The best way to understand the specific culture and background of a city is through experience; individuals can truly perceive and have a deeper understanding of the existing social issues when a person gets a chance to actually participate in the community. The five-week volunteer at Steam: Coder is a valuable opportunity that allows me to contribute to the improvements of society and, at the same time, examines the unsolved social problems in the city of Los Angeles. Various institutions in the city, including the education system and environment, are subject to racism. Pertinent authorities should adopt policies that will prevent possible instances of social injustice. On the contrary, the majority of institutional systems have adopted policies that encourage racism. STEAM: CODERS aids in ensuring social justice in the education sector by providing computer lessons to underprivileged black and Latino children and in the environment sector by engaging with community partners to ensure environmental equity.
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Social capital refers to the economic resources that are acquired from being a part of a social network, whereas economic capital refers to money, property, and assets. Current policies in education and environmental sectors provide preferential treatment to the community, based on race, where blacks and other minority groups do not access similar resources as the whites. In the education sector, the impact of social and economic capital is quite evident. Children from minority groups do not get the same resources as white children. Charter schools attract students from different families (Lauen et al. 214). The parents, aligned to a particular charter, have the power to influence many activities of the school. Therefore, they attract students from different backgrounds. In volunteer experiences, students came from families that could not afford to take them to the right schools to learn about the process of coding. Furthermore, many students did not even own a computer at home (Lauen et al. 215). This fact made it tough for the students to practice at home what they were taught in school.
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On many occasions, the teachers had to repeat everything they previously taught, since the pupils had already forgotten a lot. Since coding is an abstract concept that requires a lot of practice, the majority of black children did not understand the concepts quickly. Some of the kids had a difficult time understanding what they were being taught since English was their second language to them. The parents of these pupils were worse off than the students since they could not construct full sentences in English as they only spoke Spanish. Thus, they could not help the children to master the English language. Consequently, the children could not understand the concepts well, as the teachers only used the English language. Once, I inquired from a parent on whether their child gets to interact with other kids speaking English, while at home, since it would help them to understand the language better and, thus, be able to understand coding better. Nevertheless, the parents have informed me that they come from a neighborhood that is mainly composed of poor people from their race. Thus, the only language spoken is Spanish, which does not help the school-going children. Nonetheless, the students were very enthusiastic about coding. It was apparent how much students loved working with computers, as they did not get any other chance to do so away from the institution. As a result, STEAM: CODERS uses interesting methods that attract the attention of students. For instance, the student’s tour facilities, like Google and Apple, which motivate them to enhance their skills. The organization provides all the facilities that the students require in their learning process. Also, the institution utilizes instructional learning and online support, which helps the students when they face difficulties while coding. However, there were a number of challenges faced by the black and Latino children, while learning to code.
STEAM: CODERS has managed to enroll over one thousand two hundred k-12 students in the STEAM program, particularly computer science and robotics. In so doing, the organization provides an opportunity for unique talented pupils to continue with their education after they complete their twelfth-grade education. The majority of the k-12 students do not have the chance to pursue their careers, as they come from families with low social and economic status. The k-12 education system in Finland is different from the one in the U.S. since it is completely free up to the 12th grade, whereas the system in the U.S. is available only if paid for. Thus, the k-12 education system in Finland allows students from all backgrounds and social classes to access similar education resources (“The Finland K-12 Education System”). Furthermore, the schools in Finland are small, which helps the teacher to engage students frequently. Approximately, 30% of all the students in Finland receive some form of specialized training during their preliminary years. The teachers use a blend of different methods on different students, based on their individual needs. When one of the methods does not work, the teachers consult with their colleagues and try a number of other teaching methods. The policies adopted by the education system of granting charters to various schools traditional public schools intensify the problems for minority groups in the country. Charters deny many children the opportunity to attend particular schools, as their parents cannot afford to pay all of the required fees. It provides a platform, where parents from a certain social class can choose a specific school, which their children will be able to attend. Nevertheless, this practice denies many children the opportunity to learn in good schools.
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It is unfortunate that black students from low-income families that go to school without adequate resources are expected to compete with white children that have sufficient resources and go to the right schools. For example, there are many coding competitions, where children participate, and the winners get many great opportunities. In this case, the children from Steam: Coders are required to compete with the kids from affluent families for the same opportunities. Nevertheless, all the charter schools do not necessarily outperform the students in traditional schools, as the reports published do not show better performance in charter schools. Thus, white children do not always perform better than black children. The policies adopted in the education system are responsible for how the life of black children turns out. When the pupils go to schools without resources, they often fail to obtain a degree. Thus, they are likely to engage in crimes and other illegal activities in order to be able to earn a living, which may make them go to prison.
Racism refers to prejudice against a particular group, only based on their race. It is also defined as white supremacy since the whites are given preferential treatment over other races. At STEAM: CODERS, the majority of the children were black and Latinos. Since the organization deals with underprivileged children, it is a clear indication of white supremacy, as the white children are taken to good private schools because their parents can afford to pay all the fees. STEAM: CODERS is open to people of all races and social classes, as it attempts to ensure that children have an access to similar resources that will help them in their careers. Stereotype refers to negative prejudgment against a particular group. The blacks have been stereotyped to be less educated and, thus, have no vote in the decision-making process (De Graaf 343). Girls have also been stereotyped to be less involved in math and in technical subjects. However, in the class I volunteered, all the children taking coding lessons were girls. This again demonstrates how the organization aims at unlocking the individual potential of underrepresented children in the fields of science, technology, and engineering.
While volunteering at STEAM: CODERS, I learned about the impact of social and economic capital in society. First of all, the organization is a non-profit firm that aims to help underprivileged children and their families. The majority of students at the institution were black children, which implies that they come from poor households. The majority of parents could not speak English. For this reason, blacks are stereotyped as illiterate by many white people. Racism is a major contributor to environmental inequity. It causes blacks and other minority groups to be exposed to unfavorable situations since they are expected not to have any knowledge of the situation. For example, the majority of black children grow up in neighborhoods that are exposed to gangs and violence. It is hard for these children to fully concentrate on their studies, as they are afraid about their safety and about the safety of their parents. Nonetheless, contrary to the stereotype that all black kids come from such neighborhoods, many of them come from suitable environments that facilitate the learning process. As many black and Latino are stereotyped to be less educated, they work in technical jobs. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they are less intelligent than their white and Asian counterparts.
The black and Latino children are also exposed to unfavorable environments when projects that have harmful effects on the environment decide to begin operations in their neighborhood. The existing policies do not cater to minority groups. For instance, mainstream environmental groups are only focused on the preservation and conservation of the environment. These groups do not provide for minority groups. This is a case of policies that encourage stereotyping and racism. Instead of focusing on saving the environment in low-income areas, the mainstream groups indicated that catering for minority groups is not a part of their scope. In these instances, STEAM: CODERS works with community partners to help in ensuring environmental equity. Since the black and Latinos have been stereotyped to be less educated, they are expected to offer less resistance, when such projects launch. Nevertheless, many black people today have adequate knowledge of the impact on the environment of various projects. Consequently, they fight the projects with help of organizations, like STEAM: CODERS. This institution advocates for environmental equity, as it ensures underprivileged children get a chance to engage in their studies. For example, when projects that harm the environment are allowed in poor neighborhoods, they cause black children to acquire diseases, like asthma, which interferes with their learning process.
In conclusion, the current policies in education and the criminal justice system encourage stereotyping and prejudice. People from minority groups, like African Americans and Latino, do not get similar resources, like their white counterparts. For instance, black children from low-income areas cannot go to the same schools as white children, since their parents cannot afford to pay all of the required fees. Stereotyping contributes to the poor treatment of minority groups. For instance, projects that have harmful environmental side effects are often started in black neighborhoods, since they are expected to offer less resistance to the project. In all the instances of social justice discussed in the paper, policing is responsible for the unfair treatment, given to minority groups. Thus, the relevant authorities should adopt fair policies that will prevent stereotyping which will, in turn, ensure social justice.