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Access to Education - Syllabus

Winter Term – 2012

Monday/Wednesday 10am to 12pm

6 Credits

Class Location: XS – B Building – Room 259

Instructor Contact Information:

Leah Cronn


Nelson Farris



  1. Schools: A History of Public Education in America – Sarah Mondale

  2. Failing Grade: Oregon’s Higher Education System Goes Begging – David Sarasohn

  3. The Medici Effect: Breakthrough insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts and Cultures – Frans Johansson

Course Summary:

This class will explore the genesis of today’s American public education system and the role of public schools in our society, barriers to obtaining a viable education in public schools, what you can do as a to change your life, and the lives of those in your community, to improve access to education to all.

Community Partner:

The community partner for this course is Marathon Education Partners, ( a Portland based non-profit organization, founded in 2002, that brings together over 100 low-income children (Scholars) with over 200 adults (Partners) in the community who are committed to helping these Scholars reach their goal of a college education. Marathon strives to provide encouragement, guidance, and a higher education scholarship opportunity to children with financial need. The program matches individuals and families (Partners) who want to give back to their communities by sharing their experience and knowledge with children (Scholars) through the crucial stages of their educational development.

The program selects promising students (Scholars) in the fourth grade whose families lack the financial resources to afford college. Scholars are then matched with individuals or families (Partners) who agree to pledge $100/month for 10 years toward a college investment/savings fund. Partners also agree to contact their Scholar often to provide encouragement and guidance over that 10-year period. In addition, Scholars, participate in community events designed to motivate and encourage them to succeed academically.

Marathon Scholars are recruited from Title 1 public schools in the Portland Metropolitan area, which means that approximately 50% or more of the students enrolled in the school are on free and reduced lunch. Marathon Scholars all qualify for free and reduced lunch, which means they live in a household that makes less than approximately $22,000 a year for a family of four. Many of the Marathon Scholars are first generation Americans and most, if not all, are the first in their family to go to college.

Course Requirements:

Students in this class will have a three-fold mandate:

1. Reflection/participation/attendance: To engage in a serious self-reflection and class discussion on the state of education in this country and what we can do as individuals and as part of communities and organizations to improve access to education for the next generation. Reflection will include participation in class discussions, 3 written papers 5 to 7 pages in length incorporating thoughts, discussion, text and course materials. Your class attendance and participation will be heavily weighted in your grade. There are no unexcused absences in this class. If you cannot attend class or a meeting or function for the class, you must let your instructors and or team members know as soon as possible.

2. Mentoring: PSU students will be paired in partnerships of two or more and will mentor one or more Marathon Scholars during the course of the term. The Marathon Scholars involved in the Marathon Education Partners for this class will be high-school Juniors and Seniors. Mentoring will involve you planning activity with your PSU partner and Marathon Scholar to attend on the PSU campus, which can include campus tours, classes, events, programs etc. You will be expected to get together with your Marathon Scholar at PSU at least 2 times during the term. PSU students and Marathon Scholars have formed long lasting relationships from this class. The Marathon Scholars have said that having college aged mentors immediately before they begin college has been a very valuable experience.

3. Projects: In addition to mentoring a specific Marathon Scholar, students will be expected to participate in the Marathon program by either assisting with a Marathon function designed for Scholars and/or creating another experience for the Marathon Scholars. An example of assisting with a Marathon program would be to assist at a PSU sports night for Marathon Scholars at the PSU Recreation Center on February 4th. Examples of projects that PSU students have done for Marathon Scholars in the past are: designing and executing a summer think-tank for the Scholars complete with trips to businesses the Marathon Scholars said they wanted to pursue as careers, including vet clinics, architecture firms, OHSU, Trailblazers etc; creating a resource guide for Marathon families to include, food, clothing and shelter resources in the Portland Metro area; an art day where PSU students and Marathon students created art projects that were sold at the Marathon Annual Auction; a cook book of recipes from Scholars/PSU students representing all the different countries they are from; a Scholar talent show; Marathon’s first facebook page and website. The contributions the PSU students have made to Marathon have been significant and we look forward to the contributions of this class. The world is really your oyster in terms of creating and executing a project that would benefit the Scholars involved in Marathon Education Partners.

Class Grading:

Grades are comprised of a maximum of 100 points. (95-100 = A, 90 – 94 = A-, 89- 85 = B+, 84 – 80 =B, 79- 75 = C+, 74-70 = C, 69-65 = D+, 64- 60 = D.)

Grading will work as follows:

Papers – 10 points each x 3 papers: 30 points.

Project for Marathon and participation in events: 30 points.

Mentoring of Scholar: 20 points.

Class participation and attendance: 20 points.

Each area of grading will be based on the following breakdown: 50% of points allotted for the content of the work, including the rigor of thought applied to the content, and how the concepts discussed in class and readings are applied to the project; 30% for the style of presentation including organization, grammar and design and 20% for responsiveness including follow through in meetings and timely submissions of work.


To provide Capstone students with an academic opportunity to learn through service to increase skills and awareness in areas of communication, diversity/variety of human experience, social and ethical responsibility and critical thinking.

-Communication – Students will enhance their oral communication skills by interacting with each other, instructors, members of the community partner, representatives from other organizations and PSU staff in mentoring and developing their projects for Marathon.

-Diversity/Variety of Human Experience – Students will enhance their understanding of the challenges students face in public school and for many as first generation Americans striving towards a college education. Students will learn to further appreciate the difficulties faced by first generation/immigrant/refugee community in obtaining an education in America.

-Social/Ethical Responsibility – Expand role of student, to educational developer for Marathon and expand role of student to role model for Marathon students. Students will learn to develop a new sense of the public educational system and better understand the additional resources low-income students need to achieve higher education.

-Critical Thinking – Further develop research skills in researching new program elements for Marathon, further develop organizational skills in implementing projects, preparing presentations, writing papers and participating in discussions. Students will learn to apply their areas of study to the projects they complete for Marathon.

Class 1 – Jan 9 – Introductions to each other, introduction to Service Learning and introduction to Marathon, class overview.


Bring in quotation from meaningful book you have read that has shaped your educational journey and be prepared to discuss its significance with the class.

-Get your books.

-Read Intro to School: The Story of American Public Education – will give you first part of reading if not in bookstore yet to page 60.

Class 2 – Jan 11 – Discuss quotations and educational journeys, guest speakers – Marathon staff – to discuss Marathon program and to discuss Scholars waiting for mentoring – do mentoring pairing – discuss projects for organization – decided on project teams and timelines.


Review the following websites and be prepared to discuss at next class:

(This first book may seem like a lot of reading, but there are lots of pictures!)

School: The Story of American Public Education by Sarah Mondale

Part I – School - 20- 60- The Common School, The Educated Citizen “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson

Class 3 - Jan 16 – NO CLASS - HOLIDAY

Assignment: School – 63 – 119 As American As Public School, You Are An American. “We want our Kinder to learn mit der book, der paper, und der pencil, not mid der sewing und der shop.” Immigrant Mother from Brooklyn

Class 4 – Jan 18 – [You Should have books by now] Guest Speaker: Deena Jouihan – PSU Graduate/Nike Employee – Digital Learning, discuss first part of School. –Paper #1 – assigned.

Assignment: School - 123 – 171 – Separate and Unequal, “

“Why Don’t You Go to School with Us?”

“We wanted what democracy had said was ours. And what our Bill of Rights and our Constitution had said belonged to us. We wanted equality, definitely.” Severita Lara

-Digital research on alternative educational sites.

Class 5 – Jan 23 – No guest speaker – catch up on book discussion/mentoring and projects.

Assignment: School 171 to 203 – The Bottom Line, A Nation at Risk?

“You can’t teach a child how to think unless you have something for him to think about.” Georgann Reaves.

Class 6 – Jan 25 - Nelson gone, Leah to lead class discussion. Discuss reading, discuss paper #1, discuss project/mentoring progress.

(This next book is a series of newspaper articles written by David Sarasohn – Education reporter for the Oregonian on higher education in Oregon. All articles are only a page or two. David Sarasohn will be coming to speak to our class after we have finished the book on Feb 15th.) -

Assignment: Assignment of Paper #1, Read - Failing Grade: Oregon’s Higher Education System Goes Begging – pp. 1 – 50


-Higher Education for the Oregon Legislature

-Higher Education in Oregon: An Endangered Species

-Thinning the Soup

-State System Sinking in 90s, Higher Education Heading Even Lower

-In Higher – Ed Playoff Oregon’s Trailing

-Oregon Studying to Be a Sidekick State

-Rising Students for Sinking Colleges

-An Address to the 1992 Escapes

Class 7 – Jan 30 - Paper #1 – Due - Guest Speaker: Greg Doan – Manufacturing Innovation Director – Nike. Topic: Education and Global Supply Chain.

Assignment: Failing Grade pp. 51 – 101


Higher Education Quietly Getting Lower

-It’ll Be Like a T-Shirt That Says USSR

-Washington Invests

-On Higher Ed – not Quite High Enough

-U of O President Won’t Duck the Future

-Portland State Ventures Into Portland

-Oregon’s Rising Role – Collegiate Colony

-State Colleges – Onward and Downward

-The Future is Exciting Next Door

-Llamas Carry the Load for Higher Ed

-Higher Ed – A Motto to Match Its Money

-Oregon Offers Breaks Instead of Brains

-The Eyes of Texas Are on Research

-Starved Colleges Turn on Each Other

-A Prayer, and a Wing, for Higher Ed

-Oregon Higher Ed – Last Known Address, Higher Ed – Washington’s Got a Secret

Class 8 – Feb 1 – Guest Speaker: Sharon Meiren, JD, MD – Marathon Partner, Candidate for State Representative District 36 – Topic: Oregon Educational Policy

Assignment: Failing Grade pp. 102 – 149


-Billing Our Children

-Viking Queen Sets Sail

-Degree’s of Deeper Debt

-Irate PSU Alumni Report

-Making a University

-The Future Is Sighted Elsewhere – Newsweek’s Hottest Tech Cities All Boast Higher Ed Engines and Guess Who Didn’t Qualify

-Market Rises for Faculty – Not Oregon

-Trying to Catch Up with Old Wash Tech

-Again Oregon Tries to Old College Trash

-Salem Needs Some Higher Education

-World-Class Universities, Discounted

-Oregon’s Newest Varsity Letter Is an F

-Oregon’s Idea of a Research University

-Education Funding: At Least We Should Savor Oregon’s Comic Aspects

Class 9 – Feb 6: Guest Speaker – Traci Rose – VP - Portland Trailblazers–Topic: Corporate Responsibility.

Assignment: Failing Grade pp. 150 - 189


-The Legislature – On Higher Ed, No Reasonable Offer Received

-The School Systems Worlds Apart: Standing on the Wrong Side of the Entrance to the Future

-Oregon’s Universities: In Politics, Higher Ed Rarely Comes Up, As It Goes Down,

-An Assignment for Higher Ed

-Knowledge is Power: Oregon Sees the Light

-Funding Higher Ed: Universities Fin a Cheerleader, Still Need a Victory

-Losing by Degrees – On Higher – Ed Board, Francesconi Faces Another F

-Higher Education: How Dumb Can We Get When It Comes to Cutting Budget?

-Oregon’s Colleges: Lincoln Hall’s Leaky Roof Is Metaphor for Higher Ed

-Higher Education: Budget As If the Future Were Coming

-Oregon Universities: Bernstine’s Exit Underscores the Erosion in Higher Education

-Subtracting Higher Ed

Class 10 – Feb 8 – No guest speaker – catch up on reading/mentoring/projects.

Assignment: Failing Grade pp. 190- 262


-Higher Education: Legislature to Students: Let Them Eat Cake (or Cookies)

-Higher Ed: If you Build it, They’ll Help Pay the Bill

-Community College Funding: Lower-Income Kids Access to High Ed Sinking

-We’re Losing the Tony Trans As Oregon’s Universities Spiral Down

-Higher Ed’s Tsunami

-Recruiting Difficulties Reflect the Sorry State of Oregon’s Colleges

-It’s a Wrap

-On a Shuttered Library, Words of Caution for Higher Ed

-U.S. News Numbers: Rankings of the Oregon Universities Not Classy

-The Key College Ranking: How Many Make It to College in Oregon

-Investment for a Future: Commitment to Higher Ed

-Partnerships Could Help Portland Students

-Could Oregon Learn from the Celtic Tiger

-Clinton Gets It: Kids Need Access to College

-Facing Another Lowering of High Ed

-Thinking Big for Oregon: Save the Future

-Emerald Opportunity: Oregon Higher Ed Has Reason to Get Its Irish Up

-College Track: Marathon Run for Education

-A Quick Way to Connect Jobs to Relief and a Route to the Future

-Federal Investment at College Level Needed

Class 11 – Feb 13- Paper #2 assigned – Guest Speaker – Rich Lishewski- Nike Global Talent Acquisition Director – Topic: Global education/skills/perspectives – what is needed now and in future.

Assignment: Failing Grade pp. 263 - 296


-College Students’ Next Lesson: Bad Economics

-When Two Trends Collide on Campus, Heading Toward a Collision Course

-In Beaver State, Higher Ed Plucked Like a Turkey

-With Kids, It Turns Out Experience Does Count

-Farewell to Frohnmayer: UO’s Departing Chief Fought Funding Crises

-For Students: More Help, Higher Hurdles

-In Colleges, Rearranging Can’t Avoid Refinancing

-Offering Portland Kids a Life after High School

-Higher Ed Cuts True Madness of this March

Higher Ed (Gasp) Gets Campaign TV Time

-Recognize the Realities of Reset – and its Cost

-Maybe Some Help

Class 12 – Feb 15 – Guest Speaker: David Sarasohn – Author of Failing Grade.

Assignment: Medici Effect: Breakthrough insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts and Cultures - pp. 1 – 60


-The Intersection - Your Best Chance to Innovate

-The Rise of Intersections

-Break Down the Barriers Between Fields

-How to Make the Barriers Fall

Class 13 – Feb 20 – Holiday – No Class

Class 14 - Feb 22 – Paper #2 – Due – Guest Speaker: Virginia Nguyen - Medici Effect – Diversity and Inclusion – Nike. Topic: How to bring a more creative and innovative approach to everything! Levering diversity and inspiring fresh new bold ideas.

Assignment: Medici Effect pp. 61 – 102

-Randomly Combine Concepts

-How to Find the Combinations

-Ignite an Explosion of Idea

Class 15 - Feb 27 – catch up

Class 16 – Feb 29 – catch up -


Medici Effect pp. 103 - 142

-How to Capture the Explosion

-Execute Past Your Failures

-How to Succeed in the Face of Failure

Class 17 – March 5 - Paper #3 assigned - Class time: Medici Effect projects – Implementing Medici tools – new ideas for improving access to education in Portland, new ideas for future Scholar experiences, new ideas for sharing stories of the challenges students face in public school in US. Potential Guest Speaker from Nike School Innovation Fund.

Assignment: Medici Effect pp. 143- 160

-Break Out of Your Network

-How to Leave the Network Behind

Class 18 – March 7 – Class time: Medici Effect projects – discussion of intersection between education, sports and the thriving of the next generation. Potential Guest Speaker from Nike Access to Sport.

Assignment: Medici Effect pp. 161 – 190

-Take Risks and Overcome Fear

-How to Adopt a Balanced View of Risk

-Step into the Intersection

Class 19 – March 12 – Class time: Medici Effect projects – Groups to present to class ideas formulated through process – Nelson to present on corporate education, history and storytelling.

Assignment: Finalize projects/papers

Class 20 – March 14 – Final Day of Class – Party/Final Presentations of Projects/Paper #3 Due

Disability Notice: If you have a disability and are in need of academic accommodations, please notify the instructor immediately to make arrangements. For information on available disability services, see: HYPERLINK "" PSU students requesting accommodations must provide documentation of the disability and work with the Disability Services for Students Office (503- 725-4150).


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