Ivy Withdraws in a Surprise Move

The Ivy Charter School organizers surprised everybody tonight by withdrawing their appeal at the very last minute, just as the school board was poised to debate and vote.

In a legally questionable move, they intend to appeal directly to the state, before they’ve exhausted the formal appeal to the Portland Public Schools Board of Education. Even if the state accepts their appeal, they’ll find themselves in front of the PPS board again, where they’ve squandered a lot of good will.

The withdrawal was centered around the board resolution’s enrollment limit of 120 students (half what the organizers wanted), intended to ameliorate the “adverse impact” the charter would have had on neighborhood school enrollment. The board resolution also stipulated that the school be sited in a quadrant of town that would lessen this impact, presumably some place other than North or Northeast Portland.

I honestly had not read the board resolution until tonight, and didn’t fully understand that the charter school subcommittee of Ruth Adkins, Bobbie Regan and Trudy Sargent had put such strict conditions on the school. Kudos for them for placing the well-being of our neighborhood schools ahead of the needs of a charter. This proved to be the breaking point for this charter, and prevented a divisive debate and vote.

Terry Olson also has more coverage of this over on his blog.

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

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The Upside and Downside of Charters

I think most anti-charter folks don’t recognize the other side of the argument, i.e., what makes charters really compelling as alternatives to mainstream public schools. Not all charter proponents are minority-hating, low-income-people avoiding, union-busting demons out to feather their own nests.

Charter critiques often overlook or do not acknowledge the progressive practices (e.g., student-centered instruction at many charters vs. teacher-led instruction at the majority of mainstream public schools, multiple forms of assessment vs. norm-based or multiple-choice assessments, democratically oriented school designs vs. top-down designs, more holistic, interdisciplinary curricula vs. a narrow range of subjects taught in isolation) that many charters engage in. According to the research I’ve done in PPS, Opal, Emerson, Trillium, and Portland Village all fall into some or most of these categories.
Read the rest…

Peter Campbell is a parent, educator, and activist, who served in a volunteer role for four years as the Missouri State Coordinator for FairTest before moving to Portland. He has taught multiple subjects and grade levels for over 20 years. He blogs at Transform Education.