Friday, March 21, 2014

Brown v Board of Education: Connections

"The current obsession with firing teachers, attacking unions and creating ever more charter schools has done very little to improve the academic outcomes of poor black and Latino students. Nothing has brought about gains on the scale that is needed."
   I always thought charter schools were a better alternative to public schooling in lower income neighborhoods. However, after doing some research it was clear why many education reformists can't stand them.  "The original purpose of charter schools were to recruit the weakest students, the dropouts, and identify techniques and methods to help public schools to do a better job with those who lost interest." This would work to end the cycle of educators not knowing how to help their students and to show them how they can improve and to make every student in their classroom successful. However, charter schools took a turn for the worst. They became private organizations and an opportunity for wealthy individuals to start an entrepreneurship. Not only would they use it as a way to make money, they would segregate against the students they would enroll. Since charter schools use state and public funding, their standardized test scores had to be high in order to receive the highest amount of funding. They would enroll only small numbers of English language learners and students with disabilities so their test scores can be the highest possible. In a way, charter schools are public when it comes to public funding, but they call themselves a private corporation.

"If you really want to improve the education of poor children, you have to get them away from learning environments that are smothered by poverty."
   This reminds me a lot of the reading we had in the beginning of the semester by Johnathan Kozol. Kozol gave us an inside look into one of the most poverty stricken areas in the United States. He showed us how when the government puts people in the same close quarters that are all impacted by the same issues of race, poverty and misfortune, their is no room for anyone to succeed. This relates directly with education.   "There is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school." There is many factors to this point. Herbert discussees in the article how the best teachers tend to avoid applying for positions in these poverty stricken schools because it is a difficult environment and a tough task to make a change in a broken system. He also discusses the fact that the expectations are a lot lower in these types of schools and the lower levels of parental involvement.

   In the videos, Tim Wise discusses how "Old School" racism isn't as popular as it used to be. However, people of color, African Americans in particular, are being held at a certain standard to prove themselves to society. Time Wise calls this Racism 2.0 or "Enlightened Acceptionalism." "This allows folks to support Obama because they view him as being different than the black and brown norm and my fear there is that if the black and brown norm is considered any negative light the fact that we can carve out exceptions for certain people of color that make us comfortable is not going to get us anywhere to racial equity." Wise argues that we need a truly equal opportunity society which is just as important as a truly equal opportunity for education.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Reflection: In the Service of What? The Politics of Service Learning

   It was difficult for me to grasp the main point of this article, however, I took a few main ideas away from the text. I like how Kahne and Westheimer talked about the difference between directly and indirectly using service learning. One student was indirectly helping the homeless by packing winter survival kits. The only negative portion of their service learning was that the kits included a bible. Instead of asking a homeless shelter or the people what they needed most or use mostly on a day to day basis, they assumed they needed certain things which can come off as offensive to the homeless community. The other students directly helped people in the community by running errands for doctors and helped patients find the location of their appointments in the hospital. Either way, all of the students meant to be doing some type of good for people that are less fortunate than themselves. Packing survival kits can help a few people, however, by packing those kits it's almost like supporting  or condoning the idea of homelessness. Dr. Bogad spoke with us at the beginning of the semester about how one person's actions can be interpreted in a completely negative way when the person thought they were doing something great to help another person. This is one of the purest examples behind that message.
   The students could have taken a much different approach, like the students of Ms. Adams class, by researching the issue of homelessness. By researching the issue of homelessness, the students will gain an understanding of the reasons why people become homeless. Another important aspect is to break the stereotypes people have about homeless people. Not every homeless person is lazy and not every homeless person is a drug addict who cannot fight their addiction. By having a great understanding of the topic, students can put preventative measures in place that can stop the issue of homelessness in the future. 
   Another aspect of service learning is the caring and personal relationships that are formed from this type of work. Without those relationships, it is hard to connect with a people on a personal level. I have experienced this ideology throughout my service learning experience. I have recently began to form a few caring relationships with a few of my students. And, yes, I like to think of them as my students. These children have brought nothing but joy to my experience and what makes me even happier is watching them learn about the art and subject that I live for: music. We connect through the passion we all share through music and how it brings joy to so many people. This is just one of the examples that prove the importance of having a positive and caring relationship with adults, teenagers and children while using them as a resource to learn from.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Unlearning the Myths That Blind Us: A Very Personal Argument

Last summer I enrolled in my First Year Writing course at RIC. The class was mainly focused on Pop Culture and one topic that particularly stood out to me was Advertising and America's Youth. I explored different ways the beauty and health industry targets teens and young adults into purchasing unecessary and rediculous products to alter their appearance. The power of propaganda and advertising is what made Health and Beauty a multi-billion dollar industry. Today, America's youth is engulfed in stereotypical patterns. Our society portrays different types of people through race, sex and physical appearance. Children's cartoons, movies and literature enter a child's life at a very young age.

Our fix is that Calvin Klein push-up bra, Guess Jeans, Chanel lipstick, and the latest in suede flats. We don't call it deception; we call it good taste. And soon it feels awkward going to the mailbox without makeup. 

I can relate to this quote extremely well. I call B.S. for many people who hashtag #nomakeup #nofilter on Instagram in their lovely daily selfies. "We all know the culprit: being force-fed a steady diet of fictional female bodies that are about as authentic as a newly discovered Vermeer painting." The only reason I argue against the whole "let's show ourselves without no makeup to make it seem like we love natural beauty" thing is because I am willing to admit that I feel extremely uncomfortable being out in public without makeup on. Because I have experience with this issue, this is one of the purest examples of how society has tampered not only with my self confidence but every women's self confidence in our world.

I can remember watching many Disney movies and playing with Barbie's as a little girl. I watched my two younger sisters grow up thinking that if you didn't look like Cinderella or the super model on every magazine cover then you weren't considered beautiful. Society is finally changing the way brands and companies reach out to children and teens through the media. Many retail brands are creating campaigns that show the real body types of women in their advertising. One is example is the #AerieReal campaign. American Eagle's spinoff lingerie brand, Aerie, is showcasing un-retouched photos of models featuring moles, stretch marks and tattoos, giving their appearance more of a "real"look. The models are still gorgeous and in my opinion are still pretty skinny to show a real women's body. However, props to them for creating a campaign that can help women become unblinded by the negative stereotypes forced upon them through our ever so judgmental society.

I still think music, movies and television are not doing anything for children and they still have that hidden message of racism and discrimination in their plots and story lines. Some children are able to see that the servants in cartoons are usually fat and poor and that not every fat and poor person is a servant, but some children are so blinded by the routine patters they see in movies and television that it becomes human nature to them. Whatever way we look at it, we have been blinded by these myths for so long that it is molded into our culture and society. Is there a turning point in the future where we could be withdrawn from these mindsets?