Arizona: Banning Books, Canceling Classes, and Demonizing Teachers in the 21st Century (by Guest Writer Kelsey Robertson)

In an effort to combat the staggering 50% dropout rate of their Latino students, the Tucson Unified School District created a new program in their high schools, Mexican American Studies (MAS). The classes studied a combination of Mexican culture, American … Continue reading

Affirmative Action & Schools Today (by Guest Blogger Kira Lander)

Note: This post is in response to the following November 2012 article by Ethan Bronner of the New York Times: “Asian-Americans in the Argument.” This recent article in the New York Times discusses affirmative action, past discriminations, and using race to determine … Continue reading

Teacher’s Unions and Race to the Top: Demonized or Too Demanding?

Corresponding quite nicely with a discussion led by a student in my Enhancing Youth Literacy course this week, a steady flow articles has recently been emerging about teacher’s unions as barriers to state applications for Race to the Top funding. … Continue reading

What the 2012 Presidential Candidates Believe Education Should Be (by Guest Blogger Eli Creighton)

This election is going to be a big one. For many reasons, this election will decide the immediate and long-term future of our country. On one hand, we have a Democrat who has spent billions of dollars on education and … Continue reading

Slip of the Link? Or Helping Readers Connect a Passion for Education with the Presidential Election Battle?

As I was driving to Portland Community College this morning  hold a break-out session on the many benefits of using service-learning as a tool for teaching rich content in college classrooms, I heard a reference to an OPB radio article that would be aired later in the day: “Learning with Less: Keeping the Spotlight on Education,” one report in a series by Rob Manning.  This series is dedicated to keeping readers in touch with the highs and lows of schools dealing with a smaller budget and higher expectations for students. Continue reading

Back to School: Learning, Knowing, Sharing, Voting, and Acting in Fall 2012

After a few weeks on vacation from blogging, I’m back!  I spent the summer teaching educational equity courses in partnership with Upward Bound, the 9th Grade Counts Program, the CJCC Urban Day Camp, Puentes, and James John SUN School programs.  I also spent a great deal of time at the playground, the library, the community center pool, and the farmer’s market with my family.  I agonized over preschool options for my daughter, strategized changes in my teaching, and thought a lot about what it means to encourage deeper and more local civic engagement.  This season of blog posts is going to be a lot of fun and very focused on (1) providing information that will allow readers to be educated voters on issues that impact kids and schools, (2) showcasing student voices, and (3) keeping us all tapped in to current education happenings in Portland and beyond.  I’ll also be writing about how to get more involved in being an active community member and advocate for local schools and kids.

So, to get things started, let’s talk about what you  need to know to be in the know in Fall 2012:

  • Many Oregon classrooms (read about Beaverton classrooms here) are overcrowded as they start the 2012-2013 school year.  The reason?  Massive system-wide budget cuts have reduced teaching staff.
  • All eyes are on this year’s kindergarten kids.  The new promise of Governor Kitzhaber’s overarching education plan for Oregon is that 100% (yes, 100%) of these kindergarten students will graduate from successful high school experiences.  We’ve got a long way to go.
  • Oregon teachers have a mandate to work harder to teach Oregon students to be strong writers. Writing scores from last year indicate that students are struggling more with writing than other core subjects like math, reading, and science.
  • Schoolhouse Supplies gathered donations to give free backpacks and school supplies to hundreds of low income students.  Wonderful organization!  Check out how to get involved year-round here:
  • In case you hadn’t noticed (ha!), we’re in an election season.  The RNC and DNC revealed a few things about each presidential candidate and his views on education.  See ideas for integrating information on the election (and civic engagement in general) here.
  • The Portland State University has a great resource guide on national as well as local issues that will be up for the vote in November. In terms of what will impact local kids and schools, the upcoming PPS bond measure is a major item to become educated about.  I’ll be posting more in the next few weeks on this.  Also important to local kids is a vote for more stable library funding in Multnomah County.  Check out more information here.


What other issues are impacting schools in your neighborhood?  What kinds of volunteer work are you plotting for the 2012-2013 school year?  How will you become a more engaged community member as kids head back to school?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and look forward to an exciting fall!


The DREAM Act: Taking Funding Away from American Children/Students? (By Guest Student Blogger Kristin Saito)

Note: As part of this week’s multi-faceted discussion series on the many perspectives and issues associated with the DREAM Act, immigration and education, we have a post by Kristin Saito from the Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone.  Kristin volunteered this summer with the Upward Bound Program on the Portland State University campus.  Here is Kristin’s post:

The DREAM Act, which stands for the Development, Relief and Education  for Alien Minors, would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal individuals of good moral character who graduate from high school, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and lived in the country for 5 consecutive years prior to the bill’s enactment (Wikipedia). The DREAM Act insists upon responsibility and accountability for young people before they are able to embark upon the program and face a long, exacting process of over 6 years to complete it before they can apply for citizenship (The Washington Times Community). The DREAM Act would give more than 2 million young immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16, the chance to become legal residents.

The DREAM Act could cost upwards of $20 billion and would cost taxpayers approximately $6.2 billion per year in tuition subsidies. The Center for Immigration Studies says that $6.2 billion is a conservative estimate and does not include the “modest” number of illegal immigrants expected to attend private institutions (Fox News).

President Obama has said that “It’s heartbreaking to see innocent young people denied the right to earn an education, or serve in the military, because of their parents’ actions” and that immigrants are a part of the American family (The Washington Times). President Obama was correct in stating that immigrants are a part of the American family, illegal aliens, however, are not. Illegal aliens have no rights under the United States Constitution and are, therefore, not being denied a right to earn an education.

During this term we have been discussing our public school system and how it has been failing our youth. There have been many suggestions that if more money were allocated to the public school system, the problems would be fixed, or at least have a higher chance of being fixed. The money that is being spent on the illegal immigrants could be spent bettering our own youth. It seems that we need to take a look at our priorities and show that OUR children really are the focus of our legislation.  My question to all of you is, how can one justify spending $20 billion on children that are not citizens of our country when there are so many American students that need help?

Works Cited

Fox News. “DREAM Act Would Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion Per Year, Group Says.” December 2, 2010.

The Washington Times Community. “DREAM Acts sparks debate, misinformation, and fear.” July 13, 2011.

The Washington Times. “Obama targets Republicans for blocking DREAM Act”. September 14, 2011.

Wikipedia. “DREAM Act.”