Monday, May 7, 2012

Part 3. Corporate Sponsorship

Taken From
Within the previous post the role of corporate sponsorship among schools was discussed. Corporations give much needed money to schools for just the simple act of advertising a product. Now this to many schools is a fantastic opportunity because of the lack in funds that they receive annually. Also as stated before this uneven distribution of funds to the schools in a state is due to the flawed system of government that the United States has instilled when it comes to providing sponsorship of public schools.
To run a school takes quite a bit of money. Having a corporate sponsorship can mean the difference of having a program, or having to cut it. Now this type of corporate influence can be either small, or large. This can range from simple logos inserted in text books, or on school material to large billboards on a sporting field. Now this to me sounds great, because schools are able to get money that they normally would not have been able to otherwise. The one issue that I do have is when these sponsorship's start to influence the type of curriculum that the children are receiving. I have read that some major oil corporations that sponsor schools have in fact insisted on their product being involved in the education of the students. When students learn about nature, they are taught that one way they can appreciate it is by driving their jeep full of that certain gas out to state parks. This to me is influencing a young mind in to believing that one product is the best, and only that can be used. Also I have learned that some corporations have even used the textbooks that they provide in an effort to rebuild their reputation. Exxon did this after the Valdez oil spill. They depicted the Alaskan wildlife to be flourishing, and vibrant right after the spill in their provided textbooks. This made the reader believe that their were no long term effects to the ecosystem. In reality though this was just a way for the company to save themselves.
I also feel that even though the extra money can be beneficial to schools the negative influence upon the children can outweigh any positives. As a future Physical Education teacher it is my job to provide students with the knowledge of how to live a healthy life. The promoting of candy and soda I feel goes against this. California caught on to the idea and band corporate sponsorship within any textbooks. Later the Better Nutrition for School Children Act disallowed soda companies from providing free soft drinks in school.
If corporation do want to help out schools then they should do so in a voluntary manner. This I feel is the only way that political, or business based influence can be avoided. Their are no down sides to this, because it is a charitable donation given by the companies. The only problem is they do not receive advertisement., This type of situation I feel has to be looked at carefully before it is agreed upon. The allure of money should not outweigh the potential negatives.
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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Part 3. "Follow the Money"

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Does money seem to talk? The answer most would say is yes. To have money within our society seems to bring a type of stigma along with it that others look up to. For some reason money goes hand in hand with social status, and if you are rich you must go to a prestigious school. Why though is ones personal economic status linked with a public schools economic status, or the fact that it may be any different form a school in the mid-west?
The answer to that question is the way in which schools are funded within the United States. Most schools receive funds based upon the property tax associated with the district it resides in. This is because of the type of government that we have. It is run across three levels; the local, state, and federal governments. The two major entities responsible for the providing the school system with any type of funding are the local and state governments. The federal government is only responsible for under ten percent of all money given to a school. Now the system of getting money for schools dates back to the colonial era, and is quite out dated in today's modern society. The unequal division of money to students, with some getting almost twice that of students in other districts caught the attention of many people. Some court cases were even brought about trying to divide money across districts. This though soon failed because tax payers were afraid of increased taxes. This though is not the only way in which schools are funded. The state government makes their money in a multitude of ways. Mostly through taxes on certain goods, like regular sales items, and excise taxes on tobacco, gasoline, and liquor.
The reason the federal government is not fully responsible for school funds is because education was ruled not a "fundamental right" and is in turn left up to the states to run. The federal government has though found a way in which they can be influential. This is through categorical and block grants grants. Categorical grants were issued to specialized programs within schools, and block grants were just large sums of money given to states with which they could spend as they saw fit. DOE grants, or PEP grants are issued to schools by the states department of education in this sort of manner if the school is qualified. This qualification is if the school falls below a certain test percentage over a course of a few years. This type of funding I have seen first hand helps to drastically change the demeanor of a school for the positive. Now an issue arises when this type of funding is unavailable; where to find money? Some schools turn to corporate sponsors, like large pop, or candy companies. This brings the money that is needed, but it has been found to hinder students development. The messages that are being sent to students goes against any type of nutritional idea that is being taught, and it also influences how students purchase their food items. It causes them to not be careful consumers.
Money will always be an issue within schooling if this type of decentralized funding is allowed to stay in place. Sometimes I feel as though we as a nation should not be so head strong and look to others as role models, or at least for some type of influence. I know many would disagree to this, but I feel as though it would indeed be to some benefit in the long run.

Part 2. Common Core

Taken Form
The Common Core movement is a collection of standards that have been brought about by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. It has been approved for New York State in early 2011 by the New York State Deportment of Education. Now this grouping of standards was brought about to better suit the needs of teachers, and parents. The subjects that are effected by this movement are Mathematics and English.
The low grades seen by standardized testing within these areas has shown that teaching of math and English to students has become ineffective. The mentality of the United States "do more, learn more" has actually been the total opposite of what is shown to be effective. Doing less and focusing on fewer subjects with more depth has actually been shown to more effective as represented by other countries. What the Common Core standards focus on is improving the general knowledge that students can attain in these subjects. In math the goal is to teach processes, and not just have students memorize equations. This will lead to more real world application of math. Within English something that I find interesting is that one of the goals is to increase their knowledge of other subjects like science and history through literature. What was found is that students leave school with a centralized point of view, and do not have much knowledge of outside subjects. This is a problem I have witnessed first hand. The way in which this similar to "No Child Left Behind" is that the best interest of the student is in mind. The need for the student to be able to learn in a more efficient and meaningful manner is essential to both of these programs. The difference though is that with "NCLB" only the final outcome is being measured, and there are not too many programs set in place to make sure students are learning in a meaningful manner. Now this assessment of the final outcome of teaching can be associated with the APPR.
The Annual Professional Performance Review is a new program that is being put in place to evaluate teachers and principals within the school district. This has been put in place by the New York State Department of Education in an effort to hold teachers accountable for their teaching. Now this idea to me is good, but I am not sure if this plan was thought out with respect to teaching. The teacher is being assessed by standard test scores of their students.This though does not account for students with different abilities within inclusive classes. Their test scores are averaged with everyone else. Improvement may have been made with these students that is quite significantly, but the final grade on the test may not be representative of it. This is one flaw with the program. Also in no part of the program are the guidelines for Physical Education outlined. All classroom teachers and principles are required to participate in these program, but where does P.E. fit? No answers have been given for this. I feel as though a teacher has been truly effective when the knowledge they have taught can be applied within the real world. This is something that you cannot really measure, unless the test given consist of actual real world questions. To evaluate learning is extremely difficult. Learning is a concept, and it is hard to assess a concept. Maybe an assessment of the teachers ability, and not the students ability would be a better way of evaluation. Students cannot learn unless they have an effective teacher.
This is a subject I am sure will appear more often, especially now that I am venturing into the Physical Education career.
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Part 2. Diversity

State University of New York at Cortland
State University of New York at Cortland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When most people think of diversity they think of people that are of a different race. To me though, diversity is larger than just the color of ones skin. Diversity can be how a person thinks, or their moral/religious beliefs. It can be their occupation, or just how they hold themselves in the world. I feel as though everyone is different, and that is what makes humanity unique, and ever evolving. Without diversity the world would stay static, and everything within it would always be the same. Diversity I feel is key to life! Due to this statement it puzzles me as to why diversity within the world is such a looked upon subject, because everyone is diverse in their own unique way.
During my time as an undergraduate at SUNY Cortland and Monroe Community College I have worked in many teaching roles. I have taught students in a ll grades, kindergarten through high school, as well as many adapted Physical Education classes. My experience with diverse students has been fairly broad. These experience have been quite varied. I have worked with students from different cultures, who speak no English, students of different socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as students with different mental and physical abilities. I remember this experience I had during my Freshman year of college with an ESL student who was at the elementary level. I believe that he had recently moved to the United States from China, and knew very little English. The unit was Volleyball, and at this time in my career I was not quite into the teaching role, and was just helping/observing my host teacher. I remember the child looking at me with an almost teary eyed gaze holding the volleyball. He did not know what to do, because he could not understand the instructions. I went over to him and I demonstrated physically how to serve the volleyball. Without language or anything of that manner I taught that child how to correctly serve a volleyball with fantastic form. Some time later talking with my host teacher he said to me "language is not important in P.E. because everyone is equal in Physical Education." Now I know many may argue with this statement, because the role communication in team work, but if you think about it, if you are a good enough teacher you should be able to teach to all students no matter their ability. Another experience I had within my career was with a student who had suffered several strokes at birth. This lead to them not being able to use the right side of their upper body. Now this child was quite young, only six years of age, but I would notice her almost hiding her arm form the view of the other students as if she was afraid to show them. She was quite uneasy during my lessons, and did not want to participate too much. I wanted her to be more part of the group, so I devised a way of literally making her and the other students a part of my lesson. I used story books in which they would actually live out the story as part of a lesson, and in order to make the book go further the students would have to complete a task each time. This made her quite happy, and throughout the semester I noticed her ability to me more open with not only me, but the other students drastically increase. This in a way tied into my ability to bring in other subjects like reading, and even science. The students would act out these story scenes, and learn interesting facts from them. This to me is a crucial way of tying Physical Education to other subjects, and having the students learn in different modalities. I feel that the more ways in which a student can learn a subject, the more of a chance their is of them learning the subject indefinitely.
Technology, like that of exergames have been hit with the diversity issue when it comes to how one perceives themselves in the virtual world. What has been found in games like "Just Dance," and DDR, many people feel uncomfortable performing moves that are gender based. This meaning moves that are too feminine, or too masculine. What they did in order to combat this was allow the user to look over the moves before it is played, thus allowing them to make the just of whether or not that song is for them. Personally I feel as though the though of not knowing what comes next make the experience more exciting, and fun to play. 
Diversity is everywhere! As a teacher I will see more people than most in a different profession. I will have an impact on more people as well. It is my job to teach in the most effective way possible, to reach as many people as I can!
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