Friday, May 7, 2010

National Board Certified Teachers?

In Leilani’s Blog #7, she presents the fact that the city of Austin has the most National Board Certified Teachers in Texas. My first reaction to this blog is the grammar, it needs a little work. I also was really bored, maybe I’m just not too interested in how many teachers in Texas are Nationally Board Certified or I just don’t know much about it. Another criticism is this blog lacks information. A lot of questions arose in my head as I read the blog: What does National Board Certified mean? How does a teacher become board certified? What is the evidence to prove that having a teacher that is board certified means you will receive a better quality education?

I don’t mean to be harsh, but this blog lacks correct grammar as well as information. I want to read something I find interesting and if I don’t know much about the topic, provide me with information to why this topic is important and make it interesting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Obesity Craze

Lately there has been a lot of focus on obesity in the United States, especially from the government. Following Jamie Oliver's example from "Food Revolution," many cities, counties, states, and even the federal government are addressing the problem of obesity. When I first heard that the new federal health care bill will soon required restaurants to make calorie counts readily available to their customers I was ecstatic. I think this was something that needed to be done a long time ago, because people go to a restaurant and order a salad and have no idea that the salad could be 800 calories. So when Texas governments began to follow in the federal governments footsteps, I was even more excited.
According to Debra King (Austin American-Statesman), 30 percent of Texas children are overweight or obese. In Lubbock, where about 38% of Lubbock County residents were obese in 2007, they are working on a healthy dining guide to provide residents with healthy choices at restaurants in the area. I know I'm guilty of this as most people are, but when I go out to eat I have no idea how many calories I am consuming. Actually, I have no idea how many calories I consume at home.
My girlfriend works for the Texas Department of State Health Services, and they provide many wellness services to their employees. She has access to a worksite wellness program which provides fitness rooms, fitness classes, and a farm to work program. I think more programs like this should be provided to employees, as it would most likely cut insurance costs because healthy employees would not have to go to the doctor as often.
It makes me happy that different levels of government are addressing the issue of obesity, but why is this all just starting now. Being overweight and obese have been problems that have been around for a long time. I think more cities and counties in Texas should jump on the healthy bandwagon and encourage their citizens to make a change in their lives.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Response to "State of the State"

In Patrick's editorial "State of the State," he presents the issue of Texas' relationship with Mexico, the issues (past and present) between the two, and how currently violence is paired with these issues. Patrick began with a strong introduction by clearly stating the issue he is examining: Has Texas done anything about the issues with Mexico or did Texas just let them go on until the point where violence is involved and we "have" to deal with the issues. However, I am quite confused by the statement of how "Many Texas musicians wrote songs of border towns and enjoying the Mexican lifestyle it provided." I think he was trying to provide an example of how at times Texas and Mexico have been cordial, but I feel it failed to make that point.

He goes on to explain the Mexican drug cartels and how they are affecting Texas border towns. He first presents the main cartels, and I feel this information would be better represented after his explanation of how the cartels are affecting Texas border towns.

I agree with Patrick that the threat of Mexican drug cartels to Texas border towns is very real and scary, and that something should be done about it by Texas government as well as by National government. However, I feel he is exaggerating a little too much when he says that "we may all soon be a third world country" if we don't get a strong military response to the borders. He also mentions that he believes the threat of Mexican drug cartels will spread further north, and after reading I am left wondering if there has been any incidents that have happened farther north than border towns?

Overall, Patrick makes a strong point by providing relevant examples.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Veterans Courts

Reading the news this morning, I was extremely happy to hear that Dallas County is creating a specialized court for veterans with combat trauma. These courts will address the issue of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and seek treatment for them rather than punishment. I find this very refreshing and yet almost too little too late. Do we really have to get to the point where thousands of offenders in the Texas state’s prison systems have served in the military to realize this issue? I think we, as Americans, are very well aware of the mental and emotional exhaustion that going to war puts on a person.

Surprisingly these specialized courts do not only serve Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, but Vietnam veterans also. So what about all the veterans who are already in prison and most likely have suffered or are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Nothing, I’m sure.

Although this is a major accomplishment in the issue of punishment vs. treatment and mental health, specifically addressing post-traumatic stress disorder, what about all the other people in Texas state prisons suffering from PTSD created by an event other than war in their life. A person who had family members die in a tragic accident, while they lived? Or a person who tried to save a stranger’s life on the side of the road, but failed? Veterans are not the only people who suffer from PTSD and I believe more money should be geared to treatment rather than punishment, when poor mental health is apparent.
So the implementation of specialized courts in Dallas County is bittersweet for me. It’s a great idea, but it should have been done a long time ago. It is wonderful that Texas state government is finally acknowledging the poor mental health of veterans, but poor mental health and PTSD do not only affect veterans.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Eat! Pray! Vote!

In the blog, “Eat! Pray! Vote!” Eilleen discusses the “toughest decision” of her life: Which primary should she vote in? Her audience is Travis County Residents who can vote in the primary, she also specifically addressed Travis County Democrats and people who have not voted. I am not able to determine the author’s credibility as it only gives her first name, but I do see from looking at this blog that she is a regular contributor. It seems she is very well versed in politics and is a loyal voter and Democrat.

In addressing the “toughest decision” of her life, Eileen finally chose to vote in the Republican primary. Eileen presents some valid claims to why her decision to vote in the Republican primary was the right choice. She hopes to force a runoff between the Republican nominees because of how close they are and she already believes Bill White will win the Democratic nomination. Although her claims are logical, she waters down her argument by addressing Travis County Democrats and telling them they probably should not vote like her. She also goes against her own argument by dwelling over how she felt heart broken after seeing “Republican” stamped on her voting card.

I see the reasoning behind Eileen’s claim, but I personally would not vote in another party’s primary. I agree with her that people should make their own decision in how they vote and I appreciate the fact that she did not try to convince or persuade people to vote the way she did.

Editorial: State must stop improper student-teacher relationships

In an Editorial from the Dallas Morning News, the author examines the problems associated with penalties for improper student-teacher relationships and what the state needs to do. The author’s audience is made extremely clear in the first paragraph, by addressing parents and how they would feel if an improper student-teacher relationship occurred with their own child. The author is anonymous so I am not able to examine their credibility.
I believe the author’s argument is very strong. I like how the author begins with addressing parents and making the issue personal to the reader. Many statistics are used to portray the seriousness of improper student-teacher relationships. The reader is informed that between 2005 and 2009, in the Dallas school district, 20 investigations of sexual allegations were made against teachers. The author is also very strong in his argument because he not only introduces the negatives but does acknowledge that some of these teachers do receive proper punishment. At the same time, his evidence to back up his claim that the Texas Education Agency, state legislators, and public school districts must tighten review procedures is very strong. Resigning quietly is the norm for half of the teacher accused of sexual allegations with a student, one of these teachers opened a private school, and another received only a Class C ticket in the mail.
The author’s solution is very sound and logical. He suggests that teachers guilty of sexual conduct with a student school be fired, not able to resign. A permanent record or database with the details of the sexual allegations and a zero-tolerance approach should be enacted.
The author addressed a very important and serious issue that is not being taken care of to the extent it should. He provides crucial statistics and evidence to support his claim as well as introducing a solution that is both practical and logical. I agree with the author and believe something else needs to be done, because these teachers are not receiving the punishment that they deserve.

"Bill White, on the hot button issues"

The article “Bill White, on the hot button issues” by Robert T. Garrett, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News briefly examines various issues and Bill White’s stand on them. Garrett begins his article by informing readers that White supports the death penalty and 2nd Amendment rights. While mayor of Houston, White took an aggressive approach on immigration and he supports abortion rights. In 2005, he voted against Proposition 2, which banned same-sex marriage. White is currently worried about the use of tax dollars, tuition hikes and jobs for education workers.
I believe this article is worth reading because in November of this year the 2010 election for Texas Governor will take place. Bill White won the Democratic party’s primary nomination. To make an educated decision regarding what you agree with and do not agree with in this election, it is extremely important to know what each candidate’s views are.