In the news: HS principals weigh in; one resigns

1:49 pm

Joseph Malone and Carla Randall, principals of Grant and Madison High Schools respectively, penned an op-ed in today’s Oregonian in support of the principle behind the high school redesign: equal educational opportunity.

Echoing Deputy Superintendent Charles Hopson’s speech to the City Club last month, Malone and Randall argue that opportunity should not be determined by race, income or ZIP code as it currently is.

Malone and Randall blame the current state largely on the district’s open transfer enrollment, an issue explored extensively on this site.

Malone and Randall ask:

What drives these inequities? Enrollment. In Portland’s open-choice system, it’s easy to flee some schools for others. Declined enrollment overall multiplies the effect. Schools that lose students, lose teaching staff, which means skimpier choices for kids. The risk? High-flyers leave, courses are diminished, parent involvement declines and students struggle.

It’s refreshing to hear district administrators openly repudiating the “school choice” policies the previous administration defended until the end, but troubling that so far these reform efforts are only aimed at the top four grades of a thirteen-grade system. School choice continues to drive dramatic inequities in the K-8 grades, too.

Also troubling in the high school plan, besides a nagging lack of details of analysis done to support planning (or, perhaps, the lack of analysis altogether), is the thinking around special focus options. At one point, planners were talking about having a third of high school students in special focus schools, meaning lower enrollment (or fewer in number) community high schools. Because of the lack of detail on how schools will be targeted for closure or conversion to focus options, rumors have consistently swirled in advance of every community meeting, with the latest, at Franklin, drawing upwards of 2000 concerned community members.

In perhaps unrelated news, Malone announced his resignation, effective at the end of the current school year, in e-mail to Grant parents yesterday. This has added fuel to the rumor mill, with parents wondering if he knows something the rest of us don’t.

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

filed under: High Schools, Media, School Closures, Segregation, Transfer Policy

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7 Responses

  1. Comment from PPSExpatriate:

    I found Mr. Malone to be an awesome administrator at Ockley. And he knows how the ball bounces at PPS. If I was PPS parent, headed towards high school, this would be cause for concern.

  2. Comment from Zarwen:


    Thank you for this post, especially your next-to-last paragraph. I am not convinced we need a “redesign.” It seems, from where I am sitting, that just ending the transfer policy would stabilize enrollment and enable PPS to offer comparable courses at every school. Closing ANY high school makes no sense at all when you look at how numbers are already increasing in the primary grades.

    What strikes me weird about what I just wrote is that, in describing some longed-for, imaginary future, I actually described what PPS used to be like 30 years ago. How sad.

  3. Comment from Steve Rawley:

    I actually think there is a case to be made for reducing the number of high schools. 11,000 high school students total, which includes alternatives and charters. What you can offer with 1,000 students is a lot less than what you can offer with, say, 2,000, like they do in Beaverton.

    PPS is going for the squishy middle, which means our “comprehensives” will be far less so than Beaverton, or even what schools like Wilson, Lincoln, Cleveland and Grant currently have, but far more comprehensive than what we have at the Roosevelt and Marshall “small schools” and at Madison and Jefferson.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the district did a very good job asking the questions as part of a big picture. They asked, do you want boutiques or comprehensives? Community shouted “Comprehensives!” Okay, says district, but we’re going to take 1/3 of the students out of that picture to keep our boutique thinking alive.

    Then they asked, big (with more closures) or smaller (with fewer closures) and the community screamed “Don’t close my school!”

    So the squishy middle is relatively small “comprehensives” and some undefined number of “focus options”, neither of which will come close to offering what they’ve got in Beaverton.

    The sad fact is that this state does not provide enough funding to have a full high school program with 1,100 students. That seems lost on the district and a lot of families as well.

  4. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Gets a lot less squishy if you put the focus options into the comprehensive high schools.

  5. Comment from Carrie Adams:

    PPS has a job posting up now for an Integrated Educational Support-Director Integrated Service Delivery (makes no sense but it’s their title). Under Preferred qualifications:
    1. Demonstrated ability to manage systemic change and successfully implement reform initiatives that produce significant gains in closing the achievement gap.
    5. Proven record of success in producing outcomes for students.

    Does ANYONE leading the high school redesign meet those qualifications?

  6. Comment from John B. Tang:

    Carrie: There are two job postings: Integrated Educational Support Director (RTI) and the other one is this Director’s assistant. Both are highly paid positions and they are supposed to work under the new CAO, Xavier Botana. These two positions will deal mainly with the Special Ed students as explained in Ms. Merry Sunshine’s prior post. It is interesting to see how this will play out and I agree with your comments. So another issue would be how PPS reorg. saved $1M while continuing to hire newly highly paid staff. The last Director for Strategic Partnerships is a $100K yearly paid job and these two new ones are paid about the same. The public should be questioning the reorg. and how this could possibly save any money.

  7. Comment from Zarwen:


    Apparently you are not aware of how the “saving money” thing works. It is a very common practice, in both public and private sectors, to eliminate one or more positions and then announce that it was a cost-saving measure. The part you don’t announce is that you have created one or more new positions that cost about the same as the “eliminated” ones. So you dupe the public into thinking you’ve made cutbacks when you’ve done nothing of the kind. Happens all the time.