Advocating for Middle Eastern women

Since the rise in concern over the treatment of women in the Middle Eastern countries, women’s rights activists of the western world have been walking the fine line between advocating for women’s rights and respecting religious tradition at the same time.

A common example of this is what many tend to focus on: liberating women from the obligation of wearing a hijab. While this is important to some degree, especially in countries like Iran where women suffer harsh consequences for not wearing one, according to BBC, countries like Turkey have made it illegal in the past for women wearing a headscarf to work in the public sector, which is ultimately an obstacle when it comes to career advancement.

At the roots, however, the activists’ actions are intended to help in the advancement of Muslim women in the Middle East. The question is, in what ways can they better help the women in these countries achieve this advancement? The answer lies in maintaining an understanding and respect for the religion of Islam, while focusing on the major issues such as violence, lack of education and career instability. Using the example of the hijab, focusing on gaining Middle Eastern women the right to choose for themselves whether or not they wish to wear a hijab in public is the most effective.

The most impactful way of reaching out is through donating to organizations like the Voices of Women Organization, that helps to maintain shelters that provide for women that have escaped violence or aid in the advancement of Muslim women in careers. Since the majority of Middle Eastern men still believe women belong in the home, money going directly to programs to help end this stigma is desperately needed. More importantly, although violence committed towards women is recognized as a problem more often today than in the past, the number of women enduring these acts of violence is not decreasing.

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A Sporting Chance

Since the relatively recent advent of radio, and subsequently television, broadcast journalism is an industry that has skyrocketed in modern popularity. This industry, specifically in sports broadcast, tends to be majorly dominated by a male presence. Large paying markets with high viewership like Los Angeles and New York City are especially lacking a female sports broadcast presence. Why? What causes young female journalists to diverge to a different sector of news and away from the business of sports coverage?

I present a simple answer. Firstly, women are belittled for not knowing enough about sports; contradicting, they’re also belittled for knowing sports too well, a compromise in the typical “men’s club” that sports have been treated like for decades. I would find it logical for women to avoid the ordeal entirely, not willing to brave the rude and nasty comments from others simply due to their gender.

Solely upon attempting to research women in the field of sports broadcast, I found several articles ranking the looks of the top ten sideline reporters. It seems, either way, women cannot win. Apparently, no matter a woman’s merit, she can only be considered on how she appears physically.

Oh, you’re not aware that former Jets quarterback, Joe Namath, was a first-round pick in the draft of ’65? What about the time the Quebec Nordiques packed up and moved 2000 miles to the West overnight, became the Colorado Avalanche, and still managed to play in a Pepsi branded rink? I’m willing to bet that American Sports Broadcaster, Lesley Visser wasn’t aware of that useless sports trivia either. However, Lesley Visser has covered 28 Super Bowls, 29 US Open (tennis), 12 NBA Finals and 7 World Series games in her 44 and ongoing year career. She also became the first woman to cover the World Series as well as the only woman to handle the Super Bowl Trophy presentation. Not only this, but she’s the first female recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, all according to her own website. Thus proving women are perfectly capable of sports broadcast excellence; so what’s the issue?

Well, another simple answer. People are uncomfortable with a woman presenting sports. This can be attributed to whatever you wish to call it; however, whatever name it goes by, it is the same issue. A systematic, ill-treatment of women that has placed obstacles in the way of women everywhere attempting to succeed. This just allows society to belittle women for being female. One might go so far as to say that femininity in our society is such a played up concept that it tells women the only thing that they’ll ever be valued for is their appearance, anything outside of their looks is treated as ill-will. I, frankly, refuse to believe that this is how it will continue. As a relatively young person, I haven’t got much of a choice but to remain optimistic for our future as a society. Hopefully, we’ve still got a Sporting Chance.

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Go on a gap year, you won’t regret it

As my senior year comes to an end, the number of adults who inquire about what I’m going to do the coming fall sky rockets. Most are surprised when I tell them that I will not be going to college in the coming fall, despite being accepted into every university I applied to. My reasoning is simple; many people regret growing up too soon, and no one regrets travelling the world.

I’m not going on this trip to ‘find myself’ nor am I going on a booze-cruise around Europe using my father’s credit card. I am going to master a foreign language, and be alone for a while, something that I’ve never experienced before.
As many of my friends frantically discuss finding roommates for college next year, whether or not to join Greek life, and desperately Googling cures for their future hangovers, I’m working a minimum wage job that I loathe and babysitting to make sure that I have enough money for food and hostels. I’m not looking down on my friends who have chosen to go to college right away, though I do find it unnerving that they sometimes accuse me of being the immature one by choosing to take a gap year.

A photo of myself and a close friend that I will be spending part of gap year with. We will be hiking lots, just as we are doing in this photo.

A photo of myself and a close friend that I will be spending part of gap year with. We will be hiking lots, just as we are doing in this photo.

Many people have discouraged me from taking a gap year and travelling, then returning to live at home while going to college because I won’t get the “true college experience”. For whatever reason, uncomfortable dorm beds and listening to lectures by an apathetic TA at an expensive state school has become the epitome of the American college experience.

I think that’s stupid.

To my friends paying $20,000+ a year to live less than an hour away from home, with a stranger, I have a few questions: do you really think that because you’ll be paying more than double than what I’ll be paying, you’ll get a better education? Do you think that I’m less independent than you, because I’ll be living at home carefully watching my savings while you ask your parents for money?

I once was serving a group of college admins at CSU in the restaurant I work at, when one asked me where I was going to school. I responded with uncertainty; I had just been accepted to four schools, three of which I would have to stay at the school during my freshman year, and I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of 0’s on the price of tuition. I responded with the politest response my addled brain could come up with at the time:

“I’m not sure what I want to major in, and although I love CSU I’m just not sure that I want to go there yet.”

His response?

“Don’t worry about that. Just go wherever your first year, CSU is a great choice for that. No one learns anything their first two years, so it doesn’t matter where you go. And CSU is a lot of fun.”

While I suppose he said that in an attempt to sway me, it failed quite badly. CSU was the second most expensive school I had gotten into, and there was no way that I wanted to pay their tuition, nor could I ask my parents to pay that exorbitant amount. Although he didn’t mean to, his statement reaffirmed my belief that it doesn’t matter where you go; it’s the work you put in that results in your experience and the education you walk away with.

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Driver’s Ed needs more driving

Drivers Ed Art Done TS

When turning 15, students all over the state of Colorado are presented with the opportunity to receive their Learner’s Permit as they take their lessons to the road. Before they can drive, they are forced to complete rigorous Driver’s Ed courses that are only partially beneficial.

Students spend full weeks, eight hours day in a classroom just to learn the rules of the road. Otherwise, they have to take it online which for some people, is very hard to complete. There needs to be a better way.

It’s understandable that Driver’s Ed is required because driving a car is like driving a lethal weapon. However, new drivers need to spend more time on the road and less time in the classroom.

A study presented by the University of Nebraska Lincoln states that out of the 150,000 drivers tested, 11.2 percent of drivers who took Driver’s Ed crashed and 12.9 percent who crashed did not take drivers ed. That is a very slim margin. To be effective, Driver’s Ed should focus on more time on the road and less time in the classroom.

Requirements for the LPS program include 30 hours in a classroom (or online) and 6 hours with a driving instructor on the road. Usually, those 6 hours are completed in only driving with an instructor three times. In those three times, an instructor can only teach you so much. Doing is learning.

Spending 30 hours in a classroom learning about driving is hard to picture and hard to take what you learn and put it into action. For example, my friend and I spent our entire Spring Break in Driver’s Ed class our freshman year. The much needed break from school was completely ruined as we spent even more time in a classroom. It was hard to learn and focus for long periods at a time. The hours spent with the driving instructor on the road were much more beneficial.

The Driver’s Ed curriculum needs to be changed. In turn, less accidents involving teenagers would occur.Right now, the courses required to receive a Learner’s Permit are long and the material goes right over the head of the students. There should be more time on the road, and less spent in the classroom.

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Art needs funding

 Donald Trump’s proposed budget eliminates funding for a wide range of domestic programs that primarily help create universal access to educational programmingFullSizeRender (3) through public media and fund the arts and humanities in communities.

 Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s Budget Director defends these budget cuts on MSNBC by stating that, “Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” , “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

  Speaking in generalities just as Trump has done on this issue, it is probably safe to say that the children of coal miners and single moms, most likely grew up on public broadcasting and fell in love with educational programs such as “Arthur” and “Curious George”.

  The Corporation of public broadcasting only costs “approximately $1.35 per citizen per year” according to  CPB President and CO Patricia Harrison. This seems to one of America’s best investments for the price because it can be accessed in every American’s living rooms.   

   These budget cuts will inevitably impact already underserved communities because “rural and minority communities don’t have the kind of in-depth donor base that would allow them to overcome the loss of federal funding,” according to CBSlocal.com.

  The National Public Radio is also at risk of losing government funding even though millions of Americans rely on this objective, fact-based, public-service journalist. This service works in the public interest because it provides educational, news and cultural programming that is not offered anywhere else.

  Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities , William D. Adams expresses his concern stating that, “We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.”

  The mention of “every Congressional District in the nation” is of particular relevance, because after all Congress will have the final say on how government funding gets appropriated.

  In the past public broadcasting has been an issue that draws bipartisan support, but that was before President Trump declared a war on the media and the importance of facts.     

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Later start dates stress AP students

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s Crunch Time.

Every April, AP students and teachers alike feel the pressure of the ever-approaching, oh-so dreaded test days. Classes start to wrap up any last minute material, and students start breaking out the Princeton Review, Barron’s, and every other AP prep book they can get their hands on. This year, however, the April “Crunch Time” took on a whole new meaning. That’s because AP classes have almost a week less to prepare this year than we normally do.

(Cue panicked, sleep-deprived screaming.)

Although our start date of August 18 was a blessing coming out of summer vacation, the ramifications of this later start to the school year became apparent when the semester infamously ended on December 22. To put things in perspective, the last two school years began almost four days earlier; while that doesn’t sound like much, that extra time allowed for earlier ends to the semester and (you guessed it) more time for AP classes to prepare for their exams.

Later start dates (like the one we had this year) mean less time to prep for AP tests, whose schedules are predetermined regardless of when the Board of Education sets the LPS school year. Of course, the Board of Education does try to account for this, but ultimately has no control over when the national test dates occurs, as is stated on the LPS website.

The effects of this shortened prep-time can be summarized as follows:

AP Testing + Less time to prep = More cramming = More stress = A very grumpy student body, prone to blaming uncontrollable scheduling mishaps on any person or entity possible.

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Webassign acts as busy work for students

 

sparknotes'n'webassign op art

Art by Natalia Sperry

As a students who has used Webassign for three of my five science classes, I think that I can easily say that instead of wasting my time googling answers to questions I haven’t even read, my time would be better spent looking at a study guide and spending time on things I actually need to know and asking questions.

  With some classes, there’s certain notation for answers, like in chemistry, that are easy to write out, but take a lot more time to fill in to a computer. Using the example of chemistry, some of the answers on webassign involve subscripts and exponents and Webassign will only take answers that are written out using perfect notation. Taking the time to put in an answer and making sure that it follows the correct set-up that Webassign has takes longer than the actual problem itself, making the whole thing very tedious and annoying.

  Getting a study guide from the teacher would make it go faster and it would feel like the students are actually doing something worth their time for an upcoming test. Also, paper study guides can be used to look back on for finals rather than having to go back into Webassign and backtrack the work done to find out how to get the right answer.  

  I’ll admit that I like the fact that Webassign gives immediate feedback when you answer a question, but when you constantly get a question wrong for whatever reason, there’s this urge to get 100% on the assignment so “googling” the question seems like the best option for most of us. However, the second we “google” the question, we no longer learn anything and are just plugging in random numbers and equations in to get an answer that most of us don’t know where came from.

  I know it seems like a simple answer to this would just to be tak the time to go into class for helps on these problems that we can’t figure out rather than just “googling” them. But after having several Webassign assignments contain nothing that has been on a test, it seems to me like just another grade in the gradebook, and “googling” the answer saves me time, and my grade, when I should be studying the things that really will be on the test.

  Overall, I think my time would be better spent on a study guide from the teacher or doing my own review rather than using Webassign because I can study the information that I need to look over and I can better know what will be on the upcoming test, compared to just saving my grade on Webassign.

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Government spending appalls

As a teenager who has grown up in a blue collar home the least  I ask of my government is they spend my family’s tax money responsibly. It is frustrating and painful to watch a country who claims to be strong and built off of the working man have such disregard for those very people who need them most.

Granting $2 million to a study that asks whether children will eat food that has been sneezed on is completely unnecessary and an extravagant waste in money when 7.6 million people  die annually from cancer, a disease still without a positive cure . The question at hand is why the money the government grants towards research does not go into studies that directly correlate to solving adversities common people within this country are likely to face.

In 2015, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma released a document he titled “Federal Fumbles” in which he exposed some of the most ludicrous things expenses of the United States budget. He has since then updated his list for the year of 2016 and to no surprise there has been little to no resolution to the illustrious spending habits of the American government. Whether the money spent was used as a mirage to distract us from their corruption, or plainly out of disregard, it is still an injustice to any citizens of the United States. Senator Lankford stated that the issues being presented on government waste are merely a problem of oversight. Truthfully, oversight is a problem within the government, especially when the importance and work behind the money being spent is not fully considered. At the very least,  spending 200 million dollars annually to support the Raisin Administrative Committee has the taxpayers needs in mind. 

While the average family in the United States had to work 114 hours to make enough money to pay their  taxes  the American government was spending just over 50,000 dollars to publish a book explaining the history of tobacco use in Russia, and building an almost useless, $7 million industrial park in Afghanistan, according to the federal fumbles document. These examples are some of the government’s cheapest investments, others, just as laughable and appalling, can reach up to billions of dollars out of the American Budget.

As a country contemplating how to dig out of the 19 trillion dollar debt we face, why are we also spending our money so freely and recklessly? It imperative that the Countries budget be revised and used more responsibility for the better of the public and generations to come. 

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Is the school system adapting to society’s needs?

For some students school is a sanctuary, a second home, and from there it is able to be seen as a tool for self development. However every individual has vastly diverse learning styles, personalities and natural skills. The fact that students have a variety of needs makes it difficult to create a universal institution that creates an effective learning environment of an entire generation of people, but that is exactly what the school system is expected to do.

The video “I Just Sued the School System” produced by Prince Ea, a spoken word artist and filmmaker, gives a voice to students that feel disenfranchised by the institution of school. The filmmaker starts the video with a quote by Albert Einstein that says “If you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree it will live it’s whole life believing it is stupid.”

if-you-judge-a-goldfish

This quote speaks to the idea a large majority of young people that find themselves lost in the school system, not because their teachers are ineffective, but because they are exposed to the same information under the same circumstances as every other child. This system rarely allows room for the individual to become self-aware of their own learning styles, and their own innate skills and tendencies when learning.

The idea of judging “a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree” is particularly illuminated when looking at the methods in which the school system measures a student’s growth, as well as a school’s credibility. With standardized testing every person  is treated like a set of data. These data sets determine the student’s ability to progress within the system and give schools their ratings. Testing is necessary to gather feedback on the performance of schools but the methods and validity of the tests should be questioned.

More broadly, the video explores the idea that society’s method of education has yet to catch up to it’s level of development. School is describes as an ancient institution in the video, and therefore has yet to adapt to the demand for skilled labor in emerging job markets. In order for a student to be included in the school system, they first must believe it’s value. This is hard when a major complaint about education is that the material covered is no longer applicable to today’s world.

With all that said, it is important to remind ourselves that our education system is pretty remarkable in that it teaches the entire population of young people how to live, how to think critically, and how to work. The school system definitely has room to grow and expand so that it can better serve our generation, but it is important to view education as a gift.

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Homework for Everyone

Recent controversy over whether students should have homework has been sparked with the release of a letter from a second grade teacher to her students’ parents. This letter states that the students will not have any assigned homework during the year and will only have to do what they didn’t finish in class.
The purpose of this letter is for students to spend time doing things that relate to their success. Examples include eating dinner as a family, playing together, reading together and going to bed early enough to get plenty of sleep. Homework has caused the a reduction of time for activities such as those listed for all types of students, elementary to high school.
I agree with this letter for younger students. Young kids shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time doing homework when they could be building bonds with family and friends. Kids should have time to play, read and do something that makes them happy and build success in their social and academic lives.
In middle school, the homework issue becomes slightly more complicated. Having loads of extra homework is not helpful because it can reduce play time, take away from family and friend time or even sleep all which are important to the development and growth of our youth. In another way, homework can be seen as helpful to prepare for high school, gain reading skills outside of class, and also gain study skills through reading and practice.
For high school, it is also hard to say there could be no homework. Most of the time, homework is stuff that cannot be done during class due to the small amount of time, such as reading a book or textbook, practicing skills or even learning certain topics. There are some cases where homework is just busy-work, but it is still good to have that practice in a quicker paced class.
Homework has been taking up the time of many students, and the recent news with this letter has only brought more worries about it. It is easy to take away for younger students, but as school work becomes more difficult, it is harder to say there can be no homework.

This is the letter that the second-grade teacher sent out to her student’s parents, which has now been posted all over Facebook, CNN and many other news websites.

This is the letter that the second-grade teacher sent out to her students’ parents, which has now been posted all over Facebook, CNN and many other news websites.

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