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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 11, 2012 9:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was 40 years of Earl the Pearl. The next post in this blog is Here comes the hype for the Portland arts tax. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, June 11, 2012

Speaking of those Portland State peer mentors

Our post of last night about the new hire at Portland State University prompted this response from a reader:

This article compliments the one you posted about the PSU graduate with the Educational Leadership degree. He was a peer mentor, and mentors are mentioned in this article about problems with the University Studies program at PSU. I read a few years ago that a group of professors were very dissatisfied with the US program and lobbied the administration to abandon it because they felt it did not give students a good college education. The program substitutes a thematic-based inquiry general studies course for the former distribution or survey courses all students had to take. About the only way one could escape the US program and get a solid general studies foundation was to go to PCC and get an AA degree and then transfer to PSU. This is what my son did -- I would not have let him go to PSU under the US program even though his major is math. We wanted him to get a thorough education in a broad range of subjects instead of a hodgepodge of stuff taught by faculty from disparate disciplines.

Here is another article on the program -- this one is from 2000. The program started in 1994 and immediately had problems with faculty critics. I can't remember the name of the woman university president who initiated the program. She implemented many innovative changes in the way the university functioned, but most of them were style over substance, and eventually she left for a school that appreciated her style.

I am glad to see that some people at the top are taking education seriously, though I have to wonder why now and not six or more years ago. It was bad then, so why are they just figuring it out now after more than a dozen years with the program in place?

Perhaps our readers can answer that question.

Comments (10)

I am not an academic or a teacher and it has been 40+ years since I attended U of O (before it was Nike U) and PSU, when it was a working kids school. However from what I see of my friend's kids who are currently in a school of some kind in the Oregon, it seems to me that grade school now equals kindergarten, high school equals elementary school, and college of some sort, equals a mediocre high school.
I find this depressing and dangerous for the future.

I believe the name of the university president the reader can't remember is Judith Ramaley President from 1990 to 1997

Around 40% of PPS kids drop out. Of those who do graduate with plans to attend college, many find that they must take remedial math and English. Obviously, $11,500 per student per year simply isn't enough money....

WHY do parent allow their children to be the guinea pigs for some educrat's "innovative" approach to education? Why would an adult get sucked into an experimental program if they were paying to be educated? Fads are a fact of life in the education field as everyone searches for the silver bullet for creating wise and wonderful students - in their own image. You have to wonder why public schools are so eager to spend millions of dollars on books and training for methods that are proven to be less than satisfactory just because they fit the newest model of cool. Kind of like light rail and condos except the public is not educated on what works in education and falls prey to the professionals. Look for educators who are experts in the discipline they are teaching rather than experts in the newest way to teach it.
......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Below are excerpts from The Minnesota Daily from 1996.

Many of her colleagues say Ramaley's crowning achievement at Portland State is an innovative undergraduate education program called University Studies.
The program "redefines what it means to be an undergraduate and what the undergraduate experience is all about," Pernsteiner said.
University Studies, initiated in 1994 by the university's provost and a team of faculty members and championed by Ramaley, brings together faculty and students from various backgrounds and engages them in community-based research and service projects throughout the Portland area.

The University District reclamation project was another of Ramaley's key initiatives.
The plan calls for a close partnership between city government, business leaders and Portland State to develop the area's housing and create new retail centers. The plan also calls for the construction of an elementary school, private and university buildings and a possible light rail system to the school. The goal is to reclaim the decaying area and renew it.
"The vision for the University District was President Ramaley's," Pernsteiner said. "It got the city, the university and the local development community working together to achieve some things that usually don't happen."

Yeah, I'll tell ya' what I believe is decaying....

I started PSU in 1997 and ended up being required to complete the US program. For those confused the US system replaces the classic General Education system. Instead of a math major taking, say, some literature courses or vice versa each student over the first couple of years is required to complete these 1 year blocks of courses focusing on nothing. NOTHING.

My first year I took Einstein's Dreams. What it was about I couldn't tell you. I learned a bit about who Einstein was, but next to nothing about physics or writing or politics. Nothing. I don't even think the class was graded, I remember nothing I could have been graded on.

In the end it is still around because of money. It keeps kids at PSU because the credits don't transfer and it keeps them in school longer because of the 1 year block nature of the classes. Any disruption throws you off.

It was a huge rip off. Still is.

PSU's "University Studies" is the biggest crock of academic nonsense I have ever seen. My son is two terms away from meeting graduation requirements to get a PSU degree in Liberal Studies, even though he has satisfied department requirements for a major in German and a minor in Music. This is because he is a student who can't sit in groups and breathe the farts of other students while they listen and hold forth on their contributions to mentored group projects in such atomized subjects as "the Chicana-Latina experience", or "Controversies in the History of the American Borderlands" etc etc The only way to get out of such nonsense is get your degree in Liberal studies, and hope any prospective employer will like your answer, should they ask how you chose your major. Not that there will definitely be too many prospective employers, what with the economy and all, especially since he doesn't go in for Eco-terrorism, and such.

Once, I was a liberal, morphed into a centrist, and now I consider myself on the right side of center-right...and the experience most directly tied to this evolution would be the forced contemplation of the absolutely moronic, group-massaged, completely extraneous and contrived coursework necessary for a shy, dreamy, slightly misanthropic student to get a degree in German with a minor in Music out of PSU.

I am a senior at PSU, finishing after a 12 year lay off. About 1/2 the people in my senior-level classes are borderline illiterate, and put forth no effort. They will graduate with a degree, as will I.

I was a transfer student, and wasn't required to take University Studies (I got to take math instead). University Studies teaches nothing, but funds classes nobody would take willingly if they had any intentions of working someday as opposed to being a career student.

Echoing the post of Gaye, PSU changed the rules on me so many times I will have taken an extra year worth of classes to get a Bachelor's. My PSU courses will transfer, but they don't really count for any conventional degree programs elsewhere. And I ended up having to take University Studies anyway in my last year.

Years ago when I was a junior, PSU taught me college was a joke. Within the past year, PSU taught me college is essentially organized, state supported crime.

All for the low low price of a few decades of indenture.

This is the classic example of the emperor having no clothes. I believe there are many more people eater to be educated than patronized and a lot more professors wanting to teach real content-rich material from their disciplines that leads to mastery of the subject.

As a teacher I resented being asked to politicize my teachings and cater to liberal agendas. I hated asking less of my students than they were capable of, and they would have resented me if I did plus call me names and give me a hard time because they didn't respect me. I have been a student myself for too many years to put up with nonsense education and pick my instructors carefully.

Respect has to go both ways. If I get a stinker anymore, I make sure I let the dept. chair (or higher if need be) know why I am dissatisfied. Public schools have less of a need to be concerned with their customers, and PSU is terrible about putting the faculty and everything else ahead of student learning. But it is still worth complaining and getting the word out about the problems at PSU and making One's concerns public. The institution cannot change until the problems are acknowledged.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
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Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
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Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
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Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
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Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
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Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
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Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
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John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
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David Halberstam - Summer of '49
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Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
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Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
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Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Keith Richards - Life
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Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
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In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
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