Focus is the monthly newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Marion and Polk Counties.
The following is excerpted from an article by Rachel Alexander in Salem Reporter, January 21, 2019
Taylor's House is Salem's newest shelter, a home for teens and young people between 11 and 18 who are home-less or in foster care and don't have another place to go.
Employees work with teens on completing high school or a GED, finding work and resolving family problems. "The idea is to be more than a roof over their heads," said Tricia Ratliff, the program director for the home, youth and resource center at Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, which runs the shelter.
Though teenage homelessness is often less visible than adult homelessness, it's a significant problem in Salem. There are roughly 1,100 homeless young people in the Salem-Keizer school district, according to state data. Of those, 59 are unsheltered, and 174 don't have a parent or guardian in their lives. That doesn't count teens who have graduated or dropped out of school.
Before the shelter opened, a few young people were sleeping in the doorway of the drop-in center at night, she said. For them, it was safer than sleeping in a park with adults. It's been nearly a decade since Salem had a shelter or program to house homeless minors other than a few beds on an emergency basis, said Stephen Goins, who runs transitional programs for Northwest Human Services.
HOME Youth & Resource Center
The following information is from the HYRC website
HOME Youth & Resource Center (HYRC) is a drop-in resource center for youth between the ages of 11 and 18. It provides a safe, supportive environment where youth can have their immediate needs met while positively connecting with their community. All services are free.
The day resource center is open from noon to 7 p.m., 365 days a year. If offers access to basic needs such as laundry, showers, three meals daily, food boxes, clothes, toiletries, computers, TV & gaming, transportation, ID documents and more.
HYRC provides street and community outreach including follow-up to youth-run reports filed with law enforcement in Salem and Keizer as well as case management and guidance for all youth at the Center. The Youth Empowerment Program provides paid internships for youth 14-18 years old along with job and life-skills training. The program provides positive adult relationships with staff, college interns and community leaders.
In addition to the day center, HYRC operates an emergency shelter that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, there are only ten beds available (co-ed). The shelter has a structured program to help youth find safety, stability and their place in the community.
Dr. Myhre (pronounced my-ree) is a scientist and public advocate for human rights. A paleoceanographer with expertise in social and ecological decision-making, she is at the front lines of addressing rapid climate change. She does research on carbon drawdown solutions in the global ocean.
Bill Hayden will receive the Peacemaker of the Year award at the Salem Peace Lecture. Bill Hayden is a life-long peace activist through his volunteer work, advocacy and leadership touching a wide range of issues, including racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights and immigrant and farm-worker rights. The League of Women Voters is a long-time cosponsor of the Salem Peace Lecture, which is free and open to the public.
So, if you'd like to join us beginning in January on the 3rd Saturday each month, notify Sally Hollemon, firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-391-8978 right away. She will order the books during the fall pre-order period when we'll get a discount, making each book cost about $30.
Supt. Perry said that Salem-Keizer is the second largest school district in Oregon. It is a growing district with 42,327 students in 65 schools. The district is getting children from the Portland area because housing costs there are increasing so fast that families move to Salem and commute to Portland for their jobs.
Nearly 60% of Salem-Keizer students are considered to be living in poverty--that's 3 in 5 children. 1,122 students experienced homelessness in 2017-18, and the numbers increase by approximately 100 students each year. Due to high rates of poverty, all students at the feeder schools to McKay H.S. and North H.S. receive free breakfast and lunch each school day.
Eighty-one languages are spoken in our schools, so the district has a Translation Department for Spanish and other languages spoken by many students and uses a translation service for languages spoken by only a few students.
The high-school graduation rate has inched up to 77%. Supt. Perry said that if students can stay in our district through their school years, they will be successful. Students who enter our district behind where they should be will grow more than a year's worth of skill/knowledge each year. However, it is critical for youngsters in the English Language Development (ELD) program to complete it before they enter high school because high-school ELD students do poorly. ELD students who are sufficiently competent in English so they can leave that program before they enter high school will outperform the native-English speaking students.
Refugees come from very traumatized families and situations. Those who come as 16-year-olds probably won't be able to earn a high-school diploma, but the district's goal for them is completion, which may be a GED because a GED allows them to go to community college.
The district's Career and Technical Education (CTE) program offers many courses including Agriculture and Agriscience; Basic Nursing Assistant; Computer-Aided Drafting; Computer Programming; Cosmetology; Culinary Arts; Drone Technology & Robotics; Early Childhood Education; Emergency Services; Environmental Science,; Health & Pharmacy Service; Law Enforcement; Manufacturing, Welding & Engineering; Marketing; Sports Medicine and more. A student can attend any of the 35 CTE courses, which are offered on various campuses. For students who take the whole program in one CTE area the graduation rate is 98%. For students who take only one CTE class the graduation rate is 88%, which is higher than for the student body as a whole.
Salem-Keizer has worked to reduce the school drop-out rate from 3.95% in 2013-14 to 3.34% in 2017-18, a rate which is lower than the state rate of 3.55%.
In answer to a question about mental health, Supt. Perry said that many kids come to school with mental-health issues, even children as young as elementary school. So how to self-regulate has become part of the school curriculum. Ideally, Supt. Perry would have a mental-health provider in every school and two providers in each high school.
Supt. Perry brought two teachers with her, Drew Moneke and Sharlee Blackwell, who explained their work.
Sharlee Blackwell, a bilingual teacher of Spanish and English, explained the steps needed to become proficient in a new language--listen, speak, read, write. (She added that similar steps are needed to learn any new skill.)
She uses students' first language as a jump start for acquiring a second language. For example: mástil = mast. This encourages students to see that they know more than they realized.
Ms. Blackwell said she uses culturally appropriate stories with her students who are learning English. Kids need fun, safe and welcoming schools, role models, and consistency. An enthusiastic teacher, Ms. Blackwell added that knowing two languages is an asset.
Drew Moneke teaches History and Civics at West Salem High School. His goal is "outward mindset." Behaviors are driven by students' interior feelings. As a teacher he works to change the mindset (self-awareness) of students to help them see themselves as people who can make a difference in society.
Mr. Moneke said he is passionate about history and teaching it to his students. He added that, while Civics is a specialized class in high school, civics is also taught as part of other classes from elementary school through high school with the goal of teaching youngsters about government and voting.
Dr. Dominick A. DellaSala is President and Chief Scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland and was President of the Society for Conservation Biology, North America Section, from 2008-2014. He is the author of over 200 technical papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology. He was the keynote speaker at the LWVOR Convention in May 2019. The following notes are by Sally Hollemon.
Dr. DellaSala began his talk by saying that he no longer refers to "climate change" He calls it "climate chaos" to show how serious the issue is. The climate is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale. He showed a photo of a banner that hangs over a main street in Grants Pass: "It's the Climate." Dr. DellaSala dubbed in a banner underneath that asked: "What are you going to do about it?"
A recent UN report stated in 2018 that the world has a dozen years left before civilization itself may be on the brink of collapse. Evidence of the environmental damage that has already occurred: There has been an unprecedented increase in CO2 in the environment. Half of the world's forests are gone along with their ability to absorb carbon. 1000 species may be extinct due to human activity.
Thinning forests is ineffective during extreme events of heat and drying. Taking out the big trees to pay for thinning of small trees is the opposite of what should happen since the big trees are more fire-resistant. Further, less than one percent of thinned forest is hit by fire; dry vegetation and winds that carry burning vegetation spread fire. Therefore, homes built in forest areas should be "hardened" by being built of fire-resistant materials, removing vegetation near structures, and planting fire-resistant landscaping.
We need a strong Clean Energy Jobs Bill. [Note: That bill was before the Oregon Legislature at the time he spoke. The measure failed to get a vote.] We should protect our wild lands and protect the big trees.
Furthermore, the environmental and various justice movements should work together to enact laws to protect the earth from further environmental damage because the carbon already in the atmosphere will stay there for a long time and continue to affect the climate.
Dr. DellaSala urged voters to ask candidates running for office in 2020 the following questions:
Do you believe in climate change?
What is your vision for a safe climate?
How would you achieve that vision if elected?
Is it TOO COMPLEX? - Some decisions may be simple yes or no votes. Other decisions will affect many areas of government. Make sure you understand the implications and consequences if this petition becomes law.
Is it CLEAR? Some proposals aren't well-written. They may have conflicts requiring court interpretations or resolutions.
If the initiative is a constitutional measure, does it BELONG in the Constitution? Is it a fundamental law that should be protected? Changes or mistakes would require another (costly) election to amend the Oregon Constitution.
Is it an "unfunded mandate?" Would the Legislature need to pull funds from other essential programs? Initiatives should generally not earmark, restrict, or obligate specific General Fund revenue percentages.
Before you sign, ask to see ID. Paid gatherers must carry photo ID issued by the Secretary of State. If they don't have the required ID, you can reasonably wonder why. Numerous instances of fraud could have been avoided by insisting on seeing ID.
Thanks to Kathleen Mason we were able to get our Facebook page up.
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