What’s Dennis Reading? – 2/11/2015

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Too young to be forgotten
by Melissa Marino, Monash magazine

In the US, government health program data shows that one in seven residents in nursing homes is under 65, and therefore of working age. Thousands of young people with disabilities find themselves languishing in nursing homes for the elderly. Researches hope to change this tragic oversight in health care. More appropriate housing could improve life for people whom a nursing home is often the only option.

The origins of affirmative action
by the Week Staff, The Week

President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the first step toward affirmative action in 1941, when he issued a directive forbidding defense contractors from using racially discriminatory hiring practices. Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 was a turning point for affirmative action, as he believed racial preference was another form of discrimination. Reagan wanted a “colorblind society” and ended affirmative action requirements for federal contractors to create one. The modern research on affirmative action is mixed. Several studies have found that black and Hispanic students who attend highly selective schools have access to resources and employment networks they might never have had otherwise. However, critics of affirmative action contend that the policy can cause “mismatches” of minority students to elite colleges for which they’re not prepared. Some scholars say the biggest divide in U.S. society today is not race, but class. A study of the freshmen entering the 193 most selective colleges in 2010 found that two thirds came from the top income quartile, while only 15 percent came from the bottom half.

You May Not Need Big Data After All
by Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath and Anne Quaadgras, Harvard Business Review

One of the biggest reasons investments in big data aren’t paying off is because the majority of companies don’t utilize information they already have. Because they don’t know how to analyze it in a way that enhances understanding, they are unable to benefit from big data analysis. Companies first need to learn how to use the data already embedded in their core operating systems because they cannot develop competencies from simply investing in high-end analytics tools. Harvard Business Review conducted seven case studies and interviewed executives at 51 companies to understand how companies generate business value from data. They found companies consistently using data to guide their decision making are rare. The exception was companies using a culture of evidence-based decision making, and they all saw improvements in their business performance.

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