A few years ago, as I was teaching educated themed community-based learning courses for Portland State University’s Capstone program, several students decided to focus their presentations and discussion leading on candidates and measures that would directly impact schools based on the upcoming election results in Oregon. At the end of these discussions, they revealed that they would be more willing to vote this year and planned on sharing their knowledge with family and friends. When I inquired about why students now felt motivated to vote but hadn’t before the presentations, they listed several reasons: (1) they had not been informed, (2) they didn’t feel they could make a difference, and (3) they hadn’t realized what was at stake for schools and kids. However, they now felt differently in all of these areas.
At this moment, I saw the teaching philosophy I used in living color as the classroom displayed the power of student-centered learning, gaining deep knowledge related to social responsibility, and encouraging critical thinking and action. This was the moment when I realized that I wanted to take this work to the next level – to continue to support anyone interested in keeping deeply informed on issues impacting Portland’s kids and educational equity. Here, I not only saw growth in my students but growth in myself and growth in community connectedness. This PDX Education Action Network comes from these roots. My goal is to support the process of continuing to understand school inequities, to investigate the roots/causes, to act toward social justice for kids in our community, to reflect on our ability to make a difference and to support change. After becoming part of a process to initiate students into a community of practice of community-based engagement, I feel compelled to attempt to follow through on that process.