Charters and PPS

Responding to the recent audit of PPS charter schools, PPS Superintendent Carole Smith had this to say:

“The track record of PPS charter schools — and of the district’s success in managing and partnering with those schools — is a mixed bag. After 10 years, it is time for a deep and thoughtful assessment of charter schools, in theory and in practice.”

Given the Board’s rejection of the most recent charter applications, it looks like the worm might be turning. Odd timing, given the rest of the country under our new President is going ga-ga over charters.

Full disclosure: my daughter attends Trillium right now. There are lot of great things about the school, e.g., not holding kids to artificial benchmarks, integrating art and music across the curriculum, theme-based education that ties in different learning styles, project-based learning, and allowing kids to choose things they are interested in learning and then giving them time and support to pursue these things. As an educator and parent, I appreciate these forms of pedagogy.

But as an activist, I question the role of charters and worry about their draining effect on neighborhood schools. On this blog, Rose and Stephanie have shared information about the way kids with IEP’s and kids with disabilities are served by PPS. The way charters handle this concerns me even more.

I think we as a community need to look carefully at the charter movement here in PPS. Is there a way that charters can become community partners, or will they always serve a niche? And why?

Peter Campbell is a parent, educator, and activist, who served in a volunteer role for four years as the Missouri State Coordinator for FairTest before moving to Portland. He has taught multiple subjects and grade levels for over 20 years. He blogs at Transform Education.

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School library bill gets first hearing

Oregon’s HB 2586, the Quality School Libraries bill, gets its first House committee hearing this Monday, March 30. This bill would make library programs eligible for grants in addition to State School Fund money, and would require school districts to include goals that implement strong school library programs in their local district continuous improvement plans.

Please contact members of the House Education Committee and urge them to support this bill. (Or thank them for their sponsorship. Four of nine of the committee members — Dembrow, Huffman, Roblan, and VanOrman — are co-sponsors). It is also helpful to contact your legislators and encourage them to sign on as sponsors if they haven’t already, or thank them for their support if they already have.

House Education Committee

Legislative sponsors

House:

Senate:

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

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