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Monday, November 5, 2007

Are days numbered for Portland public schools lottery?

It sure looks as though Portland parents are going to have fewer choices in the near future about which public school their children attend. It's not too hard to read between the lines of the official notice of tonight's school board meeting:

Judy Brennan, program director of the district’s Enrollment and Transfer Center, will present to the board history and data on the current policy governing school choice in the district. Portland has along tradition offering both strong neighborhood schools and focus option choices. At the heart of district choice is a lottery system and school attendance boundaries built over decades on incremental changes. In recent years, federal requirements under No Child Left Behind have complicated the process.

Brennan’s data highlights a city with great disparity in income and racial makeup among neighborhoods even before students choose to transfer. When demographics are viewed post-transfer, the schools in outer North, Northeast, and Southeast Portland show higher concentrations of poor and minority students than the neighborhoods surrounding them. The presentation tonight will serve as a foundation for a school board discussion of the transfer policy.

The board agenda and supporting materials are online at www.pps.k12.or.us/.docs/pg/1079.

Comments (13)

The school board has yet to name the Very Important Problem the transfer policy is supposed to solve, despite the damage it causes.

But there appears to be no political will on the board to seriously consider curtailing neighborhood-to-neighborhood transfers, which cost our poorest neighborhoods tens of millions of dollars a year in public investment.

The boldest proposal yet, from our strongets neighborhood schools advocate on the board, is to require parents to visit their neighborhood school before applying for a transfer.

"School Choice," in its most radical form, is firmly entrenched in Portland.

School choice should be viewed as a good thing. Families should have the right to send their children to the schools they perceive as best for them. We should aspire to freedom of choice. It's a true sign of a vibrant society. I've worked in public bureauracies and they suck the life out of any aspirations one might have of being the best one can be. Instead, medocrity is rewarded and one starts to count the days he or she has til retirement. I should think the same applies to restricting children to one school for all their educational activities.

I'm with Mr. Clark on this one. What incentive do schools have to improve if they know they're not going to face any serious repercussions (and possible receive more money for additional programs)?

School choice is the epitome of progressive so I've never understood why progressives continually sell out to the anti choice teacher's unions who oppose (for the children) every conceivable form of school choice. transfers, charters, alternatives, tax credits, vouchers or simple open enrollment.

I say bring it all on and let the good schools survive and the bad be closed or taken over by alternative and successful operators.

Of course local PPS status quoers may be mistakenly believing there were no schools prior to 1973 and the arrival of our teacher's unions.
And they'll no doubt be content with Jefferson being stuck in the same model for another couple of decades. As long as it is a price of preserving the very unprogressive status quo.


School vouchers = progressive.

PPS status quoers?

Great to have an informed debate about the topic.

progressive or not - the one year I spent in an alternative, non profit, privately ran school was far and away the best year of my K-12 education.

The personal attention is nill in public schools, the class sizes too large, many teachers are set for retirement the day they know the contract states they cannot be fired.

I learned more in that single private alt school year and the first year out of PPS then I EVER did K-12 attending PPS.

Not to engage in ad hominem attacks, but it doesn't appear that Mike's private school did a very good job of teaching him grammar, spelling, syntax or composition. I point this out only because it appears to belie the argument he makes for the superiority of non-public education. In any case, blanket generalizations that condemn the entire concept of public education don't really address the complicated issues that we as a community must sort through.

The notion that public education should be treated like the free market (vouchers, privatization via the Gates/Broad models)is a very dangerous one. Children are not widgets, and a common public education is one of the cornerstones of democracy. There is a great deal of discusson on the merits/evils of "School Choice" over at MoreHockeyLessWar.org and at Terry Olson's blog- Joesschool.blogs.com/olsononline/

Public schools just need more money, right?

Public schools just need more money, right?

Oregon schools need more money, yes, but that's just the start.

Portland schools are still below pre-Measure 5 funding levels, and many schools still lack what many of us considered basics growing up: PE, music, librarians, counselors, etc. Schools are struggling with kindergarten sizes nearing 30. That's a function of funding, pure and simple. You can argue that they need to tighten up, yada yada, but don't bother unless you can show me the numbers.

Given what we have to work with funding-wise, Portland Public Schools also needs better political leadership and public policy expertise. It might be time to consider a paid board, instead of the part-time amateurs we have now. As it stands, our school board delegates policy making to its senior staff, and that staff has had high turnover in recent years.

This is very problematic, and reflects poorly on our school board.

So no, throwing more money at the district isn't going to fix that kind of problem.
But it could go a long way to making sure Johnny is learning to read in a classroom where his teacher can remember his name.

"But it could go a long way to making sure Johnny is learning to read"

That's not funny.

The truth is more money would just keep going to the inferior programs such as whole language and ESL instead of less costly Phonics and English Emersion.
Same goes for Portland's math.
Throw in needless full day kindergarten, cultural competency and CIMCAM like experiments and it's hopeless.

Then we have the very high total compensation packages for teachers and administrators.

School choice comes in many forms. PPS stands opposed to most all of them.

At the very least choice should be to allow principals autonomy and control of schools such as Jefferson. The district will only sustain the perpetual crisis.

School choice comes in many forms. PPS stands opposed to most all of them.

I can honestly say, Jack, that your readers (at least those who comment) are some of the most vociferously uniformed people I've encountered with regard to education issues.

Oh Gee Steve, please share with us some of your education wisdom. But leave M5 out of it.
Climb down off that high horse.

Perhaps you would like to offer up the "Quality Education Model" as a tool for determining funding levels?

Or anything on the district's treatment of charter school applications?

How about the great success of CIM CAM?
The Portland Strategic Plan?

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