Last night the Portland Public School Board passed a resolution to open two new middle schools for 2018-19. It is a tragedy. The Board backed away from earlier proposals to move enrollment zone boundaries in order to insure that non-immersion K-5 components had sufficient students for adequate programming and, to the limited extent possible, to equalize the distribution of affluent and low-income students across schools (see my prior post here). The resolution that passed does neither. It is a Board failure.
PPS has a new superintendent. He, too, failed (his first test). He has, among his first moves, reorganized the PPS bureaucracy to put more emphasis on instruction. That may be good. But research shows significant gains in learning by low income students come from mixing them in with more affluent students. Not pushing for more mixing of students by family incomes cripples effort to raise the educational levels of low income students. I am not a believer that better instruction alone can raise the educational levels of low income students.
The whole process has been crippled by a lack of good data made public. I complained about that earlier (here). That neither the Board nor the superintendent were able correct this problem is part of the tragedy. I do not accept the excuse that not enough staff time was available.