Monday, April 17, 2017

The Survey Says Black Students Do Better With Black Teachers DUH

OK, here we go again with another survey.  This one, conducted at Johns Hopkins University, says black students---especially those who come from low-income families---tend to fare better in school when they are taught by a black teacher.

The study involved about 100 thousand black students from North Carolina who entered third through fifth grade between 2001 and 2005.  According to Nicholas Papageorge, the caucasian Johns Hopkins University economist who co-authored the study, when black students were taught by black teachers they demonstrated higher test scores and less likely to become a drop out statistic.  He also found that race played a profound role in how teachers judged a student’s abilities. “When a black teacher and a white teacher looked at the same black student, the white teacher was about 40 percent less likely to predict the student would finish high school.”  And I’m willing to bet she/he would be less likely to encourage the black student to do better—instead setting that black male student up for failure and the pipeline to prison.  

No disrespect to Papageorge, but this is the overwhelming sentiment in the black community and has been for MANY years.  We KNOW the significance and impact a black teacher has on the life of a black student who may or may not be struggling. There’s something called the identity factor.  It’s a well known fact that children, as well as adults, relate better to people and things they feel most comfortable with.  Black children have black mothers (for the most part) and other relatives.  In many instances, the black teachers they interact with remind them of their mothers, aunties or even grandmas and, as any black child will tell you, you WILL respect them---even when you don’t like what they do.  And back in the day we all know if that teacher threatened to call your parents, you were doomed.

The late NASA Astronaut Ronald McNair is a wonderful example of a man who succeeded despite all the odds set up against him.  He was raised in the segregated South (South Carolina), went to all-black schools (including college) and was all the while being encouraged and motivated by his black teachers. Most black teachers understand the black child experience and can be more nurturing because of their own experiences growing up.  

As a mother and grandmother, I made it a point to see that my daughter and grandson had a black teacher influence in their lives because they deserve a chance to succeed and be appreciated for who they are and very few white teachers know what that means for our kids.

Perhaps this study would have more merit for me if the researchers did a comparison study on black baby boomers versus black millennials.  That might shed some light on differences in attitudes, since millennials are supposed to be the most diverse generation compared to baby boomers---many of whom were just starting to benefit from the Civil Rights movement.  Perhaps there is a not only a racial gap but also a generational divide when it comes to education.

And I didn't get one dime for my expert opinion. Ha!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Millennials Baby Boomers and the Battle for Jobs

Ever since the Social Security program was created in 1935, we have come to accept 65 as the age of retirement.  Back in the day, most people looked forward to it after grinding it out for 30 or 40 years and, most often, with the SAME employer.

But the times---they are a changin'.  Inflation, the Stock Market Crash, depleted 401Ks, along with living healthier lives has made the word "retirement" a bad thing to say, especially for baby boomers like me who expect to work many, many years past 65. On top of that, you have retirees in their 70s and 80s who are jumping back in the workforce in an effort to supplement what they're not getting from Social Security.

So what's the problem with that, you ask? Well, from my viewpoint there's nothing wrong with that, however, millennials might think otherwise.  They represent a changing of the guard in today's job market with their energy, eagerness, creativity and tech savviness.  As a matter of fact, "more than one-in-three American workers today are millennials, surpassing baby boomers in 2014.  By 2025, they are expected to make up 75 percent of the workforce."  What this means is, if baby boomers want to stay in the workforce past retirement, they are going to have to battle it out with their younger counterparts.  Retirees, trying to re-enter the job market, are going to find themselves chasing entry-level jobs like those they held over a half century ago.

Then you have employers who must decide who is the best candidate for the job.  Some older workers believe they will favor millennials because they want to make sure their investments in hiring and training will pay off for years to come.  They also don't want to pay for experience.  They would rather hire someone with the ability to do the job for less money than to pay top dollar to a more experienced older employee.  But what some employers fail to realize is millennials are known as the job-hopping generation so if they're not happy, they don't have any problem walking away. Baby boomers, on the other hand, will more likely stay and be miserable in order to collect a paycheck.

"Let the battle begin!"

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Millennials Don't Need Blind Deaf and Dumb Managers

Having a "voice" in the workplace has always been important but it seems to be more important than ever since millennials have arrived on the scene.  Among other things, they have been described as the job-hopping generation which, in essence means, if they're not happy with the way things are going they have no problem walking away.  (I imagine they will re-think that as we move through the next couple of years).

Since returning to the workforce and finding myself surrounded by millennials, I am discovering just how bright, talented and innovative some of them are.  But I am also seeing managers who fail to recognize what they bring to the table.  This is especially true of some baby boomer managers who want to prove how much they are in charge and make their subordinates feel totally inferior. But sooner or later these baby boomer managers will be replaced so it would be in their best interest to work to help develop the young minds and build on their initial employment enthusiasm.

This is what Millennials don't need from baby boomer managers:

Don't be BLIND:  Managers should not ignore their gifts and talents.  Don't act as if you don't see the work they're doing and for pete's sake, acknowledge their very presence.  Managers should know every employee by their first names and speak to them daily.  When employees feel a connection to management, statistics say they will perform better and that helps increase the Company's bottom line. They are also more likely to stay with the Company to consider it as a career move.

Don't Be DEAF:  Millennials may not articulate their thoughts and ideas in the same way baby boomers do but they should at least be given the opportunity to do so. Their innovative ideas could sprout forth a new product or help save the Company money.  If you refuse to listen to them, you will also miss the opportunity to make yourself look good for hiring such a smart young person.

Don't Be DUMB:  According to a CareerBuilder Poll, 58 percent of managers received NO training before starting the job and if you couple that with a lack of people skills, the workplace is set up for disaster.  You have to show you care about your employees---that doesn't mean "baby" them but you shouldn't be oblivious to them.  One of the worst mistakes some managers make is allowing their egos to get the best of them. Author, Darryl Rosen says, "Help others feel understood by turning down the volume of your ego and turning up the volume of your listening."  

As contributor Travis Bradberry says, "If managers want their best people (millennials) to stay they need to think carefully about how they treat them."

And there's absolutely nothing dumb about that.

What Millennials Can Learn from Baby Boomers in the Workplace

Despite popular belief, baby boomers and millennials can work together and they can teach each other a thing or two in the process.

When I returned to the workforce after a seven year hiatus I must admit I went into culture shock over the the fact that there were so many young faces with new attitudes, a different outlook on work ethic and a totally different dress code.  

Being the teacher and coach that I am, I have seized every opportunity to offer wisdom and guidance to those millennials who have been open to receive it---while keeping in mind that how you deliver a message is just as important, if not more important, as what you actually say.  

So what can millennials learn from boomers on the job?

1)  How to Navigate Workplace Politics: I'll be the first to admit that I absolutely despise the politics that goes on at the office.  I have never had the kiss ass mentality but I do know you are looked at in a more favorable light if you find more things to agree with your manager on than to constantly be the antagonist.  I believe many millennials would like to see hierarchy dismantled but the reality is it still exists and always will to some extent.

There is a protocol to follow.  You can't just go into the CEO's office for a chit chat or pull up a chair to discuss an idea you know will help the Company's bottom line.  There is a chain of command for that.  The problem arises if your manager doesn't like you or feels threatened by you.  That will hold you back. However, learning how to win over your manager will open a few more doors.  We can show you how to do that.

2)  Developing Your Soft Skills:  What we, as boomers, may lack in technology skills, we certainly make up for in people/soft skills.  We do know how to communicate effectively face-to-face and that skill has led to promotions or better paying jobs for us.  We have also learned how to develop transferable long-term career goals, such as problem-solving, communication, negotiation and leadership.

We can certainly create value in a young co-worker’s career life by helping them develop in those areas.  Of course, they will be more receptive to your assistance by the way you approach them.  Dictating or mandating anything will get you ignored.

3)  You are not entitled to anything: Unless your daddy is the CEO of the Company, you are not just going to get hired and become a manager or executive.  Once again, there is a hierarchy and promotions process.  Some baby boomers can tell you they waited for years to move up the ladder and, for some, it was no easy climb.

According to the article, 8 Career Practices Millennials Can Learn from Baby Boomers:  "The biggest complaint about millennial careerists? A sense of entitlement. No matter your age, let us be clear — no one owes you anything. You do not deserve accolades and merit badges for following the rules. Life is not Scout Camp. Adjust accordingly."

In order for baby boomers to demonstrate leadership we must be determined to make millennials better as a result of our presence and make sure our impact lasts in our absence.

You can read more in my new book:  The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide:  Making it Work at Work available on Amazon.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Kellyanne Conway is a Disgrace to Baby Boomer Women

By now most of us have seen the picture of Kellyanne Conway making herself at home in the White House with a room full of educated black men and women who happen to be the Presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities around the country.

Yes, I was outraged but I also felt a sense of sadness for this 50-year-old woman who thought, in her mind, that it was okay to behave in that manner.  After all, she's supposed to be a lawyer who should have a strong sense of professionalism about her.  I was disappointed that she couldn't see how her actions would be perceived---even if she didn't personally care.  There are a lot of people I come in contact with and although I may not like them, I do know my behavior will reflect a lot about who I am or who they perceive me to be.  So with that being said, perhaps #45 isn't the only one who needs some mental health counseling.

I wanted to share what one Washington Post reader had to say when he saw the picture:

"Is this how professional women you know sit, kneeling on the couch with their legs open?  
You visit your lawyer and she sits like this? Her assistant sits like this? Kneeling, knees apart?  
You visit your doctor and the nurse sits like this? Skirt above her knees, kneeling , legs apart? The doctor sits like this?  
You go into you bosses office and she's sitting like this, kneeling in her chair, knees open?  
You go to see your kid's teacher or principal and she kneels in her chair with her skirt above her knees, knees apart?  
If so, congratulations : please feel free to notice nothing undignified here. It's all okay -- so do not speak badly of any woman who acts like a slob this way. Not any fat woman, not any black woman, not any woman. 
If this okay for so-called and Conway -- it is perfectly fine for any woman. No snickering, please. 
Just like it is fine for any famous female to grab the crotch of any man she feels like."

My mama used to say you can take a person out of the trailer park  but you can't always take the trailer park out of a person---even with a law degree.


Friday, February 17, 2017

How Old is Too Old to Be a Leader?

As a Baby Boomer, I have the mindset that you're never too old to set new goals and accomplish your dreams.  You know what they say, "Age is nothing but a number," and "Live your life and forget your age."  

Well Donald Trump is changing my attitude about how old is too old to do certain things--in this case TOO OLD to be President of the United States.  This man was born in 1946, making him a part of the first way of the baby boomer generation.  The year he was born, Jim Crow laws were in full effect. One month after his birth, two black couples were murdered by the KKK in Monroe, GA.  It is interesting to note that in 1927, Trump's father, Fred, was reportedly arrested during a KKK riot in Queens, NY.  Exactly what role he played is unclear although #45 vehemently denies his father had any ties to the Klan back then. (Washington Post article)

The point I'm trying to make here is growing older doesn't always make you wiser.  Many older people get stuck in their ways and in their past.  Some become senile.  Some are resistant to change--always referring back to the 'good ol' days' and wanting to 'Make America Great Again!'

#45 is a 70-year-old man who grew up in a golden bubble, where he was immune to the struggles of everyday Americans---especially minorities and immigrants.  The world he lives in has little tolerance for those who truly need a helping hand.  Yes, he vowed to take care of his supporter base but since he has no real connection to or understanding of them, he is going to rely heavily on white nationalist Stephen K. Bannon (age 63) to guide him along. And if I may say so, Bannon looks like he truly came out of rural white America. 

The behavior of #45 makes one question if he is mentally all there.  Some psychiatrists have actually come out and said he exhibits signs of mental illness.  Perhaps, he is on the road to dementia, since his own father developed Alzheimer's late in his life.   His temperamental behavior at press briefings leads me to believe he's just cantankerous, which is an adjective to describe old people.  

Whatever the case might be, he is too old to be in office and, personally, I think it's time to revisit a portion of the Constitution:

    Age and Citizenship requirements - US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

  • No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
LIMIT the age you're able to run to 60.

Monday, February 13, 2017

When an Ex Dies

We got news today that my ex-husband died. My daughter called, overwhelmed with grief, to let me know. He apparently died alone and had been dead for a few days before his body was discovered.  I wasn't quite sure how to process the news since we haven't been on speaking terms in several years. And even though we lived in the same city our paths never crossed.  So tell me, how is an ex-wife supposed to feel when her ex-husband dies? 

Sure, we had some great times during our 17 years together.  We were the married "buppies" before the word became a trend.  We lived and loved hard. But living fast and free got old after awhile.  Our marriage did not end well.  It took me a long time to get over his adultery and other lies. I had to move on and, thankfully, I did.  

So right now, I'm just not sure how I should feel.  I know that the death of someone with whom you have had a difficult relationship can be harder to deal with, and the grief reaction more complex.  

Over the next several days, perhaps months, I will reflect on the good times we shared.  I will go through old photo albums and remember the fun family trips we took. Then I will also be reminded of why I left him and then I will return to the present---to the true love I now have.

Every man's life ends the same way.  It is only the details of how he LIVED and how he died that distinguishes him from another ~Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blame Everything on the Millennials

Poor Millennials.  Everything that's wrong with the world can be attributed to them.

Just the other day I was watching a clip of a press conference with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who said he was considering shortening the length of the NBA games because of the short attention spans of Gen Y. He said, "Obviously people, particularly Millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it's something as a business we need to pay attention to."  

So the Commisioner is just now recognizing that NBA games are too long because Millennials may find other things to entertain them rather than sit through a game where a time out or fouls given in the last two minutes ends up stretching into another 20 minute of playing time?  And while you're at it Commissioner, why not consider reducing the number of games from 82 to 75?

But a short attention span isn't the only criticism given to Millennials.  They're also blamed for a fall in new housing sales.   One report sites the fact that more and more young people are choosing to stay at home with their parents or rent a trendy loft.  Perhaps that might be because their salaries aren't adequate for such an investment.

Oh, and let's also blame them for being the job-hopping generation and the fact that employers have to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to replace them.  Could it be that employers haven't figured out what they need to do in order to retain them?  I could write an entire book about that subject---and guess what, I DID!

You can get your copy of: The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide:  Making it Work at Work on Amazon.