The Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community (CJTC) at UC Santa Cruz is a progressive research institute tackling issues of social justice, diversity and tolerance, and the building of collaborative relationships between the university and local community. Our overall mission is to promote EQUITY. We define this broadly, including studies of the roots of prejudice, the sources of economic inequality, and the obstacles to the building of community. We seek to work at the cutting edge, combining rigor and relevance, as we focus on what might be termed the civil rights issues of the new century. Most of all, we seek to promote research that translates into action.
Recent legislation on both federal and state levels has placed the intersection between children’s health and environmental justice on the forefront of public policy debate. This study looks at the intersection of air quality, children’s health, and school performance in the context of environmental equity in California. Information from the U.S. EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) is used to calculate a respiratory hazard ratio for each of California’s census tracts. These ratios are then associated with a geo-coded database of the state's public schools, including school-level information on student demographics and the school's academic performance. We find that students of color are disproportionately located in schools with higher respiratory hazard ratios and also find a link between respiratory hazards and school performance, even after controlling for other factors that affect student performance. We conclude by recommending that state and community actors seek improvements in data collection, better filtration and ventilation in schools, the fuller incorporation of school-level health concerns, and the reduction of pollution at its various sources.
Today's welfare system does not encourage postsecondary education, focusing instead on services aimed at immediate employment. The loss of postsecondary education as a route out of poverty for welfare recipients may be detrimental to some women. College graduation is associated with lower rates of return to aid and post-welfare poverty than attendance without graduation or no attendance. However, graduation rates for welfare recipients are well below national graduation rates.
Welfare recipients’ abilities to attend college while receiving aid has been severely curtailed by the TANF program, due in part to concerns about long-term education in a time-limited program. Yet, prior research indicates that college enrollment, and particularly graduation, are strong indicators of positive future outcomes. Findings from the NLSY indicate that during the pre-TANF period, 17 percent of welfare spells had some overlap with college enrollment. Among women who enroll, however, just 36 percent graduate at any point in the 20-year NLSY panel and receipt of financial aid loans is a strong predictor of graduation. Attending college while on aid is associated with up to an additional one and a half years of aid receipt. Graduation may help to ameliorate this, although women who are already enrolled in college when they begin to receive welfare are more likely to graduate than those who start college as welfare recipients.