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Affirmative Action and College Admissions; What Your App Knows About Your Child; Are You Feeling the Recovery?; From the Battlefield to the Office

Aired February 25, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: We're in a recovery. Are you feeling it yet?

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. It's the two-speed recovery. We'll look at the growing division between winners and losers in this economy and what you can do to speed up your own recovery.

Plus, from the battlefield to the office, how vets are honing their war skills for the civilian workforce. We're going to take you inside one company giving vets a chance.

And why that app your child is playing with might be putting your family at risk.

But first, what if your kid hit the books, worked hard, volunteered, played the violin maybe and then didn't get into college because of your race? The Supreme Court is, again, looking at affirmative action and whether it belongs in the college admission process.

Let's ask three parents how they feel about it. Ashleigh Banfield is a co-anchor of CNN's "EARLY START;" Pete Dominick is the host of Sirius XM StandUP; and Nicole Mason is the Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network at NYU. Welcome, everyone.

Let's start with this case. In 2003, in a case involving the University of Michigan Law School, the court upheld a prior ruling saying admissions officers can indeed consider race as part of a holistic review of an applicant's file.

This latest case involves University of Texas and a student who says she was not accepted because she is white. At the same time, some Asian-American students say they don't even identify their race when they apply for college, because some studies suggest they need to have higher scores than white students to get into some colleges especially these really elite schools.

Nicole, when it comes to college admission, should race still be considered?

NICOLE MASON, EXEC. DIRECTOR, WOMEN OF COLOR POLICY NETWORK: Race has - should definitely be considered. I mean when we look at what's happening in the public education system, it's failing a lot of brown and black students.

So when we think about providing communities that don't have a chance at college, an opportunity or a leg up -


MASON: -- doing it. And when I think about this case, I don't think she should be - we don't know why she was denied.

ROMANS: Right.

MASON: There's a lot of factors here. But, you know, maybe she should be concerned about the other 1,000 white students who got in and not the 10 percent of black and Latino student that she thinks might be taking her spot.

ROMANS: Well, here's the interesting thing about it, too, when you look at what's happening in the Ivies, in particular, these students who are saying, look, the six percent of the population is Asian- American, but some of these really big schools, they have twice that representation in these big Ivies.

And some of these kids trying to get into the Ivy League are saying, my scores are better than kids of other races, but we're now already overrepresented so they want to keep a balanced mix.

PETE DOMINICK, HOST, SIRIUS XM'S STANDUP: Well, some of it obviously has to do with - with culture, right? We talked a lot about the tiger mom story.

But whether it's Asian-Americans or Jewish-Americans that put a premium on education and asking questions and critical thinking, which is why I of course aspire to be either Asian or Jewish myself, this is to some extent cultural.

But on the issue of affirmative action, I wouldn't encourage all of our viewers to go to the Intelligence Square to debate on this issue if they care about it.

But the person who's most eloquent on this that I've seen is a guy named Tim Wise. And Tim Wise says discrimination against people of color has always had to rid (ph) this. They've always had the intent of creating and protecting a system of inequality and maintaining unearned wide advantage.

Affirmative action does not seek to criticism of unearned black and brown advantage, but merely to shrink unearned white advantage. It's a very important, important issue to discuss.

ROMANS: I wonder if some of these cases are - what is that - the man bites dog story instead. You know, like you have a few - a few instances and people get all upset and say, well, this is a post racial country. We don't need to be having these conversations anymore.

DOMINICK: That's absurd.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST, CNN'S EARLY START: Yes. Well, you know, look, a world class education, without question, has to accommodate for all different stripes. And so you have to somehow figure out a fair way to incorporate all the stripes that exists in our multicultural society.

But I also come from a different oak. I remember being told 23 years ago, after college, I'm embarrassed to say, that I was not going to be considered for a job -


BANFIELD: -- I wouldn't say where - because - and these are the words. You will dilute our mix, because I was white. I mean, they were not just ashamed to say it at all. It was OK to say that.

ROMANS: Well, that's - I mean, I think today you would be somebody - I mean, you could sue for something like that. You can't choose the workplace what your racial makeup is.

BANFIELD: You know, I forgot to get it in writing.

ROMANS: You moron, you weren't wearing a wire.

DOMINICK: Because they purposely didn't put it in writing. But I think it's important also to just remind. We were talking about this off the air, the Supreme Court is going to most likely to overturn this.


DOMINICK: Well, I've heard decision (INAUDIBLE) and refuse herself in affirmative action. Unfortunately, we'll be returned - overturned and we're nowhere near being ready for that, I don't think so.

ROMANS: And we'll keep talking - we'll keep talking about it and we'll follow it as the case goes forward.

There's another issue that I want to talk about very quickly, too. It has to do with families and kids and parents and the concept of parenthood. It might actually be changing in this country.

More women are going - are going alone. According to new research, for women under 30, most births occur outside marriage. Wow. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage have a higher risk of falling into poverty, falling behind in school. The list goes on and on.

Here is something important about this demographic trend. For college graduates, they overwhelming marry and then have kids.

Let me read you something from the "New York Times." A sociologist, Frank Furstenberg said this, quote, "Marriage has become a luxury good. Is this potentially a new class divide? Is this a choice that liberates women? Is it a little bit of both?"

It's interesting, right? Women deciding that marriage in their 30s, Nicole, they don't want to do it, they want to have kids instead. MASON: Well, you know, today, we just have to face the fact that our country has changed. We're not - we're less "Leave It to Beaver" and more Beyonce and Jay-Z.

BANFIELD: But they're married.

MASON: They're married but on their own terms.

ROMANS: Right.

MASON: They waited to get married later in life. She's a career woman. She has a job.

And we also have to look at Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Hey, if we can get married, it doesn't work out, we can leave.

ROMANS: I don't relate to either of those women.

DOMINICK: It relates to me. It relates to me.

ROMANS: They have a lot more money than I can even aspire to. And I can't sing, dance or become a reality star.

BANFIELD: But (INAUDIBLE) just on principle, I want that part edited out. That whole Kris Humphries thing, I just cannot stand that story.

DOMINICK: Yes, yes, yes -

BANFIELD: I thought it defied logic.

MASON: I think the point here is that children have the social support that they need and that women, if they have - if they have children early, can - are allowed to continue their education.

ROMANS: See, you are the trend. This is you.

DOMINICK: Use me as an example. We don't need all the celebrity marriages.

ROMANS: This number is you.

DOMINICK: I am an example. My wife and I had two children, kind of two, little, perfect, amazing little girls before we ever really thought about getting married.

We should talk about the difference between the words "marriage" and "commitment." When we bought a home, I carried her across the threshold and said, we are now married. It didn't matter whether it was legal. We eventually got married for insurance benefits, for all of the written, you know, the benefits of marriage.

But the stigma of - of having children and not being married, it's gone. It's over.

BANFIELD: I think a lot of women are fearing the sciences approaching them. I mean, they're freezing their eggs and they're saying, I'm just going to do this. I'm going to find my friends from college and say you need to be my fail-safe if I don't get a guy.

ROMANS: Or they're looking at the women who are in their late 30s and see how they're freaking out, and they don't want that to happen to them.

OK. Don't move. Next, what Jeremy Lin's mother might teach you about drawing the line between academics and athletics.

Plus, why many mobile apps could actually pose a danger to your kids.

That's next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: It's always tough to balance a child between academics and sports.

You could say Lin-sanity has created another style of parenting. We'll call it Lin-spiring. I know, I know, I know. We got a whole of the Lin puns.

Jeremy Lin's mother would threaten to pull her son from basketball if he didn't get an A. An A minus wasn't even good enough. That drove him to succeed both in academics and athletics, excelling at both while attending and graduating Harvard University. You know the story. He is the biggest story in pro sports this year.

How should parents encourage their kids, Nicole, to have both of these things? And what I think is interesting about his story in particular, people have said it kind of turns the tiger mother thing on its ear, because this is more like the tiger-panda mom (INAUDIBLE). These parents have unconditional love and very high expectations.

MASON: So I have to admit, I am Lin-sane as love. I think we all would love a Jerermy Lin. And so for me, I had high aspirations of being a tiger mom myself and I - I didn't have the discipline. So I really like this tiger-panda combo that I think Jeremy Lin's parents have -

ROMANS: You can say represented, this tiger-panda combo.

MASON: The tiger-panda is having -

ROMANS: It's the American version.

MASON: The American version where, you know, you can excel academically and you can love basketball, but we're going to make sure that if you're going to play basketball, we're going to tie it to your academics. And so I think - I think that works.

ROMANS: This is from the mother of twins who she has them in Mandarin immersion. So, I mean, many people would say you are the tiger mom. You have very high expectations for your kids already, very high expectations.

MASON: Very high expectations. And I plan to keep them in Mandarin. I - again, I wanted to be a tiger mom, felt like I lacked the discipline, but I feel like I'm right there. I'm right there.

DOMINICK: We have low expectations. I do, just in hopes that the kids will exceed them.

BANFIELD: No, I'm with you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My children can't speak Mandarin.

BANFIELD: Stay out of prison, stay off the pole, that's all I heard.

DOMINICK: Yes. Which is why -

ROMANS: Oh, that is the quote of the day. Stay out of prison, stay off the pole.

BANFIELD: I have to quote Chris Rock.

DOMINICK: There's a lot - there's a lot to that. I think that this - this tiger mom - everybody should take a look at it. Everybody should take a look at what she's doing and consider it. I don't think we're most of us are going to go that far.

ROMANS: What do you think of tiger parents? I mean the dad - I mean -

DOMINICK: Take something from it. Listen to it and take something from it.

But on the issue of some, whatever works for you. But we are - we are a country that puts a premium, unfortunately, on self-esteem and not on education. We have the most confident, stupid people says comedian Jim Jeffries.

ROMANS: Do not talk about Washington. Do not talk about Washington.

DOMINICK: No, but listen. The idea of -

BANFIELD: I put a premium on happiness. I do. I really do put a premium on happiness. I don't care if my kids get into an Ivy League school. It would be lovely, but I really want them to feel great about what they do because if they love what they do, they're going to do great.

ROMANS: I know. It would be expensive. It would be lovely and expensive, so start saving now.

I want to talk a little bit about the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission getting strict when it comes to your kids' privacy and the growing - quickly growing world of mobile apps.

The FTC has a new report titled Global Apps for Kids. The agency, the U.S. government is urging apps store and developers to improve their privacy policies and wants them to provide simple disclosures to us, the parents, when data is being collected and used, how it's shared.

They're also considering whether enforcement action is needed, basically, you know, basically coming down and saying, you think you're downloading these apps so that you can make your kids smarter and tech savvy and they're watching you. These things are made for the companies. They're not made for you and actually for our kids to be smart and tech savvy.

BANFIELD: Yes. I got suckered into that early, early on, a little free app which your kid loves and then loves so much they want you to buy the $42 next level.

ROMANS: Right.

BANFIELD: I had no idea that was around. And then I was struck with the issue of having to try to, you know, get the kid off the ledge. But, yes, you know, I have an issue with screens in general.

ROMANS: Those screens - you've got to be careful in (INAUDIBLE) time for children.

BANFIELD: Exactly, exactly.

ROMANS: I mean, televisions -

DOMINICK: They're all ubiquitous now, all screens. But I think you're being a little cynical in your presentation that the apps are only for us be tracked and how we consume.

ROMANS: No, they sell us things, too.

DOMINICK: Yes, they are. But they do. I mean, when I left this morning, my daughter was doing math on the app. And, you know, your daughters may be learning -

BANFIELD: And they spy cam was watching her.

DOMINICK: Right. And we also have a stay off the pole app.

But, listen, the - a lot of these apps are actually - but it does - it does beg the question whether it's an app you're downloading or a website that you're visiting, they are tracking not only how we consume, but now what our kids like, as well.

ROMANS: It's a new frontier. And, you know -

DOMINICK: We all need to get educated on it.

ROMANS: We didn't grow up with this stuff and so we think we're doing the right thing and giving our kids iPads at younger, younger ages and that's all very important. But you can't just tune of your parenthood when you put your kid in front of a screen. So everyone needs to be very skeptical about using apps (ph).

DOMINICK: That's why my daughters are only allowed to use the rotary phones.

ROMANS: That's right. And you came to work on a horse and buggy.


ROMANS: Guys, thank you so much. It was great to see you. We'll have you all come back again very, very soon.

So why aren't you feeling up about your own recovery? We're going to take a look at how you can fix that, next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: Your job, your home, your investments. On paper, you're doing OK, right? Unemployment is going down, but the long-term unemployed, those out of the workforce for 26 weeks or more, they're still struggling.

Home prices are at the lowest point in more than a decade. And while the payroll tax cut is putting an extra $40 in your pocket, that's likely going to pay for rising gas prices.

Rick Newman is the chief business correspondent for "U.S. News and World Report. Rick, it's a two-speed recovery, right? Are we're coming out of the recession and the financial crisis, and there are winners and losers and it's harder to get from this group into this one.

RICK NEWMAN, CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Yes, absolutely. I think of this as a barbell economy, where some people are at the top. That's a big group up there. They're generally doing fine, getting back to their jobs; getting raises, promotions; their investments are picking up a little bit.

ROMANS: Coming back to normal for those people.

NEWMAN: Whatever they think normal is. Yes, things are pretty good.

But the other end are people who may never get back to what they used to think of as normal, and I think we certainly see this with regard to education. I mean, if you don't have a college education, the statistics are very clear, it's anecdotally very clear, those who - the people who don't have the right education for this economy are basically going to be dropping out of the economy. I mean, it is just crucially important these days to have the right skills.

ROMANS: And the government's going to be -


NEWMAN: That's where the -

ROMANS: At some point, the government has to be backing away from support.

NEWMAN: It has to. Yes.

ROMANS: I mean, there is - you just can't go on with emergency - emergency measures forever, when - what is now becoming a chronic situation. NEWMAN: That's basic math. That's right. Yes.

ROMANS: What do you do to make sure you are on the right side of this two-speed recovery? Constantly learning, you say.

NEWMAN: Obviously, it depends who you are. First of all, don't lose hope. I mean, I think there - it's still possible for people who work hard and are very smart about how to get ahead to get ahead. But you have to be really smart.

And I think we have to think about ourselves and our careers the way we think about our children. We want our kids to study and learn the best things, work really hard so they compete with the best in the world, right? I think we have to think about ourselves the same way.

So always ask yourself, what new skills can I be developing? If you're in manufacturing, do you - can you get more technology skills to help you operate the latest machinery? Things like this.

Everybody needs to learn a little bit about social media, the new technology. I mean, technology is changing so fast, and that is really becoming a differentiator. So the people who are able to apply what's happening in technology to whatever they do are the ones who are going to get ahead.

ROMANS: And I keep saying the best investment you can make this year is paying down your high interest debt -

NEWMAN: It is.

ROMANS: -- because debt is something that's hanging around your neck. It really is. You invest or even get loans for college or pay off college if you're just still with all of this high interest credit card debt.

It's interesting, a survey of people and their tax refunds found that a lot of people will be paying down debt or saving their tax refund this year. It shows you, I think, that people still are playing defense, but they're a little smarter.

NEWMAN: I - I hope those survey results actually turn out to be true. I think what we actually see in reality is people have good intentions, they say I'm going to save the money, but we have -

ROMANS: Then they -


NEWMAN: -- we have seen an increase in credit card debt. People are putting more in their credit cards. They did that over the holiday season.

People really need to have discipline. I mean, things are not going back to the way they used to be where you can get away with putting everything on your credit card and somehow the money will materialize. That is not going to happen. ROMANS: You are not going to be able to take - you're not going to be able to take money out of your house to put a kid through college.

NEWMAN: Absolutely not.

ROMANS: Which means we're trying to save for college at a time when we're putting more in our gas tank.

And - all right, Rick Newman, thanks so much.

NEWMAN: Sure thing.

ROMANS: It's really good - really good advice about paying down your debt and also constantly learning and finding out how you can constantly be learning and trying to -

NEWMAN: Every little bit helps. Yes.

ROMANS: All right, Rick Newman, "U.S. News and World Report."

Veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan are looking for work. Meet one big company actively hiring them, next on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: Nearly two million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many are now coming home, and they'll need to learn how to translate that battlefields experience to the office.

For our "Coming Home" series, we spent some time with Workforce Opportunity Services. It's an organization that pairs veterans with the companies who want to give them a chance and hire them. Take a look at one company doing just that.


ROMANS (voice-over): Jack Keck's resume is pretty impressive.

JACK KECK, SYSTEMS ANALYSIS & DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE, PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL: Anybody can see someone to code (ph). Anybody can write a memo. Anybody can send a fax. Not everybody can turn around and make a life and death decision without blinking an eye and then follow it through to the end.

ROMANS: Keck's Marine Corps Reserves training attracted Prudential Financial, one of many big companies actively hiring veterans and reservists. Raymond Weeks runs the veterans program there, and he is a vet.

RAYMOND WEEKS, VICE PRESIDENT, PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL VETERANS INITIATIVES: Employers may not understand the value that these individuals can bring in terms of the attributes - mission focused, their disciplined. They have a terrific work ethic. Their experiences are unique.

As a veteran, I understand the challenges they face, leaving the military. From a very structured hierarchical environment, coming into the workplace which maybe isn't as structured.

ROMANS: Lou Kenneth Isip is coming into the workforce after five years in the Marines and three tours in Iraq. He's learned how to translate that experience in the job interview and at Prudential.

LOU KENNETH ISIP, CONSULTANT, PRUDENTIAL FINANCING: And then we had trouble calling everybody sir or ma'am, and everybody's like whoa. Just call me Bob or Steve.

ROMANS: It's a great example of how the average American office is a long way from the battlefield.

WEEKS: Every member, with probably very few exceptions, have gone to boot camp, they've lived together, they've worked together, they trained together. Whether that job is in combat or in finance or in administration, they have to rely on each other to do the right work and to get it done.

ROMANS: Keck is two and a half years into his six year enlistment with the Reserves. He's applying his military persistence to finding a place in the civilian workforce, and he's got advice for fellow service members.

KECK: To go from being hungry for your country to being hungry for no reason because there's nothing out there is kind of hard to battle. We're not looking for handouts. We're just looking for a chance and an opportunity to show you that we have what it takes to prop up your company and make you successful, because that's the way we're - we're born and raised.


ROMANS: It's not only veterans coming home trying to find a job, but also getting their finances in order.

June Walbert is a certified financial planner with USAA, an organization that offers financial services to military members, and serves as lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve. Welcome to the program, June.


ROMANS: You've got - what? Twenty years of military service. You've also been deployed. You know, jumping off from the piece, tell me about how difficult it can be to translate those skills on a resume for a veteran. What's your advice?

WALBERT: Well certainly, a lot of people do things in the military that are not transferable directly to a civilian career. So they need to figure out how to make that happen. And what I recommend is that they go on to the job skills translator so that they can translate their military experience to skills and - and related things that a civilian employer would understand.

ROMANS: Yes, that's really good advice, too, and we'll put both of those - that website, that translator, on our - our own show page as well if people want to go there and learn more.

You know, let me ask you about housing, because this is something that's pretty crucial for people who are coming home. Mortgage rates, home prices, they're down, but people looking to get back into the economy, you say they need to really make sure first they know what their job is and their job outlook so they're not kind of burdened by a home payment.

WALBERT: Well that's right. The job that they want may take them to a particular place, so my advice to them is don't buy a home right away. Don't use that VA guaranteed home loan right away. Wait until you find that job, because that job is going to dictate where you live. Because once you buy that home, it's a huge purchase and so then what do you do with it if you have to go someplace else and - and then you have to sell that home?


WALBERT: So it's a very big decision.

ROMANS: And, you know, that's advice that goes for veterans and everyone - anybody else who's looking to move around the country right now for a new job.

But for service members in particular, you talked about a credit freeze many of them opt to put on their - their reports when they're deployed. When they come back, when should and how should they be applying for lines of credit?

WALBERT: Well, when they come back, I always recommend that they call the credit agency and say hey, would you remove my credit freeze? Because now I'm starting to look for some credit, now I'm thinking about buying a home and doing those kinds of things with my credit report right now.

So they just need call one of those agencies and those agencies will call the other credit agencies, and then they should be good to go.

ROMANS: All right, June Walbert, USAA. Thank you so much for joining us. Nice to see you today.

WALBERT: Thank you.

ROMANS: All right, that's going to wrap things up for us for this morning, but the conversation continues online. Find us on Facebook and Twitter. Our handle is CNNBottomLine. My handle is @ChristineRomans.

Back now to CNN SATURDAY for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend, everyone.