Questions for the Candidates

I am planning to submit questionnaires to mayoral and city council candidates to see where they stand on the issues we all care about. I would love some input from the community on these. Here are a couple sample questions I came up with.

  • City Auditor Gary Blackmer and Multnomah County Auditor Suzanne Flynn released a joint audit report in June of 2006 which found that Portland Public Schools’ transfer policy contributes to racial and socio-economic segregation and conflicts with other district goals such as strong neighborhood schools and investing in poorly performing schools. The report requested that the school board clarify the of the purpose of the transfer policy, but nearly two years later, they have not. As mayor or commissioner, will you do anything to hold the school district accountable to this audit?
  • Portland Public Schools’ student transfer policy divests over $40 million annually from our poorest neighborhoods, leaving our most economically vulnerable citizens with gutted educational programs and a disproportionate number of school closures. This puts PPS policy at odds with city policy of strong, livable neighborhoods, with affordable housing near strong schools. As mayor or commissioner, how will you work with the PPS Board of Education to ensure their policies do not work at cross purposes with city policies?

And here’s one just for Sho Dozono:

  • You started the Portland Schools Foundation to support schools, particularly those in lower-income areas, in the wake of Measure 5. Now, more than ten years later, the foundation is frequently criticized as part of the problem, not part of the solution. Is the foundation still relevant today, or should the district administer the equity fund in-house?

What else?

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

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Common Sense in Facilities Planning

Udate: I fixed the link to the flier. Sorry to anybody who tried to download it earlier!

Also braving the cold wind and rain at the Last Celebration was Neighborhood Schools Alliance member Steve Linder, who distributed his flier (644KB PDF) which details the common-sense criteria for good neighborhood schools:

  • Schools to which more children can walk or bike
  • Schools designed to fit growing neighborhoods, with room for art, music, computers and PE
  • Well sited schools, adjacent to parks, with playfields meeting Oregon’s State School Acreage Standards

Ironically, many of the schools closed in recent years have met these criteria, with their students shuffled off across major arterials to inadequate facilities.

The free-market fetish at PPS has left major swaths of Portland, such as the Kenton area, without an elementary school. And, amazingly, they are often the areas expected to gain school-aged population over the coming years.

It’s time to rethink our facilities planning. Linder’s document is a good starting point. Everybody at Portland Public Schools who has anything to do with facilities planning should read it, as should all concerned community members.

Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.

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