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Faculty Op-Eds

Jessica Fish and Stephen Russell, The Conversation, "Are Jokesters Screwing Up Our Data on Gay Teenagers?" (June 12, 2017)

Are LGB youth likely to be "jokesters" and invalidate important health survey data? In this op-ed, PRC researchers Jessica Fish and Stephen Russell discuss their recent research on that topic: "We discovered that more than 98 percent of youth told the truth on self-report surveys. We also found that LGB youth were not any more likely than heterosexual youth to provide mischievous responses." Furthermore, the authors conclude: "The facts about health risks for LGB youth are important – there are serious disparities that continue to need attention from researchers, policymakers, educators and families."

Abigail Aiken, The Irish Times, "The Abortion Stories the Citizen's Assembly Was Not Allowed to Hear," (March 10, 2017)

“Time and time again women have told us: it is not the abortion that is harmful, but the laws that so stigmatise and isolate them for choosing it,” writes LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor and PRC faculty research associate Abigail Aiken in an op-ed for The Irish Times about Ireland’s Citizen’s Assembly meeting on the Eighth Amendment, which constitutionally bans abortion.  Aiken explains that the experiences of the least advantaged women, who often utilize telemedicine abortion, were silenced, thus ignoring the significant inequity in access to abortion care in Ireland: “The organisers of the Citizens’ Assembly had the power to give Irish women the opportunity to tell these stories… instead… They looked the other way and allowed the voices of the least advantaged members of society to go unheard.”

Yasmiyn Irizarry, The Austin American-Statesman, "Healing Won't Begin until LASA Represents all of Austin ISD," (February 25, 2017)

“Moving LASA away from LBJ in the name of more space and shorter commutes won’t improve tensions between LASA and communities of color nor will it address deeply rooted inequities in the district…. Most importantly, whether LASA remains at LBJ or moves to a new site, healing cannot begin until LASA represents the diversity of all of the district’s students.” PRC faculty research associate and UT African-American and Diaspora Studies professor Yasmiyn Irizarry writes in an op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman. A mother of a Liberal Arts and Science Academy student, Irizarry argues that moving LASA away from LBJ will perpetuate inequalities already dividing the school. Irizarry explains, “Moving LASA — a program that failed to integrate LBJ — to the site of Old Anderson — a school where black students were forced to vacate in the name of integration — dishonors this history and aggravates wounds the district has yet to set right.”

Joesph Potter and Kari White (Texas Policy Evaluation Project), The Washington Post, "Defunding Planned Parenthood was a Disaster in Texas. Congress Shouldn't Do It Nationally," (February 7, 2017)

In this op-ed, Joseph Potter and Kari White of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project discuss the history of family planning cuts and removal of Planned Parenthood from the Women's Health Program in Texas in the context of the national push for defunding Planned Parenthood and making cuts to the federal Title X program. The authors conclude: "Rather than repeat the Texas experience, the new administration could be inspired by another era in Republican history. With the 1970 bipartisan passage of the Title X program, President Richard Nixon stated 'no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.' This national commitment to women should not be abandoned now."

Karen Fingerman, Dallas Morning News, "Celebrity Deaths in 2016 Reflect Troubling Mortality Trends," (January 9, 2017)

PRC faculty research associate Karen Fingerman published an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News discussing how celebrity deaths in 2016 reflect disturbing mortality trends nationwide. Fingerman writes, “Unfortunately, the celebrity headlines serve as harbingers of a bigger trend: an increase in deaths more broadly. For the first time in nearly a century, the U.S. saw an increase in mortality.”  The lives of low-income individuals with little education, especially without insurance or access to healthy food, are at the greatest risk. Fingerman argues that the solution to this increase in mortality is not simply eating right and exercising more: “We need to meet basic mental and physical health care needs for those at greatest risk. Because in 2017, even if we witness fewer celebrity deaths, we've got to look out for the rest of the population if we want to reverse the downward trend and get back on track for improved longevity.”

John Traphagan, Harvard Business Review, "We're Thinking About Organizational Culture All Wrong" (January 6, 2016)

“A common thread in the study of organizational culture is the idea of culture as a unifying force that brings people together to work productively toward the attainment of organizational goals,” PRC faculty research associate John Traphagan writes in an op-ed for the Harvard Business Review about rethinking the structure of organizational culture. Traphagan argues that culture may actually be a divisive force for employees: “Culture isn’t just about unity; it’s also about division…. The attempt to unify an organization by creating a “culture” is ultimately an exercise of power.” Traphagan concludes, “The reality of culture is that it represents a tremendously complex variable that can both bring people together and pull them apart — or do both at the same time.”

Jack Day, Austin-American Statesman, "Punitive Practices Do Not Keep Children Safer at School" (January 4, 2017)

PRC Postdoctoral Research associate Jack Day published an op-ed in the Austin-American Statesman on the stark reality of homophobic bullying in schools and how to best support victims of this bullying. Day writes, “Schools often turn to punitive practices to deter negative behavior… But these practices are not getting the job done… However, youth reports of homophobic bullying were lower in schools with more supportive practices, such as considering discipline on a case-by-case basis and providing counseling services to address behavioral issues.” Day concludes, “Teachers, school administrators and policymakers should explore ways to make schools supportive places in which all students feel safe… Doing so will make schools a place in which all youths can focus on learning, improve their relationships with others and succeed academically.”

Abigail Aiken and Fred Tally-Foos, Waco Tribune, "Governor Abbott Cares More About Donors Than Women" (December 29, 2016) 

PRC faculty research associate Abigail Aiken, along with UT Plan II Honors undergraduate Fred Tally-Foos, published an op-ed in the Waco Tribune about Gov. Abbott’s recent push to enforce fetal burial or cremation following women’s abortions and miscarriages regardless of the stage in pregnancy or individual consent. The authors argue, “But these rules are not just about conservative lawmakers attempting to find alternative ways to stop women from obtaining abortions. They are, pure and simple, a fundraising campaign: a self-aggrandizing effort by lawmakers to appeal to conservative donors.”  They conclude, “It is reprehensible for elected officials to waste time on what amounts to fundraising projects and exhibitions of personal moral ideologies that serve only to interfere in the lives of others… This is an example of a costly and irresponsible state government.”

Abigail Aiken, The Austin-American Statesman, "Metrics Are The Difference Between Good and Bad Policy" (December 30, 2016)

PRC faculty research associate Abigail Aiken published a commentary article in the Austin-American Statesman about how to best shape policy as a member of the Travis Country Central Health Board. Aiken explains that choosing the best metrics to evaluate health is essential in serving the health care needs of the community. She writes, “In these uncertain times, the people of Travis County deserve an affirmative vision of progress in line with Central’s Health’s core mission. They also deserve thoughtful reflection on what exactly needs to be achieved and what measurement and evaluation efforts are going to demonstrate the results without creating perverse incentives.” Aiken concludes “But to get the metrics right requires genuine conversations with members of the community and with health-care providers, coupled with a deep engagement with measurement methodology and health-care policy implementation.”

Karen Fingerman, The Dallas Morning News, "Reaching Out To People During the Holidays Still Matters" (December 21, 2016)

In this op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, Karen Fingerman examines the meaning of holiday cards for recipients of different ages. Fingerman concludes: "We can't say whether a listserv email or a generic photocopied letter can lift spirits the way that handwritten notes did in the 20th century. But people still like connections to friends and family — particularly at a hectic time like the holiday season.  So reach out via Twitter, Instagram, text, emoji or email."

Jacqueline Angel, The Austin-American Statesman, "The Nation's Health is Under Attack" (December 4, 2016)

“It is well understood that the economy of a country becomes more robust as the health and well-being of its citizens improves... But word that President-elect Donald Trump wants to cut or modify the Affordable Care Act could undermine the progress we’ve made as a nation,” writes PRC faculty research associate Jacqueline Angel in an op-ed in the Austin-American Statesman. Angel warns of the possible effects of President-elect Trump’s proposed cuts to the Affordable Care Act. She concludes, "The health of the nation is on the line." 

Jacqueline Angel, The Dallas Morning News, "The Risks of Meddling with Obamacare When the Nation's Health is on the Line" (November 22, 2016)

In an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, Jacqueline Angel warns against President-Elect Trump’s proposed cuts to the Affordable Care Act. She writes, “One of the biggest impacts will be on the fate of minorities and low-income women. The lack of affordable health insurance among these vulnerable Americans poses a particularly serious threat to the nation's economy.” Furthermore, the growing elderly population in the U.S. will suffer disproportionately if the ACA is modified. Though Trump plans to keep coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and coverage for young adults under their parents’ insurance until age 26, Angel recommends that he maintain another provision of the ACA: “What he should also consider is keeping the requirement that caps enrollees’ annual out-of-pocket expenses…. The health of the nation is one the line.” 

Elizabeth Gershoff and Sarah A. Font, The Houston Chronicle, "School Corporal Punishment Should Be Banned" (November 8, 2016)

In an op-ed for the Houston Chronicle, PRC faculty research associate Elizabeth Gershoff and her colleague Sarah A. Font demand a national ban on corporal punishment in schools because corporal punishment is ineffective in promoting better behavior and disproportionately abuses black, male, and disabled children. Gershoff argues that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence supports an end to this practice: “When professionals from a variety of disciplines who work with children and families are united in publicly calling for an end to school corporal punishment in this country… it's obvious national change is needed.”

Eric McDaniel, The Conversation, "Religious Feelings Could Sway the Vote in 2016 Election" (October 20, 2016)

“Scholars have paid close attention to the role of racial hostility in elections. However, this election has demonstrated a need to pay closer attention to the role of religious hostility as well as how the experience influences the political and social engagement of religious minorities – irrespective of the election results.” In his op-ed in The Conversation PRC faculty research associate Eric McDaniel discusses the differences in reported religious and racial hostility based on political alignment and predicted voting in the 2016 presidential election. He writes, “Republicans expressed the strongest preference for whites over Muslims, blacks and Hispanics, compared to independents and Democrats.”

Abigail Aiken, Rebecca Gomperts, and James Trussell, Irish Times, "Demand For Abortion Pills Highlights Need For Change In The Law" (October 17, 2016) 

In an op-ed for The Irish Times, PRC faculty research associate Abigail Aiken and colleagues call for abortion reform in Ireland in light of their recent research on Irish women using the abortion pill ordered through a telemedicine website. Though these women ultimately reported an overwhelming sense of relief following their at-home abortions, they experienced a “shroud of secrecy behind which they were compelled to keep their abortions.” Aiken and her colleagues demand an end to Ireland’s restrictive abortion legislation to relieve women of this damaging stigma: “Simply put, it is time to trust women. It is time for abortion reform.”

Elizabeth Gershoff and Sarah A. Font, Star-Telegram, "U.S. Should Ban School Corporal Punishment" (October 12, 2016)

In an op-ed for the Star-Telegram, Elizabeth Gershoff calls for a federal law banning corporal punishment in schools: “The United States is one of only two industrialized countries that still allow corporal punishment in schools.” She explains that research does not support any benefits from corporal punishment for students or schools, writing “Dozens of research studies have confirmed that corporal punishment does not promote better behavior in children, nor does it help them do better in school.” Ultimately, she demands an end to this antiquated method of punishment in both public and private schools across the nation.  

Elizabeth Gershoff, Austin American-Statesman, "Federal Law Banning Corporal Punishment Long Over Due" (October 11, 2016)

“Corporal punishment should have no place in our schools,” Elizabeth Gershoff argues in in an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman. Gershoff explains that minority children are the most common targets of corporal punishment: “… We found boys, black children and children with disabilities are much more likely to be corporally punished than girls, non-black children and children without disabilities.” She concludes, “We can and must do better for our children.”

Rebecca Callahan, Austin American-Statesman, "More Emphasis Needed on Social Studies to Increase Voting" (October 11, 2016)

In an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman, Rebecca Callahan argues that lack of focus on social studies education in public schools is to blame for low voter turnouts in recent years, especially for children of immigrants whose voices are particularly important in the coming elections. Callahan explains, “Not only are educated people more likely to vote, research suggests that high school social studies courses promote voting among children of immigrants.” Social studies education empowers young voters: “We must make sure all students receive the tools necessary to understand their responsibility and make the dream come true.”

Kevin O'Neal Cokley, The Conversation, "What It Means To Be Black In The American Educational System" (October 2, 2016)

"The unfortunate reality is that black Americans experience subtle and overt discrimination from preschool all the way to college." This essay for The Conversation by Kevin O'Neal Cokley, The University of Texas at Austin Professor of Educational Psychology and African and African Diaspora Studies, takes an in-depth look at some of the realities of educational disparities in the U.S.

David Yeager et al., Dallas Morning News, "Our Traditional Approach to Nutrition Education Does Nothing for Teens" (Sept. 21, 2016)

"What if there were a way to channel teens' natural rebelliousness into a force for good?" David Yeager and his co-authors pose this question in an op-ed about changing the way we teach nutrition to teens. In a randomized experiment with approximately 500 eighth-graders in Texas, the researchers concluded that the following message encourages healthy choices: "If you want to be controlled by rich, company execs who make money getting children addicted to soda and junk food, but won't eat it themselves, then go ahead and eat those foods. If you want to make your own decisions, and fight back against injustice and hypocrisy, then drink water or eat healthier food."

Goleen Samari, Dallas Morning News, "Why We Should Treat Islamophobia as a Public Health Issue" (Sept. 21, 2016)

This op-ed tackles the issue of the public health threat of Islamophobia in the United States. PRC postdoctoral scholar Goleen Samari calls for action: "Health professionals should be aware of these discriminatory barriers that patients face when receiving care and their own implicit bias when they deliver care. Media coverage should reflect the diversity of the American Muslim population and shift thedialogue away from illness-inducing stereotypes. And lawmakers must realize that policies that single out and discriminate against Muslims make Americans sick."

Jacqueline Angel, Dallas Morning NewsAustin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Waco Tribune-Herald "Graying Population Will Challenge Texas to Pay for Care" (Sept. 13, 2016)

In this op-ed analyzing the impact of the aging population of Texas, Jacqueline Angel writes, "Texas is aging at a time when informal family-based support structures are coming under greater strain. Long-term care financing must occupy an important place on the state's public policy agenda in the future. Because Mexican-origin elders have far fewer resources to use to pay for long-term care, the role of Medicaid and other programs deserves serious public attention. Next year, the Texas Legislature must engage in thoughtful debate. Otherwise, it will be at the peril of the most vulnerable populations in the state."

Sharmila Rudrappa, Huffington Post, "Why India's Surrogacy Bill is Bad for Women" (August 26, 2016)

“The new Surrogacy Bill is poised to create a situation where women… are at the receiving end of their commissioning parents’ mercy.” In this op-ed, Sharmila Rudrappa explains that India’s new bill prohibiting the commodification of surrogacy does more to ease the Indian conscience than to protect surrogate mothers. While this legislation bans surrogacy for financial compensation, women are still allowed to give surrogate children as a selfless gift to a heterosexual close “relative.” The receivers of this altruistic gift have no contractualobligation to the surrogate mothers, leaving them legally and financially unprotected after handing out their reproductive labor for free. 

Stephen Russell, Austin American-Statesman, "Going Back to School is Risky for Some Youths" (August 24, 2016)

In this op-ed, Russell responds to new nationwide report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found consistent and dramatic violence, alcohol and substance use and sexual risk behavior among lesbian, gay and bisexual students compared with heterosexual students. Russell writes, "What Texas needs are school policies and programs to reduce discrimination and violence so that all youths can thrive."

Leticia Marteleto, Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle: "Women, Regardless of Class, Need Access to Zika Prevention"  (August 16, 2016)

An op-ed by Leticia Marteleto focuses on class and Zika: "A recent poll suggests that the majority of Americans agree that the federal government should increase funding for Zika response efforts, including helping women increase access to reproductive health care services. Meanwhile, international agencies have advised women in highly affected areas to postpone pregnancy. But women of reproductive age are perceiving their ability to protect themselves from this new health threat differently based on their socioeconomic status. This increases the vulnerability of those already vulnerable."

Jacqueline Angel, Austin American-Statesman: "Candidates’ Lack of Details Create Problem for Seniors" (August 5, 2016)

An op-ed by Jacqueline Angel in the Austin American-Statesman focuses on the relative lack of attention in this election cycle on Medicare and Social Security reform. Angel writes, "It is unlikely that either candidate will endorse sweeping changes in Medicare and Social Security given the wide popularity of the programs... But changing these programs will have consequences for the well-being of all Americans. Both candidates will need to convince younger Americans that entitlements should be reformed. Both candidates should share their plans on how to make Social Security and Medicare financially sound now and for future generations."

John Traphagan, The World Post: "America’s Trickle Down Culture Of Fear And Suspicion" (July 10, 2016)

In a World Post column, PRC research associate John W. Traphagan examines the Dallas shootings cross-culturally, focusing on the differences between the U.S. and Japan. "When I look at America from abroad, that’s really where the problem seems to lie — Americans have created a culture of suspicion and distrust over the past few decades that pervades the relationships between and among those who have different opinions about how best to organize society and keep people safe, productive, and happy."

Abigail Aiken, TIME Magazine, "Women and Children Are Pawns in Zika Politics" (July 5, 2016)

PRC research associate Abigail Aiken in TIME on the failure of Congress to pass a Zika appropriations bill: "At the heart of Congress’ failure to ensure equitable access to contraception and abortion is a craven political choice: that reproductive autonomy and individual liberty matter less than ideological pandering. This posturing must stop. With such high stakes, those with the power to make public policy that places women in control of their own reproductive decisions must ensure safe, legal, and accessible reproductive choices."

Abigail Aiken, Dallas Morning News, "We're Failing Women Amid the Zika Crisis" (June 28, 2016)

In this follow-up op-ed to her NEJM letter, Abigail Aiken writes about abortion and ‪Zika: "The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a controversial Texas abortion law... Although women in the state will not suffer further restrictions on their access to abortion providers, women with the fewest resources still stand to be disproportionately affected by the risk of Zika.They are the least likely to be able to access highly effective methods of contraception to prevent pregnancy, the least likely to be able to access the medical care required to diagnose and monitor Zika infection, and the least likely to be able to access a full range of reproductive options, including abortion."

Joseph Potter and Amanda Stevenson, Health Affairs Blog, "Is There Any Room Left For Empirical Research On Family Planning?" (June 28, 2016)

New Health Affairs Blog post by TxPEP lead investigator Dr. Joseph Potter and graduate research associate Amanda Stevenson investigates whether the politicization of Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care in general has led to a situation where meaningful, empirically based debate over specific policies is no longer possible.

Robert Crosnoe, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "On Father’s Day, Remember Helping Dads Helps Children," (June 14, 2016)

PRC researcher Robert Crosnoe published an opinion column on fatherhood in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for Father's Day. In the piece, he discusses social and cultural barriers to involved fatherhood in the United States. He concludes: "It is a worthy cause to give fathers the help that they need to stick around and get involved. It might take a lot of time and effort, but that help would be good for fathers, good for children and good for society."

Karen Fingerman, Dallas Morning News, "Why It's Okay for Grown Children to Move Back Home" (June 2, 2016)

"If co-residence between generations is a reflection of economic distress, this does not bode well for the future. On the other hand, the bonds between parents and grown children are stronger than ever, and this may bode well." PRC's Karen Fingerman's guest column in the Dallas Morning News discusses the mutual benefits for adult children living with their parents in light of this growing trend. 

Javier Auyero, New York Times, "Guns on Campus Make Colleges Less Safe" (May 31, 2016)

"Do I dread the potential presence of young vigilantes… certainly. But I do not want to concede an inch to fear mongers.” Javier Auyero identifies the real dangers of the campus carry policy at UT Austin in an op-ed discussing how guns on campus threaten the learning environment: “I fear that sharing a classroom with students 'packing heat' will stop shocking us as it now does, and that we will become something other than what we are: Women and men committed to teaching and learning in environments where everybody can freely express his or her ideas.”

David Pedulla, The Conversation, "We Need to Look Beyond Unemployment to Fix Labor Market Inequality" (March 31, 2016)

PRC researcher David Pedulla presents his recent work on the nuances of labor in The Conversation US. "One question that scholars have explored recently is whether being unemployed actually makes it harder to get another job. The answer appears to be yes."

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