MORE HISPANICS EARNING COLLEGE DEGREES
In recent years, we have witnessed an increase in the amount of Hispanics enrolling in college and earning college degrees. While there is still a ways to go, “the average educational level of native-born Hispanics has increased substantially over the last several decades, and the gap between Hispanics and Whites has decreased,” as announced by Bill Clinton at a White House conference in June 2000. This increase in college graduation rates has been long awaited because it means that Hispanic Americans will steadily continue to play more important and influential roles in American society and culture. There are a few factors that together seem to be motivating Hispanic adolescents to take the more challenging, yet more rewarding, path towards success and excellence.
It is evident that we have made progress and the power of the media deserves some credit for this phenomenon. The morning news, for example, depicts the progress Hispanics have made in broadcast journalism. Hispanic-American reporters like Linda Lopez (CBS), Marisol Castro (ABC), Linda Baquero (NBC), and Mario Moreno (CBS) allow today’s Hispanic youth to see a reflection of themselves, their capabilities, and their dreams. This was not the case less than 10 years ago when it was more common to see Latinos in the news, rather than announcing the news. Additionally, successful Hispanics are more often seen in television dramas, movies, sports, commercials, and the list goes on. The media has, in effect, raised consciousness of Hispanic achievement by showing that it can be done.
There also seems to be more educational opportunities available for Hispanic youth. Children are receiving encouraging messages and support from programs that help ensure academic success for Latinos. These organizations and academic programs have raised the standards for all children because they see untapped potential, and are determined not to allow Hispanic children to lag behind. Programs like Prep for Prep (in New York City), which prepares youngsters to enter the “preppy” world of private schools, begin instilling at a young age the value of education by showing children that they are capable of achieving a professional career in science, mathematics, politics, etc. Also, whereas support systems were lacking for young Hispanics in the past, today much more emphasis is placed on early education. President Clinton found it necessary to enroll Hispanics in “quality early childhood programs at the same time as other Americans,” in order to have a more level playing field, and he pushed to have these measures implemented.
Additionally, because the “better schools” are becoming more ethnically and culturally sensitive and diverse, Hispanics, have been increasingly given access to alternative lifestyles and possibilities that were previously out of their reach and dreams. A combination of affirmative action and valuing of diversity has been opening up doors for Latino youths by giving them opportunities to attend the best academic institutions that only money, in the past, could buy.
As of late, colleges have begun to take the necessary strides towards making college more accessible for those Hispanics who lack the financial means. President Clinton also referred to these financial obstacles in the year 2000 and thought it was crucial that “no person is ever denied access to college because of the cost.” While there is still much to be done, one can conclude that more Hispanic youth are able to graduate from college because of the financial, educational, and political decisions that have been made. In fact, according to the US Department of Education’s Post-Secondary Education Statistics in 2001, scholarships and fellowships have become very attainable at Public Institutions. Between the years of 1986-1997, the scholarships and fellowships available to full time students rose an astonishing 85%.
Another factor, which has helped Hispanics reach their educational goals, is that society as a whole has changed. Though things are not even remotely perfect, significant progress has taken place in terms of how accepting our society has become. Because of social education and awareness, there is less oppression, stereotyping, intolerance and ignorance. As a result, there are more Hispanic people serving our community (teachers, police officers, doctors, politicians etc.) and there are more positive role models for Hispanic youth to see and aspire to be.
As time passes Hispanics are realizing how imperative it is to go to college because, by Bill Clinton’s calculations, “over the next decade, the number of jobs requiring at least four years of college will more than double.” Whereas in the past, many immigrants possessed certain beliefs about family responsibilities over higher education, today many first and second generation Hispanic Americans value education and see it as a way to provide for their families. In this way, one must take into consideration the role of assimilating or acculturating to an American society that “values” higher levels of educational attainment. For this reason, “second-generation Hispanics were more likely to go to college than foreign-born Hispanics who had a 26% enrollment rate or third-generation or later Hispanics, who had a 36% enrollment rate,” says Deborah Kong, author of “More U.S. Latinos Entering College.”
A complex combination of the power of the media, access to educational opportunities and financial support, political and affirmative action, colleges’ interest in diversity, positive social changes, and eventual assimilation to American values, all play a significant role in making this phenomenon happen. Richard Fry, senior research associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, acknowledged that approximately 82% of Hispanics enter college (about the same amount as Whites), but not all of those students actually graduate from college. Despite this, Hispanics, now more than ever, are earning college degrees. In the final analysis, emphasis in the progress that has been made, rather than what hasn’t been achieved, is more encouraging as it fosters inspiration and hope.
OOPS! WE’RE OUT!
As you may have already heard, this year there is a serious vaccine shortage in the United States. In the spotlight is, of course, the flu vaccine. Only two main companies manufacture it: Chiron Corp and Aventis Pasteur. Chiron experienced several problems that prevented production. The company lost its license due to contamination, leading to the loss of 4.8 million doses. “This is certainly a significant and shocking problem to find out that one of the major vaccine producers is not going to be able to release any of its vaccine this year,” said Harry Keysaling, a professor and director at Emory University. Unless the MHRA changes its mind, and re-administers the license, Chiron’s entire vaccine production will be lost.
The shortage has caused great confusion and long lines, which the health authorities are now struggling with. Hospitals prepared for the worst by adding emergency-room workers for the hit of flu season in December. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security have now teamed up to overcome the obstacle. Aventis, the other major provider of the vaccine, is producing 2.6 million more doses than usual, in order to compensate. Still, many are worried that January, when the new production is expected to be ready, is not soon enough.
Further problems have arisen because the government put restrictions on who is entitled to the shot. Those qualified to receive the shot are newborns, pregnant women, and individuals with especially weak immune systems. According to a spokesman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Immunization Program, the only way to avert a public health disaster is for citizens not in vital need of the vaccination to not seek it (doctors have also been instructed to give out the drug only to those very much in need of it). We are therefore relying on “good grace and community spirit.”
So fellow Bard students, what should we do to avoid getting caught up in all this fun stuff? Drink plenty of water, make sure you get enough sleep (we know it’s impossible, but try!), and stay warm. But whatever you do, stay away from hospitals. If you are seeking a flu vaccine, you will simply hear “We’re out!”
SPORTS AT BHSEC
Once hailed as “the school with absolutely NO sports,” Bard High School Early College has certainly come a long way. Now equipped with several teams, the BHSEC sports program has been on the move. All of BHSEC’s students know about the construction of the library and the science labs – but unfortunately, not many individuals in the BHSEC community are aware of the fast-growing sports program at the school.
The BHSEC sports teams this year include girls’ and boys’ basketball, tennis, and soccer, and girls’ volleyball. Dedicated advisors coach each team with high spirits. Mr. Larkin, the physical education teacher at BHSEC, coaches the tennis team. Dr. Biven and Mr. Larkin co-coach the soccer team, and Mr. Larkin and Mr. James (a BHSEC parent) co-coach the girls’ basketball team. Dr. Auth coaches the boys’ basketball team, and finally, Mr. Larkin and Dr. Rosenberg coach the girls’ volleyball team.
Students say Larkin’s dedication to the teams, along with that of his fellow teachers and team members, is extremely evident. “Mr. Larkin spent a lot of time trying to organize games for the teams – the team also put in many practice hours,” praises tenth-grader Lauren Bertin of the BHSEC Volleyball Team.
So how much fun are the students at BHSEC having with their new sports teams exactly? “I love the volleyball team. It was so great to have it, and to have something to do. It was a great way to meet more people, and also it was just a lot of fun,” tenth-grader Kristen Liu declared excitedly. The teams, who are starting out small, won’t stay small forever. Students are more enthusiastic about their sports now more than ever. Students and staff at BHSEC are trying their hardest to get new members onto their teams. “We’d love for others to join the teams. The more the merrier. We’ll get to meet more people and we’ll definitely need all the help we can get,” Bertin added.
A universal issue with joining sports teams is the conflict of staying late after school, but BHSEC has taken notice of this concern, and has set up a shuttle bus that takes two, and sometimes three, runs, to pick up students following their after school activities. We are not sure if this service will continue though. Parents have also been supporting the sports teams greatly. Families have made generous donations towards the teams and even have a sports committee in which issues and concerns are discussed on a regular basis.
As for the success of our teams against other school teams: “We won less than half of the games we played. The other schools have a lot more sports experience, obviously, but we had fun at the games regardless of the outcome,” says tenth-grader Jordan Lewis.
BHSEC sports teams have come a long way. Why not add some excitement to your school experience and join a BHSEC sports team today?
DSW: IT IS ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE?
A new DSW has opened up in Union Square. The store features current, upscale, high quality, in-season footwear. They carry dress shoes, casual shoes, athletic shoes, boots and handbags. They feature brand names such as Ann Klein, Bebe, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Liz Claiborne, and more.
When asked what they thought of the new store, a variety of different customers responded. Liz Fem, who has been going to DSW for a couple of years, says “I am madly in love with shoes so this is the perfect store for me.” Another customer who wished to remain anonymous says, “DSW is like a glorified Marshalls and T.J.Maxx.” Patricia Lats says “I have a weakness for shoes so I just had to check it out.” Her husband Brian Lats was not quite as excited, “The only reason (he was at the store) was because my wife dragged me out of bed.” Some people don’t see shopping as a way of having fun.
A lot of people had different opinions about the prices of the shoes. A woman named Linda said “The shoes are overpriced; I would never buy a pair of shoes for three hundred dollars.” Ashley, another shopper, felt differently about the prices of the shoes. She said “Of course they are going to be expensive. They have shoes that stars wear; I don’t have a problem with the prices.” A couple, Azantra and Felix, said “These are good shoes to look at from afar and dream about, but we would never buy them.
A lot of people thought that the store was put in a perfect place. “It is not that far from my apartment, so the location is perfect” said Marissa Shaun. “It’s Union Square – of course it is a good place to put it. Union Square is like a glorified mall.” Not a lot of people complain about the location of the store.
A couple of tourists from Texas said “We have never been to a DSW, we have heard all these things about it and we just wanted to take a look.” Not just people from New York want to see what this store is all about.
Catherine said “DSW has been around for a number of years. I am elated that a DSW has opened up close to my home.” So far many people are very happy that a DSW has opened up in Union Square. “It’s like a dream come true,” said Sophia.
Many people have different reasons for coming to the store. Some have an obsession with shoes, while some just want to see what all the commotion is about. Then there are some who just want to see if this is a store of their liking.
DSW has gotten a lot of good reviews, but can they keep it up? Is the store crowded because it’s new or is it crowded because people really like the store? We can only wait and see.
AN INTERVIEW WITH DR. LERNER
Dr. Michael Lerner’s deep interest in history is obvious, not only because of the fact that he is a history professor at Bard high School Early College, but also because of the way he teaches history. Dr. Lerner is a member of BHSEC’s social studies department. He often uses outside sources in his lessons, such as original documents, to provide students with the original accounts of historical events.
According to several students, Dr. Lerner’s lessons are very interesting, and students are encouraged to interact frequently.
“In high school, it was all music,” Dr. Lerner said of his personal interests. He also admits that when he was a teenager, he liked to “blow things up” with fireworks. Some of Dr. Lerner’s interests now include biking, fishing, cooking, and snorkeling, although much of his time is spent grading.
When asked what he likes best about teaching here at BHSEC, Dr. Lerner jokingly replied, “The long hours.” He went on to say that the students here show a lot of motivation and enthusiasm. He thinks highly of his students: Dr. Lerner says that the college students at BHSEC are comparable to their older counterparts in other colleges. Dr. Lerner also says that he likes the faculty, and the fact that Bard offers college classes.
Likewise, his students think highly of Dr. Lerner. “He’s very helpful,” says a ninth grade student from the professor’s “The Americas” class, who prefers to remain anonymous.
Lerner is currently teaching in his third year at BHSEC. He has his bachelor’s degree in European history from Columbia, and he received his PhD from NYU. Dr. Lerner was originally going to major in English, but “history is more exciting.” According to Dr. Lerner, “Columbia had a really great history program.” His interest in history was sparked by living in New York. “There’s so much history around you, it’s hard to avoid,” Dr. Lerner says. He specializes in two fields of history: New York City history and 20th-century American history. He became interested in 20th- century American history because “That’s when I was living – it was most relevant.”
Dr. Lerner is currently in the process of writing a book on prohibition in New York City. “New York City in the 1920s was an interesting time,” he says. Prohibition didn’t make sense according to Dr. Lerner. He was very curious about prohibition and the surrounding time period. He recently finished the manuscript. The release date of the book is set to be this spring, and will be published through Harvard University Press. He plans to write more books in the future.
Dr. Lerner’s advice to students interested in history is to, “start exploring what interests them.” He also gave some reasons why the study of history is important: “It tells us a lot about why the world we live in is the way it is.” He added that “History is inspiring, depressing, and it gives us a sense of direction.”
Dr. Lerner’s interest in history is an asset to our school.
MAYORAL ELECTION OF 2005
With the inauguration of President Bush and the eventual win by Christine Gregoire in Washington’s gubernatorial race, the 2004 political season can be officially declared over. It is at this time that we have the opportunity to look at the upcoming year, and especially at what November will bring. Though nationally an “off” year, New York is out of step as usual with the norm. This year will bring with it the mayoral elections.
With a year to go, the election is shaping up in traditional New York fashion: there is a cloud of Democratic hopefuls and one Republican. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a wealthy businessman who dodged the grueling Democratic primaries by conveniently switching parties and spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money in campaigning, must now again face the public and defend his incumbency. Inheriting the smoldering ashes of September 11, Mr. Bloomberg’s term has seen such varied acts as the reformation of the Board of Education into the Department of Education, a crackdown on Mister Softee trucks and barking dogs, a Republican National Convention and the stealing of the Country Music Awards from Nashville.
In his State of the City address on January 11, entitled “Building a City of Opportunity”, Mr. Bloomberg declared that the city had recovered from the attacks of September 11 and its troubling economic aftermath. “There is a spirit, a confidence, an expectation for the future that is new and exciting,” said Mr. Bloomberg at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. “The state of our city is strong – and we are going to make it even stronger in the future.”
Mr. Bloomberg then rolled off statistics on crime, antiterrorism, housing, day care, quality of life, education, health care, and even longevity. The Mayor pointed to the city continuing to be one of the safest cities in America, with under 600 murders a year for three years in a row. The Mayor also described cultivating “opportunity by improving the quality of life in every community.” Mr. Bloomberg has proposed a revision of the city noise code in an effort to promote a more inviting city atmosphere.
As Mr. Bloomberg gave his address, a phalanx of opponents sat in the audience and listened. There are currently five Democratic contenders for Mayor: Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx Borough President, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Congressman Anthony Weiner. Among the richest pieces of political red meat in the hands of the Democrats are a few projects, such as nonpartisan voting, that the Mayor has advocated and which are very unpopular with New Yorkers.
The construction of a new Jets football stadium and the expansion of the Javits Convention Center is perhaps one of those projects. A multibillion dollar package with Mr. Bloomberg’s blessings, it has drawn fire from a coalition of opposition groups who have paid for billboards, some of which ask how many teachers could be hired with the $600 million public dollars slated for the project. The stadium and expanded convention center is part of a bid for the Olympics in 2012, a mega-event which its proponents say will drive the economy forward and create new housing from the Olympic villages.
The project is becoming increasingly controversial, with many politicians questioning the wisdom of spending so much money in a time of national recession and record deficits. Studies have also shown that the demand for convention space has declined in the past years while construction has added fifty percent more square footage to the industry.
Of course, much time remains for debate and campaigning, so while the latest polls show Mr. Ferrer as the strongest challenger, the Mayor’s approval ratings have risen to around 50% since the Republican National Convention was held in the city in August. Though definitely not to be envied, these numbers do signify that there is a chance of a second term for Mr. Bloomberg. Getting there, however, will be an uphill battle.