I’m glad to see Portland high school students taking political actions to improve their educational opportunities. I’m all for political engagement. But I am disappointed that their demands do not include those I advocate (more foreign language immersion programs, more high school study abroad opportunities and more online course offerings). They are, I think, reacting to proposed Portland Public School cuts. They seem unaware of the larger world issues for which the current PPS educational programs leave their generation unprepared. They also seem unaware of the role of teachers' unions in restricting their educational opportunities.
From the Oregonian article “Portland Public Schools students protest proposed district budget cut” by Laura Gunderson (here):
…. Student organizers at Grant High first posted their plans to protest changes slated for Portland Public Schools on April 18 with a blog titled "Shutdown PPS Headquarters."
The group, which the blog said has no leaders and was about 40 strong at its first meeting April 21 in the Grant library, had grown to about 75 by Friday.
"On May 1, we plan to shutdown PPS Headquarters in act of protest against the existing budget measures which would see teachers and subsequently educational programs cut," a blog entry said. "We will ask PPS workers, visitors and the world to not cross our picketline and to resist a system that would prioritize war and profit over education."
The web site acknowledges that Portland Public Schools officials didn't independently initiate the cuts. The hope, the organizers said, is to put pressure on those voting about where the money goes -- a fallback to the "realizable" thing: "thousands of kids ... to the homes of every Multi – Millionaire and Billionaire who enjoys low taxes." …
From the student blog (here), their demands appear as:
-All kids able to know and meet graduation requirements
-Continued arts programs
-Reinstated technical programs
-Study halls and reading & research not actual class time
-No limits on college level classes, nor enormous intro-level classes
I wish they had added to their list:
Paid high school study abroad option for one year of high school
Lots more online education opportunities, especially as independent study
Without my add-ons, the students just seem to join the defenders of the status quo educational system. They want the budget cuts restored but little else changed. That is not good enough.