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School Personnel Report Threats, Harassment During Pandemic

Professor Ron Avi Astor and a team from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare contributed to research on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on teachers and other school staff as part of a task force launched by the American Psychological Association. In a report released today, the task force found that approximately one-third of teachers surveyed said they had experienced at least one incident of verbal harassment or threat of violence from students during the pandemic. Almost 50% of the teachers expressed a plan or desire to quit or transfer jobs, according to the report, based on a nationwide survey of 14,966 teachers, administrators, school psychologists, social workers and other pre-K through 12th grade school staff. “This was one of the first studies we know of that looked at how both COVID-19 and issues of school safety impacted all school personnel,” said Astor, who holds a joint appointment with the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies. “School staff such as bus drivers, janitors, secretaries, yard aides, crossing guards and cafeteria workers are often left out of these large national studies. Their voices are so important and commonly ignored.” The APA task force will present its findings at a congressional briefing today at 2 p.m. EDT,  joined by several national co-sponsoring organizations. The UCLA team that contributed to the findings included Hector Palencia of the Social Welfare field education faculty and doctoral students Laura Liévano-Karim, Natalie Fensterstock, Chaoyue Wu, Kate Watson and Sawyer Hogenkamp. Gordon Capp of CSU Fullerton was also part of the UCLA team. — Joanie Harmon

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Read the APA report

Register to view the congressional briefing


 

Wray-Lake Helps Launch Journal’s Series on Racism and Youth

UCLA Luskin scholar Laura Wray-Lake served as co-editor of the March issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence that features 17 papers and four commentaries that address the sweeping impact of racism and other systems of oppression on Black youth. Titled “Black Lives Matter!: Systems of Oppression Affecting Black Youth,” the special issue calls for new ways to combat racism and intersecting oppressions and improve the lives of Black adolescents. In their introduction, Wray-Lake and co-authors Dawn P. Witherspoon of Pennsylvania State University and Linda C. Halgunseth of the University of Connecticut write that the commentaries “provide a historical view and future perspective to contextualize how far we have come and how much farther we need to go in our quest to combat racism and other systems of oppression and improve the lives of Black adolescents.” The issue kicks off a series in which the journal will be focusing on dismantling systems of racism and oppression during adolescence. Wray-Lake, an associate professor of social welfare at UCLA, will also be co-editor for the second and third parts of the series, and she will be lead editor for the fourth, which will appear in the September issue of the journal.


 

Meyer Luskin Shares Insights on Responsible Entrepreneurship

Meyer Luskin, benefactor and namesake of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, spoke to UCLA students about leadership skills and responsible entrepreneurship at a March 3 gathering held in person and via Zoom. Luskin shared stories from a long and varied career in investment advising, oil and gas, rental cars, beauty schools and, ultimately, the recycling of food waste. Scope Industries, the company he has led for more than six decades, turns tons of bakery goods that would otherwise have gone to landfills into food for livestock. “Meyer is a businessman who invented a business, and that’s not common,” UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura said at the event. “Meyer had an idea, and his idea was to take something most people threw away and make it into something useful.” Luskin’s talk included stories from his own UCLA education, which was interrupted by a tour of duty during World War II, and his experiences facing anti-Semitism as a young businessman. Luskin advised students embarking on their careers to examine their motivations, acknowledge conflicts of interests and uphold the highest ethics. “You have to be retrospective about yourself,” he said. “You have to take time to think about what you’ve done and where you’re going and who you are and what you want.” He encouraged those blessed with success in business to act responsibly and generously. “The first principle is get good people, pay them well, think about them,” he said. “When you do something that’s right, it comes back and helps you. … It just works that way in a long life.” 

View photos and a video from the event.

A Conversation With Meyer Luskin


 

UCLA Luskin Scholars Receive Fulbright Awards

Two UCLA Luskin Social Welfare faculty members have been named Fulbright awardees by the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Professor of Social Welfare Mark S. Kaplan received a Fulbright Specialist Award, which will allow him to complete a project at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain in the Department of Social Sciences. Professor of Social Welfare Ian Holloway received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award, which enables American scholars, artists, faculty and professionals to lecture and conduct research abroad for up to a year. Kaplan, now a four-time Fulbright awardee, said the main focus of his project with the Spanish university is to help “design and plan internationalization strategies for their research that maximize the impact of their work.” The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at academic institutions abroad for two to six weeks. Holloway will spend four months as a visiting scholar at Universidad de Los Andes and work in partnership with a community-based organization in Bogotá, Colombia, that serves transgender people engaged in human rights organizing. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build connections between the United States and other countries. The program, which operates in over 160 countries, was established in 1946 and has provided more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.


 

Luskin Summit Takes On Global Climate Justice

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Kian Goh led a dialogue about equity, grassroots activism and climate change in the Mar. 2 Luskin Summit webinar “Cities and Global Climate Justice.” Goh, who serves as associate faculty director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, started the conversation by discussing community-based activism in Jakarta, Indonesia. Eric Chu of UC Davis spoke about competing visions of the urban built environment and the power of activist groups to reimagine what their communities will look like through a lens of justice and equity. Hugo Sarmiento of Columbia University noted that, in Colombia, the main drivers of risk are social, economic, political and oftentimes racial exclusion from the housing market. “Residents have already been displaced by war and conflict, and now they are being displaced by the city,” he explained. Idowu “Jola” Ajibade of Portland State University said issues such as environmental degradation, homelessness, joblessness, and lack of access to sanitation and health care affect the way that climate change is perceived in the Global South, where many communities are already marginalized. “The ways in which people are challenging the system also helps us think about how we might transform the urban society more equitably,” Ajibade said. Kasia Paprocki of the London School of Economics and Political Science discussed how the transition from a rural to urban economy is seen as a necessary and even positive development, which dismisses the experiences of many of the individuals being displaced. Michael Fleming of the UCLA Luskin Board of Advisors was on hand to welcome the panelists.


Long-Forgotten Footage Sparks Dialogue on Black Music as History

Two members of the creative team behind the award-winning documentary “Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” shared personal reflections about their role in bringing long-forgotten footage of 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival to light during a Feb. 28 online dialogue with a UCLA audience. Joseph Patel, one of the film’s producers, and art director consultant Frank William Miller Jr. said they were floored when they first learned about the festival, which brought legends of musical history to a Harlem park half a century ago. Over six weekends, a series of free events showcased B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson alongside Mavis Staples, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The 5th Dimension and a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder, among many others. That so few remembered this cultural phenomenon was a sign of Black erasure, Patel said. He said the film’s director, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, spoke about how “Black history is often not regarded as part of the American history and why that was important to rectify with this film. … We didn’t want to just do a concert film, we wanted to tell a larger story.” Assistant Professor Lee Ann S. Wang and doctoral student Taylor Reed of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare moderated the conversation, which was also sponsored by the School’s urban planning, public policy and undergraduate programs, the Diversity, Disparities and Difference (D3) Initiative, and Social Welfare’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. “Summer of Soul” has won several awards since its premier at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and is nominated for this year’s Academy Award for best documentary feature.

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Luskin Summit Draws Inspiration from Europe to Combat Homelessness

A panel of experts from around the world joined the Feb. 23 Luskin Summit webinar “International Models of Social Housing: Lessons for California” to brainstorm strategies to address housing affordability and homelessness. California Assembly member Alex Lee welcomed attendees and kicked off the event by noting that nearly half of California residents qualify as rent-burdened as a result of the affordable housing crisis. Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy Paavo Monkkonen led the conversation about the successes of social housing and urban planning in Europe that could be adopted in California. Researcher Kath Scanlon from the London School of Economics noted that the goal of social housing is to solve housing affordability, but a successful social housing program will start by alleviating some of the pressure in the housing market. “For a variety of reasons, not everyone is going to be able to house themselves in the way we think they should be housed,” Scanlon said. “If California wants to step up, it will not be straightforward, but you have to start somewhere.” Helsinki’s housing program manager, Hanna Dhalmann, discussed Finland’s largest and most successful municipal housing company. “The first step is to give people real homes,” Dhalmann said. She recommended starting by investing in building affordable housing and turning housing shelters into apartments. Finally, former Deputy Mayor Jean-Louis Missika described how Paris was able to significantly expand housing production. Vivian Rescalvo, a member of the Board of Advisors of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, offered a closing statement for the event.


Luskin Summit Underscores Urgency of Safeguarding Democracy

A panel of experts stressed the urgency of protecting voter rights at the Luskin Summit virtual event “Safeguarding Our Democracy” on Feb. 15. Chad Dunn, legal director of the UCLA Voting Rights Project, led the discussion about legislative attempts to restrict voting rights across the country, particularly in communities of color. “People of color made their voices heard in record numbers in the 2020 election, and in response to that, we are seeing a swift backlash to ensure that those voices are not heard again,” said Kristen Johnson, assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “It’s 2022, but we are dealing with 1964 issues with respect to voting. We can’t allow voter suppression to happen as if it is inevitable,” said Johnson, a UCLA Law alumna. Ernest Herrera, counsel for the Western Regional Office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said that voter suppression tactics are especially evident in states with growing Latino populations, including Washington and Texas. “There is discrimination and prevention of minorities from exercising their political power,” he said. “Unfortunately, many jurisdictions won’t comply with the Voting Rights Act until they are forced to.” Herrera recommended working to protect voter rights at the state level and getting involved in local government. Dunn concluded that “this has always been a two-steps-forward, one-step-back struggle, and there will be opportunities to move forward.” Civic leader Kafi Blumenfield, a member of the Luskin School of Public Affairs Board of Advisors, offered a closing statement for the event. — Zoe Day


Bau Awarded Sloan Research Fellowship

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Natalie Bau has received a 2022 Sloan Research Fellowship, one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early-career researchers. Bau, who has a joint appointment in the department of economics, is one of eight young UCLA professors to receive the fellowships, making UCLA No. 1 among U.S. and Canadian colleges and universities in the number of new fellows. Bau studies a variety of topics in development and education economics, with an emphasis on the industrial organization of educational markets. Her research has looked at how cultural traditions affect economic decision-making, how interpersonal skills facilitate intergenerational investment, whether government policy can change culture, and the effects of human capital investment in countries with child labor. Bau is affiliated with the Center for Economic and Policy Research and is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. This year, 118 scientists and scholars received a Sloan Research Fellowship. “Today’s Sloan Research Fellows represent the scientific leaders of tomorrow,” said Adam Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “As formidable young scholars, they are already shaping the research agenda within their respective fields — and their trailblazing won’t end here.” — Stuart Wolpert

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Doctoral Student Honored for Transportation Research

Julene Paul, a Ph.D. student in urban planning, was named the 2021 student of the year by the Pacific Southwest Region University Transportation Center, a federally funded network of eight partner campuses in Arizona, California and Hawaii. Paul works closely with the Institute of Transportation Studies and the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies at UCLA Luskin. Her research includes a study of the effects of COVID-19 on transportation behavior, an investigation into trends in automobile ownership, and a deep dive into BlueLA, an electric-car-sharing program that provides services to low-income areas of Los Angeles. She has presented some of her work at national conferences and has been published along with her co-authors, including her advisors, Evelyn Blumenberg and Brian Taylor. Paul’s interest in transportation was stoked while studying urban policy and working as a research assistant for the Education Innovation Laboratory as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Later, while pursuing her master’s degree in city and regional planning at Rutgers University, Paul worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. After graduating from Rutgers, she went on to work as a program manager at the Federal Transit Administration. When asked for advice for the current generation of urban planning students, Paul recommended taking advantage of internship opportunities and seeking out mentors from these experiences. She also encouraged students to venture out beyond their required classes when possible. Paul said a UCLA Law course in employment law challenged her to think critically about transportation policies and their effects on workers.