Political climate shines light on selfishness
There has been many discussions about how President Donald Trump has divided this country with states being referred to as Red or Blue. In my travels I have found another way the country has been deeply divided. Donald Trump has brought out the best in Americans who care about others and the environment while exposing to the World just how corrupt and hateful are those who only think about themselves.
My travels and age has made it more clear to me just how much the country has moved in the wrong direction when it comes to those in power caring about people.
Just this morning while at the Post Office in Bellevue I noticed signs at the counter stating “No Public Restrooms.” It is shocking that any public building where people may end up standing in lines to be served would not have public restrooms. I am also concerned about the number of businesses now with signs “Restrooms for customers only.” This in a country where the population is aging.
I am particularly bothered when they are companies receiving a lot of government subsides and, in the case of oil companies, trillions of dollars have been wasted in the Middle East fighting wars to protect their interest there. It bothers me that when it comes to taxpayer dollars there is only a shortage of funds when it comes to meeting the needs of workers, the poor and the homeless.
Gifted programs not serving intended population
I am a recent graduate of the Bellevue Gifted Program and a current analyst at Amazon. Yesterday, I had a conversation with many young Amazon parents who live in Bellevue, and we talked about the gifted program after I mentioned that I was an alum. Asking me for advice to get in, many of the parents mentioned a local business that aims to tutor students into our gifted program.
This is probably not the first time you have heard of this, but it still raises a tremendous red flag.
It not only begs the question of how our program can maintain any sort of “equity,” but also calls into question the overall purpose and mission of our program. Unfortunately, the perception — and arguably, the reality — of our program is that we have become an elite, prep school-like institution. Our program is perceived as a superior, exclusive escape from “general” education — a program where academic-obsessed parents must test in their children at any cost (or find a private school). And yes, our program is evidence of de-facto segregation.
The state of our program runs contrary to the spirit of “gifted education” and fails to serve the special needs of gifted students. Earlier this year, I chose to research gifted education programs and the history of gifted education for my capstone college paper. Gifted education traditionally falls in the category of special needs educations and is grouped alongside students with special needs. Gifted characteristics are correlated with anxiety, depression and difficulty with social relationships. Gifted students are very much at risk. Gifted students come from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures. And even to my surprise, gifted students will still under-perform on standardized test scores and fail to graduate high school.
Given the status quo, I find it hard to legitimize our program as a “gifted program” that serves “gifted” students. Currently, our program, especially in high school, mainly allows students to take classes a year early. Counseling services that specialize in gifted populations are limited, if not nonexistent. So what is the point of having a program when we can just allow students to skip a grade? We primarily accelerate learning, which is only a fraction of the wraparound services provided by other programs around the nation. And in light of the latest name change, I am even more concerned that we are losing sight of who we should serve. Mere advancement reflects a misunderstanding of why gifted education is a necessity for any education.
Given this breakdown in gifted education, I believe there must be substantive reform to our program. We need to sit down and define a clearer program mission statement, before developing a more appropriate way of selecting students who are most in need of our program. We need to align the goals of our program to the spirit of gifted education, and hold ourselves accountable to these goals. As long as the pervasive culture is okay with tutoring for months to get into the program, we are failing an outlying, needy population.
Big Bang cast leading the way
As “The Big Bang Theory” CBS juggernaut rolls into a record 12th season on Sept. 24, most of the gang exploring mysteries of the universe have gone vegan, opting for plant-based eating. Leading actress Kaley Cuoco (Penny) also campaigns against Canadian slaughter of baby seals. Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Kunal Ayyar (Raj) are asking the U.S. to join the European Union in ending cruel cosmetic testing on animals. Johnny Galecki (Leonard) did it for personal health.
Dozens of other celebrity entertainers have gone vegan in recent years. They include Casey Affleck, Pamela Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Bob Barker, Beyonce, James Cameron, Jessica Chastain, Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres, Emily Deschanel, Peter Dinklage, Ariana Grande, Woody Harrelson, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Tobey Maguire, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman and Stevie Wonder.
Most seek to avoid oppressing and killing animals. Some look to reduce their risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Still others care about the devastating impacts of animal agriculture on climate change, water quality and wildlife habitats.
Compelling reasons for every one of us, as we get ready for The Big Bang Theory.