Monday, February 23, 2009

Journal 4-Non-inclusive Disease

Journal 4-Non-inclusive Disease


I first heard about this issue from Dean Shareski.  Dean is an Educational Technologist in Canada and I received this communication via a tweet, on, you guessed it, twitter.  Dean's tweet went something like "check out this case of political correctness" so I checked it out.  College students from Carleton University dropped Cystic Fibrosis from the list of organizations that they would be donating money to.  Why?  It has been determined that Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that primarily inflicts white people, primarily men.  Cystic Fibrosis was deemed not an "inclusive" enough disease.  Many college campuses across Canada have an orientation week and during this week students raise money for good causes.  Last year alone Canadian college students raised over $1 million dollars to aid in researching cures for the disease.  Cystic Fibrosis has been supported by college students for 25 years.  Students are now considering rotating charities that will receive money.

    Only one student on the Orientation Week counsel descended.  His name is Nick Bergamini.  Bergamin stated that he feels that this case of political correctness has gone to far.  Bergamini went on to say that the college students were just attempting to be more diverse when in fact they are not supportting people with a disease with the average life span of about 35 years.

    I of course Googled Nick Bergamani.  Like many college students, Nick has a Facebook account.  So, I sent him an email to get his reaction to a couple things.  He did not respond to the email. 

    A later article was published in an online magazine called the National Post. It stated that students were concerned about all the bad press that Carleton University was getting.  Many students started petitions to have fellow students who were in charge of the committee that dropped Cystic Fibrosis from it's charities removed.  Students at Carlton University back petaled and changed their stance on funding Cystic Fibrosis.  I did some deeper investigating and noticed that this topic made it to the Stormfront website.  For those that don't know what Stormfront is, it is the new face of the KKK and their online presence is at  If you are reading this blog post from a school, you most-likely will not be able to get the the Stormfront link. 

    Once again, you just never know.  You never know when an issue will get blown out of proportion.  You will never know it as a student in grade school or college.  You will never know it if you are an administrator either. 



Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Journal 3-Paying Students For Grades

Journal 3-Should Students Be Paid?


Toppo, G (2008, Aug. 1). Good grades pay off literally. USA Today, Retrieved 2/3, 2009, from


    The idea of paying students for grades is really nothing new.  But for a large school district in Washington D.C. to try the experiment is a big deal.  15 middle schools in Washington D.C. have started what is called the "Capital Gains" program.  Students get paid incentives to go to school, behave and get good grades.  The program just started this past fall and provides payment for some 3,300 students.  Supporters of the "Capital Gains" program state that many life lessons are being learned.  Showing up on time and putting in 100% effort are just two of the life lessons students learn that are not part of the stated curriculum.  The maximum that students can earn is $100 every two weeks.  When the first payments came out in October 2008, the average check was $43.  This program did cost Washington D.C. $137,813.  The money does not go directly to the students.  It is placed in a student bank account that they can not access until they are 18 years old.

    Some have stated that in away a pay-to-behave program for inter-city students is in some ways racist.  The argument there is that D.C. school officials may be sending the message that we understand that your students are out of control and don't work hard in school and in-turn your methods have not work.  The message may be that black parents are not able to discipline or motive their children to do well in school so we will just pay them off.  Fryer, the black Harvard Economist who created the "Capital Gains" program for D.C. middle schools, totally disagrees.  If any thing, Fryer states, "the real subtle racism here is the fact that we're continuing to do the same things we've always done, and we're allowing these children not to achieve."  

    Does this kind of incentive program work.  Well, in Texas it did.  According to Cornell economist C. Kirabo Jackson "found that it linked to a 30% rise in the number of students with high SAT and ACT scores and an 8% rise in college-going students." (Tuppo, USA Today)  Many people feel that these incentives can be harmful.  Many students seem to be self motivated to earn good grades and go to school and not earn money.  Often, college credit is give to students in classes and the college credit seems to be a bigger motivator than money.  Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a watchdog group, is more blunt: "Bribing kids for higher test scores — or paying teachers bounties for their students' work — is similar to giving them steroids," he says. "Short-term performance might improve but the long-term effects can be very damaging." (Tuppo USA Today)

    I really feel that we want students, at whatever cost, deep down, to love learning and the love of learning be the true motivator for them as part of their journeys to lifelong learners.  I cannot see how earning money for behavior and good grades can in any way contribute to love of learning being the motivator.  Money, to some, is the anti-motivator.  I understand the program and I actually give Dr. Fryer a lot of credit for giving it a try in 15 D.C. middle schools.  I understand the idea of being a risk taker and trying something new.  And honestly I hope it works.  But if it does not work, I wonder if we could be further behind?  How will all students feel if the money is no more and the "Capital Gains" experiment goes away.  Will teachers have a harder time getting students to come to school, behave and work hard?  Oh, ya...what happens to the love of learning for learning's sake.  I feel that concept will be even farther out of reach. 


Monday, February 2, 2009


Journal Entry 2




Gomez-Pinilla, F, So, V, & Kesslak, J.P. (1998). Spatial learning and physical activity contribute to the induction of fibroblast growth factor: neural substrates for increased cognition associated with exercise. Neuroscience. 85, 53-61.


       We spent much of a part of a chat, on a Saturday morning, discussing the fact that some schools are banning the practice of Yoga because, by some, it is considered the spreading of religion.  In Massena, New York, parents and church groups protested the practice of Yoga in the schools.  Two high school teachers starting using the Hindu exercise to help students relieve stress and anxiety prior to performing assessments.  The teachers, Martha Duchschere and Kerry Perretta, both whom have refused to respond to an email I sent late last year, were developing a district wide Yoga curriculum.  A member of the Messina school board went on to say that these two teachers were not using Yoga in any other way than just an execise to help students with learning.  Other schools have also been successful in eliminating Yoga from their curriculum.  There are over 100 schools in 26 states that use Yoga as part of their curriculum.  Schools have even used federal dollars to sent teachers to get certification to teach Yoga.  

    According to an October 1997 article in Neuroscience magazine by Gomez-Pinill, So and Kesslak, there is a direct correlation between exercise and increased cognition.  Rats that execised did much better on memory tasks than rats that did not exercise.  Certain chemicals are released by the brain of rats that exercised that allowed them to memorize things better.  Basically, the rats that exercised were better at finding there way through a maze than rats that did not exercise.

    What are we to believe?  Is it possible that the possitives out weigh the negatives on this one?  Are we doing more harm to our children by protecting them from religion?  Are we protecting them too much by emphasizing one part of the first amendment over other parts?  Do teachers have a little leeway here?  I believe that teachers have the right to select lesson that fit into the curriculum, with in reason, however they choose as long as they have an educational reason and it fits into the state standards.  I do not want my child's teacher showing them pornography and saying that it has to do with anatomy class.  I did say "with in reason."  

    With the idea of Yoga in the school somehow promoting religion, I say thank goodness for tenure.  Tenure is supposed to protech teachers that take curriculur risk and do what they think is right.  This issue, mind you, became larger than anyone could have imagined.  I am sure when these two teachers started using Yoga as a way to help their students relax, never dreamt that a national newspaper like the USA Today would pick up this story and cause so much publicity.  I have learned from this article that you never can tell what is going to get bigger, so big it goes beyond your control.