Tutor profile: Fran L.
Subject: Urban and Regional Planning
Why do schools in the American suburbs typically have bigger and newer buildings and teaching supplies than schools in inner cities?
The answer to this question dates all the way back to the 1930s, when the US government started encouraging major suburban development. As new houses (and entire suburbs) were constructed outside the crowded city limits in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, developers and bankers were generally required to sell those houses exclusively to white people. And across the country, banks denied people of color mortgages to pay for houses ANYWHERE, even in urban neighborhoods with high minority populations. Banks considered those high-minority neighborhoods to be "risky" investments, drawing red lines around them on maps. This map-drawing tactic around neighborhoods of color came to be known as "redlining." Over time, redlined neighborhoods became dominated by wealthy landlords who lived in the suburbs. These landlords tended to overcharge for rent in redlined neighborhoods, keeping residents poor. These high rents also discouraged new businesses from opening, making redlined neighborhoods less and less valuable over time. Meanwhile, the suburbs became wealthier and wealthier, receiving more investment from developers, businesses, and the government. Most importantly of all, white homeowners were able to grow their wealth over time by selling their increasingly valuable homes. They used the profits of those home sales to either purchase more expensive homes or to pay for their children to attend college. Thus, a cycle of financial inequality between cities and suburbs was perpetuated into future generations. American schools receive most of their funding from neighborhood property taxes, so the declining property values in redlined neighborhoods resulted in less and less tax revenue to fund inner city schools. Suburbs, on the other hand, saw increasing property values with bigger and fancier homes and businesses, resulting in higher property taxes to fund schools. Redlining is now illegal, but its effects on neighborhoods can still be felt today. Suburbs continue to attract new businesses and fancier homes, making them wealthy enough to pay for high-quality schools. Formerly-redlined neighborhoods in inner cities still struggle with lower property values and concentrated poverty, discouraging the development that would raise property taxes and thus provide inner city schools with more funding.
Why do I need an expert to help me write a college admissions "personal statement" about myself? I'm the only person who can write about myself, right?
It is true that YOU are the only "expert" on YOU. But writing about yourself requires more than recalling your interests and personal history; it requires you to convey that information to readers in a way that is accurate, easy to understand, on topic, and interesting. Students tend to struggle most with keeping their personal statements on topic and interesting. Have you ever been to a party and got stuck talking to someone who droned on and on and on about their favorite obscure hobby? Did you try (politely) to excuse yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible? Listening to someone talk endlessly about themselves--especially about interests you can't relate to--gets really boring! College admissions personnel can feel the same way when reading a poorly-written personal statement. But unlike at a party, then can simply stop reading your essay and move on to the next person's application. Experts in college admissions essays help you focus your writing on aspects of yourself that will interest college admissions personnel. After all, colleges not only want to learn more about YOU; they also want to know how well you'll fit into their school environment.
How can we use story writing and storytelling to help solve everyday problems?
The tradition of storytelling is something that all people share, across history and cultures. Storytelling gives us context to remember important information so that we can pass on what we have learned. Humans are inherently social creatures, which makes it easier and more interesting for us recall information about people rather than dry lists of names, dates, facts, or numbers. We can use this social instinct to our advantage by applying storytelling to modern-day issues: A large, complex problem that affects many people in different ways can be made more approachable and relatable by shifting focus from vague, distant facts and figures to the stories/experiences of just one or two people affected by that big problem. Sharing individuals' stories and placing them within the context of a larger problem is a way for us to communicate, comprehend, and care about other people's perspectives. Used effectively, storytelling is a valuable tool to engender interest and empathy in large-scale problems that affect people who have never even met each other.
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