Teaching leadership, teamwork, and work skills

By Deborah Barnes of Milwaukie, Oregon. Deborah is a former broadcast journalist currently educating high school kids about communications in the North Clackamas School District

Now that the President has taken funds for professional-technical education out of his budget and Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has decided there is no room for funding of student leadership organizations the question arises...what's the sense in having Benson High School in the Portland Public Schools or the Sabin-Schellenberg Center in the North Clackamas School District or any of the other professional technical vocational centers in Oregon?

Senate Bill 364, now in the Ways and Means committee in Salem, will create a task force to look into the importance of professional-technical education and student leadership programs in Oregon. It's a chance to examine what is working for students in Oregon classrooms. It's a chance to see where kids learn teamworking skills, meet deadlines, and learn to communicate more effectively.

Alright, I admit, I have a horse in this race. I gave up a career in broadcast journalism 11 years ago to become a teacher who educates high school kids about broadcasting. I gave up that career because I thought it was important for young people to get a jump start on knowing about the field of communications. I teach one of the 21 different classes at the Sabin-Schellenberg Center that range from marketing and management to law enforcement. All of those classes offer college credit through the various local community colleges. All of them have students who belong to student leadership organizations. My students are part of the Associated Press Broadcasters Association, among other professional groups. So,yes, I do care about funding.

The Oregon School Boards Association, the Oregon Education Association, the Oregon School Administrators Association, and others support the concept. The only group not supporting it and talking it up is the Oregon Department of Education.

Recent statistics from the ODE indicate professional-technical classes help lead to a higher graduation rate and help better prepare kids for the future. So, ask yourself, why isn't ODE coming to the table yet. If you find the answer, let one of the students or teachers know before they shut off the lights in our classrooms in Oregon. Meanwhile, help us lobby the Oregon legislature to at least verify what we already know about professional-technical hands-on learning..it does work.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    As I will mention in an upcoming post, Governor Ted Kulongoski and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury have proclaimed the month of March, 2005: "Oregon Arts Education Month".

    The proclamation includes the support and recognition of programs such as yours: as it states that "the arts – including music, visual arts, theatre, dance, literary arts and media - are essential to a basic education for all students in kindergarten through grade 12."

    I, for one, certainly join you in advocating for media literacy among our youth as I work in the same field as you -- but there's no denying that the cuts come from a lack of funding across the board. There simply arent the financial resources at the state and local levels for it all. The schools that I work with, as a result have turned to their partnerships (such as SUN, etc) to address those areas that they can no longer sustain. The financial crunch has created new opportunities to redefine the roles of those partnerships while the partnerships bring their own funding resources to the table.

    At times like these, I would urge you to utilize similar programs at your school towards maintaining and developing best-practice methods in education -- alongside our on-going lobbying and advocacy efforts.

  • (Show?)

    I wrote the folks at Democracy for Washington last night and I'll sum up my post.

    1. It is a terrible assumption that the European school system overeducates kids for the limited positions available in the society.

    2. The reason being: Europeans have invested tremendous resources in building a trade school infrastructure.

    3. There are about 7 iterations of the exit exam in France for kids who are college bound. Each of these tests reflects the curriculum in school and can take 22-25 hours to complete. Compare that to our crappy one test fits all mentality where are one test directs what should be taught, not the other way around.

    4. But there are about 15 exams in France related to trade schools. The exams still cover the basics, but they also insert an element from a particular trade, whether it be culinary arts, mechanics, carpentry, electrical works, etc. Imagine the boost to our economy if kids actually came out of school with a highly honed skill versus having created a cutting board in shop class or a Britney Spears collage in art class.

    We could easily create SUB-part tests that expand our current exit exam to cover the different interests and abilities of students. I have written to so many educational leaders in this state about this without ever getting a reply. Again, our problem in this country is not one of money--our problem is one of culture.

  • Deborah Barnes (unverified)


    I understand what you are saying.  We have business partners with all of our programs.  Mine includes folks from KATU and KPAM.  However, I doubt if folks would ask the English or Math departments to find business partners to help them supplement their budget.  It's the mindset here that is frustrating.  All we are asking the legislature to do is verify what folks in professional-technical education already know.  Students learn best by doing...not by reading a textbook and taking a test.  My kids have to show they have learned by working in teams, producing a program that will be aired on the educational access channel.  They have to learn the technique of interviewing adults and setting up times to meet people.   They have to learn deadlines and communication skills.  Isn't that what we want all of our kids to be able to do?  I want a chance to show that education can be so much more that can lead to real life-long learners who are expected to understand the importance of having the skills necessary to take their own education to the next level knowing it's important to have the skills expected in the future.
  • Michael (unverified)

    Hmm a journalist and now a teacher. The first word you have on the second page is "Alright". That is incorrect. It should always be two words, "all right". Please see the Little Brown Handbook and the A.P. Stylebook. In fact the AP Stylebook says "Never alright". Thank you, M.W.

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    LOL! Geez, Michael, let's not go picking on people for their writing style. Y'know, the whole point of a blog is a loose conversational style. Sentence fragments. Colloquialisms. Informal contractions. AP style is great for formal newswriting, but notsomuch for blogs. I'll betcha that your writing includes plenty of conversational lil' tweakies too.

  • allehseya (unverified)


    I dont have a lot of time to post a response as I'm already running late -- but I do hope that you realize that in addressing me with your argument -- you're preaching to the choir? I agree with you and share in your frustrations. Welcome to the Arts and Technology battle in the Education field. I do hope that the lip service by the state regarding March being deemed Arts in Education month provides you with some hope? Of course, I do understand the inclination to respond with a resounding "Put your money where your mouth is" reply. (I am, admittedly, an optimistic veteran in this war.)

    In any event, it's good to see that we agree on the value of partnerships -- now that we do -- here's what I'd suggest you do:

    Have the partnership work with the schools to develop a model designed to back up your argument by targeting specific academic benchmarks -- focus on Literacy benchmarks -- on History -- Reading -- Social Studies -- I dont care what they are -- just pick a core academic area and their benchmarks for your students grade level. And in making your case, you can state that your program integrates academic curricula.

    You need to assess how your students are meeting those benchmarks through your program -- not just in meeting your project-based outcomes. Focus on that and ODE's "School to Careers" program which will have standards for technology as well.

    You need to make a model that is assessed and accessble in demonstrating how it meets the criteria in advancing student comprehension of core academic content -- and/or -- school to careers training. You have to shove the proof, the statistics in their face the way Edwards teachers and parents are doing to Phillips.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    We in the US do not value education as we once did. This is a sad situation. It is evident in attitudes toward funding public education, and it is evident in the attitudes of young students toward learning.

    The reasons for this are many. Anti-government folks attack education as they target public spending. Popular culture urges us to "leave those kids alone" [I like Pink Floyd, by the way], and the rise of the Religious Right devalues independent thought [see Becky Miller's recent post].

    Excellent education for everyone throughout life is one traditional value I would like to see reestablished in our nation. This will happen only if we praise the value of education in producing richer, more relevant lives; a stronger economy; and functioning democracy.

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