Updated Twitter Chat Transcript Added
As founder of Social Work Helper, I have organized a live twitter chat to discuss the gun control debate with the University of Nebraska, University of Montevallo, Meredith College, and Harper College participating on February 19th, 2013 at 6:30PM EST and 5:30PM CST. We will be discussing proposed legislation and gun policy issues before our current Congress using the #hashtag SWUnited to facilitate the discussion. President Obama’s State of the Union address left a powerful impression on observers as he stated,”They Deserve A Vote” over and over as he called the names of those affected by gun violence in the audience.
Under Speaker John Boehner, proposed legislation has not been allowed onto the House floor for debate without having majority Republican approval, as a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to bring legislation to the Senate floor that has no chance of passing in the House. Many believe the proposed gun control legislation and assault weapons ban will never make it to the senate floor for an up or down vote.
However, President Obama made a strong case during the State of the Union on behalf of the victims and their families by stating at minimum they deserve a vote by their elected officials. This live twitter event is a collaborative effort between three undergraduate social work professors in order demonstrate how technology can be utilized to enhance policy analysis, macro understanding, and online advocacy.
The event will be moderated live at Meredith College by Professor Deona Hooper, MSW using @swhelpercom. All majors are welcome to attend the live event with the host class, Social Welfare Policy SWK 330 starting at 6:00PM at Ledford Hall Room 206. Please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com with any questions. For more information on how to participate in a live twitter chat, please view chat instructions. Also, I recommend using Twubs.com to participate in the chat. Twubs allows you to login with your twitter account, enter the SWunited hashtag, and you are ready to tweet. Twubs will insert the hashtag into each tweet for you, so you won’t have to. I hope to see you at the event.
Meredith’s commitment to academic excellence is reflected in its strong rankings. Meredith ranks 3rd among colleges in the South and 9th for “Best Value” among colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been named one of the “Best Colleges in the Southeast” according to Princeton Review. Meredith students are mentored by committed professors, with an average undergraduate class size of 17 and graduate class size of 18. Experiential learning is an essential component of a Meredith education—97% of undergraduate students participate in internships, undergraduate research or another kind of hands-on learning. For more information, please visit: http://www.meredith.edu/socwork/
SWK 330-Social Welfare Policy: Course content provides students with knowledge and skills to understand major policies that form the foundation of social welfare; analyze organizational, local, state, national, and international issues in social welfare policy and social service delivery; analyze and apply the results of policy research relevant to social service delivery; understand and demonstrate policy practice skills in regard to economic, political and organizational systems, and use these to influence, formulate and advocate for policy consistent with social work values. Read More
University of Montevallo
Professor Laurel Iverson Hitchcock, PhD, MPH, LCSW, PIP from the University of Montevallo helped to facilitate this multi-university event. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: University of Montevallo Social Work Program, or by Twitter: @laurelhitchcock and @MontevalloSWK.
The University of Montevallo is a public liberal arts college located in central Alabama with an enrollment of 3500 undergraduate and graduate students. Montevallo’s Social Work Program is first formal social work education program in the State of Alabama, starting in 1926, and one of the oldest programs in the Southeast. The mission of our Social Work Program is to provide a professional education for beginning level generalist practice with emphasis on the poor, vulnerable, and underserved. We have four full-time faculty and approximately 100 BSW students. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.montevallo.edu/bss/
SWK 420 Social Work Practice with Small Groups, Communities and Organizations is a senior-level macro course for social work majors. The course emphasizes ecosystems theory and strengths perspectives to examine groups, communities, and organizations and gives students the opportunity to discuss and practice necessary skills for practice. Dr. Laurel Hitchcock is the instructor and there are 12 students in the course this semester. One of the practice skills emphasized in this course is the ability to be informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. We are using Twitter as part of a class assignment to help students develop skills via social media tools. Read More
University of Nebraska
Professor Jimmy Young, PhD, MSW, MPA is the other professor who also helped to facilitate this event, and he can be contacted via email at email@example.com and on Twitter: jimmysw
The public, residential University of Nebraska at Kearney is an affordable, student-centered regional hub of intellectual, cultural and artistic excellence that has been a prominent part of Nebraska’s higher education landscape for more than a century. As one of the four campuses of the University of Nebraska, UNK is committed to providing an outstanding education in a small and personal setting for over 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The Department of Social Work at UNK is focused on preparing competent social work practitioners who are equipped with evidence-based generalist social work knowledge, skills, ethics and values to promote the dignity and well-being of all people within a diverse society. The department currently has 4 full time faculty, 2 lecturers, and approximately 140 BSW students. More information about the UNK Department of Social Work can be found on the web http://www.unk.edu/socialwork/
SOWK 410 Social Welfare Policy and Programs is a course that provides an overview of the history of social welfare policy in the United States. Social welfare policy refers to all organized efforts by governmental and voluntary institutions aimed at the preventing, reducing, and problem-solving social problems, as well as promoting the well-being of all citizens. Students also explore ways to conduct effective social welfare policy analysis and engage in policy advocacy. Dr. Jimmy Young is the instructor for this course, which has been enhanced by each student receiving an iPad Mini to augment their learning. Students are using the iPads and social media like Twitter to help develop critical thinking and research skills related to policy analysis as well as how to use digital technology for policy advocacy. Read More
Additional Schools Participating
Professor Ellen Belluomini and her class at Harper College in Palatine, IL will also be participating. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and her twitter account is @ebelluomini.
Harper College is a comprehensive community college dedicated to providing excellent education at an affordable cost, promoting personal growth, enriching the local community and meeting the challenges of a global society. Harper College is one of the largest community colleges in the country. The Career and Technical Programs Division of Harper College offers an associate in applied science degree in Human Services. The program provides both the academic and experience credentials necessary to qualify students for work in the human services field. The coursework is taught by dynamic instructors with demonstrated expertise in the fields of human services, social work, clinical practice, and management. The human services experience inside and outside the classroom includes opportunities for education, practice, service learning, interactions with community resources and ongoing application of the roles and responsibilities of a successful human service professional. http://goforward.harpercollege.edu/
HMS 211 Human Services Crisis Intervention class.Introduces techniques for beginning crisis counseling, including recognition of crisis, assessment of crises, and referral to the appropriate crisis agency. Special attention will be given to the process of intervention and to the recording of information regarding problems with alcohol and other drugs. Participants will implement a variety of crisis skills through an experiential format.
View Archived Twitter Chat:
Project-Based Learning for the Virtual Classroom
Project-based learning (PBL) may not be the first thing that teachers consider when planning for remote or hybrid lessons. However, with a little creativity and an organized approach, project-based learning can engage students in a way that may be lacking during typical virtual instruction. So what is it, exactly? PBL, simply put, is an approach to learning through exploration of a real-world problem or question. Ideally, students choose to investigate a problem or challenge that means something to them – something that impacts their daily lives. Then, through research, collaboration, and exploration, students gain a deeper understanding of the issue or challenge and how they can contribute to a solution. Even more important is the fact that, through project-based learning, students gain a better understanding of who they are as learners and critical thinkers. With being said, let’s look at how instructors can utilize PBL in virtual settings.
How to Organize PBL for Remote Learning
“Embrace the chaos of now” by asking students to discuss what is currently troubling them. When students have a vested interest in their classwork, they will obviously be more inclined to engage in the work and follow through on the assignment. Ask about challenges or problems they’ve been having, such as:
- What has been your biggest struggle with adapting to virtual/remote learning?
- What needs are not being met in this “new normal?”
- How has your daily routine changed since the start of the pandemic?
- What is a problem that you see your peers, neighbors, teachers, community struggling with?
After students have identified an issue or challenge that they personally recognize in their day-to-day lives, ask them to do a little preliminary brainstorming about the problem using a standard KWL chart. The KWL chart is an old favorite in the classroom for any sort of introduction to a new topic, concept, or unit. For project-based learning, the KWL chart provides students with a visual starting point and a trajectory for where their research is headed. The graphic organizer, for those who have not used it before acts as a simple t-chart to organize what students already know (K) about the topic, what they want (W) to know about the topic, and what they learn (L) throughout their research process. This simple visual aid acts as the foundation for critical thinking by visually, yet simply, organizing a student’s thoughts.
Next, you can help students with backward design or backward mapping by outlining objectives first. Again, project-based learning is all about allowing students to explore a challenge and identify a resolution or fix for the problem. In order to adequately lay out the groundwork, students must have a clear and definitive end goal. Therefore, in planning for success, teachers need to help students employ backward mapping strategies by beginning with something like a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely.) goal—then working backward from there to achieve that goal.
Instructors can also utilize haptic engagement or hands–on learning by encouraging students to physically try out or experiment with their ideas. Teachers can model this experiential learning by choosing their own PBL to focus on while kids are working. Show students that, in order to truly solve a problem, people must occasionally get their hands dirty. It is also important for teachers to note that success stories are almost always trial and error—a sound solution will not come right away. By testing hypotheses and modifying approaches, students truly understand the value of hands–on, experiential learning. Not only are these demonstrations helpful for getting closer to a solution, but haptic engagement also teaches students about grit, perseverance, and strategies around error analysis.
Another great skill set that students may develop while participating in PBL classroom activities involves retrieval practice. Since students are focusing their work on one primary challenge, they are able to hone their focus and truly absorb new information as they learn. Teachers can help foster retrieval strategies with activities such as Cornell note-taking, peer teaching, and Socratic seminars, in which students take the lead in delivering information to one another.
Try some of these PBL strategies out in your next lesson, whether it be virtual or in-person, and see the results for yourself.
New Preschool Program in Oregon is a Model for the Nation—But Challenges Remain
In November 2020, voters in Multnomah County, home to the city of Portland, resoundingly approved the creation of a new, universal preschool program—a program that could serve as a model for desperately needed preschool and childcare investments for the entire country. All three- and four-year-olds in Multnomah county will be able to attend a free, year-round, universal, high quality preschool program that meets their needs as well as those of most families, providers and staff, and local businesses. Key elements include a wide range of choices for families as well as living wages and professional supports for providers and workers. The program is slated to be equitably funded by a local income tax on the highest income households.
Two big challenges remain: ensuring that families with “non-traditional” work schedules are included, and significantly increasing public investment in facilities to allow preschools to expand well beyond church basements and providers’ homes. Those working non-traditional hours are disproportionately low-income, women, people of color, and often “essential workers” without whom our society and economy would not function. Federal childcare initiatives must address the needs of families with such work schedules, or the families that most need public child care will be left out.
A Universal Model that Serves Diverse Needs
Universal preschool programs benefit all children and lead to better outcomes than means-tested programs for the most disadvantaged children. Means-tested programs such as Head Start seek to deliver services only to households with low incomes. Although means-tested programs “target the poor,” universal programs bring children and families from across the socioeconomic spectrum together, challenging ongoing race, ethnic and class segregation that erodes democracy. Universality also inspires broad support to maintain adequate funding. After fifty well-regarded years, Head Start is still available—but only for a fraction of eligible families, and even then, often only part-time and part-year. High quality preschool and child care is out of reach for the large majority of families who already face the high cost of housing, health care, and student debt with stagnating wages. Importantly, universal preschool is both a two-generation anti-poverty program and a powerful boost to economic development, because it returns $9.45 to the community for every dollar spent.
Families raising young children are diverse and need a wide range of options. Multnomah County’s new Preschool for All program will offer choices of:
- language and cultural contexts, including Afro-centric and other alternatives,
- types of setting, including family childcare providers, public schools and free-standing centers, and
- schedules, including school year and year-round, full and part-time, weekend days as well as week days, with up to 50 hours a week for families that need or want longer days
Children with disabilities will be included, facilitating earlier identification of health issues and treatment. Expulsions, now too common in preschool settings particularly for children of color, will be prohibited, requiring that the system provide supportive interventions to meet all children’s needs.
Fair Pay and Professional Support for Providers and Workers
Currently, U.S. family childcare providers, preschool teachers, and childcare workers earn poverty wages with few benefits and often cope with difficult working conditions. The result is high turnover; the loss of skilled, experienced and dedicated workers to jobs that better support their families; and damage to the quality of care. High quality child care depends on the ongoing relationships caregivers develop with families, children, and co-workers.
Multnomah County’s new Preschool for All program will pay teachers comparably with kindergarten teachers, doubling their current salaries. The wage floor for assistant teachers and other classroom staff will be set at nearly $20 an hour when the program starts in Fall 2022, with pay levels adjusted to reward increasing skills, training and experience. Continuing professional development will be geared to the schedules of the low-income working parents who are over-represented among preschool workers. Should workers wish to join a union, employers will be required to remain neutral.
Funding universal high quality child care is within reach. Over the past 40 years, U.S. economic gains have been concentrated on an ever smaller group of the wealthy, while responsibility for paying for our infrastructure and public services has been shifted from the affluent to the working and middle classes. Reversing such trends, Multnomah County’s preschool program is to be funded by a county income tax on approximately eight percent of households at the top. Combined federal, state, and local income tax rates for such households will still fall far below the top tax federal income tax rates in place for the much of the 20th century, from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Multnomah County intends to offer preschool up to ten hours a day and on weekend days, but has not committed to other “non-traditional” hours. Employers demand “non-traditional” work schedules for the three occupations expected to add the most jobs between 2019 and 2029: home health and personal care aides, fast food and counter workers, and restaurant cooks. Many retail and hospitality positions also entail low wages and employer insistence that workers maintain “open availability,” and healthcare, construction, and gig workers struggle with work schedules that make it very difficult to find child care.
Multnomah County will pay fair wages to everyone working in the classroom, but will not supplement the pay of people working in Head Start and other public preschool and childcare programs that pay too little to retain skilled people in the face of a more attractive alternative. The county plans to support some infant and toddler programs, but won’t be able to overcome the severe shortage of affordable, quality care for these age groups, likely to be exacerbated by competition from a preschool system offering better compensation. Finally, preschool and child care is now crowded into inexpensive or public spaces; serving all children well will require a significant investment in physical facilities.
Despite such continuing challenges, Multnomah County’s Preschool for All offers a national model, with its variety of choices to families, living wages for all classroom staff, and an equitable approach to public funding. Each of these aspects needs to be included in any new federal program. In addition, a new federal program should aspire to offer high quality child care to families struggling with difficult work schedules, until labor legislation is revised to place limits on such unpredictable schedules. Strategies will also need to be implemented to improve the wages of workers in Head Start and other public preschool and childcare programs.
Why Political Science Can and Should Lead Diversity Efforts in Higher Education
Diversity is big business in the academy. Foundations such as Ford, Carnegie, and Robert Wood Johnson support academic efforts to diversify the professoriate; and colleges and universities across the country are investing significant resources in diversity efforts. Furthermore, the academy has begun hiring chief diversity officers, following corporate sector trends — 60% of Fortune 500 companies have chief diversity officers among their top-executives.
Although the numbers of women in political science have shown modest growth over the last two decades, the number of women of color in the field has largely remained flat. Political science scholarship on minority representation in U.S. legislatures sheds light on this professional conundrum, too. This literature shows how organized women, racial and ethnic minorities, and their allies can promote diversity and inclusive practices to bring about lasting change in political science, other disciplines and higher education more broadly.
An Opportune Moment for Political Science
Research on social movements shows that, when windows of opportunity arise, activists must have the resources to change the status quo and push for policy breakthroughs. I suggest that heightened attention to institutional diversity across academia presents an opportunity that political scientists can and should seize by presenting themselves as credible stakeholders who are well-equipped to: steward institutions’ newly available resources, run innovative pilot programs, and produce returns on institutional diversity investments for both students and faculty.
Student demands will be a key resource in these efforts, but administrators can often “wait students out” — stalling student diversity efforts until a new cohort must begin afresh. Political Science is uniquely positioned to lead institutional change by using research from the discipline to encourage student activists to investigate the issues, formulate long- and short-term goals, determine the scope of their influence, identify allies and opponents, construct informed arguments, and make specific demands with measurable outcomes. This informed activism can help students leverage their status over time as students, alumni, and donors to move towards shared goals for departmental, disciplinary, and institutional change.
Political Science is attracting many undergraduate women majors. Women are faring as well as men on the discipline’s job market. They are approaching pay equity with male colleagues and increasing their presence in the ranks of full professors. In 2010, women of color comprised 13.5% of female political science faculty, more than double their share in 1980. Although this improvement remains relatively modest compared to the nearly 300% increase in women faculty over that span, the progress for women of color is promising and can act as a foundation for future diversity efforts. Nevertheless, many challenges must still be addressed — including burdens of balancing tenure-track and family responsibilities, “inhospitable” institutional climates, and research norms that discount women’s contributions to collaborative work.
Building a Diversity Infrastructure
Sheer numbers are the first requirement for building diversity infrastructure. With sufficient numbers, members of gender and racial caucuses can promote further change and build organizational capacities. Research on the impact of diversity in Congress shows that the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American caucuses encourage information and resource sharing, enhanced communication, and collective action on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities. Through caucuses, task forces, and organized voting blocs, minority legislators have kept low-salience civil rights issues on the congressional agenda despite waning public interest. Women’s and racial and ethnic caucuses in national and regional political science associations show that female political scientists can capitalize on their numbers to act as disruptive-insiders to further diversify faculties and challenge discrimination.
Buy-in from political science department heads who name search committees and from faculty making influential recommendations will be indispensable for furthering these efforts. Departmental objectives can be linked to university diversity efforts. Male faculty members should be encouraged to serve on diversity committees and act as change agents.
Thinking beyond individual departments, women’s caucuses and ethnic caucuses in political science associations could share resources and knowledge and coordinate agendas. If increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the discipline is to be achieved, then women’s caucuses will need to work closely with race and ethnic caucuses in the discipline. Although universal sisterhood may be a worthy ideal, faculty women of color cannot be cast as handmaidens rather than full partners in the work of transforming the discipline.
Mentorship is Not Enough
The number of women of color entering political science faculties has stagnated, and many minority faculty members leave political science departments for more hospitable interdisciplinary centers. Recruitment and retention should therefore be top priorities — and that is going to take more than just mentoring programs.
Mentorship is a common answer to the challenge of recruiting, supporting, and retaining minority faculty. Mentoring, however, only teaches people how to survive in institutions. It does not necessarily attract more people to enter institutions, and it does not help them change institutions. Although the very presence of black women on academic faculties and in front of classrooms changes the academy, that is not enough. Despite widely shared good intentions, the discipline cannot rely on mentoring alone to help women of color overcome racism, sexism, and other systematic obstacles to their advancement. At best, mentoring will help women faculty of color expand their social networks, establish important professional relationships, and better navigate minefields. At worst, mentoring will help some individuals survive and advance, while maintaining longstanding power disparities in the discipline. Mentoring obviously cannot ameliorate the impediments that routinely challenge and undermine women of color at all ranks of the professoriate. Political science must lead the way in identifying and deploying all of the strategies that can bring broader progress in universities and disciplines.
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