Portland State University Student Walk-Out Planned for Wednesday, November 16

A former student of mine recently emailed me as part of her research process gathering information for a planned P.S.U. student walk-out planned for Wednesday, 11/16, at noontime in solidarity with the Occupy Portland movement.  Is the lack of affordable, equitable access to higher education on your radar?  How do you feel about walk-outs as forms of protest?

Check out their blog at www.http://defendeducationpdx.wordpress.com for more information.  And think about the ways that you take action to support the education issues that are important to you…what could you do more of?  What are the specific issues you can take on?  And do you need additional resources or ideas about how to make action possible?


How to “Green” & Fix Oregon Schools? AFT Provides One Answer

After the failure of the 2011 bond measure to fund fixing some major problems in local school buildings, Portland educators and communities were left with questions about how to fund some important repairs and necessary upgrades.  John Kitzhaber’s “Cool Schools” program was initiated to help fund schools in the state-wide mission for energy efficiency.  Now the American Federation of Teachers has decided to pitch in with more potential funding for this program by partnering with Oregon in this mission.  The result of this could be greener schools AND more jobs in Oregon.

While this program looks very hopeful, especially with the re-energizing that will come from the AFT’s support, there have been some rumblings along the way that question the efficiency of the program overall and its spending.

Do you support more energy efficient schools in Oregon?  Is partnering with outside organizations the only way to fund the basic needs of our schools?  Or will voters eventually bite the bullet and opt in for tax increases that will fund our schools in a steadier, more stable way?

“Take It to the Streets” Tuesday: Become More Active Step by Little Step (Is Teacher Assessment in Oregon Important to You?)

My current “Enhancing Youth Literacy” students have started to show all of the normal signs of post-mid-term disillusionment.  They have been angrily commenting on the lack of strong resources and good teachers, are in dismay about the lack of critical thinking taught in classrooms, and are shocked by what they have seen in their community.  We have all been there.  But…as I explained to them, all of this knowledge they’re gathering, all of the anger toward the system, all of the experiences in the community…these don’t really mean anything unless they lead to action.

So, here’s a small, easy opportunity to take a first step to becoming more active.  For those of you who are teachers (or future teachers) this “Take It to the Streets” Tuesday action opportunity should be of particular interest.  The State Board of Education will be making some important decisions that will impact teacher evaluations (and principal evaluations, too) in Oregon.  Yes, that’s right…the oh-so-controversial teacher evaluation process!  Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Go to this link to read about the proposed teacher evaluations for Oregon.  Scroll down to the link to the document titled “Personnel Policies, Evaluation…”
  2. Go to this link to compose an email to the State Board of Education with your thoughts on what they have drafted.  This link has some language built in from Stand for Children (I’m still working on finding the original link to submit feedback without suggested language).  If you agree with their ideas, you can keep that language.  If not, you can easily delete it and add your own!
  3. Make sure you submit your feedback by November 15, 2011!
  4. Feel good that you’ve taken a small but important step toward becoming more active in supporting strong, equitable education in Oregon!
  5. Let us know (via Blog post) what your experience was and what you think about the proposed assessment tool.


Action Monday: Attend an Upcoming School Boundary Meeting and Write a Guest Blog Post!

School enrollment boundaries may be shifting in Portland.  As we know, these boundaries (and their possible shifting) are not apolitical.  Boundaries can reflect a lot about a city and impact the mix of students in a big way.  They can also impact property values and force communities to think about economic status, race, cultural capital, and educational equity in some major ways. Last year, when possible boundary changes were discussed between the Sabin and Alameda schools, tensions abounded.

While you may not have time set aside each week to get involved with schools and youth in your community, you probably have two hours to attend a community meeting to become more informed and to add to the conversation on possible boundary shifts.  Check out this schedule of neighborhood meetings, and please comment if you attend or email me to write a guest post!  Meetings in North Portland are upcoming, so do show up if that’s your neighborhood or if you’ve worked in N or NE Portland schools.  This is an easy way to see what it’s like to be a more involved community member!


Should Schools Have to Do More with Less?

The question of the week is…should schools have to do more with less?

While PPS is celebrating successes of current Superintendent Carole Smith and the broadening mission and support system (Cradle to Career) of the former Portland Schools Foundation (now, All Hands Raised), articles on schools trying to do more with less flood the media.  Check out the following articles, and think about responding to the following question: “Should schools have to do more with less”?  And if not, what should we do about it?

  • Glencoe High School students fundraise to keep their journalism advisor’s stipend and their school paper.
  • Aloha students fundraise for art supplies.
  • Forest Grove schools face a budget reduction of $400,000+.
  • Hillsboro discusses a possible future levy to raise funds for schools and an alternative high school schedule that will allow them to serve more students with less money.
So, should schools have to do more with less?  And what happens to students in high-need areas when the only way to get additional funding is to fundraise within the schools themselves?

Action Monday: Show Your Support for Equal Access to Higher Education!

Is affordable access to higher education important to you? Please, take this one quick action today. Follow the attached link, and submit an email to your member of Congress telling him/her that you support access to Pell Grants for college students, especially those who are working and supporting families. Educational equity requires equal access!

Write a quick reply to let us know if you support Pell Grants and/or if you decided to send an email to your member of Congress!  By showing your own action, you will encourage others!

Weekend Catch Up: Boundaries, Charter Schools, and Teacher of the Year, Oh My!

While my 6-month-old son sleeps in the next room, I’ve decided to compile some local highlights from the week.  There’s been a lot going on in Oregon education, and my two kids and a big pile of WR 122 essays to grade prevented me from updating until now!  A teacher/parent’s work is never done…


As you may have read or heard about, Oregon is facing another round of cuts to things to state-funded organizations, like schools, Parks and Recreation, etc.  What will the impact be on schools?  Read some of the following, and think about attending or listening in on some future school board meetings. Continue reading