Things to do this summer

Summer is a time many define as a way to experience new things, reinvent yourself, and have fun. But, just what about summer do they find fun? The movies, the music, or the events? Just what are kids at Naugatuck High School looking forward to seeing and doing this summer?

Movies To See This Summer

Hollywood offers lots of new, exciting and interesting movie during the summer. Junior Tom Karvelis is looking forward to the latest franchise offering Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which at this point is still unrated. The movie’s premise is about a virus that takes over the world and wipes out the human race. Who’s left to take over? Primates. Opening July 11, the movie stars Gary Oldman and Keri Russell.

Photo courtesy of http://www.dawnoftheplanetoftheapes-movie.com.

Photo courtesy of http://www.dawnoftheplanetoftheapes-movie.com.

Another summer movie that is gaining interest is the latestTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Senior Troy Bond hopes they do it right because “they’ve revived it so many times.” Directed by Michael Bay of Transformers, the film stars Megan Fox and Will Arnet. The plot isn’t new: The turtles must save their city from Shredder’s evil plan.

Movie poster courtesy of marvel.com

Movie poster courtesy of marvel.com

What’s cool about it: the film will be a mix of computer-animated turtles and live actors.
A movie that has also raised some eyebrows is the upcoming Marvel blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy. Without a widely known super hero (even ComicCon fans were not familiar with the space-patrolling heroes), some critics wonder how much of a draw it could be to Marvel fans. Opening on Aug. 1, this action-packed movie stars Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. The movie is about an American pilot who finds himself in the reaches of space to hunt down the villain, Ronnan.

The most anticipated movie of the summer among young people has already come out, and brought many  to tears. The Fault in Our Stars, which debuted  June 6, stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. This movie depicts the journey of two love-stricken teenagers who met at a cancer support group. It’s rated PG-13.

Other summer movies include: The fourth installment in the Transformers franchise (June 27); Hercules (July 25); Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (Aug. 5); The Expendables 3 and The Giver (Aug. 15); and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Aug. 22).

Music/Concerts This Summer

The tour that a lot of people are talking about this summer is the Vans Warped Tour. This tour consists of more than 50 different bands of various genres/subgenres. Some bands include A Skylit Drive, Of Mice and Men, Bayside, Breathe Carolina, Front Porch Step, Mayday Parade, The Ready Set, and This Wild Life. You can see the complete list of bands here; this tour is going to be heldwarped tour at the Xfinity Theatre in Hartford on July 13. Tickets are $50 and can be bought at the door or in advance through the Warped Tour web site or Wal-Mart.
Another tour that’s getting a lot of hype is the Rockstar Mayhem Festival, which is also going to be at the Xfinity Theatre on July 27. This tour will consist of 19 bands, including Avenged Sevenfold, As I Lay Dying, and Asking Alexandria. The complete lineup can be found here, and ticket prices vary. Get tickets online.

Coming June 19 is a concert that has NHS Sophomore Gabi Levesque excited.  Paramore and Fall Out Boy will perform at the Xfinity Theatre. Tickets are sold out unfortunately, but hey, maybe next time?

The Crowd Surf America tour is coming to Connecticut this summer on Aug. 21, starring the bands Blessthefall, I Killed The Prom Queen, Capture The Crown, and headlining is Chiodos. This tour performs at the Webster Theater in Hartford. Tickets are $20 at the door. See you there?
No money for concerts? Have no fear – you can get your music fix and jam out with a group of friends for no money at all. Just get your phone, get on Youtube, and bam! You’ve got a party courtesy of these bands and their new releases.

Into Metalcore? Check out For All Those Sleeping’s new album “Incomplete Me,” which is going to be fully released on June 22. Can’t wait? They have released a couple of new singles off the album, such as Crosses, and the title track Incomplete Me. You can preorder the album here.

Into pop? Check out Ed Sheeran’s new album “X,” featuring songs such as One, and Sing.  The album will be released June 23. You can preorder it here.

Want a throwback? Ex-Disney pop idol Jesse McCartney is releasing a new album titled “In Technicolor,” set to come out July 22. Preorder it here.
Want to know what all the buzz is about? Five Seconds of Summer is set to release their self-titled album on June 27. They have already released the single Don’t Stop. Give it a listen, then preorder it  here.

Parks and rides

As summer approaches, many talk about going to the beach, going swimming, playing video games, and chilling with friends. But what about those days where you don’t want to do the usual? Where do you go?
On that hot summer day, when you want a little thrill in your life, why not go to where many say they’ll spend at least one day this summer? Lake Compounce, located here in Bristol, is the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the country. Lake Compounce offers a variety of water attractions and regular amusement park rides, including the Zoomerang roller coaster. Day tickets are $39.99, but online specials are offered all the time. Take a group of friends and have a blast.

Looking for a little more thrill in your rides? Then maybe you should go to Six Flags New England, located in near Springfield Mass. Six Flags, like Lake Compounce, also has a water park along with the usual rides and Bizzaro coaster.. You have to pay a little more to go: day passes are $59.99, but check the website for summer deals.

Commentary: The Search for James Franco

A business near Barnes and Noble declares its love for Franco while asking patrons not to block the store's entrance.

A business near Barnes and Noble declares its love for Franco while asking patrons not to block the store’s entrance.

When I found out that Naugatuck High Schooll was offering a trip to see John Steinbeck’s play Of Mice and Men on Broadway in May, I have to admit that the first thought that popped into my head hadn’t been that of actor James Franco. You know him. 127 Hours? Spiderman’s tortured bestie? That guy.

Steinbeck’s novel is a literary masterpiece, exposing social and economic inequalities of early 1930s America and migrant workers. I’d also seen the movie with Gary Sinise and John Malkovic, and I figured it’d be pretty cool.

Soon, however, rumors ran through school about James Franco and Leighton Meester (of Gossip Girl fame) taking parts as the leads, and I almost cried tears of joy. (Really, I’m not exaggerating. That day was just a roller coaster of emotions.) I admit it – I love them. This was an opportunity to see celebrities in person. So I signed up and bought my ticket, and that was that.

Chelsea Iglesias shows of her autographed hand. That's James Franco, in case you can't read it.

Chelsea Iglesias shows of her autographed hand. That’s James Franco, in case you can’t read it.

After about two months of agonizingly waiting for my chance to see Franco and Meester on stage together, the day finally came. It was the first day of the rest of my life. Or is that graduation? I wasn’t so sure at that point.

I sat through what was supposed to be only a  two-hour bus ride, with nothing to accompany me but my book The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (I got through 200 pages that day alone, thank you). It was a good day. I even missed it when we drove through Harlem to get to Times Square.

Stepping off the bus at 8th Avenue, I immediately saw the facade of Longacre Theater, where I’d been only one other time in my life. Staring at the huge poster of James Franco’s face, it was

The book signing expedition poses out front of the Longacre Theater.

The book signing expedition poses out front of the Longacre Theater.

slowly started to sink in that we’d be breathing the same air in less than five hours.

The story gets even better, trust me.

I overhear some girls talking about a book signing. James Franco wrote a book? And I’ve never read it? One of the chaperones had offered to take the girls. Could I get in on this book signing at Barnes & Noble, where my husband-to-be would be making an appearance to autograph Palo Alto?  Is that even a question? Apparently it wasn’t. Soon, we had hailed a cab (first time ever being in one, might I add, but it seemed worth it at the time) and were standing in front of the entrance to Barnes & Noble on the lower East Side of Manhattan. Except, I’m pretty sure the line stretched about eight times around

Waiting for the show to start.

Waiting for the show to start.

the entire building. No exaggerations there, people. I was also three hundred percent sure that close to none of them were there because they were actually interested in the book (No offense, Franco, because everything you touch is gold).

My brain kept telling me, “No, don’t you dare” while my heart kept telling me “OMG we’re literally in the same geographical area right now!” We got line, the end so close to the entrance, yet so far away. An hour-and-a-half later – after worrying about what body part or article of clothing I want him to sign – we have arrived around the corner from the entrance. We had endured odd questions, police directives, and mothers who thought bringing their children was a good idea. We will make it, I thought. I do believe.

And then they announce that they have run out of books. Barnes and Noble, the biggest book store in Manhattan, has run out of books. A BOOK STORE has run out of books. And  unless we have a copy with us, no one is getting in to see James.

And we have no books.

I begged that the sky would send a soft cover book through the clouds, flying at my face at that very moment. But it was clear and sunny, with no forecast of falling literature. It was a shame; I was so sure that once he saw my face he’d immediately fall in love and beg me to stay by his side forever.

Dejected, I crossed 17th Street and stuffed my face with french fries from McDonald’s,  figuring I was fortunate that I even had tickets to his play. That was still pretty great.

Our group hailed another cab back to Times Square, where we met up with others in front of the Longacre. We had spent all out free time in New York City standing in line, waiting for James Franco … and instead found fast food french fries and tears. As consolation, we stood next to the door  the actors would use to enter the theater. I began to grow hopeful again.

But, after a half hour, James Franco didn’t show. He apparently got into the theater, since we watched him perforrn, but it wasn’t through those doors. Not even his brother, Dave, who has nothing to do with this story, made an appearance. I’m pretty sure they don’t travel around together, but he’s just as beautiful, and I would have taken him as my consolation prize. Let’s share a moment of silence for their parents’ hard work.

When James appeared on the stage for the first scene of the play and started talking about beans and ketchup, I felt myself fall in love like you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once (Reference to The Fault in Our Stars? Check). I was in a trance from the beginning to the end, memorizing every picture and tone. I even remember the part where he was laying down in the “woods” and his shirt rode up a little bit. Yes, ladies, I saw skin.

The play ended way too soon, and after his final bow he started talking about a charity that we should donate to, and I just couldn’t stop staring. He wasn’t even in character, and he was just James, and it made me want to weep Niagara Falls and fling myself onto the stage. But I held it together.

With every tragic story, there must be heartbreak. After the play, we filed out into the street and waited for the cast to come out and sign autographs. I was in line until one of my teachers (no names, but they may have ruined my marriage) told us we should get back to the bus. I stared at the crowd forming with such longing. Later, I learned that three girls had gotten signed autographs, photos, and even touched James Franco’s bicep. As they got on the bus with glittering faces, I tried not to leap out a window.

Though, as we passed by, I saw him with a black hat and sunglasses, about 15 feet away from where I was sitting on the bus. All was not lost. If you think about it, our eyes could have locked then, and I wouldn’t even know. Maybe he didn’t chase after me because he had an obligation to his fans. Maybe he would find me through Twitter or search all of Facebook. Maybe he’s still searching, now ….

I guess we’ll never know.

Teen Pregnancy – “The Winnable Battle”

According to the Centers for Disease Control teen pregnancy is an epidemic in our country. According to the CDC, there are many ways of attacking this “winnable battle,” but several of them are controversial, creating contrasting opinions of the methods. These methods can be so controversial that most of them have never been tested and conflicting arguments are based solely on hypothetical situations rather than fact. For example, schools that give out condoms generally do so through a school-based health center. Schools without these centers use HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) as a reason why they cannot discuss their practices. They do so to prevent the loss of trust and privacy within the school environment, they explain.

Delanna Muse of the CT Department of Public Health’s STD Control Program, praises the idea of giving out condoms in schools. One reason she and others agree with this practice is it reduces the rate of accidental pregnancy among teens. “It’s a way of being proactive rather than reactive,” states Muse. Studies show that teens will use condoms if they are readily available. A study of public high schools in New York City and Chicago conducted by the Guttmacher Institute found that condom availability programs in schools resulted in more teens using them when having intercourse. Both cities had similar sexual activity with regards to their senior class (NYC, 59.7 percent; Chicago, 60.1 percent). Sexually active seniors in New York, “where there is a condom availability program, were more likely to report using a condom at last intercourse than were those in Chicago, where condoms are not available in school (60.8 to 55.5 percent).” In an interview with Connecticut station WTNH Eyewitness News in 2012, Tashema Tann of New Britain explained her views about the topic: “I think [condoms] should be passed around because in the school [there’s] a lot of pregnancy going on and I feel kids should be protected.” Muse said in an interview that she recently “advocated for condom use” in New London High School. With the partnership of Vanessa Reid, the head nurse at New London High School, the school recently received approval to distribute condoms through their school-based health center. On March 1, 2012, birth control, as well as STD testing and pregnancy testing, were permitted in New London High School, according to NBC News. In school-based health centers, giving out condoms and other contraception can be an opportunity to teach children about STDs and pregnancy. Mrs. Giulino, a health teacher at Naugatuck High School, said the sexual health unit at the school is about two to three weeks long. She said while she thinks that she has a “decent amount of time” to complete her health curriculum, she feels that students should “take health more than once, [possibly] later in their high school career.” According to the Delana Muse and the CDC, giving out condoms in school can be a great opportunity to remind teens how to use protection and educate them about STDs. Giving out condoms in schools encourages teens to make good choices and helps them develop good judgment.

Central High School in Bridgeport does not distribute condoms through their nurse’s office, however, there is an SPPT Program (Support for Pregnant and Parenting Teens) located within the school. Also, according to Jan Saam, principal at Naugatuck High School, there is tutoring available for pregnant students, but condoms are not distributed at the high school. Jason Begin, a student at Naugatuck High School, commented: “It seems really strange that [the administration] want[s] to support these students but not try to prevent the problem at the core.” Muse argues that giving out condoms in schools reduces the rate of accidental pregnancy and it is a good opportunity to teach about the effectiveness of condoms and what they prevent.

Although many people praise giving out condoms in schools, there is still opposition to their distribution in schools. Some say that giving out condoms encourages teen intercourse. In an interview, Giulino voiced her concerns, saying she tries to prepare students to be healthy adults and that “adults don’t come to school to get birth control.” Another issue involves the cost of pregnancy prevention. “If you can’t afford birth control, then you can’t afford a child if something goes wrong,” Giuliano said. She worries that students will take receiving condoms in school as a joke rather than a help.

Roseann Bilodeau, a parent of a student at New Britain High School, said, “Nobody wants to think of their kid as being sexually active,” in an interview with WFSB TV. The school district, who has since allowed condoms, struggled with the issue because parents and administration thought that the new policy would conflict with teachings of abstinence. Some also say that condoms, while they prevent most pregnancies and STDs, are not always effective. According to Planned Parenthood, condoms are 98% effective when always used correctly, however they are only 88% effective when not always used correctly. A study done by The Kaiser Family Foundation found that teens who were not spoken to about condom use prior to their first sexual encounter had a higher rate of misuse. But does pregnancy prevention and condom distribution serve the purpose of high school? According to Leela J George of auburnpub.com, the purpose of high school is to learn how to construct logical arguments, learn self-management skills and learn collaborative problem solving skills, which are imperative for both college and careers.

Research conducted for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in 2001, has “identified highly effective sex education and HIV prevention programs that affect multiple behaviors and/or achieve positive health impacts.”Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have not been shown to help teens delay the initiation of sex or to protect themselves when they do have sex. Yet, the U.S. government has spent more than $1 billion supporting abstinence-until-marriage programs. Adolescents have a fundamental human right to accurate and comprehensive sexual health information according to Advocates for Youth. Columbia University research has found that abstinence pledge groups actually increase teens’ risk of pregnancy and STDs. In fact, 88% of pledge takers admitted to having sex prior to marriage. Pledge takers were also less likely to get tested for STDs or use contraceptives when engaging in sexual activity because they were afraid of giving up their pledge in front of their peers.

Providing adolescents with a formal sexual health education program has proven to be an effective way to encourage safe sex. In a study released in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed responses from more than 2,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 on the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. They found that males attending school who had received sex education were almost three times more likely to use birth control the first time they had sex while such a program had little effect on girls. There is no national requirement, however, for schools to provide sexual education to students. In 2008, New Mexico had the highest statewide teen pregnancy rate. New Mexico is also one of the only states that do not require that all sexual health information given to teens is medically accurate. The study, done by Guttmacher Institute, also found that only 60.5% of sexually active students in New Mexico were using contraceptives as compared to the 75% national average. Other states with high teen pregnancy rates were also not required to provide sexual education. If it was provided, then it had to follow the states mandated guidelines of abstinence-only teachings.

On the contrary, others believe that providing abstinence-only sexual education to students is a must for preventing teen pregnancy. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way of preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Naugatuck High School Health teacher Mrs. Minutillo says that at NHS, more time is spent on contraceptives, but abstinence is stressed throughout the entire course. “Hopefully they can at least make a healthy decision knowing their options,” said Mrs. Giulino. According to About.com, another argument for abstinence is that teens who abstain are less likely to experience a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, dropout of high school, abuse drugs, or feel pressured to have sex. All of these are risks for teens who explore and become sexually active at an young age. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, only 40% of teen mothers graduate high school and less than 2% finish college by the age of thirty. Abstinence is the only way to completely prevent pregnancy and optimize opportunities to finish school and pursue careers.

In conclusion, teen pregnancy is an epidemic in the U.S. The CDC calls this outbreak a “winnable battle,” but the inconsistent availability of birth control and sexual health information across the nation puts teens at risk. School-based health clinics are able to offer condoms to students because of their independent status rather than as an entity of a board of education. Comprehensive, accurate information about sexual health and pregnancy prevention also decreases the teen pregnancy rates across the nation.

But can giving out condoms in schools really lower teen pregnancy rates? “It’s possible. It’s another resource and avenue for [teens] to have and use,” said Muse.

Political Cartoons – Student Loan Debt

The national student loan debt in the United States has recently peaked at the $1.2 trillion mark made by around 40 million students and is in a linear correlation. Lawmakers and government officials are apparently trying to find solutions to solve or reduce the issue, however it seems almost counterintuitive for them to do so when last year they made around $50 billion in interest. As reported by the Huffington Post, “[t]his is $5 billion more than Exxon Mobil, the most profitable [privately owned] company in the country.”  The following cartoons depict some of the controversy surrounding student loans and student loan debt.

studentdebt1
Large corporations, including four owned by multibillionaire Donald Trump, are allowed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if financially unable to support themselves, yet students are not on allowed to file any form of bankruptcy on their unpaid student loans.
studentdebt2
If student loan forgiveness isn’t good enough for our founding fathers, then it must be a poor solution now, right?
studentdebt3
Some student loan debts can be inherited by the closest family members after death.
studentdebt4
The U.S. was projected to have made around $50 billion in 2013 off of student loan debt and it is expected to increase its profits even more in the following years.
studentdebt5
Student loan debt has prevented students from beginning families, buying houses and, when unpaid, have led to the revocation of professional and even driver’s licenses.

NHS reacts to stabbing at area high school

The stabbing of a teenage girl in Milford has greatly impacted the citizens of Naugatuck and the students of Naugatuck High School.
“I was surprised,” said Sara Marques, a sophomore at NaugatuNHSgreyhoundlogock High School. “I don’t know why he did it, but this makes me feel as if I should be cautious about who I talk to.”
Sixteen-year-old Maren Sanchez was stabbed to death in a hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford on April 25, the day of the school’s junior prom.
The New York Times stated that the authorities arrested a 16-year-old male student and charged him as a juvenile with murder, and the police said they were looking into reports that a dispute about the prom prompted the attack.
According to the Times, Chief Keith Mello of the Milford Police Department said that officials had not made any rulings on possible motives, but that investigators were looking into reports that the victim had declined an invitation to the prom from the suspect, whose name the authorities did not release because he is a minor. The prom was postponed.
“This event has heightened my awareness as a school resource officer,” said Officer Bryan Coney of the Naugatuck Police Department. “It made me realize that anything can happen. It doesn’t matter what the town or setting is; as an officer, we need to be alert and understand that these types of incidents happen, and they can happen anywhere.”
Officer Coney has children who, along with many others at NHS, attended at least one of the school’s proms this year. Along with the obvious excitement, a slight tension now drifts through the air at the school.
“No one should have to suffer that way,” said Enzo Pereira, a junior at Naugatuck High. Pereira attended the high school’s junior prom on May 2. “It just seems crazy, to say the least.”
“You hear about things like this in school and it’s just like, why would someone do that? Why?” said Heyi Cheng, a sophomore.
The students are not the only ones who feel the pain and uncertainty. Parents all across Connecticut and even the nation are undoubtedly holding their children just a little bit closer after this incident.
“I think as a parent it’s a rough situation seeing as I just had two kids attend prom,” said Coney. “You just hope that your kid can have a normal high school experience and not have to worry about denying someone … telling someone no and having them retaliate in the way that the kid allegedly did in Milford. To have something happen like that, as a parent, is a rough experience. You never think it would happen to your child, but it’s always in the back of your mind.”

Real Life Horror: movie theater shootings lower public confidence

Photo copyright www.whitehouse.gov President Obama hugs Stephanie Davies while visiting her friend, Allie Young,  in the hospital after she was shot in the Aurora, CO., movie theater shooting in 2012.

Photo copyright www.whitehouse.gov
President Obama hugs Stephanie Davies while visiting her friend, Allie Young, in the hospital after she was shot in the Aurora, CO., movie theater shooting in 2012.

By Jussonjah Duby

A movie theater in Tysons Corner Center in McLean, VA, re-opened Sunday after small bombs in the form of soda bottles exploded. The “chemical devices” are still being investigated by local police as to where they came from and whether the attack was a terrorist plot or a prank. Regardless, the event has many people shaken up in the area of Tysons Corner and all over the world.

In 2012, a shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, CO, left 12 dead. The tragedy shook the globe. During a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises at Century Movie Theater, a gunman opened fire, killing 12 and injuring more than 50 people. The alleged gunman, James Eagan Holmes, a neuroscience graduate student, expects to plead “diminished capacity” to prevent trial, according to Cable News Network. In February 2014, a 71-year-old ex-police officer allegedly shot and killed a man inside a Florida movie theater. His alleged motive: self defense after the victim “threw popcorn in his face,” according to CNN.

The question that comes to everyone’s mind after learning about these tragedies is simply, “Why?” Mahlon Peterson, choir and music teacher at Naugatuck High school, offers his explanation: “It’s stupid. Any violence like that is stupid; it’s the control feel. It has to do with controlling the situation and lives.”

Unfortunately, tragedies like these put fear into the hearts of the public and creates a sense of unease at being in public venues, like the cinema. Kayla Kusy, a student at Naugatuck High School, voices her concerns about movie theater shootings: “Movie theater shootings make me very afraid to go to the movies, even with friends or family.”

Movie theater shootings turn innocent outings with friends and family into tragedies. A night of family fun can quickly turn into horror because of these acts of violence.

Opinion: Putting Students to the Test

By Jake Gingold

Susan Sluyter was a Kindergarten teacher for more than 20 years at Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts. In her resignation letter, she says, “In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a NHSgreyhoundlogoteacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children.”

Mrs. Sluyter is talking about the increase in standardized testing throughout the nation. The new Common Core State Standards are appearing in standardized testing in an aim to determine the skill level of students, which also works as a way to evaluate teachers through student performance. Naugatuck High School is experiencing standardized testing at the moment.

Juniors at Naugy have been taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment test, an exam taken on the computer measuring math and English/Language Arts skills. “I feel like it’s just another pointless test,” said Kyrstin Schofield, a junior at Naugatuck High School.

“I do not feel that this measures my intelligence, because it’s just another score,” fellow junior Norma Fayad said. “I feel that the test is unrealistically hard. It’s like a college-level test.”

While students are not happy with the standardized testing, how do teachers feel?

“I think standardized testing is just a brief snapshot in a moment of time and it doesn’t capture the student’s full abilities,” said NHS English teacher, Mrs. Messenger.

These responses beg the question: Why conduct these tests if no one wants to take them?  In 2012’s Programme for International Student Assessment, a standardized test taken by students around the globe, the United States ranked 26th out of 34 nations who took the test. China came in first.

At a time when education is such a large part of American teenagers’ lives, these test scores obviously appear to be disappointing. But comparing U.S. scores to others around the world can be misleading. In some countries education is available to those who can afford it, unlike the U.S., where free, public education is a right. Chinese cities Shanghai and Hong Kong took the international test, not the impoverished regions in the vast country.

What the Common Core standards don’t do is take into account that American students are more than a test score, and that it is unfair to base someone’s knowledge and potential on one grueling, standardized test. Studying for these standardized tests will not make someone smarter. Teachers shouldn’t be robots and teach only what the standardized test tells them to teach. Teachers need to be creative and come up with their own methods of teaching, because everybody thinks and learns differently.