Note: Kelsey emailed this post to me a few days ago and has been working in the Beverly Cleary Elementary school. Her post was incredibly timely. See her thoughts on what led to the most recent decision about the overcrowding … Continue reading
Jonathan Kozol in an interview in BuildBetterSchools brings up a few controversial aspects of Charter Schools and public education at large. According to him, inequalities are now greater than twenty years ago. Addressing this issue, he remarks that “Some states have equalized per-pupil … Continue reading
It’s a sad thing to say that the only reason I took to volunteering was because of a class I’m taking or because I had an agenda: more service hours looks like I am more conscious about the world around me on an application. But I feel like I’m not the only one who is feeling this; I am pretty sure that there are a lot of student volunteers out there who are only doing it because of a school-related requirement. And even though it’s a good thing that people are out there volunteering and helping, it’s also a little sad and disappointing knowing that after they’ve worked their hours that they’re going to be gone. Now, I’m not going to say that I promise to go back to James John Elementary and volunteer after this capstone is done but just even realizing that is so sad to me. I mean, this was a neighborhood and a school that I grew up in, I know these people, I know how awesome it felt having people to help me and work with me after school. And even though volunteering there now has been great and nostalgic for me, I am uncertain about my future availability to go back. And I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard for people to go out in their community and help out: time.
Making Time for Community Work?
I understand that it’s hard when you have a full class schedule, work, a family to take care of, and other things, which would make it very difficult to find time to help out complete strangers. But what some people have to realize, and what I’ve realized, is that, even just the smallest amount of time you can devote, makes the biggest impact for some people. You might not impact everybody but the ones that you will, will be grateful whether they directly tell you or not. And if you’re worried about what kind of programs to volunteer for, you’d be surprised at all the different kinds of things that you can help with. From helping with students afterschool with homework and sports, with adults learning how to use computers, rock-climbing programs, etc., there are a lot of things that you can and will find interest in to help with.
Returning the Favor & Feeling Hopeful
For me, I would more likely aim towards volunteering in programs involving minority groups and language-related topics; such as, English-learning, reading, studying for the GED or with homework, and work-related things. I have no preference for working with children or with adults or a combination of both because, from my experience, these kinds of programs usually involves both, so I am used to seeing parent and child(ren) together. These programs appeal to me, not only because they seem to always need volunteers, but because I was in those situations: struggling with English, and reading and writing, which lead to struggling with communicating with my teachers and peers. I want to help because I’ve been there, and there was someone there to help me. So basically, I want to return the favor. Plus, I feel like it’s a good thing having someone there who has been through it all, who’s made it; it just gives a glimpse of hope for the person who is struggling.
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
A number of teachers from Garfield High School in Seattle Washington are refusing to give students a standardized test, also known as the Measures of Academy Progress or MAP. The boycott of the exam has been over-ridden by the superintendent … Continue reading