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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 27, 2010 8:23 PM. The previous post in this blog was Change your happy hour appetizer plans. The next post in this blog is Fireman Randy remodels his bathroom. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the near horizon

While Portlanders are voting on the current crop of property tax increases, they might want to save some room for the public schools. The schools are planning another tax increase vote in May. They set their construction needs at a mere $900 million.

Comments (16)

Man, if Kitz gets elected the schools ought to be gold-plated. Remember his economic recovery plan is to borrow a bunch of money and weatherize the schools.

My guess, any money they get extra (a la Ted's 20% jump in education spending in 2007) will mysteriously vanish into thin air (aka employee benefits.)

It gets really depressing when evryone wants to sink money into schools and the product is not getting any better.

There is no more genuine concern for priorities at PPS than there is at the PDC, Metro or TriMet.

Due diligence has been bought off.
That and the nitwits running eveything are too insulated from all of their foolishness.

I'm not endorsing this, but let's be fair: The PPS school buildings are a fleet of Stutz Bearcats, minus the shiny chrome. Average age of the high schools must be close to 70.

But, but, but.... it's for The Children! The Children are our Future!!

Besides, the $900M is for buildings, not salaries and benefits.

Buildings, infrastructure, you know, investments!

Like replacing Lincoln with a Condo Bunker High School Civic Stadium for Baseball (with a Tram and bike lanes directly to it).

Investments. In our Future. The Children.

Its about time we did a little something for the children. Or, is it about the children will be doing a little time for something.

I get so confused with all this.

When I went to "high school" in England, you failed the common exam at 16, you were out of school. Simple as that. (Even harsher, no excuses for being sick, etc -- every student took the exam at the same time on the same day.)

It seems as though we have adopted 1/2 of socialism (universal, state-supported education) without the other half (focusing resources on those 1+ standard deviations above the mean). If we're going to do these big social exercises on educating everyone, we need to similarly recognize when less intelligent folks are a waste of resources.

That we spend so much higher ed money on those who will ultimately perform necessary, utilitarian work is ridiculous. Not everyone needs to have a college degree. Nor, for that matter, does everyone need junior or senior level high school education (nor perhaps even freshman or sophomore), particularly when it wastes scarce resources.

Ack, I am misremembering all those tests... the common entrance exam takes place at age 13 in England.

One other note: you may have heard all of that noise about how Americans perform worse on average than, say, Singaporean kids, or Australian kids, or whatever.

But the key takeaway is "on average".

Examine the top deciles and America is head and shoulders above the rest. And it's these folks who push and innovate. That the average worker might not be able to recite quadratic equations as well as the average worker in Singapore is irrelevant.

The law of comparative advantage demands that we focus scarce education resources on the best and the brightest. It's an increasingly prevalent fallacy that everyone must achieve some higher level of educational proficiency.

This won't hurt PERS recipients, right?

Marshall parents? Supporters? Students? Not that you need more news to get upset about.

Super Carol made her choice - money for construction unions but not for students.

Examine the top deciles and America is head and shoulders above the rest.

The schools often publish the names and future plans of the top-achieving students in their graduating classes.

And this list is almost always over-represented by first generation immigrants or children of foreign nationals from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, etc.

So I always wonder about the cause-effect relationship behind this fact. Many of these students had their full school experience here, not in their original country. So is this about the students themselves, and probably their parents behind them, pushing to take advantage of these opportunities? Or is it only about the opportunity our schools gave them, as your post implies?

PPS is doing the same thing as Randy Leonard-not budgeting for maintenance, replacement cost of facilities, equipment.

The fireman bond is like this proposed school bond, an atrocity of accounting practices and doing business. This pile of money is only for this, but this pile is for that; but wait a second, this time this pile can be used for that because it involves "water" somewhere in the performa. This has got to stop, and the voters can start with the fire department bond and then maybe the PPS will have second thoughts about placing this school bond on the ballot. If not, taxpayers can give another common-sense lesson to PPS.

I walked into my elementary school a couple of years ago and was amazed to see that almost nothing had changed. It was old when I was there and it's really old now. Can't avoid fixing it up forever.

"And this list is almost always over-represented by first generation immigrants or children of foreign nationals from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, etc.

So I always wonder about the cause-effect relationship behind this fact. Many of these students had their full school experience here, not in their original country. So is this about the students themselves, and probably their parents behind them, pushing to take advantage of these opportunities?"

Excellent questions... both PJB and John.

I have no problem with who rises to the top in American schools (both K12 and higher ed), as long as they stay in America creating jobs (and personal wealth) for the USofA, rather than going back 'home' to compete against us.

But just in case, my daughter is in her 2nd year of Mandarin as a middle schooler.

I'd be more inclined to vote for this if the PPS board and leadership would get some cojones and finally make some hard decisions and take some firm stands. The district has too many facilities left over from the build-out to serve the Baby Boomers, a demographic bulge that will never happen again. They need to close some schools and, yes, sell off some buildings and land, but parents raise holy hell if its their own neighborhood school that is to be closed. Jefferson is allowed to flounder year after year because a small group of minority advocates clamor for its continued existence even though most minority parents in the catchment area send their kids to other high schools. They make noises about needing to address equity but never take any concrete actions. They meekly go along with the city's insane urban renewal scams even though they steal more of the money they already say they don't have enough of (Where's the "Close the Gap" group now? Opposing UR should be something to take up if they really care about education for all PPS students rather than just saving Grant High School). PPS needs a Ted Wheeler: someone to make the tough calls, stand up to the city, and build a consensus for the changes that everyone agrees need to be made but no one ever steps up to make.

Looking at my property tax statement...I pay $1402 to PPS and $720 for Portland Urban Renewal; think of what the urban renewal dollars could do if shifted to our schools for new construction.


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