Staff Editorials

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Technology enhances classroom cheating opportunities

It is not uncommon to find students in the average high school or college classroom utilizing devices such as laptops, smartwatches, smartphones and tablets during educational instruction times. With increased prominence of technology in schools, students are given greater opportunities to collaborate with one another, explore new topics, help the environment and learn from peers, as well as other teachers around the globe.However, smart devices also give students the ability to access photos and other information without the teacher’s awareness. Unfortunately, this opportunity also brings about the potential for distraction during critical instructional time and the increased ease by which students can cheat.

In class, students can take notes, edit work and collaborate with others all on their devices, rather than the conventional pen and paper method. Applications like Google Docs and Google Drive allow individuals to share work that they complete online, promoting learning with and from others interested in the same area of study. In a research project conducted by EdTech focus on K-12 education, researcher Correy Murray found that 74 percent of teachers polled stated technology is critical in expanding on classroom content and motivating individuals. Resources such as Crash Course Youtube videos have proven beneficial in terms of instructing content that may have been missed, or even as a form of review for those looking to cram information. Additionally, 73 percent of those surveyed claimed that it helps teachers and their students respond to new learning styles. Students can pick up information they may have missed with the use of computer systems and reiterate upon material from class.

Not only are these enhanced learning opportunities advantageous in the learning process, students and teachers alike are also helping the environment, one printed handout at a time. According to a study conducted by edutopia.org, the average student uses 833 sheets of paper per school year, equating to approximately eight percent of a tree. When teachers make the executive decision to switch from paper tests, assignments and handouts to online resources, they are also significantly benefiting the environment. This same concept applies to the student as well. By taking paperless notes, one can save the planet while simultaneously keeping up with the times by following trends in electronics and technology.

While the benefits of collaboration and the positive environmental impact do prove helpful in many scenarios, the utilization of smart devices grants students increased cheating opportunities as well as potential distractions during class time. When teachers permit students to use their own personal laptops, for example, the instructor is unable to monitor the screen from their external device. Therefore, the students have the ability to open another tab and search for information that may not be permitted for the purpose of that assignment. In present day, many smartwatches have photo features, as well as cellular features, thus heightening the prospect for individuals to find means to seek external help during examination time. Although this challenge may be ever growing, the ultimate authority in the classroom lies in the hands of the teacher and through regulations such as “tech-free times” or policies like no smart devices during exams, students and teachers will be able to reach a fine balance.

In light of the benefits students, teachers and the environment can derive from accepting the increased availability of technology in schools, individuals should accept this resource and learn to work with it strategically for optimum success.

 

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The United States must help Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States (U.S.) since 1898, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. Although the island is separate from the mainland, it is controlled by the U.S. government. Its occupants pay taxes to the U.S. federal government, possess U.S. citizenship and vote in U.S. presidential primaries. However, according to the Columbia Broadcasting System, more than half of the American population do not realize that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and that its residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans have been contributing significantly to the country for over 100 years, yet they are still looked upon and treated as second-class citizens.

Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September, 2017, leaving more than one million people without power. That same month, the island was hit by Hurricane Maria. Although Maria was smaller than Irma, the effects of this powerful Category 4 storm were far more detrimental: electricity was cut off the whole island, access to clean water and food became limited and floods brought on by the storm ruined streets. According to MercyCorps.org, Maria’s destruction has led to more than 94 billion dollars in damage and the economy of Puerto Rico is expected to shrink by at least eight percent this year as a result of the hurricane. With winds of 155 miles per hour, the storm was the worst to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years; over seven months later, the island is still struggling to recover and rebuild its infrastructure.

Because Puerto Rico is considered to be a part of the U.S., it would be expected that the U.S. government would assist the struggling island; however, this has not been the case. Although the U.S. has helped minimally, it has not put forth all of its effort toward ensuring the recovery of the damaged island.

Puerto Rico is entitled to the same government response as any state in the U.S. but it has yet to receive this equal treatment. According to economist.com, after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, the U.S. federal government sent 30,000 relief workers to the city within nine days; in Puerto Rico, it sent 10,000. Within that same time frame, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved payments of 142 million dollars to victims of Harvey, but only six million to victims of Maria. The discrepancy between these government responses is undeniable and should be reevaluated.

Some may argue that the location of the island makes it difficult to provide Puerto Ricans with certain materials. While this is clearly a barrier, this cannot be used as an excuse to deprive Puerto Rico of the funds and infrastructure needed for its survival.

Congress needs to designate funds and resources to help rebuild the island as well as protect it from the potential effects of future natural disasters. It is unfathomable that people are still living without basic necessities and the U.S. has not given its all to thwart that. The U.S. has let down its Puerto Rican citizens and must find solutions in order to ease the suffering of these people as quickly as possible.

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Excess homework prevents creative pursuits

Throughout their educational journey, most students have at least been involved in one after school activity that they’re passionate about. Whether it be sports, clubs or the performing arts, students express themselves in different ways. Unfortunately, schools often place more emphasis on core classes, and getting the best grades. Although there is a good reason for this, being that education is important, the question of whether schools are obstructing students from participating in creative activities by overwhelming them with work remains.

School is a place for learning, but also a place for students to discover what they’re passionate about, and maybe what career they want to pursue in the future. When teachers put more emphasis on getting passing grades, and assign excessive amounts of homework, they are impeding students from having any time left to explore other interests. In fact, the New York Times put out a questionnaire in 2014 asking students 13 or older to comment about the amount of homework they received. The majority of those students said that teachers do not take into consideration how much homework other teachers give as well, and thus they are stuck spending hours doing homework. If there was more communication between teachers, the amount of homework given could be reduced to a manageable size for students to have time for both education and leisure.

Moreover, schools are not just obstructing creativity through homework, it seems that they are cutting it out of the curriculum entirely. According to a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”, he states that students are growing out of creativity as their school years continue. According to Robinson, “During this process, students are taught that making a mistake is a sin. We have planted in our students’ minds a picture of a perfectly, carefully drawn life”. Apparently, this perfectly drawn out life has no room for creativity, as it is burdened with preparation for standardized tests, and other benchmark assessments that are not always accurate at determining a student’s true capabilities. Instead of focusing so much time on teaching students to be perfect and creating a rigid system with little to no room for variation, there should be more leeway for students to have time to discover what subject they love, and what they want to do in their lives.

However, the cutting of creativity cannot solely be blamed on teachers, they are simply following orders of the school board and of the governments, with all the ridiculous budget cuts and rules they have to follow. According to the Huffington Post, 81% of teachers say their school has been affected by budget cuts, and 35% say that the curriculum changes are a concern. School boards have placed intense pressure on teachers to meet unrealistic academic goals. These changes also affect students, since they are assigned more work, thus leaving them with little to no time to explore any extra-curricular options.

One way that this issue of schools preventing students from following their passions or being creative can be solved, is starting with implementing some creativity in the classroom. According to InformED, assigning students open ended projects, meaning that they can do the project on whatever subject interested them, was a great way to introduce creativity into the classroom. This suggestion is a compromise between teachers and students, since the teachers are meeting the requirements of the school board by having students complete projects about certain topics, and the students can research what they are passionate about, allowing them to pursue their passion, and learn at the same time.

Overall, students are still walking the journey of life and are still deciding how they can express themselves creatively, and what their true passions are. If schools have the chance to aid them in their journey towards this self-actualization, then they should take it. Instead of drowning students in work preparing for standardized tests, schools should create an intellectually stimulating environment that can benefit both students and teachers alike.

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Celebrity holiday traditions set unrealistic expectations

BY CARLI UDINE

EDITOR IN CHIEF

As the holiday season approaches, celebrities have begun to flaunt their lavish holiday decorations and celebrations. Celebrities and television stars like the Kardashians, Ellen DeGeneres and Leighton Meester, who plays Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl, set high expectations for the holidays for ordinary people when they show off their “extra” holiday spirit.

As seen on the hit reality television program aired every Sunday on E!, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and on the social media pages of all the family members, the Kardashian family is known to go all out when it comes time to decorate and prepare for the holidays. The Kardashians, specifically Kourtney, Kim and Khloe, are constantly exhibiting their excessive decor on their Snapchat. As seen on their Snapchat “stories,” the Kardashians utilize the weeks prior to Christmas Day to decorate their houses and Christmas trees. One Christmas tree is not enough for the Kardashian family considering each family member has two or more trees displayed throughout their houses. In the season 14 “Holiday Special” of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the family was shown arguing over ornaments for their many trees. Due to their reputation for having extravagant holiday celebrations, the Kardashian family takes preparing for the holidays very seriously. As seen in the “Holiday Special,” Kris Jenner and her daughter Khloe Kardashian had a “bake off” to determine who would be making the desserts for their Christmas Eve celebration. Throughout the weeks before Christmas Day, fans of the Kardashians are able to witness the family’s festivities on both their television show and all over social media. This constant showing off of this family’s extravaganza gives individuals falsified hopes for what their celebrations will look like.

On her talk show “Ellen,” Ellen DeGeneres has been giving away gifts to individuals in the audience through her “12 Days of Giveaways.” Companies like Under Armour, Scotch and Starbucks are just a few companies that sponsor DeGeneres’ giveaway program.

DeGeneres’ mission is to use her popular talk show to give back to ordinary individuals who go above and beyond and also to those who are in need of help and support. By utilizing the holiday season to help others, DeGeneres’ “12 Days of Giveaways” segment has been getting the audience excited.

Fictionally, Blair Waldorf, main character of “Gossip Girl,” has an apparent love for the holiday season throughout the television series. Waldorf’s reputation for being “rich” and “snobby” gives viewers an explanation as to why she celebrates the holidays with no limit in her mind. Whether it be her persistence to have the holidays be a perfect time of the year, her expensive Christmas list or the decor within her penthouse in New York City, Waldorf creates the ultimate Christmas experience for herself and makes viewers want to mimic her means of celebration.

Although these celebrities often use the holidays to help those in need and their communities, they also set impractical notions for how the celebrations should be. Every family has a different manner in which they celebrate the holidays. However, with celebrities like the Kardashians exhibiting exaggerated holiday spirit, many viewers are let down when their celebrations are not as festive and flamboyant as the stars that spend excessive amounts of money on decorating their houses and preparing for celebrations.

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DACA termination appears like attack toward Dreamers

BY LEXI FLECHNER

ONLINE ARTS & ENT. EDITOR

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an extremely important government policy that grants citizenship to some children whose parents brought them to the United States illegally when they were minors. They can receive a renewable two-year period of amnesty where they will not be deported, and DACA also gives them opportunities to possess work permits. Currently 800,000 immigrants benefit from DACA, and these people can be doctors, teachers, parents, Internet personalities and police.

This policy was created in 2007, but was not implemented until June of 2012 from an executive order by former President Barack Obama. Congress had tried to pass the bill up until this point, but could never obtain the votes in both houses. As this bill took so long to pass, it was long overdue. It was time to give these immigrants the rights they deserved and President Obama recognized this. The program aids so many immigrants in living the “American Dream,” and is one of the most important put in place during Obama’s presidency.

On Sept. 5, President Donald Trump announced the upcoming suspension of the program. There will be a six-month delay in the termination, but the immigrants will be sent back to their home countries when the delay expires. The six month period was put in place to give Congress a chance to pass new immigration laws to help the Dreamers, who are the people benefiting from DACA.

Canceling this program is completely wrong. President Trump will be sending these people back to countries they have never known. The Dreamers moved from these countries when they were extremely young and have barely experienced life anywhere except America. To send them back to a country that is unfamiliar and possibly dangerous is just cruel.

The United States serves as a sanctuary to many people escaping a controlling government, and many of these immigrants came here for this reason. Sending them back could be fatal to those coming from countries in turmoil; they could be penalized for leaving in the first place or put in danger once they arrive back.

All of these immigrants were brought by their parents to the United States. It is extremely unfair for them to be punished for actions their parents took. There was nothing they could have done to get their parents to stay, so they should not be punished for it.

These Dreamers are Americans and should be treated as such. To be treated as an American means to receive all liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, not be consistently attacked for supposedly taking jobs away and not live in fear of deportation. These people are legally allowed to be in the United States, and no one should be allowed to take that away from them.

Taking away a program that benefits so many, regardless of the policy, is absurd. Dreamers are embedded into our country at this point– it would be detrimental to others if they were taken from their jobs, relationships and family members who are citizens. Many Americans’ health could be left in danger as their doctors are deported. This is not only ruinous for the immigrants being deported, but all residents in their community.

This act feels like a blatant attack on immigrants on Trump’s part. His ideals have been centered around the fact that all illegal immigrants should be removed from our country, but these people are legally allowed to live in America. America was built by immigrants, and for our President to attempt to remove that essential part of our history is disturbing. Trump continues to kick these people out for the sheer fact that they are immigrants, and this is so wrong.

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Scan 7

Editorial: Celebrities use award shows as platforms to speak on important issues

Award show season is always a glamorous time. There are celebrities dressed in the best designer clothes and being recognized for their hard work in movies, TV shows, music and more. When any celebrity wins an award, they usually get on stage and thank their co-workers and their family. However, some celebrities took it a step further this year and chose to speak out about their opinions on trending issues today.

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Editorial: False advertisement creates problems for Chipotle

Just this year, Chorizo, a pork sausage, was added to Chipotle’s menu to help them get back on their feet after an E-coli outbreak set them back after being successful for years. After complaints that the chorizo did not have a flavorful taste, there has been yet another problem after an addition was added to their menu. According to My News LA, three Californians, in three separate locations, reported that Chipotle was misleading customers by not putting the correct calorie count on the stores menus. It was reportedly misleading to a customer because he felt excessively full after what was supposed to be 300 calories. The three Californians are now proceeding to sue Chipotle for being dishonest with customers by misrepresenting the nutritional value of the chain restaurants food products.

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Editorial: Social status should not determine treatment in the legal system

Shailene Woodley, environmental activist and award-winning actress starring in productions such as “Divergent” and “The Fault in our Stars,” was arrested as a result of trespassing and protesting the construction of an oil pipeline. Woodley described her treatment by the authorities as unfair due to the fact that some other protesters were allowed to leave the scene with no consequences following them. Woodley characterized the protest as “peaceful,” however, authorities refuted it saying it was actually a considered a “riot.”

The protest was originally orchestrated to act as a peaceful objection to the North Dakota Access pipeline. The sheriffs that arrived on the scene, however, viewed this in a completely different fashion. According to sheriffs on the scene, the protesters were seen as individuals encouraging others to break the law and stir up commotion.

Woodley’s arrest, followed by a court hearing, was viewed as one-sided, as her role in society may have affected her treatment and punishment.

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Editorial: 9/11 has lost significance in comparison to modern terrorism

Sept. 11, 2016 was a day similar to many others in the 15 years since the horrific terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. A day involving Americans coming together to mourn the loss of our citizens to terrorism. Although Sept. 11 used to be a sorrowful holiday to feel grief for all those who suffered 15 years ago, this day of remembrance simply does not mean as much to Americans anymore.

Terrorism has become a more and more threatening affair around the world. On Sept. 11, 2001, the hijacked airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers in New York City marked the beginning of an era of unrest in the U.S. and around the world regarding terrorism. According to Uri Friedman from The Atlantic, reports of terrorist attacks from extremist groups such as I.S.I.S. and Al Qaeda are becoming more and more common around the globe. It seems that at least once a month there is news of another awful attack shaking the foundations of our nation. In the past year, France has been hit with two terrible terrorist attacks including the suicide bombings and hostage shootings in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015, as well as an attack in Nice on July 14, 2016, where a truck driver ran over innocent people who were celebrating Bastille Day. It is hard for us as Americans to feel as much pain on Sept. 11 when remembering the attacks that happened 15 years ago, because similarly awful terrorist attacks are occurring in the present.

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abby editorial

Editorial: Millennials prove to lack patience

A situation alarmingly familiar to any Millennial: a Wi-Fi connection lost, the next episode of “Orange is the New Black” buffering, an angry teenager smashing a laptop keyboard searching for a purpose (and wireless Internet).

Presenting “The Microwave Generation.” Instant gratification is the newest fad; impatience is all the rage. Children and young adults yearn for immediacy at the touch of a button.abby editorial

Dating is no longer a laborious process, as flirting is accessible with a swift slide into someone’s messages, a stark contrast against past generations’ suitors performing calculated moves for long periods of time. Rising musical artists and DJs crank out mediocre, sonically saturated tunes faster than they can say “new single,” designed to please the masses. Everything is just a click away, and according to America’s youth, that’s the way it should be.

Millennials are often the butt of a generational joke. But they should not be underestimated. Contrary to popular belief, they have not tainted society with their presence. In fact, the 21st century has been fruitful with accomplishments that would not exist without Millennials, including same-sex marriage. Today’s youth is intelligent and both culturally and politically aware, fighting political apathy with a log onto Twitter to live-tweet a presidential debate. They are on the front lines for change, utilizing the technology that has been placed in their hands to fight injustice in different communities of minorities. Race and police brutality became a worldwide issue with the help of a hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter) and the Syrian refugee crisis was brought to 4.6 million followers on the Instagram account @HumansofNY, where creator Brandon Stanton went to Syria to document and ultimately help fund multiple refugees with a crowd-funding link to donate. It is inspiring to see a new group of young adults grab life by its horns with a zest for social progress, all while clutching an iPhone in hand.

With that said, this emerging behavior is breeding society into restless human beings, but Millennials don’t know any better. They are born and bred into a generation of rapid receipt of information and entertainment; it’s hard not to blame them. This thought process is created with a more connected environment. Children hold and navigate iPhones before they can read the alphabet, immediately weaving new relationships between them and the efficiency of an industrialized, technological world. These connections are the only form of communication that today’s adolescents have been exposed to. Old habits die hard, especially when they’re clad in shiny colors and are preloaded with new episodes of “House of Cards.”

The pleasure of the process is one worth basking in. If today’s youth demands everything immediately, there is no fight. No accomplishment to wear proudly after a series of losses. A reward is more satiating if earned after a cycle of successful and unsuccessful attempts, no matter if that reward is a quickly loading Netflix episode or a new relationship blossoming on the promise of patience.

Convenience is not futile; it should definitely be clutched and appreciated. But in a world where restlessness is advancing, it is important to remember that patience is a virtue. It teaches empathy, generates a positive attitude, and makes gratification all the more satisfying. So, the next time a journey presents itself as an opportunity: don’t take the shortcuts. In the end, it’ll be just as rewarding as finishing a season of “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix.

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