Fighting Back Against Harassment on Public Transit

A Governing article about a Bay Area Rapid Transit campaign to deter sexual harassment on public transportation cited research by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of urban planning and interim dean of UCLA Luskin. The BART program was designed and developed by young people of color to encourage people who witness sexual harassment on trains and buses to discreetly intervene. Loukaitou-Sideris has led extensive studies of sexual harassment in public places, which she describes as an “omnipresent and consequential” phenomenon. Public transit environments can be uniquely conducive to harassers engaging in unwanted verbal and physical abuse, her research has found. Crowded vehicles provide both proximity and anonymity, while empty vehicles or stations can be unsafe for other reasons. The BART campaign includes circulating cards saying, “I got you” and “You got me?” It also encourages ways of showing support including standing with the person who is being harassed, texting BART Police or contacting the train conductor.


Tilly Navigates California’s Shifting Labor Landscape

UCLA Luskin Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly spoke to the California Sun podcast about the state’s shifting labor dynamics. High-profile strikes, concerns about inflation and the emerging role of technology in the workplace have raised the visibility of worker rights campaigns this year. “The cost of housing, of health care, of college tuition have risen on trajectories that are so out of sync with everything else, including pay,” Tilly said. One experimental approach to addressing these issues is a plan to raise the minimum wage for many fast-food workers in California to $20 an hour and create a nine-member council empowered to make future wage increases. “Having some space where labor interests and management interests and public interests can all sit down at the table and hammer out what might be a good way to go, I think that’s a good thing to do,” Tilly said. “If places like California don’t lead, the prospects for the country look a lot grimmer.”


When Gun Violence Erupts, Social Workers Are First Responders, Advocates and Educators

UCLA Luskin’s Ron Avi Astor spoke to Social Work Advocates for an article on the role of social workers when gun violence erupts on America’s streets and in schools, churches and homes. Social workers are both first responders and providers of continuing care. They also conduct research, lobby Congress and promote education on the responsible use of firearms. Astor, professor of social welfare and education, shared his research on strategies to prevent school shootings, including a study on the effectiveness of interventions implemented in California. “To our surprise, the numbers showed that there was a dramatic reduction, a huge, huge reduction in day-to-day victimization of kids in California over this 20-year period,” Astor said. “That’s an important story to get out there. What social workers are doing actually matters to kids in their day-to-day lives.”


Advanced High School Math Courses Pave Way for College Success, Report Finds

High school students interested in pursuing a career in STEM should have access to calculus classes in 12th grade, according to a new report by the Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI) at UCLA. The study analyzed college performance among more than 17,000 Los Angeles Unified School District graduates who attended a California community college or Cal State Northridge. It found that students who took math in 12th grade completed more college-level math credits compared to academically similar students who did not take math in 12th grade. It also found that students who took calculus in 12th grade completed more college-level math credits than those who took statistics. The findings underscore the importance of providing access to advanced mathematics courses in high school, which will particularly benefit students interested in pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and math, said Meredith Phillips, associate professor of public policy and co-founder of LAERI. An earlier report from the institute found that taking 12th grade math improves students’ chances of enrolling and continuing in higher education; the new study assesses student performance in the college environment. The research was funded by the nonprofit College Futures Foundation and conducted by scholars from UCLA, USC, Reed College and Loyola Marymount University. LAERI, based at UCLA Luskin, has collaborated with L.A. Unified for more than 10 years to produce research that district decision-makers and educators use to improve educational quality and equity in Los Angeles.

Read the LAERI reports: 

Twelfth Grade Math and College Access

Twelfth Grade Math and College Success


Cooper Joins State Task Force to Reform Child Welfare Policies

UCLA Luskin Social Welfare faculty member Khush Cooper has been named to a new state task force that will develop recommendations for reforming California’s policies mandating the reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect. Research shows that only a small percentage of these reports are confirmed as maltreatment, and that Black, Latino and Indigenous children and families in California are much more likely to be reported and become involved in the child welfare system. The task force was launched to guide the state as it transitions away from a system focused on reporting families to government agencies, and instead prioritizes child safety and family unity by providing robust, culturally appropriate community supports. Working under the auspices of the California Child Welfare Council, the task force will consider several factors, including narrowing the legal definition of “neglect,” reducing racial and socioeconomic bias in mandated reporting, and determining the best way to provide concrete support to families in need. It will produce a report including actionable steps by June 2024. Cooper earned her master and doctorate of social welfare at UCLA Luskin. In addition to her teaching and research, she serves as a consultant to public and private child welfare organizations in areas that include foster care, LGBTQ+ youth and residential treatment.


Mullin on ‘Glimmers of Possibility’ on Climate Action

News outlets including Ethnic Media Services, The Hill, La Opinión and Peninsula 360 Press covered research by UCLA Luskin’s Megan Mullin about the entrenched political divide that has impeded action on climate change — as well as signals that the logjam is starting to break. “I am seeing glimmers of possibility that climate action may yet be underway even as American climate politics remains firmly in the grip of polarization,” said Mullin, professor of public policy and faculty director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, at a briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services. Not only are Republican-led states seeing growing levels of clean-energy production, she said, but many heavily Republican areas of the country are at high risk for the worst effects of climate change. Mullin also cited the climate change literacy of younger generations, which is “leaps and bounds beyond the literacy of older generations, and that translates into smaller divides, even among young Republicans.” 


If You Want to Reform Parking, Don’t Mention the Word ‘Parking’

The influence of UCLA Luskin’s Donald Shoup, the renowned advocate for parking reforms designed to make cities more livable, is taking hold across the country and around the world. In an extensive interview with the Hindustan Times, Shoup explained how India could build public support for eliminating free parking, the cause of gridlock and pollution, by using revenues to benefit the community. “If you want to reform parking, don’t mention the word ‘parking,’” Shoup advised. “Just ask people what public services are lacking in their neighborhood. Once you find out, tell them you don’t have money to pay for that. But one way that other cities have done it is to charge market prices for curb parking and spend that revenue to pay for services that people want. … It’s the neighborhood that decides.” Shoup added, “India is the country that will benefit most from parking reforms. One city does it right, and other cities will do it too.”


Housing Shortage Persists Despite Population Decline

UCLA Luskin’s Michael Lens spoke to the Los Angeles Times for an article explaining why California housing prices have defied the laws of supply and demand, with mortgages and rents remaining stubbornly high even though the state’s population has declined in recent years. One reason is that, for decades, the pace of housing production did not keep up with demand, creating a backlog made even more enormous by the surge of Millennials now seeking to enter the housing market. “The cost of living in California and Los Angeles is so high … that we know a lot of people can’t move here and we know a lot of people can’t remain here, because they are priced out,” said Lens, a professor of urban planning and public policy.


Storper on Tug-of-War Over Senate Bill 9

A Planetizen article on actions taken by municipalities opposed to Senate Bill 9, the California law allowing property owners to build additional units on lots zoned for single-family housing, cited research by Michael Storper, distinguished professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin. Four Southern California cities have filed suit against the state, arguing that permitting the subdivision of single-family lots violates the California Constitution by taking away the rights of charter cities to have control over local land-use decisions. Storper issued a declaration in support of the plaintiffs that included a copy of a journal article he co-authored in 2019 that challenged the theoretical underpinnings that led to SB 9, which is intended to provide affordable housing options for Californians. “Blanket changes in zoning are unlikely to increase domestic migration or to improve affordability for lower-income households in prosperous areas,” the authors wrote. “They would, however, increase gentrification within metropolitan areas and would not appreciably decrease income inequality.”


On the Chronic, Day-to-Day Toll of Rising Temperatures

V. Kelly Turner, associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, joined the podcast America Adapts for an expansive conversation on the effects of rising temperatures on public health. While record-setting heat has received widespread media coverage over the summer, Turner stressed that governments must develop not just climate emergency plans, but long-term resiliency strategies that protect people from the chronic day-to-day experience of elevated temperatures. “We talk a lot about extreme heat and we talk a lot about mortality and we talk about heat sickness, but what we don’t really talk about is the myriad ways that heat affects well-being in our daily lives. It affects your cognitive abilities, your emotional state. You’re more likely to be angry, unable to concentrate,” Turner said. “I think these are ways that the lived experience for many Americans is going to be degraded because they don’t have access to cool communities or cool infrastructure.”