Sunday, October 25, 2015

" This American Life" Hyperlinks

     According to the Smithsonian's website on Brown v. Board of Education, the court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled in favor of "Separate but Equal," was unethical and unreasonable. So, segregation in schools was supposed to stop. That was sixty years ago. Sixty years ago, segregation was ruled illegal and for a short time, schools worked to understand it. There were obstacles from those who didn't believe in integration and segregation still occurred, but many believed the problem was fixed eventually. However, reports claim that today's schools are more segregated than ever before. Schools separate into classes based on the districts and the families that live in those districts. So, schools suffer and education of students is lost to segregation that people believe does not exist anymore.
      The podcast, "This American Life," in the episodes titles "The Problem We All Live With" Part 1 and Part 2, discusses the segregation of the American school system sixty years after segregation was made illegal in the court case Brown v. Board of Education. After sixty years, we made progress as a nation, and then declined once again. Segregation is supposed to be illegal and yet, the stories from "This American Life" tell a different story. Students in poorer school districts go to school together, but when the poorer districts are filled with minorities and even the lowest income white families are living in middle class districts, segregation occurs. Integration efforts have fallen within the last twenty years because the difference in the class systems. Even though integrated schools have been proven to be a better learning environment, there are still many districts that believe that integration is the problem. Like in the podcast where parents were upset that students from the Normandy school system would be attending school with their children, even though in the end, there was no difference in tests scores nor any of the gun and knife violence the parents had complained there would be. Families even threatened to move to new districts as a result of the integration of their school. This is an issue that occurred after the Brown v. Board of Education decision and beyond, causing families of higher classes to move into new areas when lower class families moved in. This caused lower class students to have lower standards of education while higher class families had better opportunities for education. I found this video on a news report on the subject, backing up the claims made within the podcast. 

      The studies reported by the UCLA Civil Rights Project actually report that segregation is worse today than it was sixty years ago. Once again, families are moving away from integrated schools. Hispanic students have become the larger minority but still face the same segregation policies found with black students in the Civil Rights Era. The fact that there are a lot more Hispanic students in impoverished schools now actually supports the statistics I found out about the school I do my Service Learning Project in where most of the students are Hispanic and take up most of the population of the school. I also found this really interesting political cartoon on the subject.

      So, this is playing on the fact that there used to be "Black Only" and "White Only" water fountains within schools and workplaces. Instead of "Black" and "White," the political cartoon says "Affluent Only" and "Poor Only." This image shows that segregation is still prominent within schools even if those in power claim it is not a "race issue" as many parents claimed within the podcast's actual recording of the town meeting on the integration of schools. Yet, when higher level schools are only certain classes and races into their halls, isn't that the same as schools that only allowed whites into their halls sixty years ago? Within this article found in the New York Times titled "Separate and Unequal," there are facts that say that poorer students going to schools in middle class districts actually do better in school. I found an article on the Huffington Post that actually discusses what role integration plays in this idea of students doing better in better schools. One reporter says it's not just the effect of a black child sitting next to a white child that raises academics because that's not it at all. The fact of the matter is that schools with better accreditation get more money and more resources. So if students in lower income environments actually have the opportunity for more resources like computers and better textbooks within better schools, academic success is entirely possible. Schools in impoverished areas also typically have newer, less-experienced, and less-qualified teachers. They're not receiving the opportunities to work on their education because of where they live. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

In Service of What? Extended Comments

Extended Comments on Mary Abby's Blog

This week I decided to do an extended comments piece on Mary Abby's blog post "Kahne and Westheimer: Reflection" because I felt like I could really relate to it. The quote she pulled out of the Kahne and Westheimer was a great way to explain what we're doing each time we all go off and work with our sturdents:
…such service learning activities seek to promote students' self-esteem, to develop higher-order thinking skills, to make use of multiple abilities, and to provide authentic learning experiences.
The fact that we get to go into schools and document experiences with teaching children is really awesome. Before we can even student teach, we're given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a bit of the day to day environment of the school. We're able to work with students who are underprivileged and open our minds to a wider array of teaching experiences.

Students in the article came back with whole new opinions on the areas where they worked in and became better people as a result of it. I think that's a big part of what we're doing with Service Learning. We're broadening our minds and opening them to new areas which is super important as educators. We need to be able to work with students and understand the areas where they grow up in versus the world we grew up in. Without growing as educators in that respect, how can we really relate to our students? 

Mary Abby also linked to an episode of the television show, "World's Strictest Parents." I remember watching this show all the time when I'd stay home from school or school was cancelled for a snow day. I watched the scene of Andrew working in the homeless shelter and agree with Mary Abby. It does kind of go hand in hand with what we're doing as volunteers. We're working with students with a different way of life and we're developing into better people. Everyday, we're going into our schools and finding ways to help students. 

I really felt like I could connect to Mary Abby's thoughts on her post and that's why I felt the need to expand off of her ideas. It's really cool to understand how important our service learning projects are not only to the kids we're helping, but also for us!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Learning the Myths That Bind Us Reflection

Recently, I have been taken the time to analyze many different forms of media within my Gender and Society class and it has really taught me a lot about the lack of diversity or positivity found in the day-to-day. But, this learning didn't just start at the college level, I had the amazing experience of having teachers in high school that tried their best to get me to start analyzing the media. This article reminded me all about those days in high school and the beginning of college. Christensen discusses her student, Justine, that journals about ignorance being bliss. And, I have to say, when I first started looking into these analysis, I was Justine. Looking into ads and different forms of media upset me and made me feel like I was looking way too into everything. It felt like I was looking for excuses to be angry or over analyzing. But, I realized that I'm not looking to be angry or anything like that, it's that it's time for society to start taking responsibility for the media they portray to young children. Cartoons, especially older ones, are filled with violence, sexism, and racism. And I also believe that understanding that these problems exist and to put them out in the open is important for so many people. Finding out the world is not perfect is hard and very difficult to understand. But, I think that through Christensen's methods of charting out the "-ism's" within cartoons helps students understand the problems within the cartoons. It creates the chart system that the American school system is used to and turns a lesson into not only critical thinking but also social justice themes. Unfortunately, even new cartoons are subject to racism and sexism. This article from the Huffington Post shows just a few of the examples of the "-ism's" within the old and new cartoons. I also found this video on YouTube with many different examples of the blatant racism, sexism, and aggression portrayed in cartoons. 

These cartoons are shows that I grew up loving and remained ignorant to for so many years. But, again, it's important to learn from what society has shown you. Without learning, there's no chance for change outside of the classroom. Learning about these kinds of things does not stop at the classroom door. It goes so much farther, just like every other lesson we learn in the classroom. And without learning these ideas, we can't grow as a society and work towards changing the future.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Safe Spaces: Inside the Classroom Walls Quotes

"Most teachers are reinforcers. They teach their students the status quo; they shrink from challenging dominant social patterns and expectations, especially in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity. Even teachers who describe themselves as social justice advocates fail to challenge homophobic or transphobic language and images in many early childhood settings."
The idea that teachers are afraid of challenging dominant social patterns and expectations doesn't really surprise me, to be honest. I can't remember that many teachers that weren't taking the time to include LGBTQ students in their stories and examples. Plus, they have a lot of people watching over their shoulders that may not agree with them, like parents, other teachers, administrators, and members of the community. The last sentence of the quote really brings me back to Delpit. Those in power don't see their power and don't recognize a lot of the hurtful language in classrooms.
"The erasure of LGBT people is sometimes ensconced in textbooks or standardized tests; at other times, the erasure is a result of a teacher's assumptions about heterosexuality and gender conformity."
I can't remember a lot o times where I had heard about families with two moms or two dads in my schooling. Sure, there were divorced families and adopted families but those were still seen as normal. But, nothing about homosexuality and families with two moms or two dads. Again, going to this idea of power and privilege, straightness is a norm of society. So, schools use it as a base of their teachings because its easier for them to teach the norms because they believe it will be easier for students to understand and integrate themselves into that society.
"Erasure might be preferred, however, to the anti-LGBT teaching that some states mandate in their health curriculum."
I really didn't know that  there was anything called anti-LGBT laws in states in the year 2015. By denying LGBT students education about their health is basically denying a whole population of health concerns. These laws deny students from learning about gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender issues which is unsafe for students that identify as any of these sexual orientations. This creates an issue for their future! As teachers, its important to create safe enviornment and when these laws are created, that safe environment is eradicated. I found a website discussing the basics of these laws and this website uses the hasthag "#DontEraseUs" which is a clever hashtag to enhance that these are essentially erasing every other sexual orientation other than heterosexual.