As a South student writing on this subject, it is not simply out of jealousy–the fact that my high school is no longer the superior one–that I write this article (because everybody knows what really matters is sports and average SAT scores).
Looking back, I realize that the construction of a new high school was completely appropriate; however, the large-scale project and its outrageous price tag was not at all rationalized by necessity.
The old North building is a hulking brick-red monster protruding from serene Newtonville that agitates students and neighbors alike. But the biggest concerns are found in the interior of the building. Complaints of mice and an omnipresent stench had become characteristics embraced by students of the school. But the number one biggest complaint was the lack of windows around the school. The minimal exposure to the outside world and poor circulation that resulted interfered with an effective learning environment.
But the construction project, which had estimated to cost approximately $197.5 million, had more than exceeded expectations. The blueprints addressed primary concerns and went above and well beyond, and not in a good way.
Since its inception, the school’s construction project has tripled its estimated cost. The seemingly small request for a brighter interior ended up dictating the design of the new school. Multi-paneled, multi-storied glass windows coupled with a zigzag design that supplements efforts to access natural light inflated construction costs.
But the construction of a new high school was definitely in order. A major renovation would be impractical as it would displace students from parts of the building during the construction process and likely still leave many of the issues unsolved.
Regardless, the new school will offer students unnecessary luxuries–enough to make it the most expensive school in Massachusetts’ history. Â
Is it that there is some sense of entitlement among Newton Public Schools’ parents and education board members that provides a rationale behind the scale of this project?
The public school system here in Newton is the primary factor driving families to move into the city. Newton has been nationally recognized, year after year, for the academic excellence of its public schools.
Or was the new North building intended to become a monument to out city’s academic achievement? Â
The new building’s toll on Newton’s operating budget is already clear and ballooning fast. Paying off North is soon to account for the majority of Newton’s debt and when public buildings, say, other educational buildings inevitably fall unto disrepair, there will be a lack of funds to go towards upkeep and repair.
Should educationalÂ buildings deteriorate (as they have been for years) and future tax overrides fail, the schools will be left to cut back on staff.
And therein lies the irony of it all.
We have used numerous justifications pertaining to giving students “quality educations in order to rationalize the scale of the North project. Â But what we fail to see is that the extravagance of the school will inflict severe burdens upon the school system rather than facilitate a better education for all students.
But everything is said and (almost) done. Now the City of Newton should set its sights on recovery: which is that this project, at all costs, will never interfere with the school’s learning environment.
After all, it isn’t the size of the windows or the message the building sends to visitors, but what’s on the inside that matters.]]>
But what do we all (hopefully) know by now about judging books by their covers? And what’s fun about the burdensome preconceived notions we have about assigned summer reading when we know it’s mandatory anyway?
Plus, word on the street is that this book could change your life!
This I Believe IIÂ is the second volume of a collection of essays written by an eclectic group of individuals. These so called “remarkable men and women are Nobel Prize winners and world-renowned musicians, but they also are graduate-school students and diner waitresses.
The authors elaborate on how they came to form their personal beliefs and by doing so, complete the thought that begins the books title.
Although these pieces were written over a 50-year period, the series of essays and the messages they communicate are impressively relevant to what we are going through as a nation today.
But here’s the question that every analytical essay rubric will require you to address: So what? (Cringe)
These personal reflections are not written by the pretentious intelligent folk whom you might have expected. They also dont consist of a stream of incoherent insights into some guys epiphanies. After reading them you will neither feel defeated out of sheer confusion, nor proud of your sophisticated level of understanding.
The essays are meant to engage readers by means of effortless connections. Â The reflections, descriptions, and conclusions seek to strike a chord within you: tickle the subconscious, if you will.
Furthermore, each essay compels readers to think about forming their own profound and experience-based opinions. By doing so, you can have faith in your convictions and cultivate a strong sense of identity for yourself.
And I’m sure you are aware of that excessively vocal guy in your class who is always provoking debates with extreme but frustratingly well-supported arguments…you could be THAT GUY!
You can earn a great deal of respect in our society for “going against the grain and second guessing conformity if it forces you to compromise your beliefs. And as contradictory as it sounds, a sense of unity and tolerance emerges from differences of opinion in a community.
One school, one book…Don’t we love it? Â Over the summer we’ll all be reading the same words from the same pages of the same book.
But come September, the school will be swarming with zillions of newfound ideas and beliefs, like little molecules of opinions bouncing off the walls ofSouth after being subjected to high temperatures!!
So don’t choose to write off this book just because it is assigned summer reading as it could potentially leave a positive impact on our school. Â And pay close attention to the section that tells readers how to write their own “This I Believe essay…One school, one essay?]]>
Adopting national academic standards would be a major setback for Massachusetts. Massachusetts has long held a reputation as having the most rigorous academic expectations in the country and adopting these standards would undo years of work in bolstering that quality of the state’s schools, which began with the passage of the Education Reform Act in 1993.
The standards, which have been developing for more than a year now under the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, are moving closer to Massachusetts’ expectations, but some areas lag behind.
Students in Massachusetts routinely score highest on national standardized tests because of the state’s rigorous standards. Changing the standards would truly represent regression in school systems in Massachusetts and around the country.
The revised standards, which were released earlier this month, outline which English and math materials should be taught at each grade level in the nation’s public schools.
The national benchmarks rely too heavily on broad skills and lack rich abstract content at every grade level.
“[The national standards] are generic standards that can be applied to any grade level that you want.Â They don’t give teachers any guidance about what makes a standard at grade eight anymore difficult than at grade six, former associate education commissioner Sandra Stotsky said.
Adopting the national standards would most likely lead to an overhaul of state standardized tests.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) for example, is a state-wide exam based on prescribed standards. Adopting national standards would mean a nation-wide test that would likely replace state-wide exams like MCAS, so that the tests follow new national standards more closely.
The possibility of a nation-wide standardized test has aroused considerable debate among states, school districts and teachers.
MCAS is already a disputed institution in Massachusetts’s school systems and a national exam would just spread this debate nationwide.
The Obama Administration’s push for uniform standards is admirable as it is an effort to mend a disparity in the American education system.
But the way to fix the inequality is not to raise standards in some states and lower them in others in an effort to reach an equilibrium of sorts.
The Obama Administration should instead, apply these standards to states falling behind in order to gradually elevate their standards to a level that equals that of Massachusetts and other similar states.
Apparently she won a gold medal in the Women’s Downhill Alpine Skiing event 10 days earlier and was the first American woman to do so in Olympic history.
But in my defense (and yoursÂ too–if you’ve also been living under a rock), the first ten days of the Olympic Games were held over our February break, so whether you were in Panama, France (SMGTZ!), Nicaragua (oh wait¦), or even on college tours with your parents, salvaging the last few days of vacation took priority over catching up on the Winter Games.
So with that excuse, herein lies the real problem: after Vonn’s cover debut on Sports Illustrated Magazine, disapproving headlines about her semi-provocative pose and skintight bodysuit have littered newspapers, magazines and my Comcast homepage.
Critics of the cover claim that SI had Vonn pose in a way that “objectified her. Â If you haven’t seen it, Vonn is clad in complete competition attire and crouching with her knees bent. Â This “tuck stance is one that all downhill skiers, male and female, assume while racing.
Yes, her blonde hair cascades down the side of her face. Â Yes, her skintight bodysuit is well, very tight, and YES the angle at which the shot was taken seeks to accentuate a particular region of Vonn’s body.
But interestingly enough, Vonn’s cover was modeled after that of SI’s 1992 Winter Olympic Preview, which featured alpine skier A.J. Kitt.
There are few notable differences between Vonn and Kitt; however, I’m almost positive nobody complained that SI had objectified this gentleman.
Vonn is, first and foremost, an incredible athlete, but she also exemplifies the qualities of female attractiveness.
Although much of the publicity on Vonn is attributed to her appearance, she deserves to be celebrated as she has been this past month.
When the Olympic Games roll around every two years, it seems as though a handful of select American Olympians come out of obscurity and astound us with their skills.
For training their entire lives, these athletes enjoy a month of name recognition and if they’re lucky, an ad campaign for Got Milk.
American athletes are celebrated to a degree that is disproportional to their many accomplishments. Â For these athletes, hundreds of toiling hours of training and competition amount to a status that would seem trivial to most Hollywood A-listers.
We also have a tendency to expect our Olympic athletes to uphold a higher virtuosity and innocence, qualities that most Americans can’t even wrap their heads around.
These athletes are sent to the Games to represent their respective countries, so it is expected that they act accordingly.
But back home, we put them on an unfair pedestal with expectations that are strikingly different from those of our representatives in say, the music and film industries.
Regarding their conduct, we expect our athletes to be gods, but to be fair, we must do our part and worship them as such.
Vonn’s rising celebrity is well deserved, but the criticisms against her are not.
She is getting the recognition that she and dozens of other Olympians deserve. Vonn and fellow American athletes Shaun White, Shani Davis, and Apolo Ohno (check out HIS Got Milk ads) were all honored by Wheaties, which unveiled its four new cereal boxes that featured these four athletes on the covers.
But regardless of each of their talents and contributions in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, this fame is sure to be short lived.
So throw away your unreasonable expectations and preconceived notions of Olympic Athletes and cut them some slack! Let them enjoy the fame they’ve more than deserved.]]>