This Week in PPS #1

12:01 am

Note: This the first episode in a new series, This Week in PPS. This will be a weekly podcast featuring news and events of interest to the greater PPS community. –Ed.

Download audio, subscribe to the podcast, or listen here:

School starts two hours late on Wednesday, and the school board holds a regular meeting. That plus a review of last week’s news on: This Week in PPS.

The school board has a regular meeting tonight (PDF). They will hear an update on the high school redesign process and vote on a resolution to support the free transit pass program for all high school students. They will also consider a business agenda which includes a contract for $51,000 in on-site graphic design work, and slightly less (25K) for mobile computer labs for K8 students. There is also a $200,000 amendment to an $800,000 contract with Broadway Cab for taxi services, and a $12,000 amendment for construction of modular classrooms at Laurelhurst and Rieke K8 schools. The board meets at 7pm at BESC, 500 N. Dixon St. Meetings are televised live on cable channel 28 and rebroadcast throughout the week.

School starts two hours late this Wednesday, the first of eight such late openings. Schools will open two hours late on the third Wednesday of each month except November and June this year to integrate staff training days with instructional days. Please check with your school about drop-off times and breakfast. If anybody has information to share, please comment on the blog!

Last week in PPS, our first week of school, parents were alarmed by the district’s handling of an incident involving erratic behavior by a school bus driver and a bus load of kids. Kim Melton reports in The Oregonian that parents were frustrated with how they were informed of the incident. All students made it home safely, many picked up by parents before replacement buses arrived, and the driver is suspended from duty pending an investigation.

Also last week, Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Think Out Load covered school equity on their Tuesday show, specifically with regards to the new PPS high school plan. The show featured PPS’s John Wilhelmi and me discussing elements of the plan, along with Jefferson High students and Principal Cynthia Harris. On-demand audio of the show may be accessed at OPB.org/thinkoutloud.

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

filed under: Audio, High Schools, Jefferson High, Media, Podcast, School Board, This Week in PPS

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14 Responses

  1. Comment from Ken:

    Nice work! I’m looking forward to more episodes!

  2. Comment from Rita:

    Hey, I like this new feature!

    One thing you left off: tomorrow (9/15) is the resumption of SACET (Enrollment and Transfer committee) meetings. The public is invited: 5:30-8:30pm at BESC. On the agenda are updates on K-8 and the high school redesign process and the beginning of discussions on the admissions process for the proposed high school magnet programs.

  3. Comment from Steve Buel:

    One of the big educational ruses is teacher training. Let’s see, 8 late starts at two hours each ….. oh, 16 hours of class time for kids = over two days of school. Weren’t we decrying the fact that Oregon had the shortest school year around?

    Now, before you assail me for not being for teacher training keep in mind that I have seen it for 42+ years. It is fine if it is time for teachers to work together and build their curriculum by sharing, but the new mode is to have common assessments and from these common assessments develop common goals, plans etc. Most teachers have a pretty good idea of what is coming across and what their students know or don’t know. And there is a lot of question just how much you want to narrow your curriculum at middle school and elementary school anyway — something that is almost never discussed. Then there is the child care and hassle for parents of the late openings. There are other ways to approach the same thing — that is if it is worthwhile in the first place.

  4. Comment from Matt Shelby:

    Steve,

    Nice work on your weekly preview. Two quick things:

    The $800,000 spent with Broadway cab provides transportation for students. As a rule, we don’t like to use cabs, but will for geographically isolated students and special education students who have an IEP mandating alternative transportation.

    In the past, professional development sessions took place on five school days, which meant no school for students. The two-hour late openings offer students a net gain in classroom time by integrating these training sessions into the school day.

  5. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Thanks, all, for the words of encouragement.

    Rita, thanks also for the reminder about SACET. I’ll include an update next week. There were a few other significant omissions (like the Million Father March) that I will try to catch up with soon.

    (Mostly, this first edition was kind of a “hit it and quit it” sound check to shake out technical issues.)

    About the late openings and professional development (PD), I certainly understand the intent. But I’m still not sure I understand the math. We’re putting five day’s worth of PD into 16 hours. Does that mean that we’re adding five days to the instructional calendar in exchange for the eight shortened days? If so, that’s definitely a net gain for students, and ought to satisfy those who question the value of PD.

    Many parents I’ve spoken to are befuddled by the scheduling though. Early release might make more sense. It seems like the vast majority of parents have some kind of after care arranged, but many do not need before care. Now they do, but only eight days during the year. Seems like it would be a lot easier to arrange after care in general.

  6. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Matt, you missed my point. Dump the whole thing as an alternative to teaching kids in school. Does the district still have two hour staff meetings every week? Used to. Plenty of time to “educate” teachers.

    Also, does anyone in the schools have any idea how families actually operate? Seems like we forget way too often.

  7. Comment from Susan:

    The seven two-hour late openings does seem to give students more time in classrooms than the three full days they used to miss for professional development. I’m interested to see how the late openings will affect the remainder of class time on those days with shrinking and rearranging periods and just general confusion on where to be when. Having more time for cohorts to meet and plan within a building sounds like a wonderful idea, but the new schedule does eliminate teachers from being able to attend seminars and training outside their buildings. Although my child’s K 8 has childcare for a fee available for late openings, there are schools that have no plan in place.

  8. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Susan, interesting to hear that your school has child care (fee) for the late openings. Our school has nothing. It’s a hassle for us, and I can only imagine how tough it can be for economically disadvantaged families, single parent households, etc.

  9. Comment from Rose:

    On the late openings:

    My kids at Ockley this year said hardly anyone was there for the first late Wednesday. A late opening is a real hardship on poor families. Where are they supposed to get the nanny that drives the kids to school while mom is at work? Our schools had no childcare plans. The result was a lot of parents left kids the whole day with relatives, or worse, left them home alone all day because there was no transportation to school.

    I was in a panic myself. I had meetings I couldn’t miss. I ended up leaving my kids home alone, calling to make sure they were getting ready and walking the youngest safely to class. I think the entire idea is poorly thought and insulting to working parents. And it is dangerous for the little ones who are going to get left at home because parents can’t take mornings off of work. In the end I think we will find attendance goes down, especially for poor kids.

  10. Comment from Stephanie:

    If even one kid did not go to school because of the late start day then it is a failure. PPS is really good at creating new and exciting inequities and marketing them as the best thing ever. What were they thinking working parents would do with their children that cannot get themselves to school on their own? I bet if they looked at the attendance data for that day it would show you the inequity in this practice.

  11. Comment from ppsvet:

    I think most teachers would rather be with their students than to be forced into ‘Professional Learning Communities’ [PLC's] and be monitored by administrators. This appears to be just one more great idea pushed by an ‘Educational Consultant’.

    You’re right. I doubt that they ever took notice of how it would affect families and kids. I doubt that they really care.

  12. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    I have it from a well-placed source that the decision to do the late openings was by decree… not to be discussed by the scheduling committee which included teacher representation.

  13. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    A correction to the original post (and podcast): Rieke is a K-5 school not a K-8.

  14. Comment from S. Wilcox:

    Of course it is. It is on the westside.