Zero Tolerance: Crime or Punishment?

Virginia Tech and Columbine High School. Instantly, these names conjure up images of violent tragedies, with 45 total lives taken at the pull of a trigger in the split of a second.

In New York, a nine-year-old boy, Patrick Timoney was threatened with suspension for bringing a small toy gun to school. The media coverage of this story caused a national uproar, citing the gun as being “only a toy,” which couldn’t possibly have caused harm to anyone.

However, when we start allowing weapons to school, even toy ones, not only are we sending the message that weapons, plastic or not, aren’t a big deal, but we are undermining the potential harm these “toys” can possibly bring. It is mandatory that students attend school, but how can a student be expected to learn if they don’t feel safe in their environment?

While many criticized Timoney’s principal, Evelyn Matroianni, for the extreme way she handled the situation, I applaud her. She took the zero tolerance policy seriously and made an unpopular choice that will instill the seriousness of gun violence in her students.

On Jan. 6, a student was found with two firearms at neighboring Mark Keppel High School. Not Littleton, Colorado or Blacksvurg, Virginia but Alhambra, California. It’s hard to say what would have happened if the weapons had not been found, or what the student’s intentions were, but I sleep better at night knowing that our district, our administration and our teachers are doing what is absolutely necessary to keep us safe. While a nine-year-old with a toy gun may hardly seem like a threat, in our society, with lives at stake, every precaution must be taken.

Yvonne Lee,

Co-Editor in Chief

Boys will be boys, at least for fourth-grader Patrick Timoney of New York. When he brought a two-inch toy gun to school, I’m sure it never crossed his mind that he would be in the principal’s office, threatened with suspension.

And rules are rules. Schools nationwide should be proud to know that P.S. 52’s Principal Evelyn Matroianni followed the zero-tolerance rule. However, the situation would be more significant if the gun that Timoney brought to school wasn’t a two-inch toy—but it was.

It is important to enforce all rules, especially those concerning safety, but Timoney’s case should have been handled differently. Administrators should implement rules, but when an adult threatens a nine-year-old with suspension for having a two-inch toy, I have to wonder if Matroianni understands what it means to possess a weapon.

Possession of toys in school is not allowed, thus, if Matroianni wanted to punish Timoney, the most she should have done was confiscate the toy. The situation wouldn’t have been so dramatized.

Twelve-year-old Alexa Gonzalez, also from New York, doodled on her desk during school and was handcuffed after the police arrived. Timoney and Gonzalez’s situations both raise concerns about zero-tolerance policies. Both show how disciplinary good intentions have been taken too far, especially in cases that do not involve outright violence.

It doesn’t take much to know that neither the gun nor the doodling were dangerous. If the children wanted to inflict harm, they would have done something much more serious. But that didn’t happen. It’s become apparent that tiny boys with tiny toys are capable of creating not-so-tiny problems.

Emily Kong,

Co-Opinions Editor

Nature, Now 99.9995% Organic!


Staff Writer

Through the process of evolution, Homo sapiens have come a long way. In fact, we are now Homo sapiens sapiens, thus implying that we possess unsurpassed intellectual capabilities as the wise, wise man. We wield the brains, the brawn and the opposable thumbs that make us the pinnacle of nature’s food chain.

As our insatiable egos continue to inflate our power and self-importance, it’s obvious that humans should also possess the right to make living as convenient as possible—even if it means tinkering with nature.

With current technology, it’s now child’s play to morph our surroundings to better suit our needs. Where grasslands once were, cities have sprung forth and taken root. Trees are mercilessly plowed down and converted into furniture and utensils. But the carnage doesn’t stop at necessity.

We’ve adulterated the natural so that we won’t suffer the smallest nuisance of its flaws. Take for example convenience devocalization. It is one of the many ways in which humans change their environment for, as the name says, their convenience.

Convenience devocalization is another term for ventriculocordectomy: a surgical procedure that cuts the vocal cords of dogs and cats to reduce the volume of their vocalizations.

While it would be near impossible to say no one has ever felt the urge to silence a particularly rowdy canine, it is a different scenario to irrevocably take away its means of communication. Owners could very simply blame the surgery’s resultant wheeze and squeak to be a consequence from the dog’s excessive barking. And in face, some owners have.

The procedure has sparked many concerns and debates over its ethics and this is rightly so. While we are able to use and alter our surroundings to better fit basic needs, we have gone far beyond just obtaining a habitable space and have begun tampering with nature to placate crude whims.

It’s True Humanity Lives Again!

Co-Opinions Editor

The initial shock on the afternoon of Jan. 12 only signaled the widespread devastation that would erupt soon after. Over the period of two weeks, one 7.0 earthquake and 52 aftershocks decimated an entire island.

The natural disaster stomped its way through Haiti, leaving at least 170,000 dead and wounded in its wake. And yet, despite inducing catastrophic chaos and fear, the events have inspired a collective worldwide movement to send relief efforts to the devastated country.

Since the earthquake, a multitude of relief organizations have blossomed. Now every single one of you can donate just about anything. Anything from your money, your time, your clothes or your toothpaste. You can essentially give in any manner of ways as well—from money via text to whatever you want through good ol’ reliable snail mail.

The American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and, finally, the Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD). The aforementioned are just a few of the many organizations that have developed their own methods of sending help to Haiti. The sheer numbers clamoring to give themselves to the cause is amazing in and of itself—not to mention what these groups have actually managed to accomplish.

And yet, in spite of all the self-sacrifice and the general sense of dismay at this natural tragedy, there are those who try to profit from the masses who genuinely wish to help. Stories of scams and human-trafficking operations disguised as orphanages litter the news, bringing on another onslaught of despair at the human condition. So in response to these degenerate human beings, the FBI and CNN implores all donors to maintain a skeptical mind—especially when their funds are so desperately needed elsewhere.

But, while they have spawned the few who capitalize on others’ sincere selflessness, the events that have transpired after the earthquake in Haiti are, at the very least, reminders that there still remains a bit of humanity residing in the deepest recesses of our hearts. Though it’s come about by a terrible means as the destruction of thousands of lives, the fact that there are so many who exist to do the exact opposite and build up the lives of those who remain—and I say so only because I have no other words—is heartwarming.

It’s ridiculously easy to criticize, to merely stand back and watch as the floor falls from beneath someone’s feet. It’s easy to write articles bashing the way things are and demand that society change to be the way we think it should. But, when we are confronted with the unexpected goodness of humankind, most are taken aback.

When something so unbelievably good occurs, we find ourselves without anything clever to say. The individual is forced to resort to hackneyed and clichéd phrases in an attempt to describe the exact ways in which he feels his heart swell to three times its original, and rather insignificant, size. Suddenly, those “jade-tinted” glasses are broken, our cynicism and pessimism fall away and, amazingly enough, the human race just doesn’t seem all that bad.

And despite all this, despite the awe-induced coma into which we are struck, there are some who have not attempted to do their part. While it is just as easy to stand back and criticize, it is even easier—and more cost effective—to apathetically wait for the entire thing to blow over. But, when we are faced with the select few, those who embody the very concept of bystander apathy, it does well to remind them that it could have very easily been them buried beneath the debris.

Whether it be buying a plane ticket to Haiti and spending the rest of your life attempting to rebuild what you can from the rubble, or just spreading the word and attempting to rally more people to one of the various relief causes, any small bit helps. If a $10 text donation seems a bit too hefty, putting pocket change into an AUSD manila envelope won’t take much effort. After all … those who can’t write must act.

Print Journalism’s March of Death

Co-Opinions Editor

The contributing factors of electronic access and our dwindling economy have taken a toll on the age-old institution of print journalism. Even though we may not realize it, readership from some of the country’s most prestigious newspapers have fallen drastically; people younger than forty have become unaware of what a real newspaper looks or feels like.

In October 2009, the Los Angeles Times printed an article that made it apparent that the average circulation at about 400 daily newspapers had decreased because readers turned to the Internet instead. Nowadays, people choose to read the biggest headlines on their homepages and follow links to opinionated blogs to gain some perspective. These people would rather turn to an electronic screen for news while their apathetic compatriots just choose not to purchase a newspaper. It seems like it will only be a matter of time before newspapers follow the dinosaurs and disappear.

As a victim of the changing times, The Moor’s one hundred years of tradition could possibly follow in the footsteps of print journalism march of death.

From the days of the popular press, when newspapers were finally introduced as objective entities, to the present, when television and the Internet dominate our lives, we have witnessed the evolution of journalism. The Moor has also changed from its earliest days. Throughout the last couple of years, The Moor has become a self-sufficient, student-run publication. Our entire staff receives no funding from our ASB (Associated Student Body) and therefore must put forth the effort to fundraise on our own.

Through our endless endeavors to keep printing, our staff has come to realize just how important it is to persevere through hard times in order to continue our tradition of print.

Despite the fact that our newspaper is not distributed to all of America, we like to think that it holds some prestige within our small community. We may not be the Los Angeles Times or The Wall Street Journal, but we share many of the same problems they do. We do not have the same readership or influence, but it has become obvious that what we share is the eventual death of our publications. Besides, who needs newspapers when everything is accessible at the click of a mouse?

In the past, newspapers were the people’s one source of voicing how they felt about things such as freedom and liberty. One sad reality is that we, as products of the digital generation, have underestimated just how much of an impact journalism  has.

The Moor is self-sufficient and so it does not receive the help often needed. We have often considered what would happen if we stopped printing and relied on the Internet as our means of communication. There have been times when we had no other option except to stop our printing, simply because the money wasn’t there. We have not ruled out the option of using a website, but we have all agreed that it is equally important to focus ourselves on preserving the tradition of actually having a printed newspaper in our hands.

We are painfully aware of the facts that our school’s readers have lost interest and are not as enthusiastic about their newspaper as we would hope, but no matter what, The Moor will try its absolute best to continue our tradition of printing and upholding the standards to which we are accustomed. Money will not stop our staff from expressing itself and representing our peers. They say print journalism is dead. However, The Moor promises you that we will prove otherwise.

Girls Don’t like Boys, Girls like Cars

Staff Writer

They’re the ones who are there when you are lover-less, the ones who will rush to you when a cuddle-buddy is needed. However, amidst all these I-got-your-back notions, there’s bound to be some sort of underlying desire or lust. Sure, a boy-girl friendship works in theory or fantasy, but you cannot ignore human instinct.

With guys, it’s clear to see how a simple friendship just isn’t plausible. If a male is involved with a female, there has to be a catch. This side is usually where the sex interferes and demolishes any hope for a friendship. Maybe he has hopes that the girl maybe, possibly, somehow has feelings for him. Or maybe he’s hoping she can introduce him to some of her friends who have more “assets,” but either way, there must be incentive for such a friendship to exist.

Girls possess more discreet, scandalous tactics. If there’s no possibility for a romance, then there are always other uses for the male counterpart. Girls can manipulate any hopeful thoughts into “letting” guys pay for food and chauffeuring. These poor guys are taken advantage of so easily.  But no need to worry, when scenarios like these bring out the worst parts of people, neither side is blameless.

The cruelest part about this is that there are innocent souls trapped within this vicious circle. Anticipating something more, these are the people who watch too many chick flicks and who believe in the goodness of humanity. Even human instincts to mate show no mercy for these poor saps.

Basically, two heterosexual beings of the opposite sex are unable to be “just friends.” When those hormones run their course, there’s nothing left to keep one teenager attached to another. This is why high school flings are incapable of lasting. After all, human beings are just another animal species genetically wired to procreate. It’s not our fault our hormones are always reminding us of our duty to Mother Nature.

Who’s on the ‘Slut List’?

It’s Friday, and I’m home watching 20/20. Tonight the show is about none other than the ridiculous scandal surrounding the charismatic, almost Democratic-presidential candidate John Edwards. Undoubtedly, we’ve all heard his woes: an ailing wife, a mistress and, of course, a lovechild. In times like these, his political accomplishments are overshadowed by the public’s following of something much more interesting: his personal failures.

As images of a smiling Edwards on the campaign trail turned into a montage of alleged rendezvous with his “baby momma,” I felt something along the lines of sympathy for the fallen politician. Now, I agree what he did was selfish and most certainly reprehensible; however, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disgusted with the people exposing his story. On one hand, I love truth, and as a young journalist, even I feel the wave of excitement when discovering a newsworthy tip. On the other, I feel that the people who are “speaking out” now are simply trying to bring Edwards down. The motivation is only to ruin another person.

As a testament to this phenomenon, our human desire to ruin peoples’ reputations is clearly popular among all ages. At Millburn High School in New Jersey, senior girls compose a “Slut List” of incoming freshmen, structured much like the Burn Book. In Edward’s case, his former aide Andrew Young probably has money to gain—I mean, he was willing to lie for his boss to unbelievable extents—but now he’s written a tell-all book. Surprising? No. However, the girls at the top ranked high school aren’t compensated for composing the “Slut List.” They get personal satisfaction, and apparently that’s all you need.

It’s unfortunate. What’s kind of embarrassing is that, as a nation, we love this stuff. We love it when people in high positions are revealed to be money-embezzling pigs or adulterous spouses. As high school students, we don’t even care if the information we’re hearing from the friend of the girl whose brother heard from his girlfriend’s cousin is a rumor. To call this behavior childish is an understatement, especially if middle-aged officials are encouraging it.

Maybe it’s old-fashioned, but I still believe that information should not be told for the sake of sensationalizing news. And if Bill Clinton could rise from the ashes of his big sex scandal, perhaps Edwards can, too.

Yes, He Can … But Maybe Not Today


In the months preceding Barack Obama’s November 2008 presidential election, the words “change” and “hope” became synonymous with the charismatic Senator. He told the nation “Yes, we can,” instilling in Americans a newfound interest in politics. “Obama-fever” swept the nation and enraptured the American people. Thanks to a record number of voters, first time voters and minority voters in particular, Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States.
A year later, we are still in an economic downward spiral. Nothing seems to be improving: the housing market is still in the dumps and we have the highest unemployment rate in 26 years. Obama’s approval rating continues to fall from February to December, it fell 15 percent, from 64 percent to 49 percent.
Obama has taken stands against job discrimination, hate crimes, growing economic class divisions, the war in Iraq and excessive deficit spending—amongst many other issues. He has championed many policies, most notably health care reform and the economic stimulus bill. The latter included the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program, which helped expand the national economy at a 2.8 percent annual rate. However, this small glimpse of light at the end of the dark tunnel of recession is apparently not enough reassurance for Americans.
As a society, we are obsessed with instant gratification. Our approach to weight loss is a prime example. Instead of properly dieting and exercising, Americans would rather go on outrageous crash diets consisting of only grapefruits or consuming experimental pills that assure immediate results.
The results expected of President Obama were unrealistic. We expected him to fix the housing crisis, end the Iraqi War, reform health care, capture Osama Bin Laden, find alternative fuel and resolve the problem of global warming. In six months. Maybe he’ll manage to fit in flying or walking on water in between all the world- saving too. Before his election, he was portrayed by the media and perceived by the public as more of a superhero than a presidential candidate. His celebrity endorsements, an Emmy award winning song made to a soundtrack of his speeches and iconic patriotic portraits played a vital role in the success of his campaign rather than acting as a complement to it.
The issue of his race also impacted  his election. Many Americans rejoiced at his exotic ancestry, seeing it as proof of America overcoming the barrier of racism. While it is absolutely amazing to see our nation elect its first president  of African-American descent, race should never be one of the deciding factors in determining a person’s capability. Obama voters should view it as, “I agree with Obama’s policies and viewpoints and it is great that I can elect a President of such a diverse ethnic background,” rather than “I’m going to vote for Obama because it’s about time we had a black President.”
When Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year, many viewed him as unmerited. They didn’t realize that Obama was being honored for his efforts to have peaceful relations with other nations. Many felt he didn’t deserve it, being only nine months into his first term of presidency. The same can be said of his dropping approval rating, even though he has another three years to enact his policies and make the changes he initially promised a reality.
However, this is not to say that he won’t make mistakes and fail, especially with some of the policies he has proposed, including the controversial Race to the Top education reform initiative. He is human after all. But, what Americans need to give him is the time and the chance.         Change does not come over night, especially the significant ones promised by Obama, but maybe with more time and faith from the American people, just maybe, yes, he can.

Let’s Pretend to Progress

Staff Writer

Despite the hubbub over our nations’s first African-American president, Mr. Obama has made some dubious choices, his newest eyebrow-raising decision arriving as Race to the Top. Hoping to improve our lowest achieving schools and close the growing achievement gap, the new initiative is a lovely, picturesque goal about as realistic as Santa Claus dropping down the chimney to leave presents under the tree.
With the plan to make students’  records and information readily accessible, the psychological effects of the information may become an unaccounted result. Teachers may skew their students’ performance in order to make themselves appear exemplary, thus handing children the short-end of the stick as they’re pushed up from one grade level to the next.
Although they are intended to be used by teachers and principals to adjust instruction in accordance to the students, the data may also serve as a way to measure how much a student needs to improve in order for the teacher to gain a good reputation.
Race to the Top seeks to provide an incentive for schools to better education and reward those who have shown improvements. Yet, the competitive nature of the grant may be more trouble than it’s worth—schools will be constantly pressured to enact reform after reform in order to receive these grants.
One government official strongly advocating the legislation is none other than the United State’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Coincidentally, Duncan also served as the superintendent of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.
If the reference doesn’t immediately cause you to doubt the legitimacy and projected success of Race to the Top, ponder this fact: Prior to Duncan’s appointment, rampant cheating was discovered throughout the CPS district as schools with low reading scores on standardized tests would be placed on probation or shut down.
However, students were not the perpetrators; faced with monetary incentives, teachers were the culprits of changing answers on tests.
Many agree that America’s education system needs reform, yet we can only hope that its fate diverges from the faulty footsteps left by the No Child Left Behind Act. What we don’t need is another system that fantastically fails to achieve its purpose: giving students a better education.

Stupid Decisions: Reckless and Now Lifeless

Co-Opinions Editor

Everyday we make decisions that affect the rest of our lives. Not only do those choices stay with us, but they also deeply impact the people around us. Most of the time we’re well aware of what to do and what to avoid. Obviously, we want to make good choices because they tend to result in good outcomes. But what happens when we don’t? Recently, South Pasadena High School’s (SPHS) ASB President, Aydin Salek, attended a weekend party and it was there that he made the wrong decision.
After drinking too much, Salek passed out in the car. Realizing that he was not simply sleeping, his friends tried to revive him, but he was unresponsive to their efforts. There was also nothing the hospital could do later that night and the ASB President was pronounced dead early the next morning. Little did Salek know he would be paying with his life in deciding to attend a party and drink alcohol.
Salek was a popular student leader at SPHS. His many activities included being a member of the Model Nations, the American Cancer Society club and the swim team. With so many good things happening for him, it is even more tragic that someone with so much potential could make such a foolish mistake and lose everything so suddenly. Not only has Salek hurt himself, but he has also affected his family and friends, who he has also let down and dissapointed.
For Salek, the person he hurt the most was himself, but oftentimes, when drinking irresponsibly there is also the chance that we can hurt an innocent victim. Instead, a San Gabriel High School alumnus, Vicki Chen, was recently back in town from culinary school in New York. She had pulled over to the side of the highway because her car had broken down one night as she was returning home. A drunk driver, racing down the asphalt at full speed, lost control and hit Chen as she stood in front of the car, resulting in her tragic death and inflicting serious injuries on the friend who was with her that night. While innocently waiting for automobile assistance, Chen and her friend became tragic victims of a stupid mistake, something that that drunken man must bear with for the rest of his life.
Though it was multiple drinks for Salek, many don’t realize the severity of underaged drinkers having  even one drink. Nowadays, the recklessness with which alcohol is consumed suggests that we no longer care about the impact it can have on our present and, possibly, even our future.

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