Another parent on cuts at Ockley Green

11:32 am

Here’s another letter from an Ockley Green parent regarding cuts at the school for next year. –ed.

I am an Ockley Green parent. I have two children at the school.

Ockley is an outstanding, wonderful school that has done a remarkable job, thanks to Mr. Malone and his staff. My children are flourishing, even though they have vastly different needs. My daughter is on an IEP, and at Ockley she has an experienced, dedicated staff. My son is very bright. At Ockley his gifts have been recognized and challenged. This is a school where 70 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

These cuts are unconscionable. Higher income schools may be able to make up for such cuts in private fundraising but this is not true for Ockley. School choice is a facade and has created a serious situation of segregation. Low-income families can’t afford the transportation and lack the savvy to play the system. The result is a city where white and wealthier families take their resources into schools outside their neighborhood while minority and poor students remain in schools facing the impossible challenge of higher costs and budget cuts.

My son’s track meet this morning was an illustration of this fact. The Ockley and King teams were almost exclusively African-American and poor. Schools like Chapman were almost all white and wealthier. This segregation carried to the bleachers, and will carry on for the better part of these children’s lives, as white children benefit from educational opportunities denied to minority children through a program disguised as school “choice.” Sitting in the bleachers I reflected how I could have been living in the deep south for the clear color lines our schools perpetuate. But this Portland, Oregon. We are supposed to be progressive and equal opportunity.

The cuts being made demonstrate, once again, that this is not true. Our children deserve better.

Rene Denfeld

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Rene Denfeld is a writer and parent of two Ockley Green students.

filed under: Ockley Green, Program cuts, Transfer Policy

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3 Responses

  1. Comment from Terry:

    Good letter, Rene Denfeld.

    I applaud you for enrolling your kids at Ockley. And for calling “school choice” out for what it is –a “facade”! Parents would do well to follow your example.

  2. Comment from Rene:

    Thank you, Terry. The decision was a no-brainer. It is a great school and my neighborhood school. My siblings went there too.
    To be honest I am not in a postion to benefit from school choice even if I believed in it. I am a single mom on a budget with three African-American/Hispanic kids, and until recently I had an additional foster child. Like a lot of parents I cannot afford or manage to schlepp my kids all over Portland even if I could find schools that would be good matches, AND they got in. It simply is not an equitable system. It is weighted against the poor, multi-child homes, foster parents and other providers, special needs children and ESL kids.

  3. Comment from Nicole:

    Thank you for speaking out for lower-income schools, Rene.

    When Applegate was closed our neighborhood was merged with the Woodlawn attendance area, but Ockley Green is much, much closer so we consider Ockley Green our neighborhood school.

    Starting Kindergarten in September will be a lot easier for our shy child if we could get to know other Kindergarten families before school starts. If any other incoming Ockley Green families would like to connect, please email me at:
    nicolebreedlove at yahoo dot com