The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

In 2018 Oregon’s Kids are Not All Right

on January 2, 2018

I had hoped that I could start this year with a report of something good happening in public education, but that just isn’t possible. The best I can do is describe the results of a survey given recently to Oregon’s eighth and eleventh grade students and then suggest some changes that might produce more positive results the next time around.

An article in the December 30th issue of  The Oregonian began by saying “In Oregon the kids are increasingly not all right.” What it was referring to were the results of the biennial “Oregon Healthy Teens Survey” given to 8th grade and 11th grade students.  In responding to the survey’s questions more than 19 percent of 8th graders and 22 percent of 11th graders reported that they had mental health problems. In addition, very few students at either grade level said that they were able to cope with their everyday stress and anxiety. Even worse, 18 percent of those responders said they had contemplated suicide and 9 percent said they had actually attempted it.

From that point on the article focuses on the living conditions of  today’s young people as seen by two specialists: Dr. Ajit Jetmalani, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and Wes Rivers, adolescent health policy assessment specialist for the Oregon Health Authority. In both their views many outside factors have had a strong negative effect on adolescents. Jetmalani sees children’s lives as more difficult than in the past because of the wide differences in family incomes. Young people living in poverty are well aware of the fine clothing, toys, and technology their wealthier classmates have access to and their own lesser belongings.

In the opinion of Mr. Rivers the presence of social media in the lives of young people is detromental. Their continuing use of smart phones emphasizes-or exaggerates- continually what some children have and others don’t.  Although not all the information communicated is accurate, many young people believe what they see or hear and it makes them feel that their own situations are far less favorable.

To some extent I agree with the specialists that family insecurity and the power of social media have a strong negative effect on many young people. But I think they have overlooked a greater problem in not even mentioning the current public school practices that have made test results the determining factor of a student’s quality and future success. What’s more, many of the common classroom practices label students’ performances as good, mediocre, or poor for everyone else to see.

In order to lessen the mental and emotional problems that young people have I suggest two major actions by policy makers, educators and parents: changing many of the current school practices and limiting the amount of social media and where and when it may be used. Because describing in detail what I think should be done would take much more time and space than I have already used, I will defer writing further until later this week, hoping readers will come back for more of my opinions.



2 responses to “In 2018 Oregon’s Kids are Not All Right

  1. Doug Garnett says:

    I thoroughly agree, Joanne. And I’d add to it… Our high school teens are being taught that life is linear – at least that career is. And there’s incredible hype about perfecting oneself in high school, going straight to college (major already determined), graduating in that major, and flying through career life without a care.

    Except that’s basically bunk. I was on a career panel with former BSD superintendent Jeff Rose and a counselor from PCC. All three of us were on our 3rd major career path and had needed time to wander and learn and experience before finding our ways.

    I am now watching recent high school grads fight to sort out the same questions. But they are ill prepared because Oregon schools preach a linear path to life success – as if test scores were able to prepare students for the real challenge of finding success.


  2. Don Bellairs says:

    Dr. Yatvin,
    Oregon’s kids have not been all right for a long time. Public education in Oregon has been, for several decades, a place for unqualified, incompetent and corrupt people to become wealthy. The taxpayers are routinely deceived by an uninspired (complicit?) media, parents are bullied by well-compensated school district lawyers, teachers have become chattel due to a corrupt union and, in lieu of decision-making and hard work, money is thrown at problems (i.e. poor graduation rates) without any strategic planning beyond employing another bureaucrat to apply the same stale, ineffective methodologies. I have learned that lots of education money is spent, secretively, to conceal misconduct, as longevity is valued far more than merit in Oregon’s schools. No one in leadership is ever held accountable for poor conduct or incompetent performances; many influential administrators are allowed to double-dip–essentially being paid twice for work they do not have to do well, if at all. Schools have failed Oregon’s students and teachers for many, many years because leadership to unable to motivate people to do the HARD WORK that is required of qualified professionals to invigorate Oregon’s bottom-dwelling schools. Isolated productive efforts by students and education professionals over the decades, trumpeted by PR departments as evidence of progress, are successful IN SPITE of inequities and unaccountable, uninspired leadership. Oregon’s kids are most certainly “not all right,” Dr. Yatvin, but you do the education profession a real disservice when you announce this condition in your blog as if it is news.
    Don Bellairs


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: