In the news: HS focus options questioned

8:16 am

Parent Rob Boime questions the emphasis on focus options in Portland Public Schools high school redesign plans in an op-ed in today’s Portland Tribune. Boime worries that plans to have upwards of 35 percent of students attend focus option schools would worsen inequities, and he urges planners put emphasis on community high schools first.

Boime’s commentary references an earlier news story by Jennifer Anderson, which examines Beaverton’s success with both focus options and neighborhood comprehensive schools.

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

filed under: Equity, High Schools, Media, School Board, School Closures

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64 Responses

  1. Comment from Rita:

    Just to clarify, according to the last presentation to the Board, the redesign plan envisions around 15% for District-run focus option attendance with an additional 5-10% at charter schools. They project that the current attendance at alternative schools (15%) will remain essentially unchanged.

    Personally, I have yet to hear a compelling justification for having any focus option high schools as part of this redesign, but if we have to have them, I agree that the District needs to be exquisitely aware of their potential to drain students from vulnerable community schools and design policies accordingly.

  2. Comment from lek:

    Forget focus schools; how about decent schools that can educate all our kids in the basics.

  3. Comment from Ken Libby:

    At the last board meeting, the school board approved a $31,000 contract with Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc for just one month of services. A summary of the contract: “Assess student and community interest for focus schools, programmatic themes and specific learning approaches on behalf of the high school design initiative.”

    This money comes (at least partly) from a federally-funded program, “Voluntary Public School Choice,” which means it couldn’t be used for something else (unless we change the laws).

    More importantly, this tells me PPS doesn’t have a clue about focus options. They can’t quite figure out how they’ll factor into the redesigned system; and they can’t figure out the pedagogical/topical focus of these schools!

    Seriously: a school district is hiring an “opinion research and consultation” firm to tell them what people think about focus options. Is it ridiculous to think that a district should be expected to have their pulse on the community’s feelings towards these schools? Or, shouldn’t the district itself – including those at the very top – be interested in finding out how they could go about taking community input from actual members of the community?

  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Last week, I kid you not, I got an email from an educational consultant telling me about a seminar which would teach me how to be an educational consultant.

    All the consulting we do on this site, maybe PPS should be paying us all as consultants. Let’s see, at 50 cents per word….

  5. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Ken, it was the district’s own consultant (Dejong) that said the people leading the high school redesign couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag (probably not even a mesh bag).

    I’m curious about how Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc.’s new survey will be different from work they’ve already done on high school redesign.

    Their website lists a previous project with PPS in which they:

    “Conducted focus groups with 8th grade and high school students and high school drop-outs from the Portland Public Schools District (PPS) to better understand students’ perspectives of and ideas for improving their high schools.

    Students were representative of the district’s actual geographic, income, and minority demographic population.

    In addition to the focus groups, over 2,300 students shared their opinions for high school redesign through an online survey made available to students on the PPS website, and promoted within all PPS schools by teachers, flyers, and at school events. This was one component of a larger study among teachers, principals, parents, and residents living in the PPS District.”

    The board approved the new contract to “Assess student and community interest for focus schools, programmatic themes and specific learning approaches on behalf of the high school design initiative.

  6. Comment from getrowdy:

    As a PPS parent of two, I feel it’s quite apparent that PPS hasn’t made much progress figuring out how focus option schools will fit into the larger high school redesign picture.
    At first, I was under the impression that the focus schools would house a much smaller number of students, like 200-400 per school. But then I hear things like the possibility of turning already, well-functioning high schools into focus schools. So does this mean tearing down the existing buildings, that can easily fit 1,300+ students and rebuilding, or…? I had in mind something like re-opening a school such as Rose City
    ( Marysville kids will be out of there, so they say, at the end of this school year ), and use it as a focus option school. Of course, changes to the building would need to be made but isn’t this cheaper than building anew?
    In my few emails to PPS High School Redesign members, I get the feeling they are still trying to work out what exactly the community wants in focus option schools, which would also affect where to place them, and so on. So now they have a month and $31,000 to do it..hopefully they’ll actually reach the community.

  7. Comment from Zarwen:

    Why can’t they get the message that the community ISN’T INTERESTED in focus options now? I would think the vast majority would be thrilled to see functioning high schools AND functioning K-8s. That would be a huge step forward from where we are now!

  8. Pingback from A Poll That PPS Isn’t Buying — Cheating in Class:

    [...] Ken Libby noted on the PPS Equity site, the district has agreed to pay $31,000 to hire an “opinion research and consultation” [...]

  9. Comment from Rita:

    Am I alone in thinking that PPS is now leaning toward not closing any high school buildings? Sounds increasingly to me that they’re going to go with 6-7 comprehensives, but fill the rest of the buildings with focus options.

    Not that I’m in favor of closing schools, mind you, but wasn’t that the alleged trigger for the last 2 years of redesign turmoil? If we couldn’t afford 10 schools then, how can we afford 10 + now (including small focus options)? Didn’t we already learn that small schools are relatively more expensive to run than big schools?

    Am I missing something?

    Gee, I hope I get surveyed.

  10. Comment from ppsvet:

    In my building at a presentation to staff by two district reps we we’re told that present plans anticipate the closing of NO buildings. This was a little over a week ago. Speaking were Toni Hunter and another junior administrator whose name I can’t remember.

  11. Comment from Rita:

    PPSvet, if that’s the case, did Toni Hunter and Co. perhaps let on exactly what the hell we’re doing?

  12. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Does it count as a No Closing if a school becomes a focus option? Maybe so.

  13. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    The PPS Short Term Building Stabilization Projects and Program Investment Plan (http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files....._Board.pdf) leads me to believe that PPS plans to use the Focus Option high schools for swing space.

    Having fewer students in Focus Option schools allows PPS to temporarily transfer students to them while their school is being renovated or rebuilt.

    We need to start checking with the city to see what permits are being taken out.

  14. Comment from Zarwen:

    Do they need permits for renovations only?

  15. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    They need a permit for most renovations, changes in occupancy and new construction. Here’s the link to Portland Online: http://www.portlandonline.com/.....fm?c=36664

  16. Comment from Rita:

    It may be too early for them to be applying for permits, since most of the renovations will be dependent on a bond issue, which won’t be happening anytime soon in this economy.

    My understanding was that the closed buildings were always intended to be used as swing space during the proposed renovations. But it now appears that there may actually be no “closed” buildings because they’ll be inhabited (at least in part) by focus options.

    But if the whole point of this 2 year extravaganza was that PPS couldn’t support 10 functional high schools given current and projected enrollment and funding, then why do they keep adding more schools into the mix? Vicki’s small high school fiasco amply demonstrated that smaller schools are relatively more expensive to run and cannot provide anything like a full curriculum (never mind the kind of “deep” educational experience that they keep talking about) without a serious infusion of additional resources from somewhere else.

    So this whole redesign “master plan” is looking less and less rational to me as it goes on. Unless, of course, they have some funding source waiting in the wings. Can’t imagine who that might be, since Gates has disavowed the small school experiment. And, oh by the way, Carole Smith keeps saying she’s opposed to relying on grants for operating expenses.

    At this point, it looks to me like whatever initial logic existed for the redesign has been blown apart in the face of community resistance and the district (and the Board) are now just scrambling to avoid a battle — even if it means making the resulting system completely unworkable.

    So did they not expect resistance to high school closures? What the hell?

  17. Comment from Zarwen:

    Rita, dear, you have to remember that those folks come from a different planet.

  18. Comment from ppsvet:

    Rita,

    Toni ended the meeting with a comment that she wanted her granddaughter to get an excellent education from PPS as if that was NOT what we all wanted.

    LHS teachers have children that go to schools all over the district. We want a good equal education for all Portland students not just for those we teach. A good district must be evaluated on how all students perform, not just a select few.

  19. Comment from Rita:

    PPSvet, I wouldn’t question LHS teachers or any other teachers wanting all students to get a good education. My questions are about the ability of the District to provide an equitable educational experience under the redesign if they continue to back off of the fundamental principles that they proclaimed last June were essential elements of a sustainable high school system.

    Somebody, somewhere needs to clarify what this new system is really going to look like, explain why and how it’s going to produce better outcomes than the present system, and how it’s going to be doable with available resources.

    Tomorrow’s Board meeting could clarify some essentials, but I’m not terribly hopeful. Some real leadership would be welcome right about now.

  20. Comment from ppsvet:

    I don’t think I wrote clearly enough. What she insinuated was that if we didn’t agree to support the district’s plan we were for something that would be bad for her grandaughter. This was hard to understand as I don’t think anyone could figure out what the district plan is.

    We just needed to trust them that they could come up with a plan that would work. I think we’re all running a little low on trust.

    They can’t articulate a clear plan, but we’re that ones who will be responsible if it doesn’t work.

  21. Comment from Zarwen:

    In that case, I think they should put all of us on payroll!

  22. Comment from Zarwen:

    Tonight on Channel 6 11:00 news, Kohr Harlan quoted Matt Shelby reiterating the plan to close down 2-3 high schools.

  23. Comment from Rita:

    I think they may close one or more neighborhood schools, but then fill the buildings with a focus option.

  24. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Interesting that the recommendation made by C.Smith last night was identical to the one the district started with, even after hearing from 10,000 people supposedly. When they heard from me I explained the focus options were just more small schools and that has already proven to not work in PPS. So, if you want those schools put them in the neighborhood high schools. Guess, the other 9,999 people were for more small schools. Wait, did they explain to them that a focus option school is just another small school?

    Here is something else to think about. Zeke Smith said the focus options included charter schools. So, the focus option schools could be charter schools??? Woooo, did they explain that to the 9,999 people?

    C.Smith said when they had 15,000 HS kids they had the same number of high schools as now with 11,000 kids. Guess she didn’t remember the Jackson closure.

    Say good-bye to Madison or Marshall AND Franklin. Jeff will be a focus option. How about making Jeff a military focus option so it will coordinate with the Starbase program?

    Also, goodbye Skyline Lincoln students. You are the west side sacrificial lambs this time around. (Jackson first, then Smith, now Skyline — the poorest parts of the west hills I believe.)

    I liked the guts of the woman last night who talked about why the teachers need to tough it out and accept what the district is offering. Even identified her kid’s grade and school. Thanks, Mom.

  25. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Carole’s introduction to the resolution states:

    “Let’s look at Cleveland, Grant, Lincoln and Wilson – our largest schools, and the ones that routinely post the highest aggregate test scores. At those four schools together, 70 percent of white students enter 10th grade on track to graduate. But only half as many — 36 percent — of their black students are on track.”

    If those schools have the resources that we’re now saying all of our schools should have and yet black students are not doing well, maybe there’s a different kind of problem.

    Has the district identified why black students at those schools are not doing as well as white students? What is the high school redesign team’s plan to address that?

  26. Comment from pilbooster:

    So, Steve, if Marshall, Madison, and Franklin close, where exactly are the 2,400 outer SE/NE kids going to go to school? Cleveland is over-crowded, and Grant can take perhaps 300 more kids. Are we going to ship them out to Roosevelt?

  27. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Pilbooster,

    Madison OR Marshall.
    They will send them to the focus options. 1350 in one school and the other 1000 in two focus options or allowed to transfer like they are now. Plus, the droput rate is at least a third.

    Pilbooster, you know I am predicting not advocating.

    Carrie, and a lot of the students in those schools are supposedly many of the better students. I was unhappy to have them use the awkward and fuzzy term “closing the achivement gap” in their language. Just as bad as using student “achievement” without defining it. Makes the whole thing bureaucratically weak I think. Your point is well taken — Just what are they going to do? Evidentally that is the next discussion, but really if they had any idea how to improve the situation you would have hoped they would have done it by now. They do have some things going a little, just have trouble sustaining them and not buying into the ideas of educational research and best practices and the like.

  28. Comment from pilbooster:

    Oops, missed that OR.

    Yes, I know you are not advocating for that scenario, you are being realistic.

    So, Franklin the largest school of the three (1007, Madison is around 850, and Marshall 770 or so) in population, the one with almost 50% free and reduced lunch, 40% minority population, but with 14 AP courses, and 3 world languages offered (despite having no language immersion programs), is the most likely comprehensive to close?

    I am indeed advocating for Franklin, certainly, but I have to say Franklin, by the criteria created by PPS to guide their redesign process, seems to be just what PPS is looking for.

  29. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Pilbooster, if they close two then your other options don’t look too good. I guess they could go with Madison and Marshall instead. Cleveland and Grant, the other two options, are pretty darn politically powerful and in the end it would be tough to close either. No chance on Lincoln, and Wilson is up there by itself.
    Franklin has a tough fight ahead. I’ve always liked Frankln, it is the only school truly in the middle economically.

  30. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Jefferson and Franklin make the most sense geographically to house magnets, in my opinion, along with Benson, of course.

    Roosevelt and Grant absorb Jefferson students, with part of existing Grant going to Madison.

    Likewise Franklin attendance area split between Marshall and Cleveland.

    It would make more sense with existing small schools at Roosevelt and Marshall to keep them as focus campuses and make Jeff and Franklin neighborhood comprehensives.

    In any case, I can’t believe Grant’s even being considered, despite the pre-emptive hysteria that’s being whipped up.

    We knew it would come to this, since this is all about the real estate, as some in the Grant cluster have been quick to point out.

  31. Comment from getrowdy:

    This is why I think the district is talking about Grant as a magnet school option:

    1) close to MAX
    2) kind of in the middle of the N/NE schools( Madison/ Jefferson/Roosevelt ).

    3) Already houses mini-programs, such as ACCESS/ Math & Science/ Japanese immersion,etc..
    If it were to stay a neighborhood school, what do you do with all these programs? I guess, in theory, if all the neighborhood high schools will look about the same, you do away with them. Or, you shift them to a magnet school..? Because, according to the driving force behind this whole redesign, if you offer it at one school, then you better offer it at the other ones, too.
    I know one issue out there,in regards to the magnet schools is, can you or do you, offer things like sports? I am pretty sure you have to maintain a certain amount of students in order to support a sports program. I bet this will be one of the $72,000 questions we get from the research group (forgot the name, but apparently they have one month to get a feel for what people want the magnet schools to look like, etc..). This may seem secondary( sports or no sports) to many people but this would definitely make a difference on size and perhaps even location of the magnet schools. This is just one example of the ” what if’s ” that exist, and as we see on these posts, there are many more!

  32. Comment from lek:

    My son is in 8th grade and he goes to Lents. I had my son move in January so he could go to Cleavland. I would rather seperate my family than destroy his future by attending one of the so called focus schools at Marshall. I dont have the money to send him to private and I was not gonna take the chance on lottery. I wish I was back in David Douglas there not perfect but pretty equitable.

  33. Comment from mom:

    A friend from work told me that at the Lincoln parent night last night they announced that because of the redesign Lincoln would only be able to accept 19 transfers for next year.

  34. Comment from pilbooster:

    Franklin, geographically, is in an excellent centralized position to most easily house a mixed socio-economic student population under the redesign, just like it does now.

    it is also located right in the middle of a neighborhood, equidistant between two main transportation arterials, Powell and and Division. How can this not be a good location for a neighborhood school?

    The problem Marshall and Madison have as neighborhood schools is that their boundaries end just east of 205. This is not a central location, and makes it more difficult to create a new, mixed socio-economic boundary.

    All this being said, Lincoln, by this criterion, is not a viable neighborhood school. Who, exactly, can walk to this school?

  35. Comment from pdxmomto2:

    getrowdy- I think the thinking is to move the special programs out of Grant. A parent I know who’s child is currently in the Access (TAG)program at Sabin was told that the program might be moving to the Jefferson Campus along with Access @Grant to be a K-12 TAG program on one campus. This would fit with Mr. Rawleys scenario where Jeff becomes a “focus” school. It could actually be two “focus schools” on one campus ACCESS and something else? Because unless they are planning on a big expansion to ACCESS, even at K-12 it won’t take up the whole Jefferson campus.

  36. Comment from getrowdy:

    I had the same thought about Jeff..so close to PCC, could be a magnet school for high achievers, and those wanting dual credit, etc..if not that, then perhaps an arts school- you already have the long-lasting dance program there.
    I made a mistake with my earlier post. The research group is being paid $31,000, not $71,000 ( thank goodness for that ).
    Also, on another note…I never hear much in all this about diversification in the high school redesign. Isn’t this a part of ” fixing ” things? Will the “new” school rezoning/ school assignment only reflect the changes to schools that close or change into magnets? Maybe that’s the next step.

  37. Comment from Zarwen:

    Years ago, PPS talked about having a “World Languages” program at Franklin. To this day, it is so patently asinine that there are so many elementary language immersion programs in the Franklin cluster, yet not a single one of them continues at Franklin. (The Japanese program goes to Grant, and the others go to Cleveland.) I think that if they moved all of them to Franklin, you’d have a lot more Franklin cluster kids staying within their cluster for high school.

  38. Comment from pilbooster:

    Zarwen, yes, incredible that no immersion programs feed to Franklin.

    Even so, Franklin offers 3 world languages on campus.

    Also, Franklin’s Spanish language and culture curriculum appears to be superior to Cleveland’s, and yet Cleveland has the Spanish Immersion program.

  39. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    lek, I live in the Marshall neighborhood and I had to make the same decision for my kids. I’m grateful this is my youngest child’s last year with PPS.

    What a sorry reflection on the Portland school system when parents are forced to make the choice to split the family up rather than send them to their neighborhood school.

    After the superintendent’s redesign speech at the last board meeting, I’m more convinced than ever that they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.

  40. Comment from Steve Buel:

    10,000 people might have heard the plan, but there was no real input. Were there votes at any meeting over contrasting ideas? Not at the one at Franklin. Real input means having a real say and being able to comment on a predesigned specific plan is not a real say. What about a plan whereby the focus options are smaller and put into each neighborhood school? The idea of magnet programs. Seems much more viable to me. Lots of things that could have been debated and voted upon to get a real sense of what people thought. Didn’t happen. So to say 10,000 people participated is like saying a crowd of 10,000 people participated in a sporting event when in actuality they just sat and observed.

    I wrote recently about the PPS Law of Awful Outcomes where the dirth of problems is given as the reason for not solving a problem. If you let 10,000 people have their say in a generalized manner, in effect you have not let anyone have their say. Another law, the PPS Law of 10,000 Voices or If We Can Get Enough People to Comment We Can Do Whatever We Damn Well Please.

  41. Comment from Zarwen:

    There are lawn signs sprouting in the Grant Cluster that read “Close the Gap, Not the Schools.” Anyone know how/where I can get one? I live in the Grant Cluster too.

  42. Comment from h.j.:

    A group of parents from all over the Eastside and North Portland have formed “Close the Gap…Not the Schools” You can order signs by emailing closethegapsigns@gmail.com They are $5 each. We also plan to be distributing them this weekend at central locations.
    More info is on our website at http://www.closethegapnottheschools.com as well as on our facebook fan page: Close the Gap…Not the Schools. It would only cost PPS $4.5 million to keep all schools open, offer the core curriculum suggested at the meetings, keep neighborhoods intact and offer a real solution for equity without dismantling the entire system. One school closed is one school too many. We’re working for ALL Portland families and residents who have a stake in neighborhood vitality.

  43. Comment from Zarwen:

    Any details on the “central locations” this weekend?

  44. Comment from h.j.:

    We also could use some help!
    Saturday at QFC (1835 NE 33rd) from 1:00-3:00 p.m. I need someone to set up and manage the site from 12:45 until 3:00. It would be ideal
    to have at least five people available to answer questions, collect money & distribute signs, motion traffic our way, and generate excitement about this movement! Email closethegapsigns@gmail.com if you can help, Zarwen!

    Sunday at Fremont United Methodist Church (2620 NE Fremont Street)
    from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Their worship service ends at 11:30, so
    we should have a good crowd. I am looking for an enthusiastic
    volunteer to run the show with at least two assistants.

  45. Comment from mom:

    Great piece.

    http://wweek.com/editorial/361.....mments_add

  46. Comment from Susan:

    h.j., thanks for posting the link to closethegap. I had a good chuckle over the “Don’t Mess with Madison” sign. Someone’s mess is probably someone else’s support.

  47. Comment from h.j.:

    I suppose it sounds trite to say that “We’re all in this together” but it’s true. High schools can be the glue to hold a neighborhood together. School spirit is important and we recognize that. It binds communities if there is a level of commitment by all stakeholders. That’s what we think we can accomplish. There is tremendous population growth throughout the Eastside and North Portland which will translte into higher enrollment. Let’s give every resident a neighborhood high school to be proud of. To not be “messed” with. Instead of forcing a “turf” war, let’s let the real compeition happen between our respective football and basketball teams and leave the neighborhoods out of it.

  48. Comment from Bill:

    As a Beaverton School District parent, I feel there is one aspect of Beaverton’s options programs that needs more emphasis: BSD provides free bus transportation to all options schools. To me, this is an obvious component of any equitable options program. Is this even being discussed in PPS?

  49. Comment from Rita:

    Good point, Bill. Unfortunately, PPS does not provide transportation for focus option schools K-12 (there have been some exceptions to this rule in the past, but I’m not sure they still exist). This has obvious implications for accessibility and has contributed to the lack of diversity (both socio-economic and racial/ethnic in most special programs.

    In fact, national examples of successful magnet/focus schools all note that provision of transportation is critical to ensuring real access for students.

    As for the focus high schools, I have heard no mention of transportation. Currently, PPS does not provide transportation for high school students (except for some Westside students, presumably in areas where public transportation is lacking). But starting this year, PPS has collaborated with Tri-Met to provide free bus passes to all high schoolers. Let’s hope this continues.

    Many students who use the transfer system to go out of their neighborhoods face long commutes of 90 minutes or more. (Tough to make a start time of 8:00 when you have a 90 min. commute.) As a result, the transfer numbers suggest that students tend to go to the next closest school with a robust curriculum. One of the proposed criteria for deciding on the placement of the comprehensive and focus option schools is commuting distance/time and proximity to public transportation.

  50. Comment from Susan:

    “Instead of forcing a ‘turf’ war, let’s let the real competition happen between our respective football and basketball teams and leave the neighborhoods out of it.”

    h.j., Some of the leaders of the closethegap campaign made this a turf war when they stated “we paid a premium” to buy homes in Alameda. I can’t help seeing the “Don’t Mess with GRANT” signs without imagining the hidden asterisk that reads “Don’t Mess with Alameda – We Already Paid.” Grant has already won the war. Instead of providing the school board with thoughtful and specific plans for closing the achievement gap from PK through 12th, the HS Redesign team has so far armed the school board with the equivalent of wet noodles.

  51. Comment from mom:

    As for the focus high schools, I have heard no mention of transportation.

    I was recently polled by phone concerning my opinion about focus or magnet school options and every question was prefaced with, “if transportation was provided…”

  52. Comment from Zarwen:

    Susan,

    The closethegap group has created signs that say “Don’t Mess With _______” for EVERY high school. They have also drafted an alternative resolution calling for NO CLOSURES.

    I think the “We paid a premium” group is in the minority. The people I have talked to want very much to join hands with families all across the city to say NO to the Supt. and School Board on closing or repurposing high schools. Overwhelmingly, the sentiment is to fix what is broken and leave alone what isn’t.

    Detailed info on the alternative resolution is available here:

    http://www.closethegapnotthesc.....tions.html

    And signs for EVERY high school are available here:

    http://www.closethegapnotthesc.....urces.html

    Also, a rally is planned tomorrow night at 6:15 at the BESC, right before the school board meeting. You’re all invited!

  53. Comment from pilbooster:

    Hard for me to take this group too seriously when they want all HS schools open but do not support limiting transfers between high schools. This is one of the fundamental causes of inequity in our high schools.

    PPS has least admitted a real problem, and has come up with some painfully general but some fundamentally new guidelines to start fixing the problem.

    Other than reducing the population at a few of the larger schools, the close the gap resolution appears to be supporting the present state of the Portland’s high schools.

    Unlike legitimate criticism such as Rob Boine’s excellent points about PPS’s fixation with focus option schools, I am not finding anything as useful in the close the gap resolution.

  54. Comment from Zarwen:

    Guess you didn’t read far enough, Pilbooster. There is a section of the document, on the next to last page, that calls for “changes” to the E & T system, limiting transfers to specific circumstances, one of them being federal requirements. Unfortunately, I could not copy and paste the text from the PDF, or I would have done so.

  55. Comment from pilbooster:

    Zarwen, I see your point.

    The close the gap resolution did not strike all the limiting transfer language from the PPS resolution but did eliminate this passage:

    “Transfers between community schools will be limited, in order to prevent a return to the enrollment and program imbalances of the current system. ”

    So I am now confused as to what they are actually intending. Why would they strike this language if they support limiting transfers?

  56. Comment from Bill:

    Zarwen, I read through that section (8e, correct?). It mentions those “specific circumstances”, but does not state that those are the only transfers that would be permitted. In fact, the crucial wording in the original document: “Transfers between community schools will be limited. . .,” was excised. Also, the goal of “balanced” enrollment was eliminated (leaving “stable”). Overall, the section supports rather than contradicts pilbooster’s position.

    The Close The Gap group does make a good case for keeping schools open. However, in order to close the achievement gap, you need to close the enrollment gap, and CtG does not offer a credible plan for how to make this happen.

  57. Comment from Susan:

    Also troubling is the deletion of almost all language regarding the necessity for new boundary considerations. Follow the money…?

  58. Comment from Zarwen:

    Well, my belief is that “new boundary considerations” will not be necessary if transfers are curtailed or eliminated. Our host, Steve Rawley, did a post some time ago reporting how many children of HS age live in each cluster. The numbers are surprisingly close given the economic and geographic disparities around town.

    As for the rest, I am not a spokesperson for closethegap, so I am sorry I am unable to answer.

  59. Comment from JD:

    I think the Close the Gap resolution is an excellent starting point. I don’t view it as solving all the problems with transfers and boundaries but it is the first step in keeping all our neighborhood schools open. If the board doesn’t close any schools, transfers and boundaries will still need to be addressed. As I understand it, the transfer issue is very convoluted with NCLB and focus schools in the mix. I can understand why that issue wasn’t tackled.

    Another interesting point I read somewhere else was that the closures are not only about re-setting the NCLB clocks but also to create swing schools for the high schools. Does this sound familiar?

  60. Comment from getrowdy:

    I can’t see school boundaries changing all that much when the school board seems to be stressing this ” no more than a twenty minute commute to school” concept. They’ll obviously have to change boundaries if a school( or schools )close, and they might do some minor tweeking to make it look like they’re diversifying our high schools but, overall, there will be little change here, in my opinion. And you’ll always find that ” unusual circumstances ” clause in PPS’s transfer policy…it’s a way for them to still do certain people certain favors and still be able to cover their _sses in case somethings ever questioned.

  61. Comment from Zarwen:

    I still think it’s really about freeing properties to sell. PCC has been trying to get Jefferson for years, and now we hear Warner-Pacific wants to buy Franklin. And Kaiser Permanente is interested too!

    If you read everything that PPS has been putting out, it’s a long stream of disingenuousness—at the end of the day, you can’t improve high schools until you improve the schools that feed into them. That is where the real mess lies, and that is what both PPS and the Board have been studiously avoiding for the past five years!

    I certainly agree that the Community Resolution is not perfect, and I definitely do not agree with everything in it, but what I don’t see is any other group stepping up and saying NO to closures.

  62. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Anyone watching the board meeting? It would be hilarious if kid’s lives weren’t involved.

    If this was the board chair’s post it would be titled “High School Focus Options Questioned – Please Don’t Ask Any Questions”

  63. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Carrie and all: I started a new thread to discuss tonight’s SB meeting…. this thread’s getting a little long.

  64. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    i can’t watch, it’s like, “Ouchie, my eyes!! Where do I put my eyes?” Carrie, I swear, if I wasn’t so tired i’d go all Mystery Science Theater 3000 with you on this meeting.