Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day and Pacific Islander Americans

On this Memorial Day, the Pacific Islander Access project would like to extend our thanks and respect to all of the warriors who are serving or have served our country; and to their families, for the sacrifices they have made as well.

Military service is one of the many ways that America's growing Pacific Islander population gives back to the country we call our own. According to recent reports, American Samoa holds the solemn distinction of having lost more of its citizens in the post-9/11 conflicts, per capita, than any State or Territory (NBC: Eager to serve in American Samoa, but strong civic duty often extracts the heaviest price).  After American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia are next (TIME: A Micronesian Paradise: For Military Recruiters).  In addition, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation, Pacific Islanders are more overrepresented in military service than any other major racial group (Table: Who Bears the Burden).

But behind the statistics, there are troops, veterans, proud parents, and loved ones who long to see their warriors again.  In many cases they return home and are able to rebuild their lives, using earned benefits like the GI Bill.  But on Memorial Day in particular, we should show respect to the fact that unfortunately it's not always a happy ending.  One reminder comes from stories like this one, in yesterday's issue of the Austin Statesman, regarding a Samoan father -- a veteran himself -- coping with having lost his son in combat: LINK


Saturday, May 26, 2012

San Diego State University Recognizes Pacific Islander Underrepresentation

San Diego State University is the latest school to win the Pacific Islander Access project's praise for recognizing that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.  Word came from this article in the San Diego Union-Tribune on on SDSU is narrowing the graduation gap between the general population and their underrepresented minority students.  To quote the article:

Underrepresented minorities are defined as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders.

According to the 2010 Census, San Diego County has the fifth largest Pacific Islander population in the United States (trailing three Hawaii counties and LA). In addition, SDSU has the distinction of being one of the few universities with its own program (the SDSU Center for Pacific Studies) dedicated to studying the Pacific Islands and its people.


Here are links to previous posts we've written on universities that recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented: UCLA, USC, and Sacramento State 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Higher Education: Costs, Value, and a Birthday

Last week I was sure that our next post would be on the U.S. Census Bureau's recently released paper on Pacific Islanders, but it's not.  Instead, this post sort of wrote itself over the course of the week, in three parts: the newspaper on my neighbor's door, a blog post in the Harvard Business Review, and a good friend's birthday.

First, the Newspaper: Last Sunday, when returning from an errand with my son over my shoulder, I saw the Sunday edition of the New York Times on my neighbor's doormat. The front page story was "Student Loans Weighing Down a Generation With Heavy Debt." We've blogged about student loans before (even regarding NY Times articles on the subject), and while much of the article was old news, I thought it was a well written overview of how student loan debt is impacting students, graduates, dropouts, parents, and our nation's economy.

I encourage you to read the whole article yourself, but here are the main things that struck me:
  • National student loan debt is greater than $1 trillion dollars, and it's growing
  • For all borrowers, the average debt in 2011 was $23,300
  • Two factors in rising student debt: state and local government spending per student is at a 25-year-low, while tuition is rising so fast it's on track to double over a fifteen year period
  • The student loan default rate doubled in four years (2005 to 2009) -- nearly one in ten borrowers in 2009 defaulted within two years
Certainly these kinds of numbers can make reasonable people question whether college is a sound investment, given the rising cost and uncertain benefit. 

That brings me to the Blog, which arrived in my inbox on Wednesday. I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review's "Daily Stat" blog.  Wednesday's stat was "Though Tuition is Rising, the Value of Education is Rising Too."  It summarized a recent study that looked at the tuition, student loans, and income outcomes for people at different levels of education.  Their summary:

Despite wage declines in entry-level jobs and steep increases in tuition, college is still a good investment in the U.S.: The earnings premium for a college degree relative to a high school degree has nearly doubled in the past three decades, say Christopher Avery of Harvard University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia. Government statistics show that the jobless rate is 4.4% for college grads and 7.6% for people who attended college but didn't achieve bachelors degrees.
Source: Student Loans: Do College Students Borrow Too Much—Or Not Enough?

In other words, the cost is rising, but so is the payoff.

Today's students need to think carefully not just about how they'll get into college, and which college they'll attend, but also how they will afford it.  Tuition and related expenses are a factor, but so is access to financial aid.  Students from underrepresented communities -- who are less likely to have parents who went to college, and more likely to live below the poverty line -- can face additional challenges, but they should be certain to take advantage of the scholarships, fellowships, and academic support programs for underrepresented minorities.  (By the way, Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, but they are excluded from applying to many of these programs.)

And for those students who have to choose between no college and no loans, or college and student debt, they still can choose how to approach their payments.  This leads me to the Birthday: a very good friend of mine turns 30 this weekend.

Nathan and I went to college and grad school together. To finance his masters degree, he took out a lot of student loans. 80 weeks shy of turning 30, he was unemployed and stuck with hefty student loan payments.  I was worried for him, and shocked that he was in that situation: After graduating with a double major in theatre and political science, Nathan earned a graduate degree from a top 50 national university, was Class President of its School of Public Policy, and had worked his way up from intern to social media director for a high-ranking Congresswoman.

But now he was having trouble finding work and making his minimum payments. His solution -- to solve this problem -- was to set a more ambitious goal: rather than scraping by, he'd resolve to be debt free by 30, somehow paying down nearly $900 a week in addition to the rest of life's expenses.  He had 80 weeks to do it, and he wanted to chronicle his experiences through a blog called 80till30.

Nathan's approaching week 80 -- which is when he turns 30.  He was still short of being debt free last time I checked, but in the meantime, he moved to Alaska, got engaged, and started a businesses.  If you read his website, you'll see that as an entrepreneur he incorporates all the things he learned in college -- his ability to quantitatively demonstrate success or failure; his ability to incorporate theatrical elements in web videos and understand the policy-based and political elements of communicating for his clients -- into a growing, successful small businesses. In his case, Nathan is using his education to pay off his student loans, and as you can see from the web videos on his blog, he's enjoying life along the way.

That's it for this week.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

The P.I.A. project and Mother's Day

While we've already issued our post of the week (available here), I wanted to write a something in honor of Mother's Day.  While no one needs a diploma to love their child, studies support what most all of us already know to be true: when mothers invest in their own education, it pays off for them, their kids, and future generations.

Here are news articles over the past few years citing specific areas where this is true:
  • Reducing infant mortality and improving child health in the third world: LINK
  • Ending the cycle of multi-generational poverty here in the USA: LINK
  • Improving their child's or children's chances at excelling in school: LINK
  • Readiness for their first year of school: LINK
The list goes on and on, but the point is that when mothers are educated, their children and grandchildren reap the benefits.  In a larger sense, all of us do.

And with that, I'm finishing this post. My son is sleeping in my arms as I awkwardly type, and that usually ends with spelling errors, a waking baby, or both! I'm going to get back to helping around the house, so that the mother of my child (and the P.I.A. project's CFO) can continue to enjoy some much-deserved down time. 

Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

New 2010 Census Data on Pacific Islander Americans

Last week we highlighted the Census Bureau's "Facts for Features" on Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.  In the few days between that post and this one, the U.S. Census Bureau released additional data.

Let me tell you about it!

This week the U.S. Census Bureau released a paper (the Census calls this kind of paper a "brief") based on 2010 Census data on Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.  We'll be highlighting different aspects of this paper and other Census data in future posts, but for now I wanted to give you access to the paper, the accompanying release, and an article on it written in The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii's only statewide daily print newspaper.

  • The brief is here: LINK
  • The release is here: LINK
  • The Honolulu Star-Advertiser's homepage is here, and the article is pasted below. 

Let me know what you think!


May 9, 2012

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander population swells

Census numbers show 1.2 million in the nation, a climb of 40 percent in 10 years

By Susan Essoyan

The number of people reporting that they are of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ancestry jumped 40 percent over the last decade across the United States and by 28 percent in the state, according to new data from the Census Bureau. 

"It's positive to see the growth of Native Hawaiians not only in Hawaii, but across the U.S. continent," said Kamana'opono Crabbe, chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. "Even though Native Hawaiians intermarry, there seems to be this self-definition of Native Hawaiian ancestry and identity." 

Overall, 1.2 million people identified as Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, either alone or in combination with other races, in the United States in 2010. That's still a tiny fraction - 0.4 percent - of the U.S. population, but it's a big increase from 874,414 in 2000. Meanwhile the U.S. population grew by 9.7 percent over the same period. 

According to a U.S. Census brief, "The Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Population: 2010," released Tuesday, Hawaii and California accounted for just over half of that population - 52 percent. The next-largest Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations were in Washington state, Texas and Florida. 

The top 10 counties illustrate the shift. While Oahu and the island of Hawaii still boast the largest numbers of Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, Los Angeles County placed third, edging out Maui County, which was followed by San Diego County. 

"It presents some challenges for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in terms of improving conditions for Native Hawaiians," Crabbe said. "How do we connect, how do we network?... We cannot ignore the growing population on the continent." 

The growth in the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander populations can be attributed to a variety of factors, including intermarriage, greater self-identification, a relatively youthful population with higher birthrates as well as immigration by Pacific Islanders. 

Within the Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island category, Native Hawaiians make up the largest group and grew by 31 percent nationwide over the decade, to 527,077. In Hawaii their numbers rose 21 percent to 289,970, according to an analysis of census data released by the state Department of Business and Economic Development and Tourism. 

Native Hawaiians, however, were outpaced in growth by other Pacific Islanders, including Samoans, Tongans, and Guamanians/Chamorros. 

Guamanians were the fastest growing group, soaring by 60 percent nationally and 58 percent in Hawaii between 2000 and 2010. Broader academic options and economic opportunity are likely draws for Guamanians moving to the United States. 

Rebecca San Agustin followed the trend, coming to Hawaii in 2008 for college. She is about to graduate from Chaminade University with a degree in accounting and is planning to stay, having already lined up an internship with Deloitte as she moves on to graduate school.

"From personal observation there's definitely more jobs here in Hawaii and on the mainland than there will ever be on the tiny island of Guam," San Agustin, 22, said. "From what I've heard from the majority of people who have gone to school outside of Guam, they are deciding to stay and find jobs on the mainland or in Hawaii." 

The same happens for Native Hawaiians who move to the mainland for school or jobs and then end up putting down roots, Crabbe noted. Their numbers are growing rapidly in the South and the Midwest, as well, he added. 

"Close to half of the population of Native Hawaiians lives on the continent, and just over 50 percent continue to live here despite the economic challenges," Crabbe said. "There has been a high enrollment of Native Hawaiians in the military, so over the years the trend has been for their families also to go with them." 

Back in the islands, Native Hawaiians rank fourth among ethnic groups, after Caucasians, Filipinos and Japanese, according to Eugene Tian, administrator for research and economic analysis in the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. In the past decade Filipinos moved to second from third place, swapping positions with the Japanese.

We knew a few years ago that the Filipino population was going to overtake the Japanese," Tian said. "The main reason is the immigration." 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Updated Census data re-confirms Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education

This month, America observes Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.  Accordingly, the U.S. Census Bureau has released updated data on Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans.  You can read their whole release here, but I'm happy to highlight the parts that are most relevant to the P.I.A. project's mission to expand higher educational opportunity for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders by ending their exclusion from academic programs for underrepresented minorities.

Are Pacific Islanders still underrepresented in higher education?

They sure are.

The 2012 release finds that 15 percent of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander adults (25-or-older) have at least a bachelors degree.  By comparison, 28 percent of the general U.S. population has at least a bachelors. This is consistent with the data we've blogged about before.

For advanced degrees: 4 percent of Pacific Islanders have an advanced degree, which is less than half of the national average (10 percent).

Want to see historical data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education?

Click here to view more than 20 years worth: LINK


Link to this year's U.S. Census Bureau "Facts for Features" on Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: LINK