Saturday, July 28, 2012

Top 10 Percent or Top 90 Percent In Reality?

The Texas legislature passed a bill in 1997. The bill requires every public college and university in Texas to admit automatically any student who has graduated in either of the two preceding years with the grade-point average(GPA) in the top 10% of the student's graduating class.

Each district has different economic circumstances, and therefore, various teachers with various programs. Some poor schools cannot even afford to employ the Advanced Placement(AP) classes let alone the International Baccalaureate(IB) program. The AP classes are supposedly "college-level" classes and are much harder than regular classes. From my experience, the classes in the IB program are even harder than the AP classes. Unfortunately, not many students in Texas have the opportunity to take challenging classes like the mentioned ones. Additionally, the quality of the teachers vary from region to region. Rich schools generally have better teachers who come from better educational backgrounds.

The overall intelligence of students in poor schools are limited by their lack of resources and quality education. In contrast, students who enroll in schools with quality teachers and programs are more likely to succeed in college. For this reason, a student who might barely make the top 15 percent in Westlake High School, ranked number five out of 1,721 public schools in the state, would probably be in the top 1 or 2 percent in schools in unfortunate economic circumstances.

I graduated in the top 5 percent of the graduating class; I had a 3.9 un-weighted GPA, 4.3 weighted GPA, and a Scholastic Assesment Test(SAT) score of a 2180. Out of the seven valedictorians I had met throughout my freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin, only one had a higher SAT score than mine, and only one finished his college freshman year with a higher GPA than mine. Two of the seven valedictorians finished with less than a 3.0 GPA. The unfair Texas law fails to allocate the students to universities based on their capacity and intelligence. 

Texas should annul this unfair law and replace it with a state-wide test instead. All students should be graded with the same test and with the same difficulty. Although the SAT scores do not necessarily prove one's intelligence, It does a better job than the top 10 percent law. Because the existing system groups some intelligent students with the "not-so-smart students", the latter fails to make good grades when competing against the smart students. Most of the time, the GPA one makes is more important than the name of the college, especially when applying to a graduate school. It would be better for the "not-so-smart" students to go to a less competitive school, make better GPA, and become more stable and successful than to go to a more challenging school, make terrible GPA, and struggle to find jobs or colleges that will accept them. While it is one's responsibility to know his/her limits and choose the right college for himself/herself, when one is given a chance to enroll in a renown university, it is usually hard to resist the temptation and make logical decisions. Texas should provide the right guideline and limits so the students can go to a university of his/her level, and become more successful. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is It Worth It?

The article, Teacher raises to come from wishful thinking, was probably written by the Editorial Board because it is “unsigned.” It is posted on Star-Telegram and was published on July 16th, 2012. The author discusses the issue on paying the public schoolteachers more for their work and effort. Several weeks ago, Fort Worth district leaders insinuated that teacher raises isn’t an option with current budget. The trustees voted against this idea as well. However, the administrators requested a one-time one percent raise for all full-time employees. Then, the author lists the possible sources of funds and grants suggested by credible political figures. The author provided numerous quotes by political figures and statistics in order to increase the credibility in his writing. The author believes it is not the right thing for the state to use that much money on a one-percent raise in economical hardship. Overall, his/her writing has credibility, and although his/her opinion leans to one side, the tone is formal.


I agree with him completely in that the state should try to save as much money as possible in economically hard times. The state has more important issues to invest the five million dollars on. Some of the suggestions Hank Johnson, the Deputy Superintendent of Finance, made were to spend 300,000 dollars less on substitute teachers and 200,000 dollars less on overtime, according to the author. This is unreasonable. The state should not punish the substitute teachers and overtime workers to reward full-time teachers; the latter have steady income while the substitute teachers usually do not. Other suggestions do not sound very convincing either; most of the suggestions produce victims. Giving a one-time one-percent raise is insignificant, and is simply a sign of appreciation. The state does not have to spend 5 million dollars just to show appreciation. Doing so would cause many agitated citizens. If this really is an important matter, the state should find ways to achieve the goal with less cost. In this “one of the toughest financial situations we’ve been in,” we need to save every penny we can, and use it wisely.

David Song

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Editorial About Obesity

An anonymous author wrote an editorial, “Hays students’ weight triggers alarm,” on Austin American Statesman about youth obesity on May 29th, 2012. The author emphasizes the danger of obesity, and insinuates that losing weight is not an option anymore. According to the author, thirty-nine percent of the third to twelve grade students are overweight in Hays County, and the Texas businesses spend approximately 42.5 billion dollars on obesity in total. The number of obese people continues to rise as the obesity-related expenses skyrockets, and a study estimates the adult obesity rate to triple by 2040. The author states that reducing obesity will require the government to put in considerable amount of effort and money.

The author wrote this editorial in order to increase public awareness of obesity; this is exactly what the government should do. The author provides numerous statistics from reliable sources to increase his/her credibility.  While the name is not mentioned, the author succeeds in writing a credible paper. In addition, the evidence and the statistics the author provides to support his/her claim flows well with the logic behind it.

I could not agree with the author more. Obesity is not only dangerous to one’s health, but it is also dangerous to the government, the economy, and the society as a whole. The obesity rate in Hays County seems a bit more extreme than other Texas states, but in general, Texas is also FAT. Texas has ranked number seven in child obesity, and twelfth in overall obesity ranking. As the author suggested, I believe the government should put in more effort to reduce obesity. The government could increase public awareness by using more ads and enforcing restrictions on cafeteria food for public schools. Obesity comes from unhealthy diet; usually, poor people tend to become obese more easily. Also, unhealthy eating is a habit. From childhood, it is important to develop a healthy habit for eating. The government should start with children obesity. In conclusion, the author has effectively showed how the obesity is rising rapidly, and will eventually be one of the most prominent problems in terms of economy, and health care. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meeting Half Way (Blog Stage Two)

Today, July 17th, 2012, I came across an Article concerning the case where the Democrats gave in on budget cuts in order to compromise with the Republicans. There is a big difference in how much the two different parties are willing to spend. Because there is the tension between the two parties, the government is only a few steps away from “halting at a standstill.”
This article is interesting because the source of the article is considered liberal. The point I am trying to emphasize is the tension between the two parties, not the incident described in the article. The article is written by a biased Democrat in favor of the Democrats. The article emphasizes how much the Democrats are sacrificing and letting the Republicans have their way in order to prevent the government from shutting down. This makes the liberals look good while making the republicans look stubborn. In reality, the republicans might also have sacrificed to an extent, but this article does not mention any. This phenomenon also prevails in articles that favor the Republicans. Democrats will continue to belittle the conservatives and will try to keep the liberals. The political war never stops.