Standardizing = Equal Standards? (by Jasmine Bahramian)

The way education and testing standards should be approached is not an easy matter. There is not only plenty of variety across various states and locations, but each individual child is unique in their path towards academic success. However, there … Continue reading

The Good and the Bad of Testing Standards (by Jessica Urbina)

We all know that testing makes up a big part of how a public school are funded and at times the testing difficulty can impact the average scores of each school. When the testing standard is different in each state, … Continue reading

Left Behind: American Indians/Alaska Natives and Education

It is a commonly accepted idea that the educational system is failing our kids. In the eyes of many, our test scores and high school graduation rates are unsatisfactory. This seems to be especially true with Alaska Native and American Indian youth. According to he National Indian Education Association, a non profit that tackles issues in education for American Indians, of all Alaska Natives and Hawaiian Natives youth:ansep

– 69% received a high school diploma within four years
– 19% of 9th grade females received special education services
– 40% attended a school that did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress
– 72% of 4th graders were eligible for free-or-reduced lunches
– In 2010, only 12% of young adults (25-34) had a bachelors degree

These are just a few of the statistics the website gives. Both the states Oregon and Alaska had some of the lowest high school graduation rates for AI/AN youth at 52% and 51% respectively. AI/AN students make up 20% of the student population in Alaska, and as someone who grew up in the state of Alaska, it is impossible to ignore such a large percentage of the population who is being so greatly left behind by the educational system.

An article from the Huffington Post lists many reasons for these disparities, including lack of materials that relate to the students’ cultures, the presence of culturally-insensitive images and stereotypes in schools, and over-representation of AI/AN students in high schools lacking education that may prepare them for careers and/or college after school.

There are some programs in place that are trying to combat these disparities. One is the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP). The name is pretty self explanatory- it helps students be prepare to receive degrees in that would allow them to go into STEM careers. The program lists several goals they wish to have every high school student accomplish such as “completing biology, chemistry, physics, trigonometry, and Calculus 1 before high school graduation” and “teaching another student how to build a computer” – pretty impressive goals for any high school student. After they enter college, they continue the University portion of the program.

Want to get Involved?
There are many ways to get involved to help AI/AN success. If you thought ANSEP seems like an awesome program you want to support, they takes donations on their web page. NIEA also takes donations, as well as lists job and internship opportunities. For further reading, check out:

Huffington Post article with more statistics
The Native Culture, Language, and Access for Success (CLASS) Act

The DREAM Act; Undocumented Immigrant Students want to make their Dream of higher education into Reality

After reading many different articles about the struggles of higher education for undocumented immigrants, it made me wonder why we are punishing the students who have worked hard, got good grades, and have dreams for a better future. Why should … Continue reading

To Infinity and Beyond!


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

The Dream Act right now!

A few years ago I met a young teen named Luisa. Luisa, one of the many teens that helped with summer camps, had a knack for working with kids. With each passing year, Luisa flourished more and more.  On her last year as a counselor, as we sat overlooking a wetlands, I asked her what her plans were for after High School. She looked at me than looked down at her hands and sighed. Like so many undocumented teens that were brought here at a very young age, Luisa saw a dead end. To Luisa, her dream was blocked.

I begin with a personal story because I wanted you all to understand the magnitude of what so many young teens in our education system have had to face.images

Throughout these past few weeks, we have discussed the evils of assessments, the pros and cons of charter schools and the opportunity gaps abound in our schools. We as educators have worked with students to ensure that they have a future beyond schools, yet they are faced with barriers that are far beyond our control.  For so many undocumented young adults, that path is blocked.

The Dream Act, (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) would be a pathway to higher education, military service and the potential for permanent residency for those whom do not have legal status in the US. While stalled on the Federal level, many states have pushed to enact versions of the Dream Act themselves, helping to break down the walls that block the passage to higher education. One aspect of this has been providing an equitably pathway to higher education by enabling undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.

Thanks to the passage of House Bill 2787, this fall (2013) Luisa began her first term as a Portland State University Viking.  But this isn’t enough.

As tuition continues to rise, how can we ensure tuition equity for all people? National student lead activist groups like Students for a Democratic Society have launched a national push demanding education rights for undocumented immigrant students. With chapters at Pacific University and Lewis and Clack College, it’s time to take action on our own campus as education rights for all is part of a larger piece to the immigration puzzle.

Inching closer to the goal of tuition equity for undocumented immigrants, a new program was launched. Known as The Dream.US, Elise Foley of the Huffington Post writes, “The new program, called TheDream.US, will allow many to attend college when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. The effort from TheDream.US will provide scholarships for a variety of schools, including private ones, that have work-related programs and good support systems to help Dreamers stay in” (Foley, 2014). With the Dream.US, this has become a reality for so many undocumented young people who hope to attend college.

Here is more info on theDream.US:

I urge you, if you want to continue to have faith in humanity, do not read the comments. This is a contentious topic that always brings in toxic racial epithets.

And if you as fired up as I am, check out the above Facebook link to get involved with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).

For more information about tuition equity and how to navigate that path check out the link below: