The many problems with “I want mixed babies”

25 Oct

Non-academic vlog discussing mixed babies and how parents of mixed race children should be prepared to deal with identity issues of their children.

Exxon’s knowledge about climate change

21 Oct

Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago

 Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.

By Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

Sep 21, 2015

What Exxon knew about
the Earth’s melting Arctic

The Evidence That White Children Benefit From Integrated Schools

20 Oct

The Evidence That White Children Benefit From Integrated Schools

OCTOBER 19, 2015 6:04 AM ET

Recently a neighborhood in Brooklyn made national headlines for a fight over public schools. Lots of affluent, mainly white families have been moving into new condos in the waterfront area called DUMBO, and the local elementary school is getting overcrowded.

The city wants to redraw the zones in a way that would send kids from this predominantly white school to a nearby school where enrollment is over 90 percent black and Hispanic and which draws many of its students from a public housing project. Some parents on both sides of the line balked.

“Liberal hypocrisy,” was the headline in the conservative National Review.

The tacit assumption was that sending children to a majority-minority school would entail a sacrifice, one that pits their own children against their (presumably) progressive ideals.

But there’s plenty of evidence that suggests the opposite: White students might actually benefit from a more diverse environment.

Here are three reasons why.

1. Their test scores won’t be any lower.

The federal government just released a report looking at the black-white achievement gap. It found something remarkable: “White student achievement in schools with the highest Black student density did not differ from White student achievement in schools with the lowest density.”

Translation: After controlling for socioeconomic status, white students essentially had the same test scores whether they went to a school that was overwhelmingly white or one that was overwhelmingly black.

This finding “confirms decades of research that white students’ achievement is not harmed” by the color of their classmates’ skin, says Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, an education professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, who researches race, stratification and inequality in American schools.

2. They may work harder and smarter.

Katherine Phillips is a professor at Columbia Business School who studies the benefits of diversity — a growing field. For example, there’s evidence that corporations with better gender and racial representation make more money and are more innovative. And many higher education groups have collected large amounts of evidence on the educational benefits of diversity in support of affirmative action policies.

In one set of studies, Phillips gave small groups of three people a murder mystery to solve. Some of the groups were all white and others had a nonwhite member. The diverse groups were significantly more likely to find the right answer.

“What the work tells us is that when you have people from the social majority in a diverse environment they work harder and focus on the task more,” Phillips explains. “They think about problems more broadly.”

And, she adds, they are more likely to back up their own opinions and consider alternative points of view, rather than assuming that everyone thinks as they do.

Phillips believes that her research, done on business students, could generalize to other classroom settings. Being in a homogeneous group may feel more pleasant, she says, but diverse groups keep people on their toes.

This is potentially an important finding for schools, given the Common Core’s emphasis on deep learning, critical thinking and citing evidence.

3. They may become more empathetic and less prejudiced.

“Diverse schools, especially when kids attend them at an early age, are linked to cross-racial friendships,” says Siegel-Hawley. “Your willingness to stereotype declines, and that in turn is linked to a reduction in prejudice.”

Considering that the United States is projected to be majority-minority by 2044, when today’s elementary school students are in the workforce, being comfortable with difference may become a competitive necessity.

All of the researchers I spoke with emphasized that the benefits of diversity don’t come at the stroke of a redistricting pen.

“The benefits aren’t automatic,” says Phillips. “If you put people in diverse environments they can go really badly or really well. A lot of it is a function of things like how much you respect the people in the room.”

Still, given that truly integrated public schools have long-established benefits for students who are poor and who come from minority groups, many researchers believe that creating classrooms that benefit everyone is a good policy.

“Cities and schools need really strong leadership that articulates clearly the need for diversity and equity and why it’s connected to 21st century skills,” says Siegel-Hawley.

Chemicals in sunscreen damaging coral reefs

20 Oct

New research about sunscreen’s damaging effects on coral reefs suggests that you might want to think twice before slathering it on.

Reports about the harmful environmental effects of certain chemicals in the water have been circulated for years, but according to the authors of a new study released Tuesday, the chemicals in even one drop of sunscreen are enough to damage fragile coral reef systems. Some 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions wind up in coral reefs around the world each year.

The ingredient oxybenzone leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife.

Scientists conducted the new study in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Israel, but reefs all over the world are at risk, according to a 2011 report by the World Resource Institute.

While destructive fishing, pollution and development all pose threats to the coral reef, the study reveals that sunscreen is a serious danger to the health of coral.

“The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue,” Downs said according to the Washington Post.

“We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean,” co-author Craig Downs said. “Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers.”

Local economies also depend on the tourism that coral reefs attract. As a result, some local businesses have started to ban the use of harmful sunscreen in their waters. In Akumal, Mexico, an area known for its reefs and sea turtles, visitors are warned against wearing sunscreen and are restricted to certain areas to prevent too much disruption of reef life.

But damaging sunscreen from beachgoers is just part of the concern. Anytime people wear sunscreen, it’s going to wind up in the waterways when they clean it off, just like harmful chemicals in household cleaning products that are washed down drains and into the sewage systems.

“People come inside and step into the shower. People forget it goes somewhere,” co-author John Fauth told the Post.

So how can you avoid harming coral reefs without allowing the sun to damage your skin?

The U.S. National Park Service for South Florida, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa recommend using “reef friendly” sunscreen (those made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide, which are natural mineral ingredients) and wearing clothing and hats to protect the skin from the sun.

Discrimination: Girls around the world

20 Oct

Where The Girls Are (And Aren’t): #15Girls

OCTOBER 20, 2015
This article has several graphs that compare girls in the 7 countries that have the highest population of girls from 10-19 years old.
This article is part of an NPR series that can be found here.

14 y/o teen Muslim in Texas

17 Sep

Here’s how a Texas school explained arresting a 14-year-old Muslim boy for making a clock

Prison and climate change

31 Aug

Vibrant infographic from #floodthesystem movement on the connection between climate change and prisons.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.