Starbase questions the school board should ask

9:43 pm

I know we’ve got a couple of peaceniks (term used respectfully and admiringly) on the school board right now, one who hasn’t voted on Starbase before (Gonzalez) and the other who is now co-chair (Adkins).  It’s safe to say they had  a lot to do with pulling the vote on next year’s Starbase contract from the board agenda Monday night. It would be a great opportunity for them to pull together the two other votes needed to scrap this program.

Here’s what I sent to the whole board about this opportunity:

Word is that Deputy Superintendent Charles Hopson, who has been outspoken about the PPS high school system as “a civil rights violation of the worst kind,” will answer board questions before you vote on continuing Starbase.

Here are some questions the board — and Hopson — should be asking:

  • Is it not also a civil rights violation that black, brown and poor children are specifically targeted for military recruiting at extremely young ages?
  • What is the precise demographic breakdown (ethnicity and poverty level) of students participating in Starbase? Why are Title I schools over-represented?
  • What student information is shared with the military?
  • Is it legal to share information about pre-teens with the military without explicit parental permission?
  • If parents choose to pull their children from this program, is their information still shared with the military?
  • How are families notified of this program?
  • Can families opt out of both the program and the information sharing? How are parents informed of these options?
  • Do counter-recruiters have equal access to participating students?
  • Assuming the curriculum is great (and non-military), why can’t it be incorporated into the normal classroom science and math curriculum and taught by existing classroom teachers? (In other words: Why does it need to be taught on a military base, and what’s the advantage of having the extra staff to teach it when it doesn’t free up classroom teachers to work with other students? )
  • How does exposing students to large-scale, highly advanced weapons square with the district’s zero tolerance policy on weapons?

Once we’re satisfied with the answers to these questions, it might be interesting to find out more about the curriculum.

Thank you.

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

filed under: Military Recruiting, National, School Board

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44 Responses

  1. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    Add: how does the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy square with the district’s policy “there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups on the grounds of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation in any educational programs, activities or employment.”

  2. Comment from Truth:

    Again, experiencing something first hand is the only way to really understand it. Some of your questions have built-in false premises and assumptions which can lead to answers and conclusions based on personal agenda rather than truth. There are no recruiters in Starbase. The Starbase budget line item does not fall under Recruiting. Starbase seeks to serve the underrepresented (Title I) schools just as so many other federal and state programs do (and for the same reasons)…so why aren’t you challenging all of those programs also? Personal information about the students should NOT be shared with the military…I doubt that is happening, but feel free to confirm this. If your school district won’t participate there are plenty of other schools that will be thrilled to have the opportunity.

  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    It would be helpful if representatives of the military would identify themselves as such when commenting on this blog.

  4. Comment from Rita:

    Good questions. I’d add: “What does PPS plan to do with/for any students who choose not to participate in this program to ensure that they will not lose 5 days of instructional time.”

  5. Comment from Truth:

    Truth is not a representative of the military, but rather a parent who cares about children, education, and allowing people to come to their own conclusions based on the truth (which might be the most important lesson we can teach our kids). This blog is apparently not open to all of the opinions and facts that are available.

  6. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    “Truth” is not being entirely truthful about his or her affiliation with the military.

    This blog is committed to transparency, honesty and social justice. If you don’t want to contribute honestly, you are free to start your own blog.

  7. Comment from Gretchen:

    Starbase sounds cool and I wish my children, attending the white, rich westside schools had the chance to participate.

    I read this blog periodically and would like to engage in some constructive debate, problem solving, but I have to agree with Truth that the blog doesn’t seem to want to find common ground.

    What is “social justice” in this context? Expand Starbase to all? Deny it to all? Why pick on Starbase? Lots of programs aren’t District wide. Does your reasoning apply to all programs or just the ones you feel negative about?

  8. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Common ground is all children having equal educational opportunities to a huge degree (in the public schools). That’s why the blog is called pps EQUITY. That is the “common ground” people are fighting for here. Doesn’t that seem like reasonable common ground to you, Gretchen?

    I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but the Starbase program seems to be seen as a recruitment tool by the military (which makes sense since it is funded by the recruitment military budget). Since poorer students (and by extension therefore more students of color) in PPS have less educational opportunities then it doesn’t seem right that we have made them more vulnerable to fight and DIE in our military. It is bad enough in the country itself without helping it along in the schools.

  9. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Gretchen, that’s precious that you think we’re picking on the military. Mean ol’ us.

  10. Comment from Gretchen:

    Aren’t you being a bit paternalistic? Do we think poor minorities don’t understand what joining the military means?

    Again I have to ask what is social justice in this context and can you expand your reasoning/policy to encompass other non-District wide programs?

    I’m looking for your underlying values which have not been articulated.

    Wacky – rude and off point.

  11. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Gretchen, I think that while “poor minorities” may (or not) fully understand what joining the military means, perhaps it’s YOU who don’t understand. Minorities, because of limited educational opportunities in this city, are steered, railroaded, etc. into joining the military. Why, not given the same opportunities as rich, white kids in this district, unprepared for college, jobs, etc…what else to do but join the military in a recession? I saw this very same thing (different place) in 1983 when times were tough, and kids were enlisting in droves just to get higher ed benefits and in order to have something to do after HS.

    And, I beg to differ on on what the sales point of joining the military might be, minority and not. There are numerous stories, with evidence, of the military promising the sun, moon, and stars to kids to get them to enlist, it’s disgusting. A good sales pitch + a poor HS education with limited offerings + poverty + a high unemployment rate=????? You get the picture.

    Affluent white kids in this district, heck affluent kids in ‘hoods where parents scream, shout and sue, get way more in their education than others. The unfairness and discrimination of it all affects all corners of Portland. This is not ‘paternalistic’, these are facts presented on this and other posters, backed up by statistics and data.

    I’m with Wacky, she’s using sarcasm, not rudeness. Are you unidentified military yourself? Curious….

  12. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    …and a few other thoughts, Gretchen. In 1983, I thought it was great for kids to go into the military, and many came back better for the experience. Of course we didn’t have a lot of places they saw action…most didn’t. Fast forward to 2010–we have two wars (one immoral, in my opinion, and not so sure about the other), and times are different. Quite frankly, I don’t want the military in the schools, nor do I want religion schools. We all know where this goes, looking at history, not nice! Starbase might be fine as an after-school program that parents could have the option of sending their kids to, like…er..uh…Bible study, etc.???

  13. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    oops..meant religion IN schools!

  14. Comment from Gretchen:

    I am in no way connected to the military.

    Sarcasm is intended to offend, ergo; rude.

    Would expanding the DOD Starbase program to all PPS schools serve the purpose of “equity”?

    If your answer isn’t “yes” then we aren’t talking about equity we are talking about what is and isn’t appropriate academic programming.

    I suspect the respondents here are under qualified to recommend academic programming in schools that will result in social justice so I don’t find that topic interesting.

    What I do find interesting is the vast array of program at PPS NOT available to my students. Why does my zip code make me a class enemy rather than an ally?

  15. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Let’s see. I have taught going on 43 years including 10 in Portland. Lived in Portland since 1974. Co-authored the desegregation policy years ago. I have taught scads of students of color and of various ethnic backgrounds. I have taught lots of social studies, math, language arts and various other subjects and a good deal of elementary school. Besides my Masters in U.S. History I earned a principal certificate. I have taught in elementary school, high school, and middle school. I have carefully followed PPS politics since 1975 and first ran for the school board in 1976 and last ran a couple of years ago. Is that qualifications enough to recommend academic programming?

    Your zip code doesn’t make you an enemy — but it has been a long 20 year fight trying to get equity and most of the fight has been against organizations which take the same defensive postions you are taking and make the same claims: people who are fighting for better education in poorer neighborhoods need to just be more reasonable and less confrontive. All the while they are making sure their schools work and to hell with the other ones. So it is tough when someone comes along who doesn’t get it and wants to make the same tired arguments which have been discredited years ago.

    I hope you will stick around and get a better sense of what this fight is about.

    P.S. I have gone to thousands of homes on Portland’s east side talking education as well as worked in a very poor school with older children and believe me that segment of the city can use a little paternalistic support. They have almost NO political power and depend on other segments of the city to treat them fairly. Which they haven’t.

  16. Comment from Gretchen:

    I disagree that we can’t trust the poor to read and understand contracts, be savvy enough to disentangle real promises from slick marketing and otherwise make good choices.

    The compelling argument for your side which I will make for you, is that the soul-crushing realities of poverty are more likely to force a person to choose a military career at 18 than some brief contact with a military program in 5th grade.

    Your version of academic programming for social justice would expand horizons by limiting content? What else would you censor for their own good?

    So back to my simple yet unanswered question : would “equity” be achieved if Starbase were in all the schools not just some?

    Your answer is “no” because the poor people and minorities will be disproportionately duped.

    That is what I don’t understand. Perhaps you can give me other examples in which “protection” is implemented in such a way that “equity” is the result because I don’t get this one.

  17. Comment from Rita:

    Gretchen, from my perspective at least, the Starbase issue is less one of equity than of militarization of the society and the resultant waste of limited national resources on profoundly unproductive activities. It’s clear from the program’s own materials that recruitment is an essential rationale. It specifically targets low income, at risk students, which I find particularly egregious, but I would oppose it for any students.

    As I stated earlier in another, related thread, if the feds want to support science and technical education, then I’m all for it. But if this is about education, then fund it through the Dept. of Education. Or the Dept. of Energy, or the EPA. Why are educational programs being funneled through the military?

    Based on what I have seen of the curriculum (and I’ve read rather a lot about it and, by the way, have consulted on curriculum development), there is no intrinsic reason for it to be housed in a military facility or conducted by military personnel. Civilian teachers and any civilian institution with minimal equipment — like science museums, middle or high schools, even some non-profit agencies — could house this program. In fact, a federal contract for the program could be a significant resource for capacity building for such institutions that could actually produce more opportunities for science and tech education than this one military program. That could address the equity issue in a much more productive way.

    So why do it through the military? I think we all know why: recruitment + an easy pass from Congress. I object to the fact that our government funds most things through the military or not at all. Our military spending is obscene. The 2009 U.S. military budget was almost as much as the rest of the world’s defense spending combined. Yes, you read that right. We spend as much as the rest of the world put together. Military spending grew by 9% annually between 2000-2009. In the 2010 budget, DoD’s budget alone = $685 Billion. If you add related military-related items from other departments(like Veterans’ Affairs, defense-related activities through the Dept. of Energy, satellites, etc.), the total comes to about $1 Trillion. Per year. And that doesn’t even mention the costs in deaths, injuries, and trauma. (For more info, see for a very nice summary of the defense budget.)

    Forgive me, but I find those numbers both astonishing and appalling. Especially considering how expenditures on anything even vaguely related to helping actual people (like education, health care, living pensions) are routinely voted down as a profligate waste of national resources. In fact, the profligate waste is embedded in the DoD budget.

    But I am not naive. I know that it would be political suicide for any politician to suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, we might think about cutting back on military spending. Nevertheless, I will do what I can to advocate for just that. And if, in the process we also protect some kids from deceptive recruitment practices, so much the better.

    Federal money to support science and tech education? I would gleefully embrace it. But why does it have to come dressed in combat fatigues? Take the Starbase curriculum and put it in hands of civilians and I’ll be the first to sign on.

    Better yet, let’s get some serious support for science and tech education for students AND shift some of the military money to a high-tech civilian economy so that poor and wealthy kids can get some good, family-wage jobs after they graduate. Now THAT would be equity.

  18. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    from Gretchen: “I disagree that we can’t trust the poor to read and understand contracts, be savvy enough to disentangle real promises from slick marketing and otherwise make good choices.”

    Desperate people make desperate choices. That’s the way it goes.

    I wasn’t trying to offend you before, I really do think it’s sweet that you think I’m being mean to the U.S. Military.

  19. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Yep, lots of people, poor and wealthy, did a great job at reading and understanding their home contracts lately.

    If you believe in the value of education then you have to believe it is helpful in understanding how the world works. So if we give poorer people a worse education, as we have done, then it makes sense that it is more difficult for them to understand complex issues.

    But that is not my point about paternalism — it is that political forces rule the school district and standing up for people with less political power who are getting the short shrift makes good sense for us all.

  20. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Gretchen, I don’t get what YOUR PROBLEM is other than to use big honkin’ vocabulary–what on earth DON’T YOU GET? I can’t help but wonder if you would volunteer at say, Madison, Roosevelt, Jefferson, Marshall, (or any eastside school for that matter), that perhaps your verbose rhetoric could clarify for me what on earth you ‘don’t get’.

    In an effort not to ‘paternalize’ the poor/minorities, etc–you seem to equalize everything and everybody. Oh, were it only that way? Step out of your zone and volunteer in a school on the eastside, one that doesn’t have the course offerings that your children have.

    I just don’t get your line of thinking…at all!!!

  21. Comment from lek:

    Dear Gretchen im one of those poor people. I live below the poverty line. And yet I can read and im smart enough to know a millitary recruit when I here one. Your comment about the poor and minorities shows your true class. Millitary does not belong in any schools. GOOD LUCK in your future recruiting.

  22. Comment from Zarwen:

    So . . . does all this mean that the Chinese immersion program at Woodstock is also a recruiting tool? Because the funding for that also comes from the DOD.

  23. Comment from Steve Buel:

    I guess the Chinese immersion program would be a recruting tool if it was on a military base and there was a lot of cool military surroundings and it was taught by military personnel.

  24. Comment from Zarwen:

    So . . . that means it’s OK to take money from the DOD as long as there is no interaction with their personnel?

  25. Comment from Gretchen:

    Let’s apply the reasoning to say, sex education. If we teach sex education in schools, kids will feel that the schools approve of sex and therefore more students will have sex. If schools tell students about sex, students will have sex because they would never have thought of it on their own. Knowledge about sex is dangerous and we should protect our students from dangerous knowledge.

    Or let’s try this: If Evolution is taught in schools, students will turn away from God. Schools will be validating the choice to turn their backs on religion. Same reasoning.

    So you all are upset and a little paranoid about the military, but look at what you are saying: censorship is needed for the good of poorer students and students of color.

    This is no different than the people who are afraid of sex ed and Evolution.

    The reasoning on this issue is completely subjective. Military=BAD.

    That is not persuasive.
    That is not even an argument.

    I appreciate Rita’s thoughtful response but Google OSHA for the most dangerous jobs offered to unskilled workers. DOD (about 1/3 of which is non-military) is not even close to high on the list.

    Poverty forces people into the military, especially in times of economic stress. This is uncontested but it is also not the point.

    The question is why should PPS offer different programs to different schools?

    Is that equity?

    Should poorer schools lose their priority funds? Their lower staffing ratios? Their SES FTE adds?

    I’m sure you’d like to pick and choose which aspects of “equity” are enforced if we are going to talk about all the unequal programs PPS implements.

    Perhaps you should take the “bad” with the good.

  26. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    Gretchen, you’ve obviously spent a considerable amount of time researching Starbase and the military. What can you tell readers about the history of racism in PPS?

    Can you talk about the contributions that foundations make to the wealthier schools in PPS? What teachers are funded with foundation funds? Also, please provide some background information on the extras in wealthier schools?

    Can you tell readers how wealthier schools are able to provide the math and science instruction that you believe should be offered to poor kids through Starbase?

    As far as taking the bad with the good, what school do you suggest poison kids similar to what happened at Whitaker?

  27. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Gretchen, let’s say the Klu Klux Klan opens a charter with a school uniform of white sheets. O.K. by you since we shouldn’t censor where the public funds go in a school? Same reasoning as you present.
    Sometimes you just have to use a little reason in your decision making. Little kids in a program which is funded by army recruitment and is on an army base, taught by army personnel is a little suspect in a lot of people’s minds. Sex education needs to be age appropriate and probably shouldn’t be funded and taught in the schools by an organization which has a political stake in the outcome. Evolution studies shouldn’t be funded or taught by anti-church or church organizations either. I’d complain in both cases.

    I am not anti-military just anti-war in both Iraq and Afganistan — pretty mainstream beliefs if my mainstream friends are to be believed.

    Now, in taking the good with the bad. Let’s switch the programs in the schools where the poorer schools get the programs in the top four and vice versa. How does your admonitions to take the good with the bad hold up. Remember, we are talking about children’s education, which should be totally removed from their parents’ situation, so don’t argue the kids deserve less because their parents haven’t been as successful in society.

  28. Comment from Gretchen:

    Yes, I am agreeing with you. PPS should not offer different programs at different schools.

    That’s all I’ve been saying all along.

    Foundation and PTA funds and private fundraising and grants all corrupt the educational landscape.

    Embrace the monolith!!!

    (For those of you without my large vocabulary – monolith: something large and powerful that acts as a single unified force. I am not patronizing you, I am simply saving you the trouble of looking it up.)

    I think we are done here.

  29. Comment from Miss Merry Sunshine:

    Gretchen, hon, you must have a great Theesaurus!!!! You crack me up! A real MONOLITH! Nobody is talking censorship, but when the military is so OBVIOUSLY using Starbase as a ‘recruiting tool’ and is so transparent about it….well, it rattles my cage more than words can describe. The military in education does not bode well…..

    Yes, we are done here!

  30. Comment from Calvin:

    These are the points you (general you) have made.

    We want equality

    They need protection

    However if we protect them they depend on us

    therefore we are unequal

    We cannot have equality if we act paternally
    this is because the parent to child relationship is unequal

    One base assumption of your argument is that poor and or minority people are stupider than people from people who are not poor. You the creation of equality through unequal means. This will not work.

    before you make inflammatory remarks as to my affiliation with the military or my love for the kkk i would like to inform you that i am connected to neither and apposed to both.

  31. Comment from Calvin:

    im sorry i created a mistake in my second to last paragraph, please remove “from people” from my first sentance. my apologies

  32. Comment from Will:

    A quick question, for Miss Sunshine.
    1. Would you rather let the military covertly recruit the underprivileged?

    Anyway. As a PPS student at Lincoln I choose to relate to you a story of an overwhelmingly qualified and privileged student. We will call him John. John has decided to apply to two of the premier educational facilities in the nation. Annapolis and West Point. He has chosen this out of patriotism rather than desperation. Once upon a time those facilities to which he aspires to join were considered places of honor dignity and the highest moral standards. Apparently they are now devoted to exploiting poor minorities. Please remember that the people who have devoted their lives to serving the U.S. of A. have no stake in the abuse of any of its citizens.
    I hope that all of you who hate the military will remember not to hate the people who join, rather to honor them. Also remember that the military provides money for its members to attend civilian universities, giving many the leg up that all of you so strongly believe they need.

    I am not affiliated with any military organization.

  33. Comment from Steve Buel:

    There is a huge disparity in the political power within the school district of people who are in lower economic neighborhoods compared to people in more affluent neighborhoods. This has resulted in a monumental difference in the quality of education in those neighborhoods. You can draw your own conclusions as to why this is the case, but as for me, I believe that in a public school system this is wrong and I have worked to correct it.

  34. Comment from Rita:

    I appreciate the comment, Will. The military academies are indeed premier educational institutions, especially in engineering. They are less good at the social sciences and humanities, but even there some of the academies are working hard to increase their students’ awareness of the larger world and improve critical thinking skills. (I have a friend who teaches at one of the academies.)

    The fact is, however, that entrance into any of the academies is extraordinarily competitive, and is not available to most students, certainly not students who have received an impoverished education.

    In any case, I think the more important point to address in your comments (and a few others along the way) is the implied accusation that any criticism of the military or defense policy is a sure sign of hatred and lack of patriotism. Why do you leap to that illogical conclusion? Why does a debate on defense policy or spending always end up there? Total acceptance or treason. No middle ground. No room for actual debate on the merits of a policy.

    So let me clarify: I do not hate the military as an institution or individual service members. I understand that a certain amount of national resources must be devoted to national defense and I appreciate the sacrifices that individuals make to provide that defense for the rest of us.

    But do I think the military should get a free pass on anything and everything? Hell no. I don’t think anybody or any institution should be given an automatic blank check, literally or figuratively. That kind of unquestioning acceptance of anything wrapped in a flag or a uniform leads almost inevitably to abuse of power, corruption, profligate waste of limited resources (human and economic), and an ever-increasing reliance on military power to solve all problems.

    The overwhelming presence of the military-industrial complex — the term, by the way, comes from the Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, World War II Supreme Commander in Europe and hardly a blazing liberal — has profoundly distorted our economy, our society, and our politics. The percentage of national resources currently devoted to national “defense” is, in my view, excessive by orders of magnitude and has less to do with actual defense needs than with pork and corruption. Moreover, since our military sector is so huge, we tend to see every global challenge as best answered by a military response. (When all you have is a hammer, you see everything as a nail.) As a result, I would argue, we have made ourselves LESS secure.

    But in any case, I absolutely reject the notion that by questioning the military I automatically become unpatriotic. That is the most insidious and anti-democratic part of this overwhelming military presence in our country. It is my job as a citizen in this democracy to question authority. Especially when it comes dressed up in patriotic regalia and demanding complete obedience.

    You want to debate a policy based on the merits and a reasoned argument using actual facts, be my guest. But do not question my patriotism simply because I don’t agree with you.

    Democracy – use it or lose it.

  35. Comment from Zarwen:


    As always, thank you for your calm voice of reason.

    What I have found missing in all of the threads related to Starbase is any eyewitness testimony. So herewith I will try to provide some, with the disclaimer that I am presenting them strictly as my own observations, not the whole story (whatever that may be).

    I used to work at one of the Starbase schools, back in the 1990’s. At that time, the student population at that school was approx. 2/3 black. For what it’s worth, the 5th-grade teachers at that school were appreciative of the Starbase program because it provided instruction in science that the teachers did not have the training or equipment to give at school. For what it’s worth, the students seemed to enjoy going, but then, students usually enjoy field trips anyway.

    And that is how the Starbase program was treated there—as just another field trip, or series of field trips. As far as I know, no one gave out any personal information about the students to any Starbase personnel. Certainly the teachers did not (except perhaps first names on nametags, for the obvious purpose of teaching). Perhaps the principal did it without our knowledge, but I have a hard time believing that any principal would risk raising parent ire in that manner. Or maybe something has changed in the last 10 years, but I would think that principals would want to be even more careful now than then. If any of you who are still teaching know different, please respond.

    I left the school district 10 years ago. So the students I knew as 5th-graders then would be in their early 20’s now. For what it’s worth, I have never heard of any of them joining any branch of the military. Of course, it is entirely possible that some did and I just never heard about it. (I did hear of some who went to college, thanks to scholarship assistance [yay!] and some who ended up in gangs and/or in jail [moan].)

    To address a few of the questions in the original post:

    I do recall that there was an “opt-out” for families who wished it. In practical terms, that meant that their child spent the day in a 4th-grade classroom.

    The reason for holding the program at the base was that that was where the materials and equipment were. The school did not have the money to replicate the program in-house. As far as I know, they still don’t.

    PPS’s “zero-tolerance policy on weapons” refers to hand weapons, not “large-scale” weapons.

    “Don’t ask, don’t tell” applies only to actual members of the military, not guests who are visiting the base on a school field trip. I have never heard of any student being denied access to Starbase on the basis of sexual orientation or any other discriminatory reason.

    Just to reiterate: these are my observations only. I am neither a proponent nor an opponent of the Starbase program. However, I think it worthwhile to remember that the folks who run the local Starbase program are our fellow citizens of Portland, and their kids attend the same schools ours do. I keep seeing “the military” referred to as some faceless entity when it is actually made up of PEOPLE.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I have numerous relatives who have been members of “the military” going back all the way to the colonial era.

  36. Comment from Rita:

    Thanks for the testimonial, Zarwen. Now let me spin out an alternative vision for the program.

    Imagine the feds issue an RFP (request for proposals) through the Dept. of Education rather than DoD for non-military agencies to provide equivalent programs in all the locations Starbase currently serves. According to the 2008 Starbase annual report they had programs in 60 locations in 34 states at a cost of almost $18 million, about $310,000 per site. And the funding would be virtually guaranteed year after year after year. (See page 5)

    Think there might be some agencies that might be willing to provide such a service? Whatever happened to the whole free market thing that I keep hearing about? I’m guessing this kind of money might elicit some pretty serious interest from existing science museums, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and non-profit agencies. In the process, our tax dollars would be supporting the creation and maintenance of a lasting infrastructure that would provide consistent, high quality opportunities for scientific and technical exploration for all kinds of kids year-round, not just for the “lucky” few poor kids who get to do it once for 5 days.

    Imagine OMSI or the Aviation Museum getting a guaranteed $300K/year to provide quality science education to school children. Imagine them leveraging that money to get matching funds and expertise from Intel, Boeing, Columbia Helicopter, and other business outfits I don’t even know about. I’m thinking that could be a pretty powerful way to enhance scientific exploration. At minimum, they could cut the entrance fee to a level that would be doable for poor families.

    And, oh by the way, the teachers would be in civvies.

    How’s that?

    The question is not whether the feds should support science education. Of course they should. The question is what are they actually trying to achieve here and what’s the best way to do it. Personally, I don’t think the current configuration of Starbase is an effective or efficient way to improve the state of science and technical education in the US, the alleged purpose of the program, and it has unfortunate ancillary impacts that I object to.

    They want to get serious about really improving science education, I’ll the first to cheer.

  37. Comment from Rita:

    By the way, it just occurred to me that the amount of money involved here in Portland is significantly more than $300,000 for the site. Starbase was going to give PPS alone $320,000 outright for only one year. Add to that associated personnel, facility, and materials costs and we’re talking a whole lot more money committed to the Portland site than $300K average mentioned in the Starbase materials.

    Imagine how many science labs we could install in the K-8s and how many science teachers we could hire to staff them if the Feds gave PPS $300-500K/year to support science education?

  38. Comment from Calvin:

    Rita although you make out of the ordinary and interesting points they are irrelevant to the blog. it’s as fickle as wondering what would i do if i won the lottery. unless you have a way to implement your plan i wonder if it could be possible to stay on topic. please refer to the bullet points up top for an on topic discussion rather than your,”well if i had real power and any authority/influence this is what i would do…”

  39. Comment from Stephanie:

    I just want to add that I appreciate this dialogue and the different perspectives as I am still forming my opinion about this. I do want to also add that it is great to see new folks posting and the opportunity to build our community and take off our blinders to different perspectives is powerful. It bums me out when new folks and regular folks have to qualify their statements by saying they are not KKK or Military – this defeats the purpose of this blog and Steve R. does a fine job of letting free dialogue reign and allows us to moderate ourselves. I am not trying to be all that or anything just wanted to make sure new people keep coming back to dialogue.

  40. Comment from Stephanie:

    Oh Rita you are such an idealist 🙂

  41. Comment from Stephanie:

    OK not to hog the post but I realized I should clarify to not appear snarky – that is an inside joke and anyone who knows Rita would laugh.

  42. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Calvin, check out the next to last bullet point. Plus, this blog wanders a little from time to time since equity and education are such big issues.

  43. Comment from Rita:

    Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate the reminder. And yes, I’m a bit of an idealist, but I’m also probably the most cynical person I know. Go figure.

    Which brings me to Calvin’s comment. I don’t understand why you think my comments are irrelevant to this blog? First of all, the thread is on Starbase. That was the subject of my post. Second, the blog is about equity. Equity is all about allocation of resources to provide equitable opportunities for children regardless of their socio-economic situation. In short, it’s all about the money.

    My latest postings on Starbase were meant to point out that choices are being made about how and where the feds spend our tax dollars, allegedly to support science education. I disagree with the way our money is being spent and contend that it is both ineffective as a means to accomplish the stated goal and insidious in that it targets for military recruitment the most vulnerable students.

    How is that not on point?

    Is my suggestion for an alternative way to support science education fanciful? Yeah, probably given the prevailing political climate. But the only way to change that prevailing climate is to subject it to scrutiny and advocate for alternatives.

    Just doing my bit.

  44. Comment from Zarwen:

    And I think you did it very well, Rita. Too bad you didn’t get elected to the school board!

    Stephanie, I second your feelings about people posting disclaimers re military or KKK affiliations; strikes me as both sad and stupid (which is why I did mine with a little tongue in cheek).