It was just “let’s fund the same old, traditional education model” in a world that is fundamentally changing. It may have been practical politics by the candidates, but it was not the leadership Portland needs.
Evidently we have three major candidates for mayor of Portland who either are unaware of needed changes in our educational system, like more online learning, more immersion programs, and the creation high school study abroad programs, or are unwilling to tell the Portland Association of Teacher of any needs beyond what the teachers already support. I’ve just read the written replies by Eileen Brady, Charlie Hales, and Jefferson Smith, to the mayoral candidates questionnaire of the Portland Association of Teachers. It’s not surprising, given that they were seeking the teacher’s union support, that the candidates would pander to teacher union concerns. All supported, unconditionally, more funding for education.
The questionnaire and answers are available online through Willamette Week (here). Here is a quote from each candidate from their questionnaire answers:
Finally, as I’ve said many times on the campaign trail, we need a teacher led revolution to transform our public schools that are driven to graduate innovators, entrepreneurs, trades people, artisans, scientists, problem solvers, social justice leaders and bi-lingual global citizens. Build the agenda and I will not only advocate for more funding in Salem and Washington, D.C., I will personally call upon the business community to step up to help fund its share. This is one area that distinguishes me from the other candidates in the race.
As stated above, though the Mayor has no formal authority over the school system in Portland, the Mayor should be the biggest advocate and promoter of public schools in the City. One way I’m going to do that is to do what my friend R.T. Rybeck, the Mayor of Minneapolis did, and go out to the business and foundation communities and raise money for an expanded scholarship program that will send every qualifying child to college. This Portland Promise will raise graduation rates and keep strong students in our public schools, increasing the stability of our school system. Additionally, I’ll be actively raising money from the private sector for the school district’s general fund.
A mayor does not have formal authority for schools, but to neglect any responsibility
is unrealistic and unacceptable. As mayor, I will have two basic goals for my work with education: increase student achievement and completion rates. Now, a Mayor can’t do this, but I can help.
I’m not just asking for your support during the election, I’m asking for your help after.
A mayor can advocate and help with the political efforts to get public schools the funding they need. One of the reasons I am running was the signal we received when Portland failed to pass the recent schools measure. Portland is at a crossroads on education. The mayor should be a leading public champion for public education, including funding. I will not abdicate responsibility.
From each of these candidate’s answers, one would not know that we are in quite a revolutionary time in global economic and political history. One would not know that the economy of China, for example, will probably grow to be three times the size of the US economy during the lifetime of a student starting kindergarten next year. Nor that digital advances (computers, the internet, etc.) would completely reshape education (as it has so many other business sectors). There was no pushback by these candidates to the Portland Association of Teachers, no asking PAT to look to the future. It was just “let’s fund the same old, traditional education model” in a world that is fundamentally changing. It may have been practical politics by the candidates, but it was not the leadership Portland needs.