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I asked my boyfriend for a writing prompt. He told me to write about waking up as Barack Obama the day after bin Laden was killed… Thus, this five minute piece of garbage was created.

Gasping, I sit up in bed frantically. As I had passed, I knew I would wake up in another body this morning, but I didn’t expect it to feel this way. I can’t explain it. I feel… important. The air around feels heavy, in that sense that you know something has happened, but you can’t quite place your finger on it.
I glance down at my hands and I am met with an interesting sight: darker skin than I am used to. Being a pasty white male before, I am surprised to see the color that meets my eyes. I rub my eyes and get up, heading to the bathroom. As I pass through the hallway and reach the room, I hear the news blaring from a closed door. I can’t really hear much, but I am able to make out that yesterday, Osama bin Laden was killed. I smirk to myself before nodding in agreement to this news.
As I enter the bathroom, I fumble for the light switch. I take a deep breath as I brace myself for the sight I will see; this experience is always different, and each time something unexpected looks back at me. I look up at the mirror and stifle a scream by covering my mouth with my hand.
I am a handsome, yet aged, black man.
I am Barack Obama.
I think back to the news I heard just moments before and actually laugh to myself this time. How lucky am I that I didn’t have to deal with that bullshit? Then another thought enters my mind: before today, did Barack Obama have thoughts like these? I shake my head and also shake the thought. That doesn’t matter right now.
All that matters in this very moment is the new thought that has manifested itself into my mind.
I can finally fulfill my dream of making sweet, sweet love to Michelle Obama, the most beautiful woman in the world. After taking care of business in the bathroom, I feel the unmistakable feeling of arousal in my pants.
Making my way back to the bedroom I awoke in, I call for her. “Honey,” I begin. “Come to the bedroom, please. I don’t want to do this… Obamaself.”
I hear her stale laugh from the other room before she enters the bedroom. “How many times are you going to make that jo–”
She pauses as she sees me, standing naked by the bed. I see her glance downward for just a moment before making eye contact with me.
“Oh. This again,” she says flatly.
I smile sheepishly, scratching the back of my head. “Sorry, honey,” I muster, beckoning for her to come closer.
There is no intimacy in what happens next. She takes off her clothes and sits on the bed, waiting for me. I sit beside her and begin on the journey of a lifetime. I last only seconds, her beautiful face in front of mine making any other outcome impossible. I collapse beside her, smiling. Pure bliss, I think, glancing over to her.
“You done?” she asks, standing up and beginning to dress again.
“Oh, uh… yeah,” I say, watching her every move. It seems she’s used to this, and I don’t even care. I can’t even feel bad for her as I watch her replace her clothing, piece by piece.
Barack Obama truly is the luckiest man in the world.
I am the luckiest man in the world.

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Trains: A Short–and probably sloppy–Work of a Dream From a Few Weeks Ago

I gaze at the young woman making her way down the old train tracks. I am not sure what is going to happen next; I have seen this a thousand times, and they never actually do it. This time, however, feels different. The aura surrounding this girl is bleak. The way she moves is almost lifeless–as she soon may be. I sigh and shake my head, hoping she is like all the others before her.
But I know–somehow, I know–that she is different. And I am not ready. Yet I prepare myself despite the overwhelming dread filling me.
She continues walking down these old tracks, full of life despite the old age. Every scratch tells its own story, no matter how little. Every little dent does the same. Together, every imperfection joins together in a mass, a mass that runs through whole countries.
These imperfections cry out to become fixed, to become ‘perfect;’ little do they know that together, they create a beautiful being capable of so much more than they ever realize. And just like the dents and scratches, this girl’s imperfections cry out, too–louder, though, and God, it’s almost deafening to hear their screams.
And I must listen, as I am the only one who hears.
This girl–this beautiful girl–is full. She is full of rage, of sadness, of betrayal, and so much more that even I cannot understand. Her face is a dull projection of what she is feeling inside.
I can tell she is not used to letting her emotions come out. The further she wanders, the more they come out–spill out–and stain the path behind her. She is bleeding, every negative aspect inside of her brain seeping out from every pore of her ivory skin.
And she does not know. God, how can she not know? I am watching her fall apart completely, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it. I hold back tears as reality sets in: she is going to do this and she is not going to hold back. This is my job; this is what I am here for. So why is it so hard this time?
And then she feels it. The vibrations begin, and I see her perk up for a second. She smiles–such a beautiful smile–as the vibrations fill her body.
She gazes in the direction of the mass speeding in her direction and she looks so happy, so beautiful, and so free. I realize I am biting my lip, clenching my fists, my entire body tensing up–what can I do? How do I stop this?
I see her lips curling into a sick grin on her gorgeous face and I call out to her, knowing it will do no good. I notice the faint ping, ping, ping in the distance–a lovely warning sound that I wish she would listen to. But I know. I know she has stopped caring. She stopped a long time ago.
She begins to giggle–a precious little sound that is comparable to tinkling–and the dread sets in completely. As adrenaline fills her body, I can see her going into a completely state of ecstasy. She feels she is finally escaping.
And in a flash, it is done. The tracks are shaking now, the imperfections calling out for her to stop, and the mass arrives, and suddenly–she throws herself in front of it. The sicking, deafening crunch of her lovely body fills my ears. I let out a sob, a scream, but it is too late. The conductor does not even notice. It was so sudden that he does not register what has happened. But I do–God, I do.
Her body, only moments ago so full of life, lies in a mangled heap on the tracks, beside the tracks, strewn several yards from the tracks, and all I can do is wait. Tear stained and heartbroken, I do just that: I wait. I glance around, waiting to see her beautiful face searching for me.
And there it is.
Confused, almost angry, she approaches me. She looks around and her eyes finally rest upon the remains of her body.
Her mouth drops open for a moment but then she realizes what she has done. This time, though, it is different.
There is no regret in her eyes. Her face is calm and anything but distraught. If anything, she has a glow about her that seems to give her more life than the glow she had when she was truly alive. I do not have to comfort her. I do not have to console her. She is happy–truly happy–with the decision she had made.
I reach my hand out to her and she takes it without hesitation. I lead her back to the place that I came from, and she follows with no reluctance. Throughout our journey to where we now both belong, she does not say a single word. I glance in her direction and see she is filled with pure bliss. Pure joy. Pure contention.
She is free.

The Donald Trump Antithesis: A Research/Argument Paper bout Immigration Laws (References included; NEW 2016 MLA Format)

“This is ‘Welcome to America 101.’ It’s a one-week, 30-hour crash course for newly arrived refugees, teaching them the basics of living in the United States. Aside from personal finance, the lessons tackle public transportation, grocery shopping, paying rent and going to the doctor” (Cadei 1). While it is fantastic to offer such a course to refugees, many still struggle with day-to-day life. Lessons offered in this course are, without a doubt, a tremendous help. However, refugees are still expected to know much more than the basic lessons taught in such classes. Many refugees do not even feel welcome in America, yet still take a course telling them that they indeed are. Harsh immigration laws in the United States restrict many people from entering the country in hopes of pursuing a life they believe will be better; as a country built on immigration, these laws do not appear to be adequate.
Strict immigration laws have always been an issue in different parts of the world. The United States, however, has a higher standard to hold to. While “native” Americans feel proud of their home country, they forget that their ancestors once slaughtered innocent Native Americans because they wanted the land. This was a much harsher, more violent approach to immigration. America now upholds a slogan proclaiming itself “home of the free” and “land of the brave.” It is a place where people come to better their lives; it is a place that holds promise, safety, and many dreams that can be fulfilled. However, over time it has been decided that immigration, for the most part, is to be frowned upon. Many people are afraid to even try to enter America because they do not feel welcome. Refugees are often denied access to the country, and when they are able to enter, they are still judged, hurt, and threatened. Many people, however, see newcomers as a threat. They feel as though immigrants and refugees both have a negative effect on American economy, or that they are unsafe; President elect Donald Trump has stated that in helping refugees, the gesture “is a potential ‘Trojan horse’ for jihadis” (Cadei 1). Some do not want to welcome refugees or immigrants because they feel as though American economy could be threatened by letting newcomers in. Although legitimate concerns, those who think this way are often mislead by believing fallacies, making assumptions, and listening to prejudiced people’s views without forming their own opinions first.
Prejudice against immigrants in America is rising at a continual rate. Many of today’s Americans claim that they are not racist and do not discriminate against people for different ethnicities, religions, or even viewpoints. In light of the 2016 presidential election, the true feelings of many United States citizens became known. In the midst of many people fleeing their war-ridden home countries, they are also scared to enter America due to the large amounts of hatred towards them. Liset Barrios was a native Cuban that was scared for her life in her home country. America was a short 90-mile journey across water; however, she was afraid to enter over water (Vick 1). Instead, she took a “detour,” instead travelling 8,000 miles for fifty-one days. After many hardships and much fear, Liset still did not feel welcome. This is an issue that many people, immigrants and refugees alike, face nearly every time they try to enter America. In recent years, the issue has grown tremendously to the point that people in their home countries that legitimately fear for their lives fear coming to America even more; Americans put up the front that anyone is welcome, whether they he or she is in dire need or not, but the reality is just the opposite.
Immigrants that enter America do not “steal jobs;” in fact, immigrants contribute to the American economy. While it is true that immigrants often search for common jobs such as construction work, it does not mean they are taking the jobs of natural born American citizens. Often times newcomers will accept any jobs they possibly can. Many work “under the table,” meaning they are not legally hired by an employer. Some do this because they are unable to acquire a job without legal documentation while others do it simply because they cannot find another “legal” job. While the loss of jobs is an illegitimate fear shared by millions, a real threat to the economy may be evident; President elect Donald Trump wishes to change the 14th Amendment which grants birthright citizenship in America. He promised to deport nearly 11 million immigrants. This would result in a cost of nearly half a trillion dollars (Love 1). America is already heavily in debt, so those in support of such an idea would be furthering that debt; in no way is America fit to pay a high cost like so. The U.S. is in an economic crisis, and deporting so many immigrants would make it worse. Many businesses would fail or cease to exist completely, and financial burdens would become heavier. Many Americans simply ignore such important issues because they feel that they are unable to do anything. Instead, they just find routes around the issue and ultimately create more issues than there ever should have been; it is a vicious cycle that has yet to be broken and will likely never be broken. Additionally, it is not only the economic status of the world in danger. Trump stated that climate change is a hoax, and he had plans to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency (Love). With this possibility, the environment could deteriorate over time, which directly affects American economy. With so much already at risk, it is illogical to add to economic duress because some do not feel comfortable allowing people to enter the country.
Allowing refugees to enter America helps people better their lives and work toward goals they are unable to fulfill in their home countries. Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine, spoke out about living in Honduras. With much violence in the country, many had to flee. Most of the people that fled, unfortunately, did not even plan to leave their home countries; they were forced to. Many entered America in strong hope of escaping violence, though they never wanted to leave where they called home (Inskeep 1). In addition, much of the violence is related to drugs; the United States plays a large role in the drug trade, and therefore should take some sense of responsibility in welcoming refugees that are escaping violence Americans contributed to. To the dismay of many immigrants, refugees, and even many United States citizens, a large population of Americans do not care about helping people in need, nor do they care about the fact that America is a contributor to drug related crimes. Other countries have similar fears. El Salvador has much gang activity and many natives have been scared from their homes because of it. Many people from El Salvador had no intention of leaving their home country; they fled in terror. Among these people, many had to dismantle their homes and collect their belongings with police officers present simply so they would not be hurt by gang members. Family members feared for everyone they loved. Even when families tried to keep members safe, gang members would find ways to hurt the family, or to threaten innocent lives within the family (Martinez 1). Perhaps all immigrants are not legal, but everyone leaves their home country for the same reason: to have a chance at a better life. Refugees flee to avoid injury or, often times, death. Americans are unwelcoming in either circumstance, but would expect the exact opposite treatment if they were placed in a similar situation.
Strict American immigration laws are unfair to many wishing to enter the country. Since the country was built on newcomers taking over the landmass that we now call “The United States,” turning people away is selfish and unfair. While life is unfair, it does not make cruel treatment toward people acceptable. Many Americans are incredibly prejudiced and judgemental, and the amount of people that feel this way continuously rises. Immigrants and refugees tremendously help the economy and encourage growth rather than impacting it negatively, as many believe. Refugees coming into America are not “terrorists” and should never be labeled as so upon arrival; they are simply trying to fulfill goals that are not possible at their homes. Immigration laws are, of course, necessary. Unfortunately, many like to abuse their power when deciding on laws. With prejudice constantly rising, it is becoming easier to pass laws that discriminate and demonize newcomers in the country. Instead of doing so while refusing to admit that it is discrimination, people should consider the circumstances people face that ultimately make them decide to leave their home countries. Someone deciding to begin a new life in America has either faced danger, fear, or hardships in his or her home country and he or she feels that America offers better opportunities than he or she would have otherwise. Rather than alienating such a person, Americans should instead welcome him or her and realize the reasons for deciding America is a better choice for a home.

Works Cited
Cadei, Emily. “Trojan Horse Crap.” Newsweek Global vol. 167, no.8 2016, pp. 18-21. Academic
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Inskeep, Steve. “His Immigration Views Were Shaped By Time Abroad, Sen. Tim Kaine Says.”
Morning Edition (NPR). National Public Radio, 2016. N. pag. Newspaper Source,
http://ezproxy.jalc.edu:2120/ehost/detail/detail?sid=80d643aa-29e1-4e3c-af05-9593cba5
2cd%40sessionmgr4008&vid=1&hid=4209&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3
%3d#AN=6XN201609161002&db=nfh. Accessed 11 November 2016.
Love, Maryann Cusimano. “Foreign Policy Déjà Vu (Cover Story).” America vol. 215, no.8,
2016, p. 16. MasterFILE Premier,
http://ezproxy.jalc.edu:2120/ehost/detail/detail?sid=d421e1a9-d95d-4ad3-8085-5b92691
a07e%40sessionmgr4006&vid=16&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%
d%3d#db=f5h&AN=118176703. Accessed 10 November 2016.
Martinez, Óscar. “The Horrors of Home.” New Republic vol. 245, no. 14 2014, pp. 31-33.
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3d#AN=97381388&db=a9h. Accessed 09 November 2016.
Vick, Karl. “The 8,000-Mile Shortcut.” Time vol. 188, no.16/17, 2016, pp. 69-75. Academic
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3d#AN=118831101&db=a9h. Accessed 13 November 2016.

Standardized Testing: A Gateway to Stress: A Literature Review (References Included; APA Format)

Abstract
This paper extends upon five published articles that feature standardized testing. The articles include information about testing, emphasis of expectations, inclusive education, and special needs students [in the standardized testing world]. Gilmore emphasizes the importance of scores within a classroom as well as the importance of collaboration between students and teachers (2016). The articles elaborate on such topics as well; however, Crowder and Konle’s article concludes many consequences of opting out and shows the lack of fairness within the standardized testing realm (2015). This paper explores many situations and further explains many aspects of state-mandated testing that many people are unaware of.
Introduction
Standardized testing has become more and more common in today’s schools. This has pushed for schools to prepare students extensively in order to make decent scores on the tests. Standardized testing had very little effect on school instruction until the late 1970s, essentially placing emphasis on in-class, subject specific lessons (Brighton & Callahan, 2002, par. 1). The normalization of tests raises many concerns, thus creating many questions. So, do standardized tests put pressure on just students, just teachers, or both? Ultimately, standardized testing places such an emphasis to do well on both teachers and students; this, unfortunately, places much unnecessary pressure upon individuals.

Effects on Students
Standardized testing has become routine for students in all grades. From the very start of a child’s education, he or she is given aptitude tests. These tests supposedly show how well the student will or will not do in future education, thus placing pressure on a child to do well on such a test–even when he or she cannot fully comprehend the importance of the test. Additionally, students encounter standardized testing for the entirety of their school career; throughout elementary education, secondary education, and postsecondary education, students are still expected to take standardized tests, with emphasis of doing well hung high above their heads.
Shortened Class Time In the article “Gumbo Ya-Ya or, What Pearson Can’t Hear: Opt-Out Standardized Testing, and Student Surveillance,” Zan Crowder and Stephanie Konle state that a Florida bill was passed to limit the time students spent on ‘state-mandated’ tests; prior to the passage of this bill, “schools administered tests on one hundred and seventy-two of the one hundred and eighty calendar school days” (2015, p. 287). While teachers have tried inspiring students to enjoy testing, educational time should be used for educational purposes–not to prepare for tests that measure what one had learned though he or she has not had proper time to learn. Students, however, can be held back when they are not inspired to enjoy testing, a feat that is arguably impossible to accomplish. Standardized testing is an independent work, separating students and teachers alike; however, working together toward a common goal is hardly farfetched in helping students become successful (Gilmore, 2016, p. 388). Additionally, if a student does not do well on a standardized test, he or she is held back from many opportunities in his or her life–ultimately holding him or her back from possibilities that could improve his or her life continually. Until the late 1970s, though, standardized testing had little to no effect on classroom instruction (Brighton & Callahan, 2002, par. 2). Standardized tests were rarely used, and there was virtually no influence of the content of tests within the classroom. Such a fact should emphasize how little testing preparation is actually needed during class time.
Effects on Students’ Futures Standardized testing has become a major deciding factor in measuring the ability of students throughout the past several years. When a student is tested, he or she must understand the content; understanding is key, yet state-mandated testing does not allow for understanding (Gilmore, 2016, p. 390). When a test requires a student to have memorized information he or she has learned throughout his or her school career, memorization truly is key; application of knowledge is not the skill a student needs to know. According to Zan Crowder and stephanie Konle, students, or learners, are defined as an object of measurement rather than being considered people (2015, p. 286). This implies that the measurable goals [as a ‘learner’] are the only educative goals possible. Crowder and Konle argue that “only through Pearson’s conscientious assistance may the lives of its customers progress toward sanctioned success” (2015, p. 286). Additionally, a student must obtain collaboration skills in order to apply them throughout his or her life. The skill of collaboration is critical for secondary educators, yet it does not stop at the secondary level (Kozik, Cooney, Vinciguerra, Gradel, & Black, 2009, p. 78). Standardized testing does not generally allow for collaboration skills to be taught and/or utilized, pushing students further away from a vital skill in one’s life.
The Opt-Out Movement As one reporter recently wrote in U.S. News and World Report, “the opt-out movement is driven by ‘elite progressives’ who are ‘ridiculous, selfish, and more than a little hypocritical” (Crowder & Konle, 2015, p. 287). Many states, such as Florida and Kentucky, do not even allow for anyone to opt out of testing–consequently, more and more states are doing the same. Students who do not take a state-mandated test are given a score of zero rather than not being counted at all; this essentially coerces students into taking such tests. However, experience has proven to help students learn. When forced to take a test, a student oftentimes has little to no experience on such a test; yet prior experience would help him or her get a better score on a test with so much emphasis placed on it (Gilmore, 2016, p. 392). While testing preparation is usually offered or incorporated into the normal ‘curriculum,’ it does not [always] suffice when the actual test is taken. As previously stated, standardized testing had little to no effect on instruction within a classroom; thus, emphasis was not strongly placed upon preparation, scores, or a student’s future (Brighton & Callahan, 2002, par. 2). If a student is unable or unwilling to test, yet opting out is not a fair option, the education system seems to be jeopardized; incorporating knowledge into curriculum does not necessarily prove to be beneficial in all cases, whereas allowing a student or his or her parent(s) to opt out of such a test could improve the student’s life and a particular school’s reputation.
Effects on Teachers
Many programs have been created throughout many years to include all children in both education and general societal norms (e.g.: No Child Left Behind). These programs, while beneficial at times, can prove to have challenging requirements–especially with inclusive education. Standardized testing is one obstacle of inclusive education. In addition, teachers are often punished if students receive bad scores on a particular subject. Educators are also required to include hours of test preparation during class time–resulting in much lost time throughout each school year.
Inclusive Education While including special needs students in the education setting has proven to be a challenge, fewer students with special needs are educated in segregated settings and more inclusive opportunities exist (Kozik et. al, 2009, p. 78). However, many barriers still exist: planning time, concerns about caseload, inadequate preparation, and so on. Complexity of schooling at a secondary level has been a challenge in means of inclusion. Gifted students themselves have identified many concerns and complaints about school experiences regarding heightened emphasis on standardized tests. The most common responses included boredom and disengagement within a classroom with frequent practice for state tests (Brighton and Callahan, 2002, p. 9). One student reported, “If I liked what I was studying I would study very hard, but we are just doing the same thing over and over. It is so boring.” Boredom within classrooms is a common obstacle for all students; at any level, students get bored with reiteration of the same information they have already been taught numerous times throughout their school careers. Most educators agree that motivation of their students is a critical task of teaching (Mucherah & Yoder, 2008, p. 214). When being taught the same information, students tend to wander from what they are learning; in a gifted classroom setting, motivation can be a deciding factor in whether or not a student is successful. Through mandating tests and forcing students to learn information they are not interested in or reiterating what they have already taught, most, if not all, motivation is lost–causing one ultimate goal of educators to not be achieved.
Shortened Class Time Most states spend a large portion, if not a majority, of the school year preparing for tests. In fact, some states have had to issue laws shortening the amount of time schools require educators to prepare students for standardized tests. Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a Florida House Bill (7069) into law which limits hours spent on ‘state-mandated tests.’ One school in Florida spent one hundred and seventy-two days of a one hundred and eighty day school year administering tests (Crowder & Konle, 2015, p. 287). If students are required to spend so much time throughout a single school year preparing for and taking standardized tests, he or she cannot be expected to know information outside of the material fit for testing; this creates a barrier between the student and the real world, potentially standing in the way of his or her future. Many professors agree that standardized testing is unreliable and, as a result of the tests taking up so much time, they become an ‘automatic misguided attack on grades’ (Gilmore, 2016, p. 393). If scores are, indeed, unreliable, the vast amount of time taken in order to prepare for tests is, ultimately, wasted. The time that is spent teaching students the same information for a single test could instead be spent teaching subject-specific content, essentially broadening a student’s knowledge–another ultimate goal of school; however, with testing requirements, it is often difficult to achieve the level of education that teachers set out to instill on their students. Additionally, the focus on test preparation could jeopardize inclusive education as well. When special needs students need to be taught the same way as every other student, they are taken away from an inclusive classroom setting; collaboration skills that have been emphasized as a critical skill are lost when educators are forced to teach students repetitive information (Kozik et al, 2009, p. 78).
Punishment for Low Scores While many challenges arise for educators during times of testing, one issue stands out: punishment. When students do not do well on tests, educators gain negative reputations. Teachers are responsible for many aspects of their students’ lives; Pearson Publishing spies on schoolchildren’s digital postings, breaking the right of privacy (Crowder & Konle, 2015, p. 285). This is done to keep test questions following a common core guideline from being spread outside of the test it appears on. Teachers are, unfortunately, unfairly reflected through their students test scores. While grades within a specific class accurately show progress, they are instead evaluated on how students do within a specific portion of a test (Gilmore, 2016, p. 394). Since collaboration is increasingly important in the classroom setting, it is essential for students and teachers alike to be able to work together to succeed and motivate one another (Kozik et. al, 2009, p. 78).
Conclusion
Many great points are made that advocate state-mandated tests; this does not, however, excuse the drawbacks of such tests. I believe a student’s intelligence should be gauged solely on that individual’s process–not through a test with ridiculous standards that a student is forced to memorize information in order to succeed. Standardized testing ultimately jeopardizes an individual’s future–both students and teachers alike. Placing such emphasis on a person to do well on something he or she may have little to no motivation for is unfair and unreliable–yet schools still rely on good standardized test scores in order to determine a student’s intelligence, aptitude, and potential. State officials in charge of state-mandated testing, common core, and more school-related topics should consider the major drawbacks of standardized testing and compare them to advantages. If advantages do exist, the drawbacks still heavily outweigh them, making tests unfair, unreliable, and, undeniably cruel.

References
Crowder, Z., & Konle, S. (2015). Gumbo Ya-Ya or, What Pearson Can’t hear: Opt-Out,
Standardized Testing, and Student Surveillance. High School Journal, 98(4), 285-289.
doi:10.1353/hsj.2015.0013
Gilmore, H. (2016). Standardized Testing, Learning, and Meritocracy: A Reply to Professor
Dan Subornik. Touro Law Review, 32(2), 367-405. Retrieved from
https://www.tourolaw.edu/lawreview
Kozik, P.L., Cooney, B., Vinviguerra, S., Gradel, K., & Black, J. (2009). Promoting inclusion in
secondary schools through appreciative inquiry. American Secondary Education, 38(1),
77-91. Retrieved from
https://www.ashland.edu/coe/about-college/american-secondary-education-journal
Moon, T.R., Brighton, C.M. (2002). State Standardized Testing Programs: Friend or Foe of
Gifted Education?. Roeper Review, 25(2), 49. Retrieved from
http://www.roeper.org/Roeper-Review
Mucherah, W., & Yoder, A. (2008). Motivation for Reading and Middle School Students’
Performance on Standardized Testing in Reading. Reading Psychology, 29(3), 214-235.
doi:10.1080/02702710801982159

Information Literacy: The Expansion of Early Comprehension Skills — Referenes Included

Fake news is a widespread pandemic throughout the world; as of late, the United States is a prime location for this outbreak to occur. The primary way to strike against this plague is to be ‘trained’ in information literacy. Information literacy is defined as “learned techniques and skills for utilizing the wide range of information tools as well as primary sources in molding information solutions to [one’s] problems” (Witek 23). Inevitably, there is much debate about what level this skill should be taught; in some cases, there is debate about if it should be taught in [public] schools at all. However, it is essential that secondary educators instill information literacy knowledge in students because these students will need the skill in postsecondary education, it teaches students to think critically in several aspects of their lives, and students must be able to identify if sources are reliable and present accurate information.
Information literacy is absolutely essential in postsecondary education. College-level research is more in-depth than research at the secondary education level; when skills in information literacy are not taught prior to college or university attendance, students are liable to fail when it comes to utilizing the research process. Most schools in the countries all over the world require information literacy skills. In fact, many standards underscore the need for teaching the research process (Averill 114). Of course, students are frequently expected to know the steps taken within the research process in postsecondary education. While educators at this level should address or, at the very least, outline the process, pupils within courses will need prior knowledge on the process. Secondary educators have four [mandatory] years to ingrain information literacy in their students’ memory; throughout these years, educators can build upon prior knowledge on being information literate. Additionally, students are required to attend secondary education institutes–therefore, students who do not continue with their education or, perhaps, do not fully complete secondary education will at the very least be introduced to information literacy and critical thinking. Moreover, librarians are trained to teach information literacy to students–however, many students are either unaware of this or simply choose not to utilize the potential help offered. Of course, libraries have been teaching information literacy for many years with minimal success because it has mostly been initiated by librarians rather than students or primary educators seeking help (Lockhart 20). This does not, however, dismiss the need for core teachers at the secondary level to promote knowledge in information literacy. Unfortunately, many educators at the secondary level do not undermine the importance of being information literate and, because of this, students are not interested in learning the skill–sometimes students are not even holistically aware of the skill, meaning students might understand the need for validating sources, but not to the full extent. Information literacy has been and always will be mandatory in postsecondary education and it is absolutely necessary for secondary educators to make sure their students are aware of the skill’s importance.
Additionally, information literacy teaches students the value of thinking critically in every aspect of their lives. Students will commonly think the application of this knowledge will only apply when it comes to gathering information for writing; nonetheless, application of information literacy skills in other subjects should be considered (Lockhart 19). Fortunately, this does not apply only to educational settings. Throughout their lives, people not continuing with education after high school will still need critical thinking skills. Independent adult life is full of responsibilities that require one to think seriously about a variety of topics. When deciding where to live, where to work, or how to plan one’s life, an adult will need to think on a much deeper level than if the individual were making a fairly simple and relatively unimportant decision. With a lack of information literacy skills, however, many tend to lose the value of critical thinking and lose their ability to think utilizing higher order thinking skills–assuming they had such skills in the first place. Of course, people are often able to consult a ‘professional’ about important decisions, which further outline the value of critical thinking being lost. When one becomes reliant upon another making decisions for him or her, he or she will not feel the need to think for himself or herself. Consequently, the knowledge is not passed down and later generations are unaware of the need for such skills; instead, reliance is always placed upon another person rather than one’s self and, eventually, information literacy and critical thinking skills will be lost altogether. When students are taught how to evaluate sources and apply knowledge gained accordingly, they are more likely to be able to apply knowledge at a later point in their lives–perhaps, even, in a situation where having critical thinking skills is entirely essential.
Arguably most importantly, students should be able to decipher real articles from fake; information literacy stresses this particular skill. ‘Fake’ news is often used in politics in order for one candidate to misrepresent another’s name. Libel is a written defamation about someone or something that is damaging to that person’s or thing’s reputation and is fully utilized during political campaigns. This strategy often works as repeated untrue statements changes truth-value ratings (Polage 245). The public, as well as secondary and postsecondary students, is unable to identify if a source is reliable much of the time–and this is not only used in politics. Fake news is prominent and students need to be able to tell when false news differs from undesirable news. However, many are unable to tell when an article is false or not; if information literacy skills are learned, people will easily be able to decipher real information from fake information. In order for someone to graduate as a self-guided, motivated, lifelong learner, students absolutely must become information literate (Wong 114). When one achieves being self-guided and motivated, he or she is able to realize the importance of information literacy skills, ultimately resulting in the skill of being able to tell the difference between true and false articles.
On the contrary, many believe that information literacy should be taught beginning at elementary school levels. It is argued that teaching certain subjects and skills at a younger age helps children remember them; however, information literacy is such an in-depth skill to learn that teaching it at such an early level will not help students learn and perfect the skill. Though information literacy and critical thinking should be introduced very early in education–perhaps even at the elementary level–it should not primarily be taught at this level. Indeed, secondary educators are often able to apply the skills to subject-specific essays or other assignments. In doing so, they introduce students to researching certain topics, ultimately allowing students to warm up to the research process. Teachers can expand from this point and dive deeper into teaching information literacy skills as well as instilling the value of critical thinking.
Information literacy truly is a vital skill throughout one’s lifetime; postsecondary education requires this skill, it can and should be used for the entirety of one’s life, and with epidemics of fake news, being able to tell whether a source is reliable is crucial. Information literacy is, without a doubt, absolutely essential at a college-level, it generates a certain value of critical thinking, and it helps students decipher valid news from the invalid. Ultimately, secondary educators are responsible for the in-depth teachings of information literacy. The skill should be widely recognized as an absolutely needed ability so the importance of each student being taught information literacy is distinct.

Works Cited
Averill, Debe, and Nancy Lewis. “Students and Information Literacy: High School and
Postsecondary Perspectives.” Maine Policy Review, vol. 22, no. 1, 2013, pp. 114-117.
Academic Search Complete, digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr/vol22/iss1/28.
Accessed 27 February 2017.
Lockhart, Janine. “Measuring the Application of Literacy Skills After Completion of a
Certificate in Information Literacy.” South African Journal of Libraries & Information
Science, vol. 81, no. 2, July 2015, pp. 19-25. Academic Search Complete, doi:
10.7553/81-2-1567. Accessed 27 February 2017.
Polage, Danielle C. “Making up History: False Memories or Fake News Stories.” Europe’s
Journal of Psychology, vol. 8, no. 2, May 2012, pp. 245-250. Academic Search Complete,
doi: 10.5964/ejop.v8i2.456. Accessed 28 February 2017.
Witek, Donna. “The Past, Present, and Promise of Information Literacy.” Phi Kappa Phi
Forum, vol. 96, no. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 22-25. Academic Search Complete,
http://ezproxy.jalc.edu:2120/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=83fcf041-c316-419
-981a-e6af5559464e%40sessionmgr4010&hid=4212. Accessed 27 February 2017.
Wong, Gabrielle K. W. “Facilitating Students’ Intellectual Growth in Information Literacy
Teaching.” Reference & User Services Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 2, Winter 2010, pp.
114-118. Academic Search Complete,
http://ezproxy.jalc.edu:2120/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=83fcf041-c316-4196-981a-
6af5559464e%40sessionmgr4010&vid=14&hid=4212. Accessed 27 February 2017.

Taking Your Own Advice

I am fairly good at giving advice, but when it comes to myself, I am the absolute worst at taking my own advice. Often times I will look in the mirror and say to myself, “Sarah, you gave someone else advice on this exact thing. Do it.” But alas, I cannot. When I am feeling down, I imagine myself being somebody else, and I tell myself what to do as if I were actually giving another person advice on what to do in their situation. I later realize, ‘hey, why can’t I listen to myself?’ When this happens, I realize that this is the exact reason why people often have trouble taking advice. While it is easy to listen, actions are more often than not easier said than done — so, when advice is needed, it is generally on a subject that is difficult to take action on. I realize that, and I feel slightly better about not taking my own advice. I can look at my friend and say, “Hey, you need to do it,” but when she does not do it, I cannot get upset with her. I am able to understand that it is not easy to just do what someone suggests because it often means there will be a large change, and change is not always easy to accept. Time is usually the easiest way to accept change, because sudden change can be so drastic and scary. In the words of David Bowie: Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.”

Journal Prompt: Write about abandoned houses…

Abandoned houses have always fascinated me. They are so mysterious and thought-provoking. I love the look of a beautiful old house, and they always seem so calm. When I visit my Gammy, I love going across the street. She lives in Omaha, Illinois, and her house is surrounded by fields. Across the gravel road, however, is an old farm house. I don’t know how long it has been abandoned, but I do know that it was before the previous owners had indoor plumbing. Such houses are in many areas throughout the world. Sometimes it is heartbreaking to see such beautiful homes falling apart, past the point of any chance of repair. It is bittersweet; while they are easy on the eyes (to me, anyway), it is so sad to watch a home slowly deteriorate over time.