Florida's Latino vote is up for grabs

All eyes are on Florida because it's the first primary where Latino voters can have a significant impact on the presidential contest. Expect it to offer meaningful predictions for future elections because the Latino vote in Florida is evolving quickly.Conventional wisdom says that Florida's Hispanic Republican vote is composed of

CEPEDA: Bloated hype aside, it's still a crisis

Friends, don't believe the hype.

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CEPEDA: The ostrich factor and childhood obesity

Ostrich factor doesn't serve vs. childhood obesity issue. CHICAGOIt would be nice to say that it's shocking that a mere five days after the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommended that children between the ages of 9 and 11 get tested for high cholesterol, Congress blocked what would have

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CEPEDA: The fluency challenge

CHICAGO — I grew up bilingual in a city where as many as 64 languages were spoken by the public schools' diverse student body. And like everyone else in our nation of immigrants, I've navigated language-barrier challenges such as difficulty communicating with new American co-workers and taking college courses taught

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CEPEDA: Pity the children

Pre-teen beauty pageants have crossed way over the line.

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CEPEDA: Obesity's a health, not an image, problem

Half the United States will be obese by 2030 unless government interventions -- making healthy foods cheaper, junk food more expensive, and regulating the marketing of unhealthy foods -- are put in place, according to a report in the Lancet, a British medical journal.At the

Cepeda: Obesity's A Health, Not An Image, Problem

CHICAGO — Half the United States will be obese by 2030 unless government interventions -- making healthy foods cheaper, junk food more expensive, and regulating the marketing of unhealthy foods -- are put in place, according to a report in the Lancet, a British medical journal.At the news conference for the report's release, one of the authors, Harvard professor Steven Gortmaker, said, "Governments certainly need to lead obesity prevention, but so far few have shown any leadership. If we have no measures and don't set any targets, we're not going to make a lot of progress."

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Cepeda: Our Immigration Quandary: States Can't Act, Feds Won't.

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.

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CEPEDA: Our immigration quandary: States can't act, feds won't.

Our immigration quandary: States can't act, feds won't. 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

CEPEDA: Unmet needs of a 'model minority'

They are known among educators as the "model minority" -- the "good students" with disproportionately high enrollment in elite universities, often to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

CEPEDA: Summer a time when many teachers learn

An elite group of teachers across the country is finishing the last grueling days of a hard-core, brain-splitting, tear-inducing boot camp in science, technology, engineering and math.

CEPEDA: Atlanta's trouble shines light on school reforms

In a recently released report by Georgia authorities, the ridiculous lengths to which some Atlanta public schools went to raise test scores were exposed in what's being called the nation's largest-ever cheating scandal.

CEPEDA: An epiphany in Arizona

I have just returned from visiting the so-called craziest state in the union. I'm talking about the one with both an official state reptile and a state gun (the ridge-nosed rattlesnake and Colt single-action Army revolver, respectively).

CEPEDA: Journalist's admission will backfire

In retelling last week's revelation that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas is an illegal immigrant, civil rights metaphors have been trotted out to describe the plight of a talented young man who got caught up in an immigration mess but, through his shocking confession, has become to some people a new American hero.

CEPEDA: Don't know much about our history

The nation's history report card is in, and the poor grades it contains may say more about needed changes in teacher recruitment and classroom assignment policy than they do about how students are performing.

CEPEDA: No one reason leads kids to commit crimes

Last week, a 10-year-old boy in Riverside, Calif., who was charged with his father’s murder said he did it to stop the daily abuse with which he, his brothers, sisters and stepmother were living.

CEPEDA: Honest conversation beats lecturing kids on violence

From the moment I heard the tensely throbbing music and soaked in the stunning views of 1940s Los Angeles, I knew I was going to spend my precious time on the just-released video game “L.A. Noire.”

CEPEDA: Immigrants' kids deserve better than this

Viewed in a certain context, the disruptions that 4-year-old Emily Ruiz suffered when she was unwittingly caught up in an immigration debacle were tame compared to the treatment of many other families with mixed immigration status.

CEPEDA: Immigrants' kids deserve better than this

Viewed in a certain context, the disruptions that 4-year-old Emily Ruiz suffered when she was unwittingly caught up in an immigration debacle were tame compared to the treatment of many other families with mixed immigration status.

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CEPEDA: American mothers should be treated with much more respect

Hug a mother or grandmother extra tight this Sunday because no amount of pink carnations and chocolate can possibly make up for how tough moms have it in this country.

CEPEDA: Supercitizen of the world

You know you're in a different world than the one you grew up in when Superman stops believing in the American way. If you hadn't heard: The Land of Liberty's favorite super-powered illegal alien is abandoning his U.S. identity.

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