OPINION: Where your electronic waste goes

imageBy Mariela Martinez

Do you have broken computers, cell phones, cables or electronics at home taking up space? Don’t know what to do with them all?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, out of 26.9 million units of disposed televisions, only 6.3 million units are recycled; out of 157.3 million units of computer products only 48.3 million are recycled; and out of 126.3 million units of cell phones trashed, only 14 million units are recycled. All these items are called e-waste, and it’s toxic to throw it away with your regular garbage.

Some of us throw these items away even when they’re not broken because we want the latest and the greatest. But what you don’t know is that every time you get rid of your old electronics you’re not actually getting rid of anything. Instead, you are contributing to a major e-waste problem in the world.

We live in a consumer culture that constantly consumes more and more goods made out of raw materials that collect a lot of toxins in their manufacturing.

Every time you throw away a cell phone, computer, or television, you throw away valuable resources that can be recycled to create more cell phones, computers, etc.

Most of the materials that our electronics are made out of can be recycled, such as glass, precious metals and plastics. Much of it is still in usable condition.

Toxins in these products like lead, mercury, and cadmium can leach out of landfills to cause havoc both to our health and our environment; they are so dangerous that governments have established laws to prevent them from ending up in landfills.

What’s even more astonishing is that many companies that don’t want to deal with the large amounts of e-waste simply send it to third world countries like China, India and various parts of Africa. There, the poor and corrupt governments put the e-waste into large open dumps where it contaminates local water supplies and eventually harms the local villagers when companies pay them to take the dangerous waste. You weren’t thinking about that when you traded the old cell phone for the newest model, were you?

The most important thing is to reuse your electronics instead of throwing them away. Don’t get rid of your old cell phone just because you chipped it a little.

Keep your products for as long as possible and don’t fall for those advertising gimmicks that tell you how much you really need the new Blackberry or iPhone.

This is about something bigger than any of us; this is about a world community that is suffering because of our consumerism.

Consumerism has become a serious problem. We simply buy and throw away and buy some more without thinking where our waste ends up. Ask yourself, how will it affect the environment and the people in the world?

The truth is that all that waste ends up in landfills. We destroy forests to make room for more landfills and dumps when maybe we should be looking for more ways to reuse and recycle those things we label “trash.”

Go online and figure out where your local e-waste processing center is, or call the company you bought the product from and see if they recycle the product.

You can usually mail your product to these places. This small effort really makes a difference, especially when you commit to using products that are made of recycled material.

Don’t contribute to this problem.

Mariela Martinez is a reporter for Fremont High School’s Magnet Chronicles.

Photo credit: Creative Commons

Fremont is on track to no tickets

imageBy Susana Valencia

Next year students will no longer need to have tickets in order to eat at the school cafeteria. All students will be able to eat lunch for free.

“If a school achieves 80 percent of families that qualify for free lunches or 85 percent of free and reduced lunch based on income,” students are entitled to eat for free, said Title I Coordinator Mr. Labat.

This process is called Provision 2. “It is an option in the federal School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program for schools to reduce paperwork and simplify the logistics of operating school meals,” according to the Food Research and Action Center’s website.

Although there will be no tickets, students will still have to complete meal applications for the following year, said Mr. Labat. This is done to make sure that Fremont maintains the 80 percent or higher of free or reduced tickets and students can continue to eat for free.

Magnet freshman Sonia Valencia said, “It’s a good change because we won’t need to keep worrying about bringing our tickets every day.”

Students said that the fact that Fremont will not require tickets to eat next year will benefit the whole student body.

Magnet freshman Adaly Armendari said, “People that don’t have tickets and have to pay for their lunches will benefit.” However, she also expressed concern for overcrowding. “People could get all crowded and there might not be food for everyone.”

Susana Valencia is a reporter of Fremont High School’s Magnet Chronicles.

Fremont teachers react to restructuring plan

imageBy Gisela Alvarez

Frustrated teachers and administrators clashed on January 26 during an informational meeting over the plan regarding the restructuring of Fremont High School.

A copy of the draft was handed out during the optional staff meeting. The draft included commitments that teachers, parents and students would have to adhere to, suggestions for a better teaching structure, and a timeline for the progression of the restructuring schedule.

“The plan is what you as a community decides upon,” said Local District Seven Superintendent, Dr. McKenna, after the heated discussion over the draft.

Prior to the district meeting, some staff congregated and discussed their view of the upcoming changes. Some teachers voiced their objection to the plan, calling it “vague” and saying that it does not outline their involvement in the restructuring process if they do reapply. Teachers defended their performance by pointing to the increase in Fremont’s test scores during the past few years. During the meeting, teachers also emphasized that parents and students would have to be informed and deeply involved in order to create a plan that is beneficial for all members of the Fremont community.

Magnet math teacher, Mr. Vaca, said, “It’s not the teacher’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem, and we all have to step up. And if the community voice isn’t heard then outsiders will keep dictating what our future holds.”

Another staff concern involved the panels chosen to interview the reapplying staff. Fremont Principal Mr. Balderas said that he will choose the members of the panels and each one will include members of the surrounding community, parents, students and alumni. However, the panels’ reports and opinions will only be taken into consideration, making the power they hold strictly advisory.

“For the first time we’re going to have some parents say, ‘I want this teacher to teach my child,’” Mr. Balderas said. “We’ve never had that.”

Teachers have created a petition stating that they will not reapply unless their demands and concerns are met. Some staff members have also begun to plan informational meetings in order to inform parents and students of the effects of the restructuring process and their decision to not reapply.

“In general, parents don’t know what’s going on,” Mr. Vaca said. “Our first item is to be able to get the info out to encourage and empower our community to create a vision for Fremont.”

Mr. Balderas said if the majority of Fremont teachers do not reapply, then new teachers may be brought in to replace the open positions from outside teaching programs such as Teach For America. The petitioning teachers argue that they also want change, but in a different manner. Many said that bringing in new teachers to replace those that leave would be rash because teaching programs such as Teach For America would only require the teacher to stay two years, causing constant change in the teaching staff.

“We want to make sure that the teachers stay here because they want to,” said A-track science teacher Mr. Jauregui. “What’s the point of having teachers teaching the students if they don’t want to be here? It’s not going to work out.”

Possible plans for Fremont include dismantling the lowest performing small learning communities and merging them with other SLCs. A uniform policy and gender-based classes are also being considered.

During the district meeting, Pathways counselor Ms. Cesare said in response to the drastic changes, “How can you come in here and have a plan? You don’t have any idea what we have here and you’re destroying what works.”

Mr. Balderas pointed out that Fremont is not the only school to be going through a dramatic change. Fremont’s feeder middle schools, Bethune, Drew, and Edison, will host only 7th and 8th grades next year, while elementary schools will host K-6th grade.

The final decision ultimately belongs to Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Mr. Cortines. However, he and Dr. McKenna have declared themselves simply overseers of the process, saying the power lies with Mr. Balderas.

“Imagine if they told us what to do. I’d quit too,” said Mr. Balderas. “But I choose to stay here. I’m not leaving until I am done.”

Gisela Alvarez is a reporter for Fremont High School’s Magnet Chronicles.