Rethinking Schools May 16: “Where’s the Equity?”

10:19 am

Please join Rethinking Schools colleagues from the Portland metro area to explore the tension between mandates and autonomy. What agreements need to be made so that ALL children receive a quality education? What systemic reforms put equity at the center of every decision? What agreements can teachers make to ensure that ALL students read writers from diverse backgrounds and write engaging assignments in all content areas? What systemic agreements ensure that teachers do not shoulder the burden of underfunded or misguided reforms?

When: Friday, May 16th, 4 pm – 6 pm

Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church, fireside room
1624 NE Hancock (2 blocks north of Broadway)

Please bring a friend or colleague or parent, and something to eat or drink to share.

Childcare available, but please call ahead: 503-282-6848.

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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.

filed under: Equity, Reform

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5 Responses

  1. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    This is a great time to be having this conversation. As a long-time advocate for organized labor, I find myself somewhat uncomfortable advocating a more top-down approach in PPS.

    But the reality is that without some measure of standardization, huge inequities have emerged.

    It is a delicate balancing act, but it seems clear to me that we’ve gone way too far in the direction of site-level autonomy in determining curriculum. In order to move toward equity, we need more central guidance.

  2. Comment from Whitebuffalo:


    I echo your sentiments concerning advocating for more centralization. I know people militating for this within the district with regards to music. There must be some sort of centralized, coordinated plan if we are going to get articulated music programs in all clusters equitably. It is difficult our “post-everything” era to argue for more control from one place.

  3. Comment from Steve Buel:

    There is no way to really adddress equity when we have no definition of what constitutes a good education in PPS. One group advocates more music, another more counselors, another more P.E., another better lunches, another more music, another more TAG, another better testing, another better libraries, another smaller high schools, another more comprehensive high schools, another k-8’s, another middle schools, and on and on, and each school advocates for their school.
    We have no plan which tells us what type of educational opportunities we need to have for a 5th grader who can hardly read whose mother is in jail and dad is a drug addict versus what plan we need for a 5th grader reading on a 12th grade level whose mom is a doctor and dad is a lawyer. See, we have no plan.
    So the response is a little change here, a little done here and in the end the most powerful and political parent groups make sure their schools are o.k., while the rest of the district is a mess.
    No plan, no real progress. No real way to hold the district and the city accountable for equity.

  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    After doing more investigating in the form of a nice conversation with a district budget analyst it seems even more important that we have a definition of a good education in PPS. For instance, when a lot of kids transfer from one school to another i.e. Marshall to Grant what takes place is that the economies of scale create more opportunities for the kids at Grant and the kids who transfer from Marshall. But is educational opportunity the definition of a good education. Some might say the smaller school at Marshall creates better opportunities for those students. However, if parents and kids felt that is the case wouldn’t more kids stay home and suggest Marshall create more small schools within its walls? Or wouldn’t a lot of kids transfer from Grant to Marshall to obtain the small school experience? So increased opportunity must be a more valid argument as representing a good education since more students and parents opt for it versus other options.
    But, since PPS has no definition as to what constitutes a good education, and certainly not a differentiated one, the whole equity argument becomes pretty much unfathomable and therefore the controlling bodies are not forced to face up to the obvious inequities. Any inequity can be argued away. Hey, you have Title 1, you have a small school, the $ is equal per kid, etc.

  5. Comment from Whitebuffalo:

    While I agree I think we can take it even further: Our culture and society have no idea whatsoever what education should look like. Is education the sum total of our kids test scores? (No). Is education all about career training? What should it look like? I think when we as a city can agree what education should look like then we can start to discuss what equity should look like (if not out and out equality).