Super Carole gets called out on dismantling Benson High
We keep hearing from critics of Portland's inept school board that the school district is determined to keep its failing Jefferson High School open, even at the expense of closing or wrecking Benson High School. The issue seems to be coming to a head this week, as we were copied on this e-mail message last night:
Dear Civic Leaders,
As Chair of the Benson Polytechnic Alumni Association, I urge you to please contact the PPS School Board and ask them to stop restricting transfers to Benson’s successful career technical training programs. Major manufacturers including Precision Castparts, Vigor Industrial, and Greenbrier have signed the attached letter asking the Governor and the Oregon's Educational Leadership to intervene as a jobs issue, and we are gathering more signatures from other industry partners who understand the importance of a skilled workforce. On March 11 at 6pm, I am scheduled for public comment to read this letter at the PPS School Board meeting.
For 93 years, Benson’s proven program has trained students for middle class jobs in high demand fields such as engineering, electric and industrial automation, manufacturing technology, communications technology, and health sciences. Within a few weeks, PPS will turn away nearly 200 students, and deny many economically disadvantaged and minority students a career pathway out of poverty. Last week ended the application period, 440 students applied to Benson as Freshmen, and 15 as Sophomore transfers, but PPS has capped enrollment at 248 Freshmen, and 10 Sophomore transfers. A LOTTERY will be used to determine who will have this wonderful opportunity.. nearly 50% of the applying students will be turned away... the students have voted... why not allow them to attend the most productive school on the Eastside of Portland that teaches the very traits we have all acknowledged in the press and publicly are needed today and in the future. Benson is the school that works.
In the City of Portland, Benson’s 81% graduation rate is second only to Lincoln, though many students are economically disadvantaged (75% Title I), and it is the only high school to graduate more black and Hispanic than white students. PPS has halved Benson Polytechnic’s successful programs to 850 students, cut computer engineering, software technology, mechanical drawing and architectural drawing, and pharmaceutical technology, and turned away hundreds of economically disadvantaged and minority students to keep numbers up at lesser performing Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison High Schools, which are the very neighborhoods where the majority of the applicants come from. http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/21117-high-school-redesign-traps-benson.
Businesses such as Precision Castparts Structurals, Gunderson, Tice Industries, Blount International, Vigor, Esco, and Boeing, want to work with Benson students and offer paid apprenticeships for jobs that start at $12-14 per hour leading to jobs that average $45,000 in early career annual earnings. http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/116263-benson-students-cash-in-on-job-skills. Thanks to the Portland Workforce Alliance and its work with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, even more apprenticeship opportunities are being created this school year. These major employers are facing a "retiring workforce" over the next 5-10 years and there is a labor crisis in the making if Manufacturing and its story of providing Middle Class Jobs is not made well known to educators in the schools as soon as possible.. Look at materials from organizations named Pathways to Manufacturing and Manufacturing 21 Coalition to see that industry is trying hard to knock on educators' doors to address this issue, and read Chandra Brown's comment in today's Portland Business Journal in her appointment to a U.S. Commerce post, that "Manufacturing is what the middle class is based on".
The 2013 Oregon Business Plan calls for investments in workforce training to meet industry needs for technically trained engineers, health technicians, computer scientists, and well-paying manufacturing jobs, yet PPS is gutting the very programs that drive our economic engine.
Skilled technicians and tradespeople can earn up to $100k, without incurring college debt. Advanced manufacturing jobs pay more than non-manufacturing jobs and offer economic equity to non-native speakers and non-traditional students. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2012/09/portlands_manufacturing_jobs_p.ht Benson represents real world application of the Oregon Business Plan, 40-40-20, OEIB STEM initiatives, Cradle-to-Career, and the Portland Plan by providing relevant career training and apprenticeships in target job creation clusters.
PPS will not agree to stop restricting transfers to Benson, because it is concerned with keeping numbers up at poorly performing Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Madison. Only 32 lottery applicants applied to Jefferson in 2012, compared to 440 applicants to Benson. With ongoing budget shortfalls, Benson needs to rebuild back to its full capacity of 1600-2000 students to offer full educational programs. If PPS further restricts transfers, Benson won’t have the students, teachers, or programs to offer full programs.
Where Benson students used to study mechanical drawing for engineering, PPS is now subleasing the space to drug rehab programs. Benson should be an economic development tool in partnership with our business community.
Thank you for your consideration and your immediate attention to these important issues.
Class of ‘77, Benson Polytechnic High School
Chair, Benson Polytechnic Alumni Association
President, Benson Tech Foundation
It's a real shame what's happened to the Portland public schools, and continues to happen. It sounds as though someone's PC fixation with "equity" is actually doing more harm than good to the people it is supposed to be helping.