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March 16, 2006

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I was talking about Buckman as just one example; Fernwood Middle School is another, Irvington (at almost 500 kids) is a third. (Because this is such a highly charged issue, I prefer to use schools that I'm directly familiar with as my examples, but could point to any one of a number of 'big' schools that have many happy 'customers' based on conversations I've had with other parents.)

The larger point I'm trying to make here is that we cannot simultaneously support a relatively loose transfer policy, (made more attractive by a growing number of special focus programs that pull in students from all over the district) *and* commit to supporting neighborhood schools, no matter what their size.

Add in NCLB, which allows students from lower-performing schools transfer anywhere else if they so choose, and you've got to start making some tough decisions in light of enrollment figures that have stayed flat or decline over the last several years. Our buildings are well under-capacity; staffing numbers are going to take yet another hit (I worry about those who question the necessity for guidance counselors or other 'extraneous' staffers, for example) - it only makes sense to pool our resources and consolidate as necessary in order to save the overall infrastructure from crumbling beyond repair.

I would, however, draw the line at using the Rose Garden, Memorial Coliseum, or a version of Outdoor School at PGE Park...!

Yeah, I wrote a post about the imposssibilty of promoting both school choice and suppporting neighborhood schools. Where we disagree is that I believe choice actually drives down school enrollment by encouraging parents to abandon their neighborhood schools, making them "look" all the worse.

As for NCLB, I think that the district should withdraw from the program in protest. I figure it would cost the district about 8.8% of its total budget.

How can choice drive down overall school enrollment? You're choosing another school in the district (as opposed to choosing an out-of-district option, whether private or charter school, for example...)

Betsy-
So glad Buckman is working for you. Won't work for my kid and her disability. We chose to live near a small school so that she would be well known and if she needed emergency care it would not go unnoticed.
Unfortunately our small neighborhood school was closed a year ago, as everyone applauded Phillips ability to make difficult decisions.
Aside from our personal situation, I keep wondering what happens when the reality of peak oil and global warming catches up to us. We won't be able to keep driving all over the city to send our kids to magnet schools.
I find it so ironic to live in Portland, which touts itself walkable, sustainable, environmental city and yet cannot maintain its neighborhood schools.
My friends from Germany, politely asked last weekend: "Why do you have such wonderful public transportation and yet they do not fund the schools?" I ask the same thing. Society is in bad shape when children, the old and the sick are the lowest priorities.

That's the point. Many parents DO choose out of district options, including private, or home, schooling. You also overlook parents who don't move into the district because of the perception that the local neighborhood school is no good.

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