The Grading and Classification of Americas Youth

February 13, 2008

Grades, what is a grade? Don’t be too rash to explain the obvious. An obvious response would be a grade is a representation of a students work. But is it just that? It is my opinion that the grade has become not only the representation of a students work, but is an evaluation (and too often an inaccurate evaluation) and representation of the student themselves. I remember when I was in first and second grade when no understanding of the grade existed in my mind. I just got an “S” for satisfactory and a “U” for unsatisfactory. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, I soon was introduced to the letter grading system of A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s.

In retrospect, immediately upon the integration of this grading method a class system began to develop amongst my classmates and myself. The room went from being a group of kids to a cast system of smart, average and just plain stupid. And when it came down to group work you automatically knew who to go to if you wanted to get a good grade and who to avoid. And it’s just a matter of time before each student begins to grade themselves, not only in the classroom, but in life as well.

How can we explain the instillation of such values in people so young and with so much growing yet to do? America is said to be the land of opportunity. I think this saying feeds into the common misconception that everyone can get a piece of the pie. But is that really possible? When I take a look at American history, there seems to have always been a time when some group has been systematically deferred from economic, political or educational advancement. Furthermore, if everyone was truly “equal”, what would be the need of developing classes which justify who is entitled to the varying degrees of education, economic and political gain?

A child’s development is like that of a flowering plant. When given the proper nutrients (supplies) sun light (support) and time, beautiful transformations take place. But when a plants roots are restricted (synonymous to the restrictions put forth by inadequate grading system) a plant will never reach its fullest potential of growth, radiance and beauty, and neither will America’s youth.

It’s Raining Pain in Southern California

February 13, 2008

Question, what does the city with the highest concentration of homelessness, the city with the most economic segregation and the city whose school district holds the highest drop out and lowest literacy rates have in common? Simply this, they are all the same city, Los Angeles.

The reasons for these statistics are numerous and implications just as vast. But one of the most significant issues in LA today is affordable housing. Los Angeles is a desirable place to live. Hold up, there’s no need to be coy about this, it seems like everybody and their momma wants to live in LA these days. And in this microcosm of the “land of opportunity” hopeful feelings become almost tangible, and with minimal use of the imagination, one can almost see the fantastical dreams swirling within the minds of many. But in Los Angeles, there also exists an omnipresent duality of hopelessness, especially pertaining to affordable living.

This overwhelming feeling of hopelessness has been looming over low income residences and their occupiers like a dark rain cloud. And when the children leave their homes in the morning headed for school, the cloud follows them, ever reminding them of their financial burden and inherited social inferiority.

Am I being too dramatic about this? If I am I’m just trying to keep up with the times, for times are serious. There is a direct correlation between a child’s living situation and their educational opportunity and performance. Low income neighborhoods are more susceptible to over crowded schools. And according to social justice organization representatives like Larry Gross, developers, contractors and even the LAUSD itself targets low income neighborhoods for new development, knocking down low profit producing housing complexes for high profit turning condos.

It is said that the human body can go weeks without food and days without water. So to function properly it is fitting to say that food and water are essential to the development and well being to all people. A child’s home is like their food; it fortifies their being and nourishes their self worth. And an adequate education can be as refreshing as a cool drink of water, alleviating the aggravating thirst of ignorance and quenching the parchment of economic stagnation.

If I was a meteorologist my weather forecast would be this “tomorrow we should expect to see a high influx of gentrification with low pressure from the city to keep rents affordable. If your rich don’t worry about rain but for the rest of you, keep the umbrellas ready because here comes a big one! Anticipate record breaking highs in rent increases for the rest of…your life, and don’t expect any social climate change until your ready to do something about it!”

Hello world!

February 12, 2008

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