In the Hands of the Voters: Gresham-Barlow Looks Forward to November Vote

Gresham-Barlow School District is awaiting the decision of voters on Bond Measure 26-153 on the November 2013 ballot. This $210 million bond would fund much-needed renovations and upgrades in many schools throughout the district. Some of the top items on … Continue reading

Oregon: New Report Cards Help Paint the Whole Picture

Last week, Oregon released new and improved school report cards. Rather than simply providing a snapshot of what schools are “good” and what schools are “bad”, the updated version offers: Level 1 to Level 5 Scale Levels 1-3 are lagging … Continue reading

Talking to Our Children About Race: FREE Event on September 10 at the Kennedy School

ImageUniting to Understand Racism (UUR) is hosting “A Tribute to Treyvon Martin: Talking to Our Children About Race,” a community conversation, on Tuesday, September 10, at the McMenamins Kennedy School.

In the face of school reforms focused on assessment and discriminatory punishment of students for what are surely larger community ills, this series of conversations (held on the second Tuesday of each month) gives me hope and has really inspired all of my students who have ever attended.  UUR is taking two sure paths to educational equity: racial justice and honest dialogue (two pieces of their mission).  Support them, your own students, your own children…and attend!

And for more inspiration, read this post from a former student who attended Race Talks as part of our Enhancing Youth Literacy Capstone:

What Are the Real Reasons Students Are Transferring? How Can We Fix This? (by Guest Blogger Christine Yim)

Choice is a luxury in the United States of America and so is education – or so we thought. I’d like to think that this statement is true but not when education comes in sometimes distasteful conditions. What are we providing to students that others are not getting?  Is there an underlying issue here that needs to be confronted which has been driving the hot debate about Portland’s transfer policy?

Pertaining to the above article, there seems to be numerous pros and cons that need consideration. Firstly, Portland’s transfer policy offers parents the freedom of choice for where they wish to have their student attend school. This can be essential in making sure their kids are receiving the preferred education or focusing on a specific program that may not otherwise have been offered at the school in their district. What screams democracy more than this, right?

But when parents take their kids away from a school and transfer to another one, they’re also taking away the funds that help keep a school functioning. As discussed in our Senior Capstone class at Portland State, we have a “per-pupil” spending that follows a student wherever they go. As this may be viewed as a positive in the freedom it gives parents for transferring, what else can it mean for the school they leave behind?

Not only does the funding decrease in the school being transferred away from, there is less diversity as a result as well. As mentioned in the article, low-income families may not take advantage of “focus-option” programs because of their lack of transportation for students. Thus, families who can afford such a resource, may then use these focus-option programs to their benefit.

School Transfers – Guaranteeing Choice or Sabotaging Diversity? (by Guest Blogger Andy Swinford)


Portland Public Schools’ transfer policies have historically been some of the most generous in existence. The intent of them was to allow parents to choose schools freely regardless of where in the city they chose to live and to keep kids from leaving the public school system for private options.

This high degree of choice, however, has been accused of “sucking” students from some schools and leading to overcrowding of others. It is also being credited with lessening the diversity within individual schools as parents who have the savvy and the capability to seek out transfers leave their neighborhood schools for more highly preferred schools with specialized programs or better evaluations.

PPS is revising, revamping and outright changing their transfer policies to address these issues and in hopes of finding more funding somewhere. Transfers for students younger than high school age have already been limited and other changes are underway.

How to balance choice and the needs of neighborhood schools? The needs and interests of individual students with the good of the school district as a whole? The ideal of racial diversity in theory with the reality of diversity in practice?

Read the background articles here!