Open community meeting regarding Portland youth/gang violence

From Rob Ingram:

You are invited to attend a special Meeting @ The Community Meeting Room, North (formerly Northeast) Precinct, 449 NE Emerson, July 30th , Thursday, from 2 to 3 PM.

If you are a representative, are working with or serving in the following areas or if you just have an interest in community communication techniques and needs this meeting is for you:

  • Community members,
  • Private non-profit organizers – coordinators and associates,
  • Faith based organizers and associates,
  • Business owners and associates.

Purpose: To gather your input regarding how your communities receive Information and how information, in your eyes, should be disseminated.

Particular attention will be taken to discovery of the following:

  • Scope of the problem/ issues and current efforts,
  • Ways for everyone to get and stay involved,
  • How we can better provide information.

This is a great opportunity to make a difference in how our communities see each other, and work together while obtaining necessary information.

See you there!!!

Rob Ingram
Director, Office of Youth Violence Prevention
Office of Commissioner Dan Saltzman
449 NE Emerson (Interdepartmental mail, Bldg. 200)
Portland, OR 97211
503.823.3584 Ofc
503.519.7440 Cell
503.823.6868 TDD
503.823.3004 Fax

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

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State of Black Oregon: not so good

The Urban League of Portland has issued a State of Black Oregon report, with troubling statistics for black students.

The dropout rate for black students is twice as high as for white students, and black students face expulsion and suspension at twice the rate of white students.

The study paints a broad picture of black Oregonians “at the bottom of every meaningful social and economic measure,” according to an Urban League press release. “African Americans in Oregon have significantly higher infant mortality rates, are more likely to live in poverty, have higher levels of unemployment, are half as likely to own their own homes and are far more likely to die of diseases such as diabetes than their white counterparts.”

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

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On the blogs: Adams, Knowles inflate dropout rate

On Our Global Education, Kenneth Libby dissects the source of Mayor Sam Adams’ and school board member Pam Knowles’ erroneous claim of a forty-something percent dropout rate in Portland Public Schools.

The source? A Gates Foundation-funded study. The actual dropout rate is something less than 37%. The study counts 63% of students graduating (57% within four years of starting ninth grade and another 6% within five years), but cannot account definitively for the remaining 37%. Some are dropouts, but some transfer to schools that use different accounting, for example.

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


Restricted transfers: how does this benefit black students?

A member of the Oregon Assembly for Black Affairs (OABA) e-mail list asks this very pertinent question:

Can anyone…help me understand the benefits to Black students to be required to attend a high school with an impoverished academic program compared to other Portland public high schools just because the Black students live in the neighborhood of an academically impoverished school?

This question is in response to Carole Smith’s announcement of a high school system redesign that would balance high school enrollment by eliminating the ability to transfer between neighborhood schools (choice would be preserved in the form of district-wide magnets, alternative schools, and charters).

The ideal, of course, is that all neighborhood high schools would have equitable offerings, so nobody would be “trapped” in a sub-par school.

But there is a significant lack of trust in the community, which Smith acknowledges. In her press conference announcing the redesign last month, she endorsed the restriction of transfers “with this caveat: We cannot eliminate those transfers until we can assure students that the school serving their neighborhood indeed does measure up to our model of a community school — with consistent and strong courses, advanced classes and support for all.”

In my minority report on high school system redesign, I proposed exceptions to the “no transfers” rule for transfers that don’t worsen socio-economic segregation.

“In other words,” I wrote, “a student who qualifies for free or reduced lunch could be allowed to transfer to a non-Title I school, and a student who doesn’t qualify for free or reduced lunch could be able to transfer to a Title I school. This is a form of voluntary desegregation that is allowable under recent Supreme Court rulings, since it is not based on race.”

I’m not sure if this is the kind of caveat Carole Smith is talking about, but I believe the district has proven it cannot rely on the trust of poor and minority communities who have been disproportionately impacted by district policy. In addition to increasing integration in our schools, this would provide a critical “escape valve” for minority communities while the district demonstrates its good faith.

While our current system ostensibly offers all students the opportunity to enter the lottery to get into a comprehensive high school, only students in predominately white, middle class neighborhoods are guaranteed access to a comprehensive secondary education.

The propposed high school redesign is definitive step toward closing this glaring opportunity gap (even if the achievement gap persists).

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


In the news: PPS texts downplay global warming

Local teacher Bill Bigelow notes in the summer edition of Rethinking Schools that recent Portland Public Schools text book adoptions in science — Physical Science: Concepts in Action (Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006) — and global studies — Modern World History (McDougall Littell, 2007) — are “dismissive of human-caused climate change.”

In his article, “The big one: teaching about climate change,” Bigelow argues that climate change “is the biggest issue facing humanity,” and lays out his strategy for teaching students about global warming, despite the lack of adequate text books from the district.

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


Who Funded Pam Knowles’ Election?

This article is reprinted with permission. It originally appeared on the author’s blog Global Ideologies in Education –Ed.

Portland Business Alliance COO Pam Knowles recently won a seat on the PPS school board. She ran against Scott Bailey in a high-price race for the zone 5 seat. Knowles spent $34,030 on her campaign and Bailey spent $33,561 to publicize his candidacy. This begs a few questions: does this de facto “pay to play” policy lock out particular communities, viewpoints, or opinions? Who can raise $30,000 for a high-involvement volunteer position while maintaining a job and raising a family? These questions become even more relevant when considering the election process in Portland: anyone can vote in any zone’s election. (See also this open thread for previous discussion of these issues. –Ed.)

The election process has turned into a media campaign complete with campaign managers, corporate donations, media budgets, and the presentation of false statistics (more on this later; let’s just say Knowles either has no idea what she is talking about or is knowingly misleading the public).

Location of Pam Knowles’ campaign donations larger than $100

The map above shows the sources of 57 donations to Knowles’ campaign. Several of them are in her district, but the vast majority aren’t even on her side of the river. All of this information is available here through OreStar, Oregon’s election reporting website. These 57 donations account for around $15,000 of Knowles’ $34,030 campaign; the other donations were less than $100 apiece and do not require documentation. I have no doubt that Knowles had the support of some people in her district — some of those sub-$100 donations were from voters in her district — but she certainly pulled in her biggest chunks of funding from the West side (and Portland businesses).

What is Knowles saying that makes the business sphere take note? First, Knowles claims we have a 42% dropout rate. She pushes for “stabilizing funding” for the schools without calling for taxes on businesses (she’s also the COO of the Portland Business Alliance; do you think they like the new tax hikes?). She practically screams efficiency and accountability in the voters’ pamphlet — all while suggesting the K-8 model is here to stay because “research” says it’s better. Added insult: part of that “research” is an overt attack on teachers (they’re more “accountable” in the K-8 model). Question for Pam: why do we have the K-8 model only in one part of town while another part of town (the wealthier side) gets a 6th grade academy and then a 7/8 grade school for middle school?

The claim of a 42% dropout rate isn’t unique to Pam; the Mayor has made the same claim as well (although I informed the Mayor’s office of their error and it sounds like Sam understands the issue). I’ll elaborate on the dropout statistic soon — but I can tell you that Knowles is intentionally misleading the public or completely misinterpreted educational studies (or she never bothered to read them).

Kenneth Libby is an independent education researcher and a recent graduate of Lewis and Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling. He writes about national education issues, testing and philanthropy on Schools Matter and Global Ideologies in Education.


In the news: new PSF rules help keep teachers in classroom

Adrianne Jeffries reports in yesterday’s Tribune on the ways principals are using Portland Schools Foundation (PSF) Equity Fund money to restore cuts to classroom teachers and librarians, and even adding staff in the case of Benson High. This is possible for the first time since that fund’s inception under new rules brought by PSF CEO Dan Ryan.

Former PSF CEO Cynthia Guyer defends the old rules, and yours truly gives props to Ryan for moving things in the right direction.

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


On the blogs: Russo on new CAO Botana

Chicago schools blogger Alexander Russo tosses in his two cents on new PPS Chief Academic Officer Xavier Botana (“I sort of liked the guy”), but one reader questions Carole Smith’s reference to his “strong record of building shared ownership of school improvement among parents, teachers and community.”

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


A middle grade fix to go with the high school plan

With the coming of the newly designed high schools it is even more imperative PPS fixes its middle grade education. Here is my proposal:

Put four 7th and 8th grade junior high schools, one each, into the Roosevelt, Madison, Jefferson, and Marshall attendance areas. If there are about 1400 students per high school in each attendance area that would be close to 700 students in each school. We leave the 6th graders in K-6s. Middle school for them is not much different than grade school anyway and society already pushes kids ahead too fast. Then let’s focus on making these schools attract and engage kids that age and use what we know about child development. I mean let’s really focus on it.

Art, band, electives (including hands-on shop and computer engineering, dance, and drama), PE every day, huge numbers of computers that are accessible, a comprehensive education in the social sciences, science, and health. A truly outstanding library. Advanced classes as well as a strong support system for struggling students. A no sugar, no junk food lunch program. Appropriate and extensive counseling. A yearbook. A school newspaper. Close ties to state, county, and city programs designed to help low-income families. Athletic and other programs such as debate and academic teams which compete against the other three schools with paid teacher coaches. A full intramural program at noon. Speakers, field trips, special programs with outside artists etc.

Then let’s couple a no nonsense discipline policy with an embracing of teen culture. Hats? Fine. Ipods? Fine. Cell phones? OK out of class. Xbox tournaments. A liberal dress code. But a take no prisoners class or program disruption discipline policy using a system which doesn’t eliminate the kid from school but holds them responsible for their actions.

Let’s free up teachers to be creative and add interest to their classes. Encourage and celebrate teaching that is dynamic and engages students, while understanding what we are trying to do is broaden the background of each child.

Expensive? Somewhat, but not as much as you might think. And with only four schools to focus on, PPS could really draw on community partners and grants for support.

It is time we stopped short-changing our most vulnerable students and perpetuating an economic and educational underclass n Portland. It is these kids’ turn.

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.


Special education law and advocacy training conference

The Autism Association of Oregon (ASO) is presenting Peter Wright of Wrightslaw in a one day special education law and advocacy training conference October 29 in Portland. Details of the program and online registration are available at the ASO Web site.

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


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