Reporte Educativo - The Education Report Card


Photo property of the Pasadena Sun

The Pasadena Sun reported today that about 450 students in the Pasadena Unified School District are enrolled in its language immersion program. At school, students spend 90 percent of their time learning in Spanish or English.

According to the report, Spanish immersion began at San Rafael earlier this month, while at Field Elementary School, Mandarin Chinese has been immersed in three kindergarten classes. The district may also create an Armenian immersion program, the report stated.

What Pasadena has done by instructing students in another language at a young age is an example schools everywhere else should follow. Studies have shown that the ability to communicate in multiple language is beneficial to individuals, and it is ridiculous that America’s education system has students begin learning a second language by the time they’re in high school. At that time, an adolescent’s accent is pretty much set…

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The Problem with American Coins & Wasteful Habits

I spent some time earlier in July in Ohio with some family that flew in from the Philippines, and had an insightful conversation with my 23-year-old cousin who was trying to buy some food with cash.

“I hate your coins here,” he said, as he picked through a bunch of pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters in his hand.

“Why?” I asked.

“How do foreigners know a quarter is 25 cents? All other countries have numbers on their coins. Your coins are too assuming.”

I took a closer look at each of our coins and realized he had a valid point: American coins don’t have numbers on them.

The penny says “ONE CENT,” the nickel says “FIVE CENTS,” the dime says “ONE DIME,” and the quarter says “QUARTER DOLLAR.”

I guess those words help people identify them, but what if tourists don’t know how what a dime is? What about people who may not necessarily read English and don’t know what “five” or “one” means when it’s written out?

While I initially found it amusing that my cousin had to ask me how much each coin was, I felt the exact opposite after he made his point: he had good reason to ask me how much a dime was worth. I’ve paid with American coins for years so I never thought about the absence of numbers on them, or how even the size of our metal currency isn’t an indicator of its value (for example, the penny is worth the least amount but it’s bigger than our ten-cent dime).

In addition to our “assuming” currency, my cousin called out some “wasteful” American habits, particularly with food servings and how he saw so many SUVs with only one person in the car. What was the point of having a car that big if only one person was in it?

My cousin may have bashed two specific things about the United States, but it was nice getting someone else’s perspective on the country.

A very touching, personal account of a friend’s grandmother passing away.

Brandon Dean

There are few people I’ve had a harder time figuring out in my life than my grandmother. A good example of this were some of the last words she ever spoke. She had a small stroke (that’s what we’re calling it) on a Monday night last month in her recliner. I called 911 and we got her to the Emergency Room, where she spent the night. The next evening she was cleared to come home. I came and got her, and as we were driving home I asked her if she was scared when she was having the stroke. Predictably, she didn’t answer the question.

“Well, you know, I just couldn’t move my left side. I just felt numb, and that’s what happens when you have a stroke,” she answered.

Right, I said, but … were you scared? She paused for a moment and then in a confident voice simply said “no.”

The next…

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Google’s New Privacy Policy Will Track Users

Several weeks ago Google announced a new version of its privacy policy that will take effect Thursday, and since then there’s been a lot of controversy about the changes it’s made.

Essentially, what’s happening is that by tomorrow, one privacy policy will apply to all of Google’s services. In the policies section of the website, it is stated that the new policy is more concise and easier to read.

All the ongoing talks about the changes have been largely negative, and are rightfully so despite the claim that the new policy is meant to provide users with an “intuitive” experience across Google.

The company will be able to track the activity of anyone using any of its services by tomorrow, and that’s a lot of people.

Gmail, Blogger, Picassa, YouTube, Earth, News, and Books, are just some of the many products Google offers.

Google has done its part in informing its users about the changes in an ample amount of time before anything is implemented. It encourages users to read the new policy and watch informative videos on its website.

But really, who’s jumping up and down to read seemingly endless pages of legal jargon?

The company probably knows more than half its users aren’t going to read such boringly written policies. but it really is important to know what’s going on, even if the policy is written so dryly.

Some of the bigger privacy concerns should stem from how information is collected.

By tomorrow, Google may collect information revealing the following: hardware model, operating system version, mobile network information including your phone number. Google may link your account with your phone number.

There’s also the gathering of even more information, like what you search, numbers you call (probably using Google Talk), your IP address, and device activity (like if your system crashes, hardware settings, the browser being used, and language, among others).

For those who use a location-enabled service, like Google Maps, the company may retrieve information about your specific location. This information may include GPS signals from a cell phone, and sensor data that can be obtained from wireless Internet access points and cell towers.

Additionally, (though this isn’t new), it’s important to keep in mind that while users retain copyright to content submitted to Google, the company can use that content to promote its services:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).”

This block of text is included in the Terms and Service that will take effect tomorrow, and perhaps the most striking addition is found in the last sentence. Since Google can keep using submitted content even following termination with its services, it seems to indirectly say that the company retains copies of anything submitted.

Google will also be using cookies and anonymous identifiers to gather and store information. And if users delete cookies, they are restored in the browser when users sign into their accounts again.

Since 2000 Google has altered its privacy policy nearly 10 times, and made changes twice in 2009.

Here are a few resources Google users can peruse to find out how to remove data on Google.

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57382925-285/how-to-remove-your-google-web-history/

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/022712-google-privacy-policy-256399.html?page=2 – 6 things you need to know about Google’s new privacy policy

Dream Act Becomes Law

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Dream Act in to law this morning, and I think it was a step taken in the right direction.

One of the first stories I wrote during my first semester on staff for El Vaquero was about AB540 students, and one of the students I spoke to, David Garcia, told me a pretty compelling story. He lived in Canoga Park at the time, and it took him three hours on three different buses to get to Glendale College.

The students I spoke with for the story were at a booth on campus, putting themselves out there. I wondered if they were at all concerned with the fact that they could face some serious repercussions for putting themselves out in public like that. Garcia said there was a little bit of fear, “But we’re out here letting you know that we exist and that we have needs and that there is a type of oppression that we have trouble with.”

Most AB540 students are brought across the border when they’re still children, when they don’t really have any choice but to go with their parents. So for them, this is all they know. Then a sophomore, Leticia Lopez said in 2009 that she’s been in California since she was 1 year old.

“I’ve been here since I was one year old. I practically grew up here, so I don’t know any other place,” she said.

Without status, AB540 students can’t really do much after graduating from college. They might have a degree, but can’t get jobs because they’re not here legally.

There are promising undocumented students who, with the Dream Act now law, will contribute to American society. They’ve lived here their whole lives, gone to school here, established lives and friends here, and it wouldn’t be easy for them if they were forced to go to a country they know little, if nothing, about.

Kudos to Gov. Brown for singing the act into legislation today. It’s going to be a big help to so many of the AB540 students who invest time into their studies and are determined to better their lives.

It’s Tough to Be a Girl

It’s not new that girls are heavily pressured to look beautiful in the way the media defines it. From lengthy lashes and rosy cheeks, to perfectly straight hair and an hourglass figure, it’s virtually impossible to attain that kind of beauty without relying on cosmetics, gym memberships, and even plastic surgery.

My cousin Andie just turned 11 a few days ago, so she’s at a stage where she’s becoming more conscious about her appearance. Her self-consciousness has been a work in progress, but now she’s beginning to nitpick at her ‘imperfections’ more than compared to three years ago.

She recently got her own hair iron and has started straightening her hair multiple times a week. She also has a set of makeup that she plays around with on a regular basis. Several weeks ago her mom denied her permission to dye her hair, and she became very upset.

I’ve tried to explain that by using a hair iron she’s burning her hair. I also tried to tell her that because she’s so young, she’s still got really good, soft skin, and that the only thing makeup would do is damage her skin in the long run.

Of course if skin is cared for properly and washed thoroughly after makeup use, that helps. But then there’s also the fact that if makeup is worn on a daily basis, a girl looks different (usually worse) without it on.

But when you’re that young the repercussions don’t really matter. And even when girls are older the consequences don’t really matter because it becomes routine to put on the foundation and eyeliner every day. And it doesn’t matter because we’re surrounded by celebrities who use cosmetics all the time.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing to wear makeup, but it shouldn’t be used as frequently as it is. Humans aren’t born with symmetrical features or the types of faces and bodies that are airbrushed and edited in magazine covers. Most women are pear-shaped as opposed to having an hourglass figure because their bodies are designed to bear children. So it’s impossible to attain the beauty of Victoria’s Secret models without going through countless measures. And when a girl gets to that point it’s not natural beauty, and the girl probably still isn’t going to be happy with what she looks like.

There’s no reason for girls feel insecure about themselves, just as Andie is starting to be. Instead of focusing on how to imitate the appearance of everyone we see on TV, we could be focusing on more attainable goals, like bettering ourselves, other people, and our communities.

Chinese Public Toilets & American Debt

In China, if you need to use the restroom at a public place, you have to let everything out into a hole in the ground.

I spoke to a friend last week who spent two weeks in China this summer, and the public toilet situation was the highlight of our conversation.

“It’s funny because in the house, everyone has a toilet,” he said. “But at the mall and other public places, there’s no toilet! You don’t even have toilet tissue, you have to buy your own!

“And it’s hard because there’s no toilet seat!”

Because China is a communist country, I wondered why restrooms aren’t a component of public facilities. Then my friend reminded me that the United States owes China a lot of money, $1.2 trillion according to the Huffington Post.

Perhaps if the country had that money, it’d have some public toilets.

Our discussion about toilets and America’s debt interestingly led me to think about how the news never mentions who is benefiting from America’s debt. The money the United States is borrowing is being spent somewhere, and whoever is receiving the money is probably well off.

But that’s not something we hear about.

America’s Budget: Cuts Need to Be Made Fairly

The news this week has been dominated primarily with stories about the government budget, particularly raising the debt ceiling.

I found a link with an interactive way to view the budget allocations for 2010:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/02/01/us/budget.html.

Common Dreams also posted an article on its website on July 12 with a helpful visual of the way money is distributed:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/12.

In the first link, there’s an option to “Hide Mandatory Spending” and if you click on that, it’s pretty shocking to see how much non-mandatory spending is devoted to the military. And in the second link, it’s impossible to wonder why more than HALF of the discretionary budget is spent on the military.

Several of my friends and acquaintances are in the military, and of course their service to the country is appreciated. But with the humongous chunk of money they’re getting, it’s really frustrating to hear about continued cuts in areas that, in comparison to the military, receive such minute portions of the budget, particularly education.

There’s always news about teachers being cut and school programs being eliminated, but I have yet to hear any of my friends in the military complain about salary cuts or anything like that.

Politicians like to talk about the importance of education in America. If that’s the case, then why is it that education only received 4 percent of the discretionary budget? The high value the government places on education combined with the amount of money it receives doesn’t add up.

With 58 percent of the discretionary budget devoted to the military, the rest of the discretionary programs receive single-digit percentages of that budget. Why does food only get 1 percent? Veterans, who have already served the country, get a measly 5 percent of that money? Aren’t we pushing for green energy? If so, then why does that area only get 6 percent?

Right now the country is in serious debt, and Congress is working on raising the debt ceiling so that the US doesn’t default on the more than $14 trillion it owes (U.S. National Debt Clock at http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock.)

Maybe I’ve missed some news about cuts in funding for the military, but so far it’s all the other programs with little money taking the hit.

If we want America to continue to prosper and if we want to take steps to fix the budget, then cuts need to be made fairly. It does not make sense to take money from programs that barely have financial resources, and not take money from programs that receive significant funding.