Another parent on cuts at Ockley Green

Here’s another letter from an Ockley Green parent regarding cuts at the school for next year. –ed.

I am an Ockley Green parent. I have two children at the school.

Ockley is an outstanding, wonderful school that has done a remarkable job, thanks to Mr. Malone and his staff. My children are flourishing, even though they have vastly different needs. My daughter is on an IEP, and at Ockley she has an experienced, dedicated staff. My son is very bright. At Ockley his gifts have been recognized and challenged. This is a school where 70 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

These cuts are unconscionable. Higher income schools may be able to make up for such cuts in private fundraising but this is not true for Ockley. School choice is a facade and has created a serious situation of segregation. Low-income families can’t afford the transportation and lack the savvy to play the system. The result is a city where white and wealthier families take their resources into schools outside their neighborhood while minority and poor students remain in schools facing the impossible challenge of higher costs and budget cuts.

My son’s track meet this morning was an illustration of this fact. The Ockley and King teams were almost exclusively African-American and poor. Schools like Chapman were almost all white and wealthier. This segregation carried to the bleachers, and will carry on for the better part of these children’s lives, as white children benefit from educational opportunities denied to minority children through a program disguised as school “choice.” Sitting in the bleachers I reflected how I could have been living in the deep south for the clear color lines our schools perpetuate. But this Portland, Oregon. We are supposed to be progressive and equal opportunity.

The cuts being made demonstrate, once again, that this is not true. Our children deserve better.

Rene Denfeld

Rene Denfeld is a writer and parent of two Ockley Green students.


Transfer Inequity

It’s been some time since a deep audit of the School Choice and Transfer Policy revealed glaring inequity and segregation. Yet nothing has been spoken of, as to how to start repairing this system. I like to think that the district has some long term idea to deal with this. But perhaps we could come up with some low cost/no cost mends today.

My initial idea would help parents not chosen by the transfer lottery still have some choice. The School board should recommend that after the lottery is awarded, up till the First week of School, transfers will be available, on a first come first served basis, to any schools that have room for more enrollment. Not only would this add choice it would help the schools transfered to increase enrollment before Add Back FTE time.

Anyone else have ideas that can be submitted to the School Board as short term free fixes?

Nicole Leggett is a Peninsula K-8 Parent.