Monday, October 02, 2006

How media elitism misrepresents the American family, Part 2

From Po and Ash:

We learned this weekend that our essay about Barbie and Baby Einstein will be running in Today's issue of Time Magazine (issue dated: October 9th). We are occasionally asked for more information about our sources, so we thought we'd just provide all of the sources for this essay.

So, facts from the essay are italicized here, with comments and sources in plain text.

Last year, the Baby Einstein brand , now a Disney property, sold $200 million worth of products. The sales of the Barbie brand, a Mattel property, were 15 times higher. A staggering $3 billion.

Please note these are both "brand" dollar volumes, worldwise, which was the best apples-to-apples comparison we could find. The Baby Einstein numbers come from the company's press materials, and the Barbie brand sales come from various sources.

Now, on to the facts about our children and the typical American family. If you wonder how these facts can so often get misrepresented, remember what Claude Fisher said. He's a Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley. "A social trend is whatever is happening to a newspaper editor and the editor's friends."

American high school students think their parents are doing less to help them in school, not more, in such things as attending PTA meetings and helping out with homework.

This comes from the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, in which teachers, parents, and students were asked about various connections to each other associated with schooling. Students were asked "do your parents go to PTA meetings? have they been on a field trip? did they go to teacher-parent conference? did they go to open school night?" The survey showed that there has been a drop of 10% since 1998 in student's perceptions of their parents' involvement.

Nor is every teenager spoiled or lazy; nearly a third of 16-year-olds have jobs while in school.

See the Bureau of Labor Statistics Report at
Note the line on 16 to 17 year olds.
And note this is NOT summer jobs, that’s another report.

Nearly a third of them volunteer, about one hour a week

"Volunteering in the United States, 2005" Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Only 2% of students apply to 12 or more colleges, and only 150 of the nation's 3,500 colleges are so selective that they turn down over half their applicants.

“Out of Control Admissions Hype,” Inside Higher Ed,

See also “Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity and Selective College Admissions,” by Anthony P. Carnevale and Stephen J. Rose, The Century Foundation., p. 8

Forty four percent of colleges accept every single applicant.

Table 308. Percentage of degree-granting institutions with first-year undergraduates using various selection criteria for admission, by type and control of institution: Selected years, 2000-01 through 2004-05

Some graduates do move home after college, but in the 1980s, more 18-34 year olds lived at home than do today.

See the census report for the last CPS, 2003

Only one out of twenty kids in America will ever be cared for by a nanny.

Who’s Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Winter 2002 (P70-101)
which is pulled from SIPP reports.

A survey of young Latinos showed many hadn’t applied to college because they had heard colleges are too selective and too expensive.

"Perceptions of College Financial Aid Among California Latino Youth," Maria Estela Zarate, Ph.D. and Harry P. Pachon, Ph.D., The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, June 2006. This is from a study by the University of Southern California for all Latinos of eligible college age, many of whom were not in college. They were asked to estimate how much they thought colleges cost, from their local community college to the UC system colleges. The respondents way overestimated the costs. They also were asked how good their grades had to be to get admitted to these state colleges and local colleges, and again, they believed their own grades made them ineligible – when in fact that was not the case. The study authors cite the solution to this problem as proper media coverage of the issue. The report said they would have been more likely to attend college if exposed to better information.

In addition, Ashley Merryman discussed the issue with young Latinos in Los Angeles, blamed their misimpression on what the media tells them.

We also interviewed Dr. Teresa Toguchi Swarz, Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota, Department of Sociology. Her research (ongoing) shows that the media's shaming of college kids who live at home is hurting Hispanic and Asian families. These immigrant kids aren't lazy; they live at home because it's their culture and they don't have the money to both live apart from their parents and pay for college tuition. Nevertheless, the media coverage has made them feel defensive, embarrassed, and Un-American. Dr. Swarz co-presented (with Erika Busse) a version of this data, in a speech entitled, “Young Adults’ Understanding of Their Relationships With the Parents: Preliminary Findings from Interviews with Diverse Ethnic Groups,” given at the American Sociological Association Convention in Montreal, Quebec on August 11, 2006.


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