PPS Unveils Newest Enrollment Balancing: What’s Next for N & NE Portland Kids and Families?

I am sitting on the sofa next to my sick child; she is asleep for the moment, so I’m taking the opportunity to write a short post.  There’s a lot more that needs to be said about PPS’s latest enrollment balancing plans that were just released, but I’ll keep this short and hope that you will spread the word and join in on the conversations and action that will follow.

  • For information on the actual plan, go to this article from the Oregonian.  The newest plan involves closing either Woodlawn or Vernon and filtering students into other local schools.  I just read through the NE Portland Enrollment Balancing Facebook page comments, and there are a lot of baffled and concerned parents.  Rightly so.  The big questions that we need to be considering?  Who do these changes benefit?  Are the children with the greatest need being served?  Do these plans address the roots of the problem (transfer policy, retention, etc.)?
  • To catch up on what has been going on with enrollment balancing talks in the Jefferson cluster, start here with some of PDXEAN’s older blog posts.
  • After my second day in the classroom with my new group of students studying educational equity, I can’t help but be concerned that these plans are not sending a strong enough message about demanding access and equity for all Portland students.

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts…especially if you have worked with students at any of these involved schools, attended any of these schools, live in the neighborhoods that are involved, or parent children who attend these schools.

-Zapoura

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3 thoughts on “PPS Unveils Newest Enrollment Balancing: What’s Next for N & NE Portland Kids and Families?

  1. Zapoura,
    I am struck by the last paragraph in the Oregonian article because I think that Vernon parent is expressing what a lot of Vernon parents are feeling. I was at the Re-balancing meeting at Vernon and it was a tense, volatile scene because as a whole those parents didn’t feel listened to. When it comes to the education their kids are receiving there was great passion and that passion was quite evident, with their refusal to proceed with the meeting the way the district wanted to run things. I think the parents must have felt “blocked” at every attempt to help shape the manner in which their kids are getting educated. I see this latest plan as even more exclusion of the parents attempts to have a voice in their child’s education. There was absolutely no mention of closing Vernon at this meeting, hedging my words a little in saying I don’t remember hearing about closing Vernon but it certainly wasn’t a focus of the conversation.
    I feel for these parents. I don’t have a school age child yet but in his pre-school he goes to I can’t stand the administration, but I love the education he receives. So there are things I will tolerate but that is because he is getting a great education. Conversely, these children who are going to the schools in the rebalancing areas are having so many changes in their school locations and teachers it can’t be good for their education. Will their school be open next year? who will their teacher be? will the shy kid ever come out of their shell with not recognizing their school or teacher from year to year?

    Boone

  2. Boone,

    That last section of the Oregonian article struck a nasty cord in me as well. It’s disheartening to see schools close, but it’s scary to see that parents feel out-of-control when it comes to the education of their children. It makes me wonder: what will the do if/when their schools close? Will they leave the district in anger? I bet there are a lot of parents that are considering it. If their kids are being forced to change schools anyways, why not change to a district that might listen to what the parents have to say? That is, assuming that there IS a district that actually HEARS their community members…

    A lot of us see students struggle with school, and assume that they must have absent or unsupportive parents. I even think that some teachers almost shift into an “us-versus-them” mentality when it comes to parents. They have to deal with enough complaints and misunderstandings that they start to generalize. Maybe I’m seeing an inaccurate picture, but I feel like a lot of our education system ostracizes the parents and the community members. After all, the public can’t possibly be as educated as a teacher or school board member, right? They’re probably misguided, and ignorant, and they probably don’t even know what’s best for their kids… right? I can seen where teachers can get frustrated with parents, and I can even see how the parents can look like the bad guy sometimes, but it is undoubtedly a BIG mistake to silence the parents in matters that concern their own children.

  3. Boone, I kept thinking about your public meeting experience as I read through this article and others about the latest plans for “enrollment balancing.” Glad to hear your thoughts at this stage in the game. For me, what is most worrying is the lack of attention to parent voices (both you and Ashley mention this) and the lack of discussion of the deeper roots of the inequity we’re seeing. The article mentions the low capture rates of some of these schools but does nothing to address why there are low capture rates and how to counter them. Instead of stripping community schools out of neighborhoods, it feels like we should be building those schools up and making them attractive to all who live in each neighborhood. For some reason, all of the recent school news is making me feel really pessimistic. Time to get out to some community meetings and reenergize. Nice to hear from both of you guys!

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