Trump Rallies Spread Nationwide

From Philadelphia, to Denver, to Los Angeles, and even to our own backyard in Oakland, the result of the national election caused an eruption of protests nationwide earlier this month. Millions of agitators exercised their First Amendment rights and came together to express their strong opinions on the policies and actions of Donald Trump during his presidential campaign. Many questions have risen as to the future of our country under a highly unorthodox politician: Why was there so much discontent over a fairly elected president? Is the electoral college outdated? And will there be further disunity in our country?

Although Hillary Clinton did win the popular election by over 3 million votes, over 62.5 million Americans voted for Trump. With such a large portion of our country’s population supporting Trump, how was there so much discontent nationwide? The answer may be simpler than expected. With a radically new type of president in office, there will undoubtedly be unrest in those who disagree with his policies, which is a pretty large club.

In addition, because Hillary numerically received more popular votes than Trump, many have argued about the strength of the electoral system over popular opinion. This phenomena has only happened 3 times in our country’s history, most recently in 2000 with the election of George W. Bush. However, the US is not a direct democracy. Our founding fathers prided themselves in the fact that the masses could not directly control the future of our country, and therefore established the electoral college in 1787. So, there should not be issue over this ‘flawed system’ as many have come to claim this past election.

The election of 2016 and the years preceding it witnessed a stark polarization within the nation’s politics. Republicans and Democrats seemingly can not agree, and even had completely opposite viewpoint on many issues. Having leaders with such ignorant opinions can have serious consequences. For example, because the viewpoint of many conservatives have on climate change, it is hard to organize a political and economic response to the problems facing our planet’s future with the government’s consensus split in half. With Trump’s election, as well as a Republican majority in Congress, the trends of polarization will undoubtedly continue. Now, Democratic policies will be extremely difficult to implement with a tight republican grip on the nation’s three branches of government.

Opinion: Not All Students Walked Out for the Same Reasons

On November 10th, Miramonte students participated in a walk out protesting the president-elect Donald Trump after his surprising victory over Hillary Clinton. The rally was led by junior Jayne Latimer and assisted by senior Blake Sharp. Students assembled on the  quad then moved to the streets of Orinda where they walked around OIS and back to school. After the protest many students neglected to come back to class, feeling the urge to rebel. “I left because I had a test to do and I did not study so when I heard that there was an opportunity to cut, I did,”an anonymous sophomore student said. Another sophomore  student said, “I went on the walk out because I hate school and I wanted to leave.” Multiple students had the same response, which led me to believe that this walkout was not really a protest, but rather a get-out-of-class free pass. Some teachers encouraged students to protest their anger of president-elect Donald Trump and express opinions about something they truly believed in. If you acknowledge the consequences but decide to continue anyway, then protesting is an admirable endeavor when truly fighting for a cause. Simply joining this protest for the wrong reasons, as many students did, leads me to question some of my peers and how much they actually care about our country and our political system.

California Ballot Propositions Need to be Examined

While the focus this election cycle has been almost solely on the presidential race, Orindans and Californians alike will have far more to select than just one name this Tuesday. Among those choices are 17 California state ballot propositions. Following are some of the most consequential propositions:

Proposition 51: School Bonds. Funding for K–12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statute

If passed, Proposition 51 would allocate nine billion dollars to developing and updating public school buildings, and provide more funds to charter and technical schools. Both the Democratic and Republican parties of California support the measure, as do most prominent elected officials in California.

But Governor Jerry Brown opposes it, saying that it “squanders money” that should be appropriated to schools in communities in more dire need.

A UC Berkeley study concluded that while state funding is necessary to keep schools safe, “Prop. 51 doesn’t achieve the best results…compared to other options.”

Proposition 51 would provide vast improvements to school infrastructure. But with a high price tag and questions about its fairness towards underprivileged schools, voters will have to choose between expensive improvements to school infrastructure or a delay in state funding. And in this case, it seems that help truly is necessary, even if it doesn’t imminently provide enough funding to fully complete the task. Proposition 51, while flawed, will vastly improve our educational infrastructure, and thus should be passed.

Proposition 58: English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. Initiative Statute

Prop 58 would loosen requirements of K-12 schools to teach class only in English, and aims to provide Spanish speakers with a more smooth transition to the American education system. Since 1998, non-English speakers have been required to take a one-year course on the English language. Prop 58 would repeal this requirement, and allow for bilingual instruction in schools.

Opponents claim that it deceives the public by removing the mandate that children be taught only English in public school, and opens the door to future schooling being almost solely in Spanish.

This is certainly a flawed proposition. But it does try to address the issue in our schooling system of isolating immigrant students, and with California’s large immigrant population, Prop 58 warrants a “yes” vote.

Proposition 62: Death Penalty. Initiative Statute/Proposition 66: Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute

Prop 62 argues for the repeal of the death penalty, which would prevent those who have committed murder from being subject to the death penalty, and thus make the harshest form of punishment a lifetime prison sentence.

There is another layer to this proposition, however. Prop 66 argues to retain the death penalty, but to reduce the maximum amount of time that a criminal may be on death row to five years, and to force inmates to work while on death row.

Only one of these propositions may be passed.

This is an issue that has split the nation for quite some time, with Republicans typically in favor of keeping the death penalty, and the Democrats in favor of abolishing it. This is an issue which is not easy to have a concrete opinion about. Is capital punishment justifiable for the crime of taking another’s life? Or does it contradict the eighth amendment’s protection against “cruel and unusual punishment?”

However, most would agree that some change from the current system has to take place. And Prop 62, which would save a projected $150 million annually in court and prison costs, is more efficient than Prop 66, which would not cut costs by any noticeable margin, according to the state’s bipartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. And for that reason, Prop 62 seems to be the better long-term option for California and the state budget.

Proposition 63: Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute

This issue is one of the pillars of the 2016 Democratic Party platform. It would force prospective gun owners to first obtain a permit, and require that sellers perform background checks of customers in conjunction with the justice department. While it may slightly restrict Second Amendment privileges, it is crucial that firearms do not get into the hands of those who are dangerous or mentally unstable.

Guns used in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, the Orlando nightclub shooting, and many other mass shootings, were purchased in the days or weeks prior to the shooting. This amendment could help prevent these shootings from occurring in the future in California, and especially considering the proposition’s relatively minimal fiscal impact, that is certainly an occurrence worth averting.

Why are we Afraid of Year-Round Schooling?

Students cherish the long summer vacation. After all, it is a ten week break from the stress that school brings into the lives of many.

However, researchers have long proven (dating back to William F. White’s 1906 study) that the current school calendar can impede learning if students do not keep up their academic skills throughout the summer.

In the education community, it’s known as the “Summer Slide,” and it’s a season of students losing abilities that they worked hard to master during the school year.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, a non-profit organization whose goal is to close the achievement gap, grade-school students fail to retain two months of math knowledge during the summer break. They can also lose up to three months of reading comprehension skills.

If so much knowledge is lost, why was this system created in the first place?

Many attribute the current schedule to farming needs in the 1800s, when in fact it was simply due to the sheer heat of urban schools in the summer months, which, without air conditioning, were especially unpleasant.

Today, and for the last half-century, the United States and its schools have largely used air conditioning. Yet our country still uses this extremely counterproductive and outdated system which, while it may be slightly cheaper than the alternative, does nothing but decrease retention of the academic curriculum.

The American education system has long lagged behind, and even though efforts are being made to improve our standing, they aren’t anything close to sufficient. In last year’s Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report, the United States had the 28th best test scores out of the 76 countries included in the report.

Many top countries have a vastly different education system than that of the United States.  But Australia, whose government spends about the same per student as the United States, placed 14th in the same OECD report. They utilize a more year-round school calendar. The Australian school year consists of four government-mandated ten-week terms, with breaks of an average length of about 4 weeks in between. If the United States were to adopt a similar system, students would have fewer opportunities to lose knowledge.

Abbott Middle School in San Mateo has had year-round schooling since 2007, and in each of the first five years, test scores increased. But the Bay Area has not taken to this idea, even with the success of Piedmont Elementary School in West Virginia, which has been operating on a year-round calendar for two decades. Steve Knighton, the school’s principal, has reported improved attendance and fewer behavioral problems during that time period.

The vast majority of American legislators and school districts have refused to embrace a system that would improve the educational standing of America in the world. And until year-round schooling is adopted, American students will continue to be held back.

Why is Prom Stressful?

Junior Riley McCormick sits glossy-eyed and brain-fried at her computer, mindlessly scrolling through dresses, each image just a blur of color and a price tag. She is several hours and multiple websites in, and still hasn’t even come even remotely close to finding the dress. Until, finally, it catches her eye. She clicks order and progresses to the next step in the process: Facebook. A few seconds later, she has placed her claim on her dress, ensuring she can finally get a good night’s sleep knowing that the most stressful part of her spring (besides testing and finals of course) is done.

If only she didn’t have to worry about finding a date, somewhere to take pictures before the event itself, and book appointments for hair, makeup, eyebrow waxes, nails, and dress fittings. She can’t remember what it was like to be stressed only about school.

So when did prom evolve into such an extravagant event? The term itself is the word “promenade” shortened, which refers to the procession of guests before a formal event. Prom started at colleges in the 1800s but spread to high schools in the 1930s and 1940s. Miramonte held its first off-campus prom in the 1970s and in recent years it has been held at Round Hill Country Club, and will be held at the Scottish Rites Center this year. So while this won’t be anything close to the first time Matadors dress up and get ready for a formal school dance, students seem to be getting more and more stressed each year at the prospect of what should be a fun night.

Amid the 2 a.m. study sessions and talks of college, juniors should get to look forward to a night of dancing and fraternizing with classmates. It should be a break from the stressful day-to-day life of a high school student. Instead, the junior class ages ten years at the thought of flowers or dates.

The first issue with prom is the intense build up to the event itself. Many people consider it to be one of the most pivotal nights of high school. It has been dramatized in countless Hollywood films as the best night of a teen’s life and as it approaches, any and all conversations seem to gravitate towards it, being pulled by some invisible thread as juniors anxiously ask about dates, dresses and pictures. Not only does this stress juniors out in the moment, it puts way too much pressure one attendees to make it the “perfect” night.

For girls, the largest source of nail-biting stress is finding the perfect dress. To make this Odysseus-level quest even more difficult, girls take to Facebook to claim dresses in a race to put “dibs!” on any and every single dress that catches their eye. Although it seemed premature to many junior girls, this year’s Facebook group was started on December 21st, a full three months before the actual night. Comments like “when even is prom?” and “lol I don’t even have my Christmas dress yet” highlight the question in every girl’s head: why are we starting this so soon? It adds pressure that has no place in the minds of already stressed students just trying to make it through their junior year.

Guys, on the other hand, have a huge pressure to ask their dates to prom. Although junior girls do quarrel over which sophomore guys to ask, junior boys are expected to do most of the asking. There is always the possibility of rejection, and the balance of whether to ask a friend or someone in whom they are genuinely interested. Girls, on the flip side, feel the stress of not having much control over their date, because they are expected to say yes, especially if a prospective date shows up with a flashy poster and flowers.

Dress and date stresses aside, prom certainly places a strain on the wallets of parents and students alike. Each year the price of this event seems to rocket higher and higher and higher. Prom itself has become a market that preys on the image of “the perfect night,” an idea that has been endorsed by Hollywood, department stores, and other companies who are just looking to get their share of the profit. The priciest item by far is the dress, which can vary in price but can cost hundreds of dollars. This doesn’t even include shoes or accessories to go with it. Salons can charge a pretty penny (even $100 in some cases) for a hairstyle that will fall apart in a few hours, and makeup can add at least another $50. Add on a $30 mani-pedi and a $100 ticket, and you’re looking at a night that could potentially cost at least $500.

So maybe it’s the technology that allows us to see every dress and prom asking, or the peer pressure to have the perfect date, but something needs to give. Prom should be a night to forget the stress of the academic world with friends, not another thing added to the plate and several hundred dollars taken from the wallet.

Microaggressions: Socially Acceptable Oppression

In our society, oppression is now rarely a direct act. Same-sex marriage is legal. Women can vote. A store worker cannot serve a customer last based on their race. The days of blatant persecution within our nation are, arguably, diminishing; but now oppression comes in a different, subtler, and far more deceptive form. Concealed within comments like, “I don’t mind gay people, I just don’t really want to see them on T.V.,” or “You don’t act that (insert race here),” oppressive persecution has been wrapped and packaged in a passive aggressive gift box. But the sentiment remains the sameI am better than you for reasons neither of us can change. Such comments have a term: microaggressions.

In his book, Microaggressions in Everyday Life, psychologist Derald Wing Sue defines microaggressions as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership.” Essentially, a microaggression is any subtle snub directed at a member of a specific group. The term “racial microaggressions,” was first coined in the 1970s by psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce M.D., but, by dropping the modifier “racial,” was later expanded to include other populations. Microaggressions come from those with a sense of privilege, who make such comments to maintain that sense. They are designed to keep certain groups down and are subtly oppressive.  

Microaggressions differ from blatant bigotry in that they are far more accepted in social situations, and often more difficult to perceive. For example, use of the n-word in a derogatory manner by a white person to a black person would be classified immediately as direct racism. But a comment like, “I don’t even see you as black,” qualifies as a microaggression. This invalidates the recipient’s identity and experiences, but if they object they could seem overly sensitive. A common example in classrooms and the workplace is a male teacher or employer referring to all male students or employees as Mr. __, but all females by their first names (or vice versa depending on the situation). This shows less respect for the female students/workers and demeans their capabilities as a valid part of the environment.

According to Sue’s work, microaggressions appear in three forms– the microassault: an explicit derogation, whether verbal or nonverbal, such as name-calling, avoidant behavior, purposeful discriminatory actions; the microinsult: communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity, subtle snubs unknown to the perpetrator, or a hidden insulting message to the recipient; and the microinvalidation: communications that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person belonging to a particular group.

Sophomore Samantha Palmer, who is Chinese, Japanese, and Caucasian, has experienced this first-hand. “Any time math is brought up, I get a lot of confusion over the fact that I’m not super amazing at it,” she said. “People assume I want to be a doctor.” But according to Palmer, if she objects, she is immediately classified as overly sensitive. “I don’t have a problem telling people that when they say things like that they’re stereotyping and that it’s racist, but when I do people say I’m being too touchy.”

Palmer is also the coordinator of Miramonte’s Rainbow Alliance. This gives her a heightened awareness of the microaggressions against the LGBTQ+ community that she witnesses on a day-to-day basis. “People say a lot of stuff like ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘don’t be gay’ or ‘no homo’ and they don’t understand that it’s wrong and offensive,” she said.

What makes microaggressions so dangerous is the frequency with which they go undetected. Microaggressions can be made so unconsciously that perpetrators are rarely aware that they might be offending someone. But any form of microaggression still registers with as making the recipient feel alienated.

If it is so difficult to be aware of perpetrating a microaggression, then what can you do to solve the problem? The solution lies in education and communication.

Try to be aware of the issue, learn about microaggressions. It is important to maintain a level head. Pointing out to someone that they may be biased will rarely be well-received. We have a long history of prejudice within our society. As such, it is very likely that we are all prejudiced in some way, so come to terms with that; and think twice about what behaviors of yours might be a narrow-minded social construction.

When dealing with microaggressions, the “P.C. Debate” often arises. That is to say, the debate over whether or not our culture has become too greatly based upon being politically correct. Are people too obsessed with victimhood? Aren’t “microaggressions” just social and conversational nuances that will always be a part of our lives, and shouldn’t we just accept that? With the rise of a budding cultural awareness of microaggressions, there inevitably arose groups of individuals, primarily on the Internet and social media, who react disproportionately to the idea. That is, people who use the term excessively and where it might not otherwise be used. As a result of this, just as inevitably, there is another far more common group of those who feel strongly that microaggressions are a joke, and that the concept is unnecessary. But the term has a psychological basis. It was coined by a psychiatrist in a time way before it was trendy to be politically correct. It is thereby impossible that the concept of the microaggression is merely a pesky fad. The term is mainly used by psychologists, and has only recently reached the mainstream level of perception.

Mirador Broadcast #3-NCS Hair Cut Mini Doc

The Darkest Day of Humanity: Black Friday

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and the news is full of shocking stories of reckless shoppers. Pepper spray, fist-fights and other violent acts break out as deal-seekers battle to get the best deals. This tradition of major retail-stores dropping their prices for one day began in the early 2000s, and since 2005, Black Friday has become one of the busiest and most violent shopping days of the year, and it should be stopped.

While many people enjoy this opportunity to buy Christmas gifts for great deals, Black Friday brings out the worst in people. In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was killed as eager shoppers stampeded through the door and trampled him. Pepper spray has been used to cut people in line and stabbings have occurred over parking spaces. The moral line is blurred by the craving for material goods. In addition to violent fights between shoppers, many car accidents have occurred. In 2013, a teen coming home from Black Friday fell asleep at the wheel and was killed in a wreck. According to the website, Black Friday Death Count, seven people have died due to this tradition and 98 people have been injured. Just the fact that there is a death count for this day of sales should tell us that it needs to be stopped. At what point do we say enough is enough?

Not only does Black Friday create a hostile environment, it also makes many retail-workers clock-in at abnormal hours. Some stores, such as Wal-Mart, open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving while others open at midnight. With stores opening earlier and earlier each year, shoppers and workers are losing quality family time. Some people camp out in front of stores a day or two in advance to secure a spot in line. To these shoppers, Thanksgiving just becomes the day before Black Friday and nothing more.

On Black Friday, people buy things just because they are on sale. This causes many shoppers to spend more money on Black Friday than they would spend on any other regular day. The deals that people encounter are “too good of a bargain” to pass up, so they buy things they don’t need.

The irony of having a day of excessive spending following a day of gratitude like Thanksgiving, is laughable. We already spend too much time thinking about what we could have and what we want to have, when we should take a step back and realize how lucky we are. Thanksgiving should be spent with family and friends, not with sleep-deprived, insane shoppers who are willing to pepper-spray you over a pair of sneakers.

Make Way for Student DJs

Many students at Miramonte have witnessed a bad DJ first hand, but it may be unclear what makes a DJ bad. Bad DJs all tend to have one similar feature: none of them are in high school.The major issue is that DJs that aren’t in high school don’t know the kind of music we like. That is a pretty crucial component and already sets he or she up for failure. Having attended numerous school dances, (welcome back, Junior prom, Homecoming… etc) I have noticed a common trait amongst most of the DJs: they kill almost every drop. A drop is common especially in electronic dance music styles. It is a point in a music track where a switch of rhythm or bass line occurs and usually follows a recognizable build section and break.

This issue would be averted if the school would hire a DJ from the school. Student DJ’s are more experienced in mixing all types of music and genres that appeal to their peers. Another positive of hiring a student DJ is that they are cheaper to hire. From prior experience, both as a DJ, and a bystander: a good DJ plays the best current, “Bangers” or “Slaps” and mixes all genres of music and not just one. A Miramonte student would be very capable of DJ a school dance or Prom.

The genres that appeal to high schoolers are edm, which stands for electronic dance music, house (lighter beats and bass), deep house(deeper beats and bass), trap, rap, and especially throwback hip-hop from the 2000’s. Nothing gets a crowd more riled up than playing the throwback banger Promiscuous by Nelly Furtado and Timbaland.

Another issue that arises when hiring a non high school DJ is the lack of attention to requests made by students. In prior events such as Prom, students made a playlist of songs for the DJ to play, but the DJ would not carry out the requests, and instead play their own music. A student DJ, on the other hand, would listen to the requests, and perhaps even play the songs students want to hear without them having to ask.

A student DJ would be more apt to listen to their peers than a non student DJ because they would want to listen to the same types of music. It is a safer and more cost-efficient decision to hire a student DJ than a non student DJ.

Common Core Testing: A New Way to Waste my Time

What has standardized testing come to in this state? As I filled out questions imploring about 400 gallon coffee cups, sat back and listened to a lecture that involved what the sun does, and wrote an essay about why it is more desirable to have a small house compared to a big house, I almost laughed out loud. Even my test proctor chuckled to himself as he read the script the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) so eloquently prescribed to be read, while drawing a picture of the sun on the board.

The prescription to California’s education illness, one’s whose symptoms includes an eighth to last ranking in education according to a recent Education Week report, consists of doses of questions that pushes students to the point of nostalgia for the STAR tests of years past.

According to Tom Torlakson, the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the new Common Core standards are designed to “prepare students for the future” and make sure they’re prepared for “college and careers.” What better way to prepare for the real world than to figure out how many paper towels are needed to clean up 400 gallons of coffee that spilled from a coffee cup fountain? Now nothing I face in life will catch me off guard.

For a multitude of problems in the Math section, I thankfully was able to pull on fourth and fifth grade knowledge in order to solve problems ranging from finding the median of a set of numbers, to plotting simple algebraic functions on a graph with a tool that didn’t even allow me to plot the exact point I wanted. It seemed a shame that I wasn’t able to use the skills garnered from years of hard work in Trigonometry and Calculus, but at least I feel prepared to tackle all the real world has to throw at me.

Another key point of annoyance for me was the writing prompt, as Common Core so strangely supplied us with a prompt that almost smacked of socialist dogma, imploring me to write an essay on the benefits of having a small house compared to a big house, while exposing how many wealthy people “feel bad about their gluttony.” I’m all for creating an education system based on analytical thinking and preparing students for college and the real world. But when Common Core fails to even do that, while at the same time giving students hidden messages about the downsides of becoming wealthier than others, I have to shake my head in disgust.

At least we had almost three hours to finish thirty minutes worth of math problems.