February 22, 2009
In a letter to the editor in today’s Oregonian (not published online), Portland Public Schools eighth grade teacher Sheila Wilcox gets to the point about our state funding cuts and PPS’s “already underfunded experiment in K-8s”:
As a teacher in a K-8 school in Portland, I am extremely dismayed at the talk of more unstable funding for education. Already, I am teaching eighth grade in a portable classroom on my school’s playground.
The building is poorly insulated, and the heating system is inadequate. My students have next to no access to technology (our mobile lab will be used for testing for the rest of the year), no music, and our library is the worst I’ve seen in my 13 years with the district.
I have tried to speak with several district officials and have been put off or dismissed altogether. How sad that our already underfunded experiment in K-8s will be shortchanged this school year, once again.
The still unfinished K8 transition gives students less while costing us more (much like the rigid Gate’s style academies we seem stuck with, despite the model being repudiated by the Gates foundation). The district seems to have lost interest in K8s, distracted by both the budget and the coming unveiling of the high school plan.
Also in today’s paper, Betsy Hammond writes that Oregon is alone among states discussing a shortened school year (despite most states being in fiscal crisis). Oregon is unique for both its unstable education funding, and its unwillingness to protect education from such draconian cuts.
A national shame on our Democratic Party-controlled state house and governor for failing to avoid such immediate cuts, and, most importantly, to address the long-term inadequacy and volatility of our revenue model.
Steve Rawley published PPS Equity from 2008 to 2010, when he moved his family out of the district.