Misuse of funds and its effects on racial inequity in PPS

Greetings Classmates! (I am sorry I am behind on this!)

This week (week 3) our focus is on the barriers to a good education. Obviously a lot has been done with the passing of Brown v. Board case, but as we can see in Portland, one of the whitest major cities in the county, our treatment of students of different races has not improved much beyond desegregation. I can’t help but wonder if there is a socioeconomic prejudice to blame.

Is the spending of $2.5 million dollars on training (called Courageous Conversations) the best way to eradicate this problem?

Sample quote from an outside text;

“According to data provided to WW by the school district, the overall number of students being disciplined has fallen in the past three years, but the inequities between white and black have grown worse. Today, African-American students in Portland schools are nearly five times more likely to be expelled or suspended than whites.

It’s a record that puts Portland’s unequal treatment of black students well above the national average and far worse than districts under federal investigation for civil rights violations.

“We have lost generations of young men because of disparities in the education system,” says Urban League of Portland, President Michael Alexander. “There is no acceptable level of disparate discipline.”

Over the past six years, Portland Public Schools has spent millions of dollars to address a wide range of racial inequities, including graduation rates and reading scores.” ( http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-21197-expel_check.html )

My biggest concern is that this money is being wasted on staff training, when really there is a deeper seeded issue here: the relationship between staff and students can’t possibly be a positive one with such racial inequity, and MANY studies have been done on the effects of overzealous disciplinary action in regards to graduation rates.

Please post your thoughts on;

How can we hold PPS more accountable when it comes to demonstrating a connection between resources and outcomes?

Please read the entire Willamette Weekly article in order to respond effectively.


Thank You!

Nora Burke

nburke@pdx.edu or 971-340-9504


4 thoughts on “Misuse of funds and its effects on racial inequity in PPS

  1. HI Nora,
    Thanks for being the brave soul that starts up the class blogging. While I agree that there is a misuse of funds, I would be cautious to stripe away the funds for teacher training. I would love to see more cultural competencies training so that teachers can better understand how to educate those children that come from the non-dominated culture. In addition, I fear that if we put the training days on the chopping block, it may be a slippery slope. I know that as an educator, I’ve learned more when I’ve been on the job than in school.

    Gladys Ruiz
    PS- Great links, thank you for that!

    • I can see both sides of this. I think teacher training is especially important because that’s where curriculum and classroom environment can be most affected. It’s important for teachers to receive training because ( at least in my experience) we normally have teachers from the dominant culture teaching students from a non dominant culture. This can introduce teaching practices that the teacher may not know are excluding. I do think there are several socioeconomic factors as well.

  2. In a perfect world we would have enough money for everything we need in the schools; they would all be well equipped, diverse and thrive on all accounts. What I think we should focus on is what does the teacher training look like? Is it based on diversity or is more ways to help your students pass their standardized tests. I think that teacher training is very important but it should be scrutinized based on its content.

  3. Darling points out that teachers should be a main focus on bringing up our schools. The problem is that in many schools, especially urban, teachers are not as highly educated, as highly paid, or as highly motivated to stay. If you look through chapter 4 you can see that many schools have higher success rates when the teachers are paid respectively, when only qualified teachers are hired, and when hired educators are paid sufficiently.
    As for the article it is clear that some of the issue is racial bias from the teachers. “The degree to which teachers are trained to handle disruptions in the classroom is also a factor.” (Aricle). It seems an effective approach would be better trained teachers, who are more qualified as well. The teachers in the article found the training helpful and we know from the text that higher qualified teachers have better success rates across the board.
    Great post Nora, you are a great blogger!
    Tracy Johnson

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