The Candidates Speak on Public Schools

10:47 pm

The candidates for Portland City Council and Mayor are starting to talk about schools, and already there has been some interesting talk.

Willamette Week is posting video of their joint endorsement interviews, which have so far included candidates for commssioner #1 and #2, as well as mayoral candidates Sho Dozono and Sam Adams.

Jim Middaugh, a candidate for commissioner #2, raised some eyebrows at PPS with his response to the PPS Equity candidate questionnaire, in which he claims city staff of the Schools, Families, Housing Initiative helped avert a school closure. This prompted Matt Shelby from PPS to note “I’m not aware of closure plans, or even discussions for that matter, involving any of our schools.”

(Middaugh, like all other candidates who have responded to the questionnaire except Fred Stewart, carefully avoids talking about holding the district accountable to the Flynn-Blackmer audit.)

In the Willamette Week interview, Middaugh declares that schools are his top priority, and he cites his work on the Schools, Families, Housing Initiative as an example of how the city can help schools.

What he doesn’t mention is that in the first of two rounds of this grant, only one small project was funded that will actually be school-based. I’m not saying the other projects aren’t worthy, but there’s only so much a million dollars could do even if all of it were spent on our schools. One $14,000 grant isn’t much to crow about.

But I don’t want to pick on Midaugh. The fact that he has kids in PPS is one positive he would be wise to play up.

The mayoral candidates are also jumping on the schools bandwagon, and also tip-toeing around any serious issues, like the glaring inequity documented over several years by the Neighborhood Schools Alliance, and more recently by me and the Jefferson PTSA.

Sho Dozono is vague about schools, as he is with pretty much everything, but thinks businesses and non-profits should be more involved. Sam Adams is all about “fundraising” (how about revenue raising?), and seems to have tuned in to the Jefferson High School “charrette” fiasco, with no awareness of the community fallout that followed this top-secret plan to demolish Jefferson and essentially cede the property to PCC.

In the Willamette Week interview, Adams talks glowingly of a Jefferson High fully integrated with PCC.

It’s surely not be a bad thing for some students to earn college credit while they go to high school. But this demonstrates how out of touch Adams is with his constituents in North Portland, who have been cool to the idea of demolishing Jefferson High and rebuilding it as an extension of the PCC campus.

Of course, this idea is consistent with the developer-centric ethos of Adams, much of City Hall, and PPS, so we shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

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

filed under: Elections, Equity, Facilities, High Schools, Jefferson High, Media, Transfer Policy

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8 Responses

  1. Comment from Terry:

    I have a hard time with any candidate who “opts” to send his kids to a focus option like Sunnyside. Until he weighs in on this site, anyway, I’m leaning heavily to Nick Fish for the Commissioner #2 position.

    As for Sho versus Sam in the mayoral race, Dozono has the Portland Schools Foundation to explain.

    Adams, on the other hand, was very early upfront in his opposition to new Wal-Marts in Portland. Since I spent a good deal of time on the anti-Wal-Mart campaign here, that counts heavily in his favor.

    All the “Sam the tram” and “developer-centric” stuff, on the other hand, is not at all persuasive to this voter.

  2. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    I hope you watch the entire WW interview with Dozono and Adams. Let me know what you think of Adams’ grand vision for Jefferson.

    It’s a dream for the big-name construction firms that would get the contracts, for sure, but it’s been resoundingly rejected by the Jefferson community.

  3. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Sam Adams called me one day when I was running for school board. He said he wanted to make sure he talked to the candidates. He gave me about 30 seconds on the phone. He then endorsed Dan Ryan, who he obviously wanted to endorse the whole time. Adams had no interest in the schools or anything even remotely related to them. Plus, he was rude as hell. Only rude guy who I talked to the whole campaign.
    He is in the same camp as Stand for Children etc. and wouldn’t have any idea nor care about equity in the schools.

    Every so often city hall talks about schools — I’ve seen it since the 7o’s and not one of them has done any more for the lower economic schools in PPS than the members of the school board. Big general talk. No real interest. Schools are all politics to them, not real kids who aren’t making it and hence massively drag down the economy and living conditions in Portland.

  4. Comment from Terry:

    Rude, Steve B.? Maybe so.

    My impression from having met Sam on a couple of occasions is that he’s somewhat reserved and a bit stand-offish.

    I didn’t know about his endorsement of Dan Ryan.

    And Steve R., I will watch the WW interview. I really don’t have a favorite in the race.

  5. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    My take so far:

    Dozono represents the Portland Business Alliance. He is very vague on actual policy specifics, and doesn’t think he needs to have a grasp of policy specifics.

    Adams represents a continuation of the central-city developer cabal that has brought us the Pearl, South Waterfront, the tram and the streetcar, while neglecting basic infrastructure in the rest of the city, particularly the east side.

    Adams throws some bones to the young alt bike crowd, but people with an interest in low-income housing, neighborhood quality of life preservation and otherwise slowing or offsetting gentrification don’t have a dog in this fight.

  6. Comment from Terry:

    Having watched the WW interview, I’d have to conclude that Adams is as least as business friendly as Dozono. And the fact that he has proposed a tax for repairing roadways shows he is concerned with basic infrastructure.

    The one big difference between the two is whether 300,000 new residents are indeed headed to Portland. Dozono says not necessarily without housing. Adams says the expected influx is why the city has to prepare for them with commercial and residential development along transit corridors. He views such development as protecting neighborhood quality of life.

    Note that he didn’t specify streetcars.

    He also somewhat impressively linked transportation, housing, and jobs as necessary and interconnected components in the preparation for the inevitable population growth in Portland.

    As for Jeff, he mentioned a seamless transition from high school to an AA degree from PCC. What that seamless transition entails he didn’t specify.

  7. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Jeff, schmeff — the entire school district on the east and north sides of the city is falling apart. Has Adams ever mentioned that? It is the same story in city politics as in school politics. Worry about the upper middle class and middle class schools and now and again throw a bone to Jeff to try to show you have a social conscience.

  8. Comment from Joshua Todd:

    If anyone wants to hear more from the candidates, specifically about their youth agendas come out to Benson HS tonight from 400-6:30 (April 29th). The Youth Commission is hosting a City Council Candidate Forum- YouthStyle!

    Also, the Youth Commission is recruiting…open to any young person between the ages of 13-21 who live work or go to school in Multnomah County and the City of Portland. Youth serve as the official youth policy advisors to the Multnomah County Board and Portland City Council.