What people say about Color and Money-

"Anyone interested in the inequities of the selective college admissions process will find Color and Money clear-eyed, hard-hitting, enlightening, and informative."--Rachel Toor, author of Admissions Confidential: An Insider's Account of the Elite College Selection Process.
"For those concerned about why the march toward social justice in America has faltered badly for nearly forty years, Peter Schmidt's Color and Money is a highly instructive--and greatly disturbing--guidepost." --Richard Kluger, author of Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality.
"An indispensible guide to the debate over affirmative action in the United States."--Michael Lind, author of The Next American Nation.
"This book is a must read for anyone concerned with access to higher education, especially to the nation’s elite universities, as well as with larger questions of social policy and social justice."--Terry MacTaggart, Former Chancellor, University of Maine System
"Books on the highly-charged issue of affirmative action are usually one-sided and inflammatory. Peter Schmidt's Color and Money is a wonderful exception. It provides an honest and fair examination that is also passionate and illuminating."--Richard D. Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation, and author of The Remedy: Class, Race, and Affirmative Action

Peter Schmidt is available as a speaker

Peter Schmidt is available to speak at colleges, bookstores, schools, churches, and at gatherings of education associations. His past speaking engagements are listed at the bottom of this Web site. If interested in having him appear, e-mail him at schmidt_peter@msn.com. He also is available as an expert source for journalists covering affirmative action. Those on a tight deadline should email him at peter.schmidt@chronicle.com.

Hear interviews with Peter Schmidt

Jack Lessenberry of Michigan Public Radio talked to Peter Schmidt about Color and Money in August. You can hear the interview here. Reading the book inspired Jack to write an essay on it, which you can read here. You also can hear Peter Schmidt talk about his book on the NPR program Justice Talking and in a Chronicle of Higher Education podcast.

Color and Money Is a College Course!

Many college professors are now using Color and Money in their classes, but Jack Dougherty, the director of the educational studies program at Trinity College in Connecticut, has gone a big step beyond. He has decided to name a freshman seminar "Color and Money" and to structure the class around the book. He has graciously agreed to share his syllabus, available here, for faculty members at other colleges who may have the same idea.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Study Suggests Poverty Takes Toll on Children's Brains

A new neurological study of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds has found evidence that being raised in poverty may hurt the development of the brain region responsible for problem solving and creativity.

The researchers behind the study, slated for publication in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, say they are hopeful that the lower brain function they have identified in many low-income children can be prevented or reversed. Accordingly, they are collaborating with other neuroscientists who use games and other stimuli to improve the functioning of the brain region in question--the prefrontal cortex--in school-age children.

Nonetheless, the researchers--all from the University of California at Berkeley--say their study's findings provide reason to worry that the environmental conditions experienced by low-income children pose a serious risk to their educational development.

"This is a wake-up call," says one of the study's co-authors, Robert Knight, the director of Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. "It is not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums."

The researchers conducted the study by using electroencephalograph, or EEG, to measure the brain activity of two groups of 9- and 10-year-olds--one from low-income backgrounds, the other from high-income backgrounds. None of the children involved had neurological damage or prenatal exposure to drugs and alchohol, but the brains of those from lower-income backgrounds were slower to exhibit responses to stimuli flashed on a screen in front of them.

Mark Kishiyama, a cognitive psychologist who is the study's lead author, says the electrical activity in the brains of many of the children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds actually bore some resemblance to the activity in the brains of adults whose prefrontal lobes have been damaged by strokes. "This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school peformance," he says.

Studies of animals have shown that their prefrontal cortexes can be affected by stress and environmental deprivation. And other studies of humans have shown that children from lower-income backgrounds tend to get significantly less stimulation in early childhood than those who are more privileged.

The good news offered by one study co-author--Thomas Boyce, a pediatrician and developmental psychobiologist--is that it might be possible to improve the brain development of low-income children through steps as simple as encouraging their parents to engage them in conversation more often.