Post #7

March 8, 2010

Homosexuality is a difficult issue to discuss.  Everyone has their own perspective on the issue, but most prefer to never have to say these opinions.  Some people consider this a religious issue, while others argue it is a biological issue (meaning you are just born that way or something).  Regardless, it is not a teachers place to discuss gay marriage in the classroom.

Gay marriage discussions would not create good class discussion, because most people have an unswayable  opinion that they believe is correct just because.  Furthermore, I think peoples’ strong opinions would only further alienate gay and lesbian students.  In addition, these controversial discussions would likely lead to numerous complaining parents.

Not teaching gay marriage does not mean teachers should not teach gay students.  Teachers should never discriminate against a student based off of race, sexual orientation, etc.  Furthermore, teachers must protect all of their students from bullying and discrimination.  Therefore, teachers should do their best to stop students from picking on their gay peers.

Personally, I am for gay marriage and rights.  Furthermore, I would never discriminate against someone, because of their sexual orientation.  Nevertheless, I am homophobic and I tend to avoid gay people.  In addition, I find even guys kissing to be gross.  When I am with my guy friends the two main things we discuss are girls and sports.  I do not want to hear a gay person’s stories about girls and I definitely do not want to play sports with gay people.  However, I feel comfortable with lesbians.  One of my high school soccer coaches was a lesbian.  Even though she predominantly worked with the goalies (a position I never played) she was my favorite member of the soccer coaching staff.  During bus rides to and from road games she would always talk about non-soccer stuff with my teammates and I.  She seemed like “one of the guys”.  In addition, she hosted the annual seniors’ soccer dinner (in her house that she shared with here lesbian partner).  Furthermore, she was the only member of the coaching staff that helped us steal a rival team’s mascot.

It is weird that I feel so uncomfortable around gay people, despite my comfortably with lesbians and my attitude towards gay rights.  I have no good explanation for my opinions.  However, since everyone views this issue so differently it is important how teachers address this issue.

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Post #6

February 26, 2010

Yesterday in class we discussed the influence teachers’ expectations have on the students’ learning.  From my experience as I student, I agree that the teachers have a lot to do with the students’ confidence and learning.  Too often teachers have set expectations for their students.  For example, teachers should never give up on their students, but too often teachers just loose hope; and do not sufficiently help the students who need help the most.  Teachers should be flexible and do their best to adjust to the needs of all their individual students.

Through my grammar school experience teachers were too certain I understood the material, but just struggled with tests.  For instance, I struggled with the addition and subtraction of negative numbers.  But for some reason my teacher was convinced that I understood these concepts, but I was dyslexic or had some other learning disabilities.   I feel like teachers say way too many students have learning disabilities as excuse for low test scores, instead of helping all students and ignoring prejudgments.

Post #5

February 24, 2010

Gutman described the importance of everyone having the freedom to make their own educational decisions.  I feel that in today’s America everyone eventually gets to choose their own career path.  Most people freely choose their academic focus and future job.  I’m not saying everyone gets to be a professional basketball player,  but people are definitely not forced into career paths in this country anymore.  In fact, even if you are pressured into the wrong occupation you can easily change jobs.  I think the average American has like 7 differnet full-time jobs throughout their life.  It sucks that people are unhappy and constantly change jobs.  However, this shows that people have the freedom to change to career they want to do.

Gutman also discussed the role individual citizens should have on local schools.  i think this is a still a problem in today’s world.  We live in a democratic nation, so us citizens should be able to democratically effect educational curriculum and policies, especially on a local level.  Gutman says, “the more effective the control that citizens have over school policies, moreover, the more likely they are to support them”.  Furthermore, I think localized school autonomy leads to a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for the students.  Therefore, I believe cities (and eventually all communities) should have localized school autonomy, such as the Boston Charter School System.

Power is everywhere. Where is democracy?

February 5, 2010

So we read this week that there are power forces everywhere, especially in education.  Students have power over other students.  Teachers have power over their students.  Principals have power over teachers; and it just keeps on going.  But why are we focusing on power forces.  We should be focusing on democratizing the classroom.  The more I study education the more I think democratic aspects need to be inplememented into education.  For example, teacher should democratize their classrooms, instead of lecturing all the time.  This seems simple and obvious, but is just the begginning of where democracy is required in the classroom.

Who chooses what is important to learn?  Curriculum planning should be more democratic.  You shouldn’t teach something, because someone decided it will be on a standardized test.

Selling Education

January 29, 2010

In class we talked about after Ronald Regan the increase in support for voucher programs.  At first I immediately opposed the idea of vouchers, because I feared it would simply give rich kids an unneeded discount.  However, it seems sort of like financial aid for college except for earlier grades.

Now, I still do not support vouchers, instead i think college should become cheaper, so there is less of a need for financial aid.  Even community college prices are now very high.  I do not understand how college tuition continues to rise so much.  Personally, I would expect technological advances to make college cheaper.  How can online classes be so expensive?

Two weeks ago there was an international petition against rising college prices.  The Globally United for Free and Emancipatory Education 2010 hosted this protest at Humbolt University in Berlin.  More than 500 universities across the globe  had some formal protest activities sponsored by the GUFEE (http://www.emancipating-education-for-all.org/content/international-education-strike#comments).

Basically, my distaste towards voucher reminded me how much I hate high college tuition fees.  The GUFEE have created a facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=163329887062), which is an international protest against the raising fees of a college education, which seems to be necessary in today’s world.

Globally United for Free and Emancipatory Education 2010

“Countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, and I refuse to let that happen on my watch.”

January 22, 2010

President Obama asked Congress to raise the educational budget by $1.35 billion.  He said, “Countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow, and I refuse to let that happen on my watch”  (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705359506/Obama-to-seek-135-billion-more-for-education.html).  Obama is setting up grant programs that provide increased funding to well performing schools districts.  he is judging schools based off of standardized test scores and encouraging more charter schools.

Personally, I almost never disagree with raises to educational funding.  In addition, as my previous posts show I think cities should become more reliant on charter schools.  Nevertheless, I still disagree with the way Obama is judging students’ progress, because he is evaluating teachers purely based on the students’ scores in standardized tests.  Since, it is difficult to judge so many schools he has become over reliant on test scores.  I would recommend generating other formulas for evaluating schools for this grant.  For example, maybe make an equation about college readiness.  This could incorporate the % of students who go to college and then their GPA their first year at college.

Anyways, I just found it interesting that we were talking about the educational budget increases of the late 1950s, so Americans could out do the Soviets.  Now, Americans are losing numerous jobs to other countries.  What better way to combat these job losses than more educational budget increases.  However, this time the raised budget will apply to all fields, instead of one specifically designed to help destroy commies.

Patrick to sign education bill on Monday

January 16, 2010

Deval Patrick the governor of Massachusetts will sign a bill this Monday, on Martin Luther King Day that will give funding to charter schools in Boston.  The raised budgets will double the amount of students attending charter schools.

Charter schools are sort of like free private schools.  They vary in style across the nation.  In Boston there is an overload of students for the school system.  In fact, only a small percentage of Boston residents attend regular public schools in Boston.  A substantial amount of Boston residents are bussed to suburban schools in the metropolitan area.  However, these schools are often over an hour away from Boston.  In addition, these schools often have a 95% white majority of local residents with a small minority of “metro kids”.  In Boston, charter schools are the third option (more commonly known locally as pilot schools).  These are specialized free public schools with admissions processes.

Manny Delcarmen alumni of West Roxbury High School

There are many different types of charter schools in Boston (http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/node/20).  For example, Gardener Pilot Academy is an elementary school designed for students, whoms’ first language is Spanish.   While Boston Arts Academy is a high school, where students learn their core subjects in the mornings and visual/performing arts in the afternoons.  These schools are very different types of charter schools, but similar to most pilot schools (especially in Boston) they both have long waiting lists.

In Boston most of the charter school students come from low class income families.  In fact, the city’s charter school system was initially created in order to “close a persistent achievement gap among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds” (http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/01/16/patrick_to_sign_education_bill_on_monday/).