I am opposed to the proposed Portland Public Schools $482 million bond measure. I have repeatedly proposed to the PPS Board and administration that they expand their Mandarin and Japanese immersion programs and that they create a high school study abroad program. Such a proposal is currently pending before the Jefferson Cluster Enrollment Balancing Planning Team (here). PPS has consistently rejected my proposals.
I have also repeatedly suggested that PPS could expand learning opportunities, reduce operating costs and reduce the long term need for high schools by one by offering more and more independent online high schools courses. PPS has consistently rejected these proposals as well.
The governing ideology of the coalition now controlling PPS is for strong neighborhood schools. They take this to extremes. They are against any choice by a student or a student’s family that takes the student out of their geographic neighborhood school. They have been systematically reducing student transfers. They, wrongly, think this makes for stronger, more equitable schools. They see additional (non-Spanish) immersions programs as non-neighborhood school choices and are against them.
Teachers’ unions oppose paid high school study abroad programs because such programs shift funding from paying for teachers to paying high school study abroad fees.
Neither the neighborhood school activists nor the teachers’ unions are likely to change their positions on these issues if more funding becomes available. Neither the neighborhood school activists nor the teachers’ unions will be more likely to support immersion programs and high school study abroad programs if the $482 million bond measure passes.
So, more people need to tell the ruling PPS coalition that, like me, they will oppose additional funding for other programs, like the current bond measure proposal, until there are more Mandarin immersion programs, more high school online learning, and new high school study abroad programs.
Which brings me to the following youtube:
(1) This video clearly represents the views of the PPS governing coalition. None of the political choices articulated above (or those of others) are mentioned. It is simply “schools equal good, better facilities are good” and forget all the other political choices that might make better schools.
(2) I generally like student activism. But not when it is willfully ignorant. I have been outside many PPS high schools with my high schools study abroad placards. High school students should not be unaware of the issues above. That they would prioritize newer school facilities for themselves over the strategic educational needs of their generation is worrisome.
(3) I’m waiting for a city politician tell the school district that expanding Mandarin and Japanese immersion programs are important for the economic future of the city. Not one of those in the video has. They are just saying what is politically safe and fits with the PPS governing coalition’s worldview. I agree that schools and student education are very important. But why settle for second best, when we could do better?
(4) I, obviously, disagree with the notion of “vision” applied to PPS early in the video. Nothing PPS did last year merits the term “vision.”From my perspective, the $482 million bond measure is not just about rebuilding better school facilities, but about the future of Portland Public Schools.
PPS needs changes. Without such changes, funds will be wasted and futures lost.