School tax bond would build LEED-certified study halls
Lainie Block Wilker, one of the parents leading the charge against the upcoming Portland school tax bond issue, drops us a line from time to time. She's convinced us that the last thing the school board needs to blow money on right now is bricks and mortar. Yesterday she wrote us as follows:
Thought you might be interested in this video interview of Bobbie Regan with the WW editorial board, where she admits elementary and K-8s are in far worse shape than high schools prioritized for rebuilds (see tape at 3:07). Under the current bond, the worst facilities in PPS will get new roofs and minor upgrades, then go to the back of the line for 30 years -- behind schools with much better facilities. The campaign will likely boil down to a safety scare, so voters should understand that this is not a safety bond. Rather, they will be paying for LEED-certified study halls.
Also note that Grant and Franklin have both nose-dived 10 points on math, science, and reading scores -- not helped by losing 3 weeks instructional time, 20% larger class sizes, and disproportionate cuts while the academic priority zone was held harmless. Benson has been cut in half to keep kids at Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison. Ironically, the myopic focus on Jefferson and Roosevelt at all costs has wreaked havoc on programs that have most effectively served diverse populations. The achievement gap will be bridged by tearing down academic achievement to bring up the bottom. Equitable mediocrity for all – except the politicos’ kids (Nick Fish, Julia Brim-Edwards, Alissa Keny-Guyer, etc), who will not be sacrificed on the equity altar. Maybe when Chair Cogen’s kids are warehoused in Grant High School "study halls" with three hours in the middle of the day to smoke pot, he will finally use his platform to affect meaningful change.
Another interesting angle regarding the toothless oversight committee and PPS’ lack of competency to manage a bond: John Mohlis of PDC serves on the oversight committee, Long Range Committee, and on the Leadership Council for the Innovation Partnership. Innovation Partnership, chartered under Metro, told PPS to "move itself out of the facilities management business to focus on its core mission of education" (see p.8 – Long Term Strategies). Now Barbara Roberts of Metro has been tapped to chair the bond campaign. Why are Mohlis and Roberts cheerleading for this bond, if their organization said PPS was not competent to manage a large capital project? FYI, my contacts at Innovation Partnership met with PPS to offer strategic planning expertise before the bond was referred to the ballot, but PPS was hell-bent on a big November bond and would not consider a smaller bond focused on safety.