Wednesday, September 1, 2021

AEC joins International Day against Nuclear Tests

The Alternative Education Center in Odessa, TX, joined the International Day against Nuclear Tests celebration on August 29, 2021. Students watched declassified films of US nuclear tests and U.S. employment of nuclear weapons during the Second World War. They read the background and rationale of the International Day against Nuclear Tests and discussed the many effects of nuclear tests worldwide. Students integrated the celebration into their lessons by describing using functions the number of nuclear tests conducted globally from 1945 to 1998. They identified graphical trends of nuclear tests that were significant to the world and wrote how the annual International Day against Nuclear Tests helps promote the global sustainable development goal of peace, justice, and strong institutions.

The United Nations General Assembly's 64th session on December 2, 2009, declared August 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Its resolution stressed that every country's effort should be made to end nuclear tests in order to prevent their destructive effects on people's lives and health. Global nuclear test termination is the most practical and civil mechanism of achieving the ideal nuclear-weapon-free world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

IJWC adviser participates in 2021 Global Teaching Dialogue

The International Junior Writers Club adviser participated in the U.S. Department of State's virtual Global Teaching Dialogue on June 22 - 24, 2021. This year's Global Teaching Dialogue was graced by the Keynote Address of John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, U.S. Department of State, and the following sessions by global education experts:

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

  • Alumni Panel, Educating Youth for an Interconnected World: Teaching Climate Change, by Fulbright TGC to Morocco Natasha Agrawal, Fulbright DAST to Uganda Annalise Klein, Fulbright DAST to New Zealand Lauren Zappone Maples, and Fulbright TGC to Brazil Noah Zeichner, and moderated by Betsy Devlin-Foltz, Senior Program Officer, Teacher Exchange Branch, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Educating Communities for Global Careers in STEM by Fulbright TGC to Indonesia Anuradha Bajpai
  • Locally Sourced: Exploring the Implications of a Community-Based Pedagogy on a Global Classroom by Fulbright DAST to New Zealand Nathan Ramin
  • Diplomacy Simulations for the K-12 Classroom by Lauren K. Fischer, Education Program Specialist, National Museum of American Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State
  • Leadership for the Global Educator by Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Executive Director Jennifer Manise and Ferris ISD Dean of Students Michelle Neely 
  • Using Inquiry to Enrich Student Engagement and Enhance Global Awareness by Fulbright TEA to Ghana David Bosso
  • The Inclusive Global Classroom: Special Education and Global Competence by Fulbright DAST to Singapore Christine Powell and Fulbright DAST to New Zealand Brian Ristow
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
  • Social-Emotional Learning in the Global Educator's Classroom by Fulbright TGC to Colombia David Eisenberg and Fulbright DAST to Finland Argine Safari
  • Climate Change Education: A Global Issue by Fulbright DAST to South Africa Kottie Christie-Blick
  • Social Media Literacy in a Post-Truth World by Fulbright DAST to the United Kingdom Shana Ferguson
  • Diplomacy Simulations for the K-12 Classroom by Lauren K. Fischer, Education Program Specialist, National Museum of American Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State
  • Investigating in a Democracy: Globalizing Discussion, Deliberation, and Debate by Fulbright DAST to the Netherlands Al Schleicher
  • The Intersection of Mindfulness, Mental Health, and Wellbeing in the Global Classroom by Linda Yaron Weston, Fulbright TGC to India and Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad to Brazil
  • Teaching Sustainability in the Global Classroom by Fulbright DAST to Israel Michael Cruse and Fulbright TGC to Indonesia Guy Hamlin
  • Using Foundational Stories to Decolonize our Schools: Lessons in Hard History by Fulbright DAST to New Zealand Susannah Remillard
Thursday, June 24, 2021
  • Virtual Exchanges for the Global Educator by Andrea Dinan, Fulbright DAST to Mexico, U.C. Greater Good Science Center Program Director Maryam Abdullah, New Hartford CSD Reading Specialist Shelley Bartolotti, and Empatico Program Associate Verónica Vázquez Ugalde
  • Addressing Global Competence in Dual Language Education by Fulbright DAST to New Zealand Angela Palmieri
  • Epic Global Educators Bringing Students Closer with Innovative Technologies by Fulbright TGC to Morocco Michelle Carton and Fulbright TGC to India Tammy Dunbar
  • School Swap: A 35-mile Journey to Enhancing Global Competence by Fulbright TGC to India Robert Lurie and teachers Dana Blank, Jenna Davis, and Julie Keck
  • Teaching Social Justice and Human Rights in the World Language Classroom by Fulbright TGC María Eugenia Zelaya to Colombia and Centropa Education Director Lauren Granite

Since 2016, the U.S. Department of State has welcomed teachers, educators, and global education experts to attend the annual Global Teaching Dialogue. Alumni of the Department’s Teacher Exchange Programs and other global education leaders share best practices for globalizing curricula, implementing virtual exchanges, and learning from and sharing educational strategies with colleagues in other countries.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

AEC donates used clothes to Asia

Alternative Education Center, Odessa, TX, shared its blessings by donating used clothes to a Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. The package was sent to the Philippines through a cargo shipping service early this month. Principal Adam Portillo and Math Teacher Lacey Moore volunteered to donate each a bag of used but decent clothes. IJWC adviser bought clothes from Odessa's Door of Hope Outlet Center and some can goods to be included in the package. 

No poverty is the leading global sustainable development goal. Sharing blessings especially with poor countries like in Asia is one of the many ways we can help meet this global goal. By modeling it, students will see and apply the value of the noble and humanitarian gesture of sharing. Blessings to be shared do not need to be material or expensive as long as they come from the heart, wrapped with good intentions.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

AEC holds t-shirt idea contest for family day

Alternative Education Center, through the leadership of Art Teacher Whitney Carter, held a T-Shirt Idea Contest for AEC students, in celebration of the International Day of Families on May 15, 2021, with the theme, "Families and New Technologies." Entries were school-appropriate and included designs for International Day of Families, new technologies, and an AEC symbol. The winning design would be used for the faculty t-shirt next school year.

This year's observance of the International Day of Families focuses on the impacts of new technologies on the well-being of families. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic signals the significance of digital technologies for work, education, and communication to maintain families' safety and some sort of normalcy. The T-Shirt Idea Contest allows students to raise awareness of the use of new technologies in the lives of families across the globe to help meet the global goal of strong institutions that impacts other goals such as no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth, and reduced inequality. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

AEC commemorates space race, celebrates earth day

Students at the Alternative Education Center, Odessa, TX, through the leadership of Social Studies Department Head James Porter, commemorated the Space Race through week-long interdisciplinary space education-related lessons in Social Studies, Mathematics, Science, and English that culminated in a rocket launch event on April 22, 2021, at Ratliff Stadium, Odessa. TX. The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to achieve superior spaceflight capability. The competition originated from a ballistic missile-based nuclear arms race between the two nations after World War II.

Concurrent with the Space Race commemoration was AEC's celebration of the International Mother Earth Day with the theme, "Restore our Earth." During the week of Earth Day, students in Mathematics classes studied and modeled mass vs. time in space shuttle ascent, watched and analyzed the Shuttle Atlantis STS-132 launch, built model rockets, participated in the rocket launch, and wrote a reflective essay about the significance of space exploration to improve lives on Earth. In English classes, through the mentorship of Teacher Pamela Ryan, students read articles, watched videos, and studied about the tragedy of the first teacher in space (Christa McAuliffe) and the astronauts onboard the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003; read the autobiography of the first American woman in space (Sally Ride); and discussed how space exploration benefits the Earth. 

The space education-related activities addressed the global sustainable development goals of climate action, life below water, and life on land. The rocket launch was AEC students' last activity for the Aerospace Education Excellence Program. International Mother Earth Day is observed on April 22nd each year, urging a call to action to promote a holistic approach to harmony with nature that is suffering from irresponsible human behaviors.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Philippines, U.S.A. join zero discrimination day

Students from Philippines Science High School, Dipolog City, Philippines, and from Alternative Education Center, Odessa, TX, U.S.A., joined the world's celebration of Zero Discrimination Day on March 1, 2021. Philippine students, through the mentorship of Social Science Teacher Araibo Elumba, created memes depicting Holocaust and World War II. American students described the memes, integrating what they had learned from their History classes. The activity allowed students to exchange visual and verbal descriptions of the biggest discrimination incident in human history, relate it to all forms of discrimination we face today (income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity, and religion), and raise awareness of how they could help promote the global sustainable development goal of reduced inequalities.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

AEC hosts interactive social justice essay contest

In celebration of the World Day of Social Justice on February 20, 2021, with the theme, "A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy," Alternative Education Center in Odessa, TX, hosted an Interactive Social Justice Essay Contest for Middle/High School students using Padlet. The essay contest allowed students to engage in interschool discussions about how they can help promote social justice and the global goal of peace, justice, and strong institutions by applying any applicable knowledge or skills they had learned from their classes and personal experiences. AEC students used the essay entries of students from other campuses in their essay analysis activities to learn how to write good essays in preparation for their TELPAS and STAAR. AEC students chose the following winning essays, presented alphabetically according to student authors' last names. 

This year's commemoration of World Day of Social Justice supported the initiative of the international community to seek solutions to achieve sustainable development, poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, universal social protection, gender equality, access to social well-being, and justice for all. The celebration aimed at fostering dialogue with member countries, relevant UN institutions, and other global stakeholders on actions needed to overcome the digital divide, provide decent work opportunities, and protect labor and human rights in the modern era of digital technologies.

Carlos Martínez Cánovas
4Y, IES Prado Mayor, Spain

Social justice is a global system that guarantees social and labour equality to all people. Anyone has the right to a good and remunerated job with a good salary, holidays, free days, etc. Young people have more problems finding a good job according to their qualifications. It is so disappointing that you are 25 years old (for example) studying all the time and when you finish your studies, you do not find a job. For this, we have to complain and achieve social justice.

On the other hand, poverty is a giant problem too. It is unacceptable that 152 million young people live in extreme poverty and 6% of the world population will be living in extreme poverty in 2030. The government should do anything (give work or give house) to solve this giant problem because these people are people without a future, qualifications, and most importantly without a house and food.

But certainly, the most important problem is racism. This problem is in every country regardless of money, religion, among others. This problem affects us at work, at school, at supermarkets, at libraries... Everywhere and at any time! Sexism is a social problem too. In 90 countries, women still do three times more unpaid care and domestic work than men and an average of 137 women die per day. This is a real problem, for this thousands of women are murdered.

These are the most important social problems and we can solve them with strength and perseverance. By the way, now we have many ways to help poor people or similar. We can sign up for an NGO. We can volunteer for the food ban. Everything is in you. Even sexism or racism, we can solve it too. And we can help sign up for an association or we can go to demonstrations.

Elze James Z. Montealto
Grade IX, PSHS-ZRC, Philippines

Social justice is subjective to the eye of every unique individual. One may view a certain action or event as morally right, while others may view it otherwise. The main problem with most communities is that we assume which is socially right or wrong in a biased point of view as we disregard the opinions and perspectives of those who metaphorically on the opposite side of the river. Now, the main question is how we, as active members of the community, can promote social justice that is unbiased and possible. 

In simple terms, social justice can just be broadly defined as the just distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. With that being said, we’re setting a parameter to a certain society with a generalized community. Holding on to that fact, we must first need a survey to analyze if the distribution among people is unbiased. We should identify both the physical and mental aspects of every individual in relation to their available opportunities such as the “hour of work/day and income” ratio, “leisure and savings” ratio, and many other variables.

Secondly, after we identify the different aspects that affect the opportunity gap, we must compare and contrast the results of low-income households with high-income households, then we must relate the results to external variables such as politics and competition. If we can see a pattern like politician-related people having better opportunities and related scenarios, we can say that that certain society has a political bias that should be addressed. On the contrary, if none, we could safely say that it is just without resorting to communism.

In conclusion, capitalism plays a major role in the economic gap between the rich and poor, we could say we pity the poor. However, we cannot invalidate the hard work and sacrifices of the rich, which is the reason why they become wealthy in the first place. Some may be fed with a silver spoon, but that’s also because of the hard work of their parents or ancestors. This can also be applied to anybody whose poorness can be traced back to the mistakes of ancestors.

Chaima Rahali
4ºZ, IES Prado Mayor, Spain

Social Justice for me has a lot of meanings or interpretations, but all of them make reference to equality in all fields that involves all individuals of a society.

First of all, everyone has the right to have a good living condition. I mean, each person of the society isn’t obligated to live in poverty, if the wealthiest people put something from their side to help those unfortunate people. Furthermore, by helping each other, we can put an end to a cause of social inequalities, and by being more supportive or cooperative, we’ll build a better world where all the human rights are present. 

Respectively, we can’t speak about living appropriate conditions without mentioning the equality of opportunities. Whether in the study, at work, in the political field, in the right to social well-being, etc., each person has to have the same probability of access to these opportunities. Namely, this social justice serves to ensure that everyone has the same capabilities or rights as members of society. 

Thirdly, the welfare state is very important to implement social justice. The government provides services to fulfill the social rights of all the people in the nation. We know that if we have a mixed economy, our government can fund institutions for health care and education like in Spain. This includes direct benefits every citizen can get in an equal and fair manner.

In addition, social justice also includes the equality of labour rights and good working conditions for the entire active population. That means that people who have invested a lot of years of their life to get licensed need the opportunity to work in their field. It’s extremely sad that those young people with high marks and with really elevated intellectual capacities end working in jobs that they don’t like and for which they are not very well rewarded. So, to reach equality in offices and workplaces, and the opportunity to get them, we need to establish and implement the same laws and rights for all workers.

However, poverty is a challenge for equality because competition for scarce resources arises. They could be lacking. So, social justice among these individuals is a hard thing to achieve because everyone wants to get as most as possible personal benefits regardless of others' needs.

Matt Angelo C. Sareno
Grade IX, Philippine Science High School — Zamboanga Peninsula Region Campus

Day by day, the gap between the rich and the poor widens, the rate of unemployment increases, and the number of individuals deprived of basic needs and privileges continues to grow — and yet, the solutions implemented to combat these debilitating problems are still insufficient. For society to attain global peace and justice, effective actions should be taken that involve promoting social justice. 

A critical way to address social justice is by raising awareness and educating people about its importance and concerns. Social justice aims to bring forth equal and just opportunities, privileges, and rights for everyone — regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, etc. However, many individuals across the globe fail to acknowledge this important matter. Thus, by spreading information about social justice, more people can take part in driving change toward a more just and equal world. This can be carried out by creating informative posts on social media platforms, sharing the word with friends and families, making infographics and posters, and many more. 

Along with that, members of the community should be empowered to take positive action in building just and equal communities. How can the plights of the poor be ameliorated if no changes are done within society? Hence, effective programs and campaigns should be implemented, in which all individuals are provided with the basic amenities needed to flourish and thrive. For instance, those living in impoverished lands should be granted equal employment opportunities so that they may improve their financial situations. All children should also have access to proper services and quality education, and everyone should have the privilege to exercise their rights as humans. 

Most importantly, cooperation and unity should be developed within society. Nations should collaborate in creating a global effort to justly distribute economic growth and eradicate inequalities. They should also work together in upholding global institutions that aim to facilitate social justice, such as the United Nations organization. If these actions are effectively carried out, then society can certainly promote social justice and attain global peace, justice, and strong institutions in the near future.

Gabrielle Pauleen Tan
Grade IX, Philippine Science High School - ZRC, Philippines

One may say the present society has gone and improved so much from the past centuries, yet until now, social injustice has always prevailed, especially with the height of unemployment due to the pandemic and the common occurrence of unjust treatments due to social status. A very common occurrence is that those who are treated unfairly just accept their fate and live with the unjust treatment of society in order to provide for their families and not wanting to experience the struggle of starvation once again. Even not everyone gets to have the opportunity for work. No one has to live like this. Everyone should maximize their rights regardless of ranking in society. So, here are the ways I can help promote social justice to achieve the global goal of peace, justice, and strong institutions, based purely on my own capability and things I have learned and experienced.

As a part of the younger generation and living in an era of digital dependence, I would like to utilize my skills in using social media platforms in promoting social justice. I’d like to connect with people having the same opinions as mine and influence others to support this cause in acquiring world peace through the promotion of social justice. With that said, a lot of young people are oblivious to the act of social injustice, and I would like them to be aware of the future they will face. They should acquire the chance of changing that future. 

Based on personal experience, I have witnessed how acquiring a job would need a connection from someone with high seats of power. So, it would be even harder for someone living in poverty to have a chance for a better life. I would like to promote, hopefully with the help of my influence in social media and my family, a much better chance for poor people to have a stable livelihood.

As they say, ‘knowledge is power’ and I, myself, know that I am as ignorant as one can get, so I would always be open to campaigns and seminars regarding human rights and social justice and share my opinions in order for us all to move together towards world peace because as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “We cannot walk alone.”

The things I stated are, indeed, small and may seem insignificant, but I believe that if I join the ripple, it will eventually turn into a wave, one big enough capable of significant change. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

AEC students pay tribute to the new admin

Students at the Alternative Education Center, Odessa, TX, paid tribute to the new administration by doing academic activities that celebrated President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.'s inauguration, together with Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, on January 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Under the leadership of English Department Head Velma Nunez, AEC students examined the U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman's poem, “The Hill We Climb,” delivered during the inauguration. Gorman’s poem complemented Biden’s inaugural address and was written to reflect on America's history and the future it stands for. Students answered the big question about how they thought Biden's speech signaled a change from the previous administration. They then analyzed the message, goal, meaning, tone, and impact of Gorman's inaugural poem and draw connections between the moment in history, the poet’s message, and students' own lives. 

English Language Arts Teacher Pamela Ryan supplemented the activity by having the students researched prior inaugural addresses after watching the live streaming of Biden's inaugural address. Students discussed how and why Ronald Reagan's inaugural address changed where the previous addresses were given.  Since Reagan's inauguration, the inaugural address has been held with the National Mall and the Lincoln Memorial in distant sight.

In mathematics classes, students worked on mathematics problems embedded in a picture puzzle activity using Biden's and Harris's coloring images. Students organized the puzzle, solved the problem from each piece, and then colored the picture formed. Sidebar conversations revolved around supporting the new administration despite differences in opinions or views. Before the national election, AEC students were also engaged in a mock election for the presidency through Social Studies Department Head James Porter's leadership. The mock election held in the school cafeteria allowed the students to experience exercising suffrage and having their voices heard. 

All these activities before and after the national election and the president's inauguration gave AEC students avenues to discuss and reflect on their observations about the importance of national unity in spite of America's unending political divide. They were able to express their own political views and learn to be understanding of others' views. Such experiences led AEC students to more political awareness and involvement that helped promote the global sustainable development goal number 16: peace, justice, and strong institutions. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

AEC students compare U.S. and Germany education systems

In celebration of this year's International Day of Education, students from the Alternative Education Center, Odessa, TX, researched and compared the education systems of Germany and the U.S.A. Germany. was the country of interest because it is where the IJWC adviser is set to travel through Fulbright after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. AEC students studied the evolution of education outcomes of the two countries in terms of literacy, school enrollment and attendance, years of schooling, and attainment by level. Using a Venn diagram, students then compared and contrasted the current education systems of the two countries in terms of the 10 targets of SDG 4: quality education, namely: (1) universal primary and secondary education, (2) early childhood development and universal pre-primary education, (3) equal access to technical/vocational and higher education, (4) relevant skills for decent work, (5) gender equity and inclusion, (6) universal youth and adult literacy, (7) education for sustainable development and global citizenship, (8) effective learning environments, (9) scholarships, and (10) supply of qualified teachers. 

International Day of Education is observed worldwide on January 24th annually to celebrate the role of education in bringing global peace and sustainable education. On December 3, 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to proclaim January 24 as International Day of Education. With the theme, “Recover and revitalize education for the COVID-19 generation,” this year's celebration was memorable because it occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to a global learning interruption of unprecedented scope and gravity. This year's theme signified humanity's resilience and determination to continue education despite the pandemic.