Friday, August 10, 2007

Immigrants and their equality

Nowadays, the numbers of immigrants from various countries are keep increasing each year. Also the numbers of illegal immigrants are increasing as well in many sates within the United States. This is especially true in the case of Border States. While this holds as fact, the article “Immigrant Compromise and Equality” have brought very important point about immigrant and equality.
I recommend this article since it talks about current discrimination problems against illegal immigrants vs. their employers and it further points out about immigrants’ equality.

Let’s take an example of the immigrant workers’ with Mexican immigrant workers.
These days, Mexican immigration on the United States has great impact on US economy and it has been a major focus of policymakers as the impact of the Mexican immigration grows every year.
Mexican immigrant worker in the US grew by 123 percent while the number of American workers grew by 13 percent in the 1990s. This means that the US employers are continue to seek to hire large number of Mexican workers due to the shortage of workers in the US.
As the article pointed out that the new compromise tries to make illegal immigrant workers legal immigrant workers. Many times, systems in the US usually try to benefit the illegal immigrants like this system or by providing them permanent resident status, while they do almost nothing for the employers or legal immigrant, who actually provide the work and funds. On the other hand, some employers are trying to benefit from the illegal immigrants by paying them lower wages than other employees.
Thus using biometric card will help employers to hire legal immigrant workers and hopefully reduce much discrimination against illegal immigrants. But it’ll be almost impossible to change all illegal immigrants to legal immigrants.

But I think it is better for the US to focus more on preventing illegal immigrant workers than focusing on changing their status from illegal to legal. To do this, the US may reduce conditions that force employers to unknowingly hire immigrant workers pressured to enter the US illegally to obtain a job.

As the article said, it is very important for people to have non-biased views on immigrants. No matter how many systems are launched, discrimination will exist unless people accept immigrants as people just like them. Otherwise, system will fail by people and doesn’t work for people like the article said. If employers don’t accept immigrants as people, then they will figure some ways to benefit themselves out of the system.
Thus, it will be crucial for citizens to accept immigrants as equal as they are in order for the prevention of illegal immigrants and the many systems for immigrant workers to properly work, which will decrease discriminations against immigrant workers in turn.

Friday, August 3, 2007

AVID, one step closer to college dreams

Carter-Riverside High School in Fort Worth district has had the AVID program for about eight years. This program basically aims to prepare students in the middle to succeed in high school and go to college. After having the AVID program for about eight years, the Fort Worth school district decided to expand the program to all high schools next year.

First of all, what is AVID program?
AVID program might sound little bit unfamiliar with many students, but the AVID program started in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, who was the head of the English department at San Diego’s Clairemont High School, to help many underserved students to survive academically in Clairemont High School. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID started with one high school and 32 students, and now it serves almost 200,000 students in over 2,700 middle and high schools in 39 states and in the District of Columbia across 15 countries.
AVID is an academic support program for grades 5 to 12 that prepares students for college success, especially for students who are academically in the middle.

In Texas, AVID began in the San Antonio Independent School District. 27 high schools and 13 middle schools participated in AVID in 1999-2000, but the number of participating schools has been increased to 158 high school and 153 middle schools by 2006-2007. Also students’ enrollment is increasing rapidly each year. In 1999-2000, 724 high school students and 680 middle school students enrolled in AVID and 11,969 high school students and 8,498 middle school students enrolled by year 2006-2007. Now, Texas is the second largest in the nation that implemented AVID.

Now, it is important to think about why Fort Worth school district decided to expand AVID to all high schools next year.
According to the Texas AVID state office’s website, 80% to 85% who are enrolled in AVID are Hispanics and African Americans and about 65% to 70% are economically disadvantaged.
More than 80% middle school students in AVID enroll in advanced courses, and greater portion of high school students passes TAKS exams as well, which means that AVID is actually aiding underserved students for their academic success without paying high-cost tutors. AVID works with school districts and the districts provide public school teacher and tutors for these students.
Also parents are involved by attending site team meeting and keeping regular contact with the AVID coordinator, thus can encourage their students to academically success.
When AVID and National high school graduation rates were compared, 99% of AVID students graduated high school while national high school graduation rate was about 82%. AVID students completed university entrance requirements at a much high rate than non-AVID students (91% vs. 34%), and more than 80% AVID students applied for four-year colleges and more than 75% of AVID students accepted to four-year colleges.

For all these reasons, AVID should be implemented more in Texas schools. AVID is the road to the American Dream, which is college for many students. According to Education Trust, only 13 percent of all bachelors’ degrees are earned by Blacks, Latinos, and Native-Americans combined.
If districts are seriously concerning about their students to academically speed up, they should support and expand AVID programs. AVID isn’t an organization to make money out of underserved students’ pocket. It is actually helping those students to get back to their track and take burdens off of their parents. Support for AVID will provide opportunity for the many of minority students’ academic achievements, that is the opportunity to fulfill their college dream. Furthermore, fulfilling their college will lead more of the minority students into higher social position jobs and help them to maintain certain level of living.

Therefore, expanding AVID to more high schools in Texas, and other states, should be encouraged and supported. AVID isn’t just a way to acceptance to colleges. It is actually minority students’ road to their success in college and their life in the near future. Success of minority people in Texas will benefit the state by decreasing minority-related problems, such as unemployment and crimes caused by low-level livings, since Texas' population is consist of more than 50% minorities.

Friday, July 27, 2007

AP and IB programs.. Right measurements for college success?

According to the report from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), nearly one in five Texas high school juniors and seniors took Advanced Placement exams, AP exams, in 2005-2006. There are almost three times more students who took AP exam or International Baccalaureate Examination (IB exam) in 2005-2006 compare to the number of students in 1994-1995. The article points out that the driving forces for students to take high school classes that they can earn college credit or taking exams are competition in the job market and high college tuition.
Currently, the AP program allows students to take more advanced classes and let them take end-of-course examinations to earn college credit, if students score 3 or higher on a 5-point scale. The IB program lets student take end-of-course tests as well and the students who pass the exam can enter a Texas university as a sophomore.
Gene Buinger, superintendent of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district, said that the parents realize that the credit earned during high school years can be a great assistance in high college tuition.
Only in the Fort Worth school district, 2,504 students took 4,829 AP exams in 2006, and more than 50% of students are qualified to earn college credit. Buinger also said that making students to take the exam will allow teachers to be accountable for the result. Cynthia Sedam, director for advanced academic services, said that the kids must have valuable skills and the Fort Worth schools are beginning to focus on preparing middle school students to take AP classes in high school.

It is probably true that the students who passed AP or IB exams with high score will impress many college admissions offices. And these students will skip introductory courses and will be starting with more advanced courses or start as sophomores depending on programs that have been taken or credit they have earned.
But is taking AP or IB program or exam will help students to get prepared enough for more advanced courses as they skip introductory classes?
Beginning college is already a totally new experience for many high school graduates. College life is whole lot different in terms of taking classes, managing your own time, and there’s no one to tell you what to do. Some students even struggle to get through this unexpected and inexperienced freshmen years. For many students, this will have great effects on taking classes as well and students must deal with how to manage the anxiety with studying.
Some studies have shown that students who took AP exams have higher rate to be successful in college life and to graduate in four years. But these studies are somewhat biased. Researchers should though about that to what extent students’ success is directly related to the AP program itself compared to each individual student’s personal characteristics.
Also we should think carefully if the students who completed AP or IB programs and exams are prepared enough to skip introductory courses. Even in introductory classes in college, various professors teach in various manners. Also many of them are focus on different factors through their courses. Then can college admissions conclude that these high school students who took AP or IB programs are well prepared to take the next advanced courses? This can be very controversial. According to the survey performed by Harvard researcher Philip M. Sadler and University of Virginia researcher Robert H. Tai., AP science students at 63 colleges concluded that their AP experience did not help them much. Also a study showed that non-AP students who took the prerequisite courses in college biology got better grades than AP-Credit students I the subsequent courses. Based on these studies, AP or IB can’t be compared to introductory classes in college and shouldn’t be the measure of students’ success.
These programs are somewhat biased measurement of valuable skills that students should have. This shows how our society is still measures one’s abilities to be successful based on test scores rather than trying to look at various other factors.
Yes, completing AP or IB programs and earning college credits may help parents and students to reduce huge college tuition in short-run view. But we seriously need to think again that if those students will be able to complete college without solid understanding of introductory knowledge. In long-run, this may cause students, who are already strongly pressured under AP and IB programs in high school, to be more stressed about their college experiences and stay longer in college, therefore paying more tuitions, in some cases if some of students fail to do well without solid base.

For complete article see:

Friday, July 20, 2007

New sex offender classification system, gateway to reducing further sexual crimes

More accurate risk test for classifying sex offenders was expected to be adopted by the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment earlier this month.
State’s current risk test is used to determine which sex offenders must publicly declare their crimes based on age, martial status, previous offenses and the sex of the victim. But the current risk test can be misleading and tend to fail to see more dangerous offenders. For these reasons, the new system will include multiple tests. This multiple tests will include psychological evaluations, which will be used to identify which offenders need supervision and to determine the possibilities that an offender will commit further sexual or other types of crimes.
Allison Taylor, executive director of the council, said the new test under the new system will give a better indication of which offenders belong in the high-risk category, which will include more women and fewer juveniles.
But the new test will be applies to sex offenders being released from prison since it would be almost impossible to re-evaluate all of the state’s 45,000 registered sex offenders.

In my opinion, adopting a new test for sex offenders is very important for the society. Sex offenders are an extremely heterogeneous mixture and come from all socioeconomic and racial groups. It is also important to test possibilities of committing later crimes since many sex offenders crossover to different victims and the most sex offending begins during adolescence. According to the 2000 Uniform Crime Statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, juveniles account for a significant number of sexual crimes. And it is important to offer treatments as early as possible since the juveniles with sexual behavior problems are more likely to commit crimes. Like Taylor expected, there are women sexual offenders as well. Female sex offenders are largely unrecognized and neglected. But a 2000 study shows that females commit sexual offenses against children, biological relatives, and unrelated people.
According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA), sex offender behaviors are extremely resistant to change. Thus it is very important to both control and punish behaviors are necessary in protecting public safety. There are regulations such as law enforcement, child safety zone, and sexual offender registration to monitor behaviors of sexual offenders. But I believe that the new test with the psychological evaluation will be more effective in preventing future crimes before they happen than current regulations.

For complete article see: