SB 589 Relevant Education

Deborah Barnes

[Editor's note: Tonight, Deborah Barnes joins our motley crew. She's a member of the Milwaukie City Council, a former broadcast reporter in Oregon, was president of the AFTRA union, and now teaches media communications in the North Clackamas School District. Previously, she contributed two guest columns: "Teaching leadership, teamwork, and work skills", and "Lars and the liberal voice". Welcome, Deborah.]

Oregon finally has an opportunity to invest in an education that will give students career related learning standards, career related learning experiences, and possibly, in some cases, core subject content all in one classroom. The issue is career and technical education.

Oregon ranks far behind our neighboring states of California and Washington when it comes to CTE. The primary source of funding, and in many school districts in Oregon, the only source of funding comes from federal Carl Perkins funding. The Oregon Department of Education determines how that money is split between high schools and community colleges.

What if we had programs where students could all learn how to fix their own cars, learn the basics of a trade, or understand the relevancy of math and science while learning teamwork, communication skills, and employment foundations? That's CTE.

I have the opportunity each year to see a diverse classroom population learn how to write more effectively, conquer fear of speaking in front of groups, and prove they understand the difference in news coverage of the Vietnam conflict and the war on terror. We offer 22 different programs in the North Clackamas School District to 5,000 students. We have business, industry, and labor leaders working with us on curriculum and instruction. We offer internships and work study opportunities. We prepare kids for the workforce and for further education. But, we are a unique district that takes that responsibility seriously. Supporters of SB 589 want to make sure kids in all areas of Oregon have similar opportunities.

Oregon lawmakers need to be prompted to think of new ways for students tosucceed in today's workforce. It's time for the provisions of SB 589 to move forward this session. If you want to know more you can visit our blog.

Comments

  • Rep. Dave Hunt (unverified)
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    Welcome aboard, Deborah! One of my favorite people on one of my favorite blogs!

    Good bill. Should pass.

  • Mike (unverified)
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    Hi Deborah,

    Thank you for your post. I'm a graduate of the North Clackamas school district (Putnam) and am an enthusiastic supporter or technical education.

    While I went to college, I often feel it was of questionable value for me and I'm sure other people might find vocational training to be more relevant to their lives.

    I no longer live in Oregon, but remember there used to be something called the Saben (?) center near the old McLoughlin Junior high school that used to do vocational-type training. Do they still have that?

  • Karl (unverified)
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    So to train kids to "fix their own cars" is going to make them more competitive in today's globalized workforce?

    Shouldn't the emphasis be to provide a sound foundation in the basics, ie, math, reading, science, critical thinking so that children can apply this knowledge in their lives and careers, whatever form that may take?

    Or are we happy to let Oregon be the autoshop of the country/world?

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    Karl wrote: So to train kids to "fix their own cars" is going to make them more competitive in today's globalized workforce? Shouldn't the emphasis be to provide a sound foundation in the basics, ie, math, reading, science...

    Which suggests that he didn't actually read what Deborah wrote:

    What if we had programs where students could all learn how to fix their own cars, learn the basics of a trade, or understand the relevancy of math and science while learning teamwork, communication skills, and employment foundations?

    I sure do love the blog trick of grabbing one phrase and then assuming that it's the entire content of a post and slamming it as being inadequate - even though the rest of the post addresses the presumed inadequacy.

    • (Show?)

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  • (Show?)

    Mike, Yes. I teach at the Sabin-Schellenberg Center. It's still around and growing.

    Karl, Career and Technical Education does teach kids "the basics". However, we just offer the education in a way that makes it more relevant so students understand and don't often ask the question, "Why do we have to learn this?"

    Dave, Thanks.

  • George Seldes (unverified)
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    Kudos to anyone who recognizes that the college education is not the be all and end all for most kids, who are going to put very little (if any) premium on making young people extend their childhoods into the prime years of advanced adolescence.

    To see the relevant educational topics for the 21st C., consult the Portland Peak Oil Task Force report. You will see that it has very little to do with fixing cars. Modifying them to run without fossil fuels is more like it, and figuring out how to weld and keep BIKES running with reclaimed materials is more like it.

    Ultimately, the relevant skills for young people are how to live in a drastically lower-energy community, how to grow food, and how to thrive in a society where globalization is remembered like the Whigs or American Independence Party.

    For young people today, the best advice you can give them is this:

    You must know one of two things: How and where to grow your own food in a place that you can't be shut out from, or how to make yourself indispensible to those who do.

    Sadly, at the rate we're going, another relevant skill will be living in a world where your currency is not worth printing in paper form.

  • Karl (unverified)
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    Kari,

    Is it me or do I get a sense that you go on the attack when some pet project of yours get criticized?

    I simply disagree with the notion of making education "relevant". Sure you can teach kids to fix cars because they don't like math or science or the arts. Or you can make education "relevant" so that people get plugged into the job marketplace. But is that what a society wants to strive for?

    What is relevant? How relevant is "old boring history"? Sure doesn't buy someone groceries or figure out how much lumber to buy. Maybe no one thinks that topics such as the Athenian misadventure in Sicily 2500 years ago, the false assumptions regarding the "domino theory" that led to the US involvement in SE Asia some almost 60 years ago, or the history of the House Un-American Activities Committee are "relevant.

    You know that old chestnut of history repeating itself for those who don't study it, right? So maybe after thousand of lives lost and close to a trillion dollars spent just for the last few years, some things that may seen tangential and not really relevant, really are.

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    Karl,

    Some how I didn't explain career and technical education well enough. Our students do study math, and science, and history. They just learn those "core" subjects in class that makes it relevant. My students learn how to use cameras and edit. They also use that learning to research how reporters covered the Vietnam conflict and then compare that coverage to the current conflict in Iraq. They need to learn where the reporters are/were located (teaching them geography), what caused the conflicts to occur (teaching them world history), understand our political system (teaching them civics), leading up to a media presentation (helping them achieve CIM work samples in speaking and writing).

    Think of how math, science, economics and other "core" issues are taught. I think having a student learn by doing rather than just lecture, notes, and test may help them learn more in the long run. In the past, students would not remember what they learned in high school. This may just be an option where they become better learners.

  • Lew (unverified)
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    Applause once again to you Deborah and the team at the center.

    Basics and relevancy work together to provide an excellent education for the students in Clackamas and a model for the state.

    <h2>Thanks again.</h2>

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