What Obama means to Portland Public Schools

With George Bush as President the only avenue to change seemed to be moral outrage. This played out not only in national affairs but in communities throughout the country. Reason, as well as intellectual arguments, seemed to be neither effective or welcomed.

Well, the times they are a changin’.

Obama’s demeanor and intellectualism create a model of calm civility and serious problem solving…. Let’s sit down and talk this out. Let’s work together to solve the obvious. We can make good things happen for all our citizens. Yes we can.

So, how should this play out in Portland Public Schools? The first step it seems is to recognize the obvious and work to bring about major improvements where they are needed. Forget selfishness, greed, and getting yours at the expense of everyone else’s kids.

Here are some of the obvious things we need to address:

  • In a public school system all kids should have equal offerings and opportunities based on their needs.
  • Middle school age students need electives, athletics, music and the arts, and activities to help build their interest in school.
  • Kids who can’t read should get the help they need so they can.
  • The main focus of all schools should be on what takes place in the classroom where most of the learning happens. This includes great support for teachers and working hard to have orderly schools and classrooms.
  • High stakes testing is not as important as good, solid education which prepares students for life, ncluding future schooling, the job world, citizenship, and happiness.
  • Kids who can read decently well should have their education broadened in the arts, the sciences, the social sciences, and technology.
  • Kids who don’t get good family support should get extra help from the schools in overcoming those drawbacks.
  • Kids who work and excel should be able to go as far as they can, both through extra course work and special programs.

In the new spirit of America (really the old spirit of many of our childhoods) let’s work together to make these deferred dreams a reality.

Steve Buel has taught in public schools for 41 years. He served on the PPS school board (1979-1983) and co-authored the 1980 School Desegregation Plan. He has followed PPS politics since 1975.

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