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February 16, 2006

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Broad does seminars for school boards. His philosophy that says that privatization cannot move fast enough, and will somehow improve(?!) our public schools. The PPS school board canceled the February 27 meeting so they could attend a Broad seminar. So they are being steeped in right wing politics AND leaving town in the middle of a huge budget crisis.

Other Right wing think tanks are influencing PPS decisions. At the Jan 23, 06 Board meeting, members of Neighborhood Schools Alliance pointed out that PPS had used Heritage Foundation research for background for the Jefferson Design Team. Board member Wynde vigorously denied any connection.
The Board minutes from that meeting say "Co-Chair Wynde addressed the remark regarding the Heritage Foundation, and said it is a right-wing think tank and would be very far removed from the thinking of anyone on the Board or on the Jefferson Design Team." Unfortunately he was wrong. If he had read the "No Excuses" report that they used closely, he would have noticed that it came from a Heritage Scholar.

I believe that at least some of the decision makers have been unaware of how right wing all this is. I think this is because conservative think tanks, in particular Broad, uses seemingly progressive phrases like "reform" and "bridging the achievement gap" in their work. Sort of like Bush's rhetoric "No Child Left Behind", Clean Air Initiative etc

Thanks for writing this, Terry. My sense is that PPS is insidiously creeping further and further right in its ideology and if most of the residents of this city knew they would be appalled. It is a nationwide trend--Chicago just converted three of its public high schools to military academies!
We need to continually speak out and fight back against a right wing takeover of our public schools.

Terry wrote: (Public) "Schools are there to educate kids, and to prepare them as citizens able to participate in a democracy. Only public schools -"common schools" as Horace Mann called them- can perform the latter task. That's the mission of universal compulsory education, where children of all classes (and races) gather together to learn not only how to read, write, and compute, but about how other people, different people, people they might never otherwise meet, go about their lives. That's democracy."

Anne wrote: "We need to continually speak out and fight back against a right wing takeover of our public schools."

It is interesting to note that schools in greatest danger of "right wing takeover" are failing schools in urban districts. Failure is obvious in those schools. It is evidenced by limited parental support, sporadic attendance, unruly students, high dropout rates, vandalism, reluctance by teachers to work in such buildings and yes, low scores on standardized tests. As long as those schools exist, they will be reminders that public schools in urban locales are not meeting Horace Mann's ideals and those schools will be magnets for reformers of all stripes.

The only "failure" that counts is low test scores. Need I point out, Gus, that EVERY Portland high school, and nearly every middle school, has "failed" to make Adequate Yearly Progress under the test-based standards of No Child Left Behind?

I would point out to you, Terry, that NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress standards must be met by each demographic sub-group within a school. Penalties so far under NCLB have been limited to district subsidized transportation of students to better performing schools and can only be levied on schools that qualify for federal Title I funding. The majority of PPS schools do not qualify for Title I funding so their students do not get transfer subsidies. As yet, not a single PPS school has been closed because of NCLB.

Portland's failed schools have been obvious long before NCLB or Oregon's "Report Cards". It has always been evidenced by limited parental support, sporadic attendance, unruly students, high dropout rates, vandalism, reluctance by teachers to work in such buildings and yes, low scores on standardized tests.

Maybe Gus doesn't know that Jefferson posted the largest test score gains of any high school in Portland last year.

Maybe Gus didn't come to the recent Board hearing at Jefferson where a stream of articulate, intelligent and yes, "well behaved" Jeff students testified eloquently about the resources and support their school needs. And where dedicated, talented Jeff teachers testified to the great work that is being done.

Ruth:

I am aware of all those things as well as the gap that still remains between Jeff's scores and those at Lincoln. Grant, Benson and other schools. I am also aware that 70% of kids eligible to attend Jefferson opt to attend other PPS schools. I would go on Ruth but your drive-by shot was neither informative nor even relevant to my posts in this string.

I have been reading about the mess and havoc in Oakland, Chicago, San Diego, etc. and the involvement of the Broad Foundation in the school districts of these cities. There was some hope at sf-frontline.com, however. That city was smart enough to drive their autocratic Broad-friendly, superintendent out of town. I have been in chat rooms and reading blogs where people are defending the school closures as necessary. (Budget problems...What else are we to do?etc.) People are buying the PR put out by Phillips and the School Board. The Broad Foundation is on its way to usurping the power of our citizens. They have to be stopped. Portland deserves better.

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