Note: As part of the Enhancing Youth Literacy course, students are asked to find an “independent act of civic engagement” — to leap into the community and to share their presence, their observation, and/or their voice. Amanda used her volunteer … Continue reading
Note: As one of the options for the culminating reflection in my Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone at Portland State University, students can create a plan for continued civic engagement. Some of my students are willing to share this wonderful work. I will be posting some of these plans as they are submitted.
While volunteering as a part of this class, I found myself wanting to help kids more in ways other than doing after school programs and helping in classrooms. I keep going back to teaching in some form or another. I truly enjoy teaching and watching and helping children learn. I connected with a past classmate, named Nicole as well, and she had volunteered at Doernbecher’s children’s hospital in Portland. She told me that she was like a teacher/teaching assistant to children in the intensive care unit. These kids were too sick to go to school but obviously still need to learn. She mentioned that they were incredibly eager to learn and wanted to do work because they were somewhat bored. I felt immediately that that was my calling and that I needed to go out and apply. Continue reading
Attending Race Talks
When I walked into McMenamins Kennedy School at 6 pm on the evening of February 12th, a burst of nerves hit me. “Who goes to a Race Talk?” I wondered, as I wandered into the gym. People of all races and classes representing many age groups filled many of the seats around the round tables taking up much of the large room. Each chair had a pile of papers in front of it.
The topic, declared by the pamphlet on top of the papers, “Race & the Housing Crisis” seemed pertinent, both in relation to my personal backyard in North Portland as well as to what we have been discussing in class on segregation in neighborhoods and schools and my own experiences volunteering at Portland Youth Builders. Donna Maxey, the organizer of Race Talks, introduced the panel as I talked to my tablemates, two lawyers, a grass roots activist and several concerned citizens, but the speakers quickly grabbed my attention. The panel varied widely from activists to politicians to lawyers.
JoAnn Hardesty started us off by breaking down the history of the Housing Crisis in Portland, touching on Urban Renewal or, as she said, “Negro Removal” as well as Redlining and Exclusion Laws. Here’s an article going into more detail about these topics:
Everyone Deserves Stable Housing
Moloy Good followed with information on the displacement of minorities from North and North East Portland into the outskirts of South East and North East Portland as well as legal information and hotlines for assistance. The Oregonian, he mentioned, did a four part series called “Locked Out” that describes the unfair housing practices in Portland. Continue reading
I went to the Board Of Education meeting on Monday, Feb. 4th. I arrived early and had no idea what to expect. At about 5:45, community members that looked to be parents, children, and may be some staff of Chief Joseph Elementary came in armed with their signs of not closing the school, and like I said, had no idea what to expect, and unfortunately, I really didn’t know why they were all showing up to begin with.
The meeting was called to order at 6:00. The speaker then called for public comment. Four people went up. Three of them addressed their concerns for the closure of Chief Joseph Elementary. Once the public comment concluded, superintendant Smith disclosed her proposal in dealing with various issues which included proposals for boundary changes district wide, and looking at enrollment and transfer policy, and also addressing the enrollment stability in the Jefferson cluster. The reason for public concern for Chief Joseph closing is that the school is currently facing over enrollment issues. Superintendant Smith recommends that over time merge Chief Joseph to one campus on Ockley Green. The importance of strengthening neighborhood schools and trying to figure out why families are transferring out to different schools may be one reason why enrollment has been affecting this area. Because the district faces over enrollment and under enrollment in some school is why they need to take action. Schools need enough children to continue to exist and perform. “When a school has the target number of students, they qualify for more resources and teachers. That prevents turnover and creates an atmosphere wherein teachers and parents are invested” (http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/10/chief_joseph_elementary_parent.html).
Here is a link that shows the different kinds of classification of schools
There are still some opportunities that the community can get involved and have their voices and concerns heard. On Saturday, February 9th, from 10 am to noon at Jefferson High School Auditorium, they will be a public hearing about enrollment options. Community has to sign up in advance to testify.
Another opportunity will be held on February 11th at 6 pm at 501 N Dixon Street to meet about enrollment options, and the public will have 45 minutes for public comment.
February 25th at 6 pm is when the Board will vote on the superintendant’s recommendations.
Here is the link for the School Board meeting that was held on February 4th : http://www.pps.k12.or.us/departments/tv-services/6442.htm. I really didn’t think I’d get much out of going to a board meeting, but I was wrong. We are all capable and have an opportunity to have our voices heard about a topic that we feel strongly about. Not saying that the voices will be heard and or have any effect, but at least it’s out there. The community of Chief Joseph Elementary definitely won’t give up, and for sure will be seen advocating for their children in upcoming public comment sessions. As for myself, I am curious to what the Board will either support the proposal, reject, or come up with something of their own. Regardless, children will be affected by this, and hopefully their decision will benefit and not hurt the children.
I’ll admit it. I’ve been having one of those “the world isn’t changing fast enough” moods as I watch Jefferson cluster go through their enrollment balancing (read Vernon family reactions and Woodlawn family reactions), continue to talk to teachers and … Continue reading