Sometimes they help at risk students see the possibility of a successful future:
On Wednesday, Sasai, along with 11 other Pacific students, went to August School in east Stockton to start mentorships with soon-to-be high schoolers as part of his HopeStreet Backpack Outreach, a program Sasai founded in 2011.
The middle school students received backpacks for starters. But the most valuable gift is perhaps the mentors themselves.
They’ll be responsible for giving the August students advice throughout their upcoming high school careers about peer pressure, homework and even how to ask a girl to prom.
“Don’t ask a girl to prom over text,” Sasai said, and giggles followed. “It makes it awkward.”
Sasai offered the younger students Pacific campus tours when they’re ready and provided his contact information. “I want you guys to ask me anything,” he said.
The ongoing contact is a much appreciated resource at August, which has a largely disadvantaged student population, said Principal Lori Risso. All of the children receive free or reduced-price lunches.
“A lot of the kids think they can’t afford to go to college,” Risso said. The Pacific volunteers, she said, can relate to the kids and encourage them to seek scholarships and other financial aid.
“It makes the vision of going to high school and college possible.”
Kyle who excels in the classroom as a political science major and a member of the Pacific Legal Scholars program, has proven that academic excellence can go together seemlessly with community leadership.
Sasai . . . founded the program his first year of college. Since then, he has gathered volunteers to fill backpacks, write the kids letters and train for the continuing interaction.
Pacific mentors are each assigned about five students to befriend and help guide.
With the students they reached this year, they have connected with 500 middle school students since 2011.
Nobel Prize winner and political scientist Elinor Ostrom has died. Dr. Ostrom is primarily known for her work on collective action problems and how societies solve them (see her book Governing the Commons), for which she won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics. She took issue with the idea that governments are always necessary to reach socially optimal outcomes (although they are necessary in some cases), and instead believed that communities can and do solve these kinds problems on their own.
Here’s an interview Dr. Ostrom did with NPR’s Planet Money team after winning the Nobel, where she explains her pioneering work on the tragedy–or, as she calls it, the problem–of the commons. Be sure to listen for the deer.
- Interview With Nobel Prize Winner Elinor Ostrom On Climate Change (chimalaya.org)
- Ostrom Does What Economists Should Do (cafehayek.com)
- Ironic Nobel Prize Award in Economics: Ostrom & Williamson (ritholtz.com)
- A Well-Deserved Nobel (due-diligence.typepad.com)
In 2008, in partnership with the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters, a group of faculty from a variety of programs at Pacific designed and executed a voter education campaign. The education campaign had three primary goals: (1) to reduce voter induced error in elections (e.g., improperly marking a ballot), (2) to reduce polling-place induced error in elections (e.g., improperly enforcing regulations), and (3) increasing voter awareness and positive perceptions of voting by mail.
At this year’s Midwest Political Science Association meeting, Prof. Dari Sylvester and I presented an analysis of the campaign’s effects relative to this last goal. The main question was, did knowledge about and positive perceptions of voting by mail increase as a result of the education campaign?
To assess these impacts, we relied on three waves (in May, July, and November) of random telephone surveys of registered voters conducted as part of the broader project. The surveys asked respondents four questions of interest:
- Who can vote by mail?
- How does one sign up for permanent vote by mail?
- Are there any advantages to voting by mail? Respondents were prompted to provide up to three advantages.
- Are there any disadvantages to voting by mail? Again, respondents were prompted to provide up to three responses.
Using these questions we constructed four variables:
- Who: The respondent correctly identified who could vote by mail (everyone)
- How: The respondent correctly identified how to sign up for permanent vote by mail (a variety of ways)
- Convenience: The respondent identified convenience as an advantage to voting by mail
- Net advantages: The number of advantages identified by the respondent minus the number of disadvantages
The table below presents the change in each of these variables over the three survey waves.
There are a couple of important points that come out of this table. First, people already know a lot about voting by mail. Generally, we expect between 10 to 30 percent of respondents to answer recall questions like these correctly. Here, roughly two-thirds of respondents were able to answer these questions correctly and thought of voting by mail as convenient–even before the education campaign began. As such, there wasn’t a whole lot of educating to do about vote by mail.
Second, while we can identify some statistically significant increases in voter knowledge and perceptions over the course of the education campaign, the effects are relatively small. In part, this is because of the relatively high starting values for each variable. At the same time, though, it is also because relatively few people reported exposure to the campaign in the surveys (and many of those that did report exposure likely weren’t exposed to it). Given the limited reach of the campaign, there was very little educating that could be done–even if people didn’t already know a lot.