In class for the last two weeks, my students and I have been discussing the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative and talking about ways that wraparound community support for kids and families (integrated systems of education, healthcare, parent education, job training, daycare, nutrition, etc.) really works to target the roots of the obstacles that communities in poverty and communities of color face in Portland.
These larger discussions about ways that communities can come together to support kids and families in effective ways really had me thinking about the community supports and organizations that I have come to rely on as a new parent. Two of these organizations are the Multnomah County Library system and Portland Parks and Recreation. Both of these organizations have faced cuts in recent years.
For Multnomah County voters, we have the chance to put in our vote to support libraries in the next few days as we fill out our mail-in ballots. The library levy will help secure more stable funding for our amazing, rich library programming in years to come. Each Thursday and/or Friday as I pack up the last week’s library books, put shoes onto my children’s feet, and pile everyone into the car, I think about how grateful I am to have access to free children’s programming that emphasizes the value of literacy and community. Please make sure you vote to support our local library system, which provides a staggering amount of services to kids and families.
As for Parks and Recreation, I recently read an article about the 6% cuts that this program is facing due to bigger state budget
cuts in Oregon. It’s truly not just schools that suffer from an unstable state budget that fluctuates wildly as incomes do the same. It is the programming that serves to help kids before and after school and in the summers that suffers, too. For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been taking our little ones to very affordable, wonderful programming at the Community Music Center. The teacher (Teacher Connie) is excellent, and it gives our family a chance to enjoy a bit of structure and some music education at the same time.
My students have been volunteering at the University Park Community Center for the last few years and have learned so much from leading learning activities and helping to support summer programming. The preschool at U. Park is one of the most affordable in the area, and the summer programming and Homework Club also provide very affordable, safe places for kids to play and grow. With continued cuts to staff and programming, I worry for our communities, especially for kids and families who do not have a lot of extra resources for more expensive summer school programs or early childhood settings.
What can we do about the cuts? We must continue to advocate for bigger tax reforms and greater stability to the state budget. We must also speak out about the services that are important to us and to let overworked, stressed staff members know how valuable their community work is.
And as you vote in the next few days, keep kids and schools and community resources in mind. City commission positions, the mayor position, and a representative seat are all up for the vote — and all of these individuals can have a significant impact on budget, the vision our city has on education and community, and policy that impacts kids and families. Check out Stand’s interviews with the candidates before you vote!