3 months ago

April 2018

12 opinions

12 opinions April 13, 2018 W We are the land of opportunity, yet a nation of inequity. Despite our hubris and pomposity, the United State’s educational system is mediocre at best. At the root of our problem lies inequality between schools across counties and states. We do not possess one education system but rather a coalition of disproportionate options. Currently, according to our most recent Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Assessment (TIMSS) scores, we are falling behind countries such as Finland, especially in math. In countries that score above average, students spend far more time in the classroom, in fact, when compared to the American school calendar. Students in South Korea spend an additional month’s worth of time learning. These countries are places where teaching is revered and valued at the same degree as doctors and lawyers, both in pay and reputation. Yet, one of the main differences between the U.S. and these countries is that equal resources are provided to all students. Although students may be divided up into specialized schools and programs later on, every students starts off their educational journey with the same exact opportunities as another student hundreds of miles away. Here, the discrepancy between schools is vast. We operate under a mixed system of public and private schools, voucher and charter--each with their own respective degenerative flaws. Rather than providing one uniform education to all adolescents, regardless of location, the opportunities given to students are very much dependent on geography and the socioeconomic status of parents. Public schools receive a large bulk of their funding through local property taxes. Consequently, schools located in affluent areas, such as New Trier or Stevenson, typically provide a higher quality of education due to the increased spending per student in attendance. According to multiple studies from the Brookings Institute, increased spending per student has a direct correlation between the quality of education a student receives, including smaller class sizes and more programs. Subsequently, these affluent schools have a BY CATHERINE BUCHANIEC editor-in-chief REFORMING OUR ROOTS larger percentage of students attending college and better test scores. Although Common C ore -- a set of curriculum standards followed by the majority of U.S. schools -- has been implemented across a multitude of states within recent years, the quality of education a student at a CPS school receives in comparison to a student at Glenbrook South could not be more different due to factors such as class size and number of programs, both of which are fundamental in student learning and development. If we are not providing equal opportunities--chances to learn and develop--how can we expect all our students to improve? If we wish to boost our economy and our stance within the world at large, America’s citizens need to be educated in a fair manner. Education is the path to success and without equal funding independent of property taxes, our system will remain stagnant, trailing behind our global competitors. Nonetheless, public education in America appears to b 27% OF STUDENTS BELIEVE AN INCREASED NUMBER OF CHARTER SCHOOLS WOULD HELP THE EDUCA- TION SYSTEM* e an afterthought. During elections and political discourse, hot button topics such as immigration, abortion and military spending take center stage, while education only makes the headlines when grizzly bears or shootings are mentioned. Yet education is not just necessitated by our society, it is the fabricator of our future as an American people. Pu blic schools account for the majority of Americans’ educations. The cynical viewpoint that public education is lost is the current viewpoint of our own Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who believes that the utilization of school choice and privatization is the means of improving education. Instead of fixing the problems vexing our most public education system, she wishes to take money from those public schools and use it for charter and voucher schools. Charter schools--institutions that receive government funding but operate independently of the established state school system in which it is located--have the benefit of choosing which students will attend. Consequently, students are likely to arrive at their classrooms with more raw ability, knowledge, and drive, as well as more supportive families. Although many consider charter school a solution -- an alternative 65% OF STUDENTS STATED THAT THEIR IDEAL CLASS SIZE IS UNDER 20 STU- DENTS* SO OFTEN MEDIOCRE, OUR EDUCATION to a failing inner-city education -- they are not a resolution, instead, a bandaid. Most operate on a lottery system, only accommodating a small number of students. What happens to those who don’t win the golden ticket? These charter and voucher schools also introduce segregation into our education system: the majority of students attending these schools are minorities. However, the main issue I take with charter schools is that they drain resources from public school systems. By giving some students a chance rather than all students, we are failing to meet our goal of improving education. If we wish to keep up with countries such as Finland and South Korea, we need to fund public schools wholeheartedly in order to provide an equitable education to all students. Education paves our futures and without equitable funding, we are not providing the opportunities we have promised our students. SYSTEM NEEDS WORK CATY BUCHANIEC

W April 13, 2018 opinions 13 IF I RULED THE WORLD Whether it be through an ice breaker activity or through a questionnaire, everyone has had to answer the question “what is one change you would make in the world?” If I ever achieved world dominance, as perfect as this place already is, there are just a few tweaks I would make. To start, I would make it illegal to be poor. The problem of poverty would then just disappear if we were to just make it illegal to sleep on park benches or ask for handouts. If poverty is illegal, everything associated with it like hunger, unemployment, and crime rates, will vanish too! Luckily, that’s the mindset of many politicians already so I might not even have to worry about how to get around to helping the less fortunate. I mean who really wants to go out and get the record STRAIGHT BY VINCENT PARCELLI columnist make a difference i n the lives of others by helping out at a shelter, or offering programs to help the unemployed and homeless find steady jobs, or even just donate money? Although some may see this as being a loophole and argue that I’m only “acting for myself” instead WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD DO IF YOU RULED THE WORLD? of for the “better of the people,” I see it as using my resources wisely. By making poverty a crime, I can use all of that money I’m saving cutting programs and give all my actual buddies a tax break. Oh wait! That already happened...I guess that’s one problem already taken off my plate. Another thing I would do would be to end global warming. However, when I say end global warming, I don’t mean by teaming up world nations to reduce pollution, I believe that if we ignore the problem for long enough and invalidate all data that proves the rapid increase in global temperatures by labeling it as “fake,” I can gain enough public support where it will no longer be a problem. “‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ I wouldn’t want to rule the world for it would overwhelm me.” -anonymous student survey response* THE PROS OF VIDEO GAMES Video games, one of the favorite hobbies of children, teens, and even some adults, aren’t just fun to play: numerous studies suggest video games are actually very beneficial to a person’s mental and emotional state. Life can be stressful, especially for high schoolers. In fact, sometimes, the thing that most teens want to do is rest and relax. What better way than to do it than at home, online and playing some video games with friends? According to the tech website Make Use Of, research suggests that there is a correlation between the number of hours spent playing video games and the overall recovery from any work-related stress. On top of that, video games can help to deal with the stress caused by upcoming tests and quizzes. Now obviously, students should dedicate time for studying for the test, but studies prove that the best way to maintain stress when studying is to take momentary breaks. Playing video games helps to take the mind off of the stress caused by studying and helps bring mental ease to the students. In addition to the stress-combating benefits of video games, playing also helps to promote a competitive mind-set. The overall objective of most games is to win and so by playing a game, a person develops his or her competitive drive. It is important for people to be motivated in life and video games help to promote this competitive motivation someone might not otherwise get every day. Being competitive helps to give a person a goal to aim for and that goal leads to a drive and a mind-set that someone may not normally have. This is important because it helps to promote self growth and allows the person to set goals, work towards them, and achieve the goals. On the other hand, another very important benefit of video games is its ability to develop some of the greatest friendships a person will know. Video games allow gamers to find people who share similar interests as themselves and connect them which, in the real world, may be difficult to do. *from a Westerner survey of 210 students 24% OF STUDENTS PLAY 4 OR MORE HOURS OF VIDEO GAMES PER WEEK* SEE YA, GLOBAL WARMING! BYE, BYE, POVERTY! After all, how can global I find my heart and soul bursting with joy when I peer into my backpack to find hours worth of work peeking back at me. My favorite way to spend my evenings is plopping myself down to work and then staying there...for hours, and hours, slowly dissecting this pile of work away from all human life. This disconnect from peers and humans helps me relish the knowledge I am gaining. The feeling of facing the towering wall of work pushes me to summon all strength to do face the homework foe, calmly and stress free. It makes me think two assignments ahead! Complete three evenings worth of work in one night! I watch hour-long videos accompanied with notes to ensure my unwavering attention to this tutorial masterpiece. Why worry about the three other assignment waiting to get done, sitting in the abyss that is my backpack? I will not surrender. I will ferociously write a poem about the most meaningful moment in my life in a little under an hour. But, hey, remember that it’s not waming possibly exist if we’re getting snow during Spring Break and the East coast just had a blizzard? Likewise, world hunger cannot possibly exist if I just ate dinner. If I’m not hungry, obviously no one else is. All in all, if I ruled the world, I believe BY SARAH LANE that my hands-off columnist leadership style would result in all of our major problems vanishing. Everyone’s life motto will become “out of sight out of mind” because that’s the only way any problems are being solved today. the endless abyss homework, it’s just “practice.” After finishing up with a real practice for a sport, it’s great to unwind and settle in to four hours worth of work, both the assigned and suggested, keeping you up until 12 in the morning. That is what I call I a school night. Some teachers feel like students’ lives outside of school should revolve entirely around their class. Are they living in a fantasy land? Most students here at Maine West are involved in clubs and sports, and many, many have jobs. With sports practices, club meetings, school events, family arrangements, and possibly 5-15 hours of time at a job each week, students have their time full. While homework for your classes can be a great way to reinforce skills and retain information, an overload of it can be harmful and set students up to struggle. Teachers need to understand that overloading students with work leads to stress and cutting corners. Count the number of classes students take and multiply your hour’s worth of homework you’re assigning by the other classes as well. It adds up. BY KEVIN SCHILL columnist LESS SLEEP, MORE WORK

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