I’ve failed again. Portland Public Schools is going ahead with a facilities bond levy proposal (here) without making any changes in their educational programs. They have rejected my proposals to expand Mandarin immersion programs, to create a high school study abroad program, and to expand aggressively low-cost online courses (they have expanded higher cost, teacher intensive online courses instead). They continue to operate an educational program that is outdated, inadequate and inefficient. They are well aware of my proposals from many emails to them and my appearances at Board meeting with my placards. They just do not want these changes.
To make matters worse, the Oregonian Editorial Board as well has ignored my pleas for adding these three components to PPS offerings. But in their editorial praising both the community process and a reconfigured facilities bond level proposal, “Portland Public Schools bonds: An ‘anti-schools’ vote with pro-choice consequences,” they give the rationale for continuing to oppose the bond levy and voting no (here):
Voters in Portland and other left-leaning parts of Oregon tend to be more receptive to higher taxes to support schools, libraries, the arts and other public endeavors. This isn't a bad thing -- except when it translates to inadequate public scrutiny of nice-sounding, half-baked and costly ideas. Sometimes, as Portland voters have found, the best way to make something better for the long haul is to do the unthinkable, and say no.
Until PPS has a 21st century educational program with expanded immersion opportunities in 21st century strategic languages and paid opportunities for high school study abroad in strategic countries, voter should just say no. Until PPS reduces costs and expands learning opportunities with many lower cost online classes, voter should just say no.
The Oregonian also published a guest column “Portland Public Schools bond deserves our support to modernize facilities” by Stuart Emmons and Rita Moore. While they do support the facilities bond proposal, they also say (here):
And, as important as our school buildings are, what parents, students and the public really care about is what happens inside them. The strategic plan for facilities must be linked to a strategic plan for education. Living and working in the 21st century will require higher-level skills in critical thinking, creativity, entrepreneurialism and technology. PPS should articulate how improved facilities and enhanced community partnerships will promote significant improvements in educational outcomes for all students and bolster economic growth.
Yes, PPS needs a “strategic plan for education” beyond what they now have, a plan that deals with the real economic and national security environment our next generations will encounter.