Author Archive

2013 in review

December 31, 2013 Leave a comment

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,200 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Learning

Remembering our Last Class

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: Learning


Welcome to our blog!

This is a class blog authored by student contributors and curated by their teacher, Dave Ostroff.

The posts on this blog are part of an ongoing assignment in our Government and Economics course at Parish Episcopal School (Dallas, TX). The major goal of our course is to prepare students for responsible citizenship in the 21st century. Students post reflection pieces on a rotating basis. We invite you to return often and read what we write!

Please read the specifics of our class blog assignment here.

View our class blogging and commenting guidelines here.

Special thanks to Mike Gwaltney and his AP US Government and Politics students for providing the inspiration for this project!



March 22, 2013 Leave a comment


Steps to Post:
1. Create New Post (top right gray ribbon);
2. Click on ‘Pop Out’ (bottom left);
3. Click ‘Photo’ – choose title, add photo (centered, please), and write analysis (2-3 sentences).
4. Add tags – select an ECON concept from our class list.
5. Add categories – 1) PhotoECON and 2) class section (A1, A3, B1, B2).


Categories: Curator's Notes, PhotoECON

Times Have Changed; So Should The BSA

February 22, 2013 2 comments

Ever since 1910 when the Boy Scouts of America was founded, they have had a policy against allowing gay boys to join. They have fought to keep this policy by referring to their first amendment right, that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble” (Amendment 1). The BSA official policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA”. They have also stated that their reason for not allowing gays into their private organization is that homosexuality is not conducive to its moral framework. Although they are a private organization, they receive non-economic support from the public and are recognized by congress as a federally charted organization. For Boy Scout events such as the annual Scout Jamboree, the Secretary of Defense is allowed to provide transportation, military equipment, and accommodations. The US Navy also allows service members who have earned the honor of Eagle Scout to enlist in a higher pay grade. These benefits and many others are denied to gays.

The BSA has received a lot of pressure from the public to change their policy. This is what probably led them to reconsider their ban on gay members and leaders into the organization. They planned to let each group decide for themselves whether or not they would accept gays. A week after news outlets reported these discussions, the Boy Scouts announced that they would postpone their final decision until they held their national meeting in May. As the United States has become more accepting of gay rights, the Boy Scouts have received more and more criticism for their controversial policy. Grass roots pressure from local scout chapters have been the most effective and influential on the BSA reconsideration of the policy.

Personally, I believe that the BSA no gay policy is outdated and institutionalizes homophobia. A large number of the American population is gay, and there is absolutely no problem with that. They have the right to express themselves and should be able to participate in and enjoy everything that a straight citizen can. This policy to me is no different from discrimination against race or religion. The BSA is not fostering a mutual respect for all, but instead a homophobic and unfair discrimination. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club demonstrates the opposing argument to this by saying that if gay boys were allowed into the organization it would result in “predators as Boy Scouts, pedophiles who will come in as Scoutmasters”. This is an unfair statement; you cannot assume that just because they are gay, they will molest other boys and act inappropriately.

An example of the BSA discrimination is the story of James Dale, who joined Cub Scouts when he was eight years old. James continued with Boy Scouts where he earned 33 merit badges and the Eagle Scout Award at age 17. He was elected into the Order of the Arrow, receiving the Vigil Honor and serving as chairman of his Lodge’s Vigil Honor Selection Committee. He was also asked by the council to speak as a youth representative at fund raising events. While attending Rutgers University and being co-president of the school’s lesbian and gay alliance, he served as an assistant scout master to troop 73. When a scout executive found out about this, he revoked his registration with the BSA and terminated his position. Even though James had done nothing wrong and had lived out the Boy Scout ideals his whole life, he was abruptly and unfairly stripped of all that he had earned. We have an evolving society that is becoming more understanding and accepting of Gays, and it is time that the BSA change along with it and become the accepting and nourishing community that they should be.

Author: GOV_KatieR

Categories: A1 Tags: , ,

Is America Still the Land of the Free?

February 21, 2013 2 comments

When America was first created, it was seen as a giant melting pot. A place where anyone could go to and be welcomed with open arms. A place of freedom to do what you pleased when you pleased it. But, America as we know it today is not as welcoming as described in the history books. Although we have over 11 million illegal immigrants who have merely been doing their jobs and not hurting anybody, Americans seem to have this idea that all illegal immigrants are bad and are trying to wreck the United States. This reasoning is why congresses’ attempts to make these immigrants citizens have been so controversial. The plan to take these people and make them legal citizens of the US would take time and effort, ensuring these people just truly want to live in the Land of the Free.138852817_66081bf2ee

Right now, in order to become a United States citizen, you must either have been born in the US or had parents who were citizens when you were born. If you do not fit either of these groups, you can apply for citizenship through either “derived” or “acquired” citizenship through parents, or you can apply for naturalization. The naturalization path is usually difficult and requires being interviewed and taking a test on English and on Civics which is composed of US History and Government.To take the naturalization test, you must be a “permanent resident for at least 5 years, be a green card holder, be able to read, write and speak English, be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles or the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order of happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law”(US Citizenship and Immigration Services). In other words, you must be a good person and have positive reasons to want to live in the United States.

Illegal immigrants in the US are not green card holders, so they are not eligible to become a citizen through naturalization. Now, most citizens think, “Why can’t the government just kick out all these illegal immigrants?” Well, they cannot do this for a variety of reasons. One, if we did so, we would be losing a large percentage of our workforce. And two, we can only deport people who are violating laws. There is no reason to deport a family who is minding their own businessstop-immigration-raids1 and not hurting anybody. Since they aren’t hurting anyone, why not just make them legal citizens? This is the issue members of congress are dealing with right now. In the attempt to get more than 11 million illegal immigrants their green cards, the White House leaked an immigration bill draft on Sunday, February 17. The leaked plan called for an 8 year process in which the 11 million illegal immigrants could apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa, increased security funding for borders, and expanded E-Verify systems for employers to check employees legal status. This bill was created by all democrats and was widely disputed by republicans. Senator Marco Rubio released a statement saying, “This legislation is half baked and seriously flawed” and that it would be “dead on arrival” if it were to be sent to Congress. This bill could have been the President’s way of saying Congress is moving too slow in figuring out a bill for this. He said in Las Vegas, “if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal…” It has been released, however that Obamas’ proposal is a “plan B” if the congress cannot come up with its’ own proposal.

Illegal immigration has been a big issue in the US for quite a while, and legislators are working hard to solve the issue. While there is a “Gang of Eight” who have dedicated all their time to solving the issue of illegal immigration and illegal immigrants, they are still not going fast enough for President Obama. The hope is to get a plan by March, but we will see what happens, and how congress decides to deal with the current situation.

Author: GOV_NicoleH

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