The Enrollment Balancing Conversation Heats Up & The Transfer Policy May Be Reexamined (Finally!)

Like I said in my last post, change is in the air.  The enrollment balancing conversations that have been taking place for the last few months continue to heat up as communities speak out against what many are calling inequitable practices of Portland Public Schools.  While it is certainly inequitable practices in our communities and culture that impact the school’s policies, the schools are often places where change can start to happen and filter back into our neighborhoods and our collective psyche.  For those of you who have been in my classroom, you know that school inequality comes from neighborhood, housing, income, nutrition, racial, economic (and so on) inequality and that schools are showcases for the deeper roots of prejudice and injustice.

For those who are interested in how this conversation is playing out, take a look at these two news items to get started:

If you haven’t read up on what’s going on with the Jefferson cluster currently, take a look at the links and information in these past posts:

If you’re interested in getting involved, check out the Portland Area Social Equality Educators’ website.


Educational Equity & the Grant Cluster: Board of Education Meeting (by Guest Blogger Savannah Fox)

Venturing Out into the Community On Monday, November 5, I attended the Portland Public School Board of Education meeting. Part of the board meeting was dedicated to part of a series of check-ins with the various high school clusters around … Continue reading

PPS School Boundary Talks: Objections (and Equity Issues) Surface

In the last few months, I’ve been posting articles on the PPS boundary talks, discussions around the community about changes that will take place in order to relieve schools that are too full and to shift students into schools with smaller student bodies.  These changes would also possibly move some schools from one model to another (a K-8 to a K-5, for example).  While discussions thus far have been amazingly calm and seemingly neutral, last year’s tense boundary talks between Alameda and Sabin schools has resurfaced with a letter from the Alameda Neighborhood Association.

What do you think about the letter?  And what do you think about ways boundary shifts may impact educational equity in Portland?  As always, I’d love to hear your opinions…

Thursday’s Tiny Reading Collection: Building Blocks, School Boundaries, Class Size, and Rising Poverty

I’m starting a new Thursday post called the “Tiny Reading Collection.”  This will feature a collection of short, thought provoking articles that serve as a sampler of highlight articles that will help keep you informed.  This week’s articles are as follows:

  • An article on a return to using wooden building blocks in teaching and learning and creating more space for creative play in classrooms (“With Blocks, Educators Go Back to Basics,” New York Times)
  • An article on increasing class sizes in the Metro area and the impact on kids and teachers (“Students Lose Individual Attention...,” Oregonian
  • The proposal for new Portland school boundaries was released…with more community discussions to follow.
  • Census data released reports that 50% of black children in Oregon live in poverty. This really speaks to the way that the economic downturn is impacting communities of color and needs to lead to more discussions about the ways that systemic barriers impact kids and families in our community.
  • A beautiful article (with lots of links) called “To Teachers: How to Stay Hopeful and Inspired” (written by educator Elena Aguilar) from Edutopia is a perfect way to end this collection.  Even in the light of major challenges, we must stay hopeful and active.

Happy reading…

“Make It Happen” Monday: Walk-Outs, Teacher Assessment, and Boundaries, Oh My!

If you’re feeling inspired by the many social movements that have been happening as part of the Occupy protests, think about taking on one of these small actions that will help support education in your community.

  1. November 16, 12:00 p.m.: Participate in the PSU student walk-out.  Here’s a link to the Portland Coalition to Defend Education website with information on the walk-out.   Here’s a link to some commentary on the walk-out from a PSU student.
  2. November 15: Email the State Board of Education your thoughts on the proposed teacher and administrator assessment.  If you know how important teacher quality is to the education of each student, you will want to take a look and weigh in.
  3. November 15: Go to the Rigler School meeting on possible boundary changes in PPS (6:00).
  4. November 16: Go to the Scott School meeting on possible boundary changes in PPS (4:00).
  5. Read about the previous boundary meetings, parent feedback, and proposed solutions here.
These are all little things that can make a big difference.  Make it happen!

Weekend Catch Up: Boundaries, Charter Schools, and Teacher of the Year, Oh My!

While my 6-month-old son sleeps in the next room, I’ve decided to compile some local highlights from the week.  There’s been a lot going on in Oregon education, and my two kids and a big pile of WR 122 essays to grade prevented me from updating until now!  A teacher/parent’s work is never done…


As you may have read or heard about, Oregon is facing another round of cuts to things to state-funded organizations, like schools, Parks and Recreation, etc.  What will the impact be on schools?  Read some of the following, and think about attending or listening in on some future school board meetings. Continue reading