Here are two articles from my CC in Osoyoos, BC.
I think it put things in a perspective most of us don't have access to - how Canada and the USA compare not in the big metro areas but in more rural cities like Forest Grove.
It looks like the Canadians have an edge up in health care and in graduation rates, especially among minority students, in this case First Nation's students.
Being bigger is not always better! But our "decider" is Barack and they are stuck with Stevie "the wonder boy."
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 01:20PM
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 01:50PM
Merry Christmas around the world
With extended family with Italian, German, English, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Jewish, Philippine, French and Spanish roots this is a nice way to celebrate the diversity and immigrant legacy of an American family.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 01:02AM
Editorial boards from The Oregonian and the Tribune chain are raising doubts about Governor Kitzhaber's education agenda and budget he's proposed for the 2015 session. Their comments are echoing what I've been saying for "years" - that it's all smoke and mirrors pretending that reform can happen on the cheap and be delivered by educational gimmicks. And by privileging early ed it will shrink funding for the upper grades.
The governor's budget like so many of his ideas may have unintended consequences once we look carefully "under the hood" as the saying goes.
Here's an excerpt from an editorial from the Hillsboro Tribune, a Pamplin paper:
That’s why they may not be cheering for even more changes as envisioned in the governor’s budget. One proposal is to alter the funding formula for English Language Learners. Instead of allocating state revenue based on the number of ELL students in each district, the governor suggests distributing those dollars based on how quickly the ELL students become non-ELL students.
This concept has support from education reformers in Oregon, but it’s not something easily implemented. The end result could mean pushing students out of ELL programs before they are ready, or punishing districts with large immigrant populations. Legislators should move slowly with this type of reform, as unintended consequences will abound.
By using a formula which allocates money based on how fast an ELL student becomes English proficient is misguided for the reasons cited above - it may push students out of ELL too quickly and/or punish districts with large immigrant enrollments. It's also problematic because it slights the role of "dual language" education which embraces the linguistic and cultural heritage of immigrant students.
If the schools can't do it, then we'll outsource ELL via "social impact bonding?"
American society is the only mono-lingual society in the world. Our neighbor to the north Canada has two official languages, English and French. Virtually every nation in the world expects students to learn English plus their own national language. The Kitzhaber plan not only privileges English but it implicitly suggests that a child's "other" language learned at home is a second class language to be snuffed out - asap!
This de facto English language jingoism is all too familiar in American public education which has resulted in denying our history and our diversity. Becoming a dual language learner allows the immigrant child to embrace his/her roots as one becomes a member of the wider society. For the native English speaker learning a second language enables one to understand the "other's" history, point of view and hopefully reclaim their own past.
I live in a community where 50% of the kids in our K-12 system are Hispanic. For them their first language is often Spanish not English. To enable them to keep their first language while learning English sends two powerful messages - you are valued because of who you are and who you are becoming. In a multi-cultural society whose national motto is "e pluribus unum" this sends a powerful message of inclusion.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 11:36AM
In Oregon we are constantly reinventing the wheel without asking what size of car we drive...
You don’t vote, forget about it…
A series of articles running in the UnOregonian evidences the callous disregard Oregon’s two recent governor’s Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber have shown to Oregonians faced with addictions.
But as Part 2 of the series indicates, the governors were not alone in ignoring the issue – most of our state legislators gave little attention and virtually no money to this increasing problem.
The bottom line is the truism that in politics you are not a player if you don’t pony up money to help candidates get elected and if you don’t vote forget about it – you simply don’t exist.
This is the harsh fact of life facing the poor, the marginalized and the undereducated when it comes to getting the attention of the powers that be in Mahonia Hall and the Salem Puzzle Palace.
All are equal but some are more equal…
It’s also a fact of life which will impact those whose children are not on the “to do” list of governor Kitzhaber when it comes to funding K-12 education in Oregon.
Kitzhaber is focused like a laser beam on the K-3 cohort having come to believe as an article of faith that if one can get these kids up and running by the 3rd grade, the state will harvest long term benefits.
Translation - "successful" students means more high wage workers, more personal incomes taxes collected and no need to hit on corporate Oregon to help pay for state programs, Kitz’s latest "no new taxes" deal!
What happens to those not in the “favored” class – those older than 3rd grade? Or those who drop out? It’s simple - Kitz favors early education while he flat lines (rations) the rest of the K-12, higher ed budgets.
Attending a workshop on Tuesday held by the Human Services Coalition of Oregon (HSCO) at the Mercy Corps headquarters in downtown Portland the “new thinking” mindset became clear.
The meeting began with a discussion of what is termed these days as “social impact bonding” or the “pay for prevention” strategy to delivering human services.
This strategy if adopted beyond its current pilot project would “outsource” our human services delivery system. Ironically their model is a privatized recidivism program in the UK.
Social services engineering according to advocates of this strategy requires buy-in from foundations or corporate entities that means results must be measurable - “data driven.”
Here are their talking points – in brief…
Results must be monitored
Focus on prevention or early intervention
Demonstrate public financial benefits
Use evidence-based metrics
Track record of success
Outcomes measure in a compact time
Have core performance goals
Manage potential risk
Commit to assessment planning
Anyone familiar with human services knows that recipients face multiple obstacles – poor education, poverty, homelessness, criminal records and minimal access to health care.
Any delivery system must address this intersection problem by providing a collaborative service model. Such a model can’t be purchased on the cheap nor judged in the short term.
The hidden agenda:
OK, everyone believes in data/results/outcomes performance benchmarks these days. But the new twist implied in “social impact bonding” is that the investment must ultimately pay off to the investor.
Now ask yourself is this a system designed to deal with the wide variety and ages of those in need or is this a model designed to turn clients into measureable widgets?
Raise your hand if you’d like your child to be educated in such a “controlled” system? Or is this a system which will only take on the identifiably most likely to succeed clients?
In other words, social service delivery is no longer viewed as a human right for those in need since such services must not only address the needs of those served but also pay a return to investors.
The concept that the community must step up to meeting human needs by taxing itself is now to be replaced to a system where the investor wants a return on investment.
This turns the entire social service delivery system upside down. Now don’t get me wrong – there is much to critique in the way we deliver services to the needy in Oregon.
A system or political failure?
But as the Oregonian series reveals the real problem as I’ve noted in previous blogs whether the subject was homelessness, poverty or education, if there is no political will – there is no way out?
As I listened to an hour-long presentation about “social impact bonding” it made me think this is the new mantra to justify a rationing of human services founded on metrics not social justice.
The logic goes as follows – if you can’t quantify the problem, if you can’t show clear outcomes and now if you can’t get a return on investment – forget about the community addressing social issues.
This is the Brave New World John Kitzhaber is embracing in his final tour of duty as our governor. Welcome to Governor Scrooge – the dude that presided over the failure of CoverOregon.
New thinking in Salem?
Yes, I know the spin out of Salem is that over 300,000 Oregonians now have health insurance. But they can thank Barack Obama not John Kitzhaber. But for the record 300,000 don’t have coverage!
So Kitzhaber and his merry band of social engineers who think more like bankers than social workers are simply avoiding the elephant in the room – tax reform to support what we want to do.
Kitz doesn’t want to make the “ask” to the Nike and Intel to step up and pay their fair share and since the poor don’t have a lobby in Salem – the political class can just ignore them.
Now back to the addiction issue.
This issue is at the intersection of a failed mental health and corrections system. We have no coherent community mental health system in the USA, let alone Oregon.
As the recreational use of pot comes on line around July 1, 2015 the failure to construct a coherent addictions/mental health/correction system nexus will create an even more challenged system.
This is the politics of insanity and denial. But hey, the addicted and the poor – who overlap – don’t’ have a lobby in Salem so nobody in power cares.
Or as State Senator Alan Bates, an MD (D, Ashland) said -
"Compared to K-12 and higher education, they've [advocates for the addicted] had a tough slog." "They can't put money into campaigns. I'm just being candid with you." One nonprofit executive said, "drug addicts don't vote and they don't contribute to political campaigns."
So much for compassion, social justice and the beloved community! Welcome to John Kitzhaber’s Brave New World of human services engineering?
What's the alternative?
Rather than reinventing the wheel, if one wants to attack the intersecting problems of poverty, hunger, homelessness, school failure, recidivism and addiction I keep going back to the idea of a guaranteed incomes policy or what conservatives term the negative income tax.
For decades comparative political science research has demonstrated that the best policy for achieving a democratic polity is having a robust middle class. The same can be said of solving the "poverty" problem. People who are solidly middle class don't fall into the cycle of poverty.
People who earn a family wage income aren't smarter - they just have the resources to meet the challenges life poses. Such a policy would require the 1% to sacrifice some of their privileges and the remnants of the middle class to see Scrooges like Phil Knight's as the enemy not those mired in poverty.
Is this an endorsement of "class envry" - damn straight! The rich practice it everyday - check out the list of rogues below including Nike's Phil Knight...
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 06:43PM
Pioneer Square at Christmas, 2014
Attended a HSCO workshop - Human Services Coalition - on Wednesday which gave me an excuse to walk around downtown Portland after the meeting. Took MAX then jumped off at Pioneer Square Mall, then walked over to Macys to see the Christmas kid's area - "recon" for our grand daughter! Santa, trains, reindeers - what's not to like? The city is the place to be on the holidays not some cookie cutter mall. Had a fun 2 hours - then home to the burbs.
A brief trip down the Holiday's memory lane for Lavanya Sophia Dondero -
I was born in Seattle in 1942 so my first memories of Christmas are from our family home on 2007 Brandon Street on Beacon Hill. As an only child I remember listening on my 45 RPM record player to all the favorites of the season but what sticks out even today is Spike Jones' "My Two Front Teeth."
My most wanted gift at that time which Santa delivered was a Fort Apache set which I still have remnants of devoted to infra-structure on my electric train empire. I also talked to the main man at Seattle's Frederick & Nelson's store, got the pictures to prove it, Miss L.
But the best present of all time was my first American Flyer train set which Santa brought me when we lived for a year, 1948, in down town San Francisco. It was a steam loco, PRR - Pacific with 4 cars. Over the years I've managed to add to it somehow by magic.
In 1951 my Dad was transferred again to San Francisco from Seattle and we lived in Palo Alto on Middlefield Drive. Christmas in Palo Alto was amazing because despite no snow everyone in the area we lived in decorated their homes! I've never seen such splendor on such a scale ever!
We moved to Roseburg in 1952 and by then Christmas was more of an annual ritual more memorable because of Christmas music heard in church and because my mother was a singer in the local Messiah Choir. I've always loved The Messiah, a legacy for classical music from my mother and piano teacher!
But I do remember our first Christmas getting another Gilbert product besides my American Flyer trains - the chemical set. I managed to stink up the house with some foul concoction one day. Fun, fun, fun. My career as a budding scientist came to an end.
Sadly, my most enduring memories of Roseburg at that time - 1952-60 - was the annual flooding of the South Umpua River. We never got flooded out but our home my Dad built in the Melrose area was marooned like an island and we had to jack the furniture up every Christmas - just in case!
My Dad's marriage in 1963 to my step mother, Edie (Edith) brought much more wonderful memories of her beautiful home decked out with the holiday spirit - the classic Nobel Fir and all the trimmings. That continued after Ann and I returned to Oregon from 5 years in Pennsylvania.
The best story from that era was going with Dad, Edie, Ann and Tony (2 years old) with the camera club to cut our own Christmas tree in the Umpqua National Forest 40 miles east from Roseburg. I'll never forget my Dad throwing a cut tree into drifted snow when a US Forest Service officer checked for permits!
Of course starting married life in Minnesota with Ann, 1966-69 in St Paul one always had snow, lots of it and stone cold 20 to 20- degree weather from November to March. We eventually went "native" by getting into the spirit of St Paul's Winter Festival. My on my!
One Christmas Dad and Edie sent us a Nobel Fir all the way from Oregon! Wow - what a gift - a "real" tree not some shriveled version from a local tree lot. And then there was the Christmas I ended up in the U of Minnesota hospital with what they thought was TB but turned out to be just a bad flu bug!
By 1969 we were off to Pennsylvania where I taught at Dickinson College in Carlise, PA - a picture post card New England like town 30 miles north of Gettyburgh. Our first Chritmas there we got snowed in but managed to drive to DC despite drifting snow and white out conditions - foolhardy youth!
Marion, sister Judy, Ann and I ended the holiday on New Year's Eve in NYNY. NYNY is magical during the holiday season! If only I could have gotten Ann to Time Square! My first experience there was in 1963 as a Alfred Sloan Scholar from Whitman at Thanksgiving - the Pacific northwest kid in the big city.
Over our years in Carlisle from 1969-74 we spent several holidays with Jewish friends from St. Paul days window shopping at local antique stores and then driving to DC to enjoy the big city - the French Market in Georgetown and often ending the night at the National Cathedral, an ironic place for non-believers!
Living in Oregon from 1974 on - Christmas has been a traditional time with our two sons and Grandma Marion, Ann's mother with one memorable trip to Roseburg with Dad and Edie, Nancy, Clyde and Diane. Sister Judy and Marion extended their stay due to a car malfunction. I had to get back to work!
The family tradition which has been passed down to Jason and Lavanya is cutting the annual Christmas tree at Christmas Trees West just a mile from our home in the Grove. Due to my asthma we've given up the tree but Jason keeps the family tradition going.
When Marion was with us and now with Lavanya my most vivid memories are the sight of the tree on Christmas eve night with all the presents surrounding it - opening to the next day was anti-climactic and we managed to make it a day long affair - why hurry!
Of course, having grandmother Marion and Ann doing their magic act with the turkey and trimmings was the real highlight of the day. And is our tradition we didn't sit down to dinner until at least early evening. And the rest of the week until New Years was spent eating left overs, yummy!
But best Christmas memories of all are watching Lavanya open her presents on Christmas Day. I'll never forget as a 8 month old how fascinated she was over a Kleenex tissue pack and its crinkling sound! Now her gift expectations are more tailored to the latest toys!
As a grandpa I enjoy watching Lavanya's eyes light up at Christmas time - actually all year long - that's the best present ever! The circle of life comes back to what Christmas is all about - seeing the season though the eyes of a child and hoping it lasts all year long!
So my visit to Macy's the other night brought me full circle.