No Zero gets a zero

Yesterday in Edmonton it was revealed that a teacher at Ross Shepard High School had been suspended.  The reason for the suspension was insubordination by not following a school policy that had been established well over a year ago.  I don't want to spend much time talking about the suspension itself, because the suspension was warranted.  The school had a policy, the teacher repeatedly refused to comply with that policy.  If I were to do that at my workplace, I would suffer a similar result.  I do not question the suspension.  However, the suspension needs to be removed from the actual story and issue we need to talk about, so this is the only part of this post that I will mention the suspension.

The policy in question is what I will call the "No Zero Policy."  The concept of the policy is simple; students are not to be given zero percent on school work.  If an assignment is not completed or an exam missed, no mark will be assigned, and a note stating that the teacher was unable to mark the assignment is given.  The result of this is that the student's overall mark will be calculated only on work that is completed and handed in.  In the extreme case where the student simply hands in so few assignments that a reasonable average cannot be calculated, an "unable to assess" is placed on the report card.

I truly don't even know where to begin.  I've known about this policy for years, as it has been in place in many Jr. High schools for the better part of a decade, however I still cannot wrap my head around how it makes sense.  There are so many issues that can be raised that it is impossible to cover them all short of writing a novel, so I want to focus on just a few points.

We must teach responsibility and accountability

 

The first, and probably most obvious point, is that this policy completely erodes the attempt to teach young people a sense of responsibility and accountability. It teaches them that it is ok if they don't want to do an assignment because they think it is hard, or that they didn't feel like doing it.  There is no reason for the student to try to do the work.  This is especially true of an assignment or subject the student may struggle in.  Instead of at least attempting to learn the content, the student is given no incentive to do it.  If a student completes a difficult assignment and gets 50%, that could bring their average down, but if they don’t even attempt the assignment, there are no consequences, and their overall average is not affected.  That is not the message we should be sending.

Ultimately, this brings up a far bigger issue about responsibility and accountability.  One of the biggest complaints and criticisms of the younger generation of people aged 15-29 right now is that work ethic and responsibility is lacking and they have little drive to succeed in the workplace.  A no zero policy in schools only amplifies this.  If children are being taught that there are no consequences for not doing work, how does this set them up for post secondary school and eventually the workforce?  The simple answer is that it doesn't.  It teaches them that taking the path of least resistance is the best path.  When I'm at work, I am held accountable for what I do, and what I don't do.  If I don't complete a task I must be accountable for that.  That is a pretty basic thing.  A no zero policy does not teach that accountability.

Basically, if we want our youth to have a sense of responsibility and accountability, we have to teach it to them.  No Zero does not do that.  And if we don't do that, all we are doing is setting our children up to fail later in life.

No zero is not fair to all students

 

Another issue that is more immediate and more direct to the classrooms that have no zero in place, is fairness.  I touched on this a little bit already, but this is actually a big issue.  Let's say that you have two students, Student A and Student B.  A and B have similar abilities in a subject, say English.  Now, there comes two assignments with a topic that both students struggle with.  Student A completes the assignments to the best of their ability, and get a mark of 55% on one and 59% on another.  Student B thinks the assignment is too hard and does not hand in any work.  Assuming Student A and B have the same overall average before these assignments are done, and those averages are greater than 59%, Student A's average will go down because they at least attempted the assignment, and tried to do as well as possible on it.  Student B's average is not affected because instead of getting a zero, no mark is assigned.  Now, just to pick a number, let's say that over a full course term there are a total of 40 assignments and exams.  If Student A does all 40, and struggles at one or two, than those two will bring their average down.  If Student B only completes 38 that means that their average will only be calculated across 38 marks, and not the 40 that Student A has done, and the average for Student B will be higher than Student A.

I would honestly like to see someone successfully argue that this is a fair solution for Student A.  Because no one I have talked to so far can.  No Zero punishes the students who try harder than the students who do not try, and it creates an unbalanced system where children are evaluated on different amounts of work done.  How can Student A possibly feel like this is a good situation for them?  I would go so far as to say that this actually encourages Student A to not do the work.

I find it kind of funny, because part of the reason for a no zero policy is to not to punish the students who are having difficulty, or may need the additional help.  An unfortunate side effect is that it teaches the other students, who would otherwise put the effort in, that they don't have to.

Why no zero?

 

Now, I fully understand the reasons why the no zero policy exists.  It is to try to promote the students.  To keep them from seeing bad things on their report cards, and to try to eliminate negatives and make going to school a more positive thing.  The policy also exists to push kids through school, and to reduce the number of kids failing, since it is much harder to fail a course if you don't get zeros.

I'm going to focuse on that first point, because I don't necessarily disagree with it in principle.  I really do believe that schools should be a place where kids want to go, and that if they actually want to be there they are more likely to try harder, and succeed.  That is a very valid argument, and does have merit.  However I believe that, like anything, there has to be a balance.  If a student chooses not to do an assignment, they should not be rewarded for it.  It may encourage them to keep going to school and have a better time there, because there are no consequences to their actions, but that is not the correct message to send.  Students should be rewarded for the work they do, and not the work they don't do.  No zeros rewards students for not doing work, and punishes those who do.  The focus should be, in fact needs to be, on how to reward students who struggle for putting in 100% effort, even if it results in lower marks than anyone would like.  I'm not going to pretend to have the answer to that, but there has to be a better way.  I argue that it is better to try and not succeed, than to not try at all.  Our educators need to figure out that balance, because no zero is not the way.

Beyond no zero

 

I want to end this on a bit of a positive note, because I don't want to sound like I think this should be a hard line.  Giving a student a zero should never be the first choice.  I don't know if anyone really wants that.  This should not be a simple "hand it in by this date or you get a zero."  I believe that a student should be given every opportunity to succeed, and that a teacher should do everything in their power ot give the students those opportunities.  However there has to be a limit.  Briefly going back to the teacher who started this discussion; his policy was that students were able to make up any assignment work that wasn't done until the end of the term, and if the work was not done by the end of the term, then a zero was given.  In some cases this could mean a student would have FOUR MONTHS to make up a missed assignment.  I would say that policy is beyond reasonable.  This issue is not about setting kids up to fail, or setting them up to succeed.  I think it should be about setting reasonable expectations and giving students every opportunity to succeed within those expectations.

I give no zero a zero, because it sets up our children, our future, to fail later in life.

Why I am not part of "Wildrose" country

I've said before that I don't often dabble into politics on social media.  Most of the time it just isn't worth it. The reality is that if I say something that someone doesn't agree with, they let me know, usually in the most rude way possible.  Not everyone is like that, and There are many people I have reasonable, constructive conversations with, but the public and anonymous nature of mediums like Twitter nasty things get said.  I've talked about that before here.

Because of that, i've stayed relatively silent on social media about the current Alberta election.  I wrote a post here at the start of the campaign about how I wasn't sure who I was going to vote for, and that I would let the chips fall.  With 6 days to go until the vote, one thing has become clear, the Wildrose Party does not deserve my vote.  I've tried to write this post about 3 times before deleting it every time, but this time, I'm just going to write and see what happens.

The Wildrose party has tried to brand themselves as a fresh alternative to the PC.  A new, better conservative party that goes back to the roots of what the PC party used to be.  However, as this campaign has gone on, and more light has been shed on the Wildrose party, the real grassroots of the party have come to light.  It's always been clear that the Wildrose party is a right-wing party, but just how right-wing was obvious until this election campaign started.

First off, I literally cannot believe that conscience rights have become an issue in an election in this country in 2012.  I know that there are still many difficulties with regards to these types of issues, but it really is hard to believe that this has become an election issue in Canada.  Not even Stephen Harper's Conservatives have dared to wade into these waters.  Stephen Harper went out of his way years ago to make sure that everyone knew he would not be pursuing any agenda on things like abortion, and it has been a non issue since then.  Yet for the Wildrose party, it will not go away.  Now, admittedly this isn't for a lack of trying by Daniell Smith.  She has, to her credit, indicated that a Wildrose government would not pursue conscience rights in the legislature.  Though she did say that the reason for that was because any legislation likely would not stand up to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in court.  However this issue keps coming up because members of her party keep bringing it up.  From a campaign staff member bringing up abortion (which is what started all of this), to a candidate having to explain a blog post from 2011 with a complete anti-gay tone.  This just keeps coming up, and will not go away.

Now, Danielle Smith could have ended these issues simply by saying that these things that have been said are not reflective of the Wildrose party and that those members do not speak for the party.  However the simple fact is that she can't say that, because those things *do* reflect the beliefs of the party, and if she outright denies it she will face eroding support from within her own party.  Instead she has to downplay the issue, saying that every person is entitled to their own opinion but that her party cannot pursue that agenda.  Frankly, that is not good enough.

The Wildrose party believes in citizen initiated referendums on any legal issue that is not related to the budget.  In theory, a referendum on issues, especially controversial and divisive issues is a good idea.  But the main reason why we have the type of government we do is because having every person vote on every issue is horribly inefficient.  The entire reason we have a government is for we the people to elect them to make those decisions for us.  IT is unreasonable to think that referendum will work on many issues.

The other, more practical problem with citizen initiated referendum is that it is slanted in favour of wealthy lobbying groups trying to push an agenda.  Those groups that fund a campaign to try to initiate a referendum are at a significant advantage.  The state of California has a similar rule with referendum, and the result has been terrible.  There are some issues where that state has become paralyzed and unable to act because of referendum initiated by wealthy lobbying groups trying to push their own agenda.  Citizen initiated referendum is not good for democracy, it is a hinderance to it.

The latest gaffe, which I am adding to this post after almost the rest is written, came today from a Wildrose Candidate in Calgary.  This past weekend he stated during an interview that he believes that he has an advantage in his riding because he is Caucasian.  I don't have much to say to that, except that it is yet another example of how narrow the party really is.  That is something that you simply cannot say.  It is my hope that the people of that Calgary riding show the Wildrose how costly views like that can be for a political candidate.

Denielle Smith has promised that once the province returns to surplus, a Wildrose government will distribute $300 to every Albertan every year.  At first blush, that sounds like a good idea, but again, once you move past the "oooo, $300! Shiny!" aspect and look at the realities, it is easy to see that this really isn't a good idea.  While $300 would be nice, that is literally less than $1 per day.  You cannot buy a cup of coffee for less than $1.  Now, I will admit that $300 for low income families would make a difference to them.  But again, this $300 would only come in years where there is a surplus large enough to support it.  Which means that a low income family cannot even depend on this money coming every year.  Some years we may get it, some years we may not.  That makes it impossible to plan around and count on, which makes the idea and the promise of the Dani-dollars pretty much irrelevant.  I would much rather see the $300 to me, or roughtly $1.2 Billion that would be paid out, to be spent on something more worthwhile, like infrastructure, healthcare, or education.  Put the money somewhere where it can be better used.

Another pretty big issue I have with the Wildrose is the attempt to gain votes by digging up the Edmonton city center airport issue up from the grave.  The debate over the City Center Airport in Edmonton was very bitter.  An entire civic election was fought over it, and at the end of the day, the decision was made.  I'm on the record saying that I was an airport supporter and did not want to see it closed.  However, the decision has been made, and the issue is over.  I respect the democratic process and in this case, I consider the issue closed.  Danielle Smith has no right to be trying to bring up a civic issue that was decided well over a year ago.  And really, it isn't even a very smart issue to bring up, because at best it will create a divide in those who might support her.  And considering that the pro-airport side lost, perhaps she picked the wrong side.

That gets me to my opinion about Danielle Smith herself.  In my opinion, Danielle Smith has campaigned not on her party's platform and strengths, but on the premise that she can just say "the PC's are bad you should Bote for us"  While there are many people, myself included, who are not all that happy with the PC party, I would hope that the average person has the ability to see through that.  I've simply grown sick of Danielle Smith only talking about how the PC's have been in power too long and are arrogant and need to be voted out.  That is a fine argument, however the Wildrose consistently fails to talk about what they actually want to do that is better, only what the PC's are doing that is wrong.  She claims to have travelled the province for the last 3 years, so she knows what the people want.  but if all she can come up with is "the people don't want the PC's, so vote for us!" than I really question what she has actually been doing.  I would also like to point out that aside from one leader's debate less than a week ago, she has never actually engaged in government.  She is not a MLA, and has turned down three separate chances to run in by-elections in the last 3 years in an attempt to become a MLA.  You would think that the leader of a party would want to get into the legislature as soon as possible, but instead she has chosen to sit on the sidelines for 3 years, talking about how things need to change when she has made no attempt to get into the legislature to make the changes she claims to want.  I do not believe she has handled herself very well during this election campaign, and has had to spend too much time downplaying and back-peddling from things that members of her party has said, instead of focusing on what the party actually does want to do.  Oh, and she also said she doesn't believe in global warming.  While the degree of human involvement is something that is unknown, I think it is safe to assume that climate change is a real thing, and anyone who tries to say that it is not needs to give their head a shake.

The last 3 weeks have really shown where thiss party really stands.  When looked at carefully, this shouldn't be very surprising.  the Wildrose party is made up largely of right-wing Conservatives who formerly supported the PC party.  The Wildrose was born from the feeling that the PC party had moved too far to the left, and a new, truly conservative party was needed.  That is why you see the types of things coming out of this party that we have seen.  Conscience rights, anti-gay remarks, and other remarks that border on simply being racist.  Just as we don't see extreme left-wing beliefs and opinions in modern politics, we should not be seeing a party that goes this far to the right.  There is a degree of tolerance and being moderate in political policies that is not just necessary, but required, to be relevant in a modern, developed nation.  Say what you will about how far right federal Conservative party leans, the old Reform party was too right-wing to succeed, and the Wildrose party are just as right-wing as they were.  I could talk about more things in the Wildrose platform that really scare me.  Like their attitude towards cities, health care, or education, but I am trying to keep this  shorter than a 20 page essay, so I'll eave it at this.

Now, let me finish by saying that just because I am not going to vote for the Wildrose party, that doesn't mean I'm particularly happy with any of the other parties.  I am not a fan of Alison Redford, Raj Sherman, or Brian Mason.  I especially do not like that Alison Redford is premier only becuase of a promise to restore $100 million to the education system.  I greatly enjoyed when the other leaders pointed that out to her during the leader's debate and piled on at the same tie.  But for as much disdain as I have for the PC's, Liberals, and New Democrats, I quite frankly cannot in good conscience vote for the Wildrose party.

That being said, while I won't say I don't care at all who you vote for, I really hope that you will go out and Vote on April 23rd.  If you've read through this whole thing you're likely the kind of person who is going to vote anyway, but it needs to be said.  I don't think I have to tell anyone that this will be the closest election in Alberta in a generation, and the best way to ensure that the party with the majority of support does come into power, we need a large majority of the people to vote.  PC, Wildrose, Liberal, New Democrat, just please go out and vote.  Remember that wars have been fought, and are being fought in other parts of the world for people to gain the basic rights we take for granted.  Please exercise them, even if your political leanings do not match mine.

(One last footnote, because I know I will hear from at least one or two people:  I have not talked about the Alberta party at all, andhe reason for this is simple:  the AB Party is not running a candidate in my riding.  It is pretty hard to care about a party or take it seriously when I am not able to vote for them even if I wanted to.  I've been told by an AB party supporter that they plan a big surge after the election is over, and that for the next election they should have a candidate in my riding.  That seems to miss the point, no?)

p.s.: I welcome constructive discussion at all times.  However non constructive discussion will be treated as such and removed/ignored.

Graham James And Our Failed Justice System

I am a little bit ashamed of the country I live in today.  On March 20th, 2012 convicted sex offender Graham James was given 2 years in prison for sexually assaulting 2 boys when he was their junior hockey coach.  This was the second time James has been convicted of sexually assaulting players that he coached, bringing the total to 4.  Another accuser had dropped the charges as part of this most recent case, bringing the total to 5 known victims.  While we will never know for sure, I think it is save to assume that there were many many more.  Graham James is a convicted sex offender, sexually assaulting children, and has been given 2 years in jail.  He will likely be out in 18 months. I am ashamed.

Graham James disgusts me. There aren't really words to describe what he has done, and what the results are.  That isn't really what I want to talk about here, and really, there isn't much to say about him anyway.  Graham James is guilty of abusing his position of trust and power in the most horrifying way possible.  There isn't much more that can be said about the type of person he is.

The problem, once again, falls on the Canadian Justice system.  I quite frankly cannot wrap my head around any justifiable way that a previously convicted sex offender can get convicted again, for the same offence, and actually get a shorter sentence than he got the first time.  I literally cannot figure it out.  Graham James only served about 2/3 of his sentence the first time, being paroled in 2001. Even more remarkably, he was given a pardon in 2007. Thankfully the outrage over the discovery of that has led to meaningful discussion and change on Canadian law regarding pardons.  And now, his second conviction of assaulting two more boys has put him in jail for a total of 2 years, likely being out in 18 months.  This means that he will server roughly 3 years for being found guilty of sexually assaulting 4 boys.  That is less than 1 year per person. I would really like for someone to explain to me how that makes sense, because I can't.

What makes me most ashamed of this situation is that this sends a terrible message.  Think of the counless numbers of children that are put into the care and trust of some kind of coach or mentor in this country every single day.  Those sports coaches, metors, trainers, whatever you want to call them have much more power over the kids that they coach than most people realize.  Taking hockey as the obvious and topical example, young players spend hundreds of hours with their coaches every season.  It is impossible for them not to have an influence.  People in those positions of trust and power over children need to be the most severely punished under the law.  Giving Graham James 2 years for using his position of trust to sexually abuse two boys is beyond shameful.  How can we honestly say that we are a socitey that values and protects our children as much as we can when this kind of message is sent?  Purely shameful.

so the question is, how do we fix this? What is the answer?  The obvious one is that the appropriate tough sentences need to be given out.  Of that I don't think there can be any doubt.  But how do we get there?  We also have to identify the problem. Is the law not strong enough? is the Judge the problem? is there not enough consideration taken to previous offences? Now, personally I don't think you can have a strong enough law for sexual assault on children.  And clearly if a 2 year sentence is even possible, the law is not strong enough.  Some would argue that judges should be elected.  I don't know if that is the answer. On one hand it would make judges accountable for shameful sentences like this, but on the other hand I'm not sure that I want a judge worrying more about doing something to get re-elected than applying the law properly. I don't know what the answer is for that.  And as for precedent, that goes back to the strength of the law. I do not know how it is ok for someone to get a smaller sentence for a second sexual assault offence. that seems backwards to me.

But the point I really want to come back to is what this says about Canada's justice system and our children.  I think that this shameful attempt at justice has shown that our justice system does not truly value protecting our children from being abused by those in a position of trust. I know I've used this word a lot, but that truly makes me ashamed.  On March 20th a judge in Winnipeg stood up and declared that protecting children is not important to our justice system.  While taking nothing away from the terrible things that Graham James has done, that act alone deserves more of our attention than the crime itself.

I wish I could say that I was mad, but I'm not. Shame(there's that word again), is what I feel. I don't want to go kicking and screaming at Graham James, because that will change very little.  What we can hope for out of this terrible attempt at justice is that we can have a real discussion about what happened, and what we can do to effect change to ensure that no child sex offender can get such an insignificant sentence ever again. What has happened this week is unacceptable, and what needs to change is the system, since you can't change the man who did it.

The Samsung Galaxy S - Android in a nutshell

Tech enthusiasts kind of blew up today over the official announcement that Samsung will not be updating the Galaxy S to the newest version of Android, version 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich.  The reaction has surprised me a lot, not because of the announcement, but that people are so surprised by this.  Read on and I'll explain.

Some of Android's greatest strengths is also some of the greatest weaknesses.  Google provides Android as an open source system, meaning that phone makers are free to take it and customize it at their will.  The most obvious implementation of this is in the user interface, how the phone actually works.  If you look at an Android phone from Samsung, one from HTC, one from Motorola, and one from Sony, the interface elements on each phone look almost nothing alike.  Samsung has software called TouchWiz, HTC has Sense, Motorola has Blur, and Sony's doesn't have a name, but it is unique.

The way each of these interfaces work is that they sit on top of Android, replacing the normal look and feel.  This allows each phone maker to differentiate themselves from the other, while still running the same system underneath.  It might sound like a good idea in theory, but the end result has some unfortunate consequences.  When Android gets updated by Google, not only does Samsung have to make that update work on their phones, but they also have to update and test their TouchWiz software with that Android update.  This essentially doubles the time and effort it takes to provide an update to a phone.

The Galaxy S was announced in early 2010 running Android 2.1.  Since then, it has been updated to 2.2, and most models have also been updated to 2.3.  Samsung has announced that they will not be updating it to Android 4.0.  They claim the reason for this is that the combination of Android 4.0 and TouchWiz will not fit onto the Galaxy S.  Now, I do not believe that for one second.  The part of the hard drive space that holds Android is  more than big enough, and the hardware is very capable of running Android 4.0.  I personally believe that the decision not to update the Galaxy S is a business decision.  As I said before, to update both Android and TouchWiz for the phone would take significant time and resources for Samsung for a phone that was designed 2 years ago.  Samsung has made the decision to try to push users to their newer phone, the Galaxy S II or even the Galaxy S III, which will probably be announced in March of 2012.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not happy with this either.  I've owned a Galaxy S phone for 18 months, and it is unfortunate that it won't be getting updated again.  But I am not surprised at all.  could they update it? Absolutely.  They have chosen not to because they simply do not want to invest the resources it would take to do so.  This is unfortunate, and demonstrates everything that is wrong with Android.  The openness and ability to customize it are the reasons why I love Android and prefer it over the iPhone, but situations like this are the obvious shortcoming.  Users are at the mercy of a company choosing whether or not to update 2 different systems on a phone.

Now, Samsung is by no means alone in this.  Sony has stated that only phones they have made in 2011 will be updated to Android 4.0.  This leaves the very capable Xperia X10 out.  The phones that HTC has announced they will update are all newer phones, none were made in 2010.  Motorola never really releases a specific list of which phones will be updated, but in the past few Motorola phones older than a year old have received significant updates.  The reason why this only seems to be a bigger deal with Samsung is because the Galaxy S was one of the first truly successful Android phones, with over 20 million sold world wide, and is still being sold today.  It is a news item not because it is unexpected or news worthy, but it is a news item because of sheer quantity of devices.

So, what is the answer?  There aren't many, especially for those people who are not willing or able to dive into some very advanced work on their phones, work that has the potential to render it unusable, forever.  The only real answer is to only buy a phone that runs the straight Android experience, with no customizations or software running on top of it.  Google has released 3 such phones now, the Nexus One, Nexus S, and the new Galaxy Nexus.  These are phones that Google designs in collaboration with a hardware maker (the Nexus One was HTC, and the Nexus S and Galaxy Nexus are Samsung).  While HTC and Samsung have made the hardware, Google has full control over the software.  As a result, these phones run the "stock" Android experience as Google designs it, and are updated often.  the Nexus S, released almost a year ago, has received at least a half dozen updates.  Some of them have been small, to fix bugs, and some of them have been big, like the current upgrade to Android 4.0.  My Galaxy S has received 2 updates in 18 months.

In my opinion, Google can, and should, do more to force phone manufacturers to update their phones more often, but right now the only solution is to purchase the "Google Phone," as that is the only phone on the market that is guaranteed to receive updates to Android in a timely manner for as long as the phone is physically capable of handling the update.  In many ways the "Google Phone" mirror's Apple's approach with the iPhone.  Phones have come out roughly once a .year and those phones are updated by Apple for as long as they are able to run the software.

So, back to the answer  The real answer is the answer for anything in the consumer space and to vote with your wallet.  If being guaranteed to have the latest update to Android is important to you, then the only solution is to buy a Google phone, and to not buy any phone that has a custom interface like TouchWiz on it.  I like the Galaxy S, but it has reached the end of it's life, and I'm strongly considering practicing what I preach and voting with my wallet by buying the Galaxy Nexus.  If all of this matters to you, you should be as well.

Can we stop spreading fear over Wifi in schools?

I'm sick and tired of reading stories about groups who think Wifi should be banned from schools. I really hope the only reason we see the is because that particular day is a slow news day.  Even then, the reasoning is so ludacris that I almost don't even know where to begin.

First off, I'm going to apologize in advance if I sound a bit angry and sarcastic here, but it does pretty accurately reflect how this situation is.

The theory behind banning wifi from schools is that the "radiation" from the wifi signal might be harmful to children, and that kids who are in school with wifi are stuck in it for 6+ hours a day, with no way to avoid it.  I use the term radiation loosely, because while it is technically a form of radiation, virtually any type of wireless signal is also radiation.  Radiation is a very negative term, and I think is used in this case in an attempt to scare people.  For many people, the term "radiation" refers to a very dangerous ray that comes from a nuclear power plan, nuclear weapon, or from cancer treatments.  Except for maybe in Japan, the latter, cancer treatment, is the most visible view of radiation.  Radiation kills cancer cells, but also makes people sick, and seeing someone who has been through radiation treatments can be demoralizing, as it makes them even more sick.  I'm not going to call it radiation any more in this post, because I don't want to help promote the negative connotation and attempt to scare people that it implies.

The biggest issue I have with people who are afraid of wifi is a very simple one.  Every second of every single day we are bombarded with other signals which are both mower powerful and widespread, as well as weaker and localized.  Every second of every day.  Wifi is only one type of signal we get.  Over the air TV, radio, microwaves, cordless phones, cell phones, electricity, bluetooth, RF, infared, and my personal favourite in the list: sunlight.

It is a fact that a person absorbs more radiation (broke my own rule, won't do it again) from the sun every year than they do from wifi.  Think about that for a second.  The sun gives off more than wifi does.  the last time I checked, the sun has been in the sky for a very long time, and it looks like we've made out ok since it's been up there.

Then there is every other signal. Can you turn your radio on and get a signal? If you are reading this, the answer is yes, and that means you are getting hit by radio waves right now. Same thing for TV signals.  Those are signals that 99% of the people who will read this are subjected to literally 60 minutes an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Last I checked, after 100+ years of the invention of radio, we're still doing ok.

Cell phone signals are similar.  Most of us are subjected to them all the time.  People assume that the cell phone itself is where most of the signal comes from, but they often forget that a cell phone tower is emitting a signal all the time, which you are subject to.

Other signals, like cordless phones, bluetooth, etc are localized, and you aren't subject to them all the time, but it is likely that you are subject to them often.   Another favourite example are the cordless phones.  Cordless phones operate on the same area of the wireless spectrum as wifi, and they are also always on.  And 15+ years of cordless phones later, I still feel ok.

Without getting too much into the science of wireless spectre, which i am by no means an expert on it, signals from wifi are much higher in the spectrum than many signals, the 2.4GHz band and 5GHz band specifically.  Again, without getting into too much of the science, the way that wireless works is that the higher the number, the harder it is for a signal to travel longer distances and pass through walls and penetrate people.  This is why the lower spectrum is much more coveted by cellular providers.  Lower frequencies mean that fewer cell towers need to be built because the signal can travel further and navigate between buildings in downtown cores.  Now, because of this the higher frequencies that wifi operates at are actually better, because they don't penetrate people as easily as a lower frequency does.  If a wireless signal was really dangerous, than a signal from a lower station on the AM radio dial (630MHz for example) would be far more dangerous than a wifi signal since they penetrate walls and people so much more easily.  But again, After 100+ years of radio, I think we're doing ok.

the last bit about the actual wireless spectrum I want to talk about is the most common wifi band, 2.4GHz.  2.4GHz signals are recognized as "unregulated" in the spectrum.  This means that virtually anyone can build any type of wireless device that uses the 2.4GHz band of the spectrum without any kind of government regulation.  This has meant that practically every device you have ever handled that has some kind of wireless feature, be it a wireless controller, toy with a wireless remote, most new wireless remotes, basically anything.  Those all operate on 2.4GHz.  If signals in that band were harmful, would we not have noticed it by now?

The people who are trying to ban Wifi from schools are doing it by trying to make people afraid.  They put the words "radiation" and "our children" in the same sentence, and it makes other people who don't know the science or the facts afraid.  Do we know everything there is to know about how wireless signals work? No.  but 20+ years of using the 2.4GHz spectrum for wireless signals, 100+ years of Radio, and about 4.5 Billion years of the sun being in the sky with no real measurable harm to anything on this planet cannot be ignored.  It is time for these people to stop spreading mis-information and fear and time for not only fact and science, but common sense to prevail.

[link] - Edmonton Journal story