Advocacy Website: Mount Nittany Conservancy
Focused on preserving “Mt. Nittany from commercial and residential development by acquiring land and maintaining areas already under the Conservancy’s,” the Mount Nittany Conservancy proves to advocate for the protection of an important symbol of pride in the community. Throughout the website, the use of ethos, or ethical appeal, and pathos, or emotional appeal, is more apparent than that of logos, or logical appeal. The ethical appeal is used less than the emotional appeal, but it is still apparent on the website.
For example, to emphasize the moral dilemma, the site emphasizes the uses of Mount Nittany, such as hiking or discovering, that are available thanks to their contributions. The emotional appeal, however, is used more intensely throughout the website to create a strong sense of community, which is abundant in the Penn State area. By mentioning that trails are maintained by volunteers, offering the opportunity for the site’s visitors to “hear the complete story” of Mt. Nittany, and allowing donors to support through a life-estate deed, the Mount Nittany Conservancy does a great job at emotionally involving visitors with their cause.
While, in my eyes and those of the Mount Nittany Conservancy, it would certainly be logical to protect Mount Nittany, the use of logical appeals to explicitly state, provide, and offer an abundance of factual information detracts from the overall quality of the argument presented on the website. The use of logical appeals is certainly lacking, but I do want to mention that it is somewhat present. For example, the website states that they “conserve 800+ acres of beautiful Mount Nittany in Centre County’s Nittany Valley” and provides a lengthy explanation of Mount Nittany’s geology and soils.
However, it is equally, if not more, important to provide factual information that bolters the essentials of who, what, how, when, and why. Who decided to encroach upon Mount Nittany in the first place? What has their presence done in favor of Mount Nittany over the years? How does their organization use their support and donations to prevent the degradation of Mount Nittany? When did this problem arise? Why did Mount Nittany Conservancy establish themselves? Some of the answers to these questions may seem intuitive, but to those who support commercial and residential development, the answers may not be as clear. If the Mount Nittany Conservancy would like to sway the opinions of those in opposition, it would be beneficial to provide stronger logical appeals.
Topic: Tracking in Public Schools
Thesis Statement: Used in the majority of public schools throughout the United States, the tracking system has been linked to negative outcomes for minority and low-track students; with that said, the current system begs for reform that will decrease the prominence of stratification and minimize the achievement gap.
Audience: Current/Future Public-School Educators where tracking exists
Interesting Introduction: As a college student, education-enthusiast, and future educator, I believe in the power of a strong public school system that fulfills the dream of serving as the “great equalizer.” They have the potential to educate, guide, motivate, and enrich every student throughout the United States. However, such a system cannot be achieved without recognizing and targeting its current shortcomings; ignoring the prevailing and institutionalized problems in the system only harms those who experience them: students. With that said, one major problem that is present in our educational system proves to be the poor implementation of tracking throughout the majority of our secondary public schools. Minority and low-track students aren’t receiving the equal education that they deserve, as they suffer from the negative consequences of the widely used system.
Outline of the Essay:
- Thesis: Used in the majority of public schools throughout the United States, the tracking system has been linked to negative outcomes for minority and low-track students; with that said, the current system begs for reform that will decrease the prominence of stratification and minimize the achievement gap.
- What is tracking?
- Area of use
- What are the implications?
- Cite research
- Prevalence of tracking
- Effects of tracking on students
- Who does it hurt?
- Who does it help?
- How does curriculum/instruction differ in each track?
- What’s the correlation between track and race, SES, graduation rates, etc.
- Does it allow for upward mobility?
- Why do we need to reform the current model?
- Equality should be of the utmost importance
- The system hurts the students in the lower tracks
- Use examples of schools that have modified the original, most popular tracking model
- Next steps
- Educators should ensure that the “best” teachers in a school aren’t only teaching the upper tracks
- Equalize the curriculum for all tracks
- Raise the expectations for the low tracks
- Factors unrelated to academic ability (race, SES, etc.) cannot play a role in the track placement of a student
- Allow for more student choice and upward mobility; eliminate the rigid requirements and prerequisites
- Dedication to students and their futures
- If we have the facts, we need to act. Reading the literature won’t solve anything.
- Brodbelt, Samuel. “How Tracking Restricts Educational Opportunity.” The Clearing House, vol. 64, no. 6, 1991, pp. 385–388. JSTOR, JSTOR, jstor.org/stable/30182083.
- Burris, Carol Corbett, and Kevin G. Welner. “Closing the Achievement Gap by Detracking.” The Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 86, no. 8, 2005, pp. 594–598. JSTOR, JSTOR, jstor.org/stable/20441857.
- Oakes, Jeannie. “BEYOND TRACKING.” Educational Horizons, vol. 65, no. 1, 1986, pp. 32–35. JSTOR, JSTOR, jstor.org/stable/42926852
On Friday, February 23rd, I gathered around in a packed semi-circle with my fellow Penn State peers amidst the book shelves in Webster’s around 6:45 PM. Chatting about the deliberation we were all attending, I was extremely interested to participate in the discussion about mental health on campus. Titled “A Better Penn State of Mind: A Discussion of Mental Health Issues and Programs at Penn State,” the deliberation was not only well executed and attended, but also well received by the audience, making for an extremely productive discussion throughout the introduction, three approaches, and conclusion.
One of the aspects of the team’s deliberation that intrigued me the most was their idea of requiring mental health online modules similar to Penn State SAFE and AWARE. These modules would serve as an educational onboarding to different warning signs and coping mechanisms with mental health, and I couldn’t believe how simple of a requirement that would be. When surveying the audience for their experiences with mental health, almost everyone in the room offered that they, or someone they know, has been affected by mental health. With that said, mental health matters are just as prevalent as those related to sexual assault/harassment and drinking. Requiring the modules would allow Penn State students the opportunity to learn about and access resources that would help maintain good mental health.
This idea of access to resources that would help maintain good mental health was another point that surprised me during the deliberation. I was shocked by how many people in the audience that weren’t aware of CAPS’s location, resources, etc. In addition, no one in the audience was aware of a free, unlimited visit counseling resource on campus called the CEDAR Clinic, located in the Cedar Building behind Chambers Building. I became aware of this counseling service through the College of Education, because I give tours to families, so I learned about the resources within Cedar. In addition, I decided to take advantage of the services offered by Cedar this semester, when I was referred to their services by someone from CAPS. With that said, I was happy to be able to offer this information about the CEDAR Clinic in the deliberation, because no one in attendance knew about it.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself at the “A Better Penn State of Mind: A Discussion of Mental Health Issues and Programs at Penn State” deliberation. I wasn’t expecting much of a turnout on a Friday night, but it ended up being a really great time collaborating, discussing, and sharing ideas and experiences about mental health at Penn State throughout the deliberation. Kudos to this team for their excellent preparation, execution, and moderation, which made for a productive, successful deliberation in the Penn State community.
With the intention of seeking and reading two different perspectives with regards to sex-education in public schools, I wanted to be able to strengthen my ability to put myself in the shoes of others. At the deliberation, community members will be present, but their presence does not simply mean that they will agree with everything our team presents for discussion. In order for a discussion to have value and to be productive and effective, it’s necessary to welcome a variety of ideas and consider ones that stray from the norm.
With that said, in Beyond the birds and bees: Where’s the sex ed in Pennsylvania schools? the author, Margarita Cambest, presented an angle that supports the integration of a more comprehensive sex-education program. According to the Planned Parenthood Keystone president, Melissa Reed, who Cambest interviewed for the article, the women’s health organization supported a bill that would have required comprehensive sexual health education be taught in all of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, but the Senate bill failed in committee.”
However, an article posted by the American Life League offered a drastically different opinion about the role of sex-education in public school. According to the American Life League, “a school is not the place for sex education. Proper sex education for a child is dependent on the actual mental maturity of the child. Sex education programs can often times lead to the deformation of a child’s conscience.”
Despite the difference in viewpoints, both articles discuss a common entity: Planned Parenthood. If community members are divided at the deliberation, I think explicitly stating some factors that join us would help strengthen the trust and quality of the conversation. At the end of the day, we all want all of our children to have the quality education that they deserve. To accomplish this, we have to recognize and appreciate differences and similarities to do what is right for our kids.
Deliberation Title: Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed), Baby
Description of Deliberation: In our deliberation, we will be discussing the role of sexual education in today’s schools. Sex education is required by law to be taught at some point in middle school and high school, but how effective is this education, and is it even teaching the right topics? We will be exploring three key points on the issue of sexual education. These three points are the medical misconceptions that young adults may have regarding sex, the social stigmas behind sexuality, and the possible outcomes of sexual respect and lack of sexual respect.
Your Role(s): I’m a member of the mini team for the Team Overview.
What You’re Currently Working On: With a rough draft of the welcome and introduction written, I’m currently working on developing this aspect of our mini-team’s role. In addition, I’m continuing to research the topic of sex education in schools to have a better understanding of the subject. With that said, I’ll also be working on the personal stake and post-deliberation aspects of the deliberation. Carly, Julia, and I have been working on this together, so I would consider all of this a team effort. In addition, I want to ensure that all of the information being gathered from each group is well represented by what we’re writing for our part, so I will monitor the other Google Docs in our folder.
Growing up, I was always that kid who absolutely loved school. In first grade, I cut the tulips from the flower beds at my house to give to my teacher as a token of gratitude. On the first day of summer after sixth grade, I went back to school to see if any of the teachers needed help cleaning up their rooms. I was always trying to express my love for school, learn as much as possible, and find excuses to stay after hours. With that said, I’m going to walk you through one of my favorite days from high school.
On a Friday morning, I woke up at 5:30am and happily got dressed in record time. I wrote for the school newspaper, The Knight Crier, and I needed to get there before 6:30 to meet a teacher for an interview. I tried to schedule these interviews on Friday mornings on purpose; having a genuine conversation with someone for an article was not only a great way to start the day, but also end the week.
My mom drove me to school that morning, and she dropped me off at the same stop sign that she always did. After I gathered my purple backpack, matching lunch box, and camo drawstring bag for gym class, I waved goodbye to my mom as she drove away, and I stood in the parking lot. I took in the sight of my enormous school that was home to over 3,000 staff and students that morning. Behind me, the sun was rising, and I was tempted to take a picture of it. Instead, I stood in the parking lot for a few more minutes, allowing the sight of the rainbow sherbet sky to fuel my body with energy. Satisfied, I turned around and made my way towards the entrance.
After climbing up the front steps, I approached the front doors. This was my favorite part about starting my day. When I crossed that threshold, I immediately took in the various smells of high school. The chlorine from the pool, the mopped floors in the concourse, the pencils, papers, and books from throughout the building, the cafeteria, the library, the classrooms, the gyms, the auditorium, and the hallways combined with one another, producing one welcoming scent that overwhelmed me as I walked through the doors.
I stared down the empty, dimly-lit concourse and looked to my right. Waving and saying my usual “Good morning, Walt” to the security guard, I made my way to the interview that I had scheduled with the teacher. I swore that the next forty-five minutes were responsible for the best interview that I ever had. I always seemed to say this after every interview.
I made my way to my first class and took the long way just so I could say good morning to as many teachers as I could. I climbed the stairs to the third floor of K-Pod and walked into the best class that anyone could start their day with: News Journalism with Mr. Manero. He has and always will be one of my favorite teachers ever.
As I went through all eight periods of the day, I remember how I didn’t notice how heavy my backpack was that day, how much homework I had for the weekend, or that I had a few tests the next week. Simply put, I was especially happy that day. I spent the last period of the day with another one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Sieller. When the bell rang, announcing the start of the weekend, I met up with a group of my friends, and we made our way to the cafeteria for the next adventure.
For the next five hours, we all helped with setting up for the annual craft show that funds the exchange program. My best friend Nolan and I were fortunate enough to be selected to study abroad in Spain, so this event held a lot of meaning. We found our favorite crafters from Lancaster and helped them unwrap their pottery for hours, flattening the newspaper like pros. Once the crafters were finished setting up, all the student volunteers, staff members, and exchange program trustees gathered in a room just outside of the cafeteria to enjoy some pizza together. We argued about who the crafters liked best, laughed with our teachers, told dramatic studying abroad stories, listened to even more dramatic ones, and passed phones around the tables to reminisce on memories.
We helped clean up from the pizza, said thank you, and made our way to the auditorium to watch the annual talent show. We whispered in awe at the talent of our peers, wondering how we never knew what their hidden talents were.
By the time I left the high school that night, it was well after 10pm. The high school, still alive, sat illuminated against the black sky. In all, I spent over 12 hours at school that day, and I loved every minute of it. Leaving the high school that night, I remember the gratitude I felt for my education. Not only was I given the opportunity to pursue academics, but also explore extracurricular activities. My experience at North Penn High School impacted me in ways that will last a lifetime.
Recalling days like these are why I believe in the power of students, why I believe in the power of educators, why I believe in the power of academics, why I believe in the power of extra-curricular activities, why I believe in the power of public schools.