The City Club of Portland’s Friday forum today had four PPS students (three from Lincoln, one from Jefferson) on a panel with former PPS Board member Matt Morton as moderator.
All four students were terrific. Each was articulate, bright, and concerned about the world around them. They each represented PPS well.
That said, they deserved harder, more specific questions about PPS operations, plans and possible futures. They could handle them.
Morton did ask some interesting questions and some general, open questions that the students might have answered with more detail if they knew some in the audience had concerns. For example, Morton asked if the panel thought the PPS Board got the priorities in the bond measure right. I do not think the Board got the priorities right, but the student panel was not familiar with the rational for my opposition to the bond measure (here) so did not respond on any of my specific issues. I had submitted the following four, more specific questions to City Club staff to give to Morton. He asked none of them.
- Do you think the proposed bond will waste money by overbuilding high school enrollment capacities beyond what PPS will need? Do you think Benson and Madison will ever have enrollments approaching their joint enrollment capacities? After its period serving as a “swing” high school, do you think Marshall will continue as a 1,700 enrollment high school?
- Do you think PPS high schools are segregated by the races and family incomes of its students? Do you think the PPS high schools should be more integrated? Do you think Lincoln, Wilson, Grant, and Cleveland can be categorized as more affluent, White high schools while Roosevelt, Madison and Jefferson can be categorized as low income, students-of-color high schools? Do you think excess high school enrollment capacity contributes to this high school segregation? Do you think some student who would currently attend westside high schools (Lincoln, for example) student should attend eastside high schools (Roosevelt, for example)?
- Do you think PPS high schools should offer more online courses? Do you think a typical high school student in PPS has the discipline and motivation to complete an online course on their own away from the bricks-and-mortar high schools? Given choices of an expanded array on online courses, what percentage of the students at your high school do you think would take at least one online course each semester?
- Do you think PPS should offer a paid high school year abroad to all appropriate students? Given global trends, do you think your generation will needs more adults with knowledge of and experiences in Asia-Pacific countries (especially China, India, Indonesia, and Japan)?
I am a fan of student political engagement and activity. I am not a fan of the current issues they focus on (bond measure). As I asked last September (here): “Why not protest for significant changes in an outdated, inequitable, and inefficient system.”
I also learned today that the City Club research committee on the PPS bond measure will not issue a report or recommendation.