The Desk

June 3, 2016

Gender Pay Gap Effects on Ethnicities

In 2014, a American Association of University Women (AAUW) study found there was a 78% difference between compensation for men compared to women. The study also looked at pay differences by ethnicity based on gender. The numbers were historic, meaning the rates of difference are essentially the same over the past 10 to 15 years of measuring such data.

Also in 2014, AAUW announced its acquisition of $tart $mart and Work $mart, “workshops empower college and professional women to negotiate better salaries and benefits,” Work $mart being the program for women already in the workforce.

In April 2014, AAUW looked at the wage gap as a function of race and gender compared with white men as well as a function of within women’s ethnicity. The broader spectrum was more disheartening by showing a deeper cut in earning power.

Bound by inequality

Not isolated to women, pay disparity impacts Black men to the same degree

An article in the June 2014 Harvard Business Review agreed with the findings of AAUW. According to an item at InfoPlease.com, it isn’t expected that women will reach wage parity with men until 2059. A Washington Post article from March 8, 2016 paints a more dismal picture by saying a study projects it will be 177 years before equity is reached.

You would think that with all this talk about lack of pay equity between men and women that there would be little disparity along ethnic lines for men. Not true. On June 1, 2016, a new study was released that found Black men are paid 73 cents to every dollar earned by White male counterparts. Even in 2011, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found the disparity was 71%. So it can be said that there’s been some improvement. The 2011 article analyzes why there is a difference. A June 2015 Pacific Standard article looks at the pay disparity of Black men to White and points out several factors contributing to its existence. It also asserts that even though there may be some progress toward closing the gap for men, it may not be a result of gaining positive inroads as much as it represents losing ground.

On a positive note, being a Black gay male means a better chance of earning more than even a White straight man (study published in April 2015).

CBS Money Watch looked at the 12 professions where disparity is the worst and did a slide show of them in a story from March 2016.

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January 2, 2016

Exposure and Expertise

Businessman giving an used book to another businessman, learning to survive

Businessman giving a used book to another businessman, learning to survive

There’s a constant search for the best qualified candidate to be added to your workforce. They come to the table with all the education that’s required by the job description. They have the right amount of experience performing the tasks that need to be done. They are aware of the terminology and use it in appropriate context. They are wonderful when it comes to timely execution and speed. Why do they have all of these gifts? Where can you find more of them?

No doubt some of these skills were gained in the classes they took. Still others were developed with exposure to various technologies. Still other things were learned through conversations and reading all manner of trade and recreational content.

How useful all of this knowledge proves to be depends on its source and the amount and type of education that accompanied it. If it was merely parroting something without any appreciation of what the expression means or its history, not to mention the why of its use, then it’s simply doing because you were told to do so when x, y, or z occurred.

You can break a contract but taken literally, it’s difficult to see how a piece of paper can be broken. How many who don’t have exposure to that term understand that violating the terms of the agreement can result in losing the benefits of the association? We can talk about algorithms. That’s a fine and fancy name for having different bases of measuring things that are already in daily use. We count denominations of money using a base of 10. However, we measure distances, space, and time with a base of 12. All of those are algorithms. Does the neophyte realize this? Perhaps not. They’re simply intimidated by this new word and concept that’s been put before them with no explanation.

Taking a skills test can be similar to taking a classroom evaluation of the last section that was taught. However, screening and selection tests such as the LSAT or the SAT are an entirely different thing. If the applicant has never experienced an evaluation process of that type, it shouldn’t be expected that they will perform well on literally their first exposure – unless, of course, there’s some form of genius lurking in those brain cells.

Scalia recently opined that Blacks should not be put into the better educational institutions because they have poor learning skills. That might be true were it not for the fact that educating Blacks has historically been an after thought (if that much). Like women, they were to be kept uneducated in order to have better control over the population and keep them in a state of being disenfranchised. And even in that ethnicity, plus the combinations that created racial and ethnic Creoles, there have been those who found patrons who saw the benefits of providing quality education to them. In the alternative, the population found ways to gain even the rudimentary gems of education in order to propel them into something more.

Education is a prized aspired to by all races and ethnicities. Each family sees it as the tool that will bring fulfillment of the promise of a better life and empowerment. But that promise cannot be realized if the mentoring and educating to create the employable candidate is not provided.

So develop your employee education programs to your advantage. Also develop mentoring programs with an eye toward reducing apathy while increasing engagement and productivity. The exposure to the concepts and terminology will provide you with more than just the ideal candidate for the next step on the ladder.

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June 7, 2015

Repetition

There's no course on job search

There’s no course on job search

Not long ago I heard a complaint from one of the industry’s more vintage and distinguished recruiters. (I’ll paraphrase.)

“This business would be a lot more interesting if we could get past the how to write a resume and cover letter stuff. And it would be much better if we didn’t spend so much time on how to interview. Why do we have to go through this so much? It should be obvious!”

True enough, it should be obvious to those of us who’ve been around the block several times. But there are a lot of dynamics that are driving the actual need to have this “wisdom” regurgitated on a regular basis. Let’s look at a few of them today.

Babies

For some reason, people keep having babies. Then they send them off to school to learn all the basics – except for how to write a resume and cover letter, how to interview, how to go to work. Somehow, that information is supposed to get distilled before graduation from high school but it doesn’t. So we have these quasi-adults meandering around looking for meaning that’s associated with their existence and wondering where they belong. Some of them get recruited to things such as gangs, sports, lured into competing for a slot on America’s Got Talent or The Voice or any number of other things that bring some form of recognition and prestige. And some of them try to figure out how to get on Survivor or Big Brother. The thing of it is, no one told them they’ll still need to pass the interview to get accepted on the entertainment scene.

We need to keep doing the stories about how to write a resume as well as how to write a cover letter because there are millions added to the next generation on a daily basis. None of them know this and it essentially isn’t taught in school – not middle school, not high school, and sort of in college but that’s a bit late.

Technology

The way we do things in business is constantly evolving. At one time, you just walked into a business and asked whether or not they were hiring. If there was a possibiity of a situation, someone in charge would talk to the person and do some informal screening. Provided the conversation went well, there was a get hired on the spot moment with a start date that ranged from that instant to maybe a couple of days later so that appropriate clothing could be gathered.

Today, things don’t work on the same principle. We’ve stopped walking into the business and asking for work. We’ve, for the most part, even stopped scouring the classifieds for “Situations” because they’re now online at various websites and company Careers sections. Networking sites now offer information about open positions, with details about more specifics.

The rules of the game for submitting applications have also changed. Even with temporary staffing agencies, you now set up an interview time online. Going into the office is a necessity for the sake of completing some of the paperwork and taking the computer administered tests to assess where one’s strongest skills are. (Yes, the screening process is still intact.)

Actually, there’s a very subtle reason for continuing to have the applicant come into the office. Those who show up, and show up on time, have demonstrated an genuine interest in pursuing the opportunity. Those who do not show up, have an excuse about why they aren’t there, are running late, need to reschedule, have lowered their seed position and will need to make a very strong showing when they do get to the office for the in-person screening and interview. And getting into the office is yet another way to evaluate how well the applicant follows instructions.

Fashion

Because we’ve become more accepting of cultural differences, styles that are acceptable for interviewing are beginning to change. What used to be proper attire for Sabbath and not for the office has become appropriate for either venue. How many applicants as well as recruiters and human resource managers are aware of this fashion evolution is still to be determined. However, it is a certainty that finding some lawsuit that challenges failure to hire based on wearing traditional garb will be easy.

En Masse Education

It isn’t always the applicant who needs a verse or so of the hiring mantra. Recruiters could stand a refresher course in what is acceptable. Those who are new to the industry would do well to take time for getting refreshed on what is involved in sourcing, screening, and hiring the right person. Even the government is trying to work out that formula to everyone’s satisfaction. And there’s still the ‘know thy industry’ caveat.

There are a lot of factors that go into the formula for making a successful application for a job. With each advancement in technology, with each new birth each year, there will be more people who need to learn how to apply and more who need to know how to select the right one. Suffice it to say that for each employer or recruiter or manager, there are that many people who have their own idea of who a resume and cover letter should be formatted. It’s all subjective; it takes a lot of sifting in order to get to the standard and then to get to what’s right. And for those who have been at this for a while, it’s important to have refreshers. Today we briefly looked at three aspects of the job search and why these topics keep coming up as repetitious coaching subjects.

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July 8, 2014

Vocabulary Builder: STEM

Filed under: Vocabulary Builder — Yvonne LaRose @ 11:20 PM
Tags: , , ,

It’s an acronym that’s been popular in the world of education since 2001. It has to do with encouraging youth, especially girls, to consider challenging themselves with certain subjects that are not the usual curriculum for girls. It encourages all youth to enjoy the subjects and fulfill their natural curiosity about something called

  • S
  • T
  • E
  • M

Who can tell me what these letters stand for?

There’s a new focus that proposes that STEM should become STEAM. Any idea what the “A” stands for?

Wouldn’t it be great if we could encourage more people to be more involved in these subjects? With the popularity of things such as Androids and iPhones, not to mention the advancements of online games and moving our lives into actually living Star Trek lives, it would seem there would be few who are shy about delving into STEM and the things that relate to it.

So What does STEM mean? Maybe we should be talking about STEAM.

Maybe a better question is what are you doing about bringing it into more lives?

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June 9, 2014

The Growing and the Going

Here’s some interesting news. The job market is opening up again. Unemployment claims are down from the April 2014 statistics. “Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively.” (Employment Situation Summary of June 6, 2014) Nonetheless, the critical questions are

  • In what industries is there positive growth?
  • Are there age limitations on these opportunities?
  • What is the average salary?
  • How much education is required?

Growth Jobs

Now these are some excellent things to take into consideration. The first article I found lists seven careers that are growing while offering compensation at significantly more than a minimum wage. All of them require at least an Associate’s degree. But the average pay starts at approximately $22 (computer support specialist and paralegal) and increases to just over $34 (diagnostic medical sonographer and dental hygienist). Sandwiched inbetween are occupations such as police officer, web designer, and registered nurse.

It’s important to also state that “all wage information [is] from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.”

A police officer is going to have age (35 years) and physical agility restrictions. The LAPD puts their officers through their specialized training and schooling. For some reason, it seems they are also required to learn penmanship. This would be a good occupation for someone who knows how to take orders, show restraint, know the difference between a situation that requires active intervention and when just talking the individuals into calmness is appropos. This occupation also requires good listening skills and being objective.

A dental hygienist is also going to have physical demands on their abilities. Standing for long periods of time and the ability to reach, especially at odd angles, are things that should be considered.

The jobs that require personal interaction with people will also require good listening skills, sensitivity to what’s happening with the person with whom you’re dealing, and the ability to tactfully and accurately give instructions. Where reports need to be prepared as part of the follow up, good grammar and spelling are imperative.

Take a look at the occupations that are enumerated. Some of them can be accomplished while seated, even seated at home. So don’t rule out web design just because you can’t sit in the traditional cubicle. (In fact, maybe you want to celebrate that one!)

Shrinking Demand

The next five occupations are noted as having “salary information and projected job growth rates from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.” The growth rates between 2010 to 2020 are low, in some cases only 5%, in one case as low as 0%. In other words, these are jobs to be avoided if you’re looking for long-term opportunities.

But I began to scrutinize the jobs a little closer and paid closer attention to the descriptions. Perhaps it isn’t so much a matter of the jobs dying as much as the titles are changing to something else. While a teller may be a job that holds little promise of a future (and low pay), it is a starting point in the world of finance. There is some merit to considering it as a job to get you through school at night while earning your degree – and the qualifications for the next step. That occupation is compared to opportunities as a financial analyst which requires more sophisticated skill sets and more advanced education.

Likewise, it was surprising to see that fashion designer is a fading occupation. However, the article attributes a number of factors such as competitiveness and allure of the trade contribute to its low pay. On the other hand, a position as an art director is a much more lucrative situation as far as compensation, growth, and opportunity for career diversity – not to mention prestige.

What’s in a name? It seems, quite a bit. The dental lab technician is a low paying job with little growth prospects. But turn that into being a dental hygienist and the options explode. Much like the teller jobs, it appears the lab tech is an entry-level situation that can be done while gaining education in order to take the next step.

A craft and fine artist has a lot of competition going against it in addition to poor economic conditions. However, before leaping into a career as a graphic artist (much more lucrative), consider the markets that the fine arts and crafts fields offer. Rehabilitative services can be delivered to those whose motor skills are impaired or in need of development. That creates opportunities for a broad age spectrum from small children who need to learn how to hold and manipulate instruments in order to do many things all the way to seniors who need to maintain their motorskills – and all the folks on the spectrum inbetween.

Which leads me to the last category of jobs that are fading – credit authorizer compared with actuary. While the availability of online credit reports is creating pressure on the life of the credit authorizer, there will still be banks and real estate businesses (title companies, for example) that will rely on the authorizer’s collection of data. Again, it’s a starting point; it doesn’t have to be done in a cubicle; there are low physical demands although the need for care in collecting and interpreting data for the correct individual or entity is paramount.

There for the Taking

These forecasts aren’t in a crystal ball. Anyone can access them for free by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a comprehensive tool published by the federal government. Portions of the information is available by using the salary calculator tool on any job website. And there are also salary websites (whose calculator tools are usually part of the job websites) such as Salary.com or PayScale.com. Use them in combination with other tools or just use one. Do your research. Keep yourself on a positive plane.

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August 12, 2010

Effects on Perception of Quality

There’s a thought that’s been plaguing me for several weeks now. Unfortunately, there’s not been a lot of time to research it in light of the other things that require completion before moving on to a new challenge. However, it is an issue that really does require unbiased study and then action.

The matter is whether those who graduate from historically black universities and colleges are perceived as having a better than average (general population, not ethnic population) education and therefore bring to the bargaining table above average skills and knowledge.

From my understanding of Post-Civil War America, freedmen (and women) had few educational resources available to them. Education was the key to actualizing the benefits of being free and leading a powerfully productive life. There is an argument that the first teachers were (and still are) marginally qualified compared to their White counterparts. But our nation has as one of its cornerstones the promise of free basic education for all. Those who founded the Black universities were essentially educated people who had struggled to excel in the environs of universities where their acceptance was tantamount to Shannon Faulkner’s at the Citadel. But many graduated with distinction.

Here we are in the 21st Century, more than 150 years later. The color of one’s skin still dictates one’s the first impact acceptance of one’s abilities and professionalism. Sometimes, actually many times, even with meaningful conversation and above average diction and vocabulary, the overall condescending treatment still cancels opportunities and relegates the potential human capital (and business solution) to the recesses of the arena and then exclusion.

Again, there’s been scant time to actually research some of the information that would form the answer to this question. It’s worth discussing from many perspectives: the recruiter, the job candidate and job seeker, management at all levels, educators and students, and ultimately our global neighbors. How is a person who has been educated (or seeks education) at an historically Black university or college perceived? Are they seen as the person of color who presents with some of the best qualities available? Are they still viewed as marginal? Does where they were educated even matter?

June 20, 2010

Stretching Standards

Today is Father’s Day. Today would also be my father’s 84th birthday. I like to remember him on this day with an article or blog post that contains nuggets of information to help guide us in our recruiting, management, and career endeavors. Today is no exception.

Born in 1926, Dad started life in the first third of the Great Depression on a farm in Louisiana. It was a different time then, governed by a world that was going through a metamorphosis. It was squeezing out of the Agrarian Age and making a more formal step into the Industrial Age. But farming was still the staple of the land and the thing that allowed us to survive.

Education, to be certain, was very important. But the crops were the means of not only paying the bills and maintaining the family but also the means of using our raw skills to maintain everything. Each person and farm was an industry to itself.

Everyone on the land needed some knowledge and ability to use, maintain, and repair everything used around the land. Animal husbandry was an essential knowledge. Understanding the habits and idiosyncrasies of each animal provided clues on where the skills of that particular creature were going to fit best.

Since handling the chores on the farm took a front seat to everything else, completing one’s formal education was important but not as important as just surviving the times. By the time he and Mom married, Dad had a fifth grade education.

Although not much, that less than elementary school education it was good enough for the government to draft Dad for WWII. He was smart, clever, and ethical. Once he and Mom were established, they both went back to school to earn their high school diplomas and then even more studies in some areas of college work. Both of them progressed very well because they went the extra mile with regard to stretching their horizons with more education. They became more qualified for the work they did.

As I said, times were different then. It was not uncommon for the bank president to have only a high school education and 50 years later boast to members of the Chamber of Commerce Board that he (emphasis on the “he”) was a self-made man, meaning he learned and earned his position through experience on the job. Those were his only credentials. For a long time, that was a very honorable boast to be able to make. By the 1950s, having a high school diploma set the job applicant apart from others because they had formal school training and education.

Enter the 1960s. World War II and Korean War vets with their brides were starting to get established and were raising families. Although it was a stretch, they found ways to put aside small amounts of the weekly household budget in order to save for a college education for the children so that they would have a brighter future. A college education would mean they were more qualified than their competition for the better paying jobs that were now quite plentiful.

We weren’t watching and the Industrial Age evolved into the Electronic Age and then the Technology and Internet Age. As with the ever-changing nature of things, there comes a higher threshold in order to be considered average and adequate. Specializations meant there was a flood of people rushing to be part of the new age of specialists and gain the extra high paying positions for having the more specialized knowledge, skill, and training, in addition to the comprehension of how all of it fit together. Thus new levels of education and certification became requirements for the new entry-level positions. Advanced education became even more important.

Today we are again enduring an economic depression, one that I still prefer to call the New Millennium Depression. It’s been with us for nearly as long as its predecessor from a century ago. Given that this one is global in nature and that what we used to consider Third World Countries are now competing with us in terms of technology and refined information, the need for specialization is increased again. That means advanced degrees that prove we’ve obtained more refined knowledge about how to think, use strategy, and apply our skills is of even higher importance. The high school diploma is a mere stepping stone for showing we have discipline.

Will there come a time when nearly everyone will need to have a Ph.D. in order to qualify for the most menial of jobs? I doubt it. For one thing, the cost of such an endeavor is prohibitive. The necessity to gain experience in order to build on the training is mandatory. And we’ll essentially get back to the driving dynamics of the Great Depression — the need to cover costs and sustain our selves and our families will mean we’ll have to put off advanced education until things are better under control.

However, going to school these days is no longer the five mile walk in the driving snow from yesteryear. Now gaining an education as well as an advanced education has options. It can be done in the company of our peers of many chronological ages as well as backgrounds and home countries. On the other hand, we can bypass the traditional and gain our education through online schooling.

Either way we do it, we are stretching our standards for gaining education and the rewards of that extra effort — better pay for more responsibilities and a position closer to the helm.

Viva
Yvonne LaRose, CAC

January 29, 2009

Testing cf. Knowledge

Filed under: Education and Training — Yvonne LaRose @ 12:34 AM
Tags: , , , ,

One of the good things about laundry day is that I’m given the opportunity to get out and be social for at least three hours that day. It gives me the chance to meet other people, share in conversation with them, learn something from them, gain new knowledge. And this past Monday was no different.

This time, my laundry buddy (I’ll call her Shelly) and I struck up a conversation because she was wearing a dress that looked like one I recently bought but haven’t had the courage to wear yet. She confirmed that we’d bought from the same store and that it was probably the same style. And then we started getting acquainted.

She has a young child and is concerned about the quality of education that she’ll receive when she needs to go from the nursery school she’s presently attending and into First Grade. The child is already writing in cursive as well as reading and writing sentences. We talked about the private school options available in the neighborhood and in the community. One thing we both observed is that the Los Angeles Unified School District in our community is not serving its constituents well. Sending the child to a public school is causing Shelly great concern.

She shared her experience with East Coast universities compared with what she experienced here in California. She admitted that the East gave her much more of a challenge. I didn’t ask if the challenge could have been attributed to her freshness to Life and inexperience but took her words at face value. She also shared that CSUN offered very little challenge. Her academic exposure has been in one of the more difficult sciences, pharmacology, and urban planning. She’s also worked at City Hall and gained insight into how things operate there. Now she works part time as a tutor.

I told her it’s as though the teachers either don’t care about their charges or else are so overwhelmed that they cannot do what they were hired to accomplish. The other explanation is that the teachers aren’t qualified to handle the work. Shelly felt the observations were entirely correct but was slightly reticent to admit as much. She just kept praising the excellence of the preschool she’s found and looks forward to finding the next school that will present as much challenge and learning as it does.

At the risk of sounding pompous in that previous paragraph, I’ll supply a little background to my words. I was a candidate for the School Board in South Pasadena in 1989. During the campaign, I interviewed several of the teachers in the district to get a feel for their needs. Likewise, I paid close attention at the School Board meeting when the exchange students from Germany provided their feedback on their experience with American schools (especially upper middle class schools such as South Pasadena, a close rival of San Marino and La Canada). Additionally, I listened carefully as I talked to students about their impression of their learning experience. I was interested in the types of young people I was meeting and what the schools were producing.

The teachers complained that they’re given so much administrative work that they can’t do what they were hired to do — teach. There’s not enough time to do it. The next complaint was insufficient supplies and equipment in order to deliver state of the art instruction on equipment that is currently part of the work world. Even with a classroom aide, the teachers were being stretched to the point of snapping. Still, the South Pasadena schools were measuring up on the Stanford 9 exams and going toe to toe with San Marino year after year.

Parents in the community complained about the fact that they were reaching into their own pockets to keep the schools on par. They spoke of the dollars spent on public education for their children and wondered whether it would be more cost effective to simply give up on South Pasadena schools and send the youth to private schools instead. Financially speaking, it was becoming the same as doing so without the assurance that the charges would succeed as well as in the other environment. But then by choosing a private school, the youth no longer had that distinction of saying they were South Pas grads.

The exchange students were quite direct in their assessment and very unreserved in expressing it. They were bewildered at the amount of homework required every night. Several said it was as though the amount of learning was measured by the volume of homework assigned. But the homework was poor in quality and taught very little. At home, they would have about 20 minutes of homework that was rich in challenge compared with one hour or more of American homework that was very easy and quite repetitious.

How interesting it was to finally have power in the house again this morning and the ability to hear the news. The story that caught my attention most was the one regarding schools and how much training the students actually receive compared with the volume of homework that is meaningless in content. Students withstood volumes of testing that didn’t seem to justify the basis for the testing. It was merely to test in order to say that the students were tested. Did Shelly share our conversation with someone in the media? That wasn’t possible. Why would a reporter want that story? What newsworthiness could there be in a laundromat conversation about education? But there was the story, complete with an expert who has conducted a study of the topic and who had come to the same conclusion.

What does this say about the education we’re providing our youth? What does this say about the workforce readiness of those who seek careers and high positions? It says we’re not properly training them. It says we’re not providing the types of meaningful challenges that will benefit them in the real world. Thus, when it comes time for them to perform at peak levels, they will crumple as they reach. They will crumple for many reason.

  • They were not prepared
  • They didn’t understand the fundamentals of the task, therefore, they overlooked many small details
  • They weren’t sure of when to ask questions
  • They weren’t sure of what questions to ask
  • They relied on the advice of friends and comrades
  • They overlooked the advice and counsel of veterans
  • They took the easiest way
  • They did not plan
  • They waited for someone else to do for them
  • They had the impression that “professional” meant stylish
  • They had the impression that “leadership” mean bullying and forcefulness

Even if they do not gain these skills and knowledge sets in school, the reinforcement (or procurement) needs to happen in the workplace. To the extent there are supervisors who also do not know (or remember) the whys of the practices nor take the time to explain the bases for doing things in a particular order, we will continue with the losses and setbacks that are part of the talent loss and corporate guerrilla warfare for qualified workers.

Whether in school or in the workplace, the lack of proper training, homework anemic in content, challenges bereft of meaningful achievement and comprehension will take a toll on the social fabric. No miracle savior of any magnitude will be able to turn the tides nor save us from our destruction.

It all starts with proper training, sound education, testing that searches for meaningful measures of learning — not testing for the sake of testing.

April 29, 2008

Best of eLearning Awards and Online Universities Announced

Filed under: Career Advancement — Yvonne LaRose @ 8:58 PM
Tags: , ,

We’re here to help you get ahead. Part of the formula is making informed choices. So here’s some information you climbers should know. It’s also useful information for those who screen the ones being considered for that notch position.

Elearning Readers’ Choice Awards Nominees

Finalists in the Elearning [Readers’ Choice] Awards were announced in December 2007 by B2BMediaCo.com. The nominees range from four to six participants in 12 categories, which are:

  • Best LMS
  • Best On-demand LMS
  • Best IT Content
  • Best Leadership
  • Best Soft Skills
  • Compliance Training
  • Best Virtual Classroom
  • Best Web Seminar
  • Presentation Tool
  • Best Web Authoring Tool
  • Best Simulation Tool
  • Best Assessment Tool

Winners were announced in the Winter 2008 issue of Elearning!

This is the first time that a call has been issued for feedback on which products and vendors are of choice for end users. This is usually word-of-mouth intelligence, making it very difficult at times to get complete and reliable information.

Best Online Degree Programs

Elearning! also provides us with their list of the top 20 online degree programs offered and the reasoning for the program’s position on the list among the 200 evaluated. The top 20 are:

  • Western Governors University
  • Capella University
  • Concordia University
  • Walden University
  • California Coast University
  • Ellis College
  • Touro University International
  • Classes USA Consortium
  • University Alliance
  • Thomas Edison State College
  • Norwich University Online Graduate Programs
  • New England College, School of Graduate and Professional Studies Online
  • University of Phoenix
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Keller Graduate School of Management
  • eLearners EXpress (nomination #5)
  • American InterContinental University Online
  • Baker College Online
  • Marist College
  • eLearners EXpress (nomination #6)

One additional feature in this article is a section that discusses how to select an online program and 10 mistakes to avoid in making that selection.

January 13, 2008

Pushing for Excellence

It was during a period between the end of April to early May 2007 when the incident occurred. Enroute to a destination that was not performing the duties for which it was established, I stopped at a Burger King for breakfast fare and rest. This particular Burger King is located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Western Avenue and it has a mural of Civil Rights Era notables and events. Among the personages represented are images of Cesar Chavez, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dolores Huerta, and Whitney Young. Some of the events it memorializes are the March on Washington, King’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and many other significant points in time during that era.

It was interesting to reflect on the images of the people, the acts for which they are remembered, their places in history and that time period in addition to what that time meant to people of color and our United States as a whole. For one who watched as the cavalcade passed before my eyes, as one who walked and survived those tumultuous times, who stood for the life that they strove to achieve for all, it was uplifting to see the mural. But I wondered how many youth of today understand what it means and those it represents.

By then, a young boy of about ten years came into the restaurant. He began to notice the mural and it seemed safe to venture the question, “Do you know who any of those people are or what they did?” He understood that there was a Civil Rights era wherein people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, John and Robert Kennedy had roles. He only knew the history of two — King and Chavez. The reason for that was he had just learned about them in school the week before we met. And it was okay that he at least knew those two. It was a start.

Together we looked at the representation of King’s being awarded the Nobel prize. I explained the significance of the prize to him and the various categories for which people can win. But I omitted little pieces of information — some intentionally and some because I simply did not know it. I asked the boy to look up for me what must be done to become eligible for the Nobel prize, the amount of the purse, and the categories. I then gave him my business card and asked him to email me with the information.

What I wanted him to discover was that the Nobel Prize is not some remote holy grail reserved for the elite and wealthy. What I wanted him to grasp was that with the proper knowledge and focus, it is possible that one day he could vie for that award that attests to being the best in that year for that particular discipline. I wanted him to become familiar with the award in order to gain an appreciation of why it was established and where. And I wanted him to at some point in future time realize that he too can be a catalyst of change and positive energy in his community. Yet another intangible lesson would have been the importance of accuracy and precision of presentation in order to consistently be eligible for that type, that caliber of work.

It’s now eight months later and there’s been no email that delivers the information I requested. The more important thing about the request was to get the youth thinking about what that mural represents. It is supposed to inspire pride in overcoming so many bars to progress and fulfillment. It is supposed to be a reminder of an era and impetus to not allow the movement to die away. Yet, like the unsent email, the promise of that time and the march toward equality has slowed; it seems the promised day will never arrive.

How many of us remember those times and the things for which we fought in multiple ways through numerous venues? At least that boy’s teacher took the time to educate the children about some aspect of the Civil Rights Era, even if it was a mere sampling of two or three names. After all, that was their first introduction to the matter. However, that there is no education about the Civil Rights Era is a troubling matter. I have doubts about whether any of the workers at that fast food site or any adults in the community could remember as many names as the boy and I discussed, much less the events, what they were about, the progress that’s been made since.

Socially, we’ve lost sight of many things that were part of the affirmative action movement. Unfortunately, too many view it as a tool for the unqualified to gain access where they have not earned it rather than allowing them to at least stand in line for their fair shot at the target and then having their shot measured in equal balance to all others.

Once I reached my destination, I discussed the experience and the mural with one of the employees, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. My thoughts were multiple and ardent. They infected the listener.

That mural represents periods and dates in our history that need to be remembered. The essence of the representations and the strife that accompanied those histories need to be explained to each generation so that they have a sense of why it is so vitally important that they reach for the best that is within them and demonstrate that talent, that ability to those who have the power to say, “Yes.” The lessons of those days and the growth that they held needs to be continued and replicated.

The youth need to be given the sight of the upper branches where the prize resides. That view will facilitate their aspiring to climb the tree to its uppermost parts. We need to dare and risk. That mural represents so many things that are now falling into colloquialisms and quips instead of meaningful statements. The education about what is depicted and those things that could not be captured in that image need to be discussed on an ongoing basis so that there is knowledge of the circumstances. The discussions need to also cater to strategies to gain inroads in the places where it seems the doors are closed and locked. There needs to be education about how to negotiate in order to gain the keys to enter the doors. And there needs to be education about what to do once inside in order to claim and grow the prize.

That mural represents a struggle that was not about blame for exclusion but about self-driven desire and determination to achieve in spite of the obstacles. That mural represents those who did.

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