Category: Audio

This Week in PPS: teachers rally for a contract

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“More than anything, people just want to feel like they’re respected… If people felt more respected, they might have more sympathy for the district’s ongoing financial difficulties.” –Cheyne Cumming, teacher and PAT organizer

Approximately 1,500 teachers and their supporters took to the streets and marched on the school board Monday night to demand a contract. This Week in PPS, we hear from Portland Association of Teachers president Rebecca Levison, as well as organizer Cheyne Cumming.

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

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This Week in PPS: the State of Black Oregon


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“It is a civil rights violation of the worst kind in the city of Portland when based on race and zip code roughly 85% of white students have access to opportunity in rigorous college prep programs, curriculum and resources compared to 27% of black students. We are a better state than this. We are a better city than this.” –PPS Deputy Superintendent Charles Hopson

This week in PPS, we feature sound clips from the Urban League of Portland‘s presentation to the Portland City Club on the State of Black Oregon.

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

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This Week in PPS: Parent Union kickoff


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Stephanie Hunter, Shalonda Menefee
Stephannie Hunter and Shalonda Menefee

A report from the PPS Parent Union kickoff weekend, with Sheila Warren, Stephanie Hunter, Ken Libby Shalonda Menefee and more.

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

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From Ms. Nancy’s Library: How to get a kid to read

“American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.”
– The Kaiser Family Foundation

Ms. Nancy discusses strategies for getting kids to read in the latest episode of her podcast Book Geek.

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

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This Week in PPS #1

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.

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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.

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

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Audio: Jonah Edelman (and me) on “autonomy and accountability”

Johna Edelman, head of Stand for Children, addressed the City Club of Portland last Friday on the topic of improving education in Oregon, even as we face budget cuts.

He identifies three ways to improve things: teacher and principal quality, autonomy within a framework of accountability, and time.

Edelman had some good points about teacher pay and training, and the need for good and supportive principals. He also made valid points about our antiquated agrarian school calendar.

The autonomy bit raised some red flags with me, of course, since I’m very well versed in how that’s worked out in Portland. But first, here’s what he has to say about it (1 min. 32 sec.):

If you don’t have audio, here’s what I think are his salient points: accountability equals test scores. “When I say free [principals and teachers] up, I mean free them up to help students reach high academic standards set by the state and then hold them accountable when they don’t.”

Edelman doesn’t let the fact that Portland Public Schools principals in poor neighborhoods have not always made the best choices deter his optimism: “…when schools are freed up from bureaucratic rules, and given the autonomy to decide how to make maximum use of time, people and money, educators can do a far better job of providing the personalized, rigorous, engaging education that meets the diverse needs and taps the diverse strengths of students.”

At this point, I threw away the question I was going to ask him about the role of Stand in Portland school board elections, and decided to ask him how we can assure that with autonomy, poor schools don’t just become test prep factories (2 min. 13 sec.):

Edelman points out that we’re not as bad as Washington D.C., where they do 52 days of test prep (so maybe we should be happy with that?). And while he makes a valid point about special ed and ELL money from the state not fully following students, he completely missed my point about PPS principals in poor neighborhoods cutting non-core programs (music, library, etc.) to focus on “academic achievement”.

I’d like to invite Jonah out to a tour of our second-tier system in the Jefferson, Madison, Marshall and Roosevelt clusters to see just how well autonomy has worked for the invisible half of Portland, the half that doesn’t always get the things other parts of town take for granted, like college prep, world languages, boutique condo schools, music, art, chemistry, civics, calculus literature and libraries.

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

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