Category: This Week in PPS

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: Terry Olson

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This is a full transcript of the podcast, with hyperlinks:
This week in PPS, we mourn the passing of Terry Olson.

The veteran teacher, husband, father of three, and grandfather of two passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 15th, after a long fight with cancer. He turned 63 on October 9th.

Terry’s blog Olson Online was a seminal space in Portland’s blogosphere. He started writing about “[p]ublic education advocacy, tax reform, and other stuff” in January of 2003, and continued writing forcefully about these issues until recently. To the end, Terry never pulled his punches.

Six weeks before he died, he wrote his final blog post  about a bizarre charter school proposal in Corbett. The title of his last piece: Hypocrisy.

Terry’s blog was the first electronic gathering place where Portlanders discussed school equity issues extensively. He worked with the Neighborhood Schools Alliance when they rose up in opposition to Vicki Phillips’ rushed school closings and reconfigurations. He encouraged me and my wife Nancy to “come out” (well, actually, he “outed” us) when we were blogging anonymously about PPS.

By pushing us into the open, he emboldened us to mature as bloggers and expand the chorus of voices calling for school equity.

I only knew Terry as an education activist, and only in the last five years of his life. Our conversations were virtually entirely online, either in e-mail or on the blogs. I only met him twice in person. But his influence on me as an activist and citizen journalist was crucial. Without his ongoing encouragement and guidance, it’s unlikely PPS Equity would exist today.

The last time I saw him was In February 2008.  Terry stood with me in icy wind and rain at the last Celebration, the school district’s school choice fair, handing out fliers (PDF) about the inequity of school choice. He stayed with me in the wind and rain until we had handed out all 500 fliers.

To me, this epitomized Terry’s selflessness in fighting for the greater common good, even as he literally fought for his own life.

He was a contributor to PPS Equity, both as an author and in the comments section.

Terry will be deeply missed by his family, to whom we send our deepest condolences, and in the community, where he led us by example.

Thank you, Terry Olson.

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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This Week in PPS #4: update

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This week in PPS, the school board and community get their first chance to really dig  in to high school redesign, and the PPS Parent Union kicks off.

But first, a review of last week’s news.

  • On PPS, Parent Polly Zagone tells more of the story that Beth Slovic introduced in Willamette Week September 23. Zagone complains that her son, who was given a modified diploma, was denied the basic education the state requires local school districts to provide. Zagone lists the eleven so-far-unanswered questions to the district, beginning with: Is Pioneer a school? If not, what school did my son graduate from?
  • The Lincoln High football coach discipline situation has been resolved, but the football program is left hanging. Portland Public Schools has fired head coach Chad Carlson, who refused to step down. Two assistants stepped down, and can coach next year.  A fourth coach was suspended for three weeks.
  • In The Oregonian, Kim Melton writes about the dearth of environmental education in Green Portland. This as the North American Association for Environmental Education prepares for its annual conference and symposium in Portland Tuesday through Friday this week.

This week in PPS:

  • The school board will begin to dig deeply into the high school redesign at their regular board meeting tonight. According to senior staff and board members, it is becoming more clear which specific issues — such as the nature of  modifications of the transfer policy — will be directly addressed and decided by the board, and which will be left largely to staff. The board meets at 7 p.m. at BESC, 501 N. Dixon St., and is aired live on Comcast channel 28 in Portland and rebroadcast through the week.
  • Kevin Carroll is the featured speaker at An Evening With the Black Parent Initiative, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday the eighth at Cha Taqueria, 305 NW 21st.
  • On Friday, the PPS Parent Union holds a kick-off press conference and rally at the Mallory Avenue Community Enrichment Center, 126 NE Alberta. The Parent Union is also holding a Parent Information Gathering Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
  • Corrected information: Portland Public Schools holds the first of two all-day meetings this week on high school reconfiguration, getting down to nuts and bolts about the size and number of neighborhood schools that will remain. The meeting is Friday the ninth from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Marshall High School in southeast Portland. The second meeting is Saturday, October 17 at Rosa Parks Elementary in north Portland, also 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (The original version of this report listed the second meeting as October 10, not October 17. We regret the error.)

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


This week in PPS: Rob Ingram

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Rob Ingram
Rob Ingram: “I’m one of those guys who believes that actors and musicians and athletes are a little over-paid, and our teachers and social workers are way under-paid.” (photo by Steve Rawley)

This week in PPS, we begin a new series I’m calling “Difference Makers,” interviews with people making a difference in the lives of youth.  This week, I talked with Rob Ingram, director of the City of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention. We had a broad ranging talk touching on the Million Father March, Black Men Working, the success of students involved with SEI, the PPS high school redesign, and the over-representation of black men in Oregon’s criminal justice system. I caught up with Rob at his office in Northeast Portland.


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 #2

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On the Calendar:

  • The school board’s Finance, Audit and Operations committee meets Tuesday at 4pm in the Willamette Conference Room at BESC, 501 N. Dixon St.
  • The PPS Parent Union meets 6:30 Thursday evening at the library at Concordia University, NE Dekum and 27th. Parent Union organizers are preparing for their kickoff press conference October 9 at the Mallory Avenue Community Enrichment Center and information fair October 10 at the Curious Comedy Club.

In the News:

  • Lincoln High’s head football coach and one of his assistants pleaded guilty to interfering with police and have been placed on paid leave by PPS pending a review of the situation. Maxine Bernstein writes in The Oregonian that Chad Carlson and Kyle Fairfax were ordered to do eight hours of community service by Tuesday in exchange for having their records wiped clean. Kim Melton reports in Saturday’s Oregonian that this case triggers the first use the districts new conduct code for coaches. District administrators will decide the fate of Carlson and Fairfax, as well as two other coaches present at the time of the incident. Before the code of conduct was instituted, principals had almost sole discretion in meting out discipline.
  • The ranks of homeless students in Oregon’s schools have swelled by nearly 14% over last year. According to a report released by the Oregon Department of Education Friday, 3.8% of students in PPS were considered homeless, writes Amanda Ingram for Willamette Week.
  • Beth Slovic covers last week’s school board meeting, and the board’s reaction to high school redesign plans presented by staff. David Wynde complained that questions he had about the process in June all remain unanswered in September.

On the PPS Equity blog:

  • Bonnie Robb, winner of last year’s prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, writes about how Portland schools serving students with high rates of poverty struggle to fund the most basic curriculum enrichment, and how teachers frequently spend their own time writing grants  “so [their] disadvantaged students can experience a world outside of their neighborhood.” Even with all the extra effort, students affected by poverty get far less of this kind of enrichment than students at wealthier schools.
  • Last week’s report on late opening for professional development drew conversation from readers, including parent Rose, whose children reported low attendance on the first early opening day. She writes that “a lot of parents left kids the whole day with relatives, or worse, left them home alone all day because there was no transportation to school.” The conversation began with district spokesman Matt Shelby pointing out that the late openings amount to an increase in instructional time and a reduction of professional development. Veteran teacher and former school board member Steve Buel argued for the abolition of even more professional development time in favor of instructional time, and Susan notes that the two hour professional development days will make it difficult for staff to attend training outside of their buildings.

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


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

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