Oregon has long lagged the rest of the country in high-school graduation rates.  But the most recent report, out in January, shows the class of 2018-2019 graduating 80 percent of its members, in four years. 

It took a lot of work by students, but many adults also played a part in bringing the rate closer to the national average. 

What factors contributed to the improvement? 


There’s just one measure on California’s March primary ballot: A $15 billion school construction bond with a familiar, but confusing name. 


It happens all the time in classrooms: the example a teacher uses to demonstrate a concept draws glazed looks from the students.  Is the teacher doing enough to reach into the culture of the students for examples? 

Without some acknowledgment of culture, lessons can go unlearned for student and teacher.  Matthew Reynolds is a teacher and consultant who works to promote culturally responsive teaching. 


Children naturally get together and play when they find themselves in the same place.  But not all children are good and making new connections, and these are the children who ask the question that is also the title of Caroline Maguire's book, Why Will No One Play with Me?

Maguire is an educator and personal coach who works with children with ADHD and their parents.  her book lays out her system, "The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive." 

Image of student walking on campus in foggy day.
Ales Jones via Unsplash

New data from the Oregon Department of Education shows the number of K-12 students experiencing homelessness in the state grew by about two percent last year. But homelessness looks different between rural and urban areas.


Kids who started kindergarten this fall will graduate from high school after the year 2030.  How different will the world be, especially the occupations of that world?  And how can educators get students ready for those occupations? 

Those are among the questions at a seminar next week (October 22-23) at Southern Oregon University called "Seamless and Future-Ready Education."  The education think tank Knowledge Works will play a central role in the discussions. 

Rogue Valley Mentoring

A little nudge in the right direction can make a huge difference in the life of a young person.  Going beyond nudge to general guidance is what mentoring is all about. 

We visited in the past with the people of The Rose Circle, which started with women mentoring girls and expanded to include males.  Now the program has even outgrown its old name, and is now known as Rogue Valley Mentoring


Not everybody learns at the same rate.  We know that now, and devise educational plans around it, but it took us a while. 

When Jonathan Mooney was in school, nobody quite knew how to deal with the ADHD and learning disabilities he displayed.  He learned to read by age 12, but not before riding the "short bus" to his school and enduring the feeling that he was not normal. 

Normal Sucks is the title of his latest book (The Short Bus was another), Jonathan's reminder that narrowly defining "normal" makes a lot of people abnormal. 


Close to half the people on Earth can speak more than one language. The percentage (43) is actually higher than the percentage of people who speak only one language (40).

But in this country, only about a fifth of the population is bilingual, and foreign-language programs are often the targets of budget cuts in schools and colleges.

That troubles foreign-language learners at Southern Oregon University, who want to see more support, not less.

People have lived in what is now California for something like 19,000 years.  But read a history textbook from a California school, and you're likely to find most histories begin with the arrival of Europeans a few hundred years ago. 

The California Indian History Curriculum Coalition aims to backfill the story of the first people on the land.  They went by many names and spoke many languages before enforced assimilation. 

Dr. Khal Schneider of the Graton Rancheria and Gregg Castro of the Ohlone are two of the people working to bring more indigenous educators into classrooms. 

Klamath Community College

College is not for everyone, we hear frequently.  But some people who could benefit from college--and it from them--face barriers to entry. 

Klamath Community College showcases seven students who have faced physical or mental or other obstacles to higher education, in a series of performances called Education/Transformation. 


It is a concern in many parts of the world, and has been through history: how can we keep our culture alive?  It is a particular issue for indigenous cultures in lands that have been colonized by people from elsewhere. 

And it is a focus of attention this week at Southern Oregon University, which hosts the Pacific Islander Indigeneity and Education Conference (May 3rd).  Rob Goodwin, the host of our Keenest Observers segment, returns to talk about the issues in keeping culture alive when people--in this case Pacific Islander students--leave home for extended periods.


The changing face of America presents challenges for educators.  There's greater variety over time in ethnic backgrounds and languages students learned. 

Zaretta Hammond knows this and teaches teachers across the country to deal with it.  She visits Southern Oregon University for a presentation on "Beyond Good Intentions: Becoming a Culturally Responsive Educator."

The session later today (April 10th) is free and open to the public; it is part of the SOU campus theme "From Ignorance to Wisdom." 

Public Domain, Pixabay

You'll find libraries in schools all over Oregon.  School librarians, not so much. 

The Oregon Association of School Librarians, an arm of the Oregon Library Association, reports only about 150 school librarians in the entire state.  And just when the legislature is considering increases in school funding, OASL is pushing for more librarians. 

The case includes research showing schools that add librarians boost student achievement. 

ThomasMer/Wikimedia Commons

Maybe it's just a better term than "lecture."  Whatever the key to success, TED talks have caught on all over the world.  We even have a "TED Radio Hour" on our weekend schedule. 

The smaller, more local TEDx talks are also popular, and will soon include a Southern Oregon version, TEDx Ashland

The talks will fill half a day on May 20th, but speaker proposals are due by Valentine's Day, February 14th. 

Pavla Pelikánová, CC BY-SA 4.0,

We're not done learning after high school, not by a long shot.  And the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute--almost universally known as just OLLI--continues to teach people who have many decades behind them. 

OLLI's programs are based on the differences between how people learn at different ages.  The OLLI program at Southern Oregon University is reaching out for potential new faculty members. 


Critics of American education have many areas of concern, and grading is just one of them. 

Teachers are human, and humans have beliefs and biases that can show up in the process of assigning grades to students. 

Longtime educator Joe Feldman proposes a way to get things right, in his book Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms

via pixabay

Homework help, computer lab, play place and more.  Those are among the functions of the new Spark Space opening at the Jackson County Library branch in Central Point. 

It's a STEM kind of place (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), but also gives teens and tweens a place to be creative with computers, blogging and coding and more. 

roanokecollege, CC BY 2.0,

A guy connected to Lego must know something about creativity. 

And that is indeed the case for Ronald Beghetto.  One of his many hats is serving as a creativity advisor for the Lego Foundation. 

But Dr. Beghetto wears many others in studying and working to inspire creativity, especially in education.  He is one of the speakers at the Creativity Conference at Southern Oregon University August 3-6. 

D@LY3D, CC BY 2.0,

It's a constant drumbeat at this point in history: read to your kids, read to your kids.  It makes a difference in the development of their languages skills and their brains. 

Is there a benchmark to hit?  Pediatric surgeon Dr. Dana Suskind says yes.  Thirty Million Words is the name of her initiative and the book she wrote on it.