Increasing Voter Participation isn’t going to solve Latinos long-term Challenges

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Higher voter turnout will make us feel better in the short run, but without improving our financial literacy, health and educational success, we are not moving in the right direction.

With the Presidential Elections approaching, the question political analysts ask is: Will more than 31% of Hispanic eligible voters come out to vote on Election Day in 2016? That’s the percentage that came out to vote in the 2010 midterm elections, much lower than the percentage of African-American voters (44%) and Anglo-American voters (49%).

 

More Latino eligible voters coming out to the polls means more Hispanics taking initiative when it comes to civic responsibility – which is good. However, increasing voter participation alone isn’t going to solve Latinos long-term challenges when it comes to closing the wage gap, improving our health and our educational success. These are the challenges that hamper one’s ability to achieve the American Dream. Taking action on these issues will help Latinos overcome long-term challenges and improve their well-being beyond just getting us to cast a ballot.

Hispanic Motivational Speaker

Understand Hard Work is second to the Value You Bring

 

Being raised in environments where your parents had little money, no college education, or friends in high places, a trait has been passed on to you that has served you well – Grit. Grit continues to be your equalizer. Prestigious schools – unlikely. Easy employment opportunities with Fortune 500 companies – yea right. Your hard work ethic is the one thing you have been able to count on. It’s the reason for your success.

However, in this global competitive world, there is a presumption that hard work alone will help you achieve financial prosperity, but that is no longer the case. Especially if you are a Latina where, on average, Hispanic women are paid just 56 cents for every dollar paid to a white mani. When there is a huge wage gap between Hispanics and Whites, and there is, our economic security and that of our families is weakened. And achieving your financial dreams is twice as hard if you start off in the real world with thousands of dollars in debt from student loans. So what should you do?

Begin to think like Mark Cuban, Carlos Slim, and Robert Kiyosaki. These smart investors share one thing in common which we can start practicing in our lives today – start having your money work for you. While we pay for food, clothes, and entertainment, the wealthy invest in assets which allows their money to work for them. When we realize this, we’ll understand that having control over our income, learning about financial literacy, how to run a business, and investing in assets are the most valuable skill we can learn and bring into the business world. Learn how to think in terms of money. Business runs on money, and because of that, it’s supremely important to quantify both effort and result in money made, spent, invested, saved and lost. Be able to express a problem or an opportunity in numbers – time required, time saved, money required, money made. If you can do this, the odds of making a good decision and successful outcome will increase greatly in your favor. If we want our people and America to thrive in this global competitive world, we need more Hispanics learning about financial literacy at a young age instead of dreaming about fancy quinceaneras.

Can your Child can pass the State’s Health Test?

 

According to the California Department of Education, just 45% of Latino 5th graders and 57% of 9th graders in California passed the aerobic capacity testii which measures one’s fitness level. Within the Latino community, this should be considered a crisis. Unacceptable fitness levels are associated with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, some forms of cancer, and other health problems. And if this doesn’t worry you, think of it this way – kids who are overweight will likely be overweight as an adult.

Across an array of studies, an adult who is obese is perceived as having low competence, low drive, and less competitive level of intelligence[i]ii. Moreover, obese people make less money and pay higher medical bills as adults. In fact, a difference of about 64 pounds between a normal weight adult and an overweight adult, translates to a 9% decrease in wages[ii]. Long term, our overweight kids will make less money and pay higher medical bills when they are overweight adults. The prevalence of Hispanic kids who are overweight is much higher compared to other races. It’s time we have this conversation and understand the implications of the perceived abundance in food and lack of physical activities we offer our children.

How many words do You Speak to Your Child in an Hour?

 

Did you know that parents living in poverty speak about 620 words to their children an hour compared to 2,150 words from parents with professional jobs? Why is this important? Because the number of words parents speak and read to their kids has great implications in one’s development and educational success in the long run. The more parents engage in conversations and read to their children, which in turn lays the foundation for ensuring a strong academic career, the faster and higher their vocabularies and IQ grow. For children who come from privileged backgrounds, their vocabulary is accelerated while progress moves at a snail’s pace for kids who come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Also, kids from higher income families receive far more words of praise compared to children from low-income familiesiiii. If we want our kids to grow and become political leaders, CEOs, Educators, and Generals, we need to start interacting significantly more with our kids from a very early age so their IQ grows higher and faster. Reading Green Eggs and Ham to your one year old will have positive lasting effects on your children’s performance later in life.

For Hispanics, our successes and failures in the next 20 years will be strongly tied to how well or how badly we deal with these challenges that confront us. It’s time for us to overcome the inertia and delay which has so far prevented the majority of us from achieving the American Dream. Yes, we’ve been lagging on the issues of financial literacy, health, and communication skills. However, we are people who have achieved wonderful results through hard work. Hard work breeds self-respect. Hard work breeds toughness and tenacity to get the job done. And now it’s time we put our hard work to overcome long-term challenges that have prevented the majority of us from achieving the American Dream.

About the author

Eric Melchor is the founder of Fly Movement – the first kids’ health program that provides students an opportunity to reach a fitness goal through fun, rewarding team competition. Eric recently was a finalist for the 2015 Houston Tomorrow Catalyst Award which recognizes and honor those whose ideas and actions change and improve the quality for the people of Houston.

Sources for article:

i[i] Latinas and the wage gap – http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/workplace-fairness/fair-pay/latinas-wage-gap.pdfi

i[i] Latino Health Statistics – http://cretscmhd.psych.ucla.edu/healthfair/PDF%20articles%20for%20fact%20sheet%20linking/LatinoHealthStats_CDHS.pdf

i[i]i Study documents workplace bias against obese people – http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/2015-04-16/research/study-documents-workplace-bias-against-obese-people

i[ii] Weight Bias in Work Settings – a Qualitative Review – http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/276992

i[ii]i The 30 Million Word Gap – http://literacy.rice.edu/thirty-million-word-gap

 

An account of two Attitudes towards Richard Martinez

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On Friday, May 23, Elliot Rodger killed six and wounded 13 innocent people near the University of California, Santa Barbara. On May 24, the father of victim Chris Martinez said the following – “Our family has a message for every family out there. You don’t think it will happen to your child, until it does.” Choking on tears, he added, “His death has left our family lost and broken. Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness. We should say to ourselves, not one more,” before he collapsed in tears and walked off.

In response to Mr. Martinez’ comments, there were two vastly different attitudes that came forth.

 

Mark Barden, Richard Martinez

Mark Barden, Richard Martinez

The first one came from Mark Barden who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. He wrote the following: “We have not met, but you are now part of our extended family. It is not a family we chose, but a family born from the horrible circumstance of losing a child to gun violence – one that’s growing steadily. My heart breaks for you because I know just a little about the long road ahead of you. We have reached out to you privately but publicly we wanted to say to you and those feeling the sorrow, anger and frustration of this weeks’ shooting, you are not along,” Barden wrote in a letter to Richard Martinez.

The second response came from Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka ‘Joe the Plumber’.

Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber

“I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights… We still have the Right to Bear Arms and I intend to continue to speak out for that right, and against those who would restrict it – even in the face of this horrible incident by this sad and insane individual. I almost said “Obama Voter” but I’m waiting for it to be official…I cannot begin to imagine the pain you are going through, having had your child taken away from you. However, any feelings you have toward my rights being taken away from me, lose those.”

Mark Barden’s attitude is filled with kindness, love, humility, benevolence, generosity, compassion and empathy. Joe the Plumber’s attitude is filled with greed, arrogance, ego, superiority, antipathy, ‘his right’ and ideology.

America, which attitude will you choose?

Affirmative Action should no longer be based on Skin Color

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I am not a fan of Affirmative Action, but if it has to exist, it should be based off of class.

affirmative-action

Imagine this – a talented, hardworking white kid with good grades of a poor single mom loses acceptance into a University by an upper-middle-class minority student. Why should this happen? Because the grandparents of the minority student suffered discrimination decades ago?

When Affirmative Action was introduced by President Lyndon Johnson a half-century ago, minorities could expect to face humiliating economic and social discrimination. But today, affirmative action should be focused on class, not race.

Why?

Today one in six Americans now marries a person outside his or her own race which makes the job of determining racial preferences more convoluted. Does the child of a dark-skinned Bolivian with an Anglo father qualify? What about the mixed-race child of an African-American college professor and a white millionaire?

Skin color is no longer a clear indicator of privilege, but wealth certainly is. 92 percent of black students at elite colleges come from families in the top half of income distribution. Clearly, black (and white and Hispanic) at the bottom of the economic scale are being left behind.

Original talking points “Should race still matter?” featured in The Week, May 9, 2014.

4 Building Materials that can Drastically Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Did you know that in the US, buildings and skyscrapers use more than 40 percent of the country’s energy? Skyscrapers are bigger power hogs than the transportation and industrial sectors. So one way to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to use different materials when constructing these skyscrapers.

Here are 4 materials that can be used when building skyscrapers that will dramatically reduce power consumption:

Zero-Carbon Building Block
zero carbon building block

Replaces: Cinder blocks
Manufacturer: Lignacite

How it works: Carbonated aggregates (CO2 mixed with sand, cement, and water) plus recycled materials create one of the first carbon-negative chunks of masonry.

Heat and Light – Blocking Windows

heat and light blocking windows

Replaces: Old-school glass
Manufacturer: Heliotrop Technologies

How it works: An electro-chromic coating lets a relatively inexpensive glass composite window adjust heat and light transfer to reduce energy consumption.

Pollution-Eating Concrete

Pollution eating concrete

Replaces: Concrete
Manufacturer: Marshalls Paving

How it works: Titanium dioxide in “Noxer blocks” traps nitrogen oxides and potent greenhouse gases and converts them to water-soluble nitrates.

Solar Shingles
solar shingles

Replaces: Roof-mounted solar panels
Manufacturer: CertainTeed

How it works:
Building integrated photovoltics, or BIPV, have been around since 2005, but they were not as affordable as they are today.

Why Paternity Leave is Good for the Kids and Wife

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Fathers who take a long period of leave (two weeks or more) after a birth are more likely to regularly engage in early child-caring tasks such as feeding and reading bedtime stories than fathers who do not take time off.

Dad's who take paternity leave
After the baby comes, most men have to return to work immediately because of financial reasons. And of course, the employer has no obligation to pay the father for parental leave. Unfortunately that is the law of the land. But in some other countries like Norway, Sweden, Australia and soon Britain, fathers do and will receive paid time off for paternity leave. The idea is encourage men to become more involved in caring for their children, share the role of caregiver at home, and help women return to the workplace. While the obvious happens – Fathers become more involved in childcare activities such as helping a baby to eat, changing diapers, bathing and reading to a child, there is now further evidence to conclude why paternity leave is good for the kids and wife.
why paternity leave is good for wife
According to new academic research, findings show that:
  • The children of fathers who take long leave after their birth are more likely to perform better in cognitive development tests and are more likely to be prepared for school at the ages of four and five
  • In almost any way a child can be better off, they are better off for having an involved father in their lives. Kids stay in school, do better in school, get into less trouble, get arrested less, get divorced less, have better health
  • Having men help at home can help women establish breast-feeding and can also increase a man’s sensitivity to his partner’s needs, strengthening family bonds as a whole
  • With Dad stepping in to help out, it helps make returning to work for Mom much easier. Returning to work after maternity leave is a huge stressor for many moms because of having to re-arrange work life around the new baby. With dad helping out, Moms can make a smooth transition back into the work place by arranging to have flex time or just work part-time
  • It gets men more invested in the household from the get-go. “When a baby comes, it sort of recalibrates the division of labor at what one economist has called a crucial time of household renegotiation. It has surprising ripple effects further down the road, particularly with regard to routine chores that have to be done every day or every night, and therefore frees up women to work longer hours”

I think in a few years the stigma associated with men who take extended leave when a baby is born will disappear. Moreover, since we’re in a situation now where women in many cases are better educated than men, it is imperative for countries and companies to find ways to keep these highly productive women in the workplace. But enough talk about the chores, the beauty of this idea is that it helps fathers bond with their children – and that is priceless.

About the author – Eric Melchor is a native Houstonian who resides and serves on the Midtown Management District in Houston Midtown, is a former adjunct Professor at UHD, and has lived in NYC and Europe.

The Key Factor that will Increase Hispanic College Education Rates

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The Key Factor that will lead more Hispanics to Higher Education and Prosperity

Eric Melchor, Hispanic College Rates

Eric Melchor – The Key Factor that will Increase Hispanic College Education Rates

Did you know that 21% of US adults have at least one tattoo? In addition, 21% of Americans say they would go without sex for a whole year in order to maintain access to the Internet. Now I don’t have a tattoo, but I am part of the 21% of Hispanics who have an associate degree or higher. And ladies and gentlemen, 21% is not enough.

According to a national study I read in USA Today recently, 30% of African Americans have have an associate degree or higher. Whites – 44%. Aisan Americans, well we can all learn something from the Aisans. 57% of aisan Americans have an associate degree or higher. As for Hispanics, well if you haven’t guessed it by now, 21% of Hispanics have an associates degree or higher. So, the question is why? Why are the majority of Hispanics not attending college and finishing college? Experts from the Pew Research Center list several factors that contribute to this problem. These factors are:

–          One is, the parents socioeconomic status – its difficult for their children to attend 4 year institutions because their parents cannot afford it

–          #2, lack of role models

–          Three, parents educational background and lack of involvement in their children’s education.

Now, It is true, this is the reality for many Hispanics. It’s the truth, this is the reality for many American Latinos. But in contrary to what the experts have to say, I feel the experts have failed to point out the one key factor that will lead more Hispanics to higher education and prosperity. Allow me to share a short story about 3 siblings born and raised in Houston.

Not too long ago there were 3 siblings – Lynn, Theresa, and Victor. Each was two years apart. Their father had passed away when they were all very young which left quite a burden on their Mom who often had to work two jobs just so she could provide shelter and food for her kids. Their Mom had no college education. In fact, she did not even finish high school.

Fast forward to today, Theresa and Victor work low paying jobs, frequently move from one apartment to another, and both are dependent heavily on social welfare programs to help cover their expenses. Their  oldest kids, failed to graduate from high school, also never had a real job, and they too rely heavily on public welfare to cover their expenses. Lynn, however, owns a beautiful home, has a great job in the financial industry, and her sons not only finished high school and own their homes, but also graduated from college and have good jobs.

Why were Theresa and Victor not able to hold good jobs, buy their own homes, or be able to support themselves without social dependency? If you ask them, they will give you a list of reasons such as: “I did not have a Mom or Dad to push me to do good in school”, or, “I did not have a role model to look up to”, or “well we were poor and college was not even an option when we were growing up”, or “I just wasn’t lucky to get a good job”.

Now when you ask Lynn the question – “why do you think your life turned out different than your brother and sister’s?” she simply answers – “I believed in myself. I wanted a good job, I wanted to own my own home, wanted my kids to do well in school, and I took the necessary steps to make that happen.”

Self-belief is what made the difference. Lynn decided that she would determine her own destiny because she was responsible for it.  Experts point out several factors as to why there are so few Hispanics in higher education, but the one factor that makes all the difference in the world, the one factor they fail to highlight, is self-belief.

More than likely you know someone who has a dream, maybe that dream is to go to college. Maybe it’s to become an actor or start a business or simply to buy a home. But for some reason or another, they make excuse after excuse for not going after it. When you see this person, tell them about this story.  3 siblings, all from the same household. All from the same socio economic status. Two very different roads. One road is to accept things as they are and take whatever life gives you. The other road is believing in yourself and determining your own destiny.

About me, I am a first generation college graduate. I also have an MBA and am a Manager at a major electricity company. In my spare time, I teach at University of Houston Downtown, where I educate students not only on the subject I am teaching, but also on self-motivation and teaching them that their background does not dictate your future.

Sources for article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/hispanic-highschool-education-dropout_n_1096995.html

http://www.usatodayeducate.com/staging/index.php/ccp/latino-graduation-rates-continue-to-lag

Stop highlighting! Psychologists identify the worse ways to study

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Want to pick up knowledge faster and more efficientyly?

how to study

Remember highlighting material in textbooks and notes when you were preparing for that history test? Well as it turns out, highlighting is inefficient. Sure, it’s simple and quick, but based on controlled studies, highlighting does little to improve performance. In fact, according to psychologists, it may actually hurt performance. One study found that underlining can reduce the ability to draw references since highlighting draws attention to individual items rather than to connections across items.

Hmm… well what about Rereading? Does that work?

84% of undergraduates say they reread textbooks or notes during study. Although there are some benefits on recall and fill-in-the-blank-style tests, there is little evidence that rereading strengthens comprehension, and whether its effects depend on knowledge level or ability is underexplored.

So what are the best ways to study?

test-yourself

Test yourself. That’s right. Give yourself practice tests outside of class. Hundreds of experiments show that self-testing improves learning and retention. In one study, undergraduates were presented with Swahili-English word pairs, followed by either practice testing or review. Recall for items they had been repeatedly tested on was 80 percent, compared with only 36 percent for items they had restudied. One theory as to why self-testing works so well is that practice testing triggers a mental search of long-term memory that activates related information, forming multiple memory pathways that make the information easier to access.

Anyone can self-test with flash cards, answering the sample questions at the end of a textbook chapter, or during in-class note taking, make a column on one edge of the page where you enter key terms or questions. You can test yourself later by covering the notes and answering the questions (or explaining the keywords) on the other side.

Another great way to study is to spread your study over time. As opposed to cramming the night before, studying over time is much more effective. In one classic experiment, students learned the English equivalents of Spanish words, then reviewed the material in six sessions. One group did the review sessions back to back, another had them one day apart. The students in the 30-day group remembered the translations the best. In an analysis of 254 studies involving thousands of participants, students recalled more after spaced study than after massed study.

So to score better on tests and gain knowledge more efficiently, stop highlighting and start quizzing yourself and spreading your study out over time!

Original article “What Works, What Doesn’t”, appeared in Scientific American Mind, September-October 2013.