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October 10, 2007


A few years ago when PPS was anxious to close schools, "the numbers" showed declining enrollment. Now that PPS wants to pass a bond measure to build new schools, "the numbers" show rising enrollment.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the source of "the numbers," PSU, is a place to which half the school board has connections. (Also ex-Director Morgan.)

Does anyone besides me smell a rat here?

Does this mean we get to have our schools reopened? Too late for my neighborhood school, Kenton...And I am surrounded by young families with babies, wondering where the heck to send their kids to school...I will be voting NO on any bond measure to build new schools. I will also be going door to door to convince as many people as possible to do the same. What a bunch of crap. Excuse my French.

I am right there with you, Marcia. Let's not forget that we always get lied to about what any bond money will be used for. The current bond was supposed to buy music and PE teachers; instead we got vice principals. Back in the 90's, we passed a bond dedicated to repair and maintenance of school buildings; they used it to remodel the BESC. When the state found out, all anybody got was a slap on the wrist. They may say that the upcoming bond will be used to build new schools, but I wouldn't believe a word of it, and neither should anybody else.

If you're interested, here's a link to the PPS PR piece on this. It has links to their preliminary 2007-2008 enrollment numbers. Apparently, half the K-5 growth is in kindergarten alone, and there are approximately 185 more kindergarteners in the district than there were last year. Now we know why kindergarten classes are so large!

I note that Dilafruz Williams is quoted in the paper saying, "Parents don't have to fear that their schools will be closed. They can count on their public schools."

Does that mean that the "grow or die" threat is now lifted from schools under 400, like Rieke and Humboldt? If that is true, then why do schools still need to "market" themselves? Can we "count on" what Director Williams says?

I don't think the 400-600 target was ever codified in board policy. Ruth Adkins has said on the record that she wants to see this pressure go away.

But unless and until neighborhood schools no longer have to compete with other neighborhood schools (not to mention the growing number of special focus and charter schools) for enrollment, they're going to have to market themselves. Even if the target isn't 400, there's got to be some lower limit to what the district is willing to spend a principal and building on.

As long as we're playing "free market" with schools, schools are going to have to market themselves.

A few people have suggested previously on the school blogs that a school board recall is needed to change the direction of PPS and to put a stop to the district's lies, spin, and idiotic harmful policies. I think a recall would take too much legwork to get passed and we all have better ways to spend our time in support of our children and public schools.

However, a monthly districtwide school walkout could get the district's attention. Once a month for the rest of the year (perhaps the last school day of each month) families could keep their students out of school (or send them for half a day) to support a community protest against the various grievances against PPS. The first month would have a few families, but by the end of the year I bet there would be a pretty big group who would join in if we keep spreading the word. On school walk out days families, union members, etc. could meet for a community sack lunch picnic in a central location - perhaps the lobby of city hall where Mayor Potter starts every city council meeting by asking "How are the Children?"

"Let's Do Something,"

I don't know where you are from, but I worked in PPS for 8 years, and I have also been a PPS parent for 3 years, and I can tell you that a monthly walkout will have absolutely no impact whatsoever. And I can also tell you that it will be a lot more likely to lose than gain momentum as time goes on. A lot of parents won't keep their kids home even when they are sick because they have no one to take care of them and can't afford day care--what makes you think they would keep kids home when they are healthy???? Much less taking a day off work to have a picnic lunch downtown????

I agree that recalling members of the school board probably won't do any good; they'll just be replaced by people with different names, since the PSF and SFC are the ones who pick candidates and get them elected. If you want to do something, start there!

I think a monthly walkout might be a good idea. I'd like to hear more about how to go about recruiting and organizing families for the monthly protest. As you know, I don't have a particular dog in this fight since my youngest is long gone from the K-12 experience (she graduates from college this June.)

But I'm nonetheless concerned about board policies and their impact on Portland's children. So I imagine is Steve Buel. And Richard Watson. Something indeed has to be done. Blathering away on blogs is therapeutic (at least for me) and it has attracted the attention of certain board members, but it certainly isn't enough to effect real change.

I short, I agree. Let's do something!

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