We Make More of a Difference Than We Know….One Person at a Time (by Guest Blogger Alexis Roeser)

Note:  As a reminder to PDXEAN readers, the current series of posts are written by students in Portland State University’s Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone.  Students are spending 25-30 hours volunteering their time with youth in the community, and we also … Continue reading

The DREAM Act: Is It Only a Dream? (by Guest Blogger Krista Nuro, Spring 2013)

After watching the short online “Teen DREAM Art Documentary”, I became further at a loss for why we continue to punish well-achieving students and take away their dreams of a higher education. This film touches upon the barriers that many … Continue reading

Grey Clouds Looming Over Education: Is There a Bright Future? (by Guest Blogger Meaghan McHill)

There is a lot of tension hovering over education in regards with Charter schools. They are privately owned, publicly funded schools that require an application to be filled in order to attend the school. If the school receives an abundance … Continue reading

A One-Size Fits All Approach Does Not Work: On Charter Schools & Standardized Testing (by Guest Blogger Kyle Billings)

At what point are we going to realize that the one-size fits all approach does not work? Students should get the option of what school they best fit into. Should it be a situation where schools are inherently better than other schools? I think not, however, there should be schools that focus on math and science, and others that focus on visual and musical arts. Some students want to be scientists, whereas others want to be artists. There should not be a problem here.

I think about this and I recall a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He speaks of a young lady who couldn’t sit still in class, (whom at this day of age would have been diagnosed with ADHD), and instead of determining that she was not a good student, she was taken to a school that fit her needs. Instead of trying to fit her into a mold that she does not fit into, she went to dance school. She thrived, grew and now she has been incredibly successful.

With standardized testing, we are trying to mine our youth for only one thing. Measurable results. We punish our teachers and schools if students cannot meet the expectations that are set by a testing board that seem to think that one size does fit all. Students are being stripped of their ability to think divergently and creatively so they can color in bubble ‘a’.

In an editorial piece by Bill Gates, Mr. Gates points out that despite what any common opinion, teachers WANT to be accountable to their students. It is just our way of measuring them that is not working. I also do not believe that monetary compensation is the most important thing to our educators. Do we give them opportunities for professional development? What if our educators received stipends so they also could continue their education? In other parts of the world teachers collaborate and mentor each other, teachers need to grow just as students do. Effective teachers will spread effective measures to other teachers given the opportunity. Do we give them that opportunity?


I do not believe that charter schools are an inherently bad thing. Having schools that have enable our youth to focus on what their interests are in can only boost their potential. We do need to have performance measurements, but their needs to be better ways.


In class evaluations by other educators, review by students, looking at artistic and academic improvement are just a few ways that we can move away from the standardized testing. While I agree that there is a certain breath of knowledge that our youth should have when they finish high school, there just needs to be a better way of delivering that knowledge, and evaluating them on it.


I read that Education Reform is going to be the Civil Rights battle of our generation. With everything that I have read recently I am beginning to believe that is correct.



After watching  ‘Do School Kill Creativity?’ do you agree with Sir Ken Robinson? After reading the editorial by Mr. Gates do you agree? Do you think we need to restructure our school systems to allow our youth to flourish? Is our educational system that hasn’t been revamped since the industrial revolution due for a serious look?



Public = Private? (by Guest Blogger Nelson Endebo)

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

All the Feels (by Guest Blogger Lisa Cha)

 zombzIt’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.


The DIY Kit for Kindergarten Students and Families (by Guest Blogger Janice Nakamura)

Note:  This blog post is partially based on the following article: http://blog.oregonlive.com/themombeat/2013/02/preparing_your_child_for_the_n.html#incart_river A recent blog post that I found on the Oregon Live website created some interesting thoughts for me this past week.  It is titled, “Preparing your child for the … Continue reading

Grassroots Efforts: Joining Together in Supporting Our Schools (by Guest Blogger Erik Brigham)

Keeping up on all the issues facing our public schools can be a daunting task.  Everyday there seems to be another story in the news about potential changes in school budgets, curriculum, or testing standards and keeping up to date … Continue reading

Do We Recognize Our Privilege? Another Look at the DREAM Act (by Guest Blogger Oscar Ramirez)

I was able to watch a short documentary on the DREAM act and see the situations that Alejandra, the undocumented student in the documentary, had to go through and continues to struggle with because of her legal status. This film hit me personally as a Latino in the United States. And I personally know people that have had and have the same obstacles as Alejandra. I consider myself very fortunate because I have been presented with all the opportunities and rights this country has to offer because I was born here in the US. However, for millions of people that should have the equal treatment as human beings, they cannot live a life without fear of deportation and being separated from their families.

This film I think is very insightful into the world of the “DREAMers” and how this act will bring so many positive things to the lives for these students. I am a first generation college student in my family and even with all the rights I from this country it was difficult for me to know how to get into college and let alone pay for it. Simple things such as being able to work legally to make a little money during school, or having a license to be able to drive, or being able to open a bank account have helped me tremendously during my education. These simple things perhaps are taken for granted by most citizens and these simple things are items that undocumented students could possibly never have in their life if something is not done to help them. Thinking about our own lives and placing ourselves in the shoes of an undocumented, would it be possible for you to function in the US if you could not have these simple privileges?