Wynde: Oregon education commitment “luke warm”

PPS school board member David Wynde takes the legislature to task in an Oregonian commentary this morning.

It’s no coincidence that Oregon has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Our lukewarm commitment to education hurts Oregon’s short-term and long-term economic growth.

Oregon’s response to this crisis couldn’t be more contrary to President Barack Obama’s strategy. The president is using stimulus dollars to blunt school cuts and spur important reforms because he believes education is vital to our nation’s economic growth.

In Oregon, we say education is a priority, then slash schools and programs for lack of funds. The state does not have the same budget flexibility as the federal government, but other states keep their schools operating.

We are suffering a dismal failure of leadership in Salem. Even with a Democratic super majority in the legislature a Democratic governor, nobody is taking the lead in proposing reforms our inadequate, unstable revenue stream, and nobody seems to connect the dots between education and the economy as Wynde does.

Perhaps we need to look at local funding options again. If the state of Oregon doesn’t have the sense to fund our future, perhaps the people of Portland do.

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


In the news: new Madison Principal backs out

Jennifer Anderson writes in the Portland Tribune that current Roosevelt High principal Deborah Peterson has decide not to accept her appointment to lead a unified Madison High in light of the significant controversy ignited by her appointement there without community involvement.

“I have rescinded acceptance of the appointment in the hopes that PPS will be able to conduct a process for appointment of the Madison principal,” Peterson wrote in an e-mail.

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


In the news: Duin on Madison, Roosevelt principal kerfuffle

Steve Duin hits the nail on the head in his Oregonian column this morning:

The adhesive power of trust is invaluable for public schools, especially in communities in which adults too often vanish before completing the job they started. Therein is the irritation, and the irony, regarding Deborah Peterson’s forced march ‘cross town, from Roosevelt to Madison High School.

We’ve heard a great deal from the Madison community here; it’s interesting to read Duin’s take on the Roosevelt community, as well as some damning words for the small schools model Portland Public Schools continues to force upon Roosevelt, despite its high cost and lack of funding:

The Gates Foundation has quit funding the initiative. It’s a lousy drawing card for kids in the neighborhood, 560 of whom leave to attend other high schools. Even Madison is kicking the concept to the curb, reverting to a comprehensive school.

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

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“Getting it” with Carole Smith

Saturday I woke up to this quote by Carole Smith in Anna Griffin’s column in The Oregonian: “It can’t be that where you live determines what kind of education you get, but that’s what we have right now.”

The significance of this statement can hardly be overstated. When board members or school leaders have talked about the equity issue in the past they have always said things like, “There is an equity problem.” or “We need to work to be more equitable.” or any other of many generalized statements. But Smith’s statement is black and white. The schools are not equitable because if you live in a more affluent neighborhood we are giving your child a better education and this is not right.

There it is folks. Step two is complete. First the school leaders recognized there was a problem. Now they have defined the problem.

Where should they go from here? This is what I think.

The district needs to define what equity means. But it can’t do that unless it defines just what a good education entails. How can you know if education is equitable unless you are able to define what a good education is? (Of course, you need a definition which can be layered and prioritized since Portland Public Schools does not always have the money to reach the goal of a good education.)

So a clear definition of what a good education in PPS is at every grade level is necessary first. Then we can evaluate the district in terms of equity, which is the 4th step.

And the final step in this process is to eliminate the inequities which are hindering some children from receiving the good education PPS has defined.

Then we hold the party and afterwards all get busy on the other problems.

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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