Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Was it worth it? (Post #6)

Tonight the president announced the formal end to Iraqi combat operations. While the United States will maintain a presence in that country for training and bureaucratic purposes the war is essentially over in Iraq for America. A recent CBS News poll showed some uncertainty on the part of some americans. The poll asked a small sample of people a variety of questions ranging from "do you support the war" to "do you think the result of the Iraq war was worth the loss of american lives." Was it worth it? Several experts weigh in on this difficult topic and their opinions (see here, opinions) may make a difference in what you think of this national endeavor. With the personal and national sacrifices made and the hundreds of billions spent, what do you think? Was it worth it? Are we more secure today? Whatever your opinion please be respectful of those who made the personal sacrifices necessary for our security.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Is Big Brother Here? (Post #5)

Student GPS tracking is being considered by New Cannaan High in Connecticut. A story onABC News (see below) discusses the possibility of following students at school and everywhere else they go on their daily routine. The school district uses GPS tracking to follow the progress of school busses on their routes in the morning and afternoon and now the company that provides that service is offering to use the same technology to track individual students 24 hours a day. How would you feel if your school district had this technology? Would this impinge on your right to privacy? is it necessary for the school to know your every move? Is this an example of "helicopter" education like "helicopter" parenting? Helicopter parenting refers to parents who constantly hover over their children. In what way might this benefit the school? Can see any reason would a school have for implementing this policy? Might this be a help to students parents?
Remember to post your response by Weds. morning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Testing Accountability (Post #4)

As a senior, you're done with the standardized testing at the end of the year, known currently as the CST's.  As you probably know, the government uses these tests to judge how well a school is teaching you what they have said you are supposed to know.  Now the trend is to take your scores and determined whether or not your teacher did a good job of teaching you.  From an outsider's perspective, its much easier to look at a number as a rating and draw some conclusions.  The LA Times was recently set to publish the names of
6000 teachers test scores to rank them.  This brings up a number of potential thoughts.

Do parents have the right to know a teacher's history of test scores?  Do teachers have the right to privacy in this matter?
As a student, how much of your CST score do you give credit or blame to your teachers (do not use their names, good or bad)?  What else impacts your test results?
Is it fair to have your teachers evaluated in their jobs based on all their students scores?  Is it fair to rate the school based on this data?  Why or why not?
What are things you have learned in school that cannot be measured on a multiple choice test?  What skills should schools teach to prepare you for college or your future careers?
What methods would you recommend to properly evaluate teachers?  What is the best way to measure how well the entire school is doing?

Add any other thoughts on the matter, but please be respectful in your comments of your school and teachers or you'll be removed and receive no credit.
Remember to post by Friday morning.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Teen Drinking, Who's Responsible? (Post #3)

The Teen Alcohol Safety Act of 2010, or AB2486, would allow party hosts to be sued if they serve alcohol to a minor who is subsequently injured or killed.  It was signed into law by the Governor last Wednesday.  While everyone acknowledges that is a violation of the law to serve alcohol to minors, the question of liability, or legal responsibility, is a main point to consider here.  Any teen drinking involves either a fake ID, no ID check, an adult buyer, or theft.  Where is the liability in each of these cases?

Is someone between the ages of 18-20, not responsible for their own decision to illegally drink?  Do the parents who knowingly allowed their teens to go to the party have less responsibility than the hosts?  Can adults at the party claim innocence if they simply leave the alcohol out and don't actually serve it?  If no one gets hurt, was it then okay to serve them alcohol?

Are drug dealers also liable for injury caused to their buyers?  What other kinds of comparisons can you make for a law like this?

This law does not apply to commercial venders: meaning bars, restaurants, liquor stores.  Why do you think that is the case?  Would the bill have been harder to pass? Why?

Does this law take away anyones rights?  Does it give rights to anyone?  What type of incentive is legislation like this? What behavior are they hoping to see changed? Do you see this law having any significant impact? Why or why not?

Please reply by Wednesday morning.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Participatory System (Post #2)

A recent New York Times article describes how young people (ages 18-25) are not likely to participate this year's mid-term elections. Less than 25% of eligible voters in this age group are expected to vote this November. (Please read the linked article). Many experts argue that Obama won the 2008 presidential election largely because he inspired young voters to turn out at the ballot box. Looks like the tone has changed; young people have lost their motivation.

Sadly, seeing young people disengaged from the political system is nothing new. Why do young people frequently feel left out of the political system? What would make the young (and all age groups) participate more regularly in politics and voting? A potential law in California a few years ago would have given 17 year-olds a half a vote. Would that help? Why do citizens in other industrialized nations vote at higher levels than Americans? How would you change the current political system to appeal more to young voters?

On the economic side, how does the scarcity of young voters impact how politicians behave? What are the opportunity costs to our society of not voting?

Please reply to this post by the end of the week. Cite your sources when applicable.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Does it Mean to Be American? (Post #1)

The United States is known as the Great Melting Pot. Immigrants have played a huge role in the development of this country. Yet, since the earliest days of this Republic immigrants have regularly faced prejudice by Americans who are already here. Currently, there is a movement to stop birth right citizenship to children born in the US of undocumented immigrants. (See the video below). Is that a good idea?

Ultimately, what does it mean to be a US citizen? What does the term "American" mean? Does a country operate best when all its citizens speak the same language, follow the same religion, and behave according to the same cultural beliefs? Or does having a diverse population make us stronger?

From an economic point of view, do immigrants help the economy or hurt it? What are the trade-offs of building taller walls and beefing up patrols at the border? Do immigrants fill a vital employment role?

Please feel free to respond to any of the above questions. It would be helpful if you could cite your sources when making claims that are not common knowledge. Remember to identify yourself and your teacher's name in your post.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Welcome Back to School Class of 2011

In an unprecedented move, 12th grade social science teachers Bauer, Phenix, and Sloan have created a current events discussion board for the entire senior class. Sunday and Tuesday night by midnight a new topic will be presented with internet links to a story in the news relating to government and/or economics. All students need to respond within two days to each blog throughout the school year. Your comments will not appear until one of the three instructors has seen it and approved it. Make sure to use your real name, so you can receive credit. Go ahead and try out the comment feature by clicking on it below. You should subscribe to the RSS feed and become a follower of the blog. The blogs are embedded within the teacher's websites and are accessible through most smart-phones. The first blog will be posted by Sunday night, the 15th and will be due by the beginning of school on Wednesday the 18th. Ask your instructor what the requirements are to receive full credit for your responses.

Respond to the following to practice how to post a reply:
  • What are your goals for your senior year?
  • Have you thought of what you want to do with your post-high school life?