Hispanics More Disciplined in Schools

Hispanics More Disciplined in SchoolsThe Department of Education (DOE) recently released new data showing that Hispanic and other minority students might be affected disproportionally by zero tolerance policies. Are these policies effective? And what can you do to ensure your child is being disciplined appropriately?

Though Hispanic students account for only 24% of enrollment in United States schools, they accounted for 37% of school-related arrests in 2009. The survey found that more than 70% of students involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement were Hispanic or black. It’s obvious that something’s at play.

“The undeniable truth is that the everyday educational experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told following the release of the DOE data.

Mother and TV producer Marisol González experienced this difference in treatment first hand. “My son just graduated from a K-8 Catholic school where 80% of students are Hispanic. The school administration, however, is white-Irish. I always noticed that when white kids did something terrible, they were given the lightest punishment but when a Hispanic kid did something much less horrible, they were punished much more severely,” Marisol said.

“Last year, a Hispanic boy got into some trouble with a white girl. The school was not going to allow him to graduate middle school, until I got involved with the mother and helped her uncover what had happened. I also helped her write emails to leave a written trail. In the end, the girl’s responsibility was brought to light and the kid was allowed to graduate. The problem I see is that most Hispanic parents are afraid of interfering for fear that the teachers or the administration will retaliate against their kids.”

Get Informed. Many schools with high Hispanic populations are more likely to have zero-tolerance policies. These policies do not allow administrators to give kids a second chance, and they are seen as sort of the “tough love” policies of modern education. The problem is that they usually don’t work. These policies often have the opposite effect, making teens more likely to lash out and less likely to finish school. According to one study on the effect of these policies, they may actually increase “youth’s criminality by removing them from the school” and the positive support that school offers.

As a parent, you must know your school’s policies and understand whether or not they are working. Print off copies of the DOE report for your own school district. Inform yourself and other parents about the effects of suspensions, expulsions, and arrests on campus so that you can become an advocate for the kids.

Speak Up. Be vocal for your own child, but also for all the students. Join the PTA, if you haven’t already, and don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Being shy won’t cut it when your child’s educational success is on the line. Call the school administrators, ask questions, demand answers, and if necessary, be that over-involved parent that borders on annoying.

Show and Tell. Show the administrators the research and ask what is being done to change the way they handle their students. If you are uncomfortable with your understanding of your local policies, ask other parents, teachers, or the administrators for help. It’s critical for you to be your child’s advocate and to seek even distribution of disciplinary policies.

“Once they (suspensions) become automatic, we’ve really hurt that child’s chances to receive a high school diploma,” said Dr. Doug Otto the superintendent of Plano Independent School District in Texas in an interview with the New York Times. Just one school suspension can decrease the chances of graduating.

Although teenagers need and demand more independence until they are 18, it’s still your job to know what is happening in school and to intervene on their behalf whenever necessary. Your child’s future depends on your advocacy for them today.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

Taking Risks At Work: Accept That New Job Challenge

Taking Risks At Work: Accept That New Job ChallengeIt’s no secret that women face a multitude of challenges in the workforce. Now a recent study by Catalyst confirms that working women are often evaluated on their performance while men are rewarded for their potential. In other words, ladies, you have to prove yourself to your employer. One way to do that is to accept what is called “a stretch assignment,” a challenging opportunity that is outside your comfort zone.

But how do you accept the challenge if you don’t feel ready? My advice is to take the phrase “Fake It Till You Make It.” seriously. The truth is that you don’t have to be 100 percent prepared before taking on a new task. As long as you are about 70 to 80 percent ready, you should consider accepting that new project. Why? Because you will learn the rest as you go. And that’s the name of the game of career advancement.

When you turn down an offer to do something new and outside of your comfort zone in your job, you are sending several messages to your superiors or colleagues:

  • I’m not a risk taker.
  • I’m not willing to learn something new.
  • I’m not interested in developing my career.
  • I’m comfortable where I am at and I don’t want to challenge myself.

If your professional goal is to continue paving your career path upward, sending these messages to your employer won’t bode well for your future. The idea is not only to jump at a great opportunity, but also to seek them out yourself.

So what if you are presented with one of these stretch assignments and you are not sure whether you should take it or not?

  • Consult with your mentors.
  • Identify people who could help you with the areas of knowledge you’re missing.
  • Verify that you have plenty of transferable skills that will help you in the new position or project.
  • Be open about your experience and talents with the person offering you the opportunity to set up realistic expectations during your learning curve.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get started.
  • In many companies, once you turn down one or two of these assignments, you are generally dropped from the “high potential” list. Which means, they’ll be investing much less effort in helping you advance your career or get a pay raise, Leading with “yes” is the best way to take charge of your future and to make sure as many doors remain open for you.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

Strrrrretch!!! Why You Should be Under Qualified For Your Next Job

Strrrrretch!!! Why You Should be Under Qualified For Your Next JobAlthough flattering on the surface, the words: You’re overqualified, can be frustrating when you are looking for a job. But there’s a reason why employers avoid hiring people who are over qualified—they tend to get bored, underperform, and have little loyalty to the company. That’s why, if you want to grow in your career, one of the smartest strategies you can use is to take on a stretch assignment that really test your capabilities. In other words, under qualified.

I’m not implying that you should seek jobs for which you are obviously not qualified. What I’m saying is that the best way to expand your skills is to take on a challenge. That may involve working in a different department, function, or industry, or supervising a larger number of people.

For many women (and in my experience, Latinas in particular), it’s extremely hard to do something for which they don’t feel 100% ready. Some call this lack of confidence. I prefer to say that we suffer from a generalized “perfect little girl” complex, which was probably instilled in us very early on in life. This tendency is partly responsible for us passing up opportunities for which we feel we don’t qualify. We fail to realize that, given a similar skill-set, most men would take that job and learn what they don’t know as part of the new position. That’s exactly the attitude you should adopt.

According to a recent report by McKinsey & Company, one of the barriers for women getting to the top is their individual mindset. The report points out that too often women don’t raise their hands or even consider stretch roles. Another barrier is the institutions’ mind-set, as in making decisions for women without consulting them. For example, your boss doesn’t offer you a certain position that involves extensive travel because he knows you have young children.

Whether you’re currently working and seeking a promotion, or you are unemployed, the key is to look for positions where you can leverage the expertise you bring to the table, while developing a variety of new skills, from technical to financial to leadership.

Virginia, for example, has been an executive recruiter for most of her career. She has always worked for executive search firms (the type of entity that big corporations retain to find their top talent) and is now looking for a position as a talent acquisition executive at a company. Moving to the client side will allow her to learn a host of new skills that would build on her past experience. It’s a stretch assignment she’s ready for.

Janet, on the other hand, is a talented photographer who’s had a successful career in print media. She’d like to work at a Public Relations company promoting artists and celebrities. But the truth is, it will be very hard for her to make that jump without first taking some courses or going through some kind of training program. The leap, at least for right now, is too much of a stretch for Janet.

Seeking a stretch assignment means being ready to take some risks, a behavior embraced by most successful men and women. I admit it can be scary, but it also has a large payoff if you do it consistently. Every time I’m asked to do something new (the first time I did a live TV segment, the first time I emceed at a large conference, or presented to an audience of CEOs), I was nervous. I always wonder if I can pull it off. Those nerves always keep me focused, help me prepare, and ask questions of experts whom I trust. And then, I take the leap and give it my best.

It eventually becomes second nature to look for and accept those challenges for which you’re not 100 % ready. These stretch assignments are the projects that will push you, that will take you down a new path, and that will teach you things about yourself that you weren’t aware of.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

Relocating Could Help Your Career

Relocating Could Help Your CareerIf you are one of the many Americans looking for work, things are still pretty rough out there. After all, the unemployment rate in the United States, while up slightly, was still 8.3% in January. Even if you are currently employed and looking for a change, passing out your resume and not receiving any call-backs can get very frustrating. After a while, it may feel like you’ve exhausted all possible options for progressive employment in your city. But the truth is that relocating can help your career.

For many Latinos moving away is a hard choice given how tight we are with our family and how much we count on them for child-care, elder care and general support. But moving to where there are greater opportunities is exactly what our parents and grandparents were doing when they moved to this country. And very often, the best way to grow in your career is by moving where the challenges are. Of the many powerful women I recently interviewed for my upcoming new book El Poder de Mujer (Woman Power), a large percentage had moved several times throughout their careers. So it’s important for you to seriously consider this option.

Here are just some of the reasons a new city can breathe new life into your career:

  • Different Job Openings—Try expanding your search options to include other cities in an online employment search and see how many additional results you get for your type of position. What you’ll find is that many cities cater to certain type of worker or professional demographic and have numerous job openings in that sector. Bloomberg Businessweek suggests places like Durham, North Carolina, and even Huntsville, Alabama, for technology jobs, for example. Allhealthcare from suggests taking a look at Austin, Texas, if you are in the medical field. And if finance is your forte, Investopedia lists cities like Boston and Chicago as having great potential.
  • More Options—If you work in a small city with one large employer, a different city means different companies and organizations. You may have put your “dream job” on the back burner because you simply knew that job didn’t exist in your small town, for example. But who said you have to stay there forever? Companies are always looking for fresh faces with new ideas. Your background and work ethic could be precisely what’s needed at that big-city firm.
  • New Hispanic Markets—According to the U.S. Census, the Hispanic population of this country grew over 43% from 2000 to 2010. While many larger cities have been accommodating Spanish speaking immigrants for decades, others are not so well prepared. Small towns especially are struggling to keep up with the needs of their new residents. As a second or third generation immigrant, your background could provide you with easier entry into markets like these.

What you’ll find as you research potential cities is that the current economic situation isn’t so bleak in every single locale. When the evening news discusses the national unemployment rate, it’s just that—national. Some cities are experiencing relatively prosperous times and below-normal unemployment. This list of ten cities from The Street includes vibrant spots like Austin, Augusta, Georgia, and Madison, Wisconsin, to add to your list of potential new home towns.

Cities like Richmond, VA can’t keep up with the demand for services of their new residents who need help with everything from taxes to translation. Smaller towns throughout the country and especially in the plains states are similarly stressed, looking for bilingual personnel to help fill voids in the customer service, teaching, banking, health care, and sales sectors.

Moving to a new city, state or country is a big change. But these are the kind of changes that can give a significant boost to your professional life. When interviewing for a new position, explaining your willingness to transfer if the position so requires will make you a more attractive candidate.

Sometimes in life we have to take major steps to see major results. Whether you love the company you’re with and are interested in moving with them or you are looking for your dream job during these difficult financial times, a new location has the potential to dramatically change your life for the better.

This article was originally pubilshed on Mamiverse.

Millennial generation in the workplace: Millennials Who Make Us Proud

Millennials Who Make Us ProudMost of the people I know have a horror story about a Gen Y employee or child which often ends with a comment along the lines of: They have a strong sense of entitlement; They don’t care about details; or They want to begin their careers as managers even though they have no experience.

And although historically, each generation has complained about the one following, Millennials (also known as Generation Y) seem to be particularly ill-fitted for the workplace they are encountering. An increasingly small world calls for an increased level of competitiveness, self-direction, and engagement, among other traits, and many Millennials don’t come equipped with these skills.

Being involved with a platform that serves young students, I’ve run into my share of young people who left me wondering how they will survive in the real world once they graduate. No motivation, no interest in developing critical relationships, no passion to speak of… It worries me that the high unemployment rate of this generation is not only due to market forces but also to this Millennial lack of desire and ambition. It’s a reality experienced not only in the U.S. but also in Latin America and Europe—where there are growing numbers of so called Los Ninis.  (Ninis stands for: Ni estudian ni trabajan, they neither study nor work.)

That’s why, on a recent trip to Chicago, it was so inspiring to spend time with the RMHC/HACER national scholarship recipients. This group of 15 students was brought together by McDonald’s for training and to celebrate the graduation of the first four award winners who are graduating college this year. I presented a college-to-workforce program for juniors and seniors; and I got to hang out for a couple of days with a handful of bright, highly motivated first-generation college students.

These students, each of whom won the $100,000 RHMC/HACER scholarship (several of them have also received the Gates Millennium Scholars award), are attending the best schools in the country. They’re enrolled at Yale, Harvard, MIT, UPenn, Duke, Brown, Arizona State University, University of California Davis, Ramapo College, College of St. Vincent and others of equal caliber.

They are taking advantage of every opportunity to expand their horizons by studying abroad in China, doing internships in Italy, volunteering with a Suicide Hotline in Providence, job-shadowing dentists in Argentina, you name it. They are part of the same generation that has many of us worried, but they are eager to change the world. They have ventured away from home to attend schools where they don’t feel 100 percent comfortable, but they are willing to push through. They are mentoring their siblings and serving as role models. They talk to the press and share their stories, and in doing so they help change the narrative that permeates the media about Hispanic educational underachievement.

Unlike many of their counterparts who seem to be lost in a false sense of entitlement and unable to figure out what to do with their lives, these young Latino Millennials are an important part of the same generation, the part that makes us proud. And we should all get behind them.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.