Cepeda: The American Dream might be down, but it's not out

By Esther Cepeda December 29, 2014 6 a.m.

There was a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song that came out in 1988 called "American Dream." It had a catchy tune but as a 14-year-old, I recoiled from it because it was so negative.

Cepeda: Discrimination discussions put Latinos in tough spot

By Esther Cepeda December 22, 2014 6 a.m.

I recently had to reiterate to my husband that minorities are far more scared of the police than non-minorities, even when we haven't done anything wrong.

Cepeda: Is technology unintentionally making us ignorant?

By Esther Cepeda November 6, 2014 6 a.m.

A decade ago, when I was a graduate student in teacher training, a frightening thing came from an accomplished and generally excellent professor.

Cepeda: Hispanic voters urged to declare their independence

By Esther Cepeda October 8, 2014 6 a.m.

Hispanics contemplating the upcoming elections must be wondering: "What now?"

Cepeda: Not all Hispanics hold same opinion on immigration

By Esther Cepeda October 1, 2014 6 a.m.

"Gerardo Lamas, the official spokesman for all Hispanics in the United States, resigned Thursday night," the satirical news site pocho.com deadpanned earlier this month. " 'I'll never be able to please anybody. … The truth is it's ridiculous to expect one person to be able to speak for millions from diverse backgrounds, geopolitical situations, economic castes and region-specific cultures,' he said."

Cepeda: Book delves into 'conspiracy' behind low-fat diets' surge

By Esther Cepeda September 18, 2014 6 a.m.

As a chubby and impressionable teen in the 1990s, desperate to lower my weight as Type 2 diabetes started afflicting my family, I was especially vulnerable to the Snackwell's-ification of American food.

Cepeda: It's time to focus on what we all have in common

By Esther Cepeda August 23, 2014 6 a.m.

'War" is too strong a word to use in regard to race relations. Despite continuing income inequality or how often the justice system seems to lack fairness when applied to nonwhites, few Americans would say that whites are waging a war on people of color.

Cepeda: Why do Hispanic women flock to movie theaters?

By Esther Cepeda July 23, 2014 6 a.m.

My family attended the first morning screening of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," which won its opening weekend's box office with a $73 million debut. According to Lucas Shaw's recent article "Hispanic Women Are This Summer's Most Avid Moviegoers" on the entertainment news site TheWrap, we are propping up the movie industry.

Cepeda: For the kids, make these weeks about the 'opposite'

By Esther Cepeda July 16, 2014 6 a.m.

We're deep into my family's unprecedented "Summer of Lethargy.''

Cepeda: Dehumanization of children has far-reaching impact

By Esther Cepeda March 29, 2014 6 a.m.

CHICAGO — “What could a 3-year-old possibly do to warrant being suspended from preschool?”

Cepeda: Battle over standardized testing turns ugly in Chicago

By Esther Cepeda March 14, 2014 6 a.m.

As education reform takes hold across the country, we find ourselves traveling through another dimension — one not only of hysterics but also of childish behavior. There's a signpost up ahead, our next stop: The Stupid Zone!

Cepeda: Grit, curiosity, character are keys to long-term success

By Esther Cepeda February 19, 2014 6 a.m.

It's been more than a year since Paul Tough's best-selling book "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character" revolutionized how we think of achievement.

Cepeda: Immigration reform shouldn't be all-or-nothing deal

By Esther Cepeda January 1, 2014 6 a.m.

Immigration reform is not dead — it's just waiting for lawmakers to drop the politics, strike a compromise and get it done.

Cepeda: Politician's halting Spanish is demonstration of respect

By Esther Cepeda December 18, 2013 6 a.m.

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says critics of his broken Spanish should just "get a life." Bloomberg, noting his continuing work on perfecting his facility with the second most-spoken language in the world, told a talk radio host, "You know, I'm going to get there; I don't have any doubts about that. And these people that make fun of me, you know, what do I care? You know, you wonder, why don't they just get a life?"

Cepeda: Making college a family matter for the disadvantaged

By Esther Cepeda November 20, 2013 6 a.m.

Want to boost the number of low-income Hispanic students who graduate from high school and go on to college? Then find a way to get their parents on board first.

Cepeda: A taste treat, not a takeover of the U.S. by Hispanics

By Esther Cepeda October 30, 2013 6 a.m.

There's something I contemptuously refer to as the "Hispanic Hype Machine." It's the Internet-enabled echo chamber that goes into overdrive every time a Latino-centric statistic comes out.

Cepeda: Wanted: Sense and sanity in immigration reform

By Esther Cepeda October 2, 2013 6 a.m.

With the on-again, off-again chances of achieving wide-ranging immigration reform, there's much to be exasperated about. But more frustrating are the smaller, slam-dunk situations that could be settled by other means.

Cepeda: Learning environments are tough on boys these days

By Esther Cepeda September 25, 2013 6 a.m.

It's been a windfall week for boys, those too-oft overlooked stakeholders in American education.

Cepeda: Minutemen trying to find way in a changing America

By Esther Cepeda September 11, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio recently told members of the Arizona Minuteman border-watch movement that they could end up "seeing 30 rounds fired into them" if they're not more careful where they point their guns. Arpaio issued his warning after a Minuteman was arrested for aiming a rifle at a sheriff's deputy he'd mistaken for a drug smuggler.

Cepeda: Short-timers might teach us something about teaching

By Esther Cepeda September 4, 2013 6:01 a.m.

When I started my teacher-training program a decade ago, I thought I'd be teaching for the rest of my life. Full of hope that I could make a difference in the lives of my community's neediest students, I couldn't imagine ever wanting to walk away from such a lofty goal. Yet, like so many others, I did — after a mere two years in the classroom.

Cepeda: Time to rethink the school year to avoid brain drain

By Esther Cepeda August 28, 2013 6:01 a.m.

It's late August and parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief that their tours of duty as surrogate educators finally will end.

Cepeda: The unbearable loudness of being in a public place

By Esther Cepeda August 14, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Some people relish the idea of a post-apocalyptic world because they fantasize about finally getting to kill and cook their own food and sanitize their own water.

Cepeda: U.S. teacher training programs need to hit the books

By Esther Cepeda July 7, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Maybe someday, I'll go back to school and re-experience teacher training decades after the current movement to bring rigor to such programs has finally taken hold in higher education. Perhaps then I could marvel at changes in the currently laughable system of identifying and preparing K-12 educators compared to 2003, when I started working toward my teaching certification and master's in education.

Cepeda: Immigration issue distorted by federal count of 'felons'

By Esther Cepeda January 7, 2013 6:01 a.m.

Recently on NBC's "Meet the Press," President Obama said fixing our broken immigration system is one of the top priorities of his second term. No doubt the president felt the need to reiterate this pledge after two weeks of news coverage detailing the impact his administration's unprecedented deportations have had on immigrant communities across the country. Those news features were kicked off by the Department of Homeland Security's announcement that a record 409,849 individuals were deported in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Cepeda: Making society safer goes beyond addressing guns

By Esther Cepeda December 31, 2012 6:02 a.m.

CHICAGO -- You have to applaud the White House for its pragmatism in managing expectations the day after President Obama attended a memorial service in honor of the victims of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn. Press secretary Jay Carney defended not having a full agenda for what the president described as "whatever power this office holds" to prevent more tragedies such as what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School: "It's a complex problem that will require a complex solution," Carney noted. "No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem."

Cepeda: Content counts as young people are reading more

By Esther Cepeda November 25, 2012 6 a.m.

Eight years after the National Endowment for the Arts declared a national reading crisis, there's a sliver of good news.

Cepeda: Keeping energy drinks out of kids' hands is difficult

By Esther Cepeda November 7, 2012 6 a.m.

For the better part of a year, I've been pulling my hair out about my kids' deep desire to guzzle sugary, high-caffeine "energy" drinks. Red Bull, Monster, MiO, Rockstar, NOS, 5-hour ENERGY — you name it, they want it.

Cepeda: Emphasis on Latino vote sets up potential scapegoat

By Esther Cepeda October 24, 2012 6 a.m.

With Election Day drawing closer, now is as good a time as any to review some recent headlines about the Latino vote. In early September, Emmy Award-winning actress America Ferrera gave attendees at a Democratic National Convention forum a hard-core reality check. "It is incredibly dangerous to take for granted that because Latinos are growing in number in this country, this is going to equal political engagement and political resolve," said Ferrera. "One doesn't automatically lead to the other."

Cepeda: Efforts to curb childhood obesity must target schools

By Esther Cepeda October 10, 2012 6 a.m.

The last week of September was an alarming week of obesity-related news. First, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the results of its "F as in Fat" report, projecting that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030 unless Americans make drastic dietary changes. Then, The New York Times reported that, according to data published by the University of Illinois at Chicago, white people lacking a high school diploma are experiencing sharp drops in life expectancy, reversing generations of progress to extend life spans. There are many possible reasons, including higher rates of smoking and a spike in prescription overdoses, but the skyrocketing rate of obesity is a known suspect.

Cepeda: Technology should teach, not entertain today's students

By Esther Cepeda August 8, 2012 6 a.m.

As America moves toward closing the digital divide by helping equip even the most impoverished schools with laptops, PCs, tablet computers and iPods, let us ponder the dawning of a new kind of gulf that's not based on lack of technology but the inability to use it meaningfully.

Cepeda: Sotomayor, Roberts are roll models

By Esther Cepeda July 15, 2012 6 a.m.

Two recent blockbuster Supreme Court decisions were seen as a loss for those who recoil at the thought of racial profiling and for those who see no difference between a penalty, a tax and a fundamental infringement on individual rights. But wherever you stand on the issues of state-based immigration enforcement or mandatory health care, the decisions are a victory for independent thinkers.

Cepeda: Unions learning that teachers' loyalty has its limits

By Esther Cepeda June 13, 2012 6 a.m.

As observers outside Wisconsin attempt to divine what the failed attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker means for November's presidential election, let us instead focus on what the so-called union-buster's triumph says about Big Labor. My favorite comment on the matter came via Twitter: "Please explain: why so many people I know who are in unions (trades or schoolteachers) are so excited for Walker's win?"

Cepeda: Term ‘anchor baby’ needs to be docked

By Esther Cepeda December 21, 2011 6 a.m.

Here’s a perfect example of why do-gooders who crusade for the personal dignity of illegal immigrants have all but lost the war of rhetoric.

Cepeda: Toys make a silent night impossible

By Esther Cepeda November 23, 2011 6 a.m.

Pity the new expectant mothers and fathers who diligently read parenting books and agree with the idea that making baby’s brain grow requires real human interaction. Their radical fantasies will soon be evaporated in a flurry of mistletoe, wrapping paper and good intentions.

Cepeda: Asian-American vote worth pursuing

By Esther Cepeda November 9, 2011 6 a.m.

With less than a year until Election Day 2012, candidates for political office should be making sure they’re not neglecting the most affluent, independent and now the fastest-growing racial group of voters simply because they have routinely been overlooked in past elections. Pity the candidates and political parties who haven’t yet figured out that Asian-Americans are coming into their own and that failing to acknowledge their rising political power may someday prove to be perilous. Sure, some might scoff, there are only about 18.5 million Asian-Americans and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders living in the country. But they rival the much-larger Hispanic community, counted by the Census Bureau as an ethnic subgroup, in the rate of growth. In 2007, the Asian community accounted for about 6 percent of business owners, almost on par with Hispanic and African-American entrepreneurs. They employed nearly 3 million Americans in 2007 and spent about $80 billion on payroll, more than businesses owned by any other racial group except for non-Hispanic whites. As of 2009, Asian-American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders had about $509 billion worth of buying power, an 89 percent change from 2000.