The Attic

On July 31st, 2014 our group received a visit from the attic, an organization that focuses on LGBTQ issues.

One of the topics that they spoke on was the challenges that they as young people face because of their sexual orientation. They believe that they receive this kind of treatment because they do not fit into societies norms of what young and women should be. Young men and women should be whatever it is that they choose to be and they can do whatever makes them happy. Society turns people into puppets, making people believe that the only way people will be happy is if opposite sex’s attract towards each other. The attic came to talk to us about how they are people and they shouldn’t be treated any differently because they are attracted to the same sex. The attic informed me that some employers actually fire their employees because they are gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. To me it just doesn’t make any sense to treat people that way. We are all human, and we all deserve the same rights as human beings.

By: Samira Thrower

The Forsaken Future

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Contradictory.
Or should I call it hypocrisy?
Or should I pretend not to know a synonym suitable for the unjust way of which the youth is being used?
After all, my strive for success, the strive for success that radiates from many, is being restrained within some ultimate game of business.
As if those who have the determination to try have no choice but to become the pawns of some huge scheme built on the foundation of a chessboard’s greed to obtain.
But this gain does not come without the consequence of knocking others down in the process.
“Our children are the future,” they say.
How surprising it is that this statement continues on, though ‘they’ continue to strip us of the brightest future the youth can provide by restricting our access to the highest possible level of education.
Almost as if the future must not prosper in order for the present to breathe on as it is.
The future, our future, everyone’s futures are a prospect of happiness or success, a time that has not yet some for most.
Us children have become the successors of the dying future.
And people wonder why we have lost our motivation.

(written by: destiny)
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Last Chance High

(written by: tanika)

My favorite part of this summer were all the videos that we watched (180 Days, Last Chance High, Lean On Me, Kids React). The video that stood out to me the most was Last Chance High. Last Chance High. “On Chicago’s West Side, there is a school for the city’s most troubling youth – the Moses Montefiore Academy. Most of the pupils there have been expelled from other schools for causing serious problems, and many have been diagnosed with various psychological disorders. Last Chance High transports viewers inside Montefiore’s classrooms and into the homes of these young pupils who are one error away from being sent to prison or committed to a mental institution” topdocumentaryfilms.com/last-chance-high/

As I watched Last Chance High I realized that Philadelphia wasn’t the only place that was dealing with budget cuts. The way they showed budget cuts in Last Chance High is by the principal informing the audience that if the school was not able to bring in a given amount of students, their budget would be cut after evaluation.   Something else that stood out to me while watching Last Chance High is the different stories that you can get out of it; from children that go to the school to the teachers and other staff working there. Due to the setting of the documentary being a disciplinary school, much of the scenes focused on the struggles of the school itself, daily disputes between violent students, and the process of correcting the behaviors of those students. In my opinion, I feel as though many teachers don’t take the time (or have the time) to get to know a student personally before harshly disciplining the student like the scenes shown in the Last Chance high. For example, one of the students had an altercation in which he was forced from the basketball team because of truancy issues. However, these issues were the cause of him having to run a household in which two other kids (his brother and sister) lived and no other parental figure was present. Rather than leave his brother and sister to fend for themselves, he got up everyday and assisted them in getting to school on time instead of himself, thus making him late and causing him to miss many classes, in turn making him fail. After seeing this situation, this made me think differently about what goes on in people’s lives and how that affects their personal goals and achievements in school.

Education: The Great Equalizer

Several weeks ago, while watching a television program about the plight of the polar bears, I saw a strange similarity between the polar bears at the North Pole and young people here in North Philadelphia, especially in regards to education.  According to various experts featured on the program, the rising sea levels caused by global warming will have catastrophic consequences for the polar bear. Their home, as well as their food supply, is slowly but surely deteriorating. The program also stated that if the polar bears are to survive, they will have to move just a few short kilometers away from their current hunting grounds, but they do not. For thousands of years, the Polar bear has lived and thrived in one of the harshest environments on Earth, but yet changes which have occurred in the last 50 years now threaten their very existence. If the polar bears are to survive, not only must we as a society must evolve in order to understand the problems and challenges that polar bears face, but the polar bears themselves may have to evolve. The gloomy story of the polar bears runs parallel to what I see on the streets of Philadelphia every day. Every day I watch boys barely old enough to drive make the decision to drop out of school and join the local drug trade, and end up destroying their lives before they are even old enough to vote. Every night, while watching the evening news I hear about how and why our local and national economy is failing, and whose fault it is. I simply see Philadelphia as a city which is having a hard time evolving-to say the least. Many of the people within the city are unable or unwilling to adapt to the changing world around them, just like the polar bears from the special that I saw on television. Currently, the drop put rate in Philadelphia’s public schools stands at around 50 percent. To many people, this number is (and should be) alarming, but too many young people see this as the norm. Not too long ago, Philadelphia was once a city where someone with limited education could survive. Before the 1970’s, a young man or woman living in poverty may have had to drop out of school in order to support themselves or their families. Many people were still able to make a decent living without a High School Diploma in those days. Today, in 2014, this is untrue. Philadelphia does not have a thriving textile and manufacturing industries that it once had. In addition to this, Philadelphia is transforming into a place where some form of higher education is crucial. Philadelphia is slowly evolving from a blue-collared industrial city to a multi-faceted and globalized metropolis.  The plight of many of the young people in Philadelphia is evident every day, from underperforming schools, to senseless violence that seems to imbrue our city’s image every few years.

We Are The World’s Hope

(poetry from the hearts of the affected)
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“The children are our future,” you say
But to enforce the significance of completing education, you must first enforce a solid foundation of motivation;
A necessity to break through self-applied limitations
Thrust upon the developing minds of the youth struggling within our nation
Constant conflicts each day sapping away at their tiny sources of aspiration
Fueled by nothing but news of a failing generation
It is no surprise to see how many believe that they will not be able to make it
Yet they continue powering through despite the unjust circumstances to save our world from breaking
It must be difficult being told to seize the day when it is always being taken
And in comes, with an impact heavy enough to shake the universe, realization
That those doing the taking are the ones they once looked up to in admiration
Then the biggest question becomes: How could you do this to your future?

By: Destiny

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They say that we make the world spin
That every child is forgiven for their sins
To never carry the past to the future
That we need kids to move the world forward
But can you really tell the same story to every child
Can you really blame them for being “wild”
‘Cause y’all told them that in the future there would be a change
But y’all never mentioned that it would be them not knowing how to spell their own names
How can every flower bloom if there’s no spring?
How can slaves explore the world when they’re held by chains?
How can you knit a scarf with no string?
How do you know the time if the school bells never ring?
How can a wounded bird leave its mother nest?
How can you be strong when your mind and soul is never at rest?
How can you speak when no one can hear?
How can you shine when ‘they‘ want you to disappear?
They say we have the world in our hands
They say we can make it to the finish line…to the end
Sorry if failure is a part of my vocabulary
But you can’t blame me, ’cause even my papers bleed
From the lies y’all feed me
So yes I’m filled with rage
But we are only names on a school district page
So tell me how we can make this world spin
When you don’t even realize that we are not the same under this layer of skin?

By: Leilonnie

Two Sides to Everything Happening

By Leilonie

This week has been very engaging and enjoyable to learn many other things about education that I didn’t know about. The experience with the teachers was great, they was very passionate about what they did. Also the answered each question in detail that caught my attention. I never really got to interview a teacher about education. So, that was a first for me and I enjoyed it. Also my group has watched a documentary called 80 Days: A Year inside an American High School which gave good insight on how the budget cuts affected students and teachers. The film was good in my opinion because instead of hearing a person talk about it I can actually see things that has to do with schools. In addition, the film was about Washington Metropolitan, aka DC Met, has all the problems a modern American high school can have: truancy, teen pregnancy, homelessness, violent crime. On the other hand this week our group had a debate about different topics involving education. It was great to find out that there’s two sides to everything happening involving schools closings, budgets cuts, etc. The debate was good because we had to find different information and combine it to better understand our topic.