Building a Face, and a Case, on DNA

It is fascinating to learn about the advances in science and technology, however sometimes I feel as though technology is developed and we don’t really  think of all the implications and consequences it may bring. In this article forensic DNA phenotyping is discussed, the article starts off by using an example of a murder of a young woman and her 3 year old daughter; there were not eyewitnesses and not security cameras that could identify the suspect. However the police department was able to release a sketch of a possible suspect that was generated by a computer and it solely used DNA that was found in the crime scene. This could certainly be a powerful tool for law enforcement, however several scientist have raised concerns because they question the accuracy of the technology to recreate facial images because ultimately this technology could potentially increase racial profiling as well as infringe on privacy.

The article also talks about Susan Walsh, who is an assistant professor of Biology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis who recently won a $1.1 million grant from the Department of Justice to develop such tools. Other professors around the nation have also commented on this new development and a law professor at New York University made an excellent comment, “This is another of these areas where the technology is ahead of the popular debate and discussion,” The article goes into further detail discussing the science on how  this technology works and how it is developed.

I believe the advances in technology are remarkable however what I do have an issue with is the fact that new technology is being created without fully understanding all the implications that the technology could bring. I understand why and how it would benefit law enforcement what I have trouble understanding is why companies who develop this technology and law enforcement would use such a product if it is not 100 percent accurate. Furthermore, many experts in this field are skeptical about this technology, which to me is a red flag. Our law enforcement and our justice system is already in question so why use it unless you know it’s completely accurate to truly serve its purpose.


“Federal judge: Alabama judges must issue gay marriage licenses”

This is a very interesting article that deals with a legal, moral and ethical dilemma. United States District Court Judge Callie V. Granade struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage in January, however, some probate judges had refused to issue marriage licenses because Roy Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court  ordered judges not to issue marriage licenses. Basically Justice Roy Moore, is trying to enforce his own personal beliefs, by ordering lower court judges in Alabama to not issue marriage licenses. Moore is personally opposed to gay marriage and he is against legalizing gay marriage, Moore argues that Alabama recognizes the “divine” nature of the definition of marriage. Due to Justice Moore’s actions, United States District Court Judge Callie V. Granade ordered Probate Judge Don Davis and all Alabama judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Probate Judge Don Davis’s attorney issued a statement clarifying that the issue was not that Judge Davis was opposed to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but rather he was in a legal dilemma because on one hand “He was subject to an order from U.S. District Court Judge Granade, and at the same time, he was subject to an conflicting order from Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.” I find it fascinating how a judge whose responsibility is to administer justice is impeding it because of his personal beliefs. That is completely unethical.

The School to Prison Pipeline

This article is by the National Education Association (NEA), it discusses an important topic which is student discipline. It primarily focuses on the K-12 system, but certainly it has implications for years to come. Suspending students has typically been the way for schools to handle students who are being disruptive or misbehaving. However, according to this article when schools decide to suspend students they are taking them out of school which means they are not learning. Furthermore, this article argues that by suspending students, schools are pushing these students out of school and towards a juvenile and criminal justice system also know as “the school to prison pipeline”. The article not only talks about suspensions and how those suspension can alter a students life; it specifically talks about racism which plays a huge role on the types of students who actually get suspended. The article point out that, ” Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than White students, while Black and Latino students account for 70 percent of police referrals. Also, students with disabilities are twice as likely to be suspended than their non-disabled peers, and LGBT students are 1.4 times more likely to face suspension than their straight peers”. It is unclear whether these are national statistics or specific to a certain region, either way these numbers are alarming. Kirwan Institute who has conducted research on implicit bias blames “cultural deficit thinking which leads educators to harbor negative assumptions about the ability, aspirations, and work ethic of these students—especially poor students of color—based on the assumption that they and their families do not value education. These racist perceptions create a stereotype that students of color are disrespectful and disruptive, which zero tolerance policies exploit”. Sadly this is not surprising, some educators are truly blinded by their negative assumptions. It is imperative for educators to be culturally aware of the differences that exist, amongst teachers and the student body.
NEA leaders and members have come together and have committed themselves in helping raise awareness on the issue, shape district and state policies, and provide resources on restorative practices. For instance in Colorado and Maryland, a law has been passed that restricts the use of suspensions and expulsions. Furthermore, in Virginia teachers are being trained on cultural awareness and diversity. These actions need to be implemented all across the country in order to truly address this issue. This preventative discipline approach is certainly not a quick or easy solution, this approach entails teachers as well as students to face the issue at hand and find solutions to the problem instead of ignoring it.
As I was reading the article I couldn’t help to think about the educational theorist Desiderious Erasmus who believed that children should be treated with honesty and respect and that it is better to encourage than to punish them. This ‘new’ idea of positive behavior intervention and support is clearly nothing new. If a student gets suspended then that students stops learning, and as Erasmus believed if students are encouraged to reflect on their actions, and get help with the issue that they may be facing, instead of being punished, then it is a more effective way of learning.

Philosophy of Education

My philosophy of education is that education is a life long experience and that education should be diverse and equitable. Everyone should have the right and the opportunity to an education, because education truly empowers an individual. I believe that knowledge is better shared in an environment where students feel comfortable to express their thoughts, believes and disagreements. Furthermore, I believe that students learn better when their education combines theory, experience, and practice. After learning about all of the educational theorist I decided to compare and contrast my educational philosophy with Aristotle. According to Aristotle, the state had the obligation to educate its people in order to make them virtuous. I agree with his belief; certainly if we want to live in a society where people are ethical and honest than education is an essential part in achieving this goal. In addition, Aristotle believed that “People make mistakes when judgment is not found on reason… cannot error if have knowledge of something… Know your own weakness to know the direction in which you make mistakes”. Essential Aristotle is saying that people who are knowledgable use logic in order to form their judgments and therefore support their argument or beliefs. Education certainly enlightens a person to think rationally. Lastly, I also agree with his belief that the curriculum that is taught needs to be a combination of theoretical and practical and that this method should be taught through observation. This aligns with my personal educational philosophy, I think this is an excellent way to teach because students need the opportunity to but the theories that they learn into practice. In addition I would add that students use their own experiences and apply it to theories to have a better understanding and to make it more personal. Although I agree with several of Aristotle’s beliefs I take issue with the fact that he thought women were intellectually inferior and that educational opportunities should be focused on boys. I respect that opinion but I believe and know that it is complete none sense. Everyone, both men and women should have the equal opportunity to an education.  Education should be diverse and equitable; everyone has the ability to learn, all they need is the opportunity to do so. I find it ironic that historically education has been male dominated, because of this ignorant belief that women did not posses the same intellect as men, however, now women make up the majority of students in higher education. Interesting.