OPINION: Buying the dream is not a true reward

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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Most adults graduate from the head-in-hands, glassy-eyes-out-the-classroom-window childlike hopefulness, but that doesn’t mean they stop dreaming. Adults dream in a different way, a way some people might deem practical and tangible, but is just as unrealistic as the ten-year-old wanting to become a pop star. As the powerball jackpot surpasses an astronomical $1.5 billion, researchers are gaining insight as to why exactly people purchase lottery tickets. It has less to do with winning and more to do with dreaming.

From an economic standpoint, buying a lottery ticket is an awful deal, as many are aware. The chances are paper thin, not to mention the huge tax hit even if you were to win. Yet the industry continues to flourish. Many Americans are “buying the dream”: all the results of hard work, minus the hard work.

In an era where the Kardashians are rich for no apparent reason, everyone wants to make it big without the grunt work. Americans’ judgements are clouded by fantasies of lounging around on the beach without a care in the world, as seen on TV. People want the “easy way out”.

The state of Kansas is suffering about a $10 million shortfall at the moment. Its plan? Hope that someone in the state wins the lottery. A Kansas winner would be forced to surrender at least $40 million to the state government in taxes, dragging them out of their economic slump and then some. Instead of actually solving the problem, the state is investing in sheer hope.

In an ideal world, we would all win the lottery and quit our jobs and sip ice-cold drinks with little umbrellas on the sandy beaches of Mexico. Unfortunately, it’s not practical. That’s not to say we shouldn’t dream; in fact, I would say quite the opposite. Dreaming is what propels reality. Dreaming is what forces us to work hard and achieve success. The key is hard work.

The working class works hard for its money. Instead of wasting your nine-to-five paycheck investing in someone else’s dream (statistically speaking), invest in your own. Start a savings account to invest in your education, take out a mortgage to invest in your family, book a flight to invest in leisure with your loved ones. That’s worth more than millions.

 

Originally published in The Chronicle on January 15, 2016.

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OPINION: Paid parental leave crucial to all workers

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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Silicon Valley may soon become a family-friendly suburb.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced his extended paternity leave to care for his newborn daughter. “Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post made on November 20.

Now, Zuckerberg is extending this valuable familial time to all Facebook employees, offering a four month paid parental leave. This offer is extremely progressive in the United States because for many working American parents, it’s not a reality. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not mandate paid leaves for parents after the birth of a child. Though federal law does offer at least twelve weeks off, pay is not a required factor. In fact, according to the New York Times, only 14 percent on American companies offer paid leave. In comparison, European countries put American policies on parental leave to shame. Both Britain and Sweden offer a full year off to new parents with pay (mandated by law).

American legislation needs to change. Silicon Valley, the technology development hotspot of the country, is offering the sorts of benefits all American parents should be able to enjoy. In August, Netflix offered unlimited paid parental leave, pioneering the way for other companies to follow their lead. With Facebook in tow, expanding their benefits, other companies are likely to follow.

That being said, there are certainly other business that will not offer the benefits that all parents deserve. Facts and numbers aside, it ultimately comes down to a newborn baby and a mother and father who desperately care for it. American parents are stuck in a limbo on whether to stay home and bond with their child, or go back to work because they cannot afford to be without income to raise their baby.

America needs to join the rest of the developed world and show it cares about the hardworking families and the children fueling its future.

 

 

Originally published in The Chronicle on December 11. 

New mall provides teen employment oppurtunities

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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Photo by Abbey Marshall

Liberty and jobs for all.

The Liberty Center  in West Chester offers jobs for students in retail that had been scarce prior to the grand opening on October 22. According to junior American Eagle employee Tori Berry, the Liberty Center allowed her to get hired in a field that she has always admired, yet couldn’t work in previously due to distance from other shopping centers.

“I’ve always wanted to work in retail from the time I was little,” Berry said. “I love fashion, being exposed to different styles, and interacting with people. There weren’t many opportunities to work in retail before Liberty Center opened up, unless you wanted to drive down to Kenwood. So when I heard the new mall was opening, I was so excited that I would finally have the chance to work somewhere like that.”

Senior Julia Salunek transferred from the Kenwood Towne Center Hollister to Liberty Center. Salunek said the change has been a lot more convenient for her commute.

“I wanted to find a job in retail and I got offered a job at the Kenwood Hollister,” Salunek said. “They transferred me to the new mall. It’s a lot more convenient because it’s not as far and there’s not as much traffic. It’s easily accessible.”

In addition to retail, the Liberty Center offers diverse jobs for students seeking employment, said Berry.

“The mall has definitely provided more job opportunities,” Berry said. “It’s a thriving place with everything from retail stores, to tea and coffee shops, to food establishments. I would definitely encourage more teens to seek out jobs here because there are so many cool places to work.”

The Liberty Center’s contemporary ambience is appealing to the younger generation and the jobs offered there, Berry said.

“There are tons of places to hang out at the new mall,” Berry said. “The movie theater is amazing, the food is great, and the stores are popular among our generation. Overall, the mall just has a really modern, energetic atmosphere. I’ve already seen a ton of teens and their friends hanging out there.”

Liberty Center public relations representative Jackie Reau said she encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities and there’s more to come.

“As more restaurants and retail outlets open over the next few weeks, more jobs will need to be filled, and many will offer great experience for high school students,” Reau said.

Berry said she’s thankful for all the new opportunities that the Liberty Center has opened up so close to home.

“We are extremely blessed to have this addition to our local community,” Berry said. “When you’re at the new mall, you feel like you’re shopping in a city. It’s such a cool experience.”

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Photo by Abbey Marshall

Originally published in The Chronicle on December 11.

 

OPINION: Love your fellow muppets

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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Elmo has a new friend on the block.

Sesame Street, whose mission is “to help all children grow smarter, stronger and kinder”, just got one step closer to that goal. The producers recently announced their newest character, a bright-eyed, orange-haired muppet named Julia. Julia is just like every other muppet: she likes laughing, playing with her friends, and having a fun time on the happiest street in America. The only difference? She has autism.

Motivated by the desire to increase awareness of childhood disabilities, Sesame Street’s decision to incorporate such an unconventional character is a noble one. Yet, despite all the good they’re doing, writers are being highly criticized. Skeptics are questioning why the autistic character was written as a girl. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 42 boys are affected with autism, while only 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed. Why, then, is Julia a girl? This question is not lost on executive vice president Sherrie Westin, who responded that since children are more likely to see an autistic boy, they wanted to show that girls can be autistic as well. Nevertheless, angry Americans’ cries rage on.

As their faces bloat crimson, they forget the more pressing question: why are they attacking something that will do such good? I applaud Sesame Street and its quest to combat ignorance at a young age. According to the senior vice president of U.S. social impact, children with autism are five times more likely to be bullied by their peers. This is deeply saddening; kids with autism often become deterred by this and want to avoid school at all costs. That’s why it’s so inspiring that an educational program targeting young children is tackling this issue by introducing a character who is sensitive to sound and lights, as well as some other seemingly odd characteristics, but she still likes to play with others.

Sesame Street is making strides in the right direction, but I hope someday she isn’t viewed as Julia, the little girl with autism, but as Julia--just another muppet.

Originally published in The Chronicle on November 13, 2015.

Kist-Kline leading opposition against Kasich’s charter school funding

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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The school choice debate continues to rage on and at the forefront in the opposition against Ohio Governor John Kasich’s charter school funding is Mason City Schools superintendent Dr. Gail Kist-Kline.

Charter schools, institutions started by individuals or companies funded by state money, began to increase in their numbers under the administration of Ohio Governor John Kasich, who actively lobbies for student choice in what school they attend. The movement is a private sector approach to education in which businesses can create schools backed by state funding.

Despite their initial mission to provide opportunities for students in underfunded district schools, charter schools have suffered from poor oversight of taxpayer money, said Mason City Schools Public Information Officer Tracey Carson.

The Columbus Dispatch reported over $1 billion granted annually to charter schools in Ohio with about 120,000 students, yet there is not enough accountability taking place of where those funds are being allocated, according to Carson.

“Ohio’s Auditor of State, David Yost, and most recently the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio, have reviewed charter school finances and shown there is insufficient transparency about how state money is being spent by charter school operators and their affiliated companies, as well as uncovering egregious violations and shortcomings,” Carson said.

Government teacher Maria Mueller said diminishing district school funding and increasing university tuition can be in part attributed to tax dollars dedicated to charter schools.

“I definitely think public education has been harmed, and not just public schools as in public elementary and secondary schools,” Mueller said. “Universities and colleges in Ohio: their slice of the pie is getting diminished and part of that certainly can be perceived to be part of that money that’s going to charter schools. We, and they, are being negatively impacted by those dollars that could be effectively used in public schools, whether at our level or at a university level.”

In an attempt to fight the continuation of public funds being poured into charter schools, superintendent Gail Kist-Kline is an active lobbyist for the rights of district schools, according to Carson. Kist-Kline has sent letters to Ohio representative Paul Zeltwanger, utilized social media to share her opinion, and published a column about the issue in Today’s Pulse.

“To put it simply, every school in the state of Ohio that is funded by Ohio tax dollars should be held to the same standards…In a recent survey, 94 percent of the respondents said that charter schools should follow the same rules as public schools,” Kist-Kline said in a letter to Zeltwanger. “Our taxpayers want transparency and accountability for charter schools. It is disappointing to hear of the multiple failures of so many of our charter schools, schools that were created, specifically, to provide a superior alternative to failing public schools.”

In response to growing criticism, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 2 on November 1 to take effect in 90 days. The reform is designed to hold charter school sponsors more accountable for their spending, as well as prohibit poorly performing schools from opening new ones.

“While we are proud of Ohio’s high-performing charter schools, there are too many that haven’t been serving our kids with the quality they deserve,” Kasich said in a statement.

Ultimately, students should be the focal point of education, Kline said.

“All students deserve a high quality education and we need to assure that is taking place,” Kist-Kline said.

Originally published in The Chronicle on November 13, 2015.

OPINION: The homeless deserve respect, not apathy

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

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We see them downtown, grasping onto tattered cardboard signs, begging for any loose change jangling in your pocket. We seem them curled up in a moth-devoured wool blanket, trying to stay warm on a bitter winter evening. We see them meekly shoving a shopping cart piled up with our garbage in an attempt to salvage anything useful.

They’re always there, so why do we pretend like they don’t exist?

According to The National Alliance to End Homelessness, 578,424 people were without a home on any given night in the United States in 2014. The sad stigma attached to those 578,424 people is that they’re drug addicts, and it’s their own fault that they’re in that situation. This deceptive stereotype hinders society from assisting those in need.

A couple years ago, my family went on a mission trip to Nashville. At a soup kitchen I was serving in, I met a man named John, a black man who served in the Vietnam War. His noble service to our country was hardly appreciated, however, as he returned to a country filled with racial inequality and outrage surrounding the soldiers who served in the war. Post-traumatic stress overcame him, causing him to spiral into poverty and eventually homelessness, as the government and the average citizen sat idly by. It deeply saddens me that nine percent of the United States homeless population are veterans.

Furthermore,  216,197 of the national total are families. So many children are heartbreakingly growing up on the streets, not knowing where their next meal is coming from, most likely deprived of a proper education. It is apparent that kids are not the cause of their own homelessness; they are apart of a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Growing up in poverty results in less opportunities, due to increasingly expensive college tuition. Oftentimes, they will have their own kids who experience the same thing, over and over and over.

Yet we will continue to walk down the streets, quickly stealing a glance out of the corner of our eyes before racing off. We are afraid to give them money, terrified that they’ll use it for drugs and contribute to increasing city crime rates.

My proposal is a modest one, and though it will not enact a monumental change the way a much-needed government reform could, it will definitely make an impact. Sit down on the park bench beside them with a frosty Coca-Cola or even an icy bottle of water and start a genuine conversation. Give them the respect that every person deserves. Not only are you treating them to something they most likely don’t have the money to splurge on, but you are making a tremendous impact by giving them the time that no one else will. It makes them feel appreciated and loved.

I’ve seen it in their eyes.

 

Schmidt hopes to unseat incumbents in upcoming school board election

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

On Tuesday, November 3, voters will select the candidates that will fill the two open seats on the Mason City Schools Board of Education. Campaigning for these spots are incumbents Kevin Wise and Courtney Allen, as well as community member Erin Schmidt. Of these three candidates on the poll this election, voters can choose two to represent the district. The elected officials will serve on the Board for four years.

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Courtney Allen, incumbent School Board President, hopes to continue to have a say in big decisions. Photo contributed by Courtney Allen.

According to Allen, incumbent Board President, being a current member running for re-election has both its advantages and disadvantages.

“I feel the district has faced some tough challenges during my first term,” Allen said. “The Board made some difficult decisions and worked hard to overcome those challenges and move the district in a positive direction. I feel we have been very successful which may provide an advantage. With any big decision, however, you’re going to have people who agree and people who disagree, which can convert into an advantage or a disadvantage, respectfully, when it comes time for re-election.”

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School board candidate Erin Schmidt hopes to gain a position on the Mason City School Board. Photo contributed by Erin Schmidt.

Schmidt said she thinks that introducing herself as a fresh face running for Board could work in her favor towards winning the election.

“I feel at an advantage running against two incumbents,” Schmidt said. “Sometimes being the new name and face garners more attention because people want to see what you are about…I also think many residents of the school district feel it is time for a change.”

According to Schmidt, her desire to run for the Board of Education stemmed from volunteering in her children’s classrooms and witnessing firsthand the problems students and teachers face on a daily basis.

“In the last couple of years, I have seen an increase in the stresses placed on classroom teachers in the form of testing mandates and unfair evaluation measures,” Schmidt said. “Those stresses affect you as students.  My interest in running for a Board seat began with a desire to be a voice for Mason’s amazing teachers and, in turn, a voice for the students.”

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Kevin Wise, incumbent board member, hopes to continue to represent the board. Photo contributed by Kevin Wise.

The three candidates were in agreement that state legislations and mandates, such as funding and standardized testing, were at the forefront of the issues currently facing the district. Kevin Wise, incumbent Board member since 2002, said he hopes to address these government regulations in Mason.

“Federal and State mandates are putting more and more pressure on school districts and Mason is no different,” Wise said. “I want to assure Mason remains able to defend against these intrusions and flexible enough to navigate all of the changes.”

The three candidates said they feel a pull towards the Board of Education because of their children’s involvement in Mason schools. According to incumbent Board President Courtney Allen, the board allows her to actively make changes to benefit all students, and in turn, her own children.

“My family is very important to me, as is the school district and community we live in,” Allen said. “I firmly believe that our school district is a great source of pride and plays a major role in the strength of our community. With my 3 most prized possessions–my children–all in the Mason School District, and my family being vested members of the community, the School Board continues to be a perfect opportunity for me to utilize my skills and passion to make a difference.”

Ultimately, the goal of any candidate that is elected is to represent and be an advocate for the students, teachers, and district as a whole, according to Allen.

“As a Board, our goal is to support and protect what makes Mason special and strong,” Allen said. “I want the Board to continue to show good financial stewardship, while prioritizing the educational needs of the students…The most rewarding part about being on the School Board is definitely seeing the successes of the students, the staff, and the district.”