Check out the new article.
Archive for the Journalism Category
Check out my new piece on Richard Heinberg’s speech as a part of the East Portland Area Project.
Check out my recap of the Teaching with Purpose Conference 2011. If you’re in the Portland area, and an educator, parent, community member or simply a person, try and attend next year. Don’t miss out on the innovations that could revolutionize education.
Check out my new article in the Skanner on the Teaching with Purpose Conference here.
Carla Gary founded the Young Scholars to empower under served students of color, first generation and low-income potential college students. She realized just how much her pupils were learning when students from the program’s law cohort petitioned her for more freedom last year.
“They wanted to travel across campus with no RA (Residence Assistant),” says Gary. “They even outlined the consequences if they were late or not compliant.”
She told the them not to prove her wrong. The next day they showed up 15 minutes early to class to help RAs with younger students.
Gary founded the Young Scholars in the summer of 2005. It is a week long college preparatory program where kids stay in the University of Oregon dorms, attend classes, have a business dinner and conclude the week by displaying what they’ve learned to their parents.
“I was more excited than my daughter,” says Nike Green, whose daughter is an incoming Freshman at Roosevelt.
According to UO Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) General Teaching Fellow (GTF) Divya Bheda, the schedule for the students is the same every day.
They attend morning classes in math and writing before breaking off into cohorts that include Swahili, Journalism, Education, Business, Law, History and Music.
“The cohorts sound fun,” says Cen’tory Christmas, a junior to be at Central Catholic.
He heard about the Young Scholars in 8th grade through his principal at the SEI academy.
Gary has middle school students from the Portland and Eugene area apply through recommendations from people in their schools and communities. They can go through the program from 8th grade to their junior year in high school.
The program began with only 8th graders.
Now some students have siblings and/or cousins in the program.
Tyler Price, who volunteers with the Young Scholars, is one of three members of his family to go through the program.
“My brother was the first and my cousin is currently going through it,” he says.
Gary says she doesn’t do a huge call out for applications because it would be disingenuous to have hordes of students apply for a few spots.
She has gotten inquiries from all over the state and would like to see other Oregon schools emulate the Young Scholars. Gary suggest every Oregon US school host 25-30 students for a week. Her intention is to have kids speaking in terms of college because that will have them prepared to succeed in high school.
“Young people need to become familiar,” she says. “If they don’t see it then it’s not real.”
Gary also believes living in the dorms is a powerful part of the experience because otherwise it’s just like going to class.
In the future she wants to expand the program to two weeks to include co-curricular activities like trips to the coast and the Hatfield Marine Science Center. Gary would also like to give the students some more recreation time to do things like attend a baseball game or go to the roller rink.
In the meantime, Young Scholars makes the most of seven days.
The final day of the program includes students from each cohort demonstrating what they’ve learned for their parents.
The Journalism cohort made a video of the other cohorts and left with the ability to say they’ve created a multimedia production.
The Law cohort did a presentation on freedom of speech while the Swahili students demonstrated their understanding of a different language.
In the Music cohort students did a presentation on the history of gospel and how it was integral to survival, especially when it was utilized for Negro spirituals during slavery.
The Business cohort did a presentation on personal finance, including interest, payday loans and which communities get taken advantage of by banks.
In the education cohort students designed a school in detail including how the institution would interact with communities and accommodate students with disabilities.
Lastly, the History cohort read biographies of other cohort members and explained how they were living history because many were going to be the first to attend college in their families.
Gary was still in awe after the seventh year of the program.
“It’s mind boggling,” she says. “It was a truly humbling experience.”
Check it out. My first piece in The Skanner. Also, be on the lookout for an update following the book giveaway.
If you could stop murders before they happened, would you? What about job loss and increased poverty?
With the Colombian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) still pending you can. According to Arthur Stamoulis, of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, there is still a week to urge your representatives to vote against the passage of FTA.
70,000 people have died in Colombia over the last 20 years, which has the largest internal displacement in the world. Many of these people were innocent civilians, victimized by paramilitary violence funded by billions of dollars in US aid.
Over the years, US tax dollars as well as money from corporations like Coca-Cola and Chiquita have gone into the hands of anti-union businessmen and paramilitary groups. Despite the violence, these entities have continued to pump aid money into Colombia and are now pushing for a FTA that will further erode the human rights of the Colombian people.
Stamoulis spoke on a panel for the opening night of “Remember Me: Voices of the Silenced in Colombia Art Exhibition,” being held at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland. “Remember Me” is presented by Witness for Peace Northwest, Lutheran World Relief and the Latin America Working Group.
The collection of artwork comes from family and friends of those slain in Colombia. It includes quilts with the faces of slain union workers and wooden guns crafted by children.
If you’ve only heard politicians’ rhetoric about the FTA, these images might come as a shock. President Obama, who opposed the deal during his campaign, now claims it will create jobs by loosening trade restrictions and allowing private enterprises to hire Colombians with their expansive wealth.
Anyone familiar with past free trade agreements should know they are characterized by outsourcing and privatization, both recipes for job loss. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which established a partnership between Canada, Mexico and the US, has resulted in the outsourcing of American jobs and the loss of indigenous Mexican workers’ land to private businesses.
Private businesses are loyal to their bottom line first and foremost, which means they cut as many workers as possible to achieve maximum efficiency. This has produced some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs around the world as well as some of the largest wealth gaps.
One unintended (at least I’d like to hope so) consequence of NAFTA was a more empowered drug industry. When Mexicans lost their jobs, a number of people were forced to turn to the drug industry to feed their families. Similarly, Americans, especially in low-income neighborhoods, suffered a similar fate. While this has boosted the prison and defense industry, it’s been catastrophic for countless communities as evidenced by the 40,000 speculated dead in the Mexican Drug War and the millions dead or in prison in the US.
According to the Colombian Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, full liberalization (proposed by the FTA) would lead to the loss of 35 percent of agricultural employment. In a country like Colombia that is known for its large cocaine industry, it doesn’t take a psychic to see what massive job loss will lead to.
“There’s always someone willing to help you with coke,” says Stamoulis. “If you buy the premise that we’re trying to eradicate drugs the FTA flies in the face of it.”
The US presence in Colombia has been far from helpful for some time now. In 2000, the US launched an aid package called Plan Colombia. According to Vanessa Kritzer of the Latin America Working Group, 80 percent of this package went to military aid, which supported Colombian paramilitary groups.
In addition to supplying more weapons to a country plagued by violence, the US also deployed aerial sprays to supposedly kill coca plants. Over a decade and $8 billion later, Kritzer says the levels of cocaine are the same and in fact, coca plants have become resistant. To add insult to injury she notes that small scale farmers have lost 50-70 percent of their income due to the spraying of legitimate agriculture and some children were born with defects directly related to the chemicals.
Even though a 1991 agreement guaranteed Afro-Colombians the right to their lands, there has been little to stop the right wing, anti-union backlash.
Subsidized grain from the US continues to put small scale Colombian farmers out of work. As a result of being displaced from their land, most often violently, refugees make up ten percent of the population.
Colombia leads the world in trade unionists murdered. If often accounts for more than all other countries combined. 51 were killed in 2010. There are no measures preventing anti-union violence in the FTA.
As the opening night of the “Remember Me” exhibit closed, panelists urged audience members to sign 51 small crosses with the names of slain union members. These crosses will be hung outside the office of Representative Earl Blumenauer, who supports the FTA, during a demonstration on Friday July 15th at 12:30 pm.
The Oregon Fair Trade Campaign also encourages anyone to call Blumenauer and persuade him to vote against the FTA. His office can be reached at (503)-231-2300.
The “Remember Me” exhibit is open from 10 am to 2 pm Monday through Friday and by appointment at First Congrational United Church of Christ, which is located on 1126 SW Park Avenue in downtown Portland.