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Summer Love

As the school year in Florida is coming to an end, the inevitable conversation of the standstill argument entered the classrooms. Should the academic year be longer? While the thought of projects and math problems daunted some, others preferred a cool classroom as opposed to the humid, apathetic days that summer presented.
One student commented, “I rather get more classes done. Get closer to college.”
In other places in the United States, such as in San Diego, California this debate has ended in a conclusion. Some schools actually perform during a full-year, while others work at the traditional pace. According to an article in the Huffington Post a sociologist from Ohio State University finds that the performance between the students from one school compared to the other, doesn’t differ. Then why should the academic year be extended?
The main focus would be on students living in run-down communities or due to poor financial circumstance can’t afford any educational enrichment project that would further their knowledge. This would help maintain students across the board at the same level. Finally, students who are not as wealthy as their classmates can still retain as much information and become as academically appealing. With the extension, it would also be a relief on single-parent families. Rather than hunt for any random activity for a child to do or dump them at home, they could be in the classroom further expanding their studies.
On a global level, the year-round calendar may sound more appealing. According to a CNN article featuring Jennifer Davis, the president of the National Center on Time and Learning, she says that with higher test scores students can claim a position beside other competing foreign students. Countries such as Asia and Europe have students who are achieving higher in science and math. This brings up the question whether if time is the only matter playing a crucial role in the equation.
Perhaps as far as Florida is concerned, the first important step is to take care of teachers and the quality of their teaching before expanding the academic year. If a low standard of education is presented in the classroom from August to May, the idea of expanding that into the summer would be a waste of time on both parts. First, schools in Florida should take care of middle-ground benefits and wages, that not only compete with other states but also motivate teachers to perform better. Secondly, new methods of teaching and critical thinking should be brought into humdrum atmospheres to shed light on what a learning experience is meant to be. Then, as most students would agree, the treasured summers may be up for discussion.

Prompt: Write a prose piece of a character shedding light on a debatable subject.

Facing the Facts

David Smiley took the initiative to answer my question. He is a reporter from the Miami Herald who joined the ranks of other respectable reporters and co-anchors from Univision, Channel 10 News and Telemundo. There was a pause before he answered, “With the increasing competition [that is in the field of journalism], do you agree that some journalists exaggerate the news to appeal to a wider audience? And have any of you taken part in it?”
Smiley said that it was at times difficult to separate your own personal views on a topic you feel passionate about. At the moment, he could not pinpoint a certain story he wrote to prove his point, he did admit that at times even he has been accused of exaggerating the details of a story. While he candidly looked me in the eye, he said it was never to get more attention for the newspaper. At that point Helen Aguirre Ferre took to the microphone and added that with certain stories that a journalist feels passionate about it is almost impossible to pick out lines that are of personal opinion, because it is so infused into the story. While reporters like her rarely get to cover those stories, she explained to the audience that there was a market for that. However, she continued, it was difficult to be in that specialty and not get criticized or judged for what you say.
After the forum something that was pointed out, stuck in my mind. Other than networks such as CNN that feature Piers Morgan, there are rarely local networks that pay a journalist to give their opinion. If anything, they host a debate amongst two differing parties and at times, when it gets to matters of the heart such as Smiley said, they might interject a bit of their opinion.
It is evident as to why probably 90% of journalists are not paid to give their personal take on the matter. Many could be corrupted and paid under the table by monopolies that want their ideals sold to the public. Others could have the freedom of barely scratching the subject and being as bias as possible. However, at times it is vital to hear another’s point of view. Just as Piers Morgan educates himself on a matter and presents it to the public and hosting debates – he still manages to be respectful while still showing as to which side he leans more towards. While in the wrong hands this can corrupt a nation, at certain times – especially with local news – it is necessary to not just host a debate but to play devil’s advocate and ask the hard questions.
One inquiry that all the journalists were asking the audience was how the networks should reinvent the news to rake in more ratings. Many suggested finding a way to reach the youth through Twitter and Facebook, but perhaps with reporters that feel as passionate about all matters and ask as much of a piercing question towards changing regulations to a school’s dismissal hour as to a presidential Q and A the local news can possibly finally share as much limelight as the large networks.

Prompt: In a short story of no more than 650 words, tell of a character who approaches a story with minimal importance nationally with as much weight as one that did.

Meeting Mother Nature in the Middle

As a nation under God, we wonder what it will take to stabilize the economy. While the unemployment rate has been slowly decreasing, the slight improvements have been overshadowed by inflation. In particular, the rising gas may be convincing enough for the citizens to encourage the government to depend solely on the United State’s oil reserves. However, with the documentaries, such as Gasland directed by Josh Fox, lingering in the minds of mother-nature lovers there stands the question of what may be a necessary sacrifice. Which is more important in the long-run, the ever-increasing gas prices or the preservation of America’s nature? With one simple solution, this either-or problem can be solved.
If the law that former President George Bush levied in 2005 is re-enacted, then companies that drill oil will have to take greater measures to prevent oil leaking into water sources. The method that these companies use, hydraulic fracturing, sets a machine to drill and shake the land to create a flow of oil. Without cautionary measures the oil infuses into water that thousands of citizens are dependent on for drinking, cooking and bathing. In many recorded cases, the water then becomes combustible and vulnerable to illness. If millions of Americans are heard, then a law should be enacted to ensure that these companies will take cautionary measures and concoct a safer method that will allow the same result without polluting our water.
While communities throng together to voice out their opinions and exercise their right to rally against their land being destroyed, it seems as though they are being ignored. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, in Illinois people have congregated to have their unified opinion against hydraulic fracturing be heard. Instead of feeling united and strong, they sense that their legislatures are voting opposite of the public’s opinion.
What government office holders should remember is that they are meant to serve the country. The first to hold office, the Founders, clearly carved the ideology that government is meant to follow what the people want not vice versa. What the people, also, are meant to bear in mind is that with the continuation of support and rallying their exists the possibility of meeting in the middle.

Prompt: In a short story of no more than 700 words, describe what one of your secondary characters would fight for.