Open thread: school board zones, elections, and pay

Should school board members be paid? An unpaid board position is conservatively estimated to be equivalent to a half-time job. Why should service on the board be limited to those who can afford to work a half-time job for free?

Should school board members be elected by the zones they represent, instead of the whole city? Currently, school board members must live in the zones they represent, but all seats are voted on city-wide.

(Tip of the hat to Lakeitha for the open thread idea!)

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


In the news: Portland Observer coverage of HS meeting

The Portland Observer‘s coverage: “Heated Discussion”.

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


High schools: open letter to the Superintendent’s team

Dear Super Team,

I honestly feel that you missed some very clear issues that were expressed at the May 16th meeting.

You can not complete a diverse high school system redesign with out first addressing why it isn’t fair to begin with. The lines that are drawn for our schools need to cross the River. The wealth that lives in two schools should be spread around. Not only so more school have access to more involved parents, but so the students on the West side have access to a diverse community to learn in. Being able to relate to people of differing cultures is best taught young. That is a privilege that is being denied to those children now. In a 21st Century world we all need access to each other to grow to support our city, state, country, world.

Along these lines, it is past time to give neighborhood schools their neighboring enrollment back. It’s time to picture the school down the street as equivalent to the one across town. All it needs is you to make it your neighborhood school. What makes schools better is putting your children and your energy into it. It was clear around the room that neighborhood-to-neighborhood elementary transfers must end. But if honest concerns over quality of education aren’t addressed at the district level this can’t work. We thought that was the job of the K-8 reconfiguration to resolve. Where are the latest audit of K-8 course offerings for this year and next years planning?

As you have said, quality of high school course offerings has to be universal. But as the students explained, the specific educational offerings must to vary to offer specialized learning to motivated youth. So perhaps the idea is to have elementary education equalized and neighborhood focused. But to compliment this idea have an open specialty transfer process at the high school level. Where your neighborhood high school offerings are the same and if you aren’t interested in a magnet program you attend your neighborhood high school. But with the aid of publicly provided transportation, students would be free and able to choose a specialized course offering housed in another school. This would end the Kindergarten scuffle of worried parents that don’t feel comfortable with the feeder pastern of their neighborhood school.

More than anything it was expressed that the highest level of quality education should be offered to all children in all zip codes. Thank you for all of your efforts. Please continue to involve and inform the community at large as we proceed together towards a better tomorrow.

Nicole Leggett is a Peninsula K-8 Parent.


In the news: foundation announces eligible schools

Nineteen schools are eligible for non-competitive grants under the Portland Schools Foundation’s streamlined formula, reports Jennifer Anderson in the Tribune today.

Under the new rules, these schools will not have to write competitive grants. The will automatically be awarded funds if they submit the proper paperwork along with a school improvement plan.

The eight eligible high schools include: Madison, Benson, Franklin, Roosevelt Campus, Jefferson High School/Young Women’s Academy, Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School, and Portland International Community School and Alliance High School (both alternative schools).

The 10 eligible elementary and K-8 schools include: Scott, Woodstock, Lee, Lent, Clarendon-Portsmouth, Clark at Binnsmead, Rigler, Ockley Green, Sitton and Bridger.

One middle school – Beaumont – is eligible for the grants.

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


Election postmortem

Election results are in. With fewer than 15% of registered voters bothering to mail in their ballots, Pam Knowles has coasted to victory in her zone 5 race over Scott Bailey, 61% to 38%. Zone 5 was the “money race;” the two candidates raised a combined $75,000. Bailey, who received 15,479 votes, has so far reported $36,441 spent (of $41,154 raised) on his campaign, or $2.35 per vote received. Knowles reports $29,116 spent (of $34,040 raised), and received 25,055 votes; that’s 86 cents spent per vote.

In the much lower profile zone 4 race, incumbent Martín González walked away with 51% of the vote in a three-way race. Rita Moore and Steve Buel split the difference of the remaining vote. Total campaign spending by the three candidates in zone 4 was around $7,000, or less than 10% of what the two zone 5 candidates spent. Roughly the same number of votes were cast — just over 40,000 — for both positions.

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


In the news: teachers “working to the rule”

Portland Public Schools teachers are currently “working to the rule” to protest stalled contract negotiations, reports the Portland Business Journal.

Portland Public Schools spokesman Matt Shelby could not confirm which schools are actually affected by the work slowdown, but he did say that for the past several weeks teachers as several schools have begun “working to the rule.”

Teacher Erin Quinton had a letter to the editor published in the Oregonian Friday, describing her experience with the slowdown.

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


Moore: district missed opportunity for apology

Note:School board candidate Rita Moore sent this letter to Oregonian reporter Kim Melton regarding her coverage of the community high school redesign meeting at Jefferson High Saturday. The Portland Sentinel also covered the meeting. –Ed.

Just read your article on today’s meeting and I wanted to say thank you. After 4 hours of remarkably shallow discussions of the models and an additional hour talking with District leaders about the principal situation at Roosevelt, I appreciate your highlighting the level of frustration that was present in the room.

This forum was significantly longer than previous forums and was pitched as an opportunity to “go deep” on the high school redesign. Instead, despite the additional time, the discussion was, in fact, shallower and actually shorter on the specific models while pointedly evading the “deeper” issues.

Most disappointing, both [Superintendent] Carole [Smith] and [chief of staff] Zeke [Smith] refused to take the opportunity handed to them by several members of the community to apologize for subjecting poor and minority students to experimental structures and sub-standard curricula. Carole came close, but the “mistakes were made” formulation just won’t cut it and she needs to understand that. Until District leaders are willing to take responsibility and then take steps to fix the problems they have created, we will never be able to establish trust. And many of us will remain forever skeptical of both the intentions and the competence of the District to provide the kind of education that all our children deserve.

By the way, when exactly will the District address the K-8 situation?

Anyway, thanks for your report.

Rita Moore has a Ph.D. in Political Science and taught at universities in the US and Europe for 18 years. She now works as an advocate for children in the child welfare system and volunteers as a mediator and facilitator. She has one child in PPS and recently ran for the zone four position on the Portland Public Schools Board of Education.

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In the news: funding rally, Trib seeks input on principals

Portland Tribune reporter Jennifer Anderson has put out a call for input on PPS principals.

Also from the Trib, a distributed school funding rally is planned for tomorrow.

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


Public comment open on the updated PPS discipline policy

I attended the school board meeting this evening where they discussed the new discipline policy. Apparently this policy has not been updated since 1977 with the exception of the the drug/alcohol policy. This draft policy is a significantly different and far more uplifting and proactive than the current policy. I believe in positive behavior supports and this is stated in the wording of the policy several times and I could not be happier. I would like to note that Ruth Adkins publicly addressed the use of the word disruptive in the current policy as being a racial code word and also the fact that the data shows inequitable discipline practices. Ruth noted that this draft policy includes the tools and resources that the staff have been requesting.

Public comment will open on this tomorrow and I will post a link in the comments section when it opens. There are only 21 days to comment and then policy will be adopted I believe June 8th.

Some positive highlights of this draft policy:

  • Discipline should be equitable, timely, fair, developmentally appropriate, and match the severity of the student’s misbehavior. (Behavior consultants call this “reasonable response”)
  • A positive, respectful, and inclusive school climate is the mutual responsibility of district staff, who are expected to create and environment for student success using principles of positive behavior support and cultural competency in managing student conduct. It goes on to also include the student, family, and community.

Another board member brought up a point about principals having discretion to make decisions in unique situations. I will comment on needing more clarity here because I do not agree with a principal making decisions that are counter to policy because I believe this is too much of a slippery slope. Positive behavior supports covers unique situations and I am concerned that there are any loopholes that may allow for actions that are questionable or abusive.

Once I post the link be sure to get your comments in and also comment on discipline and behavior in general.

Stephanie Hunter is a behavior consultant and the parent of a student at Ockley Green. She is active in local and statewide advocacy for children and adults with disabilities, which she writes about on her blog Belonging Matters.

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New parent group: PPS Parent Union

The Parent’s Union is on its way. We will have our first meeting on May 13, 6:30 at 2941 NE Bryant St. Please invite anyone or any group you think wants to be a part of this landmark gathering. Let them know they get to be on the ground floor in the creation of this important and imperative group.

I will present my vision. I have talked to people who are already doing this in other cities and will be sitting at their feet for help. We need all your expert input. I am hopeful this will be a collaborative effort (sure of it). Some of you I have already asked to be the expert on certain issues since you already are.

Actions so far: We have been gathering parent’s and others’ stories of how they have been treated in our schools. Hope one or two will come to tell their story.

Groups who have committed to coming: Cascade Policy Institute, PIRC-Parental Information and Resource Center, Urban League, People Celebrating People, N-NE Black Coalition, Taskforce on the achievement gap social justice committee, Ainsworth UCC, PFLAG-Parents and Families of Lesbian and Gay Children, PTA, Special Ed. PTA, CPPS-Community and Parents for Public Schools, Community Education Partners and GrandParents raising GrandChildren.

Groups on my radar: Stand for Children (Will meet with Portland director and Stand CEO Jonah Edleman at the end of the month),
Foster Parents Association, home school Parents, homeless families, Tag parents (the program at PPS is going to be fragmented),
Special Education Groups, Head start Parents, charter school parents, Multnomah Family and community Services, DCJ, Rethinking Schools, NAYA, IRCO, CIO, APANO, Latino network, Center for Educational Excellence, Resolutions NW. We know there are many organizations, groups and parents. We will compose a list at the meeting.

For the last week I have attended 3 events that focused on Parent Involvement and collective collaboration. The time is right! We do have Parent Power!! It’s time to bring it out of the closet.

Sheila Warren is a community organizer and PPS grandparent.


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