Blogs - Merit Educational Consultants

I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. It seems like a Hallmark advertising campaign to beef up sales after the slump when Christmas, New Years, and Super Bowl celebrations are over. A dozen roses can cost over $100, and a dinner for two (pre-pandemic) would cost twice as much as a regular night. But, I am completely supporting our honey bees for Valentine’s Day, and hope you’ll join me.

Roundup (weed killer) has an ingredient (glyphosate) that kills bees. With all that is going on in the world today, we need to protect bees so that they can provide us with the food we need to survive. The last time I went to Home Depot, there was a whole aisle dedicated to pallets filled with Roundup.

I took this picture right outside of Home Depot carrying a little sign that asks Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop carrying Roundup in their stores. If you’d like to bring awareness about Roundup to protect our bees, join the Friends of the Earth organization. There are 3 ways you can support bees during Valentine’s Week:

  1.  Print a little sign (click here)
    Take a picture of yourself in front of a Home Depot or Lowe’s sign
    Send photos to beeaction@foe.org
  2.  Print and sign letter to Home Depot or Lowe’s (click here)
    Mail letter to Home Depot or Lowe’s
    Email beeaction@foe.org (to let them know you sent the letter)
  3.  Post on social media (like me!)
    Share this post — it’s easy to do and will bring awareness about Roundup and   it’ll put pressure on Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop carrying poisons that are   killing our precious bees.

I had fun taking these photos. I also gave signs to friends so they could snap a few photos and printed letters so they could mail them with ease.

#RejectRoundup

February 7, 2021

My Valentine gift to Honey Bees!

I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. It seems like a Hallmark advertising campaign to beef up sales after the slump when Christmas, New Years, and Super Bowl celebrations are over. A dozen roses can cost over $100, and a dinner for two (pre-pandemic) would cost twice as much as a regular night. But, I am completely supporting our honey bees for Valentine’s Day, and hope you’ll join me.

Roundup (weed killer) has an ingredient (glyphosate) that kills bees. With all that is going on in the world today, we need to protect bees so that they can provide us with the food we need to survive. The last time I went to Home Depot, there was a whole aisle dedicated to pallets filled with Roundup.

I took this picture right outside of Home Depot carrying a little sign that asks Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop carrying Roundup in their stores. If you’d like to bring awareness about Roundup to protect our bees, join the Friends of the Earth organization. There are 3 ways you can support bees during Valentine’s Week:

  1.  Print a little sign (click here)
    Take a picture of yourself in front of a Home Depot or Lowe’s sign
    Send photos to beeaction@foe.org
  2.  Print and sign letter to Home Depot or Lowe’s (click here)
    Mail letter to Home Depot or Lowe’s
    Email beeaction@foe.org (to let them know you sent the letter)
  3.  Post on social media (like me!)
    Share this post — it’s easy to do and will bring awareness about Roundup and   it’ll put pressure on Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop carrying poisons that are   killing our precious bees.

I had fun taking these photos. I also gave signs to friends so they could snap a few photos and printed letters so they could mail them with ease.

#RejectRoundup

February 4, 2021

Why did UCs get so many freshman applications this year?

The University of California received more than 200,000 freshman applications for fall 2021 – that’s an 18% increase from last year. This came as quite a surprise because we were expecting for applications to decrease due to the pandemic. With parents losing their jobs, students disillusioned about higher education, and uncertainty about careers and the future, most colleges have received fewer applications this year. So why did the UCs receive more applications than they have at any time in its history?

The UCs announced that they will NOT consider either the SAT or the ACT as part of their admissions requirements this year and in the future. Black applicants rose by 22% and Latino students by 12%. That’s about 45% of the total applications to the 9 UC campuses this year.

UCLA received the most freshman applicants, followed by UC San Diego, and then UC Berkeley. For transfer applicants, UCLA received the most applications followed by UC Irvine, then UC San Diego, and finally UC Berkeley.

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February 3, 2021

National Women Physicians Day

Two hundred years ago today, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first American woman to earn her medical degree. She was allowed to attend medical school as a joke, but proved everyone wrong about her “intellectual inferiority” because she was a woman. In 2019, 50.5% of medical students were women, and 49.4% were men. We’ve certainly come a long way! My daughter Nicole and her fellow female ER doctor friends and colleagues have worked hard to reach their goals, while also having fun. Glad to see female physicians getting recognized today.

February 3, 2021

National Women Physicians Day

Two hundred years ago today, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first American woman to earn her medical degree. She was allowed to attend medical school as a joke, but proved everyone wrong about her “intellectual inferiority” because she was a woman. In 2019, 50.5% of medical students were women, and 49.4% were men. We’ve certainly come a long way! My daughter Nicole and her fellow female ER doctor friends and colleagues have worked hard to reach their goals, while also having fun. Glad to see female physicians getting recognized today.

January 28, 2021

How propaganda fueled by “Patriotic Education” may enter our history textbooks

Did you know that former president Trump snuck in a final push for his “Patriotic Education” on his last day in office? Historians say that this report released by the Presidential Advisory 1776 Commission is garbage. It focuses on the radicalization of American politics and values from the 1960s forward while eliminating actual historical events and ethnic groups entirely. It’s an attempt to incorrectly instill inaccurate historical facts under the guise of history education reform.

As expected, there are no professional historians on this commission. This was a common practice of placing as executive officers people who have little or no expertise in the areas they were supposed to lead. Wow. This Patriotic Education was put in place to create a larger divide about historical issues like slavery and indigenous people, all while touting “unity” to confuse Americans.

Experts believe that the Biden Administration will discontinue this commission. We need to be vigilant in making sure that corrupt and misleading messages don’t infiltrate our history books, and the minds of our children.

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January 24, 2021

Where do viruses originate?

Worried about when the next virus will cause another pandemics? According to Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Univ of Edinburgh, three to four new species of viruses are discovered every year, and most of them originate from animals.

The rising number of viruses is a direct result clear-cutting rainforests and wildlife trade. When their habitats are destroyed to make way for grazing cattle (for beef) or wildfires burn thousands of acres, the wildlife move closer to cities where they carry diseases that are transferred from monkey, bats, or rats, to humans. This is called zoonosis, or animal-to-human transmission.

A 2017 study determined that 25 of the 27 Ebola outbreaks in Africa began in places where deforestation took place two years prior. They’re not sure how the virus leaps from animals to humans, but they believe it might take place when wild animals are butchered.

“Bushmeat” is a traditional source of protein for people who live in the Congo rainforests. It has become a delicacy and 5 million tons of bushmeat is traded globally each year. Smoked colobus monkey carcass sells for $22, and has been hunted to extinction in parts of the Congo.

Trading live animals like young crocodiles, tortoises, and chimpanzees is a huge market for pet collectors. The avian flu (H5N1 virus) and SARS both emerged from the transport of these exotic animals to metropolitan cities. The next virus that can cause another more dangerous pandemic can be brought from the Congo to Europe or the United States to serve the exotic tastes of the rich.
We need to protect the forests — to protect humanity.

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January 23, 2021

How CO2 monitors can alert you to unsafe indoor ventilation

It seems that the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 or airborne viruses is to reduce the chance of breathing in the virus. So, wearing good quality masks and facial shields, a washing hands with sudsy soap are the first line of defense. Then, staying far away from people. And, filtering the air in your home or office with a HEPA filter. But, what about the air quality in your local grocery store, doctor’s offices, and other places you frequent?

Infectious disease experts at UCSF recommend using a CO2 monitor to determine the amount of air that is re-breathed in stores, restaurants, and offices. While we aren’t really concerned about the actual CO2 in the room, the monitor calculates the exchange of fresh air indoors.

I just purchased a CO2 monitor for under $50 and tested several places that I visit. First, I checked my house and was happy to see that it was fine at about 500 ppm. But my car was up to 1400 ppm. I checked the lab where I got some blood work done and was shocked that it was over 3000 ppm! I asked the receptionist when they would see me and told her that I’ll return at that time. Meanwhile, I quickly walked out and waited outside where the air was a healthy 450 ppm.

Seems to me that using CO2 monitors can help us make smart choices about where we go and how long we can stay. Restaurants, movie theaters, and schools would be wise to post their CO2 numbers to encourage rational re-opening of services.

For me, I’m planning on wearing my mask and face shield when interfacing with others in close quarters when I need to. I carry my CO2 monitor in my purse and use it every time I walk into an indoor space to make sure the numbers are in the 400-500 ppm range.

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CO2 Monitor:

January 21, 2021

No more SAT Subject tests and no more SAT essays!

The College Board just announced that it will no longer offer the SAT II Subject tests or essay portions of the SAT. Even pre-COVID, the nation was already moving towards reducing testing requirements by making the SAT and the ACT test optional. So how do colleges determine which students are the best and most prepared to excel at their institutions?

As always, grades are the most important criteria that admissions officers consider when reviewing college applications. They look at what courses are offered, and which courses the student has taken. Selective colleges prefer to see students taking the most rigorous courses offered and acing them. Those who take AP, IB, or community college courses demonstrate that they can handle and excel at a higher level than those who take regular high school courses.

So now the pressure is on getting that coveted “5” on the AP exams and taking more AP courses. Instead of studying for the SAT Subject tests, students will study for the AP exams. Hmm, they’re both owned by the College Board. AP courses are supposed to be college-level classes taught in high school but most agree that they cover only about 30% of the concepts that are taught in introductory college courses.

Students who take AP courses spend the entire school year preparing for the AP exams in May. Their teachers present information, give study guides, and hammer facts that will be on the big exam. By preparing students to ace the AP test, they give dozens of practice tests and require vast memorization of concepts. This doesn’t allow these teachers to have Socratic seminars and discussions, or to assign research or projects to delve into these subject areas. Student learn to regurgitate information under pressure with loads of mind-numbing assignments – and then, they forget it all a month later.

About the SAT essay — I believe that this was actually the fairest way to determine if a student has the writing skills to be successful in college. By giving them 25 minutes to write a coherent essay, all students across the US had the same prompt and wrote their essays without any help. Critics of the SAT essay argue that there are other ways to determine how well a student writes – suggesting that their college application essays would do just that. Colleges aren’t naïve enough to think that students’ personal statements and short essays actually represent their real writing skills. Instructions on college applications even suggest that students have others proof read their essays before submitting them. Most students get more support than just proof reading…

Even though many colleges are going test optional in the future, the best students will continue to take the SAT or ACT to give themselves an edge in the college admissions process. Beyond the fuss over SAT subject tests and writing requirements, my recommendation is for students to do stellar independent projects throughout high school. This is the best way to stand out and get in.

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January 18, 2021

Tip on reducing racial stereotypes

I remember when I was a child, I was told not to stare at people in wheelchairs or homeless people sleeping on sidewalks. By not looking at them, I wouldn’t have to see a person who isn’t “normal.” Not sure if it was to protect me from seeing how many people live outside of my bubble or to make sure that I didn’t interact with those types of people because they might be violent or they might make me uncomfortable.

Either way, I quickly formed the stereotype, prejudice, and stigma about that person. While this was not to create a discriminatory bias, it did, however, on both a conscious and subconscious level. It dehumanized those people who were different from me. And today, this has become accepted social behavior.

One of my students is doing a project on how to reduce negative stereotypes in her plan to stop the hatred that fuels violence and discord in America. We’ve explored ways to break these stereotypes and recently came across a study done by Professor Alicia Nordstrom. She required her students to interview a person that they either didn’t like or belonged to a religious or ethnic group that they feared. Then, the students had to write a memoir about that person’s life.

While her students didn’t want to do the assignment at first, they all found that their interviewees were just “regular” people – like you and me. Nordstrom expanded her study to include people with mental health issues and physical disabilities. The results were the same: they found that their subjects were all normal, regular people, regardless of their disability and psychological issues.

So maybe if we could open doors to have conversations with people who don’t share our ideas or lifestyles, we might – just might – become more compassionate and understanding. Maybe we could find a way to create solutions to the many problems we ALL face.

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January 17, 2021

2nd semester grades down, again.

Wondering how college students fared during the 2nd semester of remote classes? 85% of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors reported that the pandemic has negatively affected their grades during Fall 2020. The survey included 232 public and private colleges.

Seems that students weren’t happy with the quality of virtual learning, and some even stated that free resources like Khan Academy were more helpful than remote classwork. Yikes! Others suffered from mental health issues around academic changes and coronavirus fears.

With all of the uncertainty with testing, vaccines, distancing requirements, and general safety precautions taken on college campuses, this is not surprising. Not sure what the new normal will be for college students on campuses in the near future, but I’m sure everyone is going to be much more aware of how viruses spread and what students will need to do to protect themselves.

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