Thursday, December 6, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From A Birmingham Jail

For students thinking ahead about their final exam. Here's a great link to a copy of the letter posted by the MLK Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford. You will also find explanatory notes attached. click here to go to the letter

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

AP English language and comp, honors English 11/12                   m crawford

1x8 (or 10) assignment.  (1 simple argument made with 8 [or 10] different rhetorical strategies)

The purpose of this assignment is to require students to demonstrate that they are familiar with and able to use effectively each rhetorical strategy listed below.

Step 1:  Using your textbook, your notes, reliable online resources,  examples from class, make sure you understand each of the rhetorical strategies listed below.  Make sure you understand them well enough that you cannot only identify them—you can make use of them.

Step 2:  Choose a simple point or simple argument you want to make.  Perhaps you want your parent(s) to allow you to adopt a dog; perhaps you are misguided enough to think that Leonardo DiCraprio is the best actor working today.* This assignment is meant to focus on the different strategies, not on the subtlety or complexity of your argument.  You are encouraged to be creative and funny.  Simple claim.  Wide range of strategies.

Step 3:  Write a single paragraph using the strategy of concern.  (Your first sample will demonstrate the use of example and will be very much like the sample page concerned with facebook)  Type this sample of your argument in a single paragraph in the format of our format guide.  The paragraph need not be an introductory paragraph; it could be a paragraph that would appear in the middle of a more complex essay.

Step 4:  Repeat step three for each of the following rhetorical strategies:

1. Illustrating Ideas by use of examples
2. Analyzing a Subject by Classification
3. Explaining by Means of Comparison
4. Using Analogy as an Expository Device
5. Explaining through Process Analysis
6. Analyzing Cause and Effect Relationships
7. Using Definition to Help Explain
8. Using Narration as an Expository Technique
(extra credit for 9 and 10)
9. Reasoning by Use of Induction
10. Reasoning by Use of Deduction

Step 5:  Identify each paragraph in terms of strategy employed and assemble the typed sample paragraphs in the order of the above list.

Step 6:  Submit your work at the beginning of the period on the date written below.

Miguel Buenaventura
AP English language and composition  
1 December 2012

Rhetorical Strategies Model

Claim:    Facebook is a waste of time.

Illustrating Ideas by Use of Example

A vulnerable young man has a few minutes of free time.  He picks up his phone and pokes at the big f app.  Here’s what he encounters:

His cousin has hung up her stockings.  She posted a photo.  Ugly stockings.  Ugly fireplace.
The ex-wife of his friend and mentor was just at Costco, shopping.  She doesn’t understand why the sample lady had so much to say about potato chips.
The guy from his favorite taqueria is very disappointed by the Chargers again.  He uses offensive language to describe his frustration.
His grandpa thinks Obama is going to take away his guns and make him live in a socialist commune with pot smoking, married, gay immigrants who just want government handouts.
A former classmate is happy that her boyfriend gave her a stuffed animal.
The son of a friend is “tired of all the haters.”
Some friend of a friend is “pinterested’ in something unbelievably stupid and would be “the happiest person in the whole world” if she could go see the new shiny vampire werewolf movie.
A middle-aged woman feels sad about a dog that had its face cut off by terrorists.  But she feels inspired by somebody who lost weight.
Lots of people like lots of stuff.   Other people don’t like doing some things.  Things like waking up.  Doing homework.  Waiting in line. Washing dishes.

He turns off his phone.  What an efficient use of his time.  He’s learned so much about the world.


Not all facebook users are alike; there are now over 1 billion of them.  But one can classify them in terms of their use habits or their enthusiasm for posting updates.  Some users are called . . .

AP language and composition mcrawford
Rhetorical samples (1x10 assignment)

Claim (the simple point I want to make): My neighbor Ed is unpleasant, ugly and annoying.

Illustrating Ideas by Use of Example

My neighbor Ed is unpleasant, ugly and annoying.  His appearance makes me uncomfortable.  He has these very obvious hair implants in a neat little row across his forehead—it seems like he and his “doctor” are trying to make hair grow in an area it didn’t likely grow in even before he went bald.   He always keeps his shirt open to display his gold chains.  He always wants to talk to you even when you’re in a hurry.  He asks you a question then before you can articulate your answer he talks over you to tell you his opinion on the subject.

Analyzing a Subject by Means of Classification

One’s neighbors can be classified in terms of how you feel when you see them.  There are the neighbors with whom you exchange greetings but with whom you might not ever have a substantial conversation.  The exchange is pleasant enough but neither party has the time to invest in a more developed relationship.  Most neighbors are like this.  There are others, more rare, (for me at least) with whom you do develop a more friendly relationship.  You have drinks or share meals and you may look after their place or gather their mail when they leave town.  Nice kind of neighbors to have.  There are the neighbors who don’t ever greet anybody.  One might wonder why but they usually don’t bother anybody.  Most troubling are the neighbors like Ed.  When I see Ed out by his garage, I try to avoid walking that way to my car even though it is the shortest route.  I’m glad I only have one neighbor in this category.

Explaining by Means of Comparison

Before I moved to my current address I had a great neighbor.  Clarissa is a retired teacher.  She lived next door.  Now Ed lives next door.  Sometimes I would hear Clarissa singing.  Now I hear Ed yelling at his son.  Once I heard Clarissa yelling, but she was yelling at president Bush on the television, telling him what she thought of his deceptive rhetoric.  I liked that.  Clarissa would come over to play with my dog and bring him treats and we’d have a glass of wine on the patio.  Ed comes over to tell me his opinions on how he can fix education.  He thinks teachers should wear suits and ties.  He thinks this would fix everything.

Using Analogy as an Expository Device

Having a neighbor like Ed is like having a rock in your shoe—only worse.  You can take you shoe off and dump out a painful rock.  You can’t get rid an annoying neighbor.   Maybe it’s more like having a gopher in your garden.  Have you seen Caddyshack with Bill Murray?  But then the gopher was kinda cute, and my neighbor is not even a little bit cute.  So that’s not a good analogy.  Maybe it’s

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

fog. for AP students working on papers.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

—E.L. Doctorow

Monday, October 29, 2012

poem of the week. a favorite by stafford

An Introduction to Some Poems

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don't understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won't believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
strangely, it relates to what works,
but is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit, or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

400 Blows + Edward Scissorhands

 Social Issues in Film      mcrawford

Truffaut’s 400 Blows and Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (but first a poem by William Stafford)

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
 and I don't know the kind of person you are
 a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
 and following the wrong god home we may miss our   star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
 a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
 sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
 storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
 but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
 I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
 to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
 a remote important region in all who talk:
 though we could fool each other, we should consider—
 lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
 or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
 the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
 should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

 —William Stafford

Truffaut’s film is famous as an example of the French New Wave and the Auteur theory of filmmaking (social realism, a rejection of the polished dialogue, sets and movie stars—a move toward “writing with the camera the way a writer writes with his pen” –Astruc).  Antoine Doinel is no angel, but neither does he deserve to be treated in the way we see him treated.  His resistance to unfairness, to the lack of sympathy or understanding only serves to accelerate his downward spiral toward the reform school.  No one makes any genuine effort to understand him.  The film asks us to recognize and better understand an individual who is misunderstood and mistreated by those around him.

Since Burton’s richly colored and playful fantasy film is located in a suburban environment vividly exaggerated but still quite recognizable, perhaps it is best called magical realism. This style allows Burton to tell a different story about a misunderstood individual.  Burton’s individual is not a victim of parental neglect; he didn’t have parents in the conventional sense—he was “invented.”  But when Edward “comes down” into the neighborhood he is misunderstood, then admired, then exploited and then  . . . .

Your writing prompt:

If one assumes that both films ask us to look at problems of understanding individuals in a context not arranged to favor them, which film makes this request more persuasively?  Which one makes the audience more sympathetic to the subject?  Why?  Which is more likely to persuade the viewer to look at himself or herself? Which is more concerned with asking us to examine the dangers to individuals in our culture? (Use evidence from the films to explain your answer)

poem of last week

Last Trip to the Island

You're mad that I can't love the ocean,

but I've come to this world landlocked
 and some bodies feel permanently strange.
 Like any foreign language, study it too late and
 it never sticks. Anyway,

we're here aren't we? —
 trudging up the sand, the water churning
 its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy

breathing made more unnerving by
 the presence of all these families, the toddlers

with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
 in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
 circus-colored gear.

How can anyone relax
 near something so worked up all the time?

I know the ocean is glamorous,
 but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels

impossible to resist. And what better reason to
 resist? I'm most comfortable in

a field, a yellow-eared patch
 of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
 the underrated valor of discretion.

And above this, I admire a certain quality of
 sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
 an air of distance, that is, lightly,
 with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean,

there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
 ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,

I can hear what's coming between the stalks.

Erin Belieu
 Black Box
Copper Canyon Press

Saturday, May 5, 2012

the thing worth doing well done

To Be of Use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know that they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy

Monday, March 19, 2012

links: some extra resources for the war story paper

"War is the beautiful young nymph in the fairy tale that, when kissed, exhales the vapors of the underworld." --Chris Hedges

debatepedia on the war in afghanistan

Voice of America on the killing of civilians in Afghanistan

two arguments on war in afghanistan

Chris Hedges. Murder is not an Anomaly in War. (warning graphic content)

Letter from Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace

"Make sure nothing lives. Cows: Taliban food. Sheep. Taliban food. Donkeys. Taliban transportation. Kill Everything."

"You know what? F-- these people."

"This is where I come to do f---ed-up things, so I don't do them at home."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Exam. Fallen Angels

English 11
Exam: Fallen Angels
Answer all questions thoroughly on your own piece of paper.

Part 1) In 2 or 3 sentences, identify and explain the significance of the following items, or, if a quote, identify the speaker, the context and the significance:
• Judy Duncan
• “first time in my life I got what everybody else got”
• Jenkins
• Sgt. Simpson
• VC
• “you pay to see unnatural things look almost natural”
• Capt. Stewart and the body count.
• “You know in the movies when the bad guy rides into town? . . . That’s us”
• Peewee’s hair growth salve
• Kenny
• Lobel’s dad
• New Sgt. Dongan puts Peewee up front and Johnson in rear?
• The spider hole
• “three of us wrapped around each other”

Part 2) Write a short paragraph in answer to the following questions; make sure you support your assertions with evidence from the text; use proper parenthetical citations.

Citation example: Judy Duncan’s answer to the question: “Where are you from?” demonstrates how a speaker (or storyteller) might make an effort to adjust her delivery of information to best meet the understanding of the listener. She is from Irving, but she tells most people that she’s from Dallas (4).

A) Describe Lobel. He seems to have quite a bit to say to Perry in the novel. With what does Lobel seem to be obsessed? How does he see the war? Is he sincere? Why did he sign up? Why do you think the writer created this character? What larger thematic purpose is developed by means of this character?
B) Choose two or more different passages in which Perry writes (or tries to write) a letter and compare the passages. To whom is he writing? What does he want to communicate? If he hesitates or struggles to write, why is this so? What larger purpose might these passages serve? (extra: How could these scenes be interpreted as metanarrative?)
C) Choose two or more passages in which Perry questions his role in Vietnam or his identity or what he would decide in terms of his ‘reason for being’ in Vietnam. Compare these passages. Why does Perry struggle with this? Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Why does he even think in these terms? What does he decide upon late in the novel? Does it make any real difference what he decides? Explain.

Friday, March 2, 2012

CRQs: conclusion of Fallen Angels (the valley of the shadow of death)

English 11

Chapter 16
A) In this chapter Perry is evacuated and wakes up in the hospital. Why? What happens to Brew?

B) What does Perry talk about with the Chaplain? The chapter closes with Perry thinking about PeeWee’s advice for understanding his reason for being there? What reason does he consider? Why does he think, “it meant being some other person than I was when I got to Nam?”

Chapter 17-18
C) In chapter 17, Perry returns to Alpha company. In chapter 18 they get involved in heavy fighting. What was this scene like? Who gets killed?

Chapter 19
In chapter 19 the men who survive can’t even deal properly with the dead. What do they have to do? Perry says in this chapter, “They were me and they were dead.” What symbolic purpose might this have?

Chapter 21-23 (Short essay/paragraph answer) Begin with the quote in the previous question. Then add the ingredients—imagery and dialogue—from the list below, and explain how they work together in Myers’ efforts to create archetypal symbolic significance for his story:
• crossing the river
• into the dark
• “disappear into the blackness”
• “save one (frag grenade) for myself if it came to that”
• “We were all afraid of the dark”
• yea, though I walk through the valley. . .
• “we held hands in the darkness”
• spider hole “it felt like an open grave”
• “they ain’t taking me alive”
• “if daylight comes we might live”
• thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies
• “I think this is his hole”
• pole/blade pushed in hole. “I saw blood on Peewee’s hand”
• pulling the dead Cong into the hole
• “the smell of death filled our small grave”
• “all three of us were wrapped around each other”
• recrossing the stream “the water turned bright crimson around him”
• Monaco against the tree. Dead?
• He was sitting in the shadow of death
• Monaco “I was dead and I was brought back to life again.”
• “We weren’t allright. We would have to learn to be alive again.”

Fallen Angels ch 16-17

English 11
Fallen Angels

CRQs: Chapters 16-17

Answer all Questions completely on a separate piece of paper. Staple this prompt to your answers. Open book. Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Due at the end of the period.

A) Perry is wounded. While recovering he reads to another wounded man. Then he writes a letter to his mom. What does he write about? How does he feel about the letter? What does think about writing? What does that mean?

B) While Perry is in the hospital: Who else does he write to? Why and about what? Who speaks to him? About what? Who visits him? How does he feel about this? What advice of PeeWee’s does he consider? Why?

C) Ch 17. When Perry returns he senses “something wrong in the air.” What is it? Why is this a problem? The problem is not explicitly stated. How is it revealed?

D) Explain the context in which Lobel says “It means you ask too many questions.” What are they talking about? Is it significant that Lobel is the one who says this? Why?

E) Explain the part about the doll and mother and child at the end of chapter 17.

Friday, February 24, 2012

CRQs Fallen Angels Ch. 14-15

(Photo from

English 11
Fallen Angels

Critical Reading Questions: Chapters 14-15

Answer all Questions completely on a separate piece of paper. Staple this prompt to your answers. Open book. Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Due at the end of the period.

A) You’ve heard various expressions about giving someone (or an idea) a human face. In chapter 14, faces and the destruction of or removal of faces is emphasized. Trace the several times a human face is emphasized and explain what happens. What might be the writer’s purpose here? What idea is he trying to emphasize? What is happening to Perry?

B) “We could have burned as easily as we put out the fires” (150). What is happening here? How can this be explained or made sense of? How does this fit into any of the stories that have been told so far?

C) On page 164 Perry tries to imagine the thoughts of another. Who is he thinking about? What is he trying to figure out?

D) Why does Lobel write to apologize to his father? Is he really sorry?

E) “But it meant being some other person than I was when I got to Vietnam” (183). What is Perry trying to figure out here? Is he satisfied with his conclusion? How might this passage serve in your paper about telling a true war story?

Monday, February 20, 2012

CRQs ch 12-13 Fallen Angels

English 11
Fallen Angels

Reading Accountability Quiz: Chapters 12-13

(Photo from

Answer all Questions completely on a separate piece of paper. Staple this prompt to your answers. Open book. Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Due at the end of the period.

A) Faggots. Commies. Draft cards burned. Short squads. Canada. Put these elements together and explain the conversation in chapter 12 that contains them. What does Perry think about the conversation? What is meant by “being in the crowd meant you could be killed”?

B) After the above discussion, Perry has a related conversation with Johnson. “You trying to figure out who the good guys, huh?” How does Johnson deal with this question? How does Perry? How is this related to our paper topic?

C) Who is Turner? What happens to him? Is this loss meant to be compared to the loss of Jenkins? How does Perry respond? Explain.

D) Explain what happens with the claymores? Why do you think the author included this incident? In what ways does it contribute to the development of the character? In what ways does it contribute to the development of thematic concerns in the novel? How does Perry deal with it? How does he explain it to himself? Does this illuminate the idea that sometimes what could have happened can be as powerful as what happens? Explain.

CRQs ch. 9-11 Fallen Angels

English 11
Fallen Angels
Reading Accountability Quiz: Chapters 9-11

Answer all Questions completely on a separate piece of paper. Staple this prompt to your answers. Open book. Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Due at the end of the period.

A) How does Lobel use the movies to explain the pacification mission to Perry? How does Perry feel about this characterization?

B) In chapter 6 Lobel introduced the idea of deciding on a role for yourself. (Are you the baby-faced virgin who gets killed or Lee Marvin as a tough sergeant?) Perry is going through similar questions here, especially on and around page 95—similar but not exactly the same. Explain. How is this need to understand one’s role related to the large questions we are considering in our paper?

C) Describe the scene in which Lt. Carroll falls. Is the setting significant? In what way?

D) What Letter is Perry asked to write? How does he describe this task? How does Simpson describe the task? How is this passage related to the concerns of our paper?

E) Perry explains that Lt. Carroll’s death is different than that of Jenkins. How does he describe the difference?

F) “Can’t handle nothing deeper.” This phrase appears on page 116. What is being discussed? What does the speaker mean? Insight for your war story essay? Explain.

punctuation humor.

Monday, February 13, 2012

poem of the week: esse "reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees"


I looked at that face, dumbfounded. The lights of m├ętro stations flew by; I didn't notice them. What can be done, if our sight lacks absolute power to devour objects ecstatically, in an instant, leaving nothing more than the void of an ideal form, a sign like a hieroglyph simplified from the drawing of an animal or bird? A slightly snub nose, a high brow with sleekly brushed-back hair, the line of the chin - but why isn't the power of sight absolute? - and in a whiteness tinged with pink two sculpted holes, containing a dark, lustrous lava. To absorb that face but to have it simultaneously against the background of all spring boughs, walls, waves, in its weeping, its laughter, moving it back fifteen years, or ahead thirty. To have. It is not even a desire. Like a butterfly, a fish, the stem of a plant, only more mysterious. And so it befell me that after so many attempts at naming the world, I am able only to repeat, harping on one string, the highest, the unique avowal beyond which no power can attain: I am, she is. Shout, blow the trumpets, make thousands-strong marches, leap, rend your clothing, repeating only: is!

She got out at Raspail. I was left behind with the immensity of existing things. A sponge, suffering because it cannot saturate itself; a river, suffering because reflections of clouds and trees are not clouds and trees.

Brie-Comte-Robert, 1954
By Czeslaw Milosz from "The Collected Poems 1931-1987", 1988
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Robert Pinsky

Thursday, February 9, 2012

PBS Video resource for the 'war story' project

Watch War Letters on PBS. See more from American Experience.

Fallen Angels CRQs chs. 4-5 and 6-7

English 11
Fallen Angels Chapter 4-5

Please answer the following questions carefully and completely. Write a brief paragraph for each question. Use evidence from the text.

A) At the bottom of page 36, Monaco “started to say something else, then shrugged it off, and left.” What might he have started to say? Why didn’t he just say it? Does the author’s decision to describe it this way—to tell you he wanted to say something but not have him actually say it—serve an artistic purpose?

B) In chapter 4 we find the first exploration of the significance of the title. Explain.

C) In chapter 4 we learn from the same story of Lt. Carrol’s transformation and the reason for Perry’s and Peewee’s assignment to Alpha Company. One might also find in the story more about the significance of the title. Explain.

D) Lobel says that if he owned the village (where they are doing “PR” work, according to our narrator) he’d “make it into a real jungle scene”(44). What does he then describe? What irony does this ask us to think about? Why is this important? How might this be related to our big question—how does one tell a true war story?

E) Identify the role of and importance of the following:

• VC and ARVN
• Lobel
• Walowick
• Stewart
• “People in Hollywood don’t pee.”
• Paris/President Johnson/Hawaii
• The medical profile (more)

English 11
Fallen Angels
Please answer the following questions carefully and completely. Write a brief paragraph for each question. Use evidence from the text.
Chapter 6 and 7

A) “There you go again Perry. . . .You’re really hooked on reality. It’s a bad scene.” Who says this? To whom? In what context? Explain how this and similar samples of dialogue develop this character and how this character might help explore some of the themes of the novel.

B) (this is a big question—long answer) Explain the eight different answers to the question the film crew asks. Who says what? Considering what we know of these characters, do these answers seem genuine?

C) What is the point of the emphasis on “three confirmed kills”?

Fallen Angels CRQs ch 1-3

English 11 mcrawford

Fallen Angels Chapter 1-3

Please answer the following questions carefully and completely. Write a brief paragraph for each question. Use evidence from the text.

A) Emphasis on Peewee’s character development is an important part of the opening chapters of this novel. Describe Peewee’s character. What do we learn about his background in the first three chapters? How is this character developed? Why do you think his characterization plays such a big role so early?

B) Richard Perry, our narrator, is also introduced in the first three chapters, though perhaps more subtly than Peewee. What is Perry like? What do we learn about his background? How do we learn it?

C) How are the men addressed during their first moments in Vietnam? What narrative purpose is served by the description of the two marines who have “been in Nam a while” in this scene?

D) The war (and staying alive) is not the only conflict in this novel. What other issue(s) is introduced in these early chapters? What does this promise to do for the plot?

E) Who is Jenkins? How is he characterized? Where is he by the end of chapter 3?

F) Describe the three flashbacks (Perry’s) in the first three chapters. What purpose do they serve?

G) Identify the role of and importance of the following:

• Johnson
• Simpson
• Carroll
• Monaco
• Brunner
• The medical profile

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

poem of the week. Sherman Alexie's "Sonnet, Without Salmon"

Sonnet, Without Salmon

1. The river is empty. 2. Empty of salmon, I mean. 3. But if you were talking to my grandmother, she would say the water doesn’t matter if the salmon are gone. 4. She never said that. I just did. But I’m giving her those words as a gesture of love. 5. She’s been gone for thirty-one years. 6. The water doesn’t matter if my grandmother is gone. 7. She swam wearing all of her clothes, even her shoes. 8. I don’t know if that was a tribal thing to do, or if she was just eccentric. 9. Has anybody ever said that dam building is an act of war against Indians? 10. And, yet, we need the electricity, too. 11. My mother said the reservation needs a new electrical grid because of all the brown- and blackouts. 12. “Why so many power outages?” I ask her. 13. “All the computers,” she says. 14. Today, in Seattle, I watched a cute couple at the next table whispering to their cell phones instead of to each other. But, chivalrous, he walked to the self-service coffee bar to get her a cup. Lovely, I thought. She was busy on her phone while he was ten feet away. When he sat back down, she said, “Oh, I was texting you to get me sugar and cream.”

Sherman Alexie

Thursday, January 19, 2012

assignment to accompany "College, Inc." documentary. Write a letter to miguel or design an informative flyer for our counseling office.


I know you’ve been encouraging me to get off my butt and go to college. I want to go but it’s difficult. I have to work because now that I’ve graduated my parents say I have to “contribute” or move out. So how do I work and go to college at the same time?

My cranky English teacher back at MVH always said that I should never go to a college that has to advertise or send out “sales-people” recruiters. But I met a really nice person who has convinced me that ____________ University would be good for me. It has lots of online classes. She says I can finish college more quickly and easily on a flexible schedule. Many of the classes are online. It’s expensive—but I get financial aide.

Should I go? Or should I listen to MVH teachers and go to community college and then transfer to San Diego State or UCSD. Or UCLA? Or Berkeley?

The recruiter, Sirena, is really pretty and really nice. Hard to decline her offers.

Help me figure this out.

Miguel Paniagua Salsipuedes Cienfuegos Buenaventura
Your assignment: Write an informative response to your friend Miguel.

• watch “College, Inc.” (the documentary on for-profit colleges that aired on PBS. Embedded below)
• take careful notes
• use evidence both statistical and anecdotal in your letter to help Miguel make an informed decision.

Consider the following:
• How much does U of Phoenix spend on marketing?
• How much does U of Phoenix spend on faculty?
• How has Grand Canyon U grown so quickly?
• Why is accreditation worth so much (to the investors?)
• Is a student a customer? Is an education a product?
• What is revealed in the “perfume” example? (as explained by former U of Phoenix admin-guy)
• Is an education something one should “shortcut.”
• How much debt should one take on for college?
• Who profits from student debt? Who suffers?
• Can one “get out of” student debt eventually? Bankruptcy?
• Do you think the wealthy investors who profit from for-profit colleges would send their children to one?
• Should rich people profit from the debt of working people—especially debt incurred in trying to educate themselves?