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1. Our group topic is Education. Specifically Public Education, school systems in the United States. Too many groups and organizations about schooling blame the education problem on teachers and teacher unions. Unfortunately, the main problem in public schools lies in funding, standardization, and strict curriculums. Many students are forced to just memorize in order to pass statewide tests, rather than actually learn and grow in knowledge. Other students who live in less well-off neighborhoods go to less well-off schools and unfortunately don’t get as good an education. The problem is everywhere, and needs the right solution.

2. Group Members: Nour Saudi, Vanessa Lopez, Geetanjali Devi, Jaida Samuels- we will each share responsibilities in researching the issue and finding potential collaborators, as well as interviewing parents, students, and teachers for their view on public schooling.

3. Potential Organizations:

-The Odysseus Group & John Taylor Gatto

-A Community Concern- a documentary and group working towards better schools

-Give Kids Good Schools- learning what makes a public school successful and how funding is important

-We also hope to reach the NY Board of Education members, as well as teachers in our own community’s public schools

4. Our goal is to spread knowledge about this campaign and hopefully get many people on board with school reform, the right way. The goal is a better education experience for students and teachers, so that they may learn creatively and successfully, instead of having a race to standardization.

5. Our intended audience:

Students (specifically grades 1-12)

Educators

Parents

Policy Makers

NYBOE

An issue that is prevalent in today’s society yet not sufficiently dealt with is education. Education in the United States is not in a good place, especially for public schools. There is too much standardization that many kids end up getting average scores when they have the potential to do so much better. Schooling is just not right! A lot of teachers just get by because they are forced to teach under certain curriculums, and no longer have that “spark” for teaching. That, in turn, leads to bored teachers which leads to bored students. So many students these days complain about school and feel hopeless and unmotivated by the time they reach even middle school!

John Taylor Gatto is a teacher who is famous for fighting against the curriculum-standardized school system. Schools should encourage creativity and make kids love learning, not “dumb them down” so that they won’t ever succeed. A documentary that also criticized schooling called “Waiting for Superman” focused on a few kids who wanted to get into a school by lottery. Imagine that, a good education is earned by luck! What happens to underprivileged kids who are unlucky? They have to go to poor schools and therefore don’t have a high chance of succeeding. Underprivileged kids have it the worst, their fate is already decided because of their environment, their neighborhood, their class. Not everyone gets to have a “Homeless to Harvard” story, and in reality, the majority don’t.

Many aspects of public schooling are in severe need of reform. I know that my own experience with education has been very “boring,” as Gatto puts it. I see in Hunter so many students, including me, who just had no clue what their major was when they came in here. I believe that comes from the 12 years of mundane schooling that we endured before getting to college. Their is no passion in education and no care. It needs a lot of help.

Here is a very interesting essay by John Taylor Gatto on education: Against School

And the trailer for Waiting For Superman, which I recommend highly: Waiting For Superman

-Nour Saudi

Hey guys, so the group that presented the “Passing the Torch vs. End of the Road” stories today reminded me of a monologue that one of my favorite comedians, Craig Ferguson, did on The Late Late Show. Check it out:

I think it’s really interesting how the opinion towards the younger generation has changed drastically over the years, and I think technological advances have had a large impact on that.

-Nour Saudi

 

When jeans first made an appearance in Western society, Levi Strauss was concerned with inventing a type of clothing that was suitable and more productive for gold miners. Initially, they were an article of clothing that was intended for workers, the lower class. As society has progressed, we see how jeans have gone from a sign of “deprivation and sweat” (87) to the “signature of an heiress” (85). They started becoming more widely worn through the early 20th century, just in a casual fashion, when people wanted to sit back and relax. They were the symbol of comfort and relaxation. However, they soon became symbolic of so much more. No longer just a fashion statement, they were a sign of rebellion. Whether it was rejecting the American standard of living or rejecting society’s ideas of women, these blue denim fabrics were a sign of hope and meaning for  many; especially the youth.

What is interesting about so many turning points in American society is how they are fueled by the younger generation. In every decade, the younger generation always has the loudest voice. The same youths that were able to turn graffiti into an expressive art form and a commentary on the state of society and media, were the same incredible minds who turned an article of clothing that was meant for the lower class into a symbol for freedom and equality. What is interesting about jeans nowadays is how fashion still managed to make them hierarchical. Prices for this piece of denim range from ten dollars to two thousand. Some may think this is an outdated topic, the impact jeans have had on society, but the fact that famous designers have stolen the freedom of jeans by stitching their labels onto the denim proves that fashion still has a say in our lives. I find myself at times buying into these fashion trends, the more expensive jeans, the dark wash jeans, the infamous “skinny jeans.” Fashion has managed to take this symbol of comfort and convince us they can be fancy too, so now I can wear my jeans to school or dress them up when going to a party. While fashion is always trying to advertise clothing that rich people will buy, the fact that jeans are so widely worn and bought proves that they are here to stay, maybe the one thing in fashion that connects every class of people.That, and leggings, which I may call the “new jeans.”

-Nour Saudi

These pictures convey gender clichés. Gender clichés have played a significant role in media. Women are often depicted as objects, and just desired for their looks. In media, we’ve seen how the phrase “sex sells” is factual, with half-naked woman displayed on advertisements for things from cigarettes to automobiles. The photo above shows a very pretty woman dressed in white, but surrounded by red furniture. It’s a representation of the so-called “perfect” woman, as seen by society’s standard. It seems it’s recreating the very famous painting of Venus, which further emphasizes the woman’s desirability and angelic nature.

-Nour Saudi

The most liberating and the most imprisoning moment of a person’s life is the moment they realize they are a victim of oppression. Frederick Douglass, Jose Yglesius, and Frankie Mae have all faced this moment. They have all let this moment impact the rest of their lives. Frederick Douglass was a slave who was taught to read by his slave master’s wife. When his slave master, Mr. Auld, found out about this, he immediately instructed his wife to discontinue the reading lessons. He told her that if Douglass learns to read, it will be “forever unfit for him to be a slave” (69). To Mr. Auld, a slave should only know to obey, and nothing more. These words had a profound effect on Douglass, but it did not bring him down. He was more encouraged to rebel and get more educated, and so he found knowledge elsewhere.

Jose Yglesius was a cigar roller who worked long hours in the hot sun everyday for low wages. Though he was part of an underprivileged group, he still found solace in his work by listening to the “lectores” that played while the men worked. When the literature was taken away from the men, they realized how important it was to them. They knew they were oppressed because of their economic status, so they appreciated the importance of literature and education, seeing it as a way out, a hope for freedom. Instead of succumbing to the oppression, they fought against it by going on strike until they were allowed to listen to the lectures again. Frankie Mae was the daughter of a slave, and worked hard to get an education while working on the farm as well. She thought that getting an education would be her path to freedom, but soon learned that she would still be oppressed by her master, educated or not. This realization sunk deep in Frankie Mae’s heart. She let it deflate her, and soon died in childbirth, after many years of depression. Here, we see an example of how education can only take you so far, as the class system Frankie Mae was forced to live under and be oppressed by would always overtake her education. Her master would still not see her as valuable, even when she proved him wrong.
There are many parallels between the situations of these historic characters, and today’s society. Many people are still oppressed and find ways to fight against these forces every day. Our society’s clear example of this is the Occupy Wall Street movement, or the spread of “Islamophobia” that many Muslims have to deal with. Even when it comes to the internet, we see parallels. Where internet regulation and freedom rights are becoming more of an issue,  people are speaking out more against it.  The internet is an important tool for groups all over the world, because it provides a broad spectrum of channels for people to express and voice their opinions. Many issues going on all over the world are brought to our attention because of tools in the media like the internet. With the decline of print journalism, we see that the internet has become a primary access to information all over the world, and is a significant tool for many people who may otherwise be oppressed. As a downside, the rise in importance of the internet may be a disadvantage for the poor class, or groups that may not have access to it. This leads to a lack of access to important information, especially because of the high cost of education, most notably in the United States. The internet has become almost a secondhand education for those who may not be able to afford college. These oppressive forces still exist today in our society.
-Nour Saudi (008)