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Trayvon Martin Investigation; Parenting Gone Wild; The Secrets for Paying for College; The Right Skills: The Partnership Between Colleges and Companies

Aired March 31, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. We begin with Trayvon Martin. Movie producer, Spike Lee, is now apologizing for retweeting the address of a school lunch lady and her husband.

He broadcast their home address to 250,000 followers. A son named George Zimmerman, but not the George Zimmerman who shot Trayvon Martin on February 26. The couple moved to a hotel to escape the hate mail and media.

Meanwhile, Congressman Bobby Rush was on the House floor in a hoodie, and was reprimanded and removed for it. And Martin the parents have now applied for a trademark for the phrases, "Justice for Trayvon" and "I am Trayvon."

Jeff Gardere is a clinical psychologist. Carmen Wong is the president of ALTA Capital Management. And Pete Dominic is host of Sirius XM's "Stand Up."

Guys, do we need a timeout here? Trademarks and tweets and all of this social media outrage. Are we losing Trayvon Martin in all of this, Pete?

PETE DOMINICK, HOST, "STAND UP" ON SIRIUS XM: Absolutely. I think we are. I mean, any time there's such a sensational story, where the entire country and probably much of the world knows about it, people try to capitalize one way or the other.

The news media. People making twitter names. I mean, people making money off this tragedy. Absolutely, we need to focus back on the man who was killed.

ROMANS: It was a lunch lady's home address that I think really caught a lot of people off guard this week.

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, PRESIDENT, ALTA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Tremendously, Irresponsible, I've got to say. You know, I'm a big fan of Mr. Lee. But here's the thing. You understand social media has so much power.

You need to be an adult with it, a real adult. It's very irresponsible to basically try to incite some violence. What's the point of doing it if not to have mobs come to this house?

DOMINICK: Especially with that many followers. You know, how many followers does he have?


ULRICH: The irresponsibility is incredible. I think we're going through a big seismic shift where everyone is trying to figure out how social media really works and how powerful and really feeling it directly.

ROMANS: And this is a race story. It's a - it's a story about so many different things. Some have called it a rush to judgment. But social media - this is the first time you've really seen social media in this country fuel so much of an opinion about a case.

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, a lot of people are very passionate about this, and I think the reason being that it does talk about what's happening as far as social justice, that racism is still very prevalent in this country.

Profiling is still prevalent. And I think we need to just stay on that and look at what we can do to make things better, not to inflame a lot of detentions. The new black party - Black Panther Party, thank you - has said, "Look, let's put a bounty on Zimmerman."


That's the wrong thing to do. Spike Lee - Spike Lee, tweeting out this - retweeting out this address. I mean, that is -

ROMANS: That is the wrong thing to do.

GARDERE: That is the wrong thing to do.

ROMANS: But he has apologized.

GARDERE: Absolutely. But two wrongs don't make a right, and we have to have good exemplary behavior in order to talk about social justice. It goes across the board.

ULRICH: This is - there is a good part to this, don't forget. The good only good part is this happened over a month ago that we may get justice. Justice may be served, because of all of this noise. We just need to be responsible about what we're saying.

ROMANS: There's also this other issue. There are people who are using this to highlight some broader issues in the country. The Rev. C.L. Bryant, the former NAACP president, was on CNN's "ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT" this week. Listen to what he said.


REV. C.L. BRYANT, FORMER PRESIDENT, NAACP: The most dangerous person in the life of a young black man is another young black man and the type of ideas that are spawned when we gather together over a white- on-black murder.

And in fact, there is not an epidemic of white men killing black boys. There's an epidemic of black boys, black men, killing black men.

ROMANS: All right. A different issue. Is it fair to use this case to draw attention to what he says is the real epidemic for boys like Trayvon Martin?

GARDERE: I think the real epidemic happens to be poverty and the fact that we still have racial profiling. This is not a black/white issue.

We see this in the audiences. We see this in people who are protesting. They're black, white, yellow. They're all races. They're all colors. They're all religions. Because people want to look at truth and justice.

And I categorically as a black man reject this idea that it's a black/white issue. It is not.

DOMINICK: I disagree, because I think white people are still frightened of black people, period.

ULRICH: Yes. And the fact that he's Hispanic as well. Here's the thing. We have a situation where someone took the law into their own hands to the point of actually probably committing a crime, right?

But having somebody say, OK, this is about black on black crime. Now, the bigger problem we could say is incarceration, drug laws, all of this stuff.

GARDERE: Poverty.

ULRICH: There are many - poverty. There are many issues that are wrong here. But what we're seeing a distillation of all of that into this one case.

ROMANS: What, in the end, if it's a story of someone who wanted to be a cop and was playing rent-a-cop -

ULRICH: Power-hungry.

ROMANS: And not what it's about. It's about someone - you know, we don't know what really happened out there.


DOMINICK: I don't think that vigilantism is that big of a problem in America. I hope not. But I think that he makes a good point about the black-on-black crime. That is an epidemic.

But we can take a look at all of this, and like the doctor said, what are the roots of it? Poverty. The failed drug war. We have to take a look at all of the roots of why that epidemic is.

GARDERE: And what we have to look at - yes. I think there is somewhat of a mental health issue. I have never examined George Zimmerman, but I suspect this is a guy who, like some other people out there in the population, want to be a cop and therefore have delusions of grandeur. Why is he running around with a gun? Why is he packing? Why is he going out looking for trouble and he was profiling. And may be half Hispanic, so this isn't, again, about black and white.

DOMINICK: For the people watching, it is.

GARDERE: But you don't have to be a racist in order to be prejudiced. You can still think in stereotypes and we all do.

ROMANS: It's not about black and white. It's about being a black young man, and what that carries with you in this country.

ULRICH: The dangers of it, yes.

ROMANS: We talked a little bit about this last week. But I think that there are two conversations happening at American kitchen tables where parents of white boys are talking about sex, videogames and pornography or whatever, and drugs.

And parents of black boys are talking about, "Put your hands up. Don't ever get into a confrontation." You know what I mean? I mean, two different - that's so sad.


GARDERE: When you're in public, don't run and so on.


When I was growing up, my parents told me, "First of all, whatever you do, you have to do it 10 times better, because you will never get the same kind of respect. And secondly, when you're in a crowd, when you're on the street, whatever you do, you can walk fast, but don't run because people might suspect something."


DOMINICK: No, my parents didn't tell me that and it's still great to be a white man in America. It's still great to be a white man in America. It's a sad fact, but it's still better to be a white man.

ULRICH: Well, the thing is, you have somebody very irresponsible, like Geraldo saying that this was a hoodie thing or how you dress, there is, I feel, this real demographic -

GARDERE: He's apologized.

ULRICH: Generational divide as to who to blame what and what you should look like and who's in trouble.

GARDERE: Good point.

ULRICH: So I think, for younger people, especially folks, you know, 45 and under, that we have a different approach to how this is going. It's not about the hoodie. It's not about race. GARDERE: The bottom line from this tragedy, we have a lot of conversations going on. And we have to look at this whole issue of prejudice, profiling.

And it's something we need to keep talking about in this country. It's almost politically incorrect to talk about race these days.


GARDERE: We have to talk about it. It's not about blame or pointing fingers.

ROMANS: Thanks, you guys. Stick around, Carmen and Jeff, because a Hollywood star sparks a controversy over the very strange way she's feeding her son with her own mouth. You must see this video.

Plus, we know women get paid less than men, but did you know they also pay more for everything? That's all coming up on YOUR BOTTOM LINE.


ROMANS: Back with us, Jeff Gardere and Carmen Wong Ulrich. It's the celebrity video going around the parenting world this week, guys.

If you haven't seen it, watch. And if you're eating breakfast right now, you might want to stop to take a look. This is actress Alicia Silverstone, best known for the movie, "Clueless."

She's chewing up the food for her son. His son's name is Bear. She's chewing it up in her own mouth and then she's feeding it to him. She's describes this breakfast mix as miso soup, collards and radish, cast- iron mochi, I guess with nori wrapped outside and some grated daikon.

I'm adding that Bear got to taste some of the vegetables, thanks to mom's mouth-to-mouth feeding technique. She's raising her son vegan and has told "Parenting" magazine that she wants him to have the healthiest start to life as possible.

Cue the food wars, because as if everyone isn't already, shall we say, overwrought with making sure you're feeding your kids the right thing. Here's somebody who is - is she going too far or just a super uber- wonderful parent?

ULRICH: Here's the thing. What she's feeding him, fine. I can understand being healthy. But look at that child. We're parents. We know that child has teeth. OK? So you don't need to masticate the food for your child like a bird, a mama bird.

Your child has teeth. Feed that wonderful collard green mix and give them a spoon or a fork. And how come we let them eat out of our own hands?

Danger, too, is, aren't we all told to not let our children share our toothbrushes because we have bacteria in our gums that could lead to heart disease in our kids? ROMANS: Even the pacifier.


ULRICH: You're not supposed to put into your mouth.

ROMANS: You're not supposed to put it in your own mouth to clean it off because of the bacteria in your mouth.

ULRICH: So is she really thinking of her child or is thinking about, "This is really cool?"

ROMANS: When it comes to them, we do everything. We change their diapers. We pay for their college. We write their resumes. And now, chew their food for them, too, I guess.

GARDERE: I think what Alicia may be doing here is wanting to bond in her own way. But we do know you can bond with your child when the child is very young through the breastfeeding.


GARDERE: And it actually releases certain hormones, which is pleasing to the mother who does that. But when you're doing something like that, we haven't seen any positive proof or any evidence that it makes you bond more to your mother.

In fact, doing this at four or five years old and your friend's looking at you, they're like, "Rockin' robin. This a whole other destination."


ROMANS: Despite this week, really, it was like a twitter fight between the granola moms who were saying, look, every mother needs to be hyper-attentive to what their child and what they eat and the corporate moms who are saying, oh, come on.

As if I need something more to feel guilty about that I'm giving my kids pizza.

ULRICH: This is not about health. This is about her going mouth-to- mouth and chewing and transmitting bacteria and doing something that's not necessary.

ROMANS: All right. I want to talk about dads for a second. Jeff, from moms to dads. An article in "Slate" this week talks about how dads are portrayed in movies and television commercials as unable to do anything right. They call this the doltish dad. We've seen it from the '80s with the movies like "Mr. Mom" until now. Jeff, are dads getting a bad rap?

GARDERE: I think dads are getting a bad rap. I have to say that as a dad. But I think we also have to defer to the moms, whether they're at home or whether they work and are at home. They do things better. That's the bottom line. And we can learn from them. And I think a lot of times, as men, and I'll say it and I know the men who are here taping some of this, you know, shooting this -

ROMANS: The very unlikely renaissance men within our crew.

GARDERE: Yes. You know, they're looking at me like they want to beat me up later. But the fact is that we are inept at many things and there are a lot of things that we can learn. Bottom line.

ROMANS: I wish we could turn the camera on Pete. He is nodding yes.

GARDERE: He agrees.

ULRICH: Here's the thing. The changes is that now, we have dads that are actually proud of staying at home and taking care of their kids and doing more with their kids.

So they're all miffed at being portrayed this way. But this is a new pride. We've never seen this before. But you know what I'm really annoyed with? It's the commercials with the mom.

She's in the kitchen cooking at home and the dad swoops in from work with the kids, "Oh, mom, that's so yummy!" I'm like, "Excuse me. That's not my life. That's not my life."

ROMANS: I want to bring something up to you, Carmen, because it's interesting. The gender-based pricing.

ULRICH: Oh, yes.

ROMANS: It's in Marie Claire. This month's article talks about women that are paying everything. We know this for dry cleaning.


ROMANS: We've done that a lot. But also to loans, to health care, even drug store items like detergent and deodorant. A woman's deodorant is more expensive than a man's. You wrote a book called "The Real of Living" so you know about all this.


ROMANS: Also, a recent study from the National Women's Law Center found that insurers charge women around $1 billion more than men every year for the same care. The president's health care reform was supposed to fix that.

What about gender-based pricing? Why is this fair? Why do women - why do we pay more and why do we cost more?


ULRICH: Here's the thing. I mean, there are things we can do in terms of where we shop and what we do. But you're right. We're getting hit with a double whammy here. Not only do you pay more for goods and services and insurance coverage, but we get paid less in terms of income, so it's actually a double whammy.

ROMANS: Right.

ULRICH: So we need to do more talking about this. I cannot stand going to dry cleaners and putting a blouse that looks the same, exact as a man's shirt and paying twice.


GARDERE: Well, now you know that the world that we live in. As African-Americans, we pay higher rates for mortgages, as you know. So this really is about sexism. Again, it's about that prejudice.

And we have to address it. it has to be changed. And we can do that by just not shopping at those particular places or going with those kinds of people giving us those sorts of mortgages.

ROMANS: I necessarily wear deodorant and I think all of us will -


GARDERE: And I will still take out a mortgage, and I will still get to refi on my mortgage.


ROMANS: Next time he comes on, "She's got Right Guard."


There you go. All right. Carmen Wong Ulrich, Jeff Gardere, thank you so much. Very funny commentary this morning. Guys, thanks.

Up next, 25 secrets to paying for college.


ROMANS: More than $22,000 is what you'll need to attend an average public college this year. Private colleges - the asking price is twice that. Where were you going to come up with all that money?

The April issue of "Money" magazine uncovers 25 secrets to paying for college. Kim Clark is the senior writer at "Money" who co-wrote that story. You said that kids can cut living costs by both their living expenses and also taking cheaper courses. Explain that.

KIM CLARK, WRITER, "MONEY" MAGAZINE: Right. So out of the $22,000 average price for a public university, about $10,000 of that is dorms and food. It's living expenses and that's a great way to cut costs.

One way to do that is to maybe ask to live in a less fancy dorm than is standard. Most standard dorms are double. You share a room with one other student. Why not triple up, quadruple up? You can save about $1,000 doing that.

ROMANS: And you say that sometimes they - you can take - there are incentives to taking summer classes school, for example, getting your pre-req's out of the way.

CLARK: Right. A lot of schools like Boston University charge much lower tuition during the summer. So take it. It's a Boston University course. Take it during the summer rather than during the fall and you'll save some money.

ROMANS: And we know that a lot of kids are going into college and they're not ready. So they're spending money for high-cost credits they should have learned actually in high school.

Maybe you should take care of that before you actually go to college.

CLARK: Right. Community college is a great way to do that.

ROMANS: We also know the scholarships go begging and a lot of kids don't even realize that they qualify for some of these.

CLARK: Right. Actually, not many scholarships go begging. That's a myth.

ROMANS: Really?

CLARK: That's a myth. Right now, these days, everybody's hungry for scholarships. But there's one way that almost everybody who's watching can qualify for $2,500 to pay for their college, and that's through the American opportunities tax credit.

For the first $4,000 you spend on tuition this year, you can get a reduction of your taxes paid, a credit of up to $2,500. And even if you don't owe a penny, Uncle Sam will send you a $1,000 check.

ROMANS: And colleges are competing on scholarships now to lure students. When you get your letter from the university saying this is your financial aid package, don't think that's the last word.

CLARK: It's not. I mean, if you have special circumstances - you lost your job or something - you can definitely write a letter of appeal. It's an important to use the term, "I want a professional judgment review." That's a term to borrow.

ROMANS: Professional judgment review.

CLARK: That's right. And so we say, well, you know, we lost our job or we had these big medical expenses, this is why we need more aid.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about federal student loans. When it comes to borrowing, they're better now than before. Why?

CLARK: Yes. Today's federal student loans aren't your parents' federal student loans. They're much better because, when you graduate, you can now consolidate them with the federal government, stick with the federal loans and ask for income-based repayment.

That means that your payment will never exceed 15 percent of your adjusted gross income, which means you won't go broke paying them back. And if you're a federal employee or a government employee, you can make 10 years of payments and get the rest of your loan forgiven.

So you'll never go broke and there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

ROMANS: Pretty interesting stuff. All right. Thank you so much, Kim Clark.

CLARK: My pleasure.

ROMANS: Nice to see you. Coming up, if there's 8.3 percent unemployment, why do companies say they can't find workers?


ROMANS: There's 8.3 percent unemployment and the Federal Reserve chairman says the jobs market is far from normal. Then why do companies claim they can't find workers who can do the jobs they need?

Glen Fenter is the president of Mid-South Community College in West Memphis, Arkansas. His school is one of the many community colleges trying to make sure that workers have the skills companies need.

Glen, nice to see you this morning. You guys work with FedEx to get people trained in the kinds of jobs that aviation needs. And these are good-paying jobs. The FedEx founder and chairman Fred Smith - this week, he told me that he thinks community colleges are the answer.


FRED SMITH, FOUNDER, FEDEX: It's just a mismatch. And I think we got to this point where everybody had to go to college. And that was sort of the theme there for a long time.

And a lot of kids probably shouldn't go to college. They should go to community college and get a marketable skill.


ROMANS: And that's what you do. You're trying to give them a marketable skill. So what are the skills that corporate America are valuing right now that don't need a four-year degree?

GLEN FENTER, PRESIDENT, MID-SOUTH COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Well, our research indicates that 80 percent of the jobs that are going to occur in this country in the next 10 years are going to be jobs that require something beyond a high school education, but something less than that traditional baccalaureate model.

Jobs that are going to require a level of skills and technology to afford those employers that competitive edge in this global economy that, in the last decade, they really haven't had access to. So from our perspective, our model for education is really one driven by economic development initiatives. Our educational models are set in place based on what employers tell us they need to help them make money.

ROMANS: And that's where the companies come in because they are - I mean, they're saying all over the place - president, they're saying, "Look, we can't find the workers."

And I think when you tell America that, look, companies are complaining. They can't find workers, it makes people who are out of work really upset.

Eight percent unemployment is high, but the key here is there's a mismatch between what companies need and what we're delivering in terms of skills for our labor market, is that right?

FENTER: Absolutely. Unfortunately, our model of educating our populace has not changed much in 200 years. The global economy has brought about changes that are driven by economic development initiatives that, unfortunately, our educational models haven't addressed.

ROMANS: Right. We like to say on this show, the economy is moving faster than families and schools can keep up. And I hear so much from CEOs. They say, "I could hire seven highly-skilled machinists right now, but I can't find any."

But one of the concerns for people who are retraining is maybe they feel like maybe what companies need is going to change faster than they can get skilled up. Is that a concern?

FENTER: And that's absolutely a concern. We do have to rethink how we are affording access to those ongoing educational and training opportunities to existing workers as well as those that we're trying to create as a new workforce.

I think the level of this conversation in this country has got to move to even a national security dimension. Our economy is only as strong as our ability to supply the workforce needs of our industries and our businesses.

And right now, the truth is there is a big disconnect between how we finance students' education, what we're encouraging them to do as a part of their public school experience, and what we're expecting them to be able do once they leave the public school.

ROMANS: I tell you, I was with Fred Smith, the CEO of FedEx as you saw from that clip, and also a roomful of economists who said to throw borrowed federally-guaranteed money at an education without any kind of real strategy for what that education is going to get you is not a great investment for a lot of families.

And frankly, people are kind of chasing after a college education, I think, with borrowed money and not being very strategic about it. So it's nice to see the community colleges really stepping in there and trying to get skills. He also points out that a crane operator on the west coast can make $150,000 mid-career and aviation mechanics are well into six figures, so there's money to be made out there for the kinds of things you guys are training for.

Glen Fenter, president of Mid-south Community College, nice to meet you. Have a nice weekend.

FENTER: Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

ROMANS: All right. That wraps up the show, but the conversation continues online. You can find us on Facebook or Twitter. Our handle is CNNBottomLine. My handle is @ChristineRomans . Please follow me and I'll follow you back. Back now to "CNN SATURDAY" for the latest headlines. Have a great weekend.