Local Happenings - Tunnel of Oppression

Nobody is reading this blog yet... but that is alright. Hopefully I'll be able to gather some eyes and minds around the screen to hear what I have to say. Earlier this evening, the first Amnesty International of BSU meeting for the semester happened. It was pretty small, and just a bit awkward (like most first meetings, or maybe just most activist meetings), but definitely worthwhile. I mention it here because it inspired excitement in me for an upcoming event. On Tuesday, November 1st, BSU is hosting the Tunnel of Oppression. An actual, physical tunnel will be constructed in one of the ballrooms of the SUB. Actors will play out different scenes of oppression in the tunnel as guides (one of which will be myself) bring groups of people through to understand oppression in a more intimate fashion than we usually have the capacity for. The experience is supposed to be very eye-opening and emotional. For example, it is rumored that one of the scenes will depict a Fred Phelps anti-homosexual rally (Fred Phelps is the leader of the fiercely anti-homosexual Westboro Baptist Church) and another will stage the preparation for detainee abuse at a Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Though there have been serious questions among BSU activists about the organization and execution of the Tunnel of Oppression, I have high hopes for the event. It is a delicate subject, so I can only hope that the people behind the Tunnel are serious and organized. I'll write more about the Tunnel as the date approaches and passes.

Local Happenings

I plan to make 'local happenings' posts a regular, informal part of the Friction blog. Whereas other posts will be thought-out pieces that have probably been extensively revised and edited, these posts will be informal rants about what has been happening recently here in Boise, Idaho. You'll find my take on significant news items; summaries of meetings, rallies, and other political events; upcoming events; and more.

Last Wednesday, I attended a public hearing in BSU's Jordan Ballroom concerning proposed changes to the graduation requirements for Idaho high schools. The proposed changes would drastically cut the number of electives while making 8 credits each of math and science (thats all four years of high school) required. They would also require students to pick electives with a career focus, require taking either the SAT or ACT to graduate, require a 'C' average of junior high and middle school students to move on to high school, and force students as young as sixth grade to consider career options. Students, parents, and teachers have reacted to these proposed changes with outrage, as have I. It is evident that these changes will cut down on such activities as arts, music, and other programs that enrich the high school experience and provide for a well-rounded education that colleges look for. That is the most common concern. In addition, I personally feel that such an emphasis on career consideration is ludicrous for anyone younger than high school age, and that career consideration in high school is hardly productive. I've graduated and still have no clue what career path I will follow, but that is perfectly okay. I am attending college and will eventually grow into something just right for myself. No one needs to be locked into a career path they chose in the naivete of high school. I also hold deep concerns about the plight of students who struggle with either math or science. Requiring such students to advance beyond the basics will not result on smarter students going on to college, but rather in more decisions to drop out of high school.

The public hearing was packed. They had to add additional seating at the last minute and there still wasn't sufficient room for everyone. After two hours of public testimony about the proposed changes, there was only one comment in support. Every single comment against the changes was met with tremendous applause. Many teachers, parents, and students spoke with great passion and emotion about the arts and music programs they feared would be lost. A genuine concern for the well-being of our future generations was clearly evident. I think it was fairly clear what the teachers, parents, and students thought about the proposed changes to their lives, and I hope whatever happens next reflects that sentiment.

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