Rally For Education

Deborah Barnes

For every adult that stands on the steps in Salem on Monday at noon one child in one classroom will have a voice.

This Monday, President's Day, thousands will converge on Salem to share stories of education cuts with lawmakers. The educational funding crisis is nationwide. In Oregon, thousands of education professionals, from bus drivers to teachers, to secretaries and custodial staff, teachers and special education assistants, are preparing themselves for additional layoffs and salary cuts. Economic development in Oregon and across the nation depends on an educated workforce. When schools close, students are not being prepared for adulthood. When cut days are the norm students are not learning communications skills, teamwork skills, and understanding the importance of having a strong work ethic.

In North Clackamas, one of the largest districts in Oregon, our 17,500-student district is considering closing and consolidating schools, hiking fees, and changing secondary school schedules as it tries to find $14 million to $19 million in savings next year. Our district will likely reduce the equivalent of 150 to 175 positions next year, which would add to about 220 positions cut since the 2008-09 school year. Our class sizes have skyrocketed this year and we will expand to even larger class sizes next year as more staff is let go. But, we have a chance to join together on Monday to send a message to Oregon lawmakers.

If you believe it is important that our future generation is well-educated, has the opportunity to spend quality time learning with educators, that those who cook, clean, and bus our children to school should be given a living wage, and our teachers have the opportunity to have the equipment they need to teach each child than join us.

For one hour you can stand with us and be the voice of children in Oregon who are facing the most difficult moments in history. They want to be in school. They want the chance to learn. They want an opportunity to know their teacher can spend individual time with them to solve a problem or point them in the right direction. For every adult that stands on the steps in Salem on Monday at noon one child in one classroom will have a voice.

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    Just because for 200 years we've taught students in autocratic classrooms doesn't mean that's the best way. What if education was on-line? Would classes taught in people's homes, or in parks, or by a rotating staff of teachers be less effective? Would a massive reshuffling of the education system be bad for students?

    "Liberal" means to try new ideas - why are the Conservatives so liberal on this issue, and the Progressives so conservative?

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      Teaching on-line will not, in itself, make the method of educating any less autocratic. Instead of sitting in front of a teacher.. you'll be sitting in front of a teacher on the monitor. I can see the need to change how we teach, but I don't think we gain anything by simply plopping people down in front of a computer. We may actually lose more than we gain.

      The poor are much less likely to have access to either a computer, or the internet. Presumably, for this to work, we would need to provide everyone with not only a computer, but an internet connection as well. Including wifi for the parks. Honestly, do you want a 12 year old running through the park with a laptop? It would give rise to a whole new level of excuses for not finishing homework: "sorry, the dog threw my computer into the pond."

      I also worry that we already spend too much time in front of the computer (me included!). I think there is value in face to face contact. I think a direct connection between teacher and student is a positive thing. A good teacher can easily catch who is not paying attention, if a student is having outside problems, etc... And, for better and for worse, kids learn to socialize at school. Until we go entirely virtual (and that's never a good thing in Cyberpunk novels ;) socialization skills are still a necessary component of education.

      LOL.. we are already an obese nation. That will not get better if we're all jacked in to our computers.

      I'm with you if you mean lets get away from the "authority" at the front of the room - and make education more interactive. And ideally different methods would be used in the same classroom to address each students preferred learning style.

      While some may thrive under an on-line experience, I think you will find even more falling through the cracks. Certainly incorporate on-line learning, but don't dismiss or ignore the very real value of direct teacher/student interaction.

      Just some random thoughts.

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        I just threw that "on-line" thing out there as an example of stretching our thinking. On-line will work for some, not most, but a one-size-fits-all attitude doesn't work for traditional teaching either.

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          I am a teacher but I came into the profession in a different way than most. I came from business and industry and have a license to teach career and technical education. In other words, instead of students working from a text, my students use the computer to edit video or stand behind a camera and film. They learn how to produce documentaries and newscasts.

          There are 19 other CTE programs at my school. We are hoping that all forms of education are fully-funded soon, including CTE programs in Oregon where we are thinking outside the box.

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            Cool - I'm in. That's the kind of thing I can "rally" around. Same-ol' same-ol' is tough for me put put my time & money behind.

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    I'm planning to attend Monday's rally at the Capitol in Salem.

    Online learning, used in a wide variety of ways, can both expand learning opportunities and reduce costs. It is being resisted in Oregon by many of the current educational interest group, leaving Oregon far behind many other states.

    I recently posted on Micheal Horn's appearance before the House Education Committee (here). He is one of the co-authors of "Disruptive Class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns."

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    I agree with Deb that now is a critically important time to push for the short-term and long-term decisions that our kids need to ensure a world-class education.

    We look forward to having busloads full of parents, teachers, and students in Salem on Monday!

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