The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Two Small Steps in the Right Direction

on October 6, 2016


When we met with friends a few days ago, one of them asked me why my blog was called “The Treasure Hunter” when it had so little good news about education to report. I quickly replied, “ I don’t call it the ‘Treasure Finder,” do I?  I just keep hunting.” Well, today I have two pieces of good news. The first is from Michael Muise,  a teacher and a poet living in Alaska. The second is a summary of a newspaper  report on free tuition for some students at Portland State University.

In this short reminiscence Michael Muise gives us a glimpse into his ways of engaging with students who might otherwise be unconnected to school, reading, and teachers:

Morning bus duty is a time that I love. It gives me a chance to greet nearly all 480 students each day. Shake hands, high five, laugh all in hope of starting the day off right. Mention how much I love a kid’s pair of light up shoes, how I have the same polka dot dress (usually makes them laugh) etc. Today, while greeting the masses, Gr 8 Boy number one, who I gave the Theodore Boone book to wheels up on his long board with an ear but in his right ear and a grin stretching from both ears. He says to me, “I’m on chapter 13. I love it.” And then, proceeds to tell me what is happening in the book. Thinking it couldn’t get any better, a couple of minutes later Gr 8 Boy number two, who I gave a copy of “The Last Apprentice” to, wheels up on his long board with white ear bud in his right ear and a grin from ear to ear. “The book”, he says, “is not so scary the way you said it would be but I really like it.” What a great start to my morning.

Yesterday’s Oregonian reported that Portland State University (PSU) has designed a new program called “Four Years Free” that will allow Oregon residents who graduate from high school with high grades to enroll in a four year college program free of charge, starting in 2017. This program follows the Oregon Promise program, instituted this year, which gives free tuition to students enrolling in the state’s two-year colleges.

Most of the money paid as student tuition to PSU will come from federal Pell grants and Oregon’s Promise grants. In addition, the college says, “If a student does not receive the full amount of the Pell and OOG, PSU will cover the difference.” As a result of the contributions from those sources students would save up to $8,4oo annually on tuition and school fees. They would be responsible only for the cost of books, housing and personal expenses.

PSU sees its program as a strong tool to motivate high school students to work hard and earn good grades from ninth grade on up, and I agree. Far too many Oregon families never even consider sending their children to college because the tuition costs are far beyond their means, and far two many high school students under-perform for the same reason. Our children do not lack ability, only hope.

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