Category Archives: Columns

Unexpected NBA death shifts basketball history

Art by Scarlett Hatton

Story by Jadon Stoner

No introduction needed. Every news channel and social media platform is filled with the reports of the tragic death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant. Devastating. Horrendous. Heartbreaking. These are just a few of the words that swirled around the minds of millions of people throughout the world over the past 24 hours. Turn on ESPN, NBA network, or really any sports or news related TV channel and you will see interviews and quotes of various teammates, coaches, and media members. Dig a little below the surface, however, and you will discover that people who never even met this man have been inspired and transformed by the motivational stories of hard work and dedication of the great Kobe Bryant.

Kobe was a basketball legend; we all know that. Five-time NBA champion. Two-time Finals MVP. Voted the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2008. Eighteen-time all star. Over 33,000 points scored. The list of Bryant’s career accolades goes on and on. His undeniable desire to win and his willingness to sacrifice anything to achieve greatness is something we can all strive to embody. But the story of the Black Mamba goes much deeper than the bright lights of L.A. This particular story starts thousands of miles away from the beautiful coastline of Southern California in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Kobe was the youngest of three children. His father, Joe Bryant, played in the NBA until Kobe was six years old. After retiring from the NBA, Joe Bryant moved him and his family to Rieti,Italy to play lower level professional basketball. Growing up, young Kobe would watch his father play and watch tapes of NBA games his grandfather would video and send to him in the mail. From this, the love of basketball sparked in Kobe and drove him through his whole career. In 1991, the family moved back to Philly and the next year enrolled Kobe in Lower Merion High School: the place where his basketball career began.

Bryant started playing varsity as a freshman and won Pennsylvania Basketball Player of the Year as a junior. He led the team to a state championship in the 1995-96 season and was receiving offers from big time colleges like Duke, North Carolina, and Villanova. After seeing Kevin Garnett taken 5th overall in the NBA draft out of high school the previous year, however, Kobe decided to go straight to the NBA. He was taken 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, who traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers later that night. Now, over 20 years later, and Kobe is looked at as one of the best to ever pick up a basketball.

This is a very sad time for the game of basketball and for anyone who was influenced by his greatness. It is natural to mourn in moments like these and think back to all the historical and monumental moments in his career. But I encourage all those who, like myself, missed a heartbeat when the news was confirmed, to not feel grieved or bitter, but to rather reflect on his astonishing and awe-inspiring career and try to implement part of who he was into our own lives. He was only here 41 years, and he gave it everything he had in everything he did. He lived life to the fullest, and his sudden and abrupt death is a reminder to all of us of how precious life is. Kobe’s legacy will live on forever on the court and in businesses and classrooms across the world. I think it’s safe to say there will never be another Kobe Bryant ever again. One man. One mission. One hero. One Mamba.

 

Donald Trump’s impeachment opens doors to the future

E2707E44-3183-4E52-B550-10A7E0C2E1F5Art by Scarlett Hatton

Story by Morgan Walker

When President Donald Trump became the third United States President to be impeached, a new door to the future opened. Vice President Mike Pence becoming president of the United States is a new possibility for our country, but it is not a possibility that anyone should want. Impeachment never should have happened.

Trump was impeached under two articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The impeachment trial happened because of our alliance with Ukraine; Trump was accused of withholding almost $400 million, which was already approved by Congress, in order to pressure Ukraine’s president into investigating his rival in the 2020 election, Joe Biden. Later, the U.S. told Ukraine our troops were coming to aid them on the front lines, when they really were not. Trump gave these orders without the approval of Congress.

The next step after impeachment is to possibly remove Trump from office, which is up to the Senate. The Senate has two options; convict Trump and remove him from office or to acquit him/relieve him of this crime. The Senate will most likely acquit his crime, because the majority is Republican and they also mainly support Trump in his presidency.

This is best, though, because if Trump is convicted, Pence will automatically become president and that is not something anyone should want.

“If the president is found guilty, he is removed from office and the vice president is sworn-in as president,” according to Atlanta News Now.

If Trump is acquitted he will run in the 2020 election, but he will most likely lose as many other candidates are favorable and he has the reputation of being an impeached president.

It is scary to think that Pence is so close to becoming our president. He is seemingly much more politically intelligent compared to Trump, and would be able to come up with more solid plans that could be a lot scarier than what Trump has done. Trump has been mainly focused on the building of the wall on the Mexican-American border and deporting illegal immigrants rather than other big projects. Pence will not focus his energy on just one thing, and those results could be much bigger and more complex.

Pence has a lot of controversial beliefs: he does not believe in abortion and he did not want the government to fund Planned Parenthood, for example. So, if Pence were to be elected, some people in our country may lose the right to have safe and legal abortions. It is also known that he does not support LGBTQ rights. During his congressional campaign in 2000 he said, “Congress should oppose any effort to gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.”

The LGBTQ community has worked hard to get these basic rights, but if we have a president that is passionately against it, they could easily lose those rights again.

To give a familiar example, recently on the app TikTok teenagers have made a meme joking about Pence’s conversion camps (Pence openly supports conversion therapy). This is something he could possibly do as president. In the archived version of Pence’s website it says, “Resources should be directed to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” This was written when he was addressing the Ryan White Care Act, which provides federal funding for HIV and AIDS. When Pence’s spokesman Marc Lotter was asked about this, he denied what it sounds like—conversion therapy— but refused to explain exactly which organizations he was talking about, which makes it seem like therapy is, in fact, what he meant.

Many of these outcomes could be prevented, but now it is just behind one door that may or may not remain closed. President Mike Pence is a scary future.

Teachers should consult local school board to resolve funding issues

EDITORS NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out Gracie Vanover’s story supporting the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

By J.D. McKay

Today, teachers all over the state took personal days to go protest at the Indiana State House. In fact, so many took personal days that over 100 of the school corporations in the state are off.  Their main source of frustration is low pay. I do not blame them. I am sure if you asked every American if they would like higher pay, nearly everyone would say yes. However, I believe teachers are going to the wrong place in search of a higher salary. 

The place teachers need to go is the school board and work their pay through their local school corporation. The local school corporation is who decides where and what the money goes to. The 2019-2021 New Albany Floyd County Schools master contract states the salary range is between $40,250 and $73,333. The state education budget is already very high. The whole budget gives 63 percent to all education — K-12, higher education, and teacher pensions — but 44 percent goes just to K-12 education. That comes out to $10,842,098,22 for all education. 

Just as a comparison, the second biggest is health and human services at 24 percent of the budget at $4,246,085,228. So if the education budget was increased, or the K-12 budget increased, there is no guarantee that money would trickle down to teachers. It could go to support staff, like my mom, who works 30 hours a week and gets no retirement from the district. It could also be funneled to athletic departments, pay for the softball field to be moved, increase support staff pay, or used to hire new teachers. 

Another rallying point from the Red for Ed supporters is that $100,000,000 is spent on testing. That stat is from 2017. The 2019 state budget shows that number to be much lower, $45,111,344. That number includes the PSAT ($1,900,000), Advanced Placement testing ($5,200,000), and remediation testing($11,711,344). The phrase used by the Indiana State Teachers Association is testing, and on page 79 of the Budget Bill, you will see that the number is $26,000,000.

I understand what teachers want. More pay and funding would make education better. However, protesting in Indianapolis is not the answer. The most logical option is to get the change to happen at the local school board. Do not be afraid to look for these stats. Look through the state budget. Contact a state senator. Do not just take what I say, or what the news says, as the truth. Make sure to research this before deciding. 

Teachers need Red for Ed

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out JD McKay’s story opposing the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

Story by Gracie Vanover

For the last 16 years, my mom has been everything from a special education teacher to a middle school math teacher. My sophomore year my mom transferred from her teaching job in Louisville to an Indiana school district. Although my mom loved teaching at that school more than any other school she had taught at, there was one issue that drove her to go back across the bridge. The low pay. 

As of 2017 Indiana was ranked last out of all the states in teacher pay between 

2002 and 2017, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Indiana also ranks 51 in the country for teacher salary raises over the last 15 years, according to Forbes. When my mom transferred to an Indiana school her pay was cut almost in half compared to what she made as a Kentucky teacher. As a mother of three kids there was no option but to leave her Indiana teaching job for financial security for her family. 

Not only is teacher pay low but most of the funding increases are not going to public schools where 90 percent of Hoosier students attend. The South Bend Tribune writes that there was a “2.06 percent & 2.07 percent funding increase for public schools versus 10.30 percent & 10.47 percent funding increase for charter schools.” When almost every student in Indiana goes to a public school it makes no sense as to why funding for these schools is so low. Charter schools are less regulated by our government but they are getting better increases from the government. Although public schools are government regulated they are on the lower side of funding. When comparing the circumstances the results do not add up.

Due to these funds being so low many teachers have to supply their own classrooms with materials like pencils, paper, expo markers, and more. I could not tell you how many totes of school supplies my mom has bought on sale and stocked up so her classes would be prepared to do basic learning. According to the National Education Association teachers on average spend 459 dollars. That of course, is on the low end.

While teachers pour money from their own pockets for materials the state is spending asinine amounts of money on ridiculous means. Each school year 100 million dollars is spent on standardized testing in Indiana. Not only is it wasted on these tests, but many of these tests show faulty results. Recently Indiana introduced the ILEARN tests. Chalkbeat, an educational news website, states that students failed both the English and math portion due to skewed questions. These failed scores can impact the grading scale and even teacher pay at certain points. 

Although Indiana is having school funding troubles, we are not alone in this battle.

In 2018 the Red for Ed movement was started by teachers across the country to get the funding they deserve. With school funding being low nationwide the picture is much bigger than just us and our teachers. As a nation our education is suffering, and our teachers and administrators notice that. 

As students we see all of the hard work our teachers, school board members, and administrators do for us. They recognize our hard work in sports, academics, and clubs. They help us up when we are down and get us to where we need to be. They are preparing us to go off into successful careers, so why are we letting theirs suffer? 

Our generation is always seeking change. We want to fix issues like pollution and climate change but we never think of the issue right in front of us every school day. As a student and daughter of a teacher I see just how much teachers go out of their way for us, and I know other students do, too.

So, stand up for the math teacher who stays after helping with homework. Stand up for the band director who spend weekends at band competitions and helping students grow as musicians. Stand up for the coach who teaches teamwork and pushes players to be their best. Stand up for the teachers, because they sacrifice so much more than time and pay for us.

 

The empire of Jeff Bezos

Story by Audrey Boyd

What doesn’t he own?

     From companies like Twitch, to Whole Foods, to the worldwide phenomenon of Amazon.com— Jeff Bezos takes it all. In 2017, he was crowned the richest person in the world. As of Sept. 27, 2019, he holds a net worth of $108.6 billion.

He has stated that there is no feasible way to spend all of his “winnings” and has turned to the extraterrestrial instead, founding his space company Blue Origin in 2000.

     “We are in the process of destroying this planet,” he claims. What he fails to realize is that he could save it. It may be unreasonable to expect a perfect world, but is it wrong to fight for a better one?

     This man has enough money to end world hunger. That is not an exaggeration.

     The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) stated in their 2016 report that it would cost an estimated $22 billion per year, every year, until 2030, to successfully end world hunger. In January of 2019, Business Insider estimated that Bezos makes $78.5 billion every year, and $6.5 billion every month. 

     He makes enough money in just four months to feed every person for an entire year, and would still have more than $52 billion left.

Jeff Bezos could end world hunger and he would still be the richest man in history.

     But that is not his problem, right?

     What about homelessness? The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that it would cost around $20 billion to effectively eliminate homelessness within the United States. Bezos could have that in four months.

     Is that still unfair?

     Then what about his own employees?

     He could simply raise the minimum wage– a seemingly meaningless gesture to him, but something that could mean the world to people struggling to make ends meet. It would hardly even make a dent– Business Insider reported, “Per hour, he makes a whopping $8,961,187 million– that’s roughly 315 times Amazon’s $28,466 median annual worker pay. An Amazon worker earning the $15 [Amazon] minimum wage would need to work about 597,412 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 68 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.”

     Instead, he profits from their destruction. In 2011, Amazon came under fire after a heatwave struck a Pennsylvania warehouse, causing temperatures to rise to 110 degrees and enough of a health concern that paramedics were called to wait in the parking lot to take immediate action any time an employee collapsed.

     In 2015, The New York Times published an in-depth article about the harsh conditions of working for Amazon titled, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace.” It criticized the impossible expectations held by the company, as well as the encouragement of employees to sabotage each other to get ahead. Bo Olson, a previous employee, quoted,  “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

     This man is capable of doing incredible things, but he actively makes the decision not to. You may argue that it is unfair to hold him to these high standards, but is that not his entire philosophy?

     This man is infamous for being less charitable than most of his billionaire associates. He has yet to sign the Giving Pledge— the commitment to, “help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will,” as quoted directly from their official website. Others of the top 0.01 percent have made the commitment, with names like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet adorning the long list– so why hasn’t he?

     The most recent donation from Bezos was an entire year ago, in September of 2018, where he launched a $2 billion dollar Day One Fund to help homeless families and create preschools.

      That is only 1.84 percent of his total net worth.

     A man with this level of wealth and power should have a moral obligation to use it to better our people and our society. Many of the immeasurable problems we face could be fixed with a snap of his fingers.

     Bad things are happening in our world, and Jeff Bezos is trying to escape it in a rocketship.

     But once he reaches the stars, what will there be for the people left behind?