Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[Education] Let's Bring Back the Draft, "American Cultures," and the legacy of slavery on African-Africans today *edited*

As a graduation requirement in the College of Letters & Science at UC Berkeley, I am required to take an American Cultures course. I elected to take an introductory sociology class. And, I believe I have never ever came across a course that is, well, so "progressive." It's not that I just disagree with some of the views presented in this course, but, more so, that I am quite shocked at the topics that are so openly discussed in this course. Moreover, many of the views are those that I might not personally agree with.

So far, we have discussed unequal opportunities that minorities, largely African-Americans, face in the education system, discrimination based on gender and on sexual orientation. Additionally, we have talked at great lengths about how African-Americans are largely left out of the educational system as the current educational system is not culturally sensitive to the historical legacy of slavery.

Nonetheless, in the classroom, perhaps it's the professor or perhaps it's the maturity level of the students, but the classroom setting is very agreeable to discussion. And, as participation is ten percent of the final grade, which is on a straight grading scale (93% - 97% A, 90-93% A-, etc...) and as not a great many students expressed views that are not too dissimilar from those of the general lectures, I have some how come to take on the role of presenting the far right's side of the view by default. 

On any given question, I feel I am giving a generic answer that, perhaps, Sean Hannity might give. I don't mind, but today, at the risk of getting shot, I said sexual orientation is a choice for all, but a small fraction of the population. Moreover, I said that by giving equal rights to those that do not have a choice, this will tend to encourage homosexual behavior. Of course, I added in that this is probably why the far right continue to say sexual preferences are a choice, but at the same it made me wonder how some of these talking heads on FOX and MSNBC really do say what they say with a straight face. I mean do they really believe what they say or are they just spouting the platform of their political leaders.

However, on a secondary note, it did make me think that it would be a great idea to re-introduce the draft. I mean there's multiple arguments about how it'd make the U.S. more reluctant to go to war and the like, but I'm saying this strictly on the basis that, well, there are lots of different types of people in this country that I will never meet. I cannot think of something that will build a national American identity than serving the country together in the armed forces with people from say, Idaho, Alabama, or San Francisco.

Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve MythAlso, coming back into this spring semester, I never thought I would spend so much time looking over studies and articles into schooling quality. I am currently spending about 90% of my time on my senior thesis that is entirely about international students flows. Also, in the single midterm prompt for the Sociology course, we were asked to write about (required reading included Inequality By Design):

"How has your own educational experience been influenced by the socio-economic context of your home community and high school? What broader conclusions can your draw about the relationship between education and the reproduction of class inequalities?"

I'm sure I'm the only one that argued against it -- it's basically a book written by UC Berkeley's entire Sociology Department. I don't know why I do this to myself sometimes. I set myself up for some very challenging tasks; of course, it'd be easier to take the view of these professors (I hadn't discovered Eric Hanushek's work at that point), but I guess it just would've been a pretty dull assignment -- write a paper about something I don't agree with or could care less about supporting an idea that I don't agree with nor do a particularly care about.

So, I did things my way -- the way I see it. It definitely made it a much more difficult assignment, but hey I really do believe in what I wrote and it makes doing the assignment all that much more pleasant .Honestly though, I really do believe in what I wrote. There's a reason why African-American students underperform African immigrants. There's a reason why Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice could never have become the U.S. President (even before the most recent U.S. election). And, to be honest, there's a reason why the mainstream reparations for slavery dominated the mainstream African-American agenda (well, up until the most recent U.S. Presidential election). Anyways, here's the try I gave. I ultimately got a 90% 91% on a straight scale.

note: there's  a few typos, including the usage of the word endogenous and exogenous incorrectly...

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