My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad

« Rush Limbaugh is right! | Main | Another reason for Susan Castillo to resign »

February 05, 2008


I'm curious why you think Bobbie might vote against Ivy after voting for it in committee.

Also, you seem pretty sure that Sonja and Dan will vote no... I'm not so convinced.

Anyway, we all need to keep those cards and letters (or e-mails) coming to the entire school board, as well as the superintendent, whose recommendation will carry weight with swing voters Sonja and Dan.

I think once the arguments demonstrating 'adverse' effects are presented, as they surely will be by Ruth, David and Dilafruz, a 'no' vote will be justified, even by those in committee who favored a full board review of the application.

I don't think Bobbie is big on charters. Choice, yes, but not charters. Trudy? Who knows? I agree though that the real swing votes are Ryan and Henning.

Bottom line is we need more neighborhood school activists on the board.

Let us not overlook the fact that two other charter entities also appealed at the same time. They, unlike Ivy, were unsuccessful, but they declared their intention to try again. Something I predicted in my piece, to which Terry graciously linked in his post.

The one different element about those other two is that, as far as I know, they do not plan to locate in N/NE. Take a look at the map accompanying my piece on Steve's blog; then ask if there aren't already enough charter schools in N/NE?

For the record, I do not find Ruth Adkins annoying. I am enjoying working with Ruth as a colleague on the school board. Ruth is thoughtful and dedicated and has a great sense of humor. And contrary to some unkind comments in the Tribune today - she has a very fine haircut!

Ruth won the election with the endorsement of Stand for Children, without it she loses. Now, I guess you could say she wasn't hand picked, but I am not sure any of the candidates were handpicked by SFC (I am taking that to mean they were recruited by them.) There was a little hope that The Portland School Foundation was beginning to turn around under Connie Van Brunt, someone who genuinely understood the original charge to PSF -- to make all (all as in ALL) schools in PPS better. But alas, the same old people showed once again they can't stomach someone who genuinely cares about lower economic neighborhoods. For the record, there is not one school board member, including Ruth Adkins, who has done one substantial thing to help schools with large numbers of poor kids (which didn't also help SFC schools). And in fact they have done several things to make those schools worse including a benign neglect by focussing on the schools in upper middle class neighborhoods.

I will give Ruth credit on the Ivy vote and a couple times she has said the right thing, but let's not get carried away and say she is not beholden to the group that not only got her elected, but holds the keys to her re-election and political (and social) future. I guess we can believe that some members of the school board might be willing to be Obamaesque and actually sit down and truly discuss and think about the issues which plague the difficult schools and then act on the reasonable arguments put forth by dissenters. But I have not seen anything yet which points in that direction.

Right on David! I sure hope we can count on your NO vote on the Ivy Charter school, as it would further undermine neighborhood schools in these already hard-hit surrounding areas.

I agree that the comment about Ruth's haircut by the Tribune's commenter was way off base.

The tenor of the comments on the Tribune site has got to be the worst in Portland. Even the wing nut libertarians on BoJack's site can string a couple sentences together occasionally.

By the way, Terry, I wanted to compliment you on the English Ivy analogy. So obvious, yet it never occurred to me.

I just got around to reading the comments on the Trib piece. All I can charitably say is --whoa!

Steve B., I encouraged Ruth to run for the board. So did many other everyday citizens and grassroots school activists concerned about the direction the district was heading . I can't say with certainty that every other current board member was recruited to run by Portland's movers and shakers, but that appears to be the case, especially those elected in 2003 (the year that I ran) and then reelected in 2007, minus Doug Morgan (who is actually a very nice guy.)

David, I'm glad that Ruth doesn't annoy you. She's a sweetheart and really sharp to boot. But I bet you didn't vote for her.

I look forward to hearing the arguments, pro and con, on the Ivy School application.

Thanks for the kind words everyone! I am really enjoying working with David and everyone on the board.

IMHO receiving endorsements from all 3 papers, SEIU, as well as an array of leaders/community folks, along with tremendous help from volunteers, and (let's face it) raising enough $$ for mass mailings is how I won. While I was grateful as a challenger to receive a dual endorsement (along with Doug, who is a nice guy, I agree!) from SFC and the PSF-linked For Our Children PAC, neither of those came with any $ or other support. Far from hand picked, but I was also very, very lucky.

While change for the better comes slowly, under Carole's leadership and yes, with the efforts of the board, I do generally see us moving in a more positive direction in this district. While the wealthier schools have always had disproportionate power, it's simply not true that the district and board are not focused on improving schools for *all.* I urge folks who feel differently to come to committee meetings, talk to district staff, like Willie Poinsette who is working her tail off in areas like parental engagement in low-income schools and the disproportionate discipline problem. Still a long ways to go, though, on a lot of issues. Thanks to all for your advocacy, dissent, and participation.

Steve, when you referred to "comments on the Tribune site," you forgot to say "present company excepted."

David, it is delightful to see you weighing in here in support of Ruth.

Ruth, I think you are the best-coifed member of the school board!

You're right; Sorry about that Zarwen. I've waded into that swamp myself a couple times.

Ruth, SFC and the PSF don't hand you the money, just make it so you can raise it from their supporters and anoint you the candidate of the upper middle class schools. SEIU stays pretty close to their endorsements. It is pretty much absurd to denigrate the control they have over which candidates get elected to the school board. Without them, you are out in the woods with the rest of us hoping to make inroads into equity. And, like the rest of us arguing with people on the school board who are still refusing to genuinely listen or take seriously the need to improve schools in Portland's lower economic neighborhoods.

Like I asked Dan Ryan one night sometime ago. What have you done (operative word "done") for Portland's children in lower economic neighborhoods? He had no answer other than to assure me he was a strong advocate for these children. Of course, he had DONE nothing. Same with all the school board -- what have they done for those schools that hasn't also benefitted the upper middle class schools? Nothing I can think of. And in fact, they have made it enormously worse in the last couple of years by not addressing the problems and allowing the transfer policy to weaken these schools further. Now you are suggesting they are "working on" addressing some of the problems. How nice.

Are they going to address the problems I laid out in a recent discussion I had with Zeke Smith?

Heck, the last thing the board did was to take more than $50,000 of the PSF distributed money and move it from the bottom half of the schools in the district to the top half of the schools by raising the amount of money schools can keep to $10,000. I had explained to the PSF what the result of their proposal actually was. Obviously someone didn't care, wasn't listening or couldn't figure it out. Now SFC is coming forward with a teacher transfer policy which cements a teacher transfer policy which favors the upper middle class schools. When I have suggested they tweak it to make a win/win situation so poorer schools can hire better teachers as well they won't even answer my emails. Why bother helping the lower economic schools when there is no political payoff for the school board or personal payoff for the SFC members whose kids don't go to those schools?

So, while these schools languish in an educational mire, we are working on it.....

Ruth, P.S. I would be more than happy to volunteer in helping the district address these efforts. I am in the phone book.

Steve B., in the interest of fairness, I just want to point out two things:

1) SEIU endorsed Michele Schultz in the last school board election. (David Wynde didn't even bother going to the endorsement interview.)

2) Dan Ryan did try to do something for poor schools last year, but Vicki Phillips foiled his efforts. When the Board was about to vote on the budget for this year, Dan was the one who proposed an amendment earmarking $1 million to put music, PE and art in low-income schools that didn't have any. The amended version passed. What happened to the money? Vicki made it available to principals in the form of GRANTS. Yes, you read that correctly. Grants, for which ANY principal could apply. Our principal applied and received enough for a .25 FTE. Not nearly enough to start a new program, just enough to add a little bit to something you already have, which is why my son's school has full-time PE this year. No, it is not a low-income school.

How many actual low-income schools got any of this money? How many of the principals at poor schools applied for it, or even knew that it was there to apply for? And the most important question:


Zarwen, thanks for the clification. So the final result was ... Vicki Phillips is gone. The money is still not there? Got to give him credit for trying I guess. ("grants" -- that is great)


Not true. I did attend the interview with SEIU. They chose to endorse Michelle.

David Wynde and Ruth Adkins making nice on Terry Olson's blog? Excuse me, I have to go throw up.

Steve B.,

Another clarification:

It's not that the money is "still not there." The money was added to this year's budget, per the Board vote last spring. Vicki doled it out to principals in the form of grants, so the money went out to schools, where the principals could then decide how to use it. But this is one-time money, so whatever they used it for will be gone next year, unless they find another source of funding for it.

Zarwen, thanks for the clarification (see I do know how to spell it).
The problem, it seems to me, is not really that the school board is supported by organizations which don't care about lower economic schools and therefore don't pay much attention to them either. It is that we don't have a plan, or goals, or objectives or whatever you want to call it that outlines the real problems we are having in our schools and puts forth solutions. A good starting place would be, as I suggested in my recent Oregonian commentary, creating a genuine definition of what we consider a reasonable good education -- just what does that entail. Then we need to check and see what parts of that definition we have in each school and develop plans which make every effort to add the parts which are missing. These additions can be brought about by the various shotgun approach we have available (the budget, grants, money raising etc.). I don't think it is a huge community dialogue and discussion, it is more our elected leaders sitting down with our professional educators and working out a plan. The whole idea of closinig the achievement gap, strengthening neighborhood schools, working for a world class school system etc. are just noise which actually distract us from the real solutions which should be more focussed on what education do we want which is reasonable under the restraints we have at the moment and how do we go about achieving it within these same restraints. The question is not how do we get a world class education, but what are we trying to do and what do we have to do at Lents Grade School to achieve it. This is truly the failure of the school board and our administrators. The board does not lead and the administration is bogged down in the mire of their own making.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Most Recent Photos

  • War_prez_prima_1
  • Bushvaca2nh
  • Dscn1145_2
  • Dscn1144_1
  • Dscn1144_4
  • Dscn1137_3
  • Dscn1137_4
  • Dscn1051
  • Dscn1046
  • Dscn0883_1
  • Dscn0881_1
  • 422d683505eb4821_1