According to Wikipedia:

Sentencing Minors to life imprisonment

A few countries worldwide have allowed for minors to be given lifetime sentences that have no provision for eventual release. Countries that allow life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juveniles include Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Cuba, Dominica, Israel, Nigeria, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the United States. Of these, only the United States currently have minors serving such sentences. The University of San Francisco School of Law’s Center for Law & Global Justice conducted international research on the use of the sentence of life without parole for juveniles, and has found no cases outside of the United States in which the sentence is actually imposed on juveniles. As of 2009, Human Rights Watch has calculated that there are 2,589 youth offenders serving life without parole in the United States.

In 2010, the United States Supreme court ruled that sentencing minors to life without parole for crimes other than murder violated the Eighth Amendment‘s ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment, in the case of Graham v. Florida. In finding that the US Constitution prohibits as cruel and unusual punishment a life without parole sentence for a juvenile in a non-homicide case, the US Supreme Court stated that “the overwhelming weight of international opinion against” juvenile life without parole “provide[s] respected and significant confirmation for our own conclusions.

The United States’ practice of sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole violates international standards of justice, as well as treaties to which the United States is a party. Each state must ensure that its criminal punishments comply with the United States’ international treaty obligations:

  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the oversight Committee instructed the United States to: “ensure that no such child offender is sentenced to life without parole” [and] “adopt all appropriate measures to review the situation of persons already serving such sentences.”
  • The United Nations Convention Against Torture; the oversight Committee warned the United States that juvenile life sentences without the possibility of parole could constitute “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” for youth.
  • The oversight body of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination found that juvenile life without parole is applied disproportionately to youth of color, and the United States has done nothing to reduce what has become pervasive discrimination. The Committee recommended that the United States discontinue the use of this sentence against persons under the age of eighteen at the time the offense was committed, and review the situation of persons already serving such sentences.

The United Nations General Assembly has called upon governments to: “abolish by law, as soon as possible . . . life imprisonment without possibility of release for those below the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of the offense”.

International standards of justice hold that a juvenile life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is not warranted under any circumstances because juvenile offenders lack the experience, education, intelligence and mental development of adults and must be given a reasonable opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation.

The legal status of juveniles in the United has always been a precarious one, a wild pendulum swing from punishment to rehabilitation and back. While we have never deemed those under 16, 17 or 18 responsible enough to vote, drink or smoke or gamble, consent to sexual relations, legally purchase weapons or rent cars, we have, as a society somehow mysteriously decided that certain of these youth can indeed be held legally responsible as adults for any commission of crime.

As a result, the United States remains one of the few countries in the world to legally re-define youth as adults for the purpose of criminal prosecution. Approximately 250,000 juveniles – some sentenced to life without the possibility of parole at ages as young as 12– are locked away in a legal system designed for adults. In spite of their age and often minor crimes, they are often housed in adult facilities, at risk for sexual assault and suicide and denied education, rehabilitative services and indeed, denied a future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Reasoning against lifetime sentencing for minors:

  • Teen Brains Are Not Fully Developed

During adolescence, the brain undergoes dramatic changes to the structure and function of the brain impacting the way youth process and react to information. The region of the brain that is the last to develop is the one that controls many of the abilities that govern goal-oriented, “rational” decision-making, such as long-term planning, impulse control, insight, and judgment.

The juvenile justice system is based on this science and provides troubled adolescents with mentors, education, and the guidance to help most of them mature into responsible adults. In contrast, warehousing minors in the adult system ensures that they will not have guidance from responsible adults or have access to age-appropriate programs, services and punishment to help build positive change into their brains during this crucial developmental period.

  • Youth Have Lifelong Barriers to Employment

An adult conviction can limit a youth’s opportunities for the rest of his or her life. While most juvenile records are sealed, adult convictions become public record and, depending on the state and the crime, can limit a youth’s job prospects for a lifetime. Legal barriers for people with criminal records include:

• Most states allow employers to deny jobs to people arrested but never convicted of a crime;
• Most states allow employers to deny jobs to anyone with a criminal record, regardless of how old or minor the record or the individual’s work history and personal circumstances;
• Most states make criminal history information accessible to the general public through the Internet, making it extremely easy for employers and others to discriminate against people on the basis of old or minor convictions, for example to deny employment or housing; and
• All but two states restrict in some way the right to vote for people with criminal convictions.

Example of a minor being sentenced to lifetime in prison without the possibility of parole:

“I’m very determined to show that no matter what you’ve done or what you’ve come from or what you’ve experienced in life, it’s up to you to change.” Sara Kruzan. Sentenced to lifetime in prison at age 16.

My Personal Overview: When a minor charged with murder are automatically tried as an adult unless a judge decides to move it to juvenile court. The questioning behind sentencing a minor to life in prison is if the child or teen has the capacity to realize the scope of the crime. The argument against sentencing minors as adults is the fact that children’s brains are not fully developed including the part of the brain for judgement and impulse control. Minors do not have the experience, education, intelligence or mental development of adults, so they should therefor not be tried as adults.Trying a minor as an adult also affects their future possibilities which can encourage a further life in crime, due to the lack of opportunities. Juvenile records are concealed once minor becomes an adult whereas adult criminal records are accessible for anyone, including employment opportunities. Minors deserve the chance to develop their brains completely before being sentenced as an adult. We have laws which requires people to be 18 to vote, have legal sex, buy pornography, and smoke cigarettes. A law which requires people to be 21 years of age to drink. These laws are set because the development of people’s  brains are not complete until these ages to make such important decision and act at a certain level of responsibility. How can these laws be set due to the lack of development but the sentencing of minors as an adult continue?

“There is evidence, in fact, that there may be grounds for concern that the child receives the worst of both worlds: that he gets neither the protections accorded to adults nor the solicitous care and regenerative treatment postulated for children,”   Justice Abe Fortas in Kent v. United States. 1966

Personal Opinion on Social Justice for Youth:

Social Justice is a fight for equality, it’s hard to define the movements for youth because of the laws set for the underage. The laws meant to protect the youth from making poor decisions, due to a lack of experience and knowledge, possibly prevents full access to Social Justice for the youth. Especially youth in poor positions, such as being raised in neighborhoods of crime and poverty, are more likely to have less of a chance of fighting for or receiving social justice.

Child Welfare
By Judith M. Schagrin, LCSW-C

Social justice means all citizens are entitled to the same rights and services. I am deeply concerned that we continue to fail the children who are abused, neglected, and just plain unwanted. Foster children, who depend on society’s largesse for their very existence, go largely unseen. Because these are children, they don’t fund any political campaigns, lobby any elected representatives for an opportunity to be heard, or organize any marches to advocate for better services. They have no voice if we don’t speak for them.

It’s not that we haven’t tried to organize a functional child welfare system. Since the start of our modern-day foster care system in the mid-1880s, when Charles Loring Brace started the Orphan Train Movement to resettle orphaned children from New York City to states in the Midwest and beyond, there have been numerous efforts to get it right. We have strategically planned, privatized, transformed systems, thought outside the box, been accountable, computerized, wrapped around, and done more with less. But as a national priority, the nation’s child welfare system is nearly an afterthought. Without the occasional sensationalized child death, I suspect these families would fall off the radar altogether. Unfortunately, the story they have to tell often isn’t pretty, revealing a troubling underbelly of our society. Some prefer to keep these images far away, finding comfort in denial.

While we are a country of people who profess to love their children, there were 3 million reports of child maltreatment in 2004. Experts believe this represents only one third of actual incidents. More than 800,000 reports were found indicating a rate of 2.9 per 1,000 children. That’s not surprising, considering how staunchly we defend our right to physically discipline our children. As long as no injuries result, parents may hit their children with impunity.

Four children die from maltreatment every day, a number largely undercounted. Neglect, often associated with poverty, leads to slightly more child deaths each year than abuse. According to the 2005 census, 17.6% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty; the federal poverty level is $20,000 per year for a family of four. Of children in female-headed households, an appalling 42% exist under the poverty line.

Our children have only a handful of years to be children, only a brief period to build the foundation for a productive and satisfying adulthood. It’s time we got it right—the children can’t wait.

— Judith M. Schagrin, LCSW-C, is the assistant director for Children’s Services at the Baltimore County Department of Social Services. She was named the 2004 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.

Advocates for Youth Justice include an organization called Youthlaw. Youthlaw’s Real Rights Project is talking to young people about their rights. Young people tell us about some of their human rights issues, what rights are important to them and how empowering it feels to advocate for change.

http://www.youthlaw.asn.au

This is a video made by Youthlaw called “Real Rights Project” which worked with a range of young people to raise awareness and support them in advocating for better protection of their rights. Young people talking about some of their human rights issues, what rights are important to them and how empowering it feels to advocate for change.

Food Issues: Food issues among children in the world include the difficulty to properly dispense food, especially to countries with no way to feed the starving children.The wasted of food at grocery stores, restaurants and cafes, and personal homes leads to a questionable ethic of our country when there are children in Africa dying everyday of starvation. Another danger for children includes a poor diet which can lead to childhood obesity which has dramatically increased over the years causing serious health and emotional issues among children leading into adulthood.

Key Words: Food Waste, Starvation, and Obesity

According to the research done by the AACAP: The problem of childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. Between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese.  Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat.  Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year.  The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion.  Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.

What is obesity? 
A few extra pounds does not suggest obesity.  However they may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and/or exercise.  Generally, a child is not considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type.  Obesity most commonly begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence.  Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

What causes obesity? 
The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors.  Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up.  If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that their children will also be obese.  However, when both parents are obese, their children have an 80 percent chance of being obese.  Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems.  Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:

  • poor eating habits
  • overeating or binging
  • lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids)
  • family history of obesity
  • medical illnesses (endocrine, neurological problems)
  • medications (steroids, some psychiatric medications)
  • stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse)
  • family and peer problems
  • low self-esteem
  • depression or other emotional problems

What are risks and complications of obesity? 
There are many risks and complications with obesity.  Physical consequences include:

  • increased risk of heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • breathing problems
  • trouble sleeping

Child and adolescent obesity is also associated with increased risk of emotional problems.  Teens with weight problems tend to have much lower self-esteem and be less popular with their peers.  Depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder can also occur.

How can obesity be managed and treated? 
Obese children need a thorough medical evaluation by a pediatrician or family physician  to consider the possibility of a physical cause.  In the absence of a physical disorder, the only way to lose weight is to reduce the number of calories being eaten and to increase the level of physical activity.  Lasting weight loss can only occur when there is self-motivation.  Since obesity often affects more than one family member, making healthy eating and regular exercise a family activity can improve the chances of successful weight control for the child or adolescent.

Ways to manage obesity in children and adolescents include:

  • start a weight-management program
  • change eating habits (eat slowly, develop a routine)
  • plan meals and make better food selections (eat less fatty foods, avoid junk and fast foods)
  • control portions and consume less calories
  • increase physical activity (especially walking) and have a more active lifestyle
  • know what your child eats at school
  • eat meals as a family instead of while watching television or at the computer
  • do not use food as a reward
  • limit snacking
  • attend a support group (e.g., Overeaters Anonymous)

Obesity frequently becomes a lifelong issue.  The reason most obese adolescents gain back their lost pounds is that they tend to go back to their old habits of eating and exercising.  An obese adolescent must therefore learn to eat and enjoy healthy foods in moderate amounts and to exercise regularly to maintain a desired weight.  Parents of an obese child can improve their child’s self esteem by emphasizing their strengths and positive qualities rather than just focusing on their weight problem.

This is a news report on child “dia-besity”. The problems that are caused from obesity among children.

My Personal Overview: Obesity can mainly be caused by overeating, lack of exercise, intake of unhealthy foods and a poor diet, and passed down genetically from parents with obesity problems and diabetes issues. There has been a major increase of child obesity in America due the poor diet choices the parents allow and the lack of physical exercise the parents do not encourage their children to partake in. Children with obesity are more likely to be overweight in adulthood and have more life threatening issues that are due to being overweight. Emotional issues can also come about from being obese possibly causing depression. Children and adolescents have no way of controlling their own diet, they will eat whatever their parents allow them and follow the examples that are set. Bad eating habits will most likely continue to adulthood unless the parents set up a more healthy food intake for them. Obesity is a preventable disease by encouraging a more healthy and nutritious diet and being an active child everyday, allowing the body to burn the proper amount of food that the child intakes. Although the proper diet and exercise is an easy solution to prevent obesity, some families don’t have the access to healthy foods. Since most fast food restaurants are the fastest and cheapest way to get food for families that lack time and money, it’s an easier choice for them to order off the dollar menu. This puts a kink in the solution to preventing obesity in children among families that lack the means for a healthy diet. With this knowledge and many controversies of the dollar menu leading to obesity, Fast food restaurants are offering more healthy options for people to choose from. Problem is getting the people who have a habit of ordering unhealthy items to change their way of ordering. Main thing to stop obesity in children is for the parents to take the lead and start a trend of eating healthy nutritious items.

According to Wikipedia: Food waste or food loss is food that is discarded or lost uneaten. As of 2011, 1.3 billion tons of food, about one third of the global food production, are lost or wasted annually. Loss and wastage occurs on all steps in the food supply chain. In low-income countries most loss occurs during production, while in developed countries much food, about 100 kilograms (220 lbs) per person and year, is wasted at the consumption stage.

Food loss and waste per person and year Total At the production and retail stages By consumers
Europe 280 kg (620 lb) 190 kg (420 lb) 90 kg (200 lb)
North America and Oceania 295 kg (650 lb) 185 kg (410 lb) 110 kg (240 lb)
Industrialized Asia 240 kg (530 lb) 160 kg (350 lb) 80 kg (180 lb)
Subsaharan Africa 160 kg (350 lb) 155 kg (340 lb) 5 kg (11 lb)
North Africa, West and Central Asia 215 kg (470 lb) 180 kg (400 lb) 35 kg (77 lb)
South and Southeast Asia 125 kg (280 lb) 110 kg (240 lb) 15 kg (33 lb)
Latin America 225 kg (500 lb) 200 kg (440 lb) 25 kg (55 lb)

One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal

By Andrew Martin

Grocery bills are rising through the roof. Food banks are running short of donations. And food shortages are causing sporadic riots in poor countries through the world.

You’d never know it if you saw what was ending up in your landfill. As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.

Grocery stores discard products because of spoilage or minor cosmetic blemishes. Restaurants throw away what they don’t use. And consumers toss out everything from bananas that have turned brown to last week’s Chinese leftovers. In 1997, in one of the few studies of food waste, the Department of Agriculture estimated that two years before, 96.4 billion pounds of the 356 billion pounds of edible food in the United States was never eaten. Fresh produce, milk, grain products and sweeteners made up two-thirds of the waste.

Disposal: Dumping food waste in a landfill causes odor as it decomposes, attracts flies and vermin, and has the potential to add biological oxygen demand (BOD) to the leachate. The EU Landfill Directive and Waste Regulations, like regulations in other countries, enjoin diverting organic wastes away from landfill disposal for these reasons. In countries such as the US and the UK, food scraps constitute around 19% of the waste dumped in landfills, where it ends up rotting and producing methane, a greenhouse gas.

This video shows the amount of food we throw away and the steps we can take to prevent food going to waste.

Personal Overview: Food waste not only leads to methane, it’s a major waste of resources which should be preserved or disposed of properly. A majority of food that is being thrown away by personal households and by establishments are still edible. Most of the food goes to waste due to the over purchasing of foods, with a more set volume of food at original purchase there will be less waste, just more trips to the grocery store. Preventatives to food waste can be taken in order to preserve the food that we have, it will save you money too. The new campaign “Define Necessity” is showing the want versus need outlook on the way we purchase food. We purchase food for long periods of time rather than getting what we need and going back when we need more.

According to UNICEF

Famine crisis in Somalia: The Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. In Somalia, famine has been declared in multiple regions — areas where 10% of the children under five die every 3 months. Severe malnutrition rates are the reality in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, where thousands of families are arriving daily to escape violence and starvation in Somalia.

The current situation represents the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world today and Africa’s worst food security crisis since Somalia’s famine twenty years ago.

A silent killer

Somalia is not the only place where children are starving.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than 1/3 of all childhood deaths. Prices for basic food like rice, maize, wheat, oil, sugar and salt are skyrocketing, forcing millions of the world’s poorest children into severe malnourishment and starvation.

In much of the world, children with full bellies are still lacking the nutrients and vitamins they need to grow to their full potential.  A malnourished child is less able to fight off illness, less likely to get the most out of schooling, and often becomes physically and mentally stunted. Malnutrition keeps children trapped in the cycle of poverty.

7 Facts of malnutrition and starvation:

  • 1 in 10 Infants die within the first 12 months of life
  • 1 in 5 children suffer from chronic malnutrition
  • More than 12 cases a month of Marasmus or Kwashiorkor are seen in one 
clinic in Alexander
  • 1 in 10 children suffers from severe malnutrition
  • 50% of children have a calcium, iron and zinc deficiency
  • 75% of South Africans, have inadequate access to food
  • More than 1 in 5 children are physically stunted due to malnutrition

A video of UNICEF efforts to help send food to starving children in Somalia.

Personal Overview: These children in less fortunate countries are dying every minute while we have a surplus of food that goes to waste everyday. While countries including the United states has an issue with food waste and obesity among children, countries such as Africa have issues with starvation. With the technology and capability we have today, we can find a solution to the growing malnutrition of the children in the world.

According to Stopcyberbullying.org: 

“Cyberbullying” is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor.

There has been cases where children have committed suicide after being involved in a cyberbullying incident. Cyberbullying is usually not a one time communication, unless it involves a death threat or a credible threat of serious bodily harm. Kids usually know it when they see it, while parents may be more worried about the lewd language used by the kids than the hurtful effect of rude and embarrassing posts.

Cyberbullying may rise to the level of a misdemeanor cyberharassment charge, or if the child is young enough may result in the charge of juvenile delinquency. Most of the time the cyberbullying does not go that far, although parents often try and pursue criminal charges. It typically can result in a child losing their ISP or IM accounts as a terms of service violation. And in some cases, if hacking or password and identity theft is involved, can be a serious criminal matter under state and federal law.

When schools try and get involved by disciplining the student for cyberbullying actions that took place off-campus and outside of school hours, they are often sued for exceeding their authority and violating the student’s free speech right. They also, often lose. Schools can be very effective brokers in working with the parents to stop and remedy cyberbullying situations. They can also educate the students on cyberethics and the law. If schools are creative, they can sometimes avoid the claim that their actions exceeded their legal authority for off-campus cyberbullying actions. We recommend that a provision is added to the school’s acceptable use policy reserving the right to discipline the student for actions taken off-campus if they are intended to have an effect on a student or they adversely affect the safety and well-being of student while in school. This makes it a contractual, not a constitutional, issue.

The Federal government is currently looking at expanding anti-harrasment laws to cover young people who are subjected to bullying online.

This video talks about Cyber Bullying being a major problem in our society today.

My Personal Overview: Online bullying is very convenient for the youth because most of them have access to a computer or phone with internet capability. It’s also allows children to be more comfortable to say things about people they normally wouldn’t say to them face to face. Online form of bullying is permanent and public, once it’s written it’s there in writing for everyone to see. This can be more devastating to the child experiencing the bullying.

Citation: http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/lawenforcement/index.html

The police service exists to detect and prevent crime and to ensure the safety of the community. Authority includes police guards who are meant to keep everything orderly at juvenile halls, especially with the troubled youth.

View of WITNESS on the Juvenile hall programs: Juvenile justice systems across the United States are in a dangerous state of disarray. According to recently published reports, violence within the system is rampant and abuse of the youth inside by staff is routine. U.S. News & World Report recently found that juvenile facilities nationwide hold almost 104,000 youth. Many states have more juveniles held for property crimes, drug offenses, and public disorder than anything else; only a quarter of the youth are committed for violent crimes.

Description of Documentary: “System Failure: Violence, Abuse and Neglect in the California Youth Authority,” produced by WITNESS and Books Not Bars (a program of WITNESS partner The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights), offers testimony of the human rights violations “including sexual abuse, beatings, forced medication, and systemic mental health and educational neglect of juveniles” taking place at the California Youth Authority (CYA), one of the largest youth correctional agencies in the country. Many youth languish in isolation cells, with little human contact and almost no education. Youth are essentially forced to join gangs for protection and subjected to extreme levels of violence. In January 2004, two youths incarcerated in the CYA hanged themselves. Their deaths were followed by a damning state report that documented the brutality of guards. The costs to the people of California both financially and in terms of public safety are enormous: $80,000 per year, per youth. Despite this huge price tag, more than 90% of CYA youths who leave the system are re-arrested within three years.

“System Failure” documents the abuse of juveniles in facilities such as juvenile hall. Showing the abuse and neglect that juveniles go through at these facilities which “… revealed horrific conditions, including 23 hour a day solitary confinement and extreme levels of violence, sexual assault, guard abuse, and medical, educational, and mental health care neglect.”

http://www.witness.org/campaigns/all-campaigns

This video exposes the horrific conditions and human rights violations endemic of the California Youth Authority, one of the largest youth correctional agencies in the United States. “System Failure” calls for the CYA’s nine prison facilities to be replaced with regional rehabilitation centers and local community based alternatives.

Personal Overview: Juvenile jails include minors from 25 all the way down to age 12. Minors in juvenile facilities are being mistreated including abuse, sexual harassment and rapes, malnutrition, and lack of education. As minors they have the right to an education even in the juvenile facilities but are being denied these rights. How are the minors going to evolve into well rounded citizens without the access to an education? The abuse and harassment of the officers on the minors in juvenile facilities is out of hand. There has been many instances of beatings by the staff in California alone. Juvenile jails are meant for keeping minors out of jails and prisons with adults who have committed serious crimes, but are subject to staff abuse. This abuse of authority goes against the rights of the youth even if they are convicted and in prison facilities.

“We believe that educational inequality matters and government needs to place far more emphasis on the most underachieving pupils in our education system to improve social justice and social mobility.

Centre for Social Justice

Citation:http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/default.asp?pageRef=193

Federal Funding for Schools

Children in low-wealth urban and rural communities typically face major obstacles to a good education. High quality pre-K is rarely available for these children, so the achievement gap is already in place when students enter school. Also, schools serving disadvantaged students often have barriers to educational opportunity such as inadequate buildings, too few books and computers, and teachers with less experience than those in suburban schools.

Even though they tax themselves at higher rates, low-wealth communities are unable to generate sufficient funding for their schools. And state funding usually falls short of allowing them to provide adequate resources for their children. Some states even distribute funds in ways that worsen resource inequities.

Damaging disparities remain in educational opportunities, despite our nation’s soaring declarations about equality in our founding documents and our heritage of equal rights advocacy and laws. Federal law calls for a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education, but that opportunity is denied to many children, especially low-income and minority children.

Federal funding is less than 10% of the money schools use, but federal policies are changing local schools, and the impact has grown, especially via:

In contrast, federal policymakers have not used their leverage to push for equitable state funding or the Opportunity To Learn for all children.

Debates over federal education policy have largely ended in stalemates on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was due to be reauthorized in 2007. ESEA provides the largest single portion of federal funding for education, about $15 billion a year. Education Justice, Education Law Center, and many other education advocacy organizations are weighing in on ESEA debates and other aspects of federal education policy.

Two of the key federal laws that establish students’ rights are:

Playing music positively affects the development of children’s cognitive skills.  It builds confidence, self-discipline and inspires creativity.  Also, playing music can increase productivity and help kids and teens connect socially with their peers.

According to the Northwestern scientists, the findings strongly indicate musical training adds new neural connections — and that primes the brain for other forms of human communication.

In fact, actively working with musical sounds enhances neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and change. “A musician’s brain selectively enhances information-bearing elements in sound. In a beautiful interrelationship between sensory and cognitive processes, the nervous system makes associations between complex sounds and what they mean,” Nina Kraus, lead author of the Nature paper and director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, explained in a statement to the media. “The efficient sound-to-meaning connections are important not only for music but for other aspects of communication.”

For example, researchers have found that musicians are better than non-musicians in learning to incorporate sound patterns for a new language into words. Their brains also appear to be primed to comprehend speech in a noisy background.

What’s more, children who have had music lessons tend to have a larger vocabulary and better reading ability than youngsters who haven’t had any musical training. And children with learning disabilities, who often have a hard time focusing when there’s a lot of background noise, may be especially helped by music lessons. “Music training seems to strengthen the same neural processes that often are deficient in individuals with developmental dyslexia or who have difficulty hearing speech in noise,” Dr. Kraus stated.

By S. L. Baker

I interviewed a Vice Principal who did not wish to be recorded or documented.

Vice Principal at a Unified School District elementary school in Pittsburg, CA. I asked him his opinion on extracurricular activities being cut among public schools and here’s what he had to say:

“The current focus particular on underperforming title 1 districts like where I work, the push is so heavy on subjects like language arts, english, math takes president over everything. Kids would actually lose their ability to take electives at all, music being one of those, because they would have to take a double period of english and or math, and kids who had language learners would often take a third period of ELD, which would basically make it three periods of english, two periods of math, and a PE because you have to take a PE by law. Music and art has definitely taken a back seat to the pressure to performing in english and math. I think it’s unfortunate that these extracurricular activities are being eliminated because if those two subjects aren’t your strong suit you’re being denied the ability to find other avenues.”

Advocates Groups for Music Programs

 

 

 

 

 

This video gives examples of how programs such as art and music helps with a students education. Music can attribute to a better understanding of math and art can encourage a students creativity in order to excel in subjects like english.

This is a speech Obama gave on the advantages that music and art programs give as a more well rounded type of education.

Personal View: Cutbacks in public schools such as music, art, and sports programs are disadvantages to the young student. Extracurricular activities like these are proven to help a student achieve more in school. Especially the opportunities that open up for a student that include scholarships for college. Many students in college are there on scholarship due to their amazing talents in sports, music, or art which they received training and practice from kindergarden to senior year in high school. Without these programs students like these will not be able to advance their talents to a collegiate level.