The problem of violence in schools

The problem of violence in schools today is a major concern. Crime in and around schools threatens the well being of students, as well as the school staff and the surrounding communities. It also holds back learning and student achievement. The problem is more defined in the public school system than in catholic schools. Catholic schools seem to express a better-rounded teaching environment. Most catholic schools have less tolerance than they do in public schools. It is said that the wearing of a uniform helps to keep more peace in the school. The students do not get made fun of for not wearing brand name clothing.

The laughing and making fun of the other students is what contributes to low self-esteem, which one of the traits for a student who is likely to bring violence into school. More than half of U. S. public schools have reported at least one crime incident in 1997. Also one in ten schools reported at least one serious violent crime during this school year. Ten percent of all public schools had experienced one or more serious violent crimes (e. g. murder, rape, suicide, sexual battery, and physical attack of fighting with a weapon or robbery) reported to police or other law enforcement during 1997.

Crime and violence seem to be more of a problem in middle and high schools than in elementary schools. In 1997 forty-five percent of elementary schools reported one or more acts of violence. Seventy-four percent of middle schools and seventy-five percent of high schools had reported incidents of violence. One of the goals of the National Education Goals states that by the year 2000, all schools in America will be free of drugs and violence and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol, and offer a disciplined environment that is conducive to learning.

This goal has obviously not yet been reached, but there still is some time left for them to reach this goal. The crimes that are most frequently occurring in most schools are vandalism, theft/larceny, and physical attack or fight without a weapon. Six percent have reported physical attack or fight with a weapon. Even though the percentage of weapon related crimes is not as high as many of the rest, it is still one of the biggest and must be eliminated. It is the one of the worst acts of violence that could happen in a school. The school administration should adopt a policy that will help to eliminate the violence.

They should either consider a zero tolerance strategy or something similar. The school environment should be a safe one for staff and students. Students should be able to go to school and not be concerned with any in or outside forces that will distract them from learning, or injure them in some way. Many potentially violent incidents continue to plague schools. School administrators are reviewing security and crisis plans, but many administrators are quick to point out that there is no one answer to providing a safe school environment. Everyone wants a simple solution, but the is not a one.

People have to work towards getting and maintaining school safety. But no matter how well prepared or how safe everyone thinks a plan to be; it will never be one hundred percent foolproof. Someone will always find a way to get around even the most strategized effort to control the violence. Most incidents could and can be prevented by students, parents, teachers, or citizens coming forward and sharing the information that they know with either the school or police. It is known that prior to a major violent attacking, in most schools someone knows that it is going to happen other than the person who is planning it.

But they do not go forward because they think that something like that could never happen in their school. Violence can happen anywhere, at any time. For example, take the Jonesboro incident or Columbine, it is common knowledge that someone knew about what the students were planning, but did not share it with the school or police officials. Schools should pay attention to not only the major incidents like Columbine, but also to the smallest threat. Schools in Allen, Texas, cancelled the remaining two weeks of classes due to repeated bomb threats.

But after parental and community outrage, officials opened the schools on a limited basis a few days later. Four boys were charged with plotting a shooting in their Port Huron, Michigan, middle school similar to the massacre at Columbine. Reaction like these should always be taken to incidents as such. It prevents the tragedies like Columbine and others from happening again. A common trend in most school shootings is that they have all occurred in communities in which people felt safe. The perception of schools as being safe havens has changed over the past few years since the rash of shooting incidents.

But the fact still remains that schools are the safest places for children. But, still, schools have always been easy targets for violence. Even though the number of violent incidents in schools is dropping, the use of firepower by students is growing. Lately, medal detectors, security cameras, ID cards, and other security hardware and systems have been finding the nations schools as a home. This is mainly due to the need to show students, staff, and parents that security measures are being taken. Schools should be safe enough that they there is no need for security devices as such.

Although medal detectors are very useful, but they are only part of the solution. Schools must also look at other prevention methods. Administrators have agreed that they will not find just one specific solution to the school dilemma that would be one hundred percent effective. Something that must be changed is the fact that in every incident in the last two years, the kids have spoken about their act before the committed it. And for some reason or other, adults have refused to pay attention to it. It must be changed. People listen to a cry for help when they hear it, why not this?

It is basically the same thing; they should pay just as much attention to it. Safety is not a sometimes thing, it is an all-the-time thing, students should be able to go to school and feel safe. It has been said that violence on television has been a contributor to kids committing these acts of violence. But is this really true? Sure, the violence on television is a contributor. But it is not as big a contributor as most people make it out to be. Most of the students, who do commit crimes in school, all fit basically the same profile.

They were alienated, angry and had a history of emotional problems. They are students who hold a grudge. Most of these students often write about these things in advance, they perhaps signal that they are going to happen. Experts say that there is no foolproof way to spot potential killers. But, by early next year, the FBI will release a report listing problematic traits to help educators and parents identify the seriousness of a students threat.

The report will detail warning signs in four areas of a students life: 1. ) Personality, 2. ) Family, 3. ) School behavior, and 4. Other factors such as drugs and alcohol. This report should be very helpful to the parents and administration in controlling the safety of their school. Some of the indicators of what would make a student turn to violence are: social withdraw, excessive feelings of isolation and persecution, and a history of aggressive behavior. The question of what went wrong early on in these kids lives is brought up more that one. It is wondered what made them into killers where they would go out and without any conscience just kill people, their friends and classmates and then themselves.

No one will ever know except for himself or herself. What steps should be taken to helping kids like this? Having school psychologists is a good idea; they are traditionally the first lines of defense. But lately they have been preoccupied in assessing kids who need to help with learning disorders. Many schools are now adopting zero tolerance policies, pulling out kids who do anything suspicious. This works, but not always. When a school expels a student for something like violent imagery in creative writing, it is an overreaction.

Or the twelve year old boy in Virginia who was expelled for waiving a stapler around on a school bus; a Florida girl was suspended for bringing a nail clipper to class, and the suspension of a nine year old boy who wrote you will die with honor when his teacher asked him to compose a fortune cookie message. It is all-ridiculous. There is no reason to go that far. The zero tolerance rule is a good idea, but not for things like that. But for a kid who brings a gun to school or a kid who starts a fire in the school, they should be removed immediately, with no questions asked.

Zero tolerance polices should cover clear and serious offenses involving weapons, violence, threat, harassment, bomb scares, drugs, alcohol and cheating. Not in simple matters like those mentioned above. Crime rates in the United States are decreasing which is very good. Statistics show that crime rate in the U. S. has declined 6. 4 percent and the murder rate has declined 7. 4 percent in 1998. A poll shows that forty years ago, fifty percent of Americans reported having guns in their homes. Last year the figure was thirty-five percent. Which is good. This lessens the easiness of a child getting a gun to bring into school.

A New York Times/CBS poll asked kids if they worry about being crime victims at school or on the streets and twenty-four percent said yes. So, obviously the kids are not as concerned about a killer attending their school as the adults are. It is not clear at this point if schools are engaged in another cycle of violence or if we have evolved into a society whose culture has embraced violence as a characteristic and permanent feature. It is argues that the youth of today are coming more and more from backgrounds where antisocial behavior is more normal rather than unusual.

These young people are highly agitated and invested in antisocial attitudes. They tend to see the behavior and intentions of others as biased against them. They frequently decide to react aggressively to situations they view as challenging or threatening, very often with tragic consequences. This kind of aggression and reaction is what makes the schools dangerous. There are four factors that generally accelerate youth violence. They are: 1. ) Easy access to weapons, especially hand guns, 2. ) Early involvement with drugs and alcohol, 3. ) Association with antisocial groups and 4. ) Pervasive exposure to violent acts depicted in the media.

Eight-one percent of weapons brought to school come from the home. A safe school is characterized as effective, accepting, freedom from potential physical and psychological harm, absence of violence, and being nurturing, caring, and protective. Some school based protective factors are positive school climate and atmosphere, clear and high performance expectations for all students, good values and practices throughout the school, strong student bonding to the school environment, high levels of student participation and parent involvement in social development, and schoolwide conflict-resolution strategies.

An unsafe school is characterized by lack of cohesion, chaotic, stressful, disorganized, poorly structured, ineffective, high risk, gang activity, violent incidents, unclear behavioral and academic expectations. Some risk factors are poor design and use of school space, overcrowding, lack of caring but firm disciplinary procedures, student alienation, rejection of at-risk students by teachers and peers, anger and resentment at school routines and demands for conformity, and poor supervision.

Impacts and influences of school violence are: 1. Large schools and classrooms of students, that prevents teachers from developing meaningful relationships with students and 2. ) Overcrowded schools normally have higher rates of discipline problems and vandalism than schools that are at or below the enrollments for which they are intended. We must begin to reform the schools who need it. There are direct strategies as well as indirect strategies. Examples of the direct include things such as locks on doors, metal detectors, and random searching for weapons. Indirect strategies include requiring school uniforms, and establishing a positive school climate.

It is likely that more direct strategies are more effective than the indirect, but they do not change the culture of the school. It is recommended that schools maintain a zero tolerance policy for weapons, fighting, or other acts of violence, minimized the number of unlocked entrances, exits, and halls for students and visitors, require students to carry a hall pass when roaming about the school during classes and to limit the hall passes to an absolute minimum. These few strategies can be the stepping stones to making a better school enviroment.

Life in a High School

Cliques are small groups of between two and twelve individuals. Cliques are small enough that the members feel that they know each other better than do people outside the clique. Members of a clique share common activities and friendships. They are social settings in which adolescents hang out, talk to each other, and form closer friendships. Groups of friends, called cliques can be important for social upgrading, but in most cases the enormous power and effects of these cliques can create alienation, exclusion , and destructive results.

In my high school , as well as every other high school in America there are social groups of individuals, called cliques , that effect every individual whether they are an insider or an outsider. Generally there are the cool cliques , the athletic cliques, the freak clique, the skater clique, the smart clique, and the average clique. Almost everyone finds their place in one of these cliques, but there are always a few outsiders who go through high school never knowing where they belong. these are the people who are constantly ridiculed, picked on , and talked about day in and day out.

The effects can be devastating, even deadly. In Littleton, Coloraldo two outcast teenagers came into school one day and began shooting, targeting the athletes and other students who had made their lives awful by ridiculing them constantly. Seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold stormed their suburban Denver school with guns and bombs last April 20, killing 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives(Kenworthy 1). Augustana University education professor Larry Brendtro explained kids who feel powerless and rejected are capable of doing horrible things(Cohen 4).

A high school student, Jason Sanchez understands why the two outsider snapped by saying If you go to school, and you dont have friends, it drives you to insanity(Cohen 4). So what do these lonely outcast kids do if they are rejected by everyone? Roger Rosenblatt discusses in his article, Welcome to the Works of the Trench Coat , how kids will discover self-worth by hating an enemy(Rosenblatt 1). The kids of Columbine for example look alike; they conceal differences. People who are attracted to clans and cults seek to lose their individuality and discover power and pride in a group.

As individuals , the killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, were vulnerable, taunted by the other tribes in school– the cliques, the athletes– as geeks and nerds(Rosenblatt 1). The end result as a young girl involved in the murders reported was , He just put a gun to my head, and he started laughing and saying it was all because people were mean to him last year(Rosenblatt 1). The social warfare of cliques has no limits or boundaries; anything can and will happen. Columbine High School is only one example of how high school cliques can be damaging to teenagers.

At Glen Ridge High School a group of jocks raped a retarded woman. In that attractive upper-middle-class New Jersey suburb, thirteen jocks were present in the basement where the young womans body was penetrated by a baseball bat and a broomstick. The country was sickened by the inhumanity of a bunch of guys who were among the most admired and envied young men in their community and high school (Lefkowitz 653). These star athletes were not even afraid of being punished. They told their friends and schoolmates of the incident not trying to hide it at all.

Athletes are treated as kings of the school. This is not only true for the athletes , but for the cheerleaders too. In the article by Adam Cohen he says While others plod through high school, they glide: their exploits celebrated in the pep rallies and recorded in the school paper and trophy cases(Cohen 2). Another high school student Blake McConnell says that The jocks and the cheerleaders have the most clout, they get out of punishment — even with the police. Joe Blow has a wreck and has been drinking, and he gets the book thrown at him.

The quarterback gets busted, and he gets a lighter sentence ( Cohen 2). How does this prepare the so called stars for the real world whenever they are just an average working man? How does this make the normal and less special students feel? What about the smart people, where is their recognition for all their hard work and success? Cohen noted that assemblies to honor the best students rarely lasted twenty minutes. The school yearbook displayed ten photographs of the most mediocre football player. But the outstanding scholar was lucky to get one grainy photo ( Lefkowitz 654).

This is leaving the impression on many teens that the jocks are superior while everyone else is below them. What kind of lasting impression will this leave on the kids? Lefkowitz stated in her essay, I received hundreds of letters from people, some in their seventies and eighties, who recalled how excluded they felt when their schools anointed one group of guys as leaders(Lefkowitz 654). High school teaches us all many important lessons that stay with us all through our life, and sometimes the lessons inside the classroom are the least of it. High school is a chance for us all to invent ourselves.

High school for me was the best of times, even though when I was still in school and someone told this to me I just thought they were crazy. My senior prom, the football games, the pep rallies, and even the trouble I got into are all memories that I will look back upon for the rest of my life and just think how great life was then. I guess though while I was caught up in all the fun and games of high school I never stopped and noticed all the people being left behind. The people who remember high school as pain and suffering. The outsiders that we all picked on not stopping to realize what we had cost them, the best years of their lives.

Uniform Speech Essay

Do you remember what your wardrobe was like during high school? Maybe you wore the latest in brand name clothing, anything that wasn’t associated with gang signs, or whatever hand me downs you could get. The reality is physical violence is common between children because of the name brand on a jacket or a pair of jeans. Children are being ridiculed because their families simply can’t afford to provide them with the latest in fashion. In our larger cities where gang involvement is prevalent, children are killed because they choose to wear the wrong color to school.

This concern is not about civil liberties or freedom of expression, it’s about improving the educational environment within our public school systems nationwide. If this is a possible solution to the issues faced in public schools, is expressing one’s self with brand name clothing not worth giving up? and I went to private school where I was required to wear uniforms. I saw a strong correlation between wearing uniforms and prevention of school violence. I’m here today to talk about why uniforms prevent school violence.

I will speak about how it prevents students from ridicule, theft and gang violence. First, school uniforms eliminate opportunities for the ridicule of less popular or less fortunate students based on attire. Uniforms take the competition out of dressing. Students have been known to express themselves in flamboyant clothing. Price tags are in. Do you really want to be paying for a status symbol? A complaint by students is that uniforms reduce the freedom of expression. However, are we expressing ourselves through labeled clothing?

Are we not just expressing a capitalist society in which everyone wears the same clothing that is priced higher due to its popularity and brand name? Is it righteous that the kid that cant afford these mainstream clothing is subject to ridicule? Uniforms just promote the peer pressure to perform and conform. Many students take after-school jobs to maintain their own style. Often these paychecks go to getting the “right” clothing instead of more important things such as saving for the future. The issue is not a part time job, but the reason behind the job is our concern.

Is it not wrong that a student must waste his/her time working in order to get the right clothing and fit into society. With School Uniforms everyone fits in. Uniforms encourage students to show their personality and individuality in ways other than dress. Should one not express his/her individualism and personality in ways other than clothing? It is human nature to express our personalities and creative talents. However, many students use their clothing as their sole expression of themselves.

Is this society of the latest clothing not misguiding our youth? Instead of wearing funny graphic t-shirts from Abercrombie, priced at 30 dollars, isn’t one’s humor more reflective of his/her personality. Music, art, sports, or academics, should win over expression by clothing. Uniforms help to achieve this by allowing students to express and define themselves beyond their labels and fashion styles. A unique individual is developed not from appearance, but rather, intelligence, character and talent.

In the two most famous legal cases involving dress codes, the courts have struck down the American Civil Liberties Union’s arguments on restrictive constitutional freedoms. Our courts have agreed that when a child’s safety is at issue, the freedom of expression becomes a secondary consideration. It is the primary responsibility of our schools to protect and keep their students safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case in schools. Uniform dress codes do help solve this dilemma. Secondly, school uniforms decrease theft and violence: even life-threatening situations among students over designer clothing or expensive sneakers.

In today’s schools, adolescents are killing each other over designer jackets and expensive sneakers. With school uniforms, incidents of theft and assault are down. Uniforms help eliminate violent crime. Reducing the break-up of the “haves” and “have-nots” would diminish jealousy among students and the desire for expensive clothing. Therefore, with school uniforms being less expensive, students would not feel the need to steal for clothing, but would instead receive clothing to wear.

Thirdly, uniforms would aide in helping prevent gang members from wearing gang colors and symbols at school. If one were required to dress a certain way, they would be unable to express gang symbols. In some areas, due to gang rivalry, students fear to wear certain colors that may be associated with involvement in a gang. However, if we wear school uniforms and not allow gangs to express themselves with these colors or other symbols, students will be free of the fear in wearing a color associated with a gang.

As a school turns to mandated uniforms, all of the above dilemmas are closer to being resolved. All of the students look the same, at a base level. Concentration returns to personality, rather than what you are wearing, or what you can afford. Students are less absorbed and feel a smaller amount of need in keeping up with today’s trends. Our society should not be based on brand name clothing. We should focus more on the learning environment. Mandated uniforms can aide in shifting the focus of society’s youth from clothing to books.

Violence in Schools

On January 18, 1993, Scott Pennington, a seventeen year-old student from Kentucky, shot and killed his East Carter High School teacher Deanna McDavid and janitor Marvin Hicks, and then held his twenty-two classmates at gunpoint for about fifteen minutes. On September 15, 1995, Daniel Watson, eighteen, was charged with one count of kidnapping, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon on school property, and fifteen counts of first degree endangerment after holding a fellow student at gunpoint at his high school.

Watson had been in a fight before school, and then went home and returned with two handguns. In November of 1996, Drew Golden, 11, and Mitchell Johnson, 13, opened fire on their fellow students and teachers in Jonesboro, Arkansas, killing four students and an English teacher. Is this what should be happening in Americas schools? Should students have to be more concerned with their safety, rather than obtaining a good education? Incidences similar to the ones just described occur every year in school systems across the country.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, fifty-seven percent of public elementary and secondary school principals reported that one or more incidents of crime/violence occurred in their schools during the 1996-1997 school year. The center also reported that ten percent of all public schools experienced one or more serious violent crimes (defined as murder, rape, or other type of sexual battery, suicide, physical attack or fight with a weapon, or robbery) during the 1996-1997 school year. Physical attacks or fights led the list of reported crimes in public schools, with about 190,000 reported incidences in 1996-1997.

Schools should be places where the objective is to give students the skills and knowledge to help them with their future; they should not be havens for violent acts. Something obviously needs to be done to decrease and hopefully one day eliminate violence in Americas school systems. There have been numerous proposals made to help the problem, but there still has not been a significant improvement in the problem nationwide. Several recent reports-one by the American Psychological Association and another by the National Education Association-show a dramatic increase in the incidence of school violence.

It is going to take a team effort by the government, communities and the schools to help reduce violence in Americas school systems. The government has attempted to address the issue of school violence. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Gun-Free School Act, mandating a one-year expulsion for students who bring weapons to school. The Act also promoted the zero tolerance for weapons policies of some states and school districts. Currently, the federal government and most states also make funds available for prevention activities through anti-crime and education legislation.

This year, money was allotted in the federal budget for the hiring of more teachers in the schools. Although the government has put some effort into helping the schools, is it enough? The problem of violence of schools is often overlooked by the government and instead more emphasis is put on political scandals, foreign policy, and welfare. It seems unfair for the students who fear going to school each day that the government concentrates more on the private relations of the president and the status of people from other countries, than on the future of its own citizens.

The government needs to grant more money for the improvement of schools, both externally and internally. This money needs to be put toward the hiring of more teachers, violence prevention programs in the schools, and improvements on the school buildings. The government also should be monitoring the schools use of the zero tolerance policies, making sure that they are strictly enforced in every school across the country. The second ingredient to solving the problem of violence in schools is community initiatives.

An important one is providing an assortment of out-of-school programs to students. It is important that these programs keep youth constructively engaged when their families are unavailable, and provide them with attention from caring adults and good role models. They also need to encourage teamwork, respect, and positive personal relationships. These programs keep kids away from negative influences on the street and in the media. Helping youth find employment in the community is another important way for communities to help build the self-esteem and sense of responsibility among adolescents.

Having a job also helps youth appreciate how important staying in school is to their future career plans. The most important element to the solution of violence in schools is the improvement surrounding the actual schools. The first key is to reduce violence through personalization. Overcrowded schools and classes hurt both the educators efforts to know their students and students efforts to know one another. The result from this is often misunderstanding, frustration, and increasingly, violence. Smaller classes can enable schools to become communities in which students know and value one another as individuals.

They would also allow educators to form steady caring relationships with the students most likely to start or suffer from physical and psychological violence. School violence frequently results from conflicts that are inappropriately managed and therefore intensify. Conflict resolution programs should be offered in schools to both students and educators to give them skills to effectively and constructively handle the controversies that naturally arise in learning environments. Schools should also promote the development of good character.

The missing piece in violence prevention programs is character development though the skills of empathy and self-discipline, write character education experts Diane G. Berreth and Sheldon Berman. Without these skills, we run the risk of schools becoming locked-down and oppressive institutions built around fear rather than responsiveness. Teachers also play an essential role in dealing with school violence. Studies have shown that children consistently admire and respect those teachers that are strict in setting high standards for behavior and academic performance, and who demonstrate a personal interest in their students.

It is also important that teachers follow strict codes of conduct throughout the whole school. This code of conduct should be shared with the students, and should not be altered by the teachers. Students should never have the feeling that they might be able to get away with something, because a teacher rarely enforces the rules. It is with longing that teachers remember the days when disruptive behavior in school meant running in the halls, throwing spitballs and pulling ponytails. Today, the disruptive behavior is much more frightening.

It takes the shape of brutal beatings, stabbings, and shootings. Youth violence disrupts schools and is taking its toll on students, teachers, parents, and communities. Youth violence is threatening the entire structure of public education. The issue of school violence needs to be attended to quickly. This problem cannot be solved by the efforts of one force, but rather it will take the teamwork of the government, communities, and the schools to help reduce the violence. If policies such as the ones described are not implemented, students will continue going to school in fear.

Schlesinger’s Canon Vs. My High School’s Canon

In school, whether it be at the high school or college levels, there are usually lists of books thought as being essential reading. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. –a Pulitzer Prize winning historian–calls this list in his book The Disuniting of America, a “canon” or “canonical literature. ” A problem exists with this canon, at least Schlesinger claims there is. He states that the canon is being used “as an instrument of European oppression enforcing the hegemony of the white race, the male sex, and the capitalist class” From my high school experience, I believe this is not true.

At my high school, teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but also to study the great writers of other cultures. There is a great deal of European influence in American society and in American education. Some people, like the Afrocentrists, feel that this influence is too heavy and that schools should also be teaching about other cultures in their classes. Schlesinger states in his book that he “believes in the importance of teaching Americans the history of other culturesEast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Polynesia.

Since we live in a multicultural society, we should be teaching a multicultural curriculum. At my high school, I feel as if I received this type of education. The teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but also to study the great writers of other ethnicities. My high school is a private college preparatory institution in San Francisco. Some authors whose works we read in our English classes consisted of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Ovid, Maya Angelou, Chaim Potok, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, Chinua Achebe, and C. S. Lewis.

This curriculum is not at all what Schlesinger claims to be the current “American literary canon: Emerson, Jefferson, Melville, Whitman, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Lincoln, Twain, Dickinson, William and Henry James, Henry Adams, Holmes, Dreiser, Faulknner, O’ Neill. ” We touched on most of these people also, but not nearly as in depth as we did the other authors. Schlesinger’s list seems to point out his fact that the canon is being used for European oppression and he deliberately chooses to add to his list only those “white male” authors.

But they are not the only authors we study, at least at my school. He deliberately, or so it seems, to neglect current successful authors, like Maya Angelou- who is both female and black- whose books, like her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” are being used in English classes all around the country. Chaim Potok, another current author we studied is also neither European nor “white. ” He was born in New York City and is Jewish. Mr. Potok was educated at Yeshiva University as well as the University of Pennsylvania. He was also trained as a rabbi.

His first book “The Chosen” deals with two generations of Brooklyn Hasidic Jews. We also studied the African writer Chinua Achebe and his book “Things Fall Apart. ” This novel is set in an Ibo village in Nigeria. It recreates the village’s first encounter with white male colonialism, their Christianity, and the breaking down of old ways. As I closely examine the canon at my high school, though, I start to notice some parallels. Through research, I have discovered that a lot of the books we read and their authors had similarities.

For instance, Maya Angelou served as the Northern Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1959 to 1960. Jane Austen was the daughter of Reverend George Austen. C. S. Lewis is widely known for his popular religious and moral writings- pertaining to Christianity. Also in novels we read, such as the collection of stories Metamorphoses by Ovid–which was favored by the public in the pagan Rome but disapproved by the Christian Church–had Christian issues. In the epic novel Beowulf, there are strong threads of Christian commentary running throughout the poem. What is culture?

The dictionary defines it as “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other roducts of human work and thought. ” Does this not constitute religion? If so, then there might be a problem with the literary canon at my high school. If their literary canon is to be “multicultural,” they must also teach about different religions and what role they play in different cultures. Teaching students about different religions can be used to strengthen their own religious beliefs, by examining points in different religions that could actually be harmful to one’s spirituality.

There were times, like during the reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses when we touched on different world views- uch as monotheism and polytheism, but we always had to compare it to Christianity and what we were taught in our religion classes. The teachers made it clear that these stories were superstitions and tales of gods that we were viewing for their imagery and imagination. Instead, if we studied the society that this novel was written for- a pagan Rome- and how and why the stories and the author were disapproved by the Christian Church, I feel it would have benefited us more than just studying the use of imagery.

The teachers at my high school did encourage us to read authors of ifferent races, but their literary canon has a religious bias. At first it seems as though the curriculum at my high school is multicultural, and in a way it is. We did not focus only on European influenced literature and studies, but read a lot of authors of different ethnicity. Even though we did read authors of different ethnicity, there was a lack of viewing other types of religions from the world, and their authors. This lack of not reading from different religions is a big hole in what is culture. Because of this, we did not receive a complete multicultural education.

The Breathalyzer at School Functions

Recently at Longmeadow High School it became mandatory to pass an alcohol-screening test before entering a school dance. This breathalyzer will detect alcohol on ones breath. No student that has been drinking will be admitted to the event. Longmeadow High School has recently purchased breathalyzers which teacher chaperones administer to all students entering a school function. This issue has brought about much conflict. Many people see it as a positive thing; however, the breathalyzer at school dances should be eliminated.

A dance is a sage, chaperoned place for students to hang out but the breathalyzer is turning many away from attending these dances. Many students feel as if the breathalyzer is an invasion of their privacy and reject the idea completely. Many parents favor it because they do not want their children drinking at all. The breathalyzer should be eliminated because it drives kids to more dangerous situation, it leads to an increased usage of other drugs and it decreases school spirit and profit.

Residents of the town of Longmeadow are very aware that Longmeadow teens are outperforming teens nationwide in their consumption of alcohol. Committees have been formed within the community to eliminate the under-aged drinking problem. Many students interviewed at Longmeadow high school say that once they have adapted to a party lifestyle, or a lifestyle when one drinks every weekend or more, a breathalyzer is not going to end that habit. A school dance could be a fun place to meet with friends to socialize, hang out and dace, but many people feel that they cannot enjoy themselves as much with out drinking.

One LHS student says Id have more fun at a house party drinking that I would at an alcohol-free school function. This idea may not be morally or legally correct, but it keeps many students from attending school dances. This is where the problem with the breathalyzer begins. Kids who want to drink will go to unsupervised environments rather than to a place where there are adults who could handle a serious situation should one ever occur. It is not legal for kids to drink because they are not capable of dealing with serious situations.

The problem of stopping kids from drinking in Longmeadow is much too large for anyone to deal with, but drunken kids should have a safe place to go where they can be watched over. Students who choose not to attend the dance because of the breathalyzer instead will invade a persons house for a party, or will drive around drinking. Drunken kids are careless so it does not take them too long to trash a familys home during a party when the parents are only out for the evening. Drunk Driving is one of the leading causes of death in our nation.

These situations are very dangerous and if kids felt more comfortable at chaperoned functions, which they would if there wasnt a breathalyzer, then they would stay out of much more trouble and have someone responsible to go to for help if needed. Many kids are self-conscious about their appearance of dancing abilities. One LHS student says drinking helps me to relax more at dances to have a good time so I dont have to worry about how I look or act. Some students really enjoy daces and feel like they have much more fun when they are intoxicated.

The breathalyzer only screens for alcohol and most students are aware of that. Therefore, many turn to other types of drugs to increase their enjoyment at school dances. Kids who usually just drink will turn to drugs, such as marijuana, which in the future could increase their dependence on other illegal substances. The breathalyzer will create a whole new substance abuse problem among the children in the town of Longmeadow. Some students just wont attend the dance at all due to the breathalyzer. Dances tend to be a place for students to reach out of their comfort zone and socialize with different groups of people.

When there is very low attendance at a dance, students arent able to do this to create a much-desired sense of school unity. Dances also promote a sense of school spirit that will not be achieved if students do not attend the dances due to the breathalyzer. Most dances are also fundraisers for a specific class. If attendance at school dances decreases, which is has since the breathalyzer has been introduced, so does profit. As a class reaches its senior year it will not have as much money as desired for the many senior obligations and activities. Under-aged drinking in Longmeadow is a problem that the breathalyzer cannot stop.

Many students have voiced their opinions on this topic and authorities know that once one starts drinking every weekend, chances are no one is going to make them stop. Instead of pushing kids away from school functions, a safe, chaperoned environment should be offered to all. If one drinks too much then they have a problem. Just because someone has a problem doesnt mean they dont deserve a chance to have a good time like everyone else. The breathalyzer should be eliminated from school dances. The breathalyzer will lead kids to party in unsafe environments, push them towards other drugs and decrease school spirit and profit.

Prayer in Public Schools: Should It Be Constitutional

The courts have ruled against prayer in school. Many agree with decision; yet many disagree including myself. Prayer should be allowed in public school because it is already practiced, it prevents immoral acts, and it enhances the learning environment. The issue of prayer in school has been debated in the U. S. since the North West Treaty (1787and 1789) which states: “ Religion, morality, and the knowledge being necessary for good government and the happiness of man kind, schools and the means of learning shall forever be engorged.

Thus, religion, which includes prayer, was deemed to be necessary. Many people believe that prayer is not allowed in the public schools. In fact prayer is allowed in the school system on buses, at the flagpole, in student religious groups, and in the cafeteria. However, prayer is not permitted in the classroom itself when class is in session. Prayer in class would violate the principles of church- state separation, which is defined by court interpretations of the First Amendment.

This requires that public school teachers, principals, and boards to be religiously neutral. The reason for this is to prevent any arguments among students and teachers about their specific religion. Public schools had prayer for nearly two hundred years before the supreme court ruled that state- mandated class prayers were unconstitutional (Engle, 1962) The fact that prayer was practiced for nearly two-hundred years established it by precedent as a beneficial practice in our schools. Since the court outlawed prayer, the nation has been in steady moral decline.

Former secretary of education William Bennett revealed in his cultured indexes that between 1960 and1990 there was a steady moral decline. During this period divorce doubled, teenage pregnancy went up 200%, teen suicide increased 300%, child abuse reached an all time high, violent crime went up 500% and abortion increased 1000% . Morals must be taught and they can not be taught properly without religion, because most of the strong moral beliefs stem from religion such as the Ten Commandments.

There is a strong correlation between the expulsion of prayer from our schools and the decline in morality. The third argument is prayer enhances the learning environment at public schools. Prayer enhances the learning environment because when there is a test coming up or a paper due, you think to yourself, “ How am I going to do all of this, and do well? ” I know from personal experiences, that having a number of assignments due at the same time can be frustrating.

When this happens, I always turn to God, and he guides and gives me strength and understanding. The outcome from doing praying is always good and the things that I asked for in my prayer are always bestowed upon me. Prayer may not enhance everyone’s learning environment but I know before I start my day, I ask God to let me have a good day and let everything that I do, be a true learning experience for me. The experience may not always be good, but if it happens, it happens for a reason.

Finally, I will end with a quote from “ An Outrageous Idea: Natural Prayer” written by Patty Jo Cornish. “ We have forgotten that we are all in this together and we keep separating ourselves by ourselves by colors, by football teams, by clothes, by money, by creed, by greed, by boundaries, by age, and so on and on. We need something to pull us all together, natural prayer could be that miracle. It includes everyone even the non-believers. ”

The culture of American schools

Some teachers are better than others. This is a simple and, I hope, obvious fact. But the culture of American schools is not friendly to it. Particularly in our hiring of public school teachers, we tend to avoid notions of serious discernment, of picking the very best in our society to become our teachers, and we accept that the most talented of our young people will gravitate to other fields. Overcoming this acceptance of mediocrity in teacher recruitment and retention represents the greatest opportunity to bring a quantum improvement to our schools.

To focus on the elite among new teaching recruits as a matter of method is, in fact, the radically democratic way to give our society’s most valuable resources to our poorest and neediest children. That simple fact should trump any concerns about the ill effects of meritocracy on job applicants. The work of educators is to educate young people. So long as we have the courage to make the very best possible experience for those young people our highest goal, we must attend to fairness for teachers only after we have attended to excellence for our students. And we have yet to do that right.

Today, the best teachers in many schools are in a way the dissidents, the people who stand out, who attract criticism as well as praise for being remarkable educators, and they resist a strong pull toward mediocrity in the professional culture of too many schools. We must recognize that this is a problem, and we must fix it. The solution is not difficult to imagine. New teachers must come to know that there is an early-career, merit-based threshold to cross, similar to what doctors, lawyers, and many business professionals face in their first few years of professional work.

If we can make this a reality, the most talented and most effective among them will be able to earn their place in a truly elite, dedicated corps of teachers. We will keep the very best of the new teacher recruits, and we’ll attract large numbers of people in other professions who today don’t sign on to become teachers because they believe that American schools haven’t fostered a culture of achievement and haven’t been able to make the profession of teacher as respected or respectable as many other professions.

In many school systems today, new teachers are, officially, on some kind of probation for a period, often three years. But these probationary periods in fact don’t relate to job performance. So long as performance is not outright criminal or grossly harmful to children, new teachers in these districts will keep their jobs. The money in school budgets is the key to launching or limiting their careers. In a budget cutback, the probationary teachers are the ones whose ranks are trimmed, because they are generally not fully covered by unions, and are therefore easier to let go.

So long as we do not screen new teachers based on excellence—not based on mere competence, not based on basic skill levels, but based on demonstration that each individual is better at teaching than most who try—we will never be able to create and reinforce the kind of elite professional culture among our teachers that they deserve, and, more importantly, that our students deserve. Consider the college student planning to become a teacher.

And consider not just any student, but the kind of student we most want to be teaching our children—someone who is bright, warm, disciplined, and interested in the ideas of other people, someone curious about the world, and capable of doing difficult things well. At the age of 21 or so, he is finishing college, heading toward a degree in English, biology, history, or another subject. Most likely, he is not taking a degree in education (the students with the strongest academic backgrounds generally don’t).

In his senior year, he is probably working as a student-teacher for at least part of the year, going off in the mornings to a school where the students call him “Mister. ” He takes a coffee break in the teachers’ lounge now and then, a junior colleague of teachers young and old. His friends who are not planning on becoming teachers are studying, heading off for the occasional job interview, and spending a great deal of time as college students do—enjoying independence, hanging out, reading interesting books, thinking about the future. In this local culture, the student-teacher is a standout.

He’s in the real world, seen by many as a full adult citizen, clearly bearing serious responsibility for the many students he deals with on a regular basis. This is a person with prestige in his community of college friends. He is a person who can easily feel good about his choice to be a teacher. Roll forward a year, now. Our young teacher is getting his sea legs before his own class—teaching on his own, with a mentor teacher checking in now and then perhaps, and a little extra support from the principal if the principal has the time and interest.

He’s solving problems, developing relationships with students, and working through one of the most difficult and rewarding phases in a teacher’s life. He’s also making an adult salary, though not a particularly large one. He’s probably taking courses toward a master’s degree in education or a related subject in the evenings. His friends are doing a range of things—taking time off to travel, working in jobs that might be the beginnings of their own careers or might help them learn what they don’t want to do for a living, or perhaps they’re beginning graduate or professional schools.

Remember, we’re talking about the social circle of the kind of young teacher who should be prized—the talented, ambitious young person. His friends are probably a lot like him—they’re people with plenty of options who are looking for the right paths to exercise their own talents and build meaningful lives. Some are likely to be starting law school or work on an M. B. A. ; some are taking entry-level business jobs; some are moving back home to their parents’ to decompress from four years of college, save some money, and consider their choices. Their friend the teacher is probably making as much or more money than most.

He’s probably taking on greater personal challenges in his day-to-day work, and he’s working in the public sector, making a difference in the education arena that so many commentators spill so much ink over in the newspapers and magazines. He’s no underachiever. He looks to the world like a person with a vital and important professional life. Now look forward another three or four years. The teacher’s friends are less likely to be business or law students, and more likely to be business people and lawyers. Those who took the academic route might well be considering the beginnings of their Ph. D. dissertations.

Even those who took the lowest-level business jobs are now likely to be reaching modestly higher rungs on the career ladder. Certainly some of his friends might still be traveling, or still be living at home, working jobs that aren’t panning out and thinking about the right changes to make. But on the whole, our young teacher, who has by now gotten the hang of how to be a classroom educator and has the skills to walk into class with confidence and break into a lesson without too much nervous perspiration, is one of the lower earners in his cohort, and probably feels a good deal less like the leader of the pack.

What do you guys do? ” someone might ask a table full of them at the local pub. “Well, I’m a med student, 4th year. ” “I’m a lawyer over at Huddle & Pass. ” “I’m an editor at a national magazine. ” And our teacher says, “I teach 3rd grade,” or “I teach high school biology. ” No need to feel ashamed, of course. But there’s not a lot of prestige for him to grab hold of as he tells his professional story. At the age of 25 or so, that might not be a big deal; time will change that. Roll forward another 15 years. Our teacher is now 40. His friends are now law partners, business people, doctors, writers, scientists, and professors.

Where is he in his career? He could be at the head of a 3rd grade classroom, teaching the children of some of his first students from student-teacher days. He’s probably picked up a doctorate along the way, as 20 years of steady night courses have yielded their benefits. And he might well be the happiest of all his friends. As they face their own moments of reflection—What kind of contribution am I making? What personal satisfaction am I really getting from my work? What kind of community do I have at work, day to day? —the teacher’s answers could be very satisfying.

I’m changing lives every day, shaping the minds and souls of my students, he might say. I see the results of my work every day when I look at my students, bump into kids I taught years ago, learn to do my job better every year. And I work in a hive of activity, energized by the youth of the students and the profound purpose of the institutional home we share. Or maybe he decided to give up teaching. He might have decided at the age of 30 or so that he wanted his children to have the economic advantages he could garner for them through business or law, professions that draw on similar skills and aptitudes.

In the business world, he could probably triple his salary, though he’d have to trade off the nobility of the educator (and summers off). Or he might have decided that he really wanted the greater freedoms of the professor. But the most likely ending to this story—not a sad ending by any means—is the compromise position of the educational administrator. With his above-average skills and real dedication to the mission of schools, he is now probably a principal, a district curriculum director, or an associate superintendent. What do you do for a living? I’m a lawyer. I’m a VP at Giant Corp. I’m a high school principal.

Or, I’m the head of a school system. That sounds pretty good—and the money isn’t shabby for those jobs in most cases either. Interestingly, many business people know that as an organization’s standards go beyond merely “above average”—as it earns, in other words, the reputation of being an elite institution, where only the most talented people work together—the cost of employment begins to fall. People benefit so from being part of a known elite that they’ll put off the chance to make more money in order to get other kinds of compensation—knowledge, pride, and the intangible value of having a notable, elite affiliation.

Many elite institutions across American public life are driven by this dynamic. Why else do the most talented lawyers often work for the government at a fraction of what they can earn elsewhere? Why are our universities filled with so many of the best and brightest of our professionals, there to study and teach, making so much less than they could elsewhere? Why else do young doctors (and many not so young) spend years beyond medical school earning small salaries as they train for greater and greater specialization?

And why should our K-12 schools not be in the same category? Once we come to believe that they can be, and that we know how to make it so, how can we possibly choose any alternative course? Perhaps out of fairness, one might say. We want our teacher corps to be a humane institution—not to be driven by the competitive fires that ignite even the judicial law clerks and top-drawer graduate students and university lecturers. It’s true, we could be fairer to teachers, to make the profession a little less competitive, a little less demanding.

In fact, that’s precisely the situation we’re in now, and we have discovered that by being fairer to the teachers—particularly to the less talented and less ambitious teachers—we make our students bear the cost, essentially taking from our students to give to our least talented teachers. And of course it is the poor students, whose parents cannot opt out of the schools they are in (because they don’t have the money for private schools, or the skills at working the educational bureaucracy necessary to find their way to the top of the heap in public school systems) who pay the highest price.

In an era of real reform in American education—and our era certainly qualifies—it is high time that we begin to change this fact. A tougher apprenticeship period for new teachers is the place to begin. Let us create the expectation that most who begin their careers as teachers won’t make the grade, and those who do will be truly the best and the brightest of every generation, while those who enter the profession and leave in those early years will be proud to say—and will benefit from saying—”I was a teacher. ”

Just as teachers believe in their work, the American public believes in the value of good teachers. A recent survey conducted by Recruiting New Teachers (1998) shows that once the issue of school safety is addressed, Americans believe that providing a qualified teacher in every classroom is the most important way to improve education today -not standards, tests, vouchers, privatization, or school uniforms. The survey also shows that the public knows that teaching gives back more to America than any other profession.

To find out more about what Americans think about teaching, read a summary of The Essential Profession: A Survey of Public Attitudes Toward Teaching, Educational Opportunity, and School Reform (1998) on RNT’s Web site. Teaching is a profession of critical interactions, of working with others in a calling where theory and practice go hand in hand. At the base of it all are my contentions that teaching is a profession, not a job, and that teachers have great influence on the lives of their students.

Students see how their teachers speak, dress, and act. They notice their teachers’ commitment to learning, to their community, and to their profession. They watch their teachers for fairness and honesty. And while students may appear to be harsh judges, they are also impressionable, and are busy modelling themselves as future adults. Besides subject matter, the students are learning about living life.

Will school choice significantly improve educational standards

This is the fundamental question in school choice policy debates. Are vouchers the solution or do they just compound the problem? Teachers unions believe school choice will destroy the public school system, a mainstay of government responsibility. Yet others argue that the failings of public education are the fundamental reason why certain groups are held back from advancing their place in society. Who is right? More importantly, whose interests will win out? Supporters of school vouchers say that the entity of school choice does indeed exist currently–but only for affluent families.

Children in affluent families can be sent to whatever school a parent desires, they argue. However, low-income families are restricted in their options and thus are forced to send children to subpar educational institutions. This has the effect of perpetuating the cycle of receipt of poor education leading to low-income jobs in the future. The only way to break this cycle of inequality is to intervene at the point of education. Supporters contend that leveling the playing field for educational access will lead to greater equity on a larger scale.

Opponents question the quality of education in private schools which are not regulated by the State. Schools in which teachers may not be credentialed and curriculum varies from school to school. Such opponents, including many Congressional Democrats, say that voucher programs rob needed cash from local public schools. “Vouchers will not reform our public schools, they will only serve to weaken them,” says Robert Chase, president of the National Educational Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Opponents believe that withdrawing money from already underfunded public schools will simply exacerbate the problem.

What You Never Learned in High School

Welcome to a world full of sleepless nights, endless responsibilities, and computerized solitaire. Welcome to the land where coffee beans reign and Vivarin rules. Youve been here before. Sure you have This may not be the case with everyone, but I know that when I was in high school, college was my ultimate dream. Unlike most of my peers, high school never held that special sentimental enchantment for me as it did for them. I didnt display any noticeable increase in school spirit during my final year out of respect for what would soon become my alma mater.

For example, I didnt request a single person to sign my yearbook, I didnt order extra copies of the senior class picture to adorn the walls of every room I ever intend to occupy with, and not a single tear was shed at graduation. Spirit Week, a time of social union, pep rallies, and ridiculous clothing that was somehow meant to show support for a football team who hadnt won a section in over a decade, was looked upon with the usual apprehension, but with a sense of quiet anticipation.

I was ready for the big time, college, where every day would be a new experience in freedom, and every night would be a new experience in alcoholism. It wasnt until I actually got to college that Reality decided to give me one of the swiftest kicks to the nether quarters that I have ever experienced in my life. I was finally in the Real World. Throughout my years in public education, there always seemed to be someone to look after my best interests. There was always a mother or a father to wake me up for school on time, and to provide me with lunch money.

They were always there to help me with my homework (until I reached about eighth grade and even they didnt have a clue), and, of course, to put me back in line when they thought I was out of it. There were always teachers who assured me that what they were teaching would be of endless value to me throughout the rest of my life, and would surely help me in college. Questions such as What does the child, Pearl, symbolize in Nathaniel Hawthornes novel, The Scarlet Letter? may very well be asked during a job interview someday, and that the Quadratic Formula would indeed become a part of my everyday life.

Looking back now, it makes me wonder if they had ever actually been to college themselves. During my first semester of college, when faced with the fifty-seven hours of homework to be completed in forty-eight, or the first Calculus chapter that was undoubtedly a review for those students who had already completed a course in Pre-Calculus during high school (a chapter that made about as much sense to me as Arabic script); one question constantly reoccurred in my mind: When was I ever prepared for all of this?

Throughout high school, the period of my life intended to orient more then any other around preparing me for college, the teachers who thought themselves to be lenient and considerate in their ways, were really depriving the student body of vital knowledge and experience. Teachers never forced us into budgeting our time, they never pressured the students who really cared about their grades into asking for help by keeping a rigorous homework schedule, and tests were never first and final.

While they were doing us a favor by grading on a curve, offering extensions for late reports, and allowing homework to be turned in late, they were really misleading us in one of the worst possible ways. How many first semester college students would one think has spent countless nights staying up until four or five oclock in the morning trying to understand that last bit of Calculus? How many have gone over twenty-four hours without sleeping at all to finish that five page thesis that was assigned just four days ago along with a million other assignments?

I speak from experience when I say that Ive had more sleepless nights engaged in such activities than I care to remember, or care to ever have again. Every teacher I had in high school was excellent in his or her own unique way, they taught the material to the best of their ability, and while some may have been a bit overbearing, they always made exceptions. Each individual instructor had at least an iota of sympathy for a student who was willing to try and therefore the occasional lenient alternative was given.

All I am asking is for teachers to do their students a favor and be a little bit of a hard ass just once, if for no other reason than to allow their students a taste of what pursuing an education after high school is like. I would be the first to recognize the consequences of such a controversial proposition as this. It may potentially insult the average high school teacher by critiquing his or her method of instruction. If a high school student ever read this, I would almost surely be beaten mercilessly by several masked assailants in some dark alleyway or parking lot.

Just a few months ago I was a high school student, and knowing what I know now about college, I would have been exceedingly grateful for such an opportunity. Many a long lecture did I receive, courtesy of my parents, regarding the sad truth of what college life would truly be like, but I could never really appreciate it until I had experienced it for myself. College is not all fun and games. Learning that vital piece of information on your own is definitely not an easy task, but unless things change, the hard way is the only way that lesson will ever be learned.

Censorship in Public Schools

-A principal in a California high school bans five books written by Richard Brautigan because he thinks they might contain “obscenities or offensive sexual references” (Berger 59). -A Vermont high school librarian is forced to resign because she fought the school board’s decision to remove Richard Price’s The Wanderers, and to “restrict” the use of Stephen King’s Carrie and Patrick Mann’s Dog Day Afternoon (Jones 33). -An Indiana school board takes action that leads to the burning of many copies of a textbook that deals with drugs and the sexual behavior of teenagers (Berger 61).

These cases of censorship in public schools are not unusual and there is evidence that such challenges are increasing (Woods 2). These challenges are actually typical of the ones being leveled against school libraries today. These challenges can come from one person or a group concerned with the suitability of the material in question. In almost every case, the effort to ban books is said to be “justified by fear of the harmful effects that the books may have on young children” (Berger 59).

The result of these censorship attempts has been two opposing sides: one side believes that “more suitable materials can sually be found from among the wealth of materials available on most subjects (Woods 1), and the other side believes that students’ “intellectual freedom” can be upheld only if students are allowed to examine “any available relevant materials in order to gain the insights needed to reach their own conclusions” (Woods 1). In the simplest terms, the debate is between censorship and the freedom to read.

The most important question when discussing censorship deals with its constitutionality; does censorship violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech? Censorship advocates actually use the words of the First Amendment to make their point; “the amendment reads, ‘Congress shall make no law… “, it does not say, “There shall be no law… ‘” (Berger 69). They believe that, although the federal government is forbidden to censor, it is not unconstitutional for states and local communities to pass censorship laws (Berger 69).

Also, since the US Supreme Court does not believe the First Amendment protects all forms of expression (child pornography, etc. ), then proponents of censorship believe that censorship laws are onstitutional (Berger 69). Anti-censorship has the upper-hand, constitutionally, at least, since “judges, from local courts to the Supreme Court, seem firmly on the anti-censorship side” (Berger 61). The courts have time and again ruled that the Constitution prohibits Congress from censorship of any form.

These two opposing sides have butted heads again and again leaving behind landmark cases for future legal actions. One of the most famous of those cases was Pico vs. Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26, which was the irst school library censorship case to reach the Supreme Court (Jones 35). In March 1976, the Island Trees School Board in New York removed eleven books that they deemed “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy” (Berger 59) from the high school library shelves.

Among these books were Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich by Alice Childress, and Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver (Jones 37). The board felt that it had “a moral obligation to protect the children in our schools from this moral danger” (Berger 60). Five students then sued the school board on grounds that their decision violated their First Amendment rights. The suit was passed around the courts until June 1982 when the Supreme Court took up the cause and ruled that the school board would have to defend its removal of the books.

The Supreme Court decided that since the library is used voluntarily, they can choose books there freely and that, as Justice Brennan stated, “the First Amendment rights of students may be directly and sharply implicated by the removal of books from the shelves of a school library (Jones 45). The Supreme Court’s decision was that “courts may act our of concern for the First Amendment rights of those affected by school officials’ action” (Jones 45).

On August 12, 1982, the school board voted to put the books back on the shelves; (special note: the librarian was told to inform the parents of students who checked out those books) (Berger 60). The advocates of school library book censorship believe that adults must have control over what children read. They feel that unless responsible adults oversee what students are reading, students will be exposed to the worst in literature.

This literature can go from simply causing offense, to “resulting in emotional damage and even leading to anti-social behavior” (Berger 61). Their beliefs lead them to pull the offending books from the shelves so that young readers are protected, as was the case in Pico and as was the case when “Robin Hood was considered communistic, Tarzan was living with Jane without benefit of clergy, and Huckleberry Finn was a racist” (Woods 13).

Each time they use words like controversial, filthy, immoral, lascivious, lewd, obscene, sacrilegious, and violent, they are actually using only one word, censorship. The anti-censorship group believes that students have the same constitutional freedoms as everyone else, including the right to read whatever they want. They feel that it is only in this way “that children can develop the taste and understanding to distinguish between trash and serious literature” (Berger 61). And it is with this group that I make my stand against censorship.

The purpose of education remains what it has always been in a free society: to develop a free and reasoning human being who can think for himself, who understands his own and other cultures, who lives compassionately and ooperatively with his fellow man, who respects both himself and others, who has developed self-discipline and self-motivation, who can laugh at the world, and who can successfully develop survival strategies for existence in the world. (Jones 184) As one who is striving to be an English teacher I know that literature has a significant part in the education of man.

I am aware that I have responsibilities to my students, for knowing “many books from many cultures”, for “demonstrating a personal commitment to the search for truth through wide reading”, for “respecting the unique qualities and otential of each student” and for “exhibiting the qualities of the educated man” (Jones 184). With these responsibilities, I believe that I would not be serving my students to the best of my abilities if I were not a strong advocate against the censorship of books. As the NCTE writes, “to deny the freedom of choice in fear that it may be unwisely used is to destroy the freedom itself” (Jones 181).

As stalwart and idealistic as I am, I still understand that at some point in my career I will come under attack from a censorship group unhappy with my selection of curricula. The American School Board Journal gives a list of nine strategies that can be used to help reduce the chances of an attack; these include “involving citizens in the book selection process”, “giving objecting parents and students and out”, and “don’t ban or remove books until they’ve been afforded a fair trial” (Woods 35).

A similar list by Diane Divoky is a little more extreme but no less helpful. Her list includes hints like, “if you’re going to use a book with obscenities, check to see if there are approved books in the school library containing the same words”, “before you take on a high-risk project, try to lign yourself with a veteran staff member”, and “at the moment you suspect a problem lies down the line, call the best lawyer within your reach” (Woods 34).

As for my personal opinion as a citizen and a reader, I have always been leery of censors. Censors of school library books never announce that it is their morality that has been damaged. It is always “they” who will be damaged, it is always someone else’s moral fiber that is being protected. In an excerpt from possibly the most banned book of the modern era, The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caufield reacts to an obscenity scrawled on a wall: It drove me damn near crazy.

I though how Phoebe and all the other little kids would see it, and how they’d wonder what the hell it meant, and then finally some dirty kid would tell them what it meant and how they’d all think about it and maybe even worry about if for a couple of days. I kept wanting to kill whoever’d written it. (Salinger 165) This phrase from Salinger’s classic novel, for me, illustrates exactly how censors react when they find anything they deem objectionable in the school. Why will people react emotionally, even violently, to certain spoken or written words, while in many cases aving mild reactions to the actions described by the words?

While D. H. Lawrence has seen considerable censorship due to his affinity for sexual content, Shakespeare has enjoyed relative peace even though Othello and his lover made “the beast with two backs” (I. I, 119-120). I, myself, will continue to struggle against the censors who seek to control written expression in our schools while waving the banner of freedom, for it is censorship that we must fear, not words, and hope that in the future, the true obscenities of the world (poverty, hunger, war) will be what we shall strive to censor.

Exploring the Literacy Practices of High School Debaters

My personal literacy development has not always been easy. In grade school I struggled with dyslexia. Additionally my family moved several times and new school districts were teaching reading and writing using different methods. These difficulties have made grade school not nearly as central to my literacy development as most students. My high school career was much more influential in creating my literacy practices. More specifically my experience as a member of my high school debate team really influenced the literacy practices I use today.

My high school debate team placed me in a literacy community unlike most high school students experience there I was taught more sophisticated literacy skills, enhanced discourse, social confidence and empowerment of ideas. As in every field debaters have their own terminology that helps to initiate members into the community. Knowing and manipulating the terminology made competitors very successful in and out of rounds. Many of the terms are also used in other sophisticated academic environments. Thus successful use of this terminology by high school student was regarded very highly by professionals and higher education recruiters.

Common terms include: rhetoric paradigm inherency discourse workability stock issues A priori empirically status quo threshold brink counter intuitive topicality impacts A priori affirmative comparative advantage workability solvency hegemonic resolution rebuttal mutually exclusive On face value these words seem fairly common; however they are not common in an average high school student’s vocabulary. These “buzz” words were essential for the communication style expected in debate rounds but a few strategically placed words often dazzled most high school teachers.

Additionally use of these terms also leads to a highly stylized and sophisticated organization pattern for argumentation. Primarily, focused on stock issues debaters used this format to write “cases” or policy briefs. The stock issues include significance, harms, inherency, topicality, and solvency. Commonly and crudely, the debate community refers to these issues using the acronym S. H. I. T. S. In designing a case all five elements need to be present. Frequently high school debaters refer to a chair analogy. The idea being if one of the legs is missing the chair falls.

Using these five elements creates a very sophisticated argumentation style not typically used by the average person. The goal is to leave little room for doubt. The debater tells the audience how it fits into the topic area (topicality), why this policy is important (significance and harms), why now is the time to act, why the problem is not being addressed (inherency/ inherent barrier) and why your plan solves for the harms (solvency). This format used to affirm the resolution sets the affirmative team in a position to preempt most if not all negative counter positions.

On the surface this seems rather simplistic in orientation and structure. However, it is relatively underdeveloped literacy practice. This format could be used to strengthen almost any proposal, paper or argument. Unfortunately, most people seem to be unaware of this format and in the presence of this format can be rather intimidated. This feeling of intimidation will be addressed later. Equally, sophisticated in structure is the negative team’s response. Normally the argumentation is formed, though not limited to, in disadvantages.

The structure of a disadvantage is casual link, brink, threshold, and impacts. The link connects the negative disadvantage to the affirmative proposal, the brink tells the audience why the disadvantage has not occurred in the status quo, and the impacts are actual disadvantages that occur when if the affirmative proposal in accepted. The negative team hopes that these disadvantages out weigh the advantages offered by the affirmative team. A common insider joke is a debater can link any event to nuclear war. Once again this structure is fairly simplistic, however, rarely used.

Often times the discourse most people use is “if x’ happens y’ happens”. They give no consideration to the internal logic of why “x” causes “y” to happen or why “y” happening is bad. This format explains that internal logic and makes it very difficult to counter. Other negative arguments can simply point out flaws in the internal logic of the affirmative; propose counter-plans that don’t “bite” the disadvantages, or are theory based critiques (spelled kritique or kritik) that argue that the fundamental assumptions made by the affirmative are flawed.

This last argument is more frequently seen in college debate because the logic and argumentation are much more complex and difficult to master. However, many high school debaters begin to experiment with this form of argumentation and as a result are reading philosophers that senior and graduate level college students are attempting. These forms of argumentation are linear, concise, specific and if done correctly are flawless. This style is greatly differentiated by general models of argumentation used by most people.

Often times people out side of the debate circuit don’t organize their arguments and tend to just laundry list their complaints. They don’t examine internal connections in their logic so often times their logic tends to be circular. Also, they habitually are emotionally based rather than based in evidence in argumentation. As a result high school debate format is a very different form of argumentation and thus a different form of literacy. Further evidence of this is found in debaters’ ability to intimidate teachers, family, friends and novice debaters.

A good senior level debater has more than likely made a novice debater cry in frustration. A senior level debater has more than likely cried when they were a novice debater. In my home, my mother commonly told me to “Stop “debating” with her. ” A good high school debater would never say to their parent that they should be allowed to do something because “all their friends were going. ” They would site all the things they have been allowed to do with out violating the parents trust, the value of social interaction with peers, the advantages to going, etc…

Commonly debaters are friends with or in romantic relationships with other debaters because debaters would take advantage of or manipulate non-debaters. Buzz words and other little tricks can impress teachers even when substance in debater’s school work is lacking (often time because of the demands of debate or debaters feel the assignment is not challenging). Debaters are most irritated by “lay” judges or judges with no debate experience. They believe them to be inferior and not capable of fairly evaluating the debate. These situations suggest difference in literacy practices of high school debaters.

Debaters use common literacy practices reading, writing and speech but in a highly specific manner. To keep up with the enormous research burdens of preparation for in round activities, debaters are very avid and discriminating readers. Each year debaters compile research for the given topic that would rival any PHD candidate’s dissertation research. My senior year I had 4 Rubbermaid tubs of evidence about renewable energy. Reading and preparing briefs are not nearly as important as learning to be a discrimination reader.

Authors used in debate rounds have natural biases that debaters must be prepared to defend as well as able to identify in a relatively short time period. Evidence can be manipulated fairly easily to say the desired argument and quickly being able to identify miss uses of evidence, communicate why your authors are better, and spot authors biases are essential skills to the debate community. However this transfers to other literacy activities and enhances debaters’ ability to discriminate between texts, find texts, use texts, and critically analyze problems to promote valuable and meaningful writing.

Limited time constraints in debate rounds have necessitate different writing forms in rounds and in debate preparation. Each piece of evidence is not only critically read but also synthesized in one to two sentence tag lines and then organized in the formats previously mentioned. This synthesis process and organization into concise formats can make debaters writing to be very clear and despite sophisticated arguments are very easy to understand. In rounds debaters essentially transcript the speeches in what they call “flowing. ” A good flow is one of the most difficult skills to master.

You have to train yourself to listen for specific information. A debater writes a shorthand version of the tagline, name of the author and date. Then the debater writes their response next too their opponents argument and finds the appropriate evidence. In other formats this skill is very useful in note taking outside the debate round, increases debaters’ ability to recall what they hear, and multi-task. Debaters also use a number of “tricks” to intimidate people in speech. First, they talk very fast. They are taught to breath around short words in sentences like a, and, the, to, etc.

In round speech is some times impossible for outsiders to understand yet alone process into a larger argument. Quickly, debaters learn that outside the debate round, talking quickly can be very convincing and intimidating even if they really have no idea what they are talking about. Talking quickly makes it more difficult for your audience to process what you are saying and hence you can cover flaws with speed. Another trick debater’s use is name dropping. In a debate round time constraints mean debaters give short answers to their opponent’s arguments.

A common phase would be “Cross apply the Krugman solvency evidence to their sub point C. It completely shows solvency outweighs the impacts. ” To an experience person you may assume the Krugman evidence mitigates the impacts whether it does or not simply because the debater dropped a name. An inexperience debater with an incomplete flow does not know what the Krugman evidence was debate the point. Outside the debate round when evidence is not at ones fingertips, when a debater drops a name like Foucault, the average person accepts it as fact. Thus they are able to impress and intimidate most people.

Finally, these literacy practices culminate in a debate round when all these skills come together in this perfect moment of empowerment and clarity. At that moment the debater realizes the enormous potential of the skills they have learned and power they have to influence other people. Members of the National Forensic league have included people ranging of Oprah to President Clinton. I believe this sense of power is unique to debate students. Commonly the culmination of literacy practices in other educational forms is merely a grade or job well done.

The competitive nature of debate makes each debater accountable for their own success. Debaters desire to be respected and accepted in the debate community this motivates debaters to master these literacy skills. Additionally successes come with rewards in the forms of invitations to prestigious tournaments, national rankings, and scholarship offers. This personal responsibility for the acquiring of literacy skills makes the debate literacy skills more rewarding. Clearly, debaters experience that this communication style distinguishes them from the outside world.

On one level these literacy practices create a sense of power; however, on another level they can alienate debaters from others. A number of physical and psychological circumstances add to this alienation. A successful debate team travels more than any other student organization on campus. Which means while average high school students are enjoying Friday night football games, school dances and “hanging” out at the mall on the weekends, debaters are competing in this truly grueling academic endeavor. Socially, debaters are not interacting with the majority of their high school peers.

Often this results in a lack of acceptance in high school and further entrenches the debater into the debate community as a place of acceptance. Debaters have hard time interacting in the classroom because they are more aggressive and assertive in their opinions. This alienates classmates who feel they are being “talked down to. ” Teachers often find debaters to be arrogant and disruptive because the debater knows more about a topic or tries to push the class to explore a topic on a deeper level than the teacher desires. As a result debate becomes these students only outlet for creativity and practicing these literacy skills.

Social interaction at school is limited to fellow debate team members and at tournaments. If you choose to believe a more expansive definition of literacy, tournaments mean acquiring social literacy skills unlike most high students’ experience. Concretely debaters must read and interpret pairings and navigate new campuses. Less concretely these tournaments look like an academic conference or business conference. High school students are expected to learn skills like dressing in business attire, appropriate audience response, traveling savvy, dining etiquette, time management, multi-tasking and organization.

High school debate students lifestyle is more closely related too a traveling business person than a high school student. Conversation among debaters is seen more as professional or as colleagues rather than peers. They are expected to network and to share evidence and information to other teams. However, debaters are always conflicted between natural responses of their age and the expectation of the discipline. As a result debate romances are frequent and necessary for some to find intellectual equals. Debaters also can experience alienation from family.

Parents don’t understand the physical and emotional commitments their students make to debate. Nor are the able to understand the changes that literacy patterns create in communicating with their students and mental development that takes place. In truth it difficult to understand the feeling and clarity that comes to a debater when they are able to see themselves and their argumentation as part of a community, unless, you yourself have experienced it. The moment when the debater truly understands the devices I have outlined and how they all come together to create meaning is something that is indescribable.

However, once a debater has experienced this profound moment they are changed forever and their friends, family, and teachers can not comprehend the changes. Aside form the feeling of alienation created by these literacy skills. These literacy skills are not perfect. They focus on a broader sense of style and argumentation and less focus on technical and grammatical development. Largely because debate is a speech activity the culmination of these literacy skills is not in writing but in speech. As a result debaters often write as they speak.

This ignores some of the conventions of written English and despite sophisticated logic, reason and thinking of debaters writing the big ideas are lost in errors. However, these skills taught to debaters have inherent value. First debate creates an outlet where student discourse is encouraged and students are allowed to explore ideas as equals. They are not being taught or told their teachers ideas. They are allowed manipulate and experiment with academic texts in a group of other students. They can see their efforts as something more than a grade and that their opinions are part of global voice.

The result is creativity and innovation that is stifled in other academic settings because of the power relationship between teacher and students. In the debate community the debater gets to become the expert and earn respect and power from a community of other students. Second, the literacy skills in terms of reading, writing and social skills do help students get a head. The “tricks” of the trade from dressing for success to name dropping facilitate networking that world’s most successful people have used to get ahead. Teaching these skills in high school prepares students for future careers.

They learn these lessons in a microcosm of a professional environment instead of trying to decipher them later in their professional careers. Debate was the most influential discipline in developing my literacy practices and skills. It taught me how to critically analyze the world around me, how to communicate complex ideas, and how to get a head. Despite some of the drawbacks like missing my high school prom to compete at a state tournament and knock out fights I had with my mom, I have found that acquiring these skills have been well worth the sacrifices.

Schlesinger’s Canon Vs. My High School’s Canon

In school, whether it be at the high school or college levels, there are usually lists of books thought as being essential reading. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. –a Pulitzer Prize winning historian–calls this list in his book The Disuniting of America, a “canon” or “canonical literature. ” A problem exists with this canon, at least Schlesinger claims there is. He states that the canon is being used “as an instrument of European oppression enforcing the hegemony of the white race, the male sex, and the capitalist class” From my high school experience, I believe this is not true.

At my high school, teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but also to study the great writers of other cultures. There is a great deal of European influence in American society and in American education. Some people, like the Afrocentrists, feel that this influence is too heavy and that schools should also be teaching about other cultures in their classes. Schlesinger states in his book that he “believes in the importance of teaching Americans the history of other culturesEast Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Polynesia.

Since we live in a multicultural society, we should be teaching a multicultural curriculum. At my high school, I feel as if I received this type of education. The teachers encourage students to read not only standard English literature, but also to study the great writers of other ethnicities. My high school is a private college preparatory institution in San Francisco. Some authors whose works we read in our English classes consisted of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Ovid, Maya Angelou, Chaim Potok, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, Chinua Achebe, and C. S. Lewis.

This curriculum is not at all what Schlesinger claims to be the current “American literary canon: Emerson, Jefferson, Melville, Whitman, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Lincoln, Twain, Dickinson, William and Henry James, Henry Adams, Holmes, Dreiser, Faulknner, O’ Neill. ” We touched on most of these people also, but not nearly as in depth as we did the other authors. Schlesinger’s list seems to point out his fact that the canon is being used for European oppression and he deliberately chooses to add to his list only those “white male” authors.

But they are not the only authors we study, at least at my school. He deliberately, or so it seems, to neglect current successful authors, like Maya Angelou- who is both female and black- whose books, like her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” are being used in English classes all around the country. Chaim Potok, another current author we studied is also neither European nor “white. ” He was born in New York City and is Jewish. Mr. Potok was educated at Yeshiva University as well as the University of Pennsylvania. He was also trained as a rabbi.

His first book “The Chosen” deals with two generations of Brooklyn Hasidic Jews. We also studied the African writer Chinua Achebe and his book “Things Fall Apart. ” This novel is set in an Ibo village in Nigeria. It recreates the village’s first encounter with white male colonialism, their Christianity, and the breaking down of old ways. As I closely examine the canon at my high school, though, I start to notice some parallels. Through research, I have discovered that a lot of the books we read and their authors had similarities.

For instance, Maya Angelou served as the Northern Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1959 to 1960. Jane Austen was the daughter of Reverend George Austen. C. S. Lewis is widely known for his popular religious and moral writings- pertaining to Christianity. Also in novels we read, such as the collection of stories Metamorphoses by Ovid–which was favored by the public in the pagan Rome but disapproved by the Christian Church–had Christian issues. In the epic novel Beowulf, there are strong threads of Christian commentary running throughout the poem. What is culture?

The dictionary defines it as “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other roducts of human work and thought. ” Does this not constitute religion? If so, then there might be a problem with the literary canon at my high school. If their literary canon is to be “multicultural,” they must also teach about different religions and what role they play in different cultures. Teaching students about different religions can be used to strengthen their own religious beliefs, by examining points in different religions that could actually be harmful to one’s spirituality.

There were times, like during the reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses when we touched on different world views- uch as monotheism and polytheism, but we always had to compare it to Christianity and what we were taught in our religion classes. The teachers made it clear that these stories were superstitions and tales of gods that we were viewing for their imagery and imagination. Instead, if we studied the society that this novel was written for- a pagan Rome- and how and why the stories and the author were disapproved by the Christian Church, I feel it would have benefited us more than just studying the use of imagery.

The teachers at my high school did encourage us to read authors of ifferent races, but their literary canon has a religious bias. At first it seems as though the curriculum at my high school is multicultural, and in a way it is. We did not focus only on European influenced literature and studies, but read a lot of authors of different ethnicity. Even though we did read authors of different ethnicity, there was a lack of viewing other types of religions from the world, and their authors. This lack of not reading from different religions is a big hole in what is culture. Because of this, we did not receive a complete multicultural education.

Life Experiences In Farewell To Manzanar

The book, Farewell to Manzanar was the story of a young Japanese girl coming of age in the interment camp located in Owens Valley, California. Less than two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which stated that the War Department had the right to declare which people were a threat to the country, and move them wherever they so pleased1. Since the West Coast had a large number of Japanese immigrants at the time, it was basically an act that authorized the government to remove Japanese residing on the West Coast away from their homes and put them in these interment camps.

As harsh as it may sound, the interment camps were nothing like the famous Nazi interment camps of World War 2. The residents enjoyed relatively comfortable living situations compared to German interment camps, and lived fairly comfortable lives, when compared to the German camps. However, it was still rough, as many families were separated. Farewell to Manzanar is the story of one girl making the difficult transition to womanhood, at a difficult time, at a difficult location. Two of the main life lessons that Jeannie learned during her stay at Manzanar dealt with the issues of her identity of an American against her Japanese heritage, and also with school.

During her time at Manzanar, Jeannie was surrounded by almost exclusively Japanese people, and did not have much exposure to Caucasians, or people of other races. Therefore, she did not know what to truly expect when she went out into the “school world” outside of Manzanar. She had received some schooling while in Manzanar, however, the American schools were drastically different from the schools inside of Manzanar. While inside Manzanar, Jeannie learned more skills in the fine arts, such as baton twirling, and ballet. The “hard” subjects were taught, but she doesn’t mention as much about them as she does about baton twirling, ballet, and Catechesis.

The schools at Manzanar were not much until the second year. The first year, volunteers taught the schools, and resources were pretty scarce.1 However, in the second year, teachers were hired, and the number of available supplies increased. One key thing that Jeannie remembers about her Manzanar schooling was her participation in the yearbook, and also with the Glee Club1. The Glee Club gave her a sense of belonging, which is crucial to girls at her age. The psychological scars that the interment process left on Jeannie often left her feeling like she didn’t belong with the crowds, or with the other children. Even more shocking was the fact that she accepted these feelings as perfectly normal. Also distinct about her schooling at Manzanar was the fact that she felt very prepared to enter American schools. This shows how she was eager to be a part of mainstream American cultures, even though she may not have been welcome.

Jeannie’s experience in American schools was drastically different from her experience at Manzanar. She had problems making friends because the parents of the other children would not allow their children to befriend a Japanese girl.1 For Jeannie, the first thing an American girl said to her, “Gee, I didn’t know you spoke English”1 defined people’s attitudes toward her and other Japanese peoples at that time in history. However, most of the other children slowly accepted her, regardless of her race. On the opposite end of the spectrum, most of the parents and some of the teachers were very unreceptive to Jeannie for the simple fact that she was Japanese.

This fact very much disappointed her, and she directly stated that when she said “From that point on, part of me yearned to be invisible. In a way, nothing would have been nicer for no one to see me.”1 However, she was not excluded from all activities, as she was an active participant in athletics, scholarship, yearbook, newspaper, and student government. Her participation in these organizations made her feel like she was a small part of American culture, however she never truly felt like a part of American culture because of the fact that a few attitudes kept her from joining all organizations she was interested in.

One crucial experience that made Jeannie feel like she was not truly wanted was the experience of trying to be the carnival queen for her high school. Jeannie utterly amazed the audience with her looks, and the majority of the students had voted for her. However, several teachers didn’t want to be embarrassed by having a Japanese girl represent their school, so they tried to stuff the ballot box. Even though she still won, this experience had given her a reality check of sorts. Even though she was allowed into the clubs and schools of the Americans, Jeannie never felt like she was a total part of American culture.

One of the things that Jeannie struggled most with was what her cultural identity truly was. She wanted to grow up as the other children around her, which were Americans, were allowed to live, however, her father wanted her to grow up as a traditional Japanese woman. The carnival queen issue was a very crucial example of this struggle. Jeannie wore a low cut sarong, which showed off her body, to the queen tryouts, and garnered large amounts of applause in the process. However, both her and her Papa questioned whether or not this conflicted with her racial traditions.

In Papa’s words, “Modesty is important. A graceful body is important. You don’t show your legs all the time. You don’t walk around like this.”1 He also accused her of wanting to marry a hakajin2 boy, which was an almost unbearable thought to Papa. No matter how thrilled she was to be the queen, she struggled with the fact that she was pretending to be of a culture which she did not belong to. She was dressed as an American, acting as an American, even though she was of Japanese descent. Under Papa’s orders, she signed up for odori class, however, she performed terribly and was basically kicked out of class by the instructor.

Jeannie Wakatsuki lived a very diverse life, as she was subjected to both life inside of an interment camp and American high school. Attending American high school is a character shaping experience, and even more so for someone of a minority race or gender. The experience lets them know where their race stands among others, and if they will be completely accepted in the “outside world”. Unfortunately for Jeannie, she was not totally accepted by others throughout her life, and that left psychological scars on her. However, she came out of these experiences a better and more well rounded person, so they were not totally negative for her. A note of interest is that she ended up marrying a non-Japanese person, possibly due to her growing up and maturing around non-Japanese. The book Farewell to Manzanar fully illustrates her thoughts and feelings throughout this process.

Private School Vouchers

Proposals to use private school vouchers, a marketplace strategy, as a mechanism by which to improve the general quality of public education have produced a lively debate. Frequently, that debate has degenerated into a disagreement about whether public schools are as good as private schools or whether a given private school is better than a certain neighborhood public school. Other issues raised in these discussions include the appropriate use of public funds, the role of competition in improving public education, and the right of parents to choose a school for their children.

Although these issues are of interest, they are not the fundamental questions which must be raised about the future of public schools in a democracy. Two Core Issues In their rush to the marketplace, the proponents of private school choice supported by public funds have chosen to ignore two core issues. First, the advocates of private school choice studiously avoid any discussion of the relationship between public schools and the common or public good in a democracy.

As an example, the Governor of Wisconsin asserts that “any school that serves the public is a public school” and should therefore receive public funds through a voucher system. There is no recognition in this proposal of the distinct and unique purpose of public education in serving the public good. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand does not mean that a private school of choice becomes a public school in purpose simply by so defining it. The claim is merely a device to divert public funds for private purposes.

The failure to recognize that public schools have a central responsibility in a democratic society is further evidenced by the work of John Chubb and Terry Moe, who argue that improving the efficiency and quality of public education will require the replacement of democratic governance by market mechanisms. The authors state, “The most basic cause of ineffective performance among the nation’s public schools is their subordination to public authority. … The school’s most fundamental problems are rooted in the institutions of democratic control by which they are governed”.

Chubb and Moe deny the historic purposes of public schools when they reject the idea that educational policy should be directed by a common vision or purpose. They assert, “It should be apparent that schools have no immutable or transcendent purpose. … What they are supposed to be doing depends on who controls them and what these controllers want them to do”. The Thompson proposal for Wisconsin’s schools embraces this belief system it is a denial of the fundamental role of public education in affirming the public good.

A second issue which remains unexamined in the rush to the marketplace concerns the claims offered in defense of private school choice. Choice is offered as a “lesson learned” rather than a proposition to be examined. Advocates of private school choice have ignored its history. Despite the claims made for a market-based school restructuring strategy, the history of choice does not support the claims of its proponents. A Declaration of Crisis Willingness to abandon strong support for public schools and to turn to marketplace solutions is driven by a crisis rhetoric.

This rhetoric, which suggests that public education is failing, is not only misleading, it is dangerous because it may erode public confidence in the very institutions on which our capacity for a democratic response depends. Criticism of public education has continued unabated since the publication of A Nation At Risk in 1983. Stimulated in large part by new international economic realities, by a domestic economy based on traditional production models, and by changing domestic demographics, the critics have sought solutions to these challenging problems by turning to schools and educators.

The data cited by critics of public schools were accepted at face value until the late 1980’s. However, since then, a variety of research reports have revealed that much of the criticism has been simplistic and has distorted and misrepresented the conditions of public education. The credibility of the crisis-in-education claim, in fact, rests not on immutable evidence of school failure but, rather, on a linkage which has been established by critics between education and other social problems such as violent crime, drug use, family instability, and economic uncertainty.

Although schools are not charged directly with creating these problems, the public is turning to public education for solutions to broad and complex social conditions. This occurred in the 1950’s in response to the Russian scientific and military challenge, in the 1960’s in response to the challenge of racial segregation, and again in the 1980’s in response to the challenges of international economic competition and changing social circumstances. Economic interests have emerged during the last decade as vocal and persistent advocates of school change.

These critics have framed the issue in terms of economic competitiveness, job creation, profit, and preparation for the work place. The purpose of public education has been redefined by economic interests so as to put schools in the service of capitalism rather than democracy. They are not the same. This dramatic reframing of educational purpose has gone relatively unchallenged in the dialogue about school improvement. What does it mean to put schools in the service of an economic philosophy rather than in the service of democracy, a political and social philosophy?

To define students as merely economic beings is to deny them their basic and essential humanity and is to render our political freedom subservient to the interests of those whose purpose is profit. What, then, is the role of the school in a political democracy where, for the moment, the dominant economic interests remain consolidated in large corporate structures? The answer is to be found in an examination of what it means to educate for the public good. The Public Good

The growing public sentiment that government has failed and is doomed to fail when it attempts to develop collective solutions to broad social problems is a measure of the success of economic interests over the past fifteen years in redefining the public good. Public good is increasingly defined and measured by the extent to which private interests are allowed to extend the reach of the marketplace. Although choice, as a general principle, is worth protecting, “its effectiveness in addressing social problems depends on its being used in the context of confident and legitimate government authority, not as an alternative to such authority”.

Lost in the crisis quality of the debate about private school choice is an understanding that public schools are not merely service providers. Public schools are not merely places where the individual’s or the society’s economic needs are met. Public schools have a special status as producers of values, perspectives, knowledge, and skills which are fundamental to community. Historically, this public function was widely celebrated. More recently, with the emergence of marketplace and consumer analogies, individual customer satisfaction, rather than the public good, has become a primary consideration.

Individualism, the promise of individual freedom and personal happiness, has been a central tenet of the American dream and is fundamental in American society. The danger we face is that individualism, as exemplified by private school choice, may further isolate Americans from each other and undermine the conditions of freedom. Kelly summarizes this sentiment: “Hopes for short-term gains have largely eclipsed any sense of long-range national goals or principles. It is thus small wonder no one can agree on how to ‘fix’ systems of public education – which by their very nature are future oriented”.

The question, ‘Education for what? ‘ crystallizes the issue of public good. A fundamental tension exists between two polarities. On the one hand, education for democracy views education as fundamental, with the responsibility of transmitting values and skills which sustain democracy. In a democracy citizens play two roles: as informed, intelligent arbiters of issues and as protectors of values. While a democracy may be viewed as an open forum of values, not all values are equal.

A few are central: respect for minority opinions, freedom of expression, and allegiance to reason over unreason. On the other hand, education for economic interest views education as a dependent variable. In this view, education’s success is judged by whether it satisfies marketplace needs thus, the marketplace determines the nature of schooling. Economic interests are narrowly personalized with little commitment to the collective or broad public good. The question, Does education work? is answered only in terms of personal, family or corporate economic success.

This tension, between an America where individuals are perceived as creating the good economic life for themselves and an America where citizens possess the right and duty of self governance, not as individuals, but as a community, is at the heart of the debate about private school choice. At its core, the debate is about the extent to which knowledge or access to knowledge is privileged. The effects of privilege are most apparent in the disparities of resources available to wealthy and poor school districts which Jonathan Kozol has documented in striking fashion in his book, “Savage Inequalities.

The issue is quite simple: Who in a democracy has the right to know what? The policy question which follows is, Will public resources be diverted from schools whose purpose is perpetuating the public good? The answer to this question has implications for the parents and children involved and for the nature of our collective future. The concept of the public good suggests that public education is neither exclusively public nor exclusively private. Democracy is not just an instrument for accomplishing some other policy objective. It is a way of living together in a pluralistic and difficult world.

Private School Choice: The Marketplace Metaphor Private school choice has been offered as a marketplace solution to the perceived crisis in education. Advocates of a marketplace solution point to efficiency and quality as a consequence of a competitive market structure. The simple analogy between choosing a school and shopping at the mall for a pair of tennis shoes has great appeal to some. Yet, in purely economic terms, the market and the exercise of choice within that market, is fraught with uncertainty. Consequently, a laissez faire setting does not assure quality, but, rather, demands consumer vigilance.

The alternative, consumer protection through the imposition of standards by some regulatory agency, has been a consequence of consumers facing unacceptable levels of risk. Advocates of private school choice are eager to escape minimal educational standards however, by embracing a marketplace of educational providers they also give up the assurance of quality. Private school choice carries no inherent focus, value, purpose, or quality it is merely a policy tool which can be used to address some perceived educational problem.

The historical record of school choice reveals its instrumental nature and that history suggests that choice produces results acceptable in a democratic society only when sustained by authoritative government action and careful supervision. How has choice been used in the past? Following the elimination of a dual education system by the Supreme Court in 1954, a number of states created alternative private school systems subsidized by public funds, as mechanisms to avoid racial integration. In some states, tuition vouchers were used to help defray the costs of nonsectarian private schools.

The federal courts ultimately ruled that no freedom-of-choice plan would relieve local school authorities of the responsibility to desegregate public schools. During the 1970s, magnet schools, as manifestations of choice, were used to facilitate integration. Through the intervention of the federal courts, magnet schools within the public school system became a way to minimize forced busing and yet integrate the public schools. By 1981-82, there were over a thousand magnet schools in the United States.

In some communities, where segregated schools continued, magnet schools were used to improve the quality of education available to minority children. New York’s District No. 4 had created 23 choice programs by 1985. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, a controlled choice program ended the drift toward segregation and narrowed the achievement gap between minority and white students. In Milwaukee, private school choice appeared not to improve the student achievement gap, although it did produce higher levels of parental satisfaction.

The case for market-based school choice rests on two claims: that there is evidence that choice works and that there is an explanation for why it works. Evidence for the argument that choice works is more mixed and uncertain than advocates have claimed. Although the debate continues, the issue of whether choice works may not be as important as why it appears to work in some instances in some communities. The marketplace perspective holds that private school choice (including magnet schools) “works” because it represents an alternative to government intervention, control, and authority.

Successful examples of choice are more appropriately understood as having been the product of strong and authoritative government leadership such as in Cambridge and East Harlem where public school choice has been defined, controlled, and supported by the public. These successes demonstrate that government controls are required to produce the promised results. The marketplace cannot and will not secure the public good. Conclusions Since 1983, with the publication of A Nation at Risk, it has been argued that the condition of public education has put this nation at economic risk.

While there is plenty of evidence to support the claim of economic distress – declining profits, high levels of urban unemployment, declining levels of wages and fringe benefits, a growing international trade imbalance, a level standard of living – there is no evidence that public schools are responsible for the conditions of the American economy. Nevertheless, the solutions which have subsequently emerged have been oriented to the marketplace – youth apprenticeships, school-to-work, education for employment, tech prep, and private and public school choice.

What has not emerged is a broad consensus among citizens that private school choice is an appropriate and acceptable alternative to public education. Although citizens support the concept of public school choice, they do not support the use of public funds to support private sectarian or nonsectarian school choice. Parents of public school students continue to be supportive of the teachers and schools their children attend (Elam, Rose and Gallup, 1994). This generalization erodes in urban communities facing growing economic stress.

The concerns of parents in urban areas are driven by the flight of large corporations from the city. The erosion of an economic base which is fundamental to the maintenance of healthy family and community structures has left the public schools as the most visible remaining community institutions in urban settings. Communities, families, and the schools that serve them simply cannot endure and thrive in a climate of economic abandonment. Private school choice is a diversion sponsored by those whose collective economic decisions have made life in our urban community a daily struggle for survival.

Catholic Schools Vs. Public Schools

Many parents struggle over the important decision to either send their children to Catholic school or public school. Clearly, they should choose public school over any non-profit educational organization concentrating on post-pubescent years in a childs life, especially Catholic installations. Catholic schools have less to offer children and parents on many levels, whereas public schools offer much more for much less. Furthermore, public schools have a much better reputation then Catholic institutions. According to Jerry Bransby of Syracuse University, New York, Catholic schools cost more and produce less.

A study conducted by Jerry Bransby between the years of 1980 to 1995 reinforces this fact. He took 100 students from Catholic school and 100 from public. There were other groups involved, but the main point is that when these two particular groups were compared, the public school students scored higher on standardized tests by 46% then those from Catholic school! Another question answered from the same study was the likelihood of a student to continue his education to completion or degree of some kind.

Bransby noted that 60% from Catholic school and nearly 81% from public actually finished post-high school education. With these numbers varying so much, one cannot help but wonder why? Bransby concluded that there were several differences in Catholic and public schools. Catholic schools tend to be more repressive, having stricter rules and guidelines then the public installations. Some of these include the wearing of uniforms and the anal regulation of behavior. Public schools are fairly lax and welcome individualism. The students are taught to be unique and inventive.

Their creativity is harnessed (in theory) instead of punished as in the Catholic school world. Is this enough to create such diverse conclusions in the realms of Catholic and public schools? According to Suzanne Holbrook of Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, yes, but these are not the only affecting factors. The Catholic teacher screening process is somewhat lax. The teachers from public schools generally have a higher degree in their area of expertise then in Catholic installations. Parents literally do pay more for less!

Another conclusive fact from a smaller study conducted by Holbrook, was that public school offered more electives, more diverse classes, and subjects taught on higher levels then at the Catholic schools. In other words, the Catholic students are ill-prepared when it comes to standardized tests, not having as strong an education background as public school students. Teachers who lack attempted higher education breed students who will fail to reach desired goals as well. For the most part, in Holbrook’s study, higher education wasn’t even attempted. We pay these teachers to destroy our kids?

Some may argue that Catholic schools have smaller classes, more racial harmony, and a tighter knit atmosphere. Truth be known, larger classes make a struggling student fight. In the real world, there are no hand outs. If one wants it, he must fight for it. As for racial harmony, when did that become positive? Is the real world in racial harmony? Do we live, breathe, and sleep in segregated quarters from our native neighbors? How can one who is alone all his life learn to cope and deal with relationships and companions? Once again, the Catholic schools let us down.

Their segregated world is far from actuality and should not be embraced! A tighter knit atmosphere is hard to disprove in some instances, but in a school situation? Everyone loves the nosy neighbor who works at the flower shop and knows the whole towns business! Not exactly! In fact, not at all! Is it our will that our children grow up in a secluded, non-diverse, robotic environment that the Catholic schools offer? Do we want our children to have nothing private or to not understand what privacy is? Do we want loose-lipped children whose very monotonous lives revolve around another persons actions or lack there of?

We must stand up to this plague that is trying to take the lives of our children, instilling false pretenses on them and dooming them to stupidity! We must fight back as parents and realize the folly of the Catholic domains! It is our duty to ensure longevity and credibility to our children by instilling them with the best education money can by: the free public education! It offers creativity development, better understanding from the most knowledgeable of teachers, and a diverse atmosphere to learn and grow in. That alone is worth a pretty penny.

The role of processes in schools in producing different educational achievement among pupils from different social groups

Differential educational achievement is unquestionable affected by different social groups however this is not the only factor that affects the educational success of students. Members of working class place a lower value on education, they place less emphasis on formal education as a means to personal achievement, and they see less value in continuing school beyond the minimum leaving age. They place a lower value on achieving higher occupational status, when evaluating jobs they place emphasis on stability, security and immediate economic benefits and tend to reject the risks and investments involved in aiming for high status occupations.

Job horizons tend therefore to be limited to a good trade. Manual and non-manual jobs account for differences in outlook and attitude, middle-class occupations provide an opportunity for continuous advancement in income and status but this is not the case for manual workers. They reach full earning capacity relatively quickly and are provided fewer opportunities for promotion. This would therefore affect the attitude of parents and this attitude and outlook on life would be passed on to the next generation. Pupils from working class origins would be socialized in certain situations, e. fatalism, immediate gratification, present time orientation and collectivism.

Parental interests in their children education effects school achievement, middle class parents express interest in their children progress, they are more likely to want their children to do well and stay at school beyond the minimum leaving age level and so will encourage them to do so. Middle class children also tend to receive greater stimulus from their parents in the early years, which forms a basis for high achievement in the educational system.

Different social groups have different life experiences and chances, the habitats of each group will be different and will lead individuals to make certain choices regarding behaviour. Through up bringing and education, people learn to be able to express good taste; those with legitimate taste can mix in the most culturally advantaged circles. This gives students with higher-class backgrounds more chance of success in education. Social inequality is reproduced in the educational system and as a result is legitimated, and is particularly effective in maintaining the power of the dominant classes.

Social class is not the only thing that affects educational achievement. Ethnicity has been seen to affect the educational attainment of pupils; research by Drew (1995) found that Afro-Caribbean males were at the bottom of each class group in terms of attainment. West Indian females, suffered from initial disadvantages at school but tend to do better than white students when the time comes to take GCSEs. Fuller suggests that the reason for this is that they may wish to present a cool’ positive self image to boys and friends but realise the importance of getting good qualifications.

Indian, Chinese and African-Asian students tend to do very well in the educational system, there is strong emphasis on self-improvement through education within these cultures and many of the children have professional backgrounds, providing support, appropriate role models and material advantages. Teachers perceive their culture more positively than West Indian males, as they tend to take fewer GCSEs and get poorer grades than any other group, are over represented in special schools for children who have behavioral or learning difficulties.

These students tend to get expelled or suspended up to four times more often than their white counterparts. The length of time immigrants spend in Britain affects their educational attainment, older siblings educated here, are able to help their younger brothers and sisters. Material deprivation has been used as a reason for differential educational achievement; certain groups have less money than others and so are not able to make the most of their educational opportunities.

These students may lack time or space at home to do schoolwork, may be unable to raise the funds for educational trips and may not have access to essential educational materials like books, computers and the Internet. They may experience ill health and have to work part-time to support their studies, or have to care for younger siblings. As most ethnic minorities tend to be working-class, these material disadvantages translate in to educational disadvantages in the same way as they do for working class pupils.

Governments have attempted to reduce the material disadvantages faced by working class pupils through positive discrimination; this takes the form of programs of compensatory education, which plough more resources into poorer areas. Cultural disadvantages may affect educational achievement; middle class people, many of whom are white, mostly control the education system. Those that share these characteristics may be viewed in a more positive light and are more likely to succeed in the tests and exams created to Asses their abilities. The 11+ tests was criticised for middle-class bias.

Being able to unscramble an anagram such as ZOMRAT’ to form the name of a famous composer MOZART’ is much easier for a child familiar with anagrams (because their parents do crosswords) and classical composers (because they have seen the names on CD covers in their parents music collection. ). Many working class and ethnic minority pupils may feel undervalued and demotivated by an educational system that does not recognize their qualities, which are based on their class or ethnic culture. West Indian underachievement has been blamed on the high numbers of one-parent families in Afro-Caribbean communities.

Some politicians have suggested that due to the fact that many of these families are female headed, West Indian boys, in particular lack the discipline of a father figure and this is used to account for the high number of west-Indian boys in special schools. On the flip side for girls in such families, the role model provided by a strong independent single mother is a motivating influence and this helps to explain their success in education. Much research into language has identified class difference in spoken and written language, which disadvantages working class pupils.

The middle class succeed not because of a greater intelligence but because the language they use is the preferred mod of communication. Working class pupils normally use restricted code and this restricts their communications skills, whereas the middle class normally uses elaborated code and its meanings tend to be universalistic, and are not tied down to a specific context. Formal education is conducted in terms of an elaborated code and so places working class pupils at a disadvantage because they are limited to restricted code. Middle class pupils therefore have a higher success rate, as their subculture is closer to the dominant culture.

Working class pupils are unable to grasp the concepts and meanings that are embedded in the grammar, accent, tone, and delivery of teachers, and so working class students have an in-built barrier to learning in schools. Language has also been seen as a problem for West Indian children as they are more likely to speak with different dialects of English, and children from other ethnic groups may come from a home where a language other than English is spoken. This language difference may cause a problem when doing schoolwork and when communicating with the teachers, leading to disadvantages at school.

The idea of cultural capital is used by Marxists to explain cultural influences on educational success. Bordieu suggests that middle-class culture is as valuable in educational terms as material wealth. Schools are middle-class institutions run by the middle class and so obviously will favour students who come from middle-class backgrounds. The forms of knowledge, values, ways of interacting and communicating ideas that middle class children possess are developed further and rewarded by the education system.

Working class and ethnic minority children may lack these qualities and so do not have the same chances to succeed. Ball et al 1994 showed how middle class parents are able to use their cultural capital to play the system as to ensure that their children are accepted into the schools of their choice. The strategies they use include attempting to make a good impression with the head-teacher on open days, and knowing how to mount an appeal if their child’s application is unsuccessful at a particular school.

Ball also shows how ethnic minority parents are at a disadvantage when trying to get their children into better schools, especially if the parents are born abroad as they may not have only little if any knowledge of how the British education system. They may not be confident in their English skills to negotiate the system. Interactionists however use the theory of labeling’ as the main reason for differential educational achievement. Labeling theories suggest that teachers judge pupils not by their ability or intelligence but by the characteristics that relate to class, gender and ethnicity, such as attitude, appearance and behaviour.

Becker showed how teachers saw the ideal pupil’ as someone who conforms to middle-class standards of behaviour. Rosenthal and Jacobsen reported on pupils’ results’ in intelligence tests to their teachers, the names of the high flyers were in fact picked at random and bore no relation to any test results. However the pupils success at the end of the year equated to their fake test results, teachers had some how communicated their expectations to the pupils and they had responded, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The teachers perceived these students as happier and better adjusted than the rest of the class. Those students that had not been named high flyers but had improved in performance against their expectations were described as showing undesirable behaviour. Afro- Caribbean boys often have the label of unruly, disrespectful and difficult to control applied to them, Gillborn found that these pupils were more likely to be given detention than other pupils.

The teachers interpreted the dress and manner of speech of afro-Caribbean pupils as representing a challenge to authority, in perceiving they were being treated unfairly the pupils responded according to their labels. Wright found that there is considerable racism in the classroom, teachers also seemed to lack sensitivity towards aspects of culture and displayed open disapproval of their customs and traditions. This affected the students involved and made them feel less positive towards the school, and also attracted hostility from other pupils who picked up on the teachers’ comments and attitude towards the Asian pupils.

Teachers made little effort to ensure they pronounced names correctly, causing embarrassment and unnecessary ridicule; finally Asian and Afro Caribbean pupils were victims of racism from white pupils. Some sociologists argue that the content of what is taught in school, the curriculum, actually disadvantages working class pupils, the knowledge that they encounter at school does not connects with their own cultural experience. Working – class experience is almost invisible in the school curriculum.

History tends to deal with ruling classes, such as kings, queens and politicians rather than the vast majority of ordinary people. Coard showed how the content of education largely ignored black people; the people who are acclaimed tend to be white people, whilst black culture, music and art are largely ignored. He argued that this led to low self-esteem among black pupils, this suggestion was criticised by both Swann Report and Stone who noted that despite feeling discriminated against by some teachers, West – Indian children have been able to sustain an extremely high positive self image.

Multicultural education has been brought in to address this problem, but has been criticised for focusing too much on the external factors and not enough on the real problem of racism. Ethnic minority languages still do not have the same status as European languages and schools are still required to hold Christian services. The curriculum has been criticised for being ethnocentric, emphasizing white middle-class culture at the expense of others. There is no doubt that sociologists have identified a full range of social influences on educational attainment.

No educationalist now relates achievement purely to individual’s intelligence or attitude, however the relative importance of these social influences is unclear. There are many other factors that influence the educational achievement of students, ethnicity, gender, the curriculum, labeling, however all these will link in with the social class of the students. This overwhelmingly shows that social groups impact tremendously on educational attainment.

School Choice and the Public’s Interest

Recent trends toward privatizing schools and relieving them of state requirements wrongly imply that schools should mirror the desires of parents and ignore the public’s interest in having citizens educated for democracy. Rob Reich, who recently earned his doctorate in philosophy of education at Stanford, is writing a book on school vouchers, charter schools and home schooling. Reich stated his view that the nation is slipping too far into deregulated schooling.

The guiding idea behind privatization, whether it is vouchers, charter schools or home schooling, is that parents should be the sole decision-making agents about the kind of education their children receive. But this eviscerates the public or civic purposes of schooling. ” Public schooling itself is not the goal, he said, and public schools don’t necessarily do better than private schools in educating children to meet the state’s interests, which he defined as preparing children for both workforce and democratic participation.

Those who joined in the discussion pushed Reich to specify the content of an education for democratic participation. “Some would say reading and writing is enough,” he responded. “Personally, I would go a few steps further to say that students should learn to come into dialogue with others on a public stage. ” Voluntary national standards for civic education suggest “a combination of making sure students know the history and shape of the structure of government, and how to influence public deliberation and policy,” he said.

Others suggest experience-oriented programs, often called service learning. My model has been the Socratic dialogue, where the teacher is a leader and participant, and everyone’s contribution is respected. ” His preferred model is based on the idea that school should not “simply reinforce the values and beliefs that the student learns at home,” he said. “On the contrary, one of the most important functions of schooling is to be sure that each student comes into contact with a range of different beliefs and learns lesson of critical reflection.

This lesson is important for both civic reasons how to participate ably as a citizen and individual reasons how best to pursue one’s own interests. Reich summarized a number of reform areas in which the balance between state and parental interests is moving toward the parent: publicly financed or privately financed vouchers for existing private schools; new private, for-profit schools; publicly financed “charter” schools freed of local school board control; and home schooling by parents. Vouchers financed by taxpayers on an experimental basis in several states allow parents to cover part or all of the costs of tuition at a private school.

Last month, Florida approved the first statewide voucher plan, which will offer $4,000 vouchers to all students in the lowest-rated schools. Vouchers provided by wealthy individuals or corporations perform a similar function in other communities. Business executives in San Antonio’s Edgewood district have pledged $50 million over 10 years to allow all parents the choice of a private education for their children. Ted Forstmann, a wealthy individual, recently offered 40,000 vouchers on the Oprah Winfrey show and received 1. 25 million applicants.

One-third to one-half of families in several eligible inner-city areas applied for the $4,000 vouchers. The dollar amount is typical of voucher plans, Reich said, and tends to cover Catholic school tuition but not that of elite prep schools. Some communities are experimenting with for-profit public schools. The Edison Project runs about 30 schools that reward teachers with stock options in the for-profit company. Home schooling by parents has grown from an estimated 300,000 children in 1990 to 1. 5 million in 50 states today.

Regulations and requirements vary, but oversight is typically extremely lax,” Reich said. “Forty-one states have no education requirements whatsoever for parents who wish to home school. Sometimes the children have to take annual standardized tests or a public school teacher has to come and take a look. ” About 800 public “charter” schools currently enroll 300,000 students. Permitted in 34 states to encourage local entrepreneurship in public schooling, they get the same tax support as local public schools but are free of most local school district regulations.

They are typically small schools organized by people with a passion for a particular educational philosophy, he said. While vouchers are popular with ethnic minorities who are concerned about academic standards in city schools, home schooling has exploded among white, middle-class, religious families who want more control over the values their children are exposed to or who fear for their children’s safety, Reich said. “I’m convinced that further privatization is inevitable,” he added. Supporters have framed the argument for it as “a civil rights issue or a matter of social justice. e said. “People say President Clinton sent his daughter to private school.

If we are serious about social justice, we should give all parents the same choice that wealthy parents have. ” How would he change the situation? Reich was asked. “I can imagine a variety of institutional arrangements but where private schools are still subject to state oversight,” he said. “Perhaps public dollars could flow to them if the curriculum met the state’s interests. A democracy has needs, but that doesn’t mean public schools have to meet them. “

Year Round School: An Annual Mistake

Throughout time education has been considered a process that every so often must be improved. The education quality in the U. S. has declined over the years and people have been looking for a way to make improvements. A more recent proposal has been to go from a traditional nine month schedule to an all year program. Supporters of year round school claim it gives the student a better education. However, the prospect of year round school is not beneficial to the taxpayers pocket, to the education a student receives, or to the people involved with the district.

All year school ends up costing the school district and surrounding community more money than a traditional nine month schedule. “More funds would be needed to cover the costs of paying the teachers and staff for one full year instead of for 180 days work. ” ( Sevetson 2). “Teachers currently make an average of $37, 000 in the United States. However, the costs would increase to $53, 000 to keep the teachers for a full year. ” (Somerby 8). Currently, a district uses a lot of its budget on paying teachers. Once the increased costs are put in place, the budget depletes rapidly.

Yet teachers must be paid, as they are the cornerstone of education. Also, it takes additional funds to run the school all year, due to things such as air conditioning in the summer (White 28). Many schools due not currently need AC systems to be used. However, AC is a costly amenity and if schools are held open three additional months, AC becomes a heavy factor. Not to mention, the level of supplies and paper that is consumed would be more than 33% larger (Sardo- Brown 26). Costs per school for items, such as paper, increase due to constant use. (White 29). Students would e deprived of such simple items such as worksheets or class handouts.

Outside costs, such as transportation and equipment for activities would go up for constant maintenance (Sardo Brown 27). Buses that travel every school day use the districts money for gasoline and repairs. The money needed to cover the maintenance These costs can be very hard for a district to swallow, because they must be covered by someone. Taxes would have to shoot up to solve the dilemma. Overall, the costs add up and equal a loss for students environment. Due to the structuring, students and teachers would not be given time to ecuperate from the prior year and to prepare for the future.

Many students use the summer for a vacation with their parents. However, with a school in the summer it would be much harder for a family to find a convenient time. Research shows that students would be more likely to burnout from school as they are not given an extended break in the summer (White 29). Teachers are also not given enough time to prepare for their next incoming class (Sevetson 3). An unprepared teacher can only mean much more time wasted. The summer has also been a time when students can change their lifestyles. “Many students and eachers rely on the summer for a chance to mature and grow a little older.

With year round school, many lose that chance to change an attitude problem or become wiser. ” (Sardo- Brown and Rooney 25). It is important that students continue to mature throughout high school. Year- round school does not guarantee that this will occur. Time spent with friends would also decrease as many students run on different schedules. Friendship is one of the most important things in the development of today’s child (Sardo-Brown 27). However, year round school separates most students into about two or three different chedules (Somerby 8).

Students are not given any preference as to which one they follow and it is simply a luck of the draw. The biggest problem would be the adaptation to a schedule by the students and teachers. For students already in junior high or high school, year round school would be a hard schedule to follow (Sevetson 2). After years of following one method, they would be told to suddenly switch tracks completely. Students would then lose a chance for improved education. Similarly, teachers would not have the time needed to take additional classes to improve their teaching methods (Somerby 9).

How can a district expect education to improve if teachers can’t improve their own personal education ? ” (Somerby 9). Students moving out of the district would be in conflict with a district that had a nine month schedule. “For a military family or any family that is at risk, a year round schedule can only mean a nightmare. ” (White 27). Also, special events such as graduation or the beginning of the school year would all be lost in the shuffle from year to year (Sardo- Brown 27). This means that after years of hard work in school, graduating seniors would all but not matter.

A revision does indeed need to occur in the U. S. education system. The facts all do point to other countries flying by the U. S. However, year round school is not what students need. It has too many downfalls and not enough benefits. Costs and scheduling are too huge of problems to be ignored. The nine month schedule must remain the basis for education in America. The changes that need to occur do not involve the schedule. They concern the actual education taught in classes. A change to the traditional calendar only sinks education lower off the charts.

Secrets of the C.I.A: America’s Premier Chef’s School

This narrative school portraiture will introduce the reader to one of the world’s finest culinary schools, and the leader in American culinary arts training. The history of culinary education in America will be examined and the rise of professional culinary education will be presented to familiarize the reader with the current state of this type of Additionally, the author will provide personal recollections from his own experience as a student at the “Culinary” in the late 1970’s. The author will attempt to impart the flavor and mystique that the Culinary Institute of America epresents to culinary professionals around the world.

It is a special place in the hearts of many and more so in the hearts of its alumni. Secrets of the C. I. A: America’s Premier Chef’s School As a young man, perhaps the age of 11 or 12, I was introduced to the world of the Chef. It was magic, gleaming stainless steel, aromas of simmering sauces, the taut military jaw of the Executive Chef looking over his brigade of cooks, pure magic for a boy who had dreams. My introduction to culinary arts came about through my involvement in Boy Scouts. As a oungster, growing up in the turbulent sixties, my life needed direction which was found in Scouting.

The premises of Scouting are simple, work hard, gain rewards through the accomplishment of tasks, gain leadership opportunities to help younger scouts succeed; lessons learned for life. A part of Scouting is to proceed through a series of ranks, based on performance and the completion of work which garners a “merit badge. ” As a scout earns merit badges, selected from a list much like a core courses are offered in a college major, the award of rank is resented in a ceremony attended by peers, parents and scout leaders. It is exciting, as Napoleon said in 1804 to Field Marshall Foch, ” . . men won’t walk across the street for money, but they will die for medals. ”

Boys have similar motivation and do the same for a scout badge. The more merit badges earned, the higher the rank and more the prestige in the scouting community. Beginning with “Tenderfoot,” a scout progresses through the ranks as follows: “Second Class,” “First Class,” “Star Scout,” “Life Scout” and the final and most coveted award “Eagle Scout. I had set my eyes on the prize of becoming an Eagle Scout, one of only two percent of scouts who accomplish this rank.

One of the merit badges on the road to Eagle was Cooking, hence my introduction to Chef Johnson of the Ember Room. Chef Johnson, a graduate of the New Haven Restaurant Institute, was the expert who had to sign off on my Cooking merit badge completion sheet. With his signature the merit badge was mine and another box could be checked off toward my earning the hungered for Eagle Scout rank. This was easier said than done, as Chef Johnson was a task master who did not take his role s mentor lightly. I thrived under his scrutiny of my work like I had never done before, I liked it.

With the help of my scout leaders and the patient guidance of Chef, I reached my goal and became an Eagle Scout in October 1966. Chef Johnson, even as an adult I never called him by his first name, instilled in me a new sense of self-respect and the ability to create a product which did so many things to and for people, it was indeed magic and POWER! I worked for Chef during my years in high school and sadly during the summer after graduation I left his gentle hand for the world only a young man can experience.

My dream was to become the best “chef”, with a small c, as I could. I could not yet compare myself to my mentor and teacher, Chef with a big C. I must earn that right by paying my dues and learning my craft a day at a time. The opportunity to work in a variety of positions in hotels and restaurants was afforded me, based on my skill as a culinarian and my drive to become the best. As my career grew and my skills matured, it was time for me to find a mate to share my hopes and dreams. Into my life came my beautiful bride and wife of over twenty years, Moon.

My darling inspired me to become what I had only rhapsodized about to her for years, attend culinary school and finally become a Chef, big C, like my mentor. At the age of thirty I applied to the premier chef school in the United States, The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, 3000 miles from my home in California and a world away from the Embers of my youth. Culinary education has not always been the modern curriculum and formalized training it is today. In the past, before there were “chefs’ schools”, there were professionals who dedicated their life’s work to teaching people to cook.

The Boston Cooking School was one of the first significant cooking schools in the United States. In addition to teaching students to cook, they also taught how to instruct others to cook. In 1877, 30 year old Fannie Merrit Farmer attended the Boston Cooking School. After graduation she began teaching and eventually became the school’s principal. She published the Boston School Cookbook in 1896. In an age when foods were measured by the pinch and handful, her teachings were very influential. Through her book and the school, she taught the importance of recipe accuracy and measurements.

Her book is still a valid resource and remains in print today. In 1946, when television was in its infancy, James Beard began to teach through this brand new medium. Later he opened a cooking school in his Greenwich Village brownstone and for more than 30 years taught professionals and nonprofessionals the significance of American Cuisine. When Julie Child hit the airwaves, she showed America how to prepare and cook French Cuisine. These two events brought much publicity to the craft of being a chef. The 1940’s was an important period for culinary education in America.

As the postwar economy boomed, so did cooking schools. The same year James Beard aired his television show, the Culinary Institute of America was founded. The CIA was the first career oriented cooking school in the United States. Originally located on Yale’s campus in Connecticut and called the New Haven Restaurant Institute, the school relocated in 1972 to its present home in Hyde Park, New York. Prior to opening the CIA, if one wanted to become a chef, one had to apprentice under a seasoned master and learn the craft on the job.

Apprenticing has always been the obvious choice for a European chef, but this was not the case in America. The Culinary Institute of America is perched high above the majestic Hudson river in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. The Hudson Valley has inspired artists for hundreds of years and spawned the Hudson Valley School of painting, spectacular landscapes and dreamy interpretations of nature at its pristine and unsullied best. The school is an imposing red brick, five story Victorian structure. It is actually a converted Jesuit Monastery, named St. Andrew’s on the Hudson.

The thickly wooded and wildlife laden (deer, skunk, squirrel, racoon and the occasional black bear) 75 acre campus is home to more than 2000 full time culinary students who study in its ancient halls and modern kitchens. The “Culinary,” (the first syllable of the word is pronounced “cull’ not “cue”), has 22 fully equipped and technologically advanced kitchens, bakeshops, pastry kitchens, butcher shops and garde manger kitchens. The quality of the kitchens rival any of the world’s finest hotels for equipment and small wares, in fact it sets the standard for much of the foodservice industry.

Many of the CIA kitchens are donated by equipment manufactures who supply the latest equipment, some not yet available on the commercial market. There are also more than 50 classrooms, fully equipped with the latest video and power point equipment. Students must study both with their hands and with their minds, as culinary art is a whole body experience. Students have access to the 43,000 volume (all culinary related) library. The library focus is to provide students with the why of cooking and what happens sciencewise.

The library includes a rare book room where the oldest and rarest book, printed in Latin in Paris in 1556 is Athenaei Dipnosophistarum sive coenae sapintum libri XV. It consists of a dialogue between two men at a banquet who talk for days on end about food, famous epicures, noted personages and feasts of ancient Greece back to the days of Homer. In the Learning Resource Center (LRC), a complete video library, with more than 20,000 tapes of “hands-on demos” by CIA chef-instructors and the world’s great chefs, gives culinary students the opportunity to see close up how to do a particular culinary technique.

The LRC also has the student run television station (all food most the time) and radio station, which caters to the eclectic nature of the culinarian from Beastie Boys to Bach. The school also boasts of its four Mobile 5 Diamond rated student operated classroom restaurants; The Escoffier Room, fine French Cuisine and booked in advance for up to a year, The American Bounty Room, featuring regional dishes and cuisine of the Americas, The Catrinia D’ Medici Room, featuring traditional provincial Italian cuisine and the nutritionally oriented St. Andrew’s Caf. Students are rotated through the restaurants and are responsible for the entire operation, from greeting the guest, creating the menu, ordering the supplies and food, preparation and service of items ordered by paying guests (up to $100 per guest) and washing the dishes when it’s all over. These real life experiences provide students with a sense of urgency and knowledge not found in textbooks.

Culinary students, both male and female, are dressed in the uniform of the trade, a crisp white, double-breasted chef coat, a yellow neckerchief (which is a functional part of the uniform), black and white hounds tooth checked pants (they show less dirt than black or white pants), a white apron, with a towel draped over the belt to serve as a pot holder, and the toque. The hat’s 100 pleats, as the story goes, represent either the number of ways a good chef can cook and egg, or the number of days of mourning after the death of the legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier in 1935.

Hair is worn completely under the toque, or it is restrained by a hairnet. Sanitation is a central issue at the CIA and students who do not abide by the rules are quickly eliminated. One student in my class experienced this extreme attention to sanitation and rules first hand. Working in the Escoffier Room kitchen, the class had begun production for the evening meal. One of the male students had a long pony tail, which he tucked up under his toque. The pony tail fell out and the chef-instructor, Chef Hennin a feisty French chef, told the student to put his hair back under his toque and not to let it happen again.

Well, once again the pony tail flopped out from under the toque and Chef Hennin saw it. This sent Chef into a rage, he snatched his French knife, a very large and razor sharp knife, grabbed the pony tail by the end and cut off the entire ten inch long tress in one pass of the knife close to the scalp. Upon completion of the student shearing the Chef exclaimed “You will not have to worry about your hair any longer my petite fleur, catch…. “. Point made and well taken by all in class that evening.

Students in traditional garb, tools slung across their back, knives hanging from their belt, scurry from classes in Oriental foods to Garde Manger to Advanced Cost Control Management Systems, where they use computers to prepare production schedules, cost summaries and budgets. The Learning Resource Center offers computer assisted remedial sessions for students with deficient math and language skills. In the unit on Culinary French they learn that voiture is not pronounced “voycher” and that Parmentier was a 18th century alchemist who introduced the potato to France after doing time in a German prison camp.

They learn to identify and butcher meat, to sculpting ice and salt dough, to analyzing and learning to appreciate wine. In Supervisory Development how to confront hypothetical crises: how should a maitre d’ react if, for example, a customer arrives 45 minutes late to claim his reserved table? What should a chef say to a worker who spills five gallons of consomme? And what is the proper response of a general manager on discovering that the hamburger count is 75 short? The $28,000 tuition for the 21-month program leading to an Associate in Occupational Studies degree covers room, board, books, uniforms, laundry, insurance and knives.

The CIA has a year long waiting list for acceptance to the program. Enrollment is predominantly male, about 60 percent, but more women are entering the field than ever before. The four 15 week periods on campus are interrupted by a salaried 18-week “externship” in some approved restaurant where at least 51 percent of what is served is prepared from scratch and where there is a resident executive chef to provide enough “hands-on training’ to offer “a real learning experience. CIA graduates can expect four or five job offers, minimum starting salaries of more than $20,000 and a lot more espect than cooks used to get when it was thought that oafs, who weren’t good for much else, could always work with food.

The thinking here is that since chefs study at least as hard and long as nurses and accountants, they should be registered or certified and treated with the dignity their counterparts have in Europe. The faculty consists of a who’s who of the world’s best chefs. 16 Master Chefs, of which there are only 72 in the whole world, are on the faculty, along with an additionally qualified group of 56 chef instructors.

To become an instructor at the CIA, a chef must have completed a formal course of training, either at a recognized culinary school, or approved apprenticeship program. They must have a minimum of 10 years of industry experience as an Executive Chef and pass a rigorous “Mystery Basket Exam,” where an entire menu, appetizer; salad; soup; entree with sauce; starch; vegetable and kitchen dessert; must be produced and be perfect, from ingredients seen for the first time at the beginning of the three-hour test. The attrition rate of chef-instructor applicants is high, only two out of 10 applicants are offered a position.

Positions do not come available very often, as the average time on the job for chef-instructors is seven years. The 22 member academic faculty must also be recognized in their field and possess a minimum of a Master’s degree in the discipline they instruct, 35% possess a terminal degree. The chef-instructor to student ratio is 18:1 in kitchen labs and 36:1 in academic classes. The school is led by Master Chef Ferdinand Metz, one of the world’s most recognized culinarians. Chef Metz, the 52-year-old native of Bavaria Germany, is an uncompromising leader who insists on quality and will not accept less than perfect.

Under his leadership, the school has become a distinguished institution which receives global respect. The administrative staff also includes an office dedicated to the employment of students and coordinates student job opportunities from employers who call the school looking for graduates to fill key positions. The financial aid department helps students arrange for payment of tuition and living expenses. An average of 85% of students receive some sort of financial aid, scholarship or grant to attend the CIA. The typical in class time for faculty and students are six hour kitchen labs and 90 minute academic classes.

Students will have one kitchen lab and three academic classes per day, five days per week, on a three-week schedule. Every three weeks a student advances to a new block, the school is a progressive learning year program, starting with A and ending with Y. One of the rites of passage entering culinarian undertake, is upon completion of “A” block, one of the most demanding, students go to the Pagoda-On-The-Bluff, which has a pectactularly sweeping view over the Hudson River and is the best place on campus to view a sunset, chugs a beer and throw their school issued, shiny new vegetable peelers into the flowing river.

Who knows how this venerated tradition started, but I am certain there are tens of thousands of rusting vegetable peelers at the bottom of the Hudson which will be discovered by an anthropologist some day in the future and cause them fits trying to figure out why they are there! The CIA also hosts the American Culinary Federation’s ten day Master Chef program. Chefs from all over the country come to the school hoping to be qualified and certified as a Master Chef.

They are required to prepare menus for cardiovascular, low sodium, bland and diabetic diets as well as to show their more extravagant side. These professionals may already have salaries in the $100,000 range. Only half the applicants for Master Chef certification pass the test. In the 21 months students attend the CIA, the average student will gain 25 pounds! It is little wonder because it is rare to not go for an hour around the campus without being offered a ite of pate, a taste of soup, a fresh croissant or some other delightful pastry creation from one of the school’s many kitchens.

The school serves an average of 4,000 meals per day and insists that everything cooked in classes is eaten, either by students or paying customers. The CIA spends nearly $5 million a year on food and an additional $1. 5 million on wine and other beverages. At graduation, which happens 16 times per year, students receive their diploma, a “Cordon Bleu” from which the bronze school medallion hangs and the tall toque, their newly earned badge of honor. Only 56% of students who began the program less than two years earlier graduate.

Many leave because the school is too demanding, some quit because they realize that being a chef is a lot of work, others have money problems and can’t afford to continue and some stay on as a full time employee at the restaurant where they did their mid-term externship. The ones who do graduate and the three guests they are each allowed to invite, are served a stupefyingly festive six course lunch, including four types of wine (two red, one white, one sparkling) by the Banquet Organization class.

Diplomas in hand, Cordon around the neck, a head full of knowledge and hands full of skill, the CIA graduate is ready to take their place in line with the long list of great chefs who have come before them and live their dream of being a professional culinarian. I am proud to be one of these elite graduates. For the remainder of my life I will continue to abide by the traditions I learned and savor the experiences I enjoyed during my time at The Culinary.

The New Age Fashion “School Uniforms”

A group of small boys and girls all warring the same colored uniforms assembled in front of a catholic school is what I imagine when thinking about school uniforms. This is probably what most people imagine. They have been attached to students of European and private schools. Such pictures of students dressing in school uniforms have led to stereotyping and a negative attitude towards schools enforcing a uniform policy. Displayed as robots without the ability to express them selves in a society that says you must express yourself and be an individual at all cost.

The problem is that the cost to express yourself and be an individual is high in some cases, in Detroit, a 15-year-old boy was killed for his $86 basketball shoes (Tweeters 1997). I believe that cost is to high, it would be better to be laughed at and teased about warring a nerdy uniform, than to be shot by some gang member that did not like the color of the pants I’m warring. School uniforms have been the cause of many jokes and harassment to those who wore them. In the past, public schools considered uniforms old and out dated trends, though recently many public schools are starting to implement and enforce a uniform policy.

The implementation of a school uniform policy is important if we are still striving to improve our students. The arguments against them are fading while the positive reasons are promoting school uniforms and gaining ground. Some of the possible benefits are safety, cost, uniformity and competition in academics instead of fashions. The main argument against them is the need for students to express their individual selves; this argument is losing ground compared to the benefits of the uniform policy.

Today many public schools are mandating and enforcing school uniforms for their students. San Antonio School district requires all 60,000 of its students to wear uniforms; over 60% of Fort Worth’s elementary schools require their students to ware uniforms (Radcliffe 1999). In 1995, the Texas legislature gave public school districts the authority to require uniforms under Texas State Law 11. 162 of the Texas Education Code. (Appendix A). The law however is a voluntary law; schools are not required to have a uniform policy.

A Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia has filed a proposed legislation that would make it mandatory to wear uniforms in Grades k-12 in Texas (Ramos 1997). The first fundamental issue that school board officials and law makers should look at before they make new policies and laws concerning school uniforms is, will these new laws and policies have a positive impact on students overall performance. This would not be limited to academic performances only but should also include other socially learned behavior that will enhance the students ability to conform to the social norms needed to be successful in today’s society.

People for uniforms say that the academic performance has been and will increase by having the students ware them (Caruso 1996). A lessened degree of attention and concern with fashion will enable a better condition for serious study, as well as lesson the cultural and economic challenges of students and parents. (Cohn 1996, Paliokos 1996) Nathan Minster, a seventh grader at Country Day of Arlington said, ” Uniforms provide a better educational atmosphere, and symbolize school spirit. If all students dress alike, their attention will not focus on Johnny’s new Tommy Hilfiger outfit.

Teeters 1996). Any situation that does not promote the improvement of students in school should be looked at and studied to find ways to change the situation. There are no positive aspects to worrying about not having the money to buy the coolest and newest fashions. Would it not be better to strive and worry about who can get the best grade or do the best science project. Is the reduction of crime going to help improve our students? We must agree that there is no part of our student’s lives that can be improved by the atmosphere of crime.

We need to ask the question, What ought to be? When it comes to school and crime. How to deal with crime is one of the ethical questions all school administrators and lawmakers must address and act on accordingly. The statistics say that schools having a school uniform policy have seen a decrease in crime. Long Beach Unified School District was the first large urban school district in the United States to require school uniforms. They have seen substantial decreases in crime in the past five years since they have required uniforms. One incredible reduction was that sex offenses have decreased 93%.

The cost of implementing a uniform policy must also be looked at closely. The fact that all students have different degrees of economic status requires us to address this matter. If a student cannot afford uniforms would they not be able to go to school. Would it be better to have them spend all their money on uniforms so they could go to school, but because of that they don’t have the money to participate in after school sports or social events. Maybe they would spend the money on uniforms instead of nutritious food, which could affect their health.

The current Texas law does provide ways of providing uniforms for students who cannot afford to buy them. (Appendix A). The Long Beach Unified School District has privately funded over $160,000 for assistance to disadvantaged students. By doing this they have not put any financial burden on the taxpayers. The cost can be high, as it has been for the San Antonio School district, which has spent about $500,000 to outfit 90% of their students (Radcliffe 1999). Unlike Long Beach School District, San Antonio’s uniform policy has cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

They ought to look at ways of reducing the cost to taxpayers, possible private funding from companies that participate in philanthropic programs. What are the ethical concerns for schools considering school uniforms? The nation has implemented school uniforms in about 25 percent of the public elementary, middle, and junior high schools according to the (California School News March 31,1997). The general improvements of the students who attend schools that requiring them to ware uniforms has shown an improvement.

I can conclude from the improvements that we ought to have 100 percent of public schools starting uniform policies. I don’t believe that waiting for years of research and study on this issue will change the outcome. Students are moving through school fast and to wait for years to go by before making this a policy can only lesson the improvement chances of the students who are currently in school. The motivation of this issue is not to infringe on student’s rights or burden parents with extra cost, but to simply improve the students.

Do students have rights as part of the American populous? If so, what are there rights? Do they even have the right to choose to go or not to go to school, or is this, the rights of the parents and society? Our society is now more than ever concerned with our rights and feelings. Is a first grader’s mind able to use these rights for there best interest or is it up to the adult population? Parents are the ones who should teach and mentor the students in the spirit of the rights and how to use them for the good judgment and common sense.

The Bible says, “For I, too, was once a son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child, and the companion of my father. He told me never to forget his words. “If you follow them,” he said, “you will have a long and happy life. Learn to be wise, ” he said, ” and develop good judgment and common sense! I cannot overemphasize this point. ” (Proverbs 3: 3-5). Is it more important for us to make a place where the student can improve in the general sense compared to the First amendment claims that the students don’t have the right of free expression?

Any dress restriction that infringes on a student’s First Amendment right must be justified by a showing that the student’s attire materially disrupts school operation, infringes on the rights of others at the school, or otherwise interferes with any basic educational mission of he school” (Grantham 1994). The legal aspect of requiring students to ware uniforms is a small matter if the majority of the parents back the policy. However, some will fight with every penny they have so that their kids will not have to ware the uniforms. The biggest legal issue is the First Amendments, right to free expression and the Fourteenth Amendment.

They use this to say that the school has violated the student’s liberty to control his or her personal appearance ( Paliokos 1996). Stakeholders are involved in every part of this issue. Every person is a stakeholder. It will affect, children, adults, and elderly in one way or another, some more than others will. The children will be affected because they will have to ware the uniforms. Primary social stakeholders would be the students, parents, school employees and administrators, taxpayers, people opposed to and people for school uniforms.

I don’t have children but I am a stakeholder because if the uniform policy is voted on and passed the chances are my local school tax will increase to help pay for the new uniforms. Paying for the uniforms might not seem fair to someone in my position but if I look at the long term benefits of having our public schools improve the students I believe that the chances of a better society in my golden years is more likely to happen compared with the alternative of not improving the students.

The improvement of student’s basic education holds very high stakes for all stakeholders. If a student receives a better education he/she will have a better chance and be better equipped to be part of our adult society in which they will have to abide by our standard. The responsibility of the schools and lawmakers is to improve students. They are also responsible to do this within a budget. This does mean there will be some compromises and restrictions to what and how they accomplish this task of improving the students.

Private School Vouchers

Proposals to use private school vouchers, a marketplace strategy, as a mechanism by which to improve the general quality of public education have produced a lively debate. Frequently, that debate has degenerated into a disagreement about whether public schools are as good as private schools or whether a given private school is better than a certain neighborhood public school. Other issues raised in these discussions include the appropriate use of public funds, the role of competition in improving public education, and the right of parents to choose a school for their children.

Although these issues are of interest, they are not he fundamental questions which must be raised about the future of public schools in a democracy. Two Core Issues In their rush to the marketplace, the proponents of private school choice supported by public funds have chosen to ignore two core issues. First, the advocates of private school choice studiously avoid any discussion of the relationship between public schools and the common or public good in a democracy. As an example, the Governor of Wisconsin asserts that “any school that serves the public is a public school” and should therefore receive public funds through a voucher system.

There is no recognition in this proposal of the distinct and unique purpose of public education in serving the public good. This rhetorical sleight-of-hand does not mean that a private school of choice becomes a public school in purpose simply by so defining it. The claim is merely a device to divert public funds for private purposes. The failure to recognize that public schools have a central responsibility in a democratic society is further evidenced by the work of John Chubb and Terry Moe, who argue that improving the efficiency and quality of public education will require the replacement of democratic governance by market mechanisms.

The authors state, “The most basic cause of ineffective performance among the nation’s public schools is their subordination to public authority. … The school’s most fundamental problems are rooted in the institutions of democratic control by which they are governed”. Chubb and Moe deny the historic purposes of public schools when they reject the idea that educational policy should be directed by a common vision or purpose. They assert, “It should be apparent that schools have no immutable or transcendent purpose. …

What they are supposed to be doing depends on who controls them and what these controllers ant them to do”. The Thompson proposal for Wisconsin’s schools embraces this belief system it is a denial of the fundamental role of public education in affirming the public good. A second issue which remains unexamined in the rush to the marketplace concerns the claims offered in defense of private school choice. Choice is offered as a “lesson learned” rather than a proposition to be examined. Advocates of private school choice have ignored its history.

Despite the claims made for a market-based school restructuring strategy, the history of choice does not support the claims of its proponents. A Declaration of Crisis Willingness to abandon strong support for public schools and to turn to marketplace solutions is driven by a crisis rhetoric. This rhetoric, which suggests that public education is failing, is not only misleading, it is dangerous because it may erode public confidence in the very institutions on which our capacity for a democratic response depends. Criticism of public education has continued unabated since the publication of A Nation At Risk in 1983.

Stimulated in large part by new international economic realities, by a domestic economy based on traditional production models, and by changing domestic demographics, he critics have sought solutions to these challenging problems by turning to schools and educators. The data cited by critics of public schools were accepted at face value until the late 1980’s. However, since then, a variety of research reports have revealed that much of the criticism has been simplistic and has distorted and misrepresented the conditions of public education.

The credibility of the crisis-in-education claim, in fact, rests not on immutable evidence of school failure but, rather, on a linkage which has been established by critics between education nd other social problems such as violent crime, drug use, family instability, and economic uncertainty. Although schools are not charged directly with creating these problems, the public is turning to public education for solutions to broad and complex social conditions.

This occurred in the 1950’s in response to the Russian scientific and military challenge, in the 1960’s in response to the challenge of racial segregation, and again in the 1980’s in response to the challenges of international economic competition and changing social circumstances. Economic interests have emerged during he last decade as vocal and persistent advocates of school change. These critics have framed the issue in terms of economic competitiveness, job creation, profit, and preparation for the work place.

The purpose of public education has been redefined by economic interests so as to put schools in the service of capitalism rather than democracy. They are not the same. This dramatic reframing of educational purpose has gone relatively unchallenged in the dialogue about school improvement. What does it mean to put schools in the service of an economic philosophy rather than in the service of democracy, political and social philosophy? To define students as merely economic beings is to deny them their basic and essential humanity and is to render our political freedom subservient to the interests of those whose purpose is profit.

What, then, is the role of the school in a political democracy where, for the moment, the dominant economic interests remain consolidated in large corporate structures? The answer is to be found in an examination of what it means to educate for the public good. The Public Good The growing public sentiment that government has failed and is doomed to fail when it attempts to develop collective olutions to broad social problems is a measure of the success of economic interests over the past fifteen years in redefining the public good.

Public good is increasingly defined and measured by the extent to which private interests are allowed to extend the reach of the marketplace. Although choice, as a general principle, is worth protecting, “its effectiveness in addressing social problems depends on its being used in the context of confident and legitimate government authority, not as an alternative to such authority”. Lost in the crisis quality of the debate bout private school choice is an understanding that public schools are not merely service providers.

Public schools are not merely places where the individual’s or the society’s economic needs are met. Public schools have a special status as producers of values, perspectives, knowledge, and skills which are fundamental to community. Historically, this public function was widely celebrated. More recently, with the emergence of marketplace and consumer analogies, individual customer satisfaction, rather than the public good, has become a primary consideration.

Individualism, the promise of individual reedom and personal happiness, has been a central tenet of the American dream and is fundamental in American society. The danger we face is that individualism, as exemplified by private school choice, may further isolate Americans from each other and undermine the conditions of freedom. Kelly summarizes this sentiment: “Hopes for short-term gains have largely eclipsed any sense of long-range national goals or principles. It is thus small wonder no one can agree on how to ‘fix’ systems of public education – which by their very nature are future oriented”.

The question, ‘Education for what? crystallizes the issue of public good. A fundamental tension exists between two polarities. On the one hand, education for democracy views education as fundamental, with the responsibility of transmitting values and skills which sustain democracy. In a democracy citizens play two roles: as informed, intelligent arbiters of issues and as protectors of values. While a democracy may be viewed as an open forum of values, not all values are equal.

A few are central: respect for minority opinions, freedom of expression, and allegiance to reason over unreason. On the other hand, education for economic nterest views education as a dependent variable. In this view, education’s success is judged by whether it satisfies marketplace needs thus, the marketplace determines the nature of schooling. Economic interests are narrowly personalized with little commitment to the collective or broad public good. The question, Does education work? is answered only in terms of personal, family or corporate economic success.

This tension, between an America where individuals are perceived as creating the good economic life for themselves and an America where citizens possess the right and duty of self governance, ot as individuals, but as a community, is at the heart of the debate about private school choice. At its core, the debate is about the extent to which knowledge or access to knowledge is privileged. The effects of privilege are most apparent in the disparities of resources available to wealthy and poor school districts which Jonathan Kozol has documented in striking fashion in his book, “Savage Inequalities.

The issue is quite simple: Who in a democracy has the right to know what? The policy question which follows is, Will public resources be diverted from schools whose purpose is perpetuating he public good? The answer to this question has implications for the parents and children involved and for the nature of our collective future. The concept of the public good suggests that public education is neither exclusively public nor exclusively private. Democracy is not just an instrument for accomplishing some other policy objective. It is a way of living together in a pluralistic and difficult world.

Private School Choice: The Marketplace Metaphor Private school choice has been offered as a marketplace solution to the perceived crisis in education. Advocates f a marketplace solution point to efficiency and quality as a consequence of a competitive market structure. The simple analogy between choosing a school and shopping at the mall for a pair of tennis shoes has great appeal to some. Yet, in purely economic terms, the market and the exercise of choice within that market, is fraught with uncertainty. Consequently, a laissez faire setting does not assure quality, but, rather, demands consumer vigilance.

The alternative, consumer protection through the imposition of standards by some regulatory agency, has been a consequence of consumers facing unacceptable levels of risk. Advocates of private school choice are eager to escape minimal educational standards however, by embracing a marketplace of educational providers they also give up the assurance of quality. Private school choice carries no inherent focus, value, purpose, or quality it is merely a policy tool which can be used to address some perceived educational problem.

The historical record of school choice reveals its instrumental nature and that history suggests that choice produces results acceptable in a democratic society only when sustained by authoritative government action and careful supervision. How has choice been used in the past? Following the elimination of a dual education system by the Supreme Court in 1954, a number of states created alternative private school systems subsidized by public funds, as mechanisms to avoid racial integration. In some states, tuition vouchers were used to help defray the costs of nonsectarian private schools.

The federal courts ultimately ruled that no freedom-of-choice plan would relieve local school authorities of the responsibility to desegregate public schools. During the 1970s, magnet schools, as manifestations of choice, were used to facilitate integration. Through the intervention of the federal courts, magnet schools within the public school system became a way to minimize forced busing and yet integrate the public schools. By 1981-82, there were over a thousand magnet schools in the United States.

In some communities, where segregated schools continued, magnet schools were used to improve the quality of education available to minority children. New York’s District No. 4 had created 23 choice programs by 1985. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, a controlled choice program ended the drift toward segregation and narrowed the achievement ap between minority and white students. In Milwaukee, private school choice appeared not to improve the student achievement gap, although it did produce higher levels of parental satisfaction.

The case for market-based school choice rests on two claims: that there is evidence that choice works and that there is an explanation for why it works. Evidence for the argument that choice works is more mixed and uncertain than advocates have claimed. Although the debate continues, the issue of whether choice works may not be as important as why it appears to work in some instances in some communities. The marketplace erspective holds that private school choice (including magnet schools) “works” because it represents an alternative to government intervention, control, and authority.

Successful examples of choice are more appropriately understood as having been the product of strong and authoritative government leadership such as in Cambridge and East Harlem where public school choice has been defined, controlled, and supported by the public. These successes demonstrate that government controls are required to produce the promised results. The marketplace cannot and will not secure the public good. Conclusions Since 1983, with the publication of A Nation at Risk, it has been argued that the condition of public education has put this nation at economic risk.

While there is plenty of evidence to support the claim of economic distress – declining profits, high levels of urban unemployment, declining levels of wages and fringe benefits, a growing international trade imbalance, a level standard of living – there is no evidence that public schools are responsible for the conditions of the American economy. Nevertheless, the solutions which have subsequently emerged have been oriented to the marketplace – youth apprenticeships, chool-to-work, education for employment, tech prep, and private and public school choice.

What has not emerged is a broad consensus among citizens that private school choice is an appropriate and acceptable alternative to public education. Although citizens support the concept of public school choice, they do not support the use of public funds to support private sectarian or nonsectarian school choice. Parents of public school students continue to be supportive of the teachers and schools their children attend (Elam, Rose and Gallup, 1994). This generalization erodes in urban communities facing growing economic stress.

The concerns of parents in urban areas are driven by the flight of large corporations from the city. The erosion of an economic base which is fundamental to the maintenance of healthy family and community structures has left the public schools as the most visible remaining community institutions in urban settings. Communities, families, and the schools that serve them simply cannot endure and thrive in a climate of economic abandonment. Private school choice is a diversion sponsored by those whose collective economic decisions have made life in our urban community a daily struggle for survival.

The New Age Fashion “School Uniforms”

A group of small boys and girls all warring the same colored uniforms assembled in front of a catholic school is what I imagine when thinking about school uniforms. This is probably what most people imagine. They have been attached to students of European and private schools. Such pictures of students dressing in school uniforms have led to stereotyping and a negative attitude towards schools enforcing a uniform policy. Displayed as robots without the ability to express them selves in a society that says you must express yourself and be an individual at all cost.

The problem is that the cost to express yourself and be an individual is high in some cases, in Detroit, a 15-year-old boy was killed for his $86 basketball shoes (Tweeters 1997). I believe that cost is to high, it would be better to be laughed at and teased about warring a nerdy uniform, than to be shot by some gang member that did not like the color of the pants Im warring. School uniforms have been the cause of many jokes and harassment to those who wore them. In the past, public schools considered uniforms old and out dated trends, though recently many public schools are starting to implement and enforce a uniform policy.

The implementation of a school uniform policy is important if we are still striving to improve our students. The arguments against them are fading while the positive reasons are promoting school uniforms and gaining ground. Some of the possible benefits are safety, cost, uniformity and competition in academics instead of fashions. The main argument against them is the need for students to express their individual selves; this argument is losing ground compared to the benefits of the uniform policy. Today many public schools are mandating and enforcing school uniforms for their students.

San Antonio School district requires all 60,000 of its students to wear uniforms; over 60% of Fort Worths elementary schools require their students to ware uniforms (Radcliffe 1999). In 1995, the Texas legislature gave public school districts the authority to require uniforms under Texas State Law 11. 162 of the Texas Education Code. (Appendix A). The law however is a voluntary law; schools are not required to have a uniform policy. A Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia has filed a proposed legislation that would make it mandatory to wear uniforms in Grades k-12 in Texas (Ramos 1997).

The first fundamental issue that school board officials and law makers should look at before they make new policies and laws concerning school uniforms is, will these new laws and policies have a positive impact on students overall performance. This would not be limited to academic performances only but should also include other socially learned behavior that will enhance the students ability to conform to the social norms needed to be successful in todays society. People for uniforms say that the academic performance has been and will increase by having the students ware them (Caruso 1996).

A lessened degree of attention and concern with fashion will enable a better condition for serious study, as well as lesson the cultural and economic challenges of students and parents. (Cohn 1996, Paliokos 1996) Nathan Minster, a seventh grader at Country Day of Arlington said, Uniforms provide a better educational atmosphere, and symbolize school spirit. If all students dress alike, their attention will not focus on Johnnys new Tommy Hilfiger outfit. (Teeters 1996). Any situation that does not promote the improvement of students in school should be looked at and studied to find ways to change the situation.

There are no positive aspects to worrying about not having the money to buy the coolest and newest fashions. Would it not be better to strive and worry about who can get the best grade or do the best science project. Is the reduction of crime going to help improve our students? We must agree that there is no part of our students lives that can be improved by the atmosphere of crime. We need to ask the question, What ought to be? When it comes to school and crime. How to deal with crime is one of the ethical questions all school administrators and lawmakers must address and act on accordingly.

The statistics say that schools having a school uniform policy have seen a decrease in crime. Long Beach Unified School District was the first large urban school district in the United States to require school uniforms. They have seen substantial decreases in crime in the past five years since they have required uniforms. One incredible reduction was that sex offenses have decreased 93%. (Appendix B). The cost of implementing a uniform policy must also be looked at closely. The fact that all students have different degrees of economic status requires us to address this matter.

If a student cannot afford uniforms would they not be able to go to school. Would it be better to have them spend all their money on uniforms so they could go to school, but because of that they dont have the money to participate in after school sports or social events. Maybe they would spend the money on uniforms instead of nutritious food, which could affect their health. The current Texas law does provide ways of providing uniforms for students who cannot afford to buy them. (Appendix A). The Long Beach Unified School District has privately funded over $160,000 for assistance to disadvantaged students.

By doing this they have not put any financial burden on the taxpayers. The cost can be high, as it has been for the San Antonio School district, which has spent about $500,000 to outfit 90% of their students (Radcliffe 1999). Unlike Long Beach School District, San Antonios uniform policy has cost the taxpayers a lot of money. They ought to look at ways of reducing the cost to taxpayers, possible private funding from companies that participate in philanthropic programs. What are the ethical concerns for schools considering school uniforms?

The nation has implemented school uniforms in about 25 percent of the public elementary, middle, and junior high schools according to the (California School News March 31,1997). The general improvements of the students who attend schools that requiring them to ware uniforms has shown an improvement. I can conclude from the improvements that we ought to have 100 percent of public schools starting uniform policies. I dont believe that waiting for years of research and study on this issue will change the outcome.

Students are moving through school fast and to wait for years to go by before making this a policy can only lesson the improvement chances of the students who are currently in school. The motivation of this issue is not to infringe on students rights or burden parents with extra cost, but to simply improve the students. Do students have rights as part of the American populous? If so, what are there rights? Do they even have the right to choose to go or not to go to school, or is this, the rights of the parents and society? Our society is now more than ever concerned with our rights and feelings.

Is a first grader’s mind able to use these rights for there best interest or is it up to the adult population? Parents are the ones who should teach and mentor the students in the spirit of the rights and how to use them for the good judgment and common sense. The Bible says, For I, too, was once a son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child, and the companion of my father. He told me never to forget his words. If you follow them, he said, you will have a long and happy life. Learn to be wise, he said, and develop good judgment and common sense!

I cannot overemphasize this point. (Proverbs 3: 3-5). Is it more important for us to make a place where the student can improve in the general sense compared to the First amendment claims that the students dont have the right of free expression? Any dress restriction that infringes on a students First Amendment right must be justified by a showing that the students attire materially disrupts school operation, infringes on the rights of others at the school, or otherwise interferes with any basic educational mission of he school (Grantham 1994).

The legal aspect of requiring students to ware uniforms is a small matter if the majority of the parents back the policy. However, some will fight with every penny they have so that their kids will not have to ware the uniforms. The biggest legal issue is the First Amendments, right to free expression and the Fourteenth Amendment. They use this to say that the school has violated the students liberty to control his or her personal appearance ( Paliokos 1996). Stakeholders are involved in every part of this issue.

Every person is a stakeholder. It will affect, children, adults, and elderly in one way or another, some more than others will. The children will be affected because they will have to ware the uniforms. Primary social stakeholders would be the students, parents, school employees and administrators, taxpayers, people opposed to and people for school uniforms. I dont have children but I am a stakeholder because if the uniform policy is voted on and passed the chances are my local school tax will increase to help pay for the new uniforms.

Paying for the uniforms might not seem fair to someone in my position but if I look at the long term benefits of having our public schools improve the students I believe that the chances of a better society in my golden years is more likely to happen compared with the alternative of not improving the students. The improvement of students basic education holds very high stakes for all stakeholders. If a student receives a better education he/she will have a better chance and be better equipped to be part of our adult society in which they will have to abide by our standard.

The responsibility of the schools and lawmakers is to improve students. They are also responsible to do this within a budget. This does mean there will be some compromises and restrictions to what and how they accomplish this task of improving the students. They must also stay within the legal aspects of our laws, which has been brought about by society from the past. If the laws are no longer valid they need to be changed for the current situations faced today by schools trying to improve students. Lets look at the stakeholders and what stakes they face.

See stakeholder map Appendix C. Students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and the general society are the stakeholders we will look at although there are many more secondary stakeholders involved with this issue. What challenges, threats or opportunities do these stakeholders pose? What economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities do they have? We will start by looking at the students. The challenge they have has been a negative and stressful one, what to wear today? is a question that will no longer have to be asked each morning before school.

The desire to have the coolest and newest fashions is no longer a challenge for the students who attend schools with uniform policies. The challenge to not be teased or laughed at is no longer there. Jacqueline Rios, a student at Glencrest Middle School said, The good thing about uniforms is that everybody wears the same color. And having uniforms is a lot better, because people cannot talk about and laugh at your clothes. (Teeter 1997). We do however have the threat that some of the opposing students will not comply which could cause discipline problems or even cause them to drop out of school.

The opportunities for the students are all positive ones. Simply put they will have more opportunities to better themselves with academic issues because the priority of fashion standards is gone as Assistant Director of elementary school operations, Frankie Batts, said, Instead of worrying about their clothes or what everyone else is wearing, kids focus on math and reading, (Richardson 1995). Parents will also enjoy the decreasing challenge of keeping their kids in the newest fashions.

The money issue will improve for them, Three outfits can run about $130, said Jan Underwood, owner of the U. T. W. Uniforms store in Fort Worth (Teeters 1997). Parents have had to struggle with deciding if what there kids are warring is proper. You might even ask, is it ethical to let my daughter go to school in an almost see-through and skintight outfit? The students being at a school with a uniform policy would now solve this problem. A possible threat from the parents would be from those who feel and believe that kids should be able to do and ware what they want and to force them to ware a uniform is a violation of their kids rights as well as the law. They do however seem to be the minority, most parents seem to support uniforms.

The Longview Independent School district says they would support the decision for school uniforms if 75 to 80 percent of the parents were for it (Bell 2000). Teachers will have the challenge of enforcing the new uniform polices but it will be much easier then enforcing the current dress code. At most, schools the guidelines of a dress code can be subjective in determining if they meet the requirements. Lets say, if the school dress policy said that girls must ware skirts that go down to there knees and a student is seen warring one that does meet that requirement but it is see-through and she is not wearing underpants.

This could cause a problem because the requirement is subjective. If the uniform policy was in effect this would not be because the see-through skirt would either be part of the uniform and accepted or not, it would now be an objective decision for the teacher to make, either it is a violation or not. One of the great opportunities that it would give the teachers is by having all the students dress alike they would be able to identify students who belong to the school and trespassers who dont. This is a great safety issue in todays times where it is important to regulate who comes on campuses.

How about on a school field trip would it not be easier to identify your students in a crowd if you did not have to remember what everyone was warring. Say they were kidnapped would it not be easier to describe them to the police. School administrators have all the issues to deal with. They are the ones who are challenged to improve the students. They have the challenge to implement school policies like uniforms in an effort to improve students. Their decisions go from the smallest detail, what colors, what style, what material, all or which can have either positive or negative effects on other stakeholders.

They must accomplish this and be able to stay within the legal, economic and ethical parameters that currently guide their decisions. What a privilege they have with this opportunity to improve students who will in turn improve society and possibly the entire world. Though this is a great opportunity, it is also a great responsibility to have. General society has a stake that is both short term and long term. On the short term, they will have to support the decisions of the uniform policies that are imposed upon the students and parents.

Some of the long-term stakes would be requiring paying for some of the uniforms for students who cannot afford them. For the few who oppose the uniforms they will not have to compromise their beliefs so that their kids can get an education. The Texas 1995 law allows some exceptions to the rules with a written request that states a bona fide religious or philosophical objection to the requirement. (Appendix A) Some recommendations that should be looked at by schools before starting a uniform policy could help reduce the problems that occur from putting new policies into effect.

They need to be able to justify the actions by demonstrating the link between a kind of dress and disruptive behavior or between a dress and improvements of the students. They should consult with the schools legal advisors to possible legal problems. Determine ways of enforcing the policy as well as what punishment would occur. Finding out what the parents and students think and involving them before the final starting date. They might try to find out what the students favorite color or type of material they want to use. They might even look at having some variety maybe two different colors.

This way the students will feel included in the decisions and might not fight the policy, making the discipline problem smaller because they would be less likely to rebel. A financial study should be conducted prior to the policy to determine how much burden is going to be imposed on the school itself, how many students would require financial assistance with the cost of the uniforms. By keeping the primary stakeholders involved with the decisions prior to making the policy, schools have a better chance of success from the uniform policy.

High School Journalism: Breaking the Barriers

Throughout the many trials and tribulations of the adolescent years teenagers try to find many different ways to express themselves and discover who they are. There are different forms of expression including music, art, fashion, and, of course, writing. Whether it is through a personal journal used to express private feelings, or through the high school publications such as the school newspaper or yearbook. These forms of expression give teens an outlet for creativity and a sense of accomplishment.

They also teach time management skills such as meeting deadlines, and help develop a work-based environment with other. While these publications remain important to students, school authorities continually challenge them. High school publications are not protected by the first amendment, therefore they are not entitled to free speech. Controversial issues such as homosexuality, teenage pregnancy, and drug issues are forbidden in many high school newspapers because the school officials think it will hurt the schools image, or that it will influence students to make poor decisions.

If a student writes about a controversial topic anyway, then it is possible that either their article will not get published, or that the student will be punished for writing dissenting opinions without permission. For example, one high school journalist Mary Margaret Nussbaum came under strong personal attacks from churches and a local family values group after writing a story about the lives of gay teenagers.

The family values group took strong action to censor the newspaper by urging the state representative to strengthen not only legislation against first amendment rights in high school publications, but also against homosexuality. While Nussbaum was merely writing the article and did not express any personal opinion in it, she still suffered consequences (McCarthy 3). Another censorship issue came about in Connecticut when a student at Rockville High School, Chris DelVecchio, wrote an editorial stating his opinion on the mayoral candidates.

The town committee for the mayor that he spoke against complained and eventually forced the local school board to forbid high school journalists from taking editorial positions on candidates (Featherstone 14). However small these instances may seem, they still pose a larger problem of shaping a new generation of kids that are well informed and should be free to express their opinions, no matter how opposing they may be.

Authorities have pressured many high school newspapers so heavily that they have become sort of bulletin boards for positive news. They never explore anything new or exciting, and fail to challenge their readers or authorities in any way (Saltzman 93). High school officials have no problem with their students writing upbeat stores on Homecoming queens or football heroes, but when they step out of the narrow boundaries set for them then the battle begins.

Some states have made their public high schools free speech territory on a state level. These states include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and Massachusetts. These states have not yet been challenged with their decisions. Since the Supreme Court case Hazlewood School District v. Kuhlemeier, which gives a looser interpretation to the previous law stating that officials could limit oppression only when it would disrupt the school functions or invade personal rights (Featherstone 14).

In a recent poll, respondents from the Scholastic Journalism Division expressed that they feel the Supreme Court should revise its decision and refrain from stopping any publications at all (Dickson 4). While this is one opinion, many feel differently about the issue. High school journalism is a base form of communication between not only teenagers and their peers, but the administrators as well. If it is taken away it not only breaks down communication internally and externally, but builds barriers as well.

The Topic Of Standardized Testing In Schooling

When first introduced to the topic of standardized testing in schooling, and how it affects us as students, I was completely neutral on the subject. After more careful consideration and evaluation of both sides of the issue, I have decided that I agree more with the advocate who says that standardized testing is a negative component of the whole “educational experience. ” Standardized test scores are used to assess schools that are failing or succeeding and as well to provide a supposed concise picture of the skills and abilities of the students.

Tests are intended to help schoolteachers, dministrators, the community (parents, taxpayers, etc. ), and politicians evaluate each individual school or a particular students success. These evaluations then are used to label either the school or child as a success or a failure. These tests are as well used to make decisions regarding the way the students are to be instructed and student placement. In theory, test scores looked at over time will reveal how much progress schools have made in their efforts to maintain or raise academic standards.

All that can be reliably predicted at the outset, however, is that the tests will easure the ability of schools to maintain high scores or raise inadequate scores, with the question “has the student learned more then to fill in the circle? ” in the end. The standardized tests rely on memory; fill in the bubble multiple-choice answers that is suppose to measure the student’s achievement. Apparently, these tests will help to identify a student’s weakness or strengths, but the problem with it is that it doesn’t measure other important qualities a student has.

Other qualities include their writing techniques, or evaluation of real world situations. At best, standardized tests offer a snapshot of performance relative to other students, schools, or to a set body of factual knowledge. Test scores can be biased by a number of factors: test design, test conditions, student preparation, scoring accuracy of test content, student disabilities or special needs, student readiness on the day of the test. Test scores should not be sole basis for making decisions about placement in programs or changes in curriculum for any child.

Those decisions should be made on the basis of: observation in the classroom; evaluation of day-to- ay class work; homework assignments; meetings with parents; observation of student change and growth throughout the school year. To state what is at stake based on standardized testing can also be combined with what ways these tests can be biased against certain groups. Standardized tests can be biased against certain groups such as students from low-income and minority-group backgrounds which are more likely to be retained in grade, placed in a lower track, or put in special or remedial education programs when it is not necessary.

They are more likely to be iven a watered-down or “dummied-down” curriculum. This only ensures they will fall further and further behind their peers. On the other hand, children from white, middle and upper income backgrounds are more likely to be placed in “gifted and talented” or college preparatory programs where they are challenged to read, explore, investigate, think and progress rapidly. So clearly the future of a students academic career is at stake, which in turn reflects how the student will also succeed in life. Common practices of how standardized testing can be abused are rather atrocious.

Examples include retaining a child in grade or withholding a students high-school diploma solely on the basis their score on a test, or relying on test scores to determine whether a teacher or school should be funded or rewarded. Low performing students are being retained excessive number of years before pivotal testing to ensure the students are properly prepared to take the tests. Some low performing students are being suspended and even expelled before testing day, or reclassified as exempt from testing because they are determined to be either Special Education or

Limited English Proficient. These have been common practices among schools to prevent low scoring students from these tests. Other abuses are teachers in urban areas are being forced to “teaching to the test” by teaching students only those things they know will be tested. They are spending hours memorizing facts, drilling on test strategies and rehearsing test protocols. These students are being denied the opportunity to learn subject areas other than those tested.

This is leading to teachers and other personnel to compromise their ethics by cheating on standardized ests just to get the overall scores up. Many schools feel the need to do this because they fear having federal and state aid cut backs on money they already do not have to schools that do not show improvement. Through all the research I have done with this controversial issue it is hard to find anyone other the politicians who have mandated these tests that are in favor of them. Also after mandating such programs many after a sprint to the finish are left without funding or long-term goals.

It seems we are looking for a quick fix to our educational problems in America, and hat it isn’t easy to fix something that has had a half-century to fall apart and into decay. The funny part of that is that the people designing and mandating these tests do not realize or should I say do not have children in the low performing schools. The problem lies at the student’s inability to learn, because certain schools particularly poverty- stricken urban and rural areas don’t have resources they need. They just do not have enough money for the support and resources schools need in order for students to perform well.

Students attending affluent schools have a etter chance of scoring higher than those students who attend urban schools because they have more money, better teachers, and more resources. The people who mandate these tests seem to be in a cloud where they want all students to perform as well as the elitists without giving them the same advantages to all, only the same tests. It was also interesting to see that some of the views of other nations that have surpassed us on the education rankings and how they are amazed by our use of standardized testing and wonder why we use these tests.

School Of Assassins

Due to the incredible amounts of human rights violations committed by graduates of the School of the Americas as a direct effect of their training funded by U. S. tax dollars, the School of the Americas must be closed down. The school is a cold war dinosaur that needs to be brought to the attention of the American taxpaying public. The people of our nation need to be aware that every time they get a paycheck, they are contributing to the oppression and killing of the indigenous peoples of Latin America by their own leaders. The School of Americas was formed in 1946 in Panama.

It was originally formed so that the United States ould have ties in Central America to keep Castro under control in Cuba. In 1984, the school moved to Fort Benning, Georgia. The students at the school are taught counterinsurgency tactics such as combat skills, sniper fire, military intelligence, commando tactics, and psychological operations. Recent revelations have shown that the school also actively teaches torture tactics. In September of 1996, the Pentagon, under intense social pressure, released SOA training manuals that were previously unavailable to the public.

A group called the Latin America Working Group issued a translated copy of the manuals. The manuals ecommended interrogation techniques like torture, execution, blackmail, and arresting the relatives of parties involved. They suggested the use of truth serums on prisoners to get them to answer questions. The manuals recommend the infiltration of work unions, political parties, youth groups, religious groups, and all other organizations subversive to the national government (Fact Sheet).

The governments of these nations recognize anyone who promotes social change and betterment as a terrorist threat. One manual describes 60’s activist Tom Hayden, currently a California State Senator, as one of the masters of errorist planning. ‘ It is precisely this identification of activist for social change as terrorists that led death squads to kill thousands of religious leaders, students, union members and human rights activists” (Haugaard 15)

These manuals and recommendations hardly seem to be in line with the democratic seed that the U. S. government is supposedly trying to sow in Latin America. In the 70’s when Nixon spyed on and infiltrated an opposing political party, he came up under impeachment chrges.

This was a very serious ordeal, but the United States is promoting this behavior in other countries (Latin America Working Group). Our country that we believe is the noble protecter of the world is involved in some of the greatest massacres in the history of Latin America. The soldiers are trained to fight insurgents, but what insurgents are left in the poverty-stricken culture of Latin America? The only insurgents now are the religious leaders and the poor people who want to take a stand for what should be theirs. The rich and powerful in Latin American nations want to keep their wealth and status.

They don’t want to give the poor citizens of their nation anything. When the poor rise up to try and alter the position they’re in, the ilitary rulers are ready to squash their efforts by any means necessary. There have been many cases in the last twenty years of massacres and assassinations of religious leaders whose only threat was that of the empowerment of the poor. The military accused the leaders as heads of guerilla movements and executed them. A prime example of a religious leader who fought for the betterment of his people was Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador.

He spoke out against the violence against and oppression of the poor. He had and seen enough and was taking a stand. He made a plea over a radio station which broadcast throughout Latin America asking the governments to stop the killing and oppression. The very next day, while performing mass, he was assassinated by a graduate of the SOA (“School of Assassins. ” 2) Another example of martyrs slain by graduates of the SOA were three nuns and a layworker who were abducted, raped, and murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980. They were Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, Maura Clarke, and Jean Donovan.

They were in El Salvador to work with the poor. These were four women. They were not a threat to the government except that they were attempting to elevate the poor. Recently the four soldiers who ere imprisoned for the murders indicated that they were following orders from above. This means that the actual perpetrators were the upper echelon commanders that ordered the attack. It has come to the light that General Jose Guillermo Garcia and Colonel Carlos Eugenio Vides Cassanova, both graduates of the School of Americas, had organized an official cover up that made it seem as though the four soldiers had acted independently.

Both of these men today live in Florida and have not been charged with the murders (Rohter 1). Yet another example of the brutality of SOA graduates is the slaying of six Jesuit leaders and their ook and her daughter on November 16, 1989. The Jesuits and the two other victims were on the campus of the University of Central America when 26 Salvadoran soldiers came onto the complex and murdered them execution style. The soldiers bashed out their brains and spread them next to the corpses as a final act of indignity.

These men were there to educate the poor and the women were there simply to seek refuge from the fighting in the city they had fled. Of the 26 soldiers implicated in the massacre, 19 were trained with U. S. tax dollars at the School of Americas (Rochford 10) Proponents of the school say that it is a iable way of stopping the drug trafficking problem. They believe that by training these soldiers, we are promoting democracy. However, as we will see later, one of the most infamous graduates of the SOA was one of the largest drug traffickers caught to date.

Giving one group of people so much power over another group naturally leads to class separation which leads to struggle which leads to oppression. That is the main problem in Latin America. The distribution of wealth and resources is so limited to the upper ten percent. Some of the more infamous graduates of the School of Americas include General Hernan Jose Rodriguez who protected and aided the Colombian paramilitary death squad responsible for 129 civilian deaths. He also commanded the soldiers who detained, tortured, gang raped, and executed human rights activist Yolanda Acevedo Carvejal (“School of Assassins. 1)

General Hector Gramajo who used genocide policies resulting in the murder torture and disappearance of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people in Guatemala was also found guilty of the rape and torture of Sister Diana Ortiz, another human rights activist, in U. S. civil court just six weeks prior to being the keynote speaker at the SOA raduation. (“School of Assassins. ” 1) Perhaps the most well known of the SOA graduates is Manuel Noriega, who is now serving a 40 year sentence in U. S. prison for drug trafficking. (“School of Assassins. 1)

While these are just the more infamous, in a 1993 international human rights tribunal investigation of Colombia, of the 246 officers cited for war crimes and other human rights atrocities, 100 were graduates of the SOA (“United Nations Truth Commission Report” 22) This is a subject that is very important to me and should be to every American who stands against violence and torture. We, the American Public whether knowingly or unknowingly, directly contribute to this treatment every time we pay federal taxes. The School of Americas draws 20 million dollars of our taxes every year.

Every time you get a paycheck, it goes to the killing or disappearance of an innocent person just struggling to survive. Our taxes need to be spent on more worthwhile enterprises. Some schools in our nation desperately need assistance and funding to improve facilities and pay educators a living wage. And yet we continue to spend 18. 4 million a year on the rape and murder of women and children (Fischer 185) By sitting idly by and llowing this to happen we are just as guilty as the actual perpetrators of these heinous actions.

The people of our nation need to wake up and try to look past their own noses for a few minutes and realize that this must stop. The School of the Americas will continue to exist funded by our dollars until we tell the government otherwise. This is a subject that if more people were aware of, would without a doubt be very easy to conclude. Most Americans, since our nation is supposedly built on freedom and justice, would find this an intolerable situation. Most people would not want to fund killing and rape. Awareness of this institution must be raised.

Americans need to write letters or call their congressman and tell them that these practices and the spending of our taxes on them must be brought to an immediate halt. You, yes you, can write to your congressman at U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515 or your senator at U. S. Senate, Washington, DC, 20510. We cannot call ourselves a free nation if we condone and promote acts that violate human rights. We are all just as guilty by association as the actual murderers, rapists, and torturers if we continue to allow this to go on in our own back yard.

Year Round School: An Annual Mistake

Throughout time education has been considered a process that every so often must be improved. The education quality in the U. S. has declined over the years and people have been looking for a way to make improvements. A more recent proposal has been to go from a traditional nine month schedule to an all year program. Supporters of year round school claim it gives the student a better education. However, the prospect of year round school is not beneficial to the taxpayers pocket, to the education a student receives, or to the people involved with the district.

All year school ends up costing the school district and surrounding community more money than a traditional nine month schedule. “More funds would be needed to cover the costs of paying the teachers and staff for one full year instead of for 180 days work. ” ( Sevetson 2). “Teachers currently make an average of $37, 000 in the United States. However, the costs would increase to $53, 000 to keep the teachers for a full year. ” (Somerby 8). Currently, a district uses a lot of its budget on paying teachers. Once the increased costs are put in place, the budget depletes rapidly.

Yet teachers must be paid, as they are the cornerstone of education. Also, it takes additional funds to run the school all year, due to things such as air conditioning in the summer (White 28). Many schools due not currently need AC systems to be used. However, AC is a costly amenity and if schools are held open three additional months, AC becomes a heavy factor. Not to mention, the level of supplies and paper that is consumed would be more than 33% larger (Sardo- Brown 26). Costs per school for items, such as paper, increase due to constant use. (White 29). Students would e deprived of such simple items such as worksheets or class handouts.

Outside costs, such as transportation and equipment for activities would go up for constant maintenance (Sardo Brown 27). Buses that travel every school day use the districts money for gasoline and repairs. The money needed to cover the maintenance These costs can be very hard for a district to swallow, because they must be covered by someone. Taxes would have to shoot up to solve the dilemma. Overall, the costs add up and equal a loss for students environment. Due to the structuring, students and teachers would not be given time to ecuperate from the prior year and to prepare for the future.

Many students use the summer for a vacation with their parents. However, with a school in the summer it would be much harder for a family to find a convenient time. Research shows that students would be more likely to burnout from school as they are not given an extended break in the summer (White 29). Teachers are also not given enough time to prepare for their next incoming class (Sevetson 3). An unprepared teacher can only mean much more time wasted. The summer has also been a time when students can change their lifestyles. “Many students and eachers rely on the summer for a chance to mature and grow a little older.

With year round school, many lose that chance to change an attitude problem or become wiser. ” (Sardo- Brown and Rooney 25). It is important that students continue to mature throughout high school. Year- round school does not guarantee that this will occur. Time spent with friends would also decrease as many students run on different schedules. Friendship is one of the most important things in the development of today’s child (Sardo-Brown 27). However, year round school separates most students into about two or three different chedules (Somerby 8).

Students are not given any preference as to which one they follow and it is simply a luck of the draw. The biggest problem would be the adaptation to a schedule by the students and teachers. For students already in junior high or high school, year round school would be a hard schedule to follow (Sevetson 2). After years of following one method, they would be told to suddenly switch tracks completely. Students would then lose a chance for improved education. Similarly, teachers would not have the time needed to take additional classes to improve their teaching methods (Somerby 9).

How can a district expect education to improve if teachers can’t improve their own personal education ? ” (Somerby 9). Students moving out of the district would be in conflict with a district that had a nine month schedule. “For a military family or any family that is at risk, a year round schedule can only mean a nightmare. ” (White 27). Also, special events such as graduation or the beginning of the school year would all be lost in the shuffle from year to year (Sardo- Brown 27). This means that after years of hard work in school, graduating seniors would all but not matter.

A revision does indeed need to occur in the U. S. education system. The facts all do point to other countries flying by the U. S. However, year round school is not what students need. It has too many downfalls and not enough benefits. Costs and scheduling are too huge of problems to be ignored. The nine month schedule must remain the basis for education in America. The changes that need to occur do not involve the schedule. They concern the actual education taught in classes. A change to the traditional calendar only sinks education lower off the charts.