Sunday, December 11, 2005

 

Michigan High School Graduation Requirments To Change

State Superintendent Flanagan proposes Michigan Merit Curriculum


New Proposal May Bring Different Meaning To High School For Students and Educators


For many teens, beginning high school is like starting a whole new chapter of your life. There are so many changes to adjust to while also gaining just as many new responsibilities. From getting up earlier to taking college entrance tests, high school students have busy schedules. Often, the most successful high school students have a rigorous class schedule while taking part in extra curricular activities like sports or clubs. These same students often have part-time jobs to earn extra spending money. Activities outside of school, like participating in youth groups and volunteering are also things that look great on college applications. As a result, the “well-rounded” high school student finds time to fit activities like these into their hectic schedules. However for many Michigan students expected to begin high school in the fall, these busy schedules may need to require a considerably larger amount of study time.

State of Michigan Superintendent Michael Flanagan has released a proposal to dramatically toughen Michigan high school graduation requirements. The proposal known as the Michigan Merit Curriculum is heading towards quick approval by the State Board of Education and as a result, students could be affected by these changes beginning in the fall. Currently the state of Michigan only requires a credit of civics for graduation. The Michigan Merit Curriculum proposed by Flanagan would require students to earn four credits in English or Language arts, (including writing, speaking, literature, reading, culture, and language) four credits of mathematics, (including algebra one and two, geometry and one additional math class) three credits of science, (including biology, physics or chemistry and one other science class)and three credits of social studies,(including a half-year of government and economics and a full year of U.S. history and world history) In addition, one credit of health/physical education and another in fine arts or music will be required. These changes will fill 16 of the 24 credits that consist of the four years of high school. The remaining eight credits will be elective classes chosen by the students. To say the least, these changes could dramatically alter how many students look at high school.

It’s important to keep in mind that in Michigan, each school district has its own graduation requirements in addition to the state’s requirement (currently only civics) For example this means that one district may currently only require three years of English to graduate and another may require four. The Michigan Merit Curriculum would unify graduation requirements across the state. Advocates of the proposal and Flanagan feel that with Michigan’s changing economy students need to be better equipped for post-secondary education. Across the nation, most states have stricter requirements to graduate compared to Michigan. The Michigan Merit Curriculum has students and parents talking about what high school could mean in the near future.

Danielle Chiolero of Clinton Township will begin high school next year. The teachers at her middle school haven’t mentioned The Michigan Merit Curriculum and this was the first she’s heard of it. “I don’t like it, I can’t believe it’s so strict and I have to take four years of math,” Chiolero said about the proposal. Even though she plans on attending college, Danielle says she never thought she would have to take so many required courses. “I don’t even know what economics is,” the eighth grader said when she learned that the new proposal will require a semester of it. Danielle also said that the extra work load will not stop her from trying out for the soccer team. Danielle’s mother Linda wasn’t so sure about this and had mixed feelings about the proposal.

“I think this will be great for college preparation but it seems like they are so many requirements already,” said Danielle’s mother. Linda feels like the requirements for graduation should be the same across the nation and just assumed that they were. “There are enough disadvantages that kids suffer from without having to worry about school districts having different graduation requirements,” said Linda. On the other hand, Danielle’s mom Linda feels like her generation was not prepared enough for college. She feels like this program will force kids to take college preparatory classes and give them an equal chance to compete with students from across the nation. Linda said, “This proposal should have been put into action a long time ago.” Danielle’s mother is not the only person that feels like this. The Michigan Merit Curriculum will also have a great affect on a number of educators across the state.

Ryan Kay, a history teacher with Warren Consolidated Schools feels that many teachers who teach elective courses may have to teach required classes to keep their jobs in the near future. “Teachers are going back to become certified to teach subjects that will be required with the new graduation plan.” Kay says the majority of students don’t like the proposal because they want as many options as possible. “Students dread taking the next required course in certain subjects, such as math and science,” says Kay. Kay also says that students who are not college bound are at a disadvantage because this limits the career preparatory courses they can take like ones in auto shop and daycare. “In a sense, this forces students to go to college,” Kay says about the Michigan Merit Curriculum. This proposal could mean more students enrolling in summer school and staying after the regular school day to graduate on time says Kay. Another option will be online courses that many districts are beginning to offer says the history teacher. This feature will tie in with another part of The Michigan Merit Curriculum that will require all students to complete at least one on-line credit.

The proposal will also require all high school students to take the Michigan Merit Exam or MEAP tests for graduation. The Michigan Merit Curriculum would begin the freshmen class next year if all necessary legislation is complete by March 1, 2006. If the legislation is not endorsed by this date, the changes would go into affect by 2007. The State Board will study Flanagan’s Michigan’s Merit Curriculum and come back with suggestions on how to improve Michigan’s schools in a meeting on December 13th.

For More Information:
  • Presentation of Proposed High School Graduation Requirements

  • Monday, December 05, 2005

     

    The Holiday Shopping Season 2005

    Black Friday Sales Bring Early Rising Shoppers Into Stores


    Bargains Online: The Cyber Monday Tradition Starts With Discounts


    With the 2005 holiday shopping season well under way, lots of shoppers are trying new methods to get the season's latest trends while others are sticking to their traditional ways. In a CBS report, National Retail Federation spokesperson Scott Krugman said, "This is the most promotional Black Friday we have seen." Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the first shopping day of the Holiday season.

    CBS news reported that major retailers including Wal-Mart, Sears, and Macy's all estimated that they drew larger crowds this year than last. However, Michael Niemia, Chief economist at the International Council of shopping Center, told MSNBC, "There was a lot of hype, a lot of promotions and lot of people, but the results were on the lukewarm side." MSNBC reported that the nation's retailers had a good start as shoppers jammed stores for early bird specials, but as the weekend wore on so did the shopper's interests. According to ShopperTrak RCT Corp, a sales monitoring firm, sales from a year ago fell about 0.5 percent to $13.4 billion.

    Shoppers who missed the Black Friday sales, logged onto their computers at work for "Cyber Monday” according to TIME. This Monday after the holiday weekend is the official start of the online shopping season. Web hosting firm Akamai Technologies said traffic on online shopping sites increased 35 percent. According to a TIME report, comparison shopping search engines that show shoppers where to find the best bargain are very popular this year. In fact, these sites had 54.7 million visitors in October alone. Shopping.com, PriceGrabber.com and Froogle.com are among the most popular of these sites according to TIME.

    An MSNBC report showed non-travel online retail sales rose 22 percent to $1.89 billion for the holiday weekend. These sales grew 29 percent from Black Friday last year. Coupons found online, according to a TIME report allow shoppers to browse various offers from specific retailers and then link right to that retailer's website.Brilliantshopper.com is one of these sights that this season's savvy shoppers are using. Yahoo! shopping reported that the number of visitors on its site rose 52 percent on Black Friday, better than the 30 percent jump it expected. For shoppers who prefer to go to a physical store but use the net as a guide can visit ShopLocal.com. A Time article reported this site lets shoppers locate items they’re looking for in a 10-mile radius and there definitely are trends this holiday season.

    Toys R Us Inc. spokesperson Kathleen Waugh said in an MSNBC report that some of this season’s most popular items are Mattel Inc.’s Barbie Fashion Mall and MGA’s Bratz doll styling head. CBS News reported consumer electronics like MP3 players, laptop computers, and flat-screen televisions are among the most sought-out items with holiday shoppers this season. According to Marshal Cohen, a senior industry analyst at NPD Group, apparel has also been doing well as parts of the country are experiencing very cold weather already. Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive of Federated Department Stores told CBN News in a report, “I have also seen a lot of bags. Hot items included cashmere sweaters, down comforters, and scarves.” With plenty of trends hitting the stores, all shoppers are looking for one thing; and that’s a bargain. However, with some of these great bargains came trouble that wasn’t great.

    In a CBS report a woman and a thirteen year old girl were injured at a Wal-Mart in Cascade Township MI when several people stepped on her as they pushed themselves into the store as it opened. At another Wal-Mart in Florida, shoppers wrestled a man to the floor where he allegedly cut in line to buy a laptop computer according to WFTV-TV. The retailer, according to MSNBC suffered in the 2004 Holiday season by not offering enough discounts. However, according to news reports by all stations, these discounts have seemed to pay off this year. Gail Lavielle, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, told CBS News, “We were pleased. We thought people did come to us first.”

    CBS News reported that shoppers this season are cautious. Gasoline prices are on the rise as well as higher costs to heat homes. Meredith Carter took the first line in spot outside a Super Target in North Carolina around 4:50 AM on Black Friday. Her statement pretty much sums up shoppers feelings this shopping season. Carter told CBS, “I just plan to get what I want and go home.”

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

     

    "Good Night and Good Luck" Review

    Is “Good Night, and Good Luck” The Most Overrated Movie Yet?

    Clooney’s Film Leaves Viewers Wondering Where The Entertainment Went


    What were the majority of my fellow critics thinking when they individually gave this movie outstanding reviews? In my opinion, they were bias and this movie directly struck their own personal interests. As journalists who write for newspapers and websites, perhaps these critics felt a connection to the characters in this film and this helped them to rate this movie positively. It’s similar to a Civil War re-enactor giving a movie critique of “Gods and Generals”. As a movie watcher, this isn’t a review you would want to consider bearing in mind the author. Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post and a few other critics were the only ones with the courage and integrity to tell the truth about the overall quality of this movie.

    Enough with my fellow colleagues, lets talk about the movie itself. Early on into the film, I noticed a group of five people getting up out of their seats to leave the movie and they never come back. Ironically, this would foreshadow how the general public would perceive this movie. In fairness to George Clooney who directed and co-wrote this movie, there were not any major flaws in the actual directing of the movie. There were however, as I will later indicate, several minor flaws. As one of two people who co-wrote this movie, the other being Grant Heslov, the character development was minimal. If was as if you were expected to know the characters and already have a background on them. Some may say that this shows Clooney’s inexperience as a director. For example, the relationship between the characters Shirley and Joe Wershba played by Patricia Clarkston and Robert Downey Jr. was rushed and underdeveloped. In order for viewers to care about a romantic relationship, they need to know about the couple separately and let the romance unveil under their eyes. This was not the case at all with “Good Night, and Good Luck.” The relationship came before the personification of the characters and in my opinion this really hurt the film.

    Another key observation of this is, as the old saying goes, “There is such a thing as too much of a good thing,” and this could not be truer in describing the number of quality actors in this movie. From George Clooney himself to the overlooked Jeff Bridges, there was simply not enough time for their character’s roles to develop and grow. Each one of the characters did not have ample time for the audience to know and care about what happened to them in the film. There was a general feeling in the movie theatre that left viewers wondering, are we supposed to care about these characters? A good film intrigues viewers, making them feel like they have known the actors all their life or are at least able to relate to them during the movie. Unfortunately, the character development was not the only weakness in “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

    The directing and cinematography of the film lacked the worthiness that many critics raved about. Not only was the movie slow, the entire thing was in black and white. I understand why the TV portions may have been in black and white as they were seen on televisions across the nation in the 1950's, but the people whom lived at that time didn't see in black and white. It may have worked for such classics as “Raging Bull” but not for this film. The black and white was just too cliché for “Good Night and Good Luck”.

    The only really bright spot was the acting of David Strathairn, who plays Edward Murrow. Even with this, the character never revealed his personal life during the film and the audience was not able to become attached to Murrow. Because of this, viewers lost interest in his role and were unable to truly care if he got in trouble or not. Despite the fact that this was not an action movie, any viewer would expect for a film to kick into second gear speed at some point. I felt like during the length of the film, I was just waiting for something to happen. This anticipation was not the good kind that is suspenseful and keeps you wondering about what is going to happen next. It was the kind of wondering that left me thinking, isn’t anything entertaining going to happen?

    The film certainly has good intentions; it tries – and succeeds, to a large extent – to draw parallels between the fear tactics employed by McCarthy and those, such as the so-called ‘Patriot’ Act, used by the Bush administration. But while the filmmaker should be praised for a story so relevant to our current times, we must remember that the film is still a film, and should be judged primarily on its merits as cinematic entertainment. And this film just doesn’t hold up. It’s too dry, and it takes itself a bit too seriously. It depends too heavily on understatement. The movie tries extremely hard to appeal to our minds and our intellects, and as a result it almost completely ignores and neglects the quality required of all great movies – an appeal to our hearts and our emotions. This movie will do nothing for those not intensely interested in politics. Even sports movies realize this: yes, they show thrilling and suspenseful sports games, but they also take the time to develop emotional stories and human relationships outside the realm of sports. They do this to appeal to the members of the audience who aren’t obsessed with sports. Clooney cares about the world, but he is dismissive of this part of the audience. Every relationship in the movie is intrinsically tied to the politics governing their professional circumstances.

    Click here for more reviews for "Good Night and Good Luck"

     

    Ethics assignment

    In the journalism field, a reporter has an ethical duty to the public they provide news with. This same responsibility applies to sources they use for stories and the news outlets they work for. This ethical responsibility applies to reporters in all mediums of news, whether it's online, in a newspaper, or on television. As the field of journalism continues to grow there are different standards that are being set for different mediums and ones that remain in place despite the source that the news story comes from.

    All reporters need to be aware of copyright, defamation and privacy laws. Plagiarism is never tolerated in any medium of journalism and all reporters have a duty to be honest, as they are dealing with the public interest. Even though these different mediums of news share many ethical qualities they are interpreted differently by whether they broadcasted, printed in a newspaper or published online.

    For online reporters there are many standards that are being developed. Linking to different sites will not only protect the reporter against plagiarism but give readers more information. Ethics in online journalism almost require reporters to be more responsible. By taking readers to your sources you are never hiding anything. In a sense though, this is a double edged sword because sources have the right to remain silent. As reporters, we have to respect our sources. This brings up the Judith Miller case. Miller was a New York Times reporter who was jailed for refusing to reveal her sources. If Miller would have written an online story and linked one of her sources, she would have jeopardized this individual's career.

    Television news reports have the highest ethical standard and I think this is deserving because children have such easy access to it. Sources that televsion reporters use are often viewed by the public and this eliminates the problem that occured with Judith Miller. There are also many understood standards that apply to broadcast reporters. These ethical issues have also evolved with the changing journalism field.

    No matter what medium a reporter works for there are standards that must be followed. Professional journalists can report the news, inform the public, and be respected by co-workers if they simply follow ethical standards.

    For more information:
  • Media Ethics Online
  • Ethical Issues in Online Journalism

  • Sunday, November 20, 2005

     

    November 22 Assignment

    Read me!!

    Rotten Tomatoes

    This is the ultimate site for movie and entertainment lovers!! It has movie locators and tickets, reviews of films in the theatre and ones that are out on DVD. Rotten Tomatoes had a number of critics that use a system of organizing films into groups by determining if they are rotten or fresh. The site also has tables and lists of top video games and tons of reviews for those.
    All of this information is easy to use and find. The site is bright and stimulating to the eye. The organization is great,the space is well used without being cluttered. I really like the use of the color green within the site and the little pictures of tomatoes throughout it. The Spotlight logo is cool and sticks out right away with the letter 'o' being a tomato. I also like the section that tells you when upcoming movies will be released. This is nice because you can use this for several movies and continue to do so as films come out.
    The site also has a section labeled Trailers & Clips. It uses flash and allows users to become interactive. This alone could persuade someone to go out and see a movie. Below this table is a section that focuses on careers in the film industry. It has several links that give useful information and this part of the site helps it become a one-stop source for film lovers.
    The ad on this site is tasteful because it relates to the content material. Consumers scratch DVD's and there is a link for something that can help you with this. I also like how the different types of entertainment are easy to pick out with the black labels. My boyfriend showed me this site because he visits it all the time and now I will too!

    Monday, November 14, 2005

     

    Respondent

    Know Your Rights As An Online Journalist
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation

    How Can This Effect Me???
    The First Amendment give you freedom of speech rights, but this doesn't mean you can post anything you want on a personal blog. Every state has defamation and libel laws that also apply to things posted online. Blogger Aaron Wall knows all about this. Section 230 and bloggers

    What Should I Do To Protect Myself???
  • Know the law
  • Pay attention to comments posted on your blog
  • Join EFF or similar program

    For More Information:
  • Committee to Protect Bloggers
  • Cases going on now

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2005

     

    Story #2

    Man Sues M-D Anderson Cancer Center Because Of Operation

    After 72 Days, Doctors Find Towel Inside Patient


    Victims Says Center Should Have Found Towel Sooner

    After having a cancerous part of his colon removed, William Miller ran a constant fever for 73 days. After several cat scans, doctors from the Anderson Cancer Center found that a towel had been left inside his abdomen.

    Miller sued the center because he felt the towel should have been found sooner.

    Atul Gawande of the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says claims involving objects left in the patient's bodies is not unusual.

    Risks are higher when there is an unexpected change in the operation and also when patients are overweight.

    Most of the cases where objects are left inside involved sponges, however nearly one third involved surgical instruments.

    For More Information:
  • What To Do

  •  

    Final Exam Story #1

    Emerald Ash Borer Attacks Michigan Trees

    State Enacts Quarantine To Stop Spreading Of The Insect

    Experts Say The Pest Has Been In Detroit For At Least Five Years.


    Ash trees across the state and nation have an enemy that they cannot keep up with. The Emerald Ash Borer is a dark green,wood-boring beetle that is infested an estimated 15 million ash trees in many countries.

    The exotic insect which is one-half-inch in length and one-sixteenth-inch wide was discovered in 2002, according to Michigan's Department of Agriculture.

    Signs that the borer is present are usually undetectable until the tree begins to show symptoms of infestation. Typically upper portions of the tree begin to die and a large number of branches begin to shoot out below the dead parts.

    Currently the state of Michigan has more then 700 million ash trees. A quarantine has been enacted to prevent future spreading of the Emerald Ash Borer.

    A quarantine task force comprised of federal experts and state officials have developed a strategy to detect, contain and eradicate the insect.

    Michigan State University's entomologist David Smitley says insecticide treatment is proving effective in saving healthy ash trees this fall.

    Some keys components of the strategy include:
  • Providing sanitation and disposal options
  • Facilitating tree restoration/replacement whenever possible
  • Conducting ongoing surveys to ensure the pest is not spreading
  • Conducting research into the insect's biology

    For More Information:
    Emerald Ash Borer

  • Friday, October 21, 2005

     

    Gathering Assigment

    The Bird Flu starts to Sweep the world


    Panic starts to sweep over citizens



    NBC reports the deadly bird flu is spreading to parts of Europe including Romania. Along the River Danube here, thousands of birds are being killed after laboratories found the H5N1 virus present in them.

    The Bush Administration is discussing the government’s relief plans for the event of the outbreak of the disease in the United States. President Bush is also talking to drug company executives on how to quickly speed up production of a vaccine for the deadly disease according to reports by the Associated Press.

    A group of democratic senators believe the US is behind many countries in terms of readiness with vaccines. These same lawmakers have said that other countries have enough medication for about 20 to 40 percent of their populations compared to less then two percent for Americans according to the Associated Press. In an AP report Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the nation is in great need of an increased capacity for annual flu vacancies so that it could then switch to production of a pandemic flu vaccine if necessary.

    Sanofi-Pasteur, a vaccine producer, has begun production this month of a medication that will protect against the flu. The Associated Press says the company will produce $100 million worth.

    Scientists are concerned that the deadly disease could transform into a human strain. A NBC report found that this happened in 1918, killing more then 40 million people including a half million Americans. Dr. Freda Scott told NBC reporter Scott Sabine how quickly viruses can spread around the world on the wings of migratory birds.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also says there have been recent North American incidents of Avian Influenza with transmission to humans. These areas range from Canada, Texas, Delaware, and several other places. There are many facts and studies that citizens can read to keep themselves informed and protected.

    The World Health Organization says that outbreaks are now also present in parts of Turkey. The organization also has a list of ten things that people should know about pandemic influenza.

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