To Infinity and Beyond!

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How can social movements move our society towards educational equity?

How can we as students, use what we have learned to impact the racial/social/economic injustices that hinder our schools and prevent them from moving past mediocrity?

Public policy, classroom discussion, and even grassroots movements can sometimes fall short on action. Everyone knows that something needs to change. Some of us can even agree as to what needs to change, but this week we discuss what that looks like in action, beyond our classroom.

With discussions on how to narrow the achievement/opportunity gap in our minds, there are some challenges our public schools are facing. Here are some things that most movements/individuals can agree are necessary to school success and vitality.

1. Access to quality teachers.

2. Access to safe and equitable resources

3. Equitable and sufficient funding for ALL schools

 4. Reform that creates early intervention and encourages active, hands on learning.

    1. 5. Ensure equal opportunity to high school graduation and college participation to all students regardless of their background.

How can we use what we have learned to support these principles?

Help fund our schools by voting!

Voting and passing legislation that supports school funding is vital.

Tell people why voting is vital for better schools. A friend of mine recently complained that her sons school was really lacking in hands on learning and her son was struggling to stay focused. She doesn’t vote and doesn’t know where our money for schools comes from (I didn’t either!).

Discussion outside of class and our school peers will be important to education movement.

 

Information on funding through tax dollars here. 

Talk! Talk! Talk!

With your neighbors, your local politicians, your educators, community members, the list goes on! Open a discussion to get people thinking about their values and the future of their community.

Don’t know where to start? Here are some links to give you encouragement!

Get caught up on the latest education news here.

Some more news.

Get involved!

Actively participate in your community. It helps. It is seen by others. The results can be life changing for some.

General volunteer match up.

Volunteer at PPS

More volunteering

Finally, look inward. Are there bias’s, privileges, or other values you hold that could be excluding some the right to equitable education? It’s hard to look at our beliefs in this way, but who knows how valuable it could be!

Are you privileged?

Be aware

I think the key is to keep moving forward. Keep asking questions. Keep expanding your ideas and your tools.

What will you do to move to a more equitable education system?

– Tracy

“FREE” School Supply Store for Teachers?

School funding is an important issue in the education system and there seems to be little effective initiatives in place to increase the money pot. Instead of tackling the challenging larger approach of finding better ways to increase the overall … Continue reading

Talking to Our Children About Race: FREE Event on September 10 at the Kennedy School

ImageUniting to Understand Racism (UUR) is hosting “A Tribute to Treyvon Martin: Talking to Our Children About Race,” a community conversation, on Tuesday, September 10, at the McMenamins Kennedy School.

In the face of school reforms focused on assessment and discriminatory punishment of students for what are surely larger community ills, this series of conversations (held on the second Tuesday of each month) gives me hope and has really inspired all of my students who have ever attended.  UUR is taking two sure paths to educational equity: racial justice and honest dialogue (two pieces of their mission).  Support them, your own students, your own children…and attend!

And for more inspiration, read this post from a former student who attended Race Talks as part of our Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone:

The Graduation Stats: Oregon in Trouble (by Guest Bloggers — and Parkrose High School Volunteers — Bradley Brown, Oscar Ramirez, and Zach Lubek)

Note: This is the first post in a series from three volunteers in PSU’s Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone.  These three students worked at Parkrose High School as part of their coursework for the term.  The post series is an in-depth look at the struggles that local high school students go through and the hope for their future.

 

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Local Statistics

Some of my first observations during my time at Parkrose High school were how nice the school looked from the outside and inside the building. The school looked to be a newer school with new technology throughout the classrooms. The classroom where I was positioned seemed to have a new projector for lectures. The teacher would take roll on her tablet and there was a classroom set of tablets for the students. The teacher would use them for some part of the lecture. The classroom honestly felt like a small college classroom in my perspective. The school looked like it had many resources to fulfill students’ needs accordingly.

I took some time to look more in-depth at how Parkrose High school was achieving when compare to the Portland Public School district of Multnomah County in Oregon. I was able look at graduation rates of PHS and comparing them to PPS. I took in consideration the averages and median rates of both districts to perhaps remove any outliers that might affect the average. The results I found for Portland Public Schools were an average percentage of on time PPS graduations was 73.36% in 2012. The median number of on time graduations for PPS was 76. Then the results for Parkrose High school were a bit lower. The percent of graduation in 2012 was a 69%. When comparing to the larger PPS district in Multnomah County, Parkrose seemed to be a bit “under achieving”.

State Statistics

There are 55 high schools in the state of Oregon with an on-time graduation rate below 50%. In addition, there are 27 high schools in the state with an on-time graduation rate of 90% or higher. Clearly there is a distinct line of separation. Out of the 46,724 students in the 2012 class, the state had an average on-time graduation rate of 68%. Of that class, there were 9,780 dropouts and 4,185 students enrolled for a 5th year.

So where does Parkrose High School fall? Of their 271 student class for 2012, there were 50 dropouts, 31 students enrolled for a 5th year, and they were slightly about average with an on-time graduation rate of 69%. Parkrose came out with a Level 3 (Middle tier) Performance Rating. With two rating levels (4 & 5) above them, Parkrose still has room for improvement. However, they are far from the bottom of the pack. Based on their on-time graduation rate and performance rating, it can be inferred that Parkrose High School, in comparison to the rest of the state, is ‘average.’

See the link below for additional state and school specific graduation rates.

National Statistics

Based on data collected from the states for the Class of 2010, the National Center for Education Statistics estimated that 78% of students across the country earned a diploma within four years of starting high school. The graduation rate was last at that level in 1974.

Students in Maryland and Virginia had higher graduation rates than the national average — 82.2% and 81.2%, respectively.

It is common for major cities to have a higher dropout rate and lower graduation rate than states. One study found the graduation rate for the Class of 2005 in the United States’ 50 largest cities was 53%, compared with 71% in the suburbs.

Boys dropped out of school in higher numbers than girls in every state. The national dropout rate was 3.8 percent for boys and 2.9 percent for girls.

Dropout rates do not combine with graduation rates to total 100 percent because they do not include students who take longer than four years to graduate or those who earn GED certificates.

As for Parkrose, 50 students dropped out, 31 enrolled for a fifth year, and 69% of the students graduated on time in 2012. This puts them at the low end of the national spectrum, significantly below the average of 78%.

 

What Students at Struggling Schools Face

Students who attend poorly-funded schools are at a disadvantage when it comes to getting into college, especially since they are forced to compete with students who attend safer, better-funded schools. These schools often offer better books and programs.

An even larger problem is the lack of engagement by the students, for which both they and the teachers are to blame. The students are often jaded by the poor quality of their surroundings, which leads to less interest in academic activities. The teachers can also be guilty of apathy, but the main problem is financial. More money means more programs, more supportive adults, and more proactivity in keeping students interested in their educations.