VOLUME 9 • ISSUE 2
The Next Four Years How Obama’s second term will play out
Obama’s Second Term
AS WELL AS: Immigration Laws, 4-5 Justice Clinton?, 8 Death of Leisure Reading, 10
DEAR READERS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Charles Liu SENIOR EDITOR Drew Bent COPY EDITORS Sabrina Lui Eric Noh Sarah Dukes-Schlossberg PUBLICITY Helen Carefoot TREASURER Joseph Nicolls CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Laura Grimm Sidd Karamcheti David Patou
fter four years of considerable political turbulence, Obama now faces four more years as President of the United States.
At the root of these movements is the fact that we live in a constantly changing world. In the blink of an eye, the leaders of today are replaced by the forward thinkers of tomorrow. The environments that we know so well are lost to the whims of the world. The changes that we see in our world, however, are reflected even more intricately in ourselves—our thoughts, our ideas, our beliefs. The transformations we experience around us evoke change as we try to mold the world to fit our needs and desires. As the election season draws to a close, this is especially true; President Obama’s re-election renews our efforts for bipartisan cooperation, and we demand equally much of our President for the coming four years. In this issue, The Chariot explores several issues that have captured public attention and inspired debate. It is our goal to promote awareness about these issues and provide a variety of perspectives so that you as a reader can be informed about the relevant issues of today. In reality, however, the topics covered in this issue represent only a fraction of the significant questions in society today, and it is a task left to the reader to truly understand the breadth of topics that hold public interest. Ultimately, however, no article can force its beliefs onto you; it is up to you to form your own ideas about the issues pertinent to society today. Only you can make the choices that allow you to be a force for change in the world. So enjoy this first issue of the year on the path to a greater understanding of the world!
PHOTOGRAPHY Anh-Tram Bui Sara Ma
Charles Liu EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
GRAPHICS Ray Chen Ben Fearon George Hwang The Chariot would like to thank the following sponsors and patrons: FOUNDATION/GROUP SPONSORS Adobe Systems • Daughters of the American Revolution • Palo Alto Lions Club PATRONS ($100+) Lauren Michals and Vinod Bharadwaj • Patricia Bruegger • Steven Guggenheim • Yajun Liu and Shirley Zeng The Chariot would also like to thank Advisor Marc Igler for his support.
ABOUT US The Chariot is intended to create and promote political discussion at Gunn and make people aware of issues that matter. We ask that you respect all opinions which are reflected in our publication, and write letters to the editors if you wish to voice your opinion. The views expressed do not reflect that of The Chariot, but rather those of the individual writers. The Chariot was originally founded in 2001 as The Partisan Review by Gunn alumni Ilan Wurman (‘06), Channing Hancock (‘06), and Sarah McDermott (‘05). Visit our website, www.gunnchariot.com if you wish to view any issues from previous years or for more information about us. Any questions, comments, suggestions, or requests to join can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to make a donation or subscribe, please send checks to: Marc Igler Re: The Gunn Chariot 780 Arastradero Road Palo Alto, CA 94306 Checks can be made out to Gunn High School with “The Chariot” on the memo. APR 2013
IN THE NEWS
AROUND Yahoo acquires 17-year- CAMPUS old wunderkind’s app On March 25, 2013, Nick D’Aloisio sold his news-reading iPhone app to Yahoo for a price rumored to be around $30 million. Newspapers and websites accross the globe quickly picked up the story after learning that D’Aloisio has yet to turn 18. In fact, D’Aloisio is a 17-year-old high school student from Britain who taught himself to program from an early age. His app automatically generates short summaries for long articles. D’Aloisio will join Yahoo, working from their London offices.
Supreme Court considers two landmark same-sex marriage cases
This past March, the Supreme Court heard arguments for two landmark same-sex marriage cases. The first case was Hollingsworth v. Perry, which concerns the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. Passed in 2008, the proposition restricts Californian marriages to opposite-sex couples. If the Supreme Court strikes down Proposition 8, they will likely set a national precedent for the rights of same-sex couples. The second case, United States v. Windsor, was argued a day later and is narrower in scope. Edith Windsor the plaintiff, went to court after she was required to pay more than $360,000 in federal estate taxes following her wife’s death. Had the same-sex marriage been treated identically to an opposite-sex marriage by the federal government, Windsor would not have paid any taxes. This distinction is a result of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which was determined to be unconstitutional by a lower court. The Supreme Court is now considering the case, although some question whether it has jurisdiction over the case now that the U.S. government has agreed with the lower court’s decision.
Rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula
Relations between North Korea and the U.S.-South Korea coalition have soured in recent times. After declaring that it would restart a nuclear reactor that it shut down five years ago, North Korea has taken another step into aggressive foreign policy by closing off the Kaesong Industrial Complex to South Korean workers and managers; The Kaesong Industiral Complex is a joint North-South Korean complex that is located in North Korea’s side of the border. In addition, the isolationalist country has warned its neighbor on the Korean peninsula and the United States that war is imminent and could break out anytime from now. In response to these threats, the U.S. has rushed ballistic missile defenses to Guam and is engaging in military drills with South Korea. Although military analysts are in agreement that the probability of a second Korean War is low, South Korea and the United States are not willing to take chances and are making the necessary preparations in the case of a North Korean attack. APR 2013
“I firmly believe that the legalization of gay marriage should not be up to polls or the biased opinions of the close-minded politicians and Supreme Court justices. Gay marriage only affects gay couples who, in my personal opinion, should be allowed the same rights to marry as those given to same-sex couples, including adoption and health care perks.”
Kathleen Decoste, 11th grade
“What Nick D’Aloisio did was phenomenal. It’s not everyday that you see a seventeen-year-old selling an app to a major company.”
Yonatan Oren, 10th grade
The State of Immigration
Wiping Our Slate Clean
Sabrina Lui Copy Editor
ince before most of us here at Gunn can remember, the topic of illegal immigration has headlined everything from local political debates to presidential elections. With almost 11 million illegal immigrants seeking jobs or government subsidies in its states, America finds itself the victim of its own economic success, pulled in every direction by different interest groups that hold drastically different opinions on how we should approach this long-term problem. Now newly reelected President Obama strives to demonstrate that he can fulfill one of his 2012 campaign promises and finally make some permanent changes by introducing an ambitious overhaul bill to the immigration system. A bipartisan group of Senators has been meeting to write a comprehensive bill that will most significantly include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The Republican Party’s resistance to taking action on immigration has, in the past, alienated it from one of the fastest-growing electorates in the country: the Latino community. As 2012 election results are still fresh on everyone’s minds, Republicans have been forced to rethink their platform, taking into consideration the 71 percent Latino vote for Mr. Obama. Marco Rubio, who
Sept. 30, 1996
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act is enacted. 4
has been attending the immigration bill dis- in the Immigration Reform and Control cussions as a front man for the Republican Act of 1986. The fact that the problem has Party, explains why it is necessary to take resurfaced raises questions of effectiveness. a less hostile, more practical approach to Of course, it makes little sense to employ the issue beyond brute enforcement: “We the solution again when it clearly failed to are going to have a struggle speaking to a sustain itself: what will we do when the next whole segment of the wave of illegal immipopulation about our grants starts to build up? principles of limited To protect its bill from It is necessary to government and free the complaints of this take a less hostile, enterprise if they nature from conservative more pratical apthink we don’t want Republicans—such as them here.” Representative Phil Ginproach to the isThis agenda may grey, a Georgian Repubsue beyond brute be a positive one, but lican who remains firmly enforcement. it may also end up reopposed to “amnesty of stricting the Republiany kind”—the overhaul can mindset as Republicans scramble to win group states that the bill will also impose the Hispanic vote. If electoral demograph- higher security of legal workers, so that imics are the sole motivator here, an emphasis migrants without visas cannot obtain jobs on one specific community will compro- that legal citizens are in need of. Only highly mise the comprehensiveness of the new skilled immigrants will be allowed to stay bill. Then there’s the moral question: is this while low-wage immigrants will be considpath unfair to people waiting legitimately in ered based on some sort of guest-worker line to get citizenship? If the bill allows il- program. The president hopes that these legal residents to essentially jump the line future increases in border patrol will comyet provides no aid to those playing by the pensate for granting millions of citizenrules, there is something flawed in the way ships now and play a role in making sure we that it approaches the system. Supporters won’t need to do this yet another time 30 of the bill claim the strategy is not a com- years into the future. plete amnesty because it will require payIf we essentially wipe our slate clean ment of fines and back taxes, as well as em- and then monitor our borders more ploy wider distribution of visas to lighten tightly, it’s possible that the illegal immibacklogs (of people applying legitimately). gration situation can be quelled, in addiThe most widely discussed controversy tion to the job competition for skilled, circulating this bill, however, lies in the fear legal workers. Now it’s up to the adminthat history repeats itself; almost 30 years istration to demonstrate its ability to folago, the Reagan administration executed low through. We’ll just have to wait and this same “solution” to illegal immigration see.
Oct. 26, 2006
The Secure Fence Act is signed, authorizing fencing along the border. APR 2013
Apr. 23, 2010
Arizona signs SB 1070, giving it more authority to deal with illegal immigrants.
A Second Chance
Cooper Aspergen Contributing Writer
he 2012 presidential election results conceal no questions of doubt; now has come the time for the United States of America to adopt a more comprehensively lenient and assimilative immigration policy. It is essential to the United States’ political and economic climate that changes are made to the highly restrictive current policy. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the demographic that accounts for a third of all U.S. immigrants as well as the nationality most frequently identified in the media with illegal immigration efforts, Mexicans, made up ten percent of the electorate at the time of President Obama’s re-election—59 percent of which opposed the record level of deportations during Obama’s first term, according to the Pew Research Center. It is easy to see why Republicans are so eager to revise their even more stringent platform with regards to illegal immigration; with many who consider themselves sympathetic to the needs of illegal immigrants abandoning conservative ideals in favor of more liberal ones, pundits point to illegal immigration as a highly influential factor in the Republican party’s loss of the 2012 election. The economic benefits of a more permissive and progressive immigration policy transcend the political ones. According to the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, enact-
July 28, 2010
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocks parts of the Arizona immigration law.
A peaceful immigration reform movement in 2010. Arasmus Photo, via Wikimedia Commons. ing the Development, Relief, and Education for American Minors (DREAM) Act would reduce “deficits by $1.4 billion” and “increase governmental revenues by $2.3 billion over the next ten years.” Furthermore, the Center for American Progress indicates 1.4 million jobs would be created by 2030 should the DREAM Act in its unrevised form by passed. The DREAM Act represents a limited reform effort, granting citizenship to those who immigrated illegally as children should they enter college or the military. By instituting not only the DREAM ACT but also possibly a larger effort, the federal government would expand the nation’s ability to contribute productively with regards to economics on a global scale. Implementing a more liberal immigration policy also yields a lower requirement for border patrol. According to the Associated Press, the federal government employs 1,200 National Guardsmen to man the U.S.-Mexico border, costing a total of $110 million annually. But that’s not all;
June 15, 2012
Obama allows illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to remain. APR 2013
White House budget records reveal that border control efforts, in their entirety, cost taxpayers a total of $90 billion over just ten years. Broader-scale immigration reform efforts not only boost national economic productivity, but also relieve taxpayers from having to bear a greater burden and ensure that their money is more effectively allocated. The most significant reason behind the average American’s disdain for illegal immigration is easy to pinpoint—illegitimate removal of openings for nativeborn Americans from the job market. Research, however, has demonstrated the contrary; immigrants typically fill roles that complement those filled by non-immigrants and allow for them to exist. One can even make the argument that the job prospects of a native-born American and those of an illegal immigrant are in many ways inextricably linked; a less harsh immigration policy, then, would benefit not only illegal immigrants but also nativeborn Americans.
June 25, 2012
Supreme Court upholds ‘show me your papers,’ rejects other provisions. 5
“He’s mobilizing public opinion. He’s staying on top of the issues and being helpful. But at the same time he’s given us in the House and Senate space to craft a bipartisan agreement.”
Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator (D-New York), in reference to immigration talks
“My intention here is to try to get as much done with the Republican Party over the next two years as I can.”
Barack Obama, President of the United States, at a fundraiser for the 2014 elections
“At some point we need to solve our spending problem, and what the president has offered would leave us with a budget that never balances.”
John Boehner, Speaker of the House (R-Ohio), in response to President Obama’s call for new taxes
A SECOND TERM Expect More GOP Roadblocks
accepted as societal custom. Predictably, the g reat scope of this change has led to g reat resistance from the GOP, and it does not look like they plan on budging anytime soon. For a president who is presiding over a Cong ress that is r un by a par ty so mired in deadlock that they have recently filibustered the Joseph Nicolls nomination of a g reatly respected Contributing Writer Republican candidate for Secretar y of Defense, an attempt to tr y to enost people predicted act g reat societal change seems like that, were Obama to win a g reat folly. a second ter m, his poliTake an example of one of the cies would become more liberal, more straightforward refor ms: the and he would become slightly more increase in minimum wage. Already, ag g ressive in tr ying to pass legis- it has met g reat resistance from lation. People people such as were right in John Boehner, Few predicted how that sense, but Marco Rubio, few predicted and Mitch liberal, how sweephow liberal, how M c C o n nell, ing, and how big sweeping, and who called [Obama’s] agenda how big that Obama’s enwould be. agenda would tire State of be. Since his inthe Union adaugural address, dress a “pehe’s proved that his largely liberal destrian, liberal boilerplate.” How speech was not mere words. He Obama expects a Cong ress drownplans to tur n them into actual leg- ing in deadlock to pass such sweepislation, which, if successful, could ing refor ms—when not only is it result in sweeping changes for g over ned by an opposing par ty, but America. This is precisely why ver y also blatantly deriding his ideals— few changes that Obama proposes is beyond the understanding of will actually occur. legislators of both par ties. Keith The changes that Obama pro- Ellison, a Democratic representaposed in his recent State of the tive from Minnesota, told the HuffUnion address could g row to af- ington Post that “[h]e just sor t of fect ever y par t of society, and that raised the issue[s], which raised a lot is not a hyperbole. From an in- of questions about what did he [sic] crease in the minimum wage from have in mind.” Obama’s intentions $7.25 to $9, to universal access to and effor ts are admirable and couhigh-quality pre-Kindergar ten edu- rageous, but also foolish. Though cation, his refor ms could g reatly it is impor tant to have end-g oals in change the economy at large and mind, it is impor tant to make them directly alter fundamental aspects achievable. At the moment, it looks of day-to-day life that people have like that is not the case.
M, A SECOND CHANCE What We Can Expect Stephen Lee Contributing Writer
ow that President Barack Obama has won the election for his second term, he can breathe a sigh of relief and have the peace of mind to reinforce the agenda that he believes will direct our country in the right direction— without worrying too much about whether he will be able to serve the second term or not. Obama has done a decent job during his first term, considering the situation in which he entered office. His lack of leadership and failure to reach a bipartisan agreement on taxes and deficit cuts, however, left a serious dent in his first term, which may linger over his second term. Also, his policies on immigration and gun control were not as strong as they should
have been, which cost a lot of lives and left most of us in despair. As addressed in the State of the Union speech on February 12, Obama has a full agenda that he plans to start, reinforce, and change. This agenda includes strengthening the U.S. economy by reducing the deficit; avoiding budget cuts (e.g. the sequester) that automatically kick in if Congress doesn’t reach a bipartisan agreement; forming comprehensive tax and health care reform; creating jobs in the science and technology sector; responding to climate change; developing stronger cyber defenses; improving the voting system; and passing strict laws to prevent people from purchasing guns for resale to criminals, as well as removing weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets. The most important issues that Obama needs to focus on are education and gun control. Our nation has not been ranked in the top ten for math and science for many years. Obama is proposing to change that trend by modifying the Higher Education Act and the Race to the Top program. His decision to ask Congress to change the
Higher Education Act such that “affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid” is a wise one. It is absurd that young people cannot find decent jobs to become financially and socially independent, even after obtaining degrees from high-ranking colleges. It’s time that all Americans will be able to obtain suitable jobs and Obama As for gun control, it is hard to change the laws in a short period of time due to the immense political power and influence of National Rifle Association and other political reasons. However, as we’ve seen from the gun-related tragedies all over the US, especially from Newtown, now is the time to make the changes for schools to be safe again for defenseless students and children. Obama’s did not expend enough effort in his first term to prevent these devastating events. It is the wish of many American citizens that President Obama will address these issues more confidently and strive for more bipartisan agreements during his second term. Obama needs to lead out country in the right direction. Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Hillary Clinton, on left. Supreme Court, on right. Steve Petteway, Creative Commons Attribution.
Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court
Neel Guha Contributing Writer
illary Clinton, one the most powerful and popular politicians in the country, is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential Election. She leads every other potential candidate by a considerable margin and has received the support of Democratic Party leaders. Never before in the history of this country has a woman had a better chance of being elected president.
However, Clinton might not be interested in running for president. In 2016, she will be sixty-nine years old and the second oldest non-incumbent presidential candidate in history if elected. This, and her history of blood clots, may lead to scrutiny regarding her health. She may face criticism for her handling of Benghazi, North Korea, and Afghanistan. Finally, 2016 will be a tougher and closer election than 2012. With potential GOP nominees like Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio, Clinton may face a republican candidate who is more likeable and popular than Mitt Romney. Instead, Hillary Clintonâ€™s sights may be set on a Supreme Court spot. Liberal Justices Ginsberg and Breyer are both in their seventies and are expected to retire with a Democrat still in the White House. On the Court, APR 2013
Clinton would be able to effect national change in ways unimaginable to her before. She would never have to run for another election, and would be able exit politics on a victorious appointment (as opposed to defeat in an election). With friends in the Senate and a debt of gratitude from Obama, her confirmation would be quick and supported across party lines. Besides being a former lawyer, she would bring experience from her eight years in the Senate and four years as Secretary of State. Her appointment would be reminiscent of the Bill Clinton years, and may even bring compromise and moderation to a Supreme Court increasingly embattled in partisan feuds. A position on the court would reaffirm Hillary Clintonâ€™s legacy as one of the most influential figures of our times.
A Civil War Rages On
Eric Noh Copy Editor
he Syrian Civil War has been raging on since March 15, 2011 when nationwide demonstrations broke out in Syria, calling for the resignation of President Bashar-al-Assad, whose family has held an iron grip over the country for nearly half a century. The nearly one-year armed conflict has been fought primarily between the Assad Government and the Syrian National coalition, which seeks to oust the al-Assad family from power. The civil war has been devastating for the country; as of January 2, 2013, the warâ€™s death toll has exceeded an astonishing 60,000 people, according to the United Nations. Furthermore, up to 28,000 people have been reported as missing. Although there are no clear signs that the war will end in the immediate future, the Syrian National Coalition will eventually emerge as victors for a number of factors. An advantage the Syrian National Coalition has over the Assad Government is overwhelming support from the international community. The rebel faction has received arms and other military equipment from three countries: Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, and Turkey. Turkey has been the most enthusiastic supporter, even going as far as offering the Free Syrian Army, the military wing of the rebel coalition, a base of operations and safe zone within its borders. In addition, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France have provided non-lethal military aid such as medical supplies and intelligence for the rebels. On the other hand, the Syrian government has been unable garner nearly as much international support as its counterparts. The Assad governmentâ€™s key allies, Russia and Iran, have been unable to give the same level of support that other countries have given to the Syrian National Coalition. This is largely due to the fact that international organizations, such as the United Nations and the European Union, have condemned the Assad government. Thus, Russia and Iran are reluctant to provide additional support, fearing backlash from international organizations and countries from all over the world. At the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, government forces held a distinct advantage over the Free Syrian Army through superior military equipment and strength in numbers. However, as the conflict has progressed, the al-Assad government has seen this advantage slipping away from their fingers. For example, the Free Syrian Army has become a much more formidable force on the battlefield. The organiza-
tion, according to August 2012 estimates, has grown to over 100,000 fighters. In addition, the Free Syrian Army has gotten its hands on more heavy military equipment such as anti-aircraft missiles, mortars, and rockets, allowing the organization to fight more often on the open battlefield instead of in guerilla warfare. Government forces, on the other hand, have only been weakening. They outnumbered FSA forces at the start of the conflict, but due to heavy losses within its ranks and defections, they no longer hold the strength of numbers. The al-Assad government has also seen its tank and air superiority dwindling. At the start of the war, the Free Syrian Army had little or no means of combatting government helicopters, fighter jets, or tanks. However, with the acquirement of more advanced weaponry by the FSA, the government has been utilizing its air and tank superiority to the extent it had been at the start of the civil war. Although it is not clear when the alAssad government will crumble, it is almost certain that the Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army will emerge victorious in the civil war that has been tearing apart Syria. With the gradual but definite weakening of government forces and the strengthening of the Free Syrian outcome, there is no realistic outcome other than Syrian National Coalition victory.
A demonstration in Montreal in solidarity with the people of Syria on March 27, 2011. Creative Commons Attribution. APR 2013
Life & Style The Death of Leisure Reading, and the Case for Re-reading Katina Yong Contributing Writer
e have all been exposed to the endless reading lists of books considered classics by literary critics and English majors. There is no strict definition of a classic; the Oxford Dictionary broadly defines one as “a work of art of recognized and established value.” During high school, emphasis is removed from free and leisure reading (where you decide what you want to read) and shifted towards required reading. The lack of free reading in the curriculum is a large oversight that prevents teens from becoming life long readers. The required reading that forms the backbone of Language Art courses is generally dry and not engaging to the teenage reader because it lacks themes that we can relate with. Sometimes, books will need to be read time and time again. As Jo Walton says, “we can read ahead of ourselves all we like and keep coming back and getting more out of things every time.” Perhaps what we need to do is to encourage a spirit of openness regarding what we read—a class that is not a class, but rather a place where those interested in the book will come into the class and discuss important themes.
Books Read at Gunn A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne A Separate Peace - John Knowles There is no point in reading something that has no interest or value to you at the time. Rather, wait and perhaps fancy will strike. At different times, there are facets of a book that are missed, parts that are worth experiencing again. Re-reading is something to be savored; re-reading a book can help us enjoy the book more. As a personal experience, I would like to point to the books by Tamora Pierce that I first tried in 3rd grade. I abhorred them because I didn’t want to deal with the issues of teenage girls yet. Then I stepped APR 2013
back and re-read them a few years later, and I enjoyed them. Books should be read both at face value and for a deeper meaning. Reading a book beyond your years is not bad, but going back is even better. Going back allows you to grasp things that might have been missed. How are these two related? On the surface they appear disparate, but they are connected by the fact that one can approach books with curiosity, wait, and then re-read them. This is what I believe a true immersive reading experience is.
FILMS AT THE OSCARS A closer look into some Oscar winners Joseph Nicolls Contributing Writer
Zero Dark Thirty
Despite the critical acclaim this film recieved from critics, it failed spectacularly at the Oscars, which some suspect was the result of a political fallout. Zero Dark Thirty had been nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Orignial Screenplay, but only won for Best Sound Editing. Nonetheless, its unflinchingly realistic portrayal of the hunt for one of the most elusive men of history is not one you should miss. The film boasts a strong female protagonist, realistic depictions of war, and a strong dose of timeliness. With better pacing and a clearer purpose then Bigelow’s previous winner, The Hurt Locker, this is a movie that film buffs will be analyzing years from now.
Daniel Day Lewis has already attained such high respect and prestige as an actor. That being said, merely appearing in a movie guarantees him a nomination for several of acting’s highest accolades. However, even for an actor as skilled as himself, he outdid himself in Spielberg’s recent historical drama, Lincoln. He somehow manages to make America’s most revered president both more human and more iconic. In short, his appearance in this movie is nothing short of majestic, and is guaranteed to stun anyone fortunate enough to watch it. The Best Actor Award Lewis recieved at the Oscars was truly deserved.
To make it clear, I do not agree that Anne Hathaway’s performance in this movie should be worthy of an Oscar. Both Sally Field’s and Amy Adams’ performances outshone Hathaway’s by spades, with both of them portraying intensely flawed characters who provoked much thought and discussion. Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, showed up for a few minutes, sung a song emotionally, and died without any emotional weight attached to her. It might as well have been a cameo. However, she still filled all the typical criteria for an Oscar win. She portrayed the classic downtrodden prostitute with a heart of gold, and she did display some intense emotion in her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream.” Though her performance will be quickly forgotten, she still won Best Supporting Actress.
Images taken from Flickr and Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution. APR 2013
Chalkboards, Whiteboards, and now SMART Boards? Drew Bent Senior Editor
t Gunn, we’re living in the future and we don’t even know it. It’s not unusual to walk into a classroom and see a gigantic screen being written on with digital ink. The SMART Board would be a rare sight anywhere else in this country, but it’s almost universal in the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD). In fact, according to the district, around 90% of its middle school classrooms and 10% of its high schools’ uses this interactive whiteboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if our district were one of largest users of the SMART Board technology. However, not all technology is good technology. In fact, it’s easy to misuse the latest gadget if not careful. The SMART Board might be on the rise, but we should not forget to take the time to assess the technology and its effectiveness. For the most part, there have been very few controlled studies done on the SMART Board. Those that have been conducted have yet to find significant gains in cognitive testing. The media has usually resorted to anecdotal evidence in assessing its effectiveness. Although the product has received generally good reception, a growing number of people are questioning the value it brings to the classroom. On paper, its feature set is impressive. The SMART Board, along with a computer, offers video capabilities, presentation saving, and a host of fancy software features. Yet, it’s unclear how many teachers actually take advantage of these features. At Gunn and the other schools in the
district, it’s not uncommon for a teacher to use his or her SMART Board as if it were a normal whiteboard, albeit one that costs hundreds of dollars more. This is your classic top-down approach to technology in schools. The district pushes for more SMART Boards in classrooms without taking into full consideration the individual needs of the teachers. For some math and science classes, the SMART Board is perfect as it allows teachers to upload the annotated slides to their website after the lectures. However, I’ve sat in many classes where the teacher evidently didn’t need the obtrusive piece of equipment in the room. The district had begun with a pilot run before expanding to all schools. Many teachers praised it for the excitement it instilled in their students. Yet, as with all technology, we shouldn’t confuse a novelty with a long-lasting improvement to an old technology. Many teachers start out using features specific to the SMART Board, only to resort to teaching methods that have been around for hundreds of years. If anything, a simple projector displaying the teacher’s computer on the whiteboard could replicate their behavior with the SMART Board. Most students already spend enough time in front of an electronic device. If APR 2013
Creative Commons Attribution. parents knew that those from ages 8 to 18 spend seven and a half hours each day on a phone, computer, or TV, they wouldn’t be so keen on increasing the number by a few hours in the classroom. Why does all this matter? The SMART Board is becoming an embodiment of the Americans’ desire to have “the next great thing,” even when it may not add much value. The whiteboard of the future is expensive and bulky. With all its fancy gadgets, it detracts from the learning itself. As time goes on, its novelty wears off and teachers begin treating it like its predecessors. Here’s the truth: the whiteboard was never “broken” and thus it never had to be “fixed.” The United States education system already has quite a few problems of its own; we should put the effort where it’s needed.