Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Promising Practices [Reflection]

During the Promising Practices conference, I attended the following sessions:

  • Transgender Wellness at All Ages
  • Youth Action for all Abilities

At the very beginning of the conference, during the Keynote Address, there were a few things that I learned and was able to connect to the texts we read in class. First, the Health equity Zone is working to make sure that facilities provide health care that is needed and addresses people's health appropriately. They want to insure that safe drinking water is available, and that the radon and lead concerns presented by people are taken care of. Additionally, The presenters spoke about making sure that people who are dependent on medication are taking them responsibly and are learning more about their health. This all reminded me of Kozol. These are the services that he would love to see for the people of Mott Haven. If the people in his piece were given these services, many deaths could have prevented and they could have lived a better quality of life.

The keynote speakers also pointed out that those who haven't obtained a high school degree have a shorter life expectancy; there is a seven year gap between them and those who do have a high school degree. There is also a higher obesity rate for women without a high school degree. Additionally, the obesity rate is higher among people with less than a $50,000 salary per year. A big contributor to this is the lack of opportunity for a good education, as well as health awareness and medical availability. This can be linked directly back to Kristof, who claims that inequality is institutional instead of individual. Obesity andthe lack of a high school degree could be caused by a myriad of things such as poor education (students may feel unsupported by staff, may get bullied because of race/ability etc, or poor home life could interfere with their ability to complete schooling).

During the Transgender Wellness at All Ages event, it was suggested that educators use books with LGBTQ characters (such as same-sex parents) to promote positivity to youth regarding the topic.

We were also told about Christine Jorgensen, who was the first woman in the United States to be widely known for having sex reassignment surgery.

The presenter also told us a story about a transgender student who had a class at Whipple Hall. She was using the women's bathroom and felt that she had to stand on the toilet when she heard someone walk in. She then was washing her hands, and a girl came in. After seeing the woman, the girl looked horrified and ran. This relates back to August because she would argue that these students need to have a place where they feel safe, and not like they need to hide in the bathroom stall when a person walks in.

The presenter also gave us somme statistics: transgender people are 20 times more likely to be homeless. On a similar note, the average age of transgender people without a hommme is thirteen.

During the Youth Action for All Abilities session, we learned that kids with disabilities are much more likely to be depressed, suicidal, overweight, anti social, and to have unprotected sex because of their disability. Often times they are also isolated and discriminated against, which adds to these issues. They are also rarely chosen to be employed, even if they have great qualifications; in 2013, there was a 39.8% employment rate for people with disabilities.

Here is an informative piece on the "Capital Crawl", when disability rights activists fought to make the capital building in Washington accessible to everyone, and to make it comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Pecha Kucha text

Is separation equal? Ever since the brown versus board of education court case, it has been decided that in America, Separation is no longer equality. But what about in situations when being separated means having a better chance at understanding content and concepts that are being taught in a classroom? During my service learning project, I had the pleasure of working with a middle schooler who is sassy, independent, and growing in her confidence every day. She is also totally blind, which sometimes presents her with challenges when it comes to lack of proper equipment, technology, accessible learning materials and people who think she is unable to do things on her own. During my service learning, I observed six different classroom environments and connected them with what we learned this semester.

Kristof believes that inequality is institutional, and not individualized. He argues that a person’s lack of success is not caused by lack of hard work or effort. Instead, success is greatly affected by a person’s resources and education. A student that isn’t given what they need to learn the concepts that are being taught to the rest of the class will not be as successful as his or her peers-it's as simple as that. My student in particular didn’t always have schoolwork available to her in braille or an electronic format. Instead, she was handed a piece of paper with print and told to have it completed. This is not equal. Her books have to be ordered specially at least six months in advanced so that she will have them in time for her classes. Why? In this case, inequality is instatutionalized. This is the norm for visually impaired students all over the country; books, technology, and schoolwork needs to be prepared specially for students. It’s not the norm for a school to have a system in place so that these acomodations can be made quickly and officiently. This also relates back to SQUAAMP, more specifically it shows how able-bodiedness is valued in our culture. Christensen would say that the student needs to speak up for what she deserves to have. Being separated fromm the class in terms of what she is able and not able to do because of lack of accessible materials is not equal. My student can be pretty quiet so christensen, who believes that it’s important to take action and speak up against oppression, would tell her to talk to her teachers and push for the ability to work at the same pace as everybody else. Another story of separation is one in which the student removes herself from the noisy, chaotic cafeteria and has her lunch in a classroom. She is able to socialize with any other students who also choose to have their lunch there, and by being separated from the lunch room where she can’t hear the person next to her let alone have a conversation, she feels safe with a teacher she trusts and can relax with. Even though she is separated from the main student body, she is still included and made to feel equal. August would approve of this because she believes that marginalized students should feel normalized, safe, and included within the school commmunity. This teacher in particular makes the extra effort to open her classroom to students so that they can talk comfortably and safely. By allowing my student a safe space to socialize, it is preventing her from feeling erased and invisible. I also see her being included and part of the community a lot when teachers and students alike openly greet her with warmth, and don't treat her differently despite her blindness. Students are quick to invite her to work in groups with them and are very friendly. I was also able to connect to delpit during my service learning because there was an instant when I had to explain to my student some of the rules and codes of power that the teacher was using. Because of her visual impairment, she misses cues such as when to raise her hand. The teacher was walking around and checking the student’s work, and rewarding them with candy if they had finished it. The catch was that the students had to raise their hand if they had completed the asignment, but this was never explicitly explained by the teacher; it was just something that the students knew to do. I can remember being in a similar situation, with the difference being that the teacher would say something like "raise your hand when you're done and I'll come around and check your work" But this isn't what happened, so in order for my student to be credited for her work, I had to explain to her that she needed to get the teacher’s attention.

There is one last incident that I can remember regarding race which Johnson would not have approved of. Johnson states that it is important to speak explicitly about race, gender, sexuality, and ultimately about privilege, power and differences in society. I also think this is important, because if we are not able to discuss these topics, people will never be comfortable with them and future generations will never learn and be able to think out of the box. In my seventh grader's History class when the children were debating whether a word being used was "racist" or not, the teacher told them to "stop using that word; I don't want to hear anymore of this 'racist' stuff." This shut down a potentially informative conversation and told children that they could not explicitly talk about race/racism.

Students should be able to question what they are being taught, instead of believing the values that the coriculum wants them to believe. Unfortunately, the coriculum is not always the same and different values are taught depending on a person's status in society. It's immportant for everyone to have the same access to education. Throughout the country and probably the world, those who are working class don't get the same quality of education as those who are wealthy. Shor presents us with the idea that upper class students get a higher quality education. they receive more funding, so their facilities are more welcoming to students and provide them with a better learning environment. Students who are working class and do not have as much money are not able to obtain this education, and so are separated. They do not get an equal opportunity to a quality education.

Throughout my service learning I learned a lot. I feel that I was able to take what we read in class and apply them to the real world, which helps me to remember them for my future. I also learned how important it is to fight for the education that you deserve to have.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Shor: Empowering Education (argument)

In this piece, Shor makes the argument that "education is politics" and that it is important for schools to set an environment where children are able to question what they know and grow intellectually as well as individuals. Shor also presents us with the idea that upper-class students are provided with a higher quality education than those who are lower-income and working class;

funding is another political dimension of education, because more money has always been invested in the education of upper-class children and elite collegians than has been spent on students from lower-income homes and in community colleges.

This article talks about the impact of bad facilities on students and their learning.

A number of studies have shown that many school systems, particularly those in urban and high-poverty areas, are plagued by decaying buildings that threaten the health, safety, and learning opportunities of students. Good facilities appear to be an important precondition for student learning, provided that other conditions are present that support a strong academic program in the school. A growing body of research has linked student achievement and behavior to the physical building conditions and overcrowding.

The physical state of a school building and the conditions described above are directly linked to the amount of funding a school gets.

The article also argues that it is

Schools need to be defended as an important public service that educates students to be critical citizens who can think, challenge, take risks, and believe that their actions will make a difference in the larger society.

This goes back to Christensen who fights for students' rights to stand up for what they believe in and analyze what they are being taught. Christensen wants schools to enable children to think out of the box and not to take the education they are being spoon fed sitting down; she wants them to be well-rounded citizens with a mind of their own, and to have the ability to stand up for their values and culture.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kliewer - Citizenship in School: Reconceptualizing Down Syndrome [Reflection]

While reading Kliewer's piece, a few thoughts came into my mind. It was kind of a hard piece for me to get through at first, but a few quotes caught my interest.

…society itself is hurt when schools act as cultural sorting machines-locations that "justify a competitive ethic that margmalizes certain students or groups of students ... [that]legitimize discrimination and devaluation on the basis of the dominant society's preferences in matters of ability, gender, ethnicity, and race ... and [that] endorse an elaborate process of sorting by perceived ability and behavior" (p. 183).

I have to agree with this. Schools today that "degrade" or do not value students who are of a different race, ability, gender, etc can really affect society and their success in the "real world", once they graduate from school. People with different abilities than others are sometimes placed in self-contained classes where they are separated from mainstreamed classes. This can cause them to fall behind their peers and they may not be able to gain the same set of skills as their mainstreamed peers.

Another quote that I connected to was:

It's not like they come here to be labeled, or to believe the label. We're all here-kids, teachers, parents, whoever-it's about all of us working together, playing together, being together, and that's what learning is. Don't tell me any of these kids are being set up to fail.

I found this to be a somewhat powerful quote. I love how this educator makes it a point to make sure that all her students are included and involved, and not secluded. Her goal is to make sure that all her children will go on to be as successful in the big world as possible.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Literacy With an Attitude: Argument

In ""Literacy With an Atitude", Patrick Finn argues that there are two different types of education. Domesticating Education provides students with skills to become literate and dependable; skills that will make them hard-working and functional contributors to society. Empowering education, on the other hand, gives students skills that will allow them to obtain positions of authority and power. Finn says that those who have access to more money or are well off (higher class) are the ones who can get an empowering education. Working class students are subjected to Domesticating education. Finn says that when poor children get access to an empowering education, they "get literacy with an attitude". Unlike upper class people, these people grow up with more challenges and therefore use their empowering education to fight for justice and equality.

There are many connections to Delpit throughout this piece. Delpit says that it is fvery important to express rules and codes of power clearly to maximize a student's potential. Finn shows us how critical it is to do this:

All of us-teachers and students-were locked into a system of rules and roles that none of us understood and that did not allow for much in the way of education.

It is very hard to learn and interact when you don't understand rules and codes of power. Throughout the rest of this piece Finn gives examples of how clearly stating rules and regulations improves the quality of a child's education and the way the classroom is run.

He did circle activities where each student was asked to share a personal fact or opinion and he insisted on the following ground rules. No put-downs. Listen. Don't interrupt. Everyone gets a turn (including the teacher). Everyone gets equal time. Everyone has the right to pass. Once they were understood, these ground rules became classroom rules for the entire school day-for the teacher as well as the students.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Pecha Kucha

Johnson (or anti-Johnson): Johnson states that it is important to speak explicitly about race, gender, sexuality, and ultimately about privilege, power and differences in society. I also think this is important, because if we are not able to discuss these topics, people will never be comfortable with them and future generations will never learn and be able to think out of the box. I had an incident in my seventh grader's History class when the children were debating whether a word being used was "racist" or not. The teacher told them to "stop using that word; I don't want to hear anymore of this 'racist' stuff." This shut down a potentially informative conversation and told children that they could not explicitly talk about race/racism.

Delpit: Delpit believes that it is important for educators to state clearly what the rules and codes of power are. This is critical for a person's success in society. My student's science teacher is great at this; she tells students "we are not talking right now. We are writing outlines." or "you are not supposed to be standing. You need to sit down." She is clear and explicit with what she wants her students to do.

August: August says that marginalized students need to feel included and "normalized" within schools. We do this by preventing them from feeling erased and invisible. I see this a lot when teachers and students alike openly greet my student with warmth, and don't treat her differently despite her blindness. Students are quick to invite her to work in groups with them and are very friendly.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Separate is NOT Equal: reflection/connnection

While I listened to episode number 562 of "This American Life", I was outraged at the fact that we are in the TWENTY FIRST century and students are still struggling to have an equal opportunity to education,, essentially because of their race. When the parents were having their meeting in the gym during this episode of the podcast, I was so angry that they were treating the children from the other school as if they they were savage, violent people when in reality they were just the same as their own kids, with the only difference being the amount of opportunities to succeed being far less (due to poor teaching, old/run down/broken facilities ETC). To me this scene sounded very much like one that would have gone on fifty or so years ago, not something that should be happening now! I was especially angry when a parent said that the arguments they were making were not about race and that she was angry/tired of people making it about race, when the things that all the parents were yelling about were things that racist people decades ago would have been saying, word for word. This goes back to Johnson, who argues that people should be talking about sex/gender/race/racism/disability explicitly and not hiding it behind other terms. If these parents, as children, had been told explicitly what racist comments are and how people with colored skin are not different from themselves, they would most likely not be making arguments and painful accusations like they were int this scene. The parent that spoke about the issue not being about race, and the rest of the parents who cheered in agreement, did not understand that what they were doing and saying was wrong on so many levels, partially because they were never taught. On a similar note, Bob Herbert states that

What I think is a shame is that we have to do all of this humiliating dancing around the perennially uncomfortable issue of race. We pretend that no one’s a racist anymore, but it’s easier to talk about pornography in polite company than racial integration.

Why is race still such an uncomfortable subject for us today, after our long history of fighting racism and discussing it throughout the years? Why can nobody be explicit about race, and own up to an argument or action being racist, instead of glossing over it like the parent above did? I am hoping that as the years and generations go by, this will change.

In the second episode of this podcast, they spoke briefly about how years down the line things would change so that parents would want their children to be integrated within schools and experience life with students of different races. This reminded me of Delpit; the rules would change along with the codes of power. Instead of white parents having the majority of the power and being able to say "no, we don't want these children who are poor/of a different race to go to our schools" and moving away when integration starts to occur, they will want to send their children to these schools, because facilities will have improved, along with the quality of teaching. An example of this is the school in Connecticut which has amazing facilities and children and teachers who are eager and happy to be there. These are the types of schools we need to have more of.

I went to a public school that had a great culture and was very diverse in terms of different races/ethnic backgrounds, and it was very surprising and shocking to me when I heard the first episode that segregation is something that still goes on in public schools. Throughout my whole life, my elementary, middle and high schools had a big range of nationalities so I have to say I was ignorant to the other types of schools/situations that are still in abundance in the United states, according to this podcast.

Here is a video that explains how segregation in schools is not improved from sixty years ago.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Kahne and Westheimer: Reflection

In this piece, the authors discuss the reasons for service learning, as well as its affects on the community and students. First of all, I really agree with what they are saying here. I have only done service learning for a few weeks so far, but I'm learning a lot from working with my seventh grader, while also feeling great about doing as much as I can to help her with her classes and any other issues she is having in school. Kahne and Westheimer write:
…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 service learning project we are participating in definitely does all of these, especially the latter. Working in a school environment definitely helps to prepare me for what I want to do in the future. It is getting me a preview of what it will be like to work with different types of students, and teachers as well. I'm switching from classroom to classroom throughout the day, so I am able to watch different teaching methods.

I really love the section in this piece about the students who were nervous about going to a school in a poor neighborhood. I was angry at how they automatically assumed that the children would be "rude, tough, noisy, and very unfriendly", as well as "mean, gang-related blacks". The part that I loved was where they came back from the service learning project with a whole new perspective; the stereotypes they had were dispelled. This is why I think service learning projects are important, and should be encouraged in middle and high schools. It provides students with different opportunities to work with a variety of people and to lessen, if not eliminate stereotypes and prejudices completely. It gives privileged students a chance to see what life is like for people who are not as fortunate as them.

While I read, I was reminded of this episode of The World's Strictest Parents, where rebellious teenagers are sent to "strict" households in an attempt to change their ways of life and attitudes. There was a scene in this particular episode where the boy, Andrew, was made to volunteer at a homeless shelter, serving food. He was quickly humbled and was able to appreciate the lesson he was being taught. The concept in this show is different from the idea of service learning, however I made a connection between the way he was exposed to a different way of life and developed morally, with the intention for students who participate in service learning to learn from, while helping those who are in need.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Christensen: Extended Comments

In Christensen's piece, she discusses how media content effects children in different ways. She

cleaned the dwarves' house and waited for Prince Charming to bring me life: (Christensen 1)

This is an example of how movies, especially Disney movies, can create unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy expectations for young children. In Ashly's blog post, she uses a great quote to support this:

"Movies portray reality yet Reality portrays movies."

Movies depict everyday life, but often everyday life is the way it is because of the lifestyles, habits and expectations that movies and shows and other types of media bring up. Ashly also makes a great point: she says that movies are very often a representation of the movie creator's views and prejudices, and that in turn can cause the viewers to start thinking or believing in the same things that are being shown, in which case they are essentially beginning to take on the beliefs and ideas of the creator. This is something that I have never considered before when watching a movie.

Christensen uuses the frase "secret education" while refering to what children learn from cartoons, shows and movies. This is a very accurate way to describe it, in my opinion. Girls will learn that is important to be skinny, white, and pretty if they compare themselves to the female characters that Disney has portrayed in the past. Christensen says that the actions of the minor characters in movies, such as what they are singing, what kinds of jobs they are doing, can say a lot about what the movie is trying to say about that type of person. For example, if a person who is overweight is depicted as unintelligent or as a buffoon, then children can infer that people of a similar build are below people who are skinny. HERE is a video of 10 movie stareotypes, which I will also imbed below.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Safe Spaces for all

In "Safe Spaces: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth", the authors focus on the topic of LGBTQ youth within public schools, as well as the role that educators play in promoting or hindering LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance. Toward the end of this excerpt, the authors make a great point: simply having "good intentions" isn't enough. Educators need to publicly and positively acknowledge words like "gay" "bisexual" and "lesbian" when they are being used correctly, so that students will begin to understand that there is nothing negative about LGBTQ+; especially for youth who are still trying to come to terms with their sexuality, and who may also be dealing with mental/emotional/physical abuse because of it. Conversely, when anyone is using these terms in a stigmatizing/derogatory way, educators should point out that no, that is not how we use those words and it is very hurtful to many people. For example,, one of the educators in this piece dealt with a negative situation beautifully: he

does not scold. He does not snicker. And he certainly doesn't pretend that he does not hear. He explores the negative usage of words such as "gay" or "bisexual." He prods and questions, requiring students to define the terms. Patrick's actions promoted discussion and understanding: He asked students to think about the power of their harmful language.

This is very important, because I feel that every teacher should deal with similar situations the same way that this teacher did. I have been in classrooms before where a derogatory comment has been made about someone's sexuality, race/background, etc in front of a teacher and not a thing was said to counter that remark. This can impact the victim in ways that we may never see on the surface.

Another topic that the authors briefly touch upon is LGBTQ+ representation in the media. They explain that those who see themselves portrayed in textbooks, art, and other types of media in a powerful or intelligent light will feel included and safe. Unfortunately in this day and age, LGBTQ representation in media is still low, inaccurate and can be damaging rather than helpful. THIS LINK explains how a study finds non-heterosexual portrayal to be severely lacking in movies. In the study, they found that
of the 102 releases from 7 major studios, only 17 included characters that identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual—adding that a majority of these characters were minor roles or cameos, and that many representations were “outright defamatory.”

Student who sees these movies will automatically see the LGBTQ relationship as abnormal, because it is depicted so poorly. It does not help that, when students are in Sex ED classes, the majority of them are not informed about LGBTQ relationships and the idea that those kinds of relationships are completely normal is not even an idea that is planted into their heads. In turn, youth are not given information on how to have sex safely if they aren't heterosexual. This article explains how the number of states required to talk about LGBTQ in their sex ed classes is very small (nine states). In Alabama,
sex education instructors are required to teach that homosexuality “is an unacceptable, criminal lifestyle.”

Overall, LGBTQ representation is very low and is still extremely stigmatizing both in the media and in the classroom, as the authors of "Safe Spaces" point out. The only way to fix this is to be proactive when dealing with negative commentary made by students/adults alike, and hopefully the portrayal of non-heterosexual couples in textbooks and other educational materials will increase quickly.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Richard Rodriguez - Aria: Quote Analysis

In Aria,, Richard Rodriguez discusses the integration/assimilation of non-English speaking children within schools. As a child, it was difficult for him to understand that he had the right to speak English, which he believed to be a "public" language; essentially, he didn't think that he had a public presents or voice. With time, he was able to understand that he did, however it was at the cost of his family's closeness and interactions.

The odd truth is that my first-grade classmates could have become bilingual, in the conventional sense of that word, more easily than I. Had they been taught (as uppermiddle-class children are often taught early) a second language like Spanish or French, they could have regarded it simply as that: another public language. (Rodriguez 1)

Rodriguez points out here that if any of his English-speaking classmates had been taught another language, it wouldn't have been given another thought. Perhaps it is because they speak English at home and wouldn't have to worry about integrating it with their families, essentially turning it into a "private" language. They are part of a society that already speaks English, so there is no communication barrier; they can always revert back to English while talking to their peers if they are having difficulties. Meanwhile, someone like Rodriguez whose first language isn't English can't turn to Spanish if he has trouble expressing himself during many conversations, because the person he is talking to may not understand Spanish since it is not the country's first language.

…as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents. Sentences needed to be spoken slowly when a child addressed his mother or father. (Often the parent wouldn't understand.) The child would need to repeat himself. (Still the parent misunderstood.) The young voice, frustrated, would end up saying, Never mind'-the subject was closed. (Rodriguez 2)

This marks the time when Rodriguez and his siblings have lost a powerful connection with their parents because of a language barrier. Although Spanish is their first language, they found it increasingly difficult to communicate with them causing their bonds to weaken. This article explains why dropping one's native tongue completely is a dangerous mistake-culturally- that many Spanish-speaking families are making. Rodriguez's family is one example of how it could go wrong; the family bond and the culture is greatly weakened, if not gone altogether.

while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality. (Rodriguez 3)

This quote brings Rodriguez's piece to a close. He concludes that although assimilation will cause a person's "private individuality" to "suffer", it is worth it; you will gain a great public voice. He is essentially saying that someone's communication with their family or loved ones who do not speak Spanish will sadly be lost, however it's ok because they will gain the ability to communicate with the rest of society.

I cannot agree with this last quote. Although it definitely is important to learn the dominant language in order to communicate within society, it's equally important, if not more so,, to keep in contact with your culture and family. Your family will be-should be-the one who is there for you at the end of the day when you have no one left to talk to.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kozol: Amazing Grace - Reflection

My first reaction upon reading this piece is anger. My second reaction, following close behind, was dismay, sadness, heartbreak--disbelief. I have been aware throughout my whole life that poverty exists. It's unavoidable. There are people with no homes, no food and no warmth sitting in the doorways and street corners every Christmas, hoping for a sign of human kindness or compassion. There are millions of families who live in single-room apartments, or homeless shelters. However it's very different when you read a piece like Kozol's "Amazing Grace". It really opens your eyes to the deplorable conditions that fellow humans have to live through when you see words like:

In humid summer weather, roaches crawl on virtually every surface of the houses in which many of the children live. Rats emerge from holes in bedroom walls, terrorizing infants in their cribs. …In dangerously cold weather, the city sometimes distributes electric blankets and space heaters to its tenants. In emergency conditions, if space heaters can't be used…the city's practice, according to Newsday, is to pass out sleeping bags. (Kozol 1)

At this point in the piece, I have already reached anger--some, if not most, of the houses in this city must have children, if not babies or infants. Being in the middle of winter with little more than sleeping bags, a hat and a few sweaters can only lead to hypothermia, pneumonia or something even worse.

Additionally, the air quality in South Bronx was enough to cause Asthma to be the most common children's illness at the time that this was written. Fortunately, the city's population has been fighting to improve their air quality.

A large reason for my anger while reading this piece was at the fact that just because the people in this city are poor and at some points below poverty level, they are treated as less than humans; as if just because they are addicted to drugs, just because some are prostitutes, do not have jobs, cannot go to school--they do not deserve the same quality of life as those in cities that are better off. The children's health is compromised. The population is subjected to trash being dumped in their neighborhood;

The waste products of some of these hospitals…were initially going to be burned at an incinerator scheduled to be built along the East Side of Manhattan, but the siting of a burner there had been successfully resisted by the parents of the area because of fear of cancer risks to children. (Kozol 2)

Why is the risk of cancer not a fear when it comes to children in South Bronx? Did they somehow magically develop some kind of immunity? It is not their fault that this is the neighborhood they live in; like Kristof said in his article, where you end up in life is a result of how you are brought up. It is not the children's fault that they were born into that neighborhood; they and their health is being punished for a choice that was never theirs.

Yet throughout all of this, I am amazed and happy to see that children can find happiness and kindness even with the trouble that surrounds them. In Cozol's piece, we see Cliffie's generosity-although he doesn't have much-when he offers Cozol a cookie multiple times. He tells a story of a starving homeless man, who he shared his pizza with-"three slices, one for my mom, one for my dad, and one for me". (Cozol 3) He talks like someone much older than he really is, however there is still an element of cheerfulness and energy to his countenance that gives me hope that the people who have to live in these conditions will grow passed the hard lifestyle they are forced to endure.

Even though this is such a morbid piece, I absolutely love it for opening my eyes. I love it for its honesty.

Below is a video that depicts the type of conditions that Cozol writes about, with first-hand accounts from residents.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Nicholas Kristof: USA Land of Limitations?

In Nicholas Kristof's article "U.S.A. Land Of Limitations", he argues that children who are born into lower-class families, or who are disadvantaged in one way or another, do not have the same opportunities that other people have to succeed. although people claim that making the right choices in life and working hard will be enough to rise above poverty and the lower-class status, Kristof stands by the conviction that
Success is not a sign of virtue. It’s mostly a sign that your grandparents did well. … your outcome is largely determined by your beginning.

By this, he is saying that if a child is born into poverty, s/he will have a significantly hard time to escape it, even as an adult. Alternatively, a person who is successful throughout their life, according to Kristof, is prosperous because of the status of their parents or grandparents. They have to do less work than those below them to rise to the top. They have more opportunities to do well in life because of their wealth or healthy upbringing.

Kristof brings up good points that I am able to relate to. In elementary, middle and high school, we are encouraged to make good, healthy choices and to work hard. This, they told us, would be enough to bring us to the top of the social ladder, or at the very least would make us successful. What they failed to consider is the myriad of different upbringings that each of us have, and weather we have the opportunities to do what we want. We have the power to make good choices, but weather or not we have the resources to carry them out will determine how successful those choices are.

About Me

Hi! My name is Mary Abby.

So here's a little bit about me before we get to all the good stuff. I'm a sophomore here at RIC, majoring in elementary education with a concentration in English. I was born in the Philippines and came to the US a year and a half later with my mom. My dad and older sister came soon after, and now I also have a little brother. I have a pretty big family-most of them are still back in the Philippines but a good chunk of them are here in the US.

I love to read, and occasionally I'll write a bit of fiction. I also love music (although I don't think I could play my way out of a paper bag. :P). I also really like to travel. This summer I attended the International Conference on Disability and Diversity awareness in Hawaii, and my guide dog Kylie came along for the ride! :)

We had tons of fun and hope to visit again soon!

That's all I have to say for now; I hope you enjoy the rest of my blog and have a great rest of the school year! :)