Ok, folks, quiz time on Portland school closures. Who said this?
"There's a significant victory to be gained by having parents and the broader community recognize that schools need to be closed," she said."
Sounds like Qwest CEO and Portland Business Alliance bigwig, Judy Peppler, doesn't it? Peppler has demanded school closings as a condition for local business support. So good guess, but wrong answer.
The "she" in this case is none other than Shannon Campion of the local chapter of Stand for Children. Shocking? Not if you've followed the political machinations of Stand during the last two school board election cycles.
Portland Stand for Children is the only group -and that includes local newspapers- with a 100% success rate in school board candidate endorsements. In other words, all the candidates backed by Stand have been elected. In that sense, Stand, by helping elect all seven current school board members, is the true power behind the scenes of local educational politics.
So it's no surprise to me that Shannon Campion applauds the district's proposal for school closures. After all, Vicki Phillips is the superintendent that she, through Stand's hand-picked school board, chose to lead the district. Perhaps Stand is even more influential than the Portland Schools Foundation with its deep connections to the Portland business community. Apparently PSF's Cynthia Guyer isn't all that pleased with the proposed closures. Here's what she said:
" 'I think any massive restructuring of that scope has got to have a very deliberate and thoughtful process,' Guyer said. 'I can't imagine that being done in the weeks of one spring.' "
That's what the Neighborhood Schools Alliance has been saying all along.
As I wrote yesterday, the leaked documents are proof that district leadership is cynically using the budget crisis as an opportunity to "right-size" Portland's schools. Campion praises Phillips for making hard decisions to improve the educational climate in Portland, especially for her determination to "close the achievement gap". Here's the odd thing about that.
Proponents of school closure argue that consolidated, larger schools will provide students more access to music, art, and P.E., a laudable goal. But as long as achievement is tethered exclusively to student performance on reading and math tests, how is more music and art going to "close the achievement gap"?
The answer is, it won't! So let's leave the "achievement gap" nonsense out of this debate.