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Choosing a neighborhood: Would you move to an "established" school district?

It's a great time to be talking about schools, now that tons of our kids have gone back to their respective schools or are starting school for the first time.  Just wanted to remind everyone that the Schools Forum is alive and kickin'.  Go on: rant and/or rave about your school.  Email us if you don't see your school listed, and we'll get it up there.

Now.  We have a mama who recently emailed who wants your thoughts on moving into desirable PPS neighborhoods or staying put?  What say you, mamas?

If I am a mama of a 15 month old and while I know school is not in our immediate future I spend a lot of time thinking (worrying) about what school she will attend. We currently live in NE Portland in the Woodlawn school district. We are wanting to move within the next year to a bigger home. My big question is this: Do we stay in our NE neighborhood and rely on the transfer, charter, magnet system to find a suitable school or do we move into a coveted neighborhood (Aladema-Grant)? It seems like there are many options in the PPS system but I don't know reliable those options are.  Do any of you have experience with the lottery system?  If you had to move anyway would you move to a "better" hood so that your kids could go to the neighborhood school?

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I'm not sure if I can answer your question but here is my experience if it helps any. I have children at Alameda Elementary. We moved into our small house several years ago to get into this desirable school district (this was an extreme financial stretch for us - we are lower middle class - but we highly value a good public school education). Moving several years ago was a good idea in the sense that we could not afford our current house now even with the housing bubble. So far we are pleased with Alameda (especially the fabulous teachers - can't say enough good things about them) but absolutely HORRIFIED at the class sizes with 28-30 kids on average in classes. The sheer lack of diversity at the school is stunning as is the expectation that we can shell out lots of money for fundraisers and miles-long supplies lists (not everyone in the district is loaded although many are). We are currently researching moving to another neighbourhood and school (although I understand that class size is an issue across the board for all PPS schools). I don't understand why PPS closed so many schools recently only to overcrowd the existing ones? I guess what I'm trying to say is that even the so-called "desirable PPS schools" are far from perfect. It seems that if you want a combination of the best schools and a larger house in Portland - you have to move to the 'burbs. Lake Oswego schools (not your typical suburb admittedly but demographically similar to the Alameda district) has an average of 16-17 kids per class and absolutely outstanding high school graduation rates. We have long resisted a move to the 'burbs but the PPS school district may eventually force the issue for us.

We transfered to a school for the Spanish Immersion and we love the school. My daughter is now in first grade (this is her third year) and she still talks about how lucky she was to win the lottery. Portland does have a very liberal transfer policy but I would not count on it.

First, Alameda may not be an easy school to transfer into. I know it is a very desirable school which may make the chances slim. Combine that with the fact that PPS is looking at changing the transfer system and your chances might become bleak. I would have a hard time counting on something like that to happen four years from now.

When transferring another thing to remember is your community. We live within two miles of the school we transfered to and bike to school many days. Still, I look at the parents walking their kids to school with envy. The closer you are to your school the easier it is to run into people and plan play dates. It is also easier to rely on others with help for drop off and pick up - and easier to give that help to others.

So if you can move into the neighborhood that has the school you want then I would say go for it. That gives you more guarantees and other benefits.

I somewhat feel the need to play devil's advocate here. I think if your intent is to go to a school other than Woodlawn, then by all means move to the neighborhood where that school is located, if you can. But the devil's advocate part of me feels sad for the neighborhood you'll be leaving behind. To me, part of being "present" in a neighborhood is participating in the neighborhood school. Send your kids there, volunteer there, heck just walking back & forth to that school every day -- all these things help you get to know the daily minutae of your neighborhood and the people in it, builds relationships, makes the neighb' safer & more desirable. And it makes the school better too. In a time when so many of us are working outside the home, being really attached to the neighborhood school is a great way to retain some sense of our immediate community.

Hope this was respectful and didn't mean to hijack the thread. Just wanted to take the opportunity to point out that staying w/ one's neighborhood school has its plusses sometimes.

As a real estate agent I would suggest... go with the stronger school district because those looking to buy generally ask to look at homs in top school districts.

However Sarah C. has a solid point with the transfer and change coming about. But if you are in a desirable school district...why move to the unknown. And call the school board and ask as many questions as you possibly can regarding this neighborhood of choice. Then go to that school and interview the principal and teachers. You my get your answers at that moment. If they tell you it's too early to talk to them...stay where you are.

My daughter is 3.5 is in pre-K. Every year since she was a year old...we have attended an open house to the top ranked private school in our area. The head master, director of admissions, etc. all commend us on taking such an active role in her education.

Looking at schools whether public or private should always be at the forefront of your mindset...it's your child's future. Do not allow anyone to tell you otherwise.

Not sure if this helps but good luck.

Don't rely on the transfer system. It is a gamble as it is, and PPS is looking at making major changes to it. If you are dead set on a school and have the resources to move into that neighborhood, do it. However, remember that boundary lines can (and have been) redrawn, so a house that sits within the Alameda school catchment area today may not be within that area 5 years from now. We have friends that had to use the lottery to get their kid into the school around the corner (less than a block) from their home, because the boundary was drawn in such a way that the neighborhood school they were assigned to was over a mile away.

A timely question given that just last week, my husband and I sold our house in the Laurelhurst school district. While we haven't landed in our next home yet, we are not in agreement about which should be the driving factor in selecting it: house size, immediate neighborhood, or quality of the local school. One thought we have had (and who knows how valid this is) is that we are more focused on the quality of the local high school than the elementary school. The downside of that strategy of course is that by the time our 5 year old gets there, school ratings may have shifted. I don't think that you can count on the lottery system or availability of slots in magnet schools when making relocation decisions. You have to be okay with your neighborhood school since that is where you could end up. But as Obama Mama eluded to, just because a school has high academic rankings doesn't necessarily make it the best fit for all families.

You ask: "Do we stay in our NE neighborhood and rely on the transfer, charter, magnet system to find a suitable school or do we move into a coveted neighborhood (Aladema-Grant)?"

There is a third option: You could look into getting involved in your neighborhood school so that it will be a suitable school for your child and the other children in the neighborhood. One of the most often cited reasons for parents not wanting to send their kids to certain neighborhood schools is the "lack of parent involvement." But somehow people often don't see how their own automatic rejection of the school in their neighborhood also qualifies as a "lack of involvement" and contributes greatly to the problem of under-resourced neighborhood schools.

Is there something particular that Alameda School offers to students that just can't be provided at Woodlawn School by the time your child is ready for school in 3 or 4 years? How can we as parents work together so that our public school system makes a quality education accessible for all kids?

For all families in the Woodlawn neighborhood, as well as Beach, Boise-Eliot, Chief Joseph, Faubion, Humboldt, King, Ockley Green, Vernon, and Jefferson, there is a Yahoo group for our N/NE neighborhood schools. Members of the group post info about school events, volunteer opportunities, fundraisers, and much more. To join the group, send a message to GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools@yahoogroups.com

There are also some good policy-related discussions at www.PPSequity.org

I think you should live near the school you want to go to. Be wary, because as has been indicated upthread boundaries can be re-drawn at the drop of a hat.

There's something to be said for staying and being a part of the change. And as long as PPS can get off-the-hook for having crappy schools in poorer and/or more diverse areas via folks moving, transferring, or chartering the more likely things are to worsen, with less transfer slots available in more "desirable" schools. This is already happening at the high school level. Friends of mine, who are normally ethical folx, are falsifying addresses for the desired high school this year because there were only a handful of transfer spots.
:::::::::::hops off soapbox :::::::::::::

Full disclosure: I am voting "no confidence" in PPS because of their inability to meet my family's needs for a challenging, comprehensive education in a culturally competent environment. So we are commuting for a diverse non-PPS high school.

If I had it to do over, I would homeschool.

This issue always pushes my buttons. What do you know about your neighborhood school? Have you ever set foot in it? Have you met anyone who sends their kids there? You may have wonderful program going on there that you are just walking away from, based on a desire for a 'good' school, with a better reputation?
I live in the Jefferson cluster as well, and I am sending my white, upper-middle class children to the school nearest our home because I want to give it a chance. I value the diversity. I want it to work. Will it be where we stay until 8th grade?..I don't know. But I am finding lots of other parents just like me who are at least going to give our neighborhood school a fair shake. It really takes parents just like you (and me) getting involved and making changes.

have to chime in and agree with the above posters who brought up engaging in your neighborhood school. public schools are just that . . . public. they are, in large part, what we make of them. a school will never improve if families who are engaged and active (as you are) move away when their children are school-age. why is alameda so great? why is woodlawn less desirable? answer those questions and then think about whether your involvement in your neighborhood school could bring about change that would meet your standards. i don't mean to sound preachy, but at least think about staying put and building community.

I attended a low-income, very socio-economically and racially diverse elementary school. There was no art program, poor playground facilities, etc. However, the teachers were absolutely committed and passionate about what they were doing, and several parents (including my own) were extremely active in providing opportunities for kids. My mom established a partnership between the school and a local art program that brought after-school art to the neighborhood (the resulting annual elementary school art show at the town's fine art museum is still going today); parents coordinated field trips, supported Great Books, held fundraisers ... there was an enormous sense of community, and I (along with many friends) came out of 6th grade as top students and continued on to great success throughout our lives, with the added benefit of having experienced many kinds of diversity (economic and otherwise) during a formative time in life.

I'd say, don't write off your neighborhood school. Like an above commenter said, class sizes at the "best" schools can be atrocious, and the atmosphere of academic and social competition can be fierce ... there is certainly some social pressure on the kids who are "low-middle" income who have to navigate the circles of their more privileged peers. (I hope this doesn't sound like I'm ghettoizing! I intend quite the opposite ...)

I had the same thoughts about our neighborhood school. It isn't one of the 'good' ones, and I went back and forth last year about deciding if we should move, or stay put and become a part of our school community. After lots of discussion, looking into the school, and attending pta meetings last year before my child was part of the school, we have decided to send him to this school. So far so good. Since we are involved at the pre-k level, I think it's a great way to get in and really check out the school. If we decide it's not for us long term, at least I can say that we gave it a fair shake.
I really do think that at the elementary level, it isn't such an issue. The future high school that my kids will attend in this house scares me....we may have to move yet, because I really can't see sending them to Jefferson. But who knows.....maybe in 8 years it will be the hottest school in town!

I was glad to see this post and am curious to see what people have to say. Although our son is a few years away from attending kindergarten – this is a subject that is always on my mind. When we bought our house in NE 7 years ago, having a child and being in a good neighborhood school was the last thing on our minds. But here we are now faced with having to ultimately move to get into a “decent” not necessarily “desirable” school. I am sad to say this but there is no way he is going to our neighborhood (King) school. I have absolutely no faith in the lottery system (I know of too many families that don’t get any of their choices and it’s only going to get more difficult with more families in the same situation). In theory getting rid of the lottery and sending kids to their neighborhood school is a good idea - but I think for some of our schools, it is not enough. I also agree parent involvement is key but it is not the only factor in what makes a school good.

I'm curious as to what you base your "bad neighborhood" school status on. It can't be too bad or you would live in the neighborhood, right? If you're basing it on test scores then you clearly have no idea what a poor measure of a child (and school) such tests are. People to deem schools "bad" because of test scores need to realize that those test scores only tell you the socio-economic status of the children to who take them. EVERY school, in every TOWN has fantastic teachers. If you're the kind of parent who will encourage your child, spend time daily reading to and with your child, and participate in the school and take and interest in what your child is learning, then your child will flourish and succeed no matter what school they attend. Judging a school by its test scores is no different that judging a book by its cover. ONLY you actually HURT your neighborhood school by singling it out and criticizing it in your community. If you want to know if a school is good or bad, GO INSIDE!!! Observe, ask questions, visit, volunteer...it doesn't matter. You'll soon discover every school and every classroom is alive and energetic. Especially classrooms that serve low-income students. THIS is where you'll find passionate, energetic, and caring teachers.

Anon, Please don't dismiss King School too quickly. There is a very committed group of parents whose children enrolled at King in the last couple of years who seem optimistic about the school. See more info in the UM Schools section here,
http://www.urbanmamas.com/schools/2008/02/connect-king-sc.html#comments

Parents and community members from King and Jefferson co-organized a clusterwide Parent, Community & Youth Summit 3 years ago for the Jefferson area schools, which is how GetInvolvedWithJeffSchools@yahoogroups.com started.

Also, King School, along with Vernon and one school on the westside, is planning to start an IB program soon.

I want to "amen" some of the above comments as well. I am a Woodlawn mom (and just in case that sets up any sterotypes - white, post-graduate educated), along with a number of my peers. We love volunteering together and in our kids' classes. The teachers I know are fantastic, caring, and very competent.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did choose to take my oldest out of Woodlawn after two years due to specific education needs and personal experiences, but not before giving it a fair shot. My son is in his second year there now.

Like others, I'd encourage you to invest in this, or whichever community, you find yourself!

I want to "amen" some of the above comments as well. I am a Woodlawn mom (and just in case that sets up any sterotypes - white, post-graduate educated), along with a number of my peers. We love volunteering together and in our kids' classes. The teachers I know are fantastic, caring, and very competent.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did choose to take my oldest out of Woodlawn after two years due to specific education needs and personal experiences, but not before giving it a fair shot. My son is in his second year there now.

Like others, I'd encourage you to invest in this, or whichever community, you find yourself!

we moved into a rental in the alameda district for the school. class sizes are big, but not different from an other A school on the eastside. ditto class supply lists-- they are all pretty much the same.

My son goes to Faubion, which happens to be our neighborhood school. He's in 1st grade, and so far, we have had a great experience.

Strangely, before he started school, I was *obsessed* with getting him into a "good" school. Some strange/stressful/etc. personal stuff came up, and I wasn't able to make use of the transfer option, as I had intended. Literally 2 days before he was to start kindergarten, we ended up moving in to the Faubion district. For all the research I did on PPS schools, I ended up sending my kid to a school I knew nothing about. Go figure. And we've had such a great experience, I could really care less what ranking the school has.

I also view the early elementary school years as more of a time of socialization than of academics. I see Eli's attending the neighborhood school as a chance for us to meet kids close by he can play with. We walk to school almost every day--as a previous poster mentioned, this has been a fantastic way for me to connect with my neighbors.
When my son gets older, I may try to take advantage of the transfer system (if it's still around)--for example, if he's really keen on science, I may try to transfer him to a junior high or high school with a strong science background. But for now, our neighborhood school is a great place for us.

(A special shout-out to that core group of Faubion moms who take the time to organize EVERYTHING! You know who you are, and you should know your efforts don't go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you!)

I am in the woodlawn neighborhood and my son will be starting kindergarten next year. We would really like to give our neighborhood school a chance before stressing about all of the other options and I admit I know nothing really about the school. It would be so great to have our kids go to a school close by with others in our neighborhood. I would love to meet other parents who might be considering woodlawn or have kids there. Any thoughts?

We moved to Vancouver, Washington to live in a better neighborhood. Our better neighborhood is low-income like us, and diverse, with amazing preschools, daycare, and a fantastic public school system. My son is 1/2 Mexican and we are a bilingual household. I am thrilled the schools here have bilingual imersion programs. I am also thrilled that the elementary school he will go to is nationally acclaimed for their reading programs.
We used to live on 100th and Glisan. We were surrounded by gangs, shootings, and drugs.
Since we could not afford private schoo, my son would have gone to gang-infested, poorly funded schools where children are passed grade to grade not even being able to read at the level or beyond that they should.
How do I know that? I asked around, I paid attention to the grades and homework my husband's nieces and cousins were bringing home. I was appaled that his cousin couldn't even read a simple book at 3rd grade level.

Before you jump ship, do your research, ask around, go to the school, talk to other Moms at the playgrounds.

Do what is best for your child and for your family.

I love hearing all of the "neighborhood school" support out there. I've long thought that if I, and my neighbors, all sent our kids to the neighborhood school it would really be the kind of school I'm looking for. I so want to be able to walk to school every day and have it be a part of our neighborhood. I'm feeling really bummed out that we live on what must be the most outer edge of our boundary area because I can count two elementary schools closer to my home than our neighborhood school. It makes me crazy. But, explains my hopes for the lottery.

We moved last year from a close-in SE neighborhood to North Portland. We agonized over the school decision, but in the end, we fell in love with a larger house that was in our price range and we had some good friends that were already in the neighborhood. We couldn't really afford something the same size in our previous neighborhood.

Our son started Kindergarten this year and we felt the need to place him in the lottery in addition to looking at the neighborhood school which also had an language immersion program. We definitely got caught up in the hysteria of wanting to make that right decision. We also looked at keeping him in private Kindergarten and of all things, Catholic School, though we are not of that denomination. Competition and wanting the best for your children makes you do some things that you'd never thought you'd do.

If we were in our old neighborhood, without a doubt we would have sent him to the neighborhood school. It was a good school, we had a strong connection with the community, and our son would have started school knowing many of the kids. In the end, we found our footing and came full circle with our decision and enrolled him in the neighborhood school. It's too early to say that it was the right choice and the right fit for him, but we are happy with the decision and approaching it with an open mind and eager to connect with the school community.

The hardest part is for us to start again building relationships and making connections, and leaving behind a great community in our old neighborhood.

This has been a great discussion about this "issue" of getting into the best school. What parent doesn't want their child to go to "the best" school? But are we overlooking our subconscious need to be just like the "Jones" out there? I understand the reason why this mother has questions and is concerned but it angers me that peopel take at face value an implied reputation of a school and nothing else.

I so agree with some of the other mommas about investing in your neighborhood. Why the heck did you even move there if you didn't think the elementary school was not good? The house is good enough but not the school? That is why neighborhood schools are suffering due to the parents who don't want to invest in their community.

Visit it, talk to other parents who have kids attending the school, go to the PTA meetings, or volunteer. What you might find out is that this school is just what you are looking for without paying thousands of dollars to move to another area. Give it a chance before you close the door since these NE schools have very dedicated parents who want these schools to succeed along with very hardworking and dedicated teachers who give their time and heart in teaching our kids! The school your child goes to is as good as you make it!!

My two kids go to our neighborhood school and I am GLAD to say that our class size is not as big as Alameda's. Every year our school just gets better and I'm kind of glad that other parents haven't found out about our little gem of a school. Although I am the first to stump for it. :)

In the end, please give your neighborhood school a try but if that doesn't work, then at least you know you gave it a shot. I don't think your child will suffer in trying out the Kindergarten class for one year. You know what is best for your family but also open your mind to other possibilities.

This has been a great discussion about getting our kids into the "best school". I agree with Hau about getting caught up in trying to find the best place for your child and this doesn't start just at elementary school. There was just as much emphasis on getting into the best preschool/daycare. But in trying to do this, are we losing touch with the truth?

Sometimes I feel like this has all been a popularity contest. I am a believer in the neighborhood schools and know that there are many dedicated parents and teachers out there who want to make a difference and believe in their schools. I understand this mom's concern but it angers me that people will believe an implied reputation of a school rather than actually step foot in the building and see how it's really like.

Visit the school, talk to parents who have their kids there, attend PTA meetings, or volunteer. You might just find out that the school is just the right fit for your child without having to spend thousands of dollars moving into the "right place". Why are you living in NE if you don't think the schools are good enough for you?

Open your mind and invest in your neighborhood school. Give kindergarten a try and see how it goes. I don't think 1 year will hurt and it might surprise you. My children go to our neighborhood school and don't suffer the class size issue like Alameda. I am actually quite glad that some parents haven't discovered our little gem of a school although I will be the first to stump for it. :)

this veers into a tangent, but:

what if we declined all federal nclb funding and aborted the testing mania. instead, what if our stated mandated that every parent had a day a week to spend in the schools. the schools would be flooded with adults there to support children. would the temporary economic fall-out be offset by raising a generation of amazing people?

maybe the "good" schools vs. the "bad" schools would become moot, because they'd really be "our" schools.

Moving to a good school neighborhood is a time-honored middle class thing to do. My parents and grandparents all had small homes on the better sides of town to insure their kids got the best public school education. I did the same.

I realize this sounds elitist, but you can't change the whole system for your child, nor do you want your child to be a guinea pig to your beliefs.

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, but smom's comment got to me: "Why the heck did you even move there if you didn't think the elementary school was not good? The house is good enough but not the school?"

Several posters have mentioned countless reasons why people live in neighborhoods/homes with "bad" schools. As mothers I think we all are doing everything we can to put our kids in the best schools as possible. Buying a home in the "good" school district is usually a luxury for most families though. When we moved to Portland, we did not have the cash flow to be able to afford a home in a better school district. I dont think that me going back to work full time so that we can afford a home in a better school district would be the right choice for our family. We have made financial sacrifices to be able to have me home with our kids while they are little, and as a result, our mortgage payment needs to be smaller.

We chose to buy a home in the city, in a neighborhood that many people consider "up and coming" because we liked the home, and we thought the neighborhood had potential. Yes, the house was good enough, but the school might not be our first choice and we do not regret our decision one bit. Our alternative was to live in the suburbs or be totally completely house-poor. We did invest in our neighborhood and we continue to do so. We feel lucky that there are several options for us to consider that are close to home, private school being one of them, and we will explore all of them and make a decision. I would love to send my kids to the neighborhood school and I hope it works out that way. If it doesn't, it's not because we don't believe in investing in our neighborhood.

As I posted earlier we did transfer - from one Jefferson cluster school to another. It was not a rejection of our neighborhood school. We know a lot about it and think that it offers a lot to it's families. Yes, we visited and spent time there. Talked to staff and parents. In the end it was not right for our family since there was no Spanish offered in the building. At all.

When we bought our home that would have been fine. Almost eleven years later we are two women of European decent raising a child of Guatemalan decent. It would have been wrong for us not to transfer - she deserves it. It is wonderful to see how she thrives and her self confidence grows stronger. I am certain that part of it is because she is surrounded by people that look like her and she is learning valuable parts of her birth culture.

Reading the above posts I have two additional thoughts. The first is that elementary school is not a place for socialization. Pre-k and kindergarten are but after that a lot is expected of kids. Like it or not serious testing starts in third grade. Academically your child is expected to learn a lot during these years so waiting until middle school can be a mistake.

Secondly, it is great that parents want to give the neighborhood school a chance. I see a lot of parents at my daughter's school doing just that and in an immersion program it poses some serious problems. In language programs it is very hard to replace a student that leaves - at any time but especially after the third grade. The other day I was speaking with the principal at our school and that day she had a parent tell her that they were pulling their first grader because they finally got into the school they really wanted. They really did not understand that they took a spot away from someone else who may have completed the program. I am sure having a lot of kids leave in older grades is harder for other schools too.

For us we have been willing to drive to the program that best fits our kids. When we applied to the charter/alternative lotteries 5 years ago it was pretty much a given that you would get into at least one of your choices. Things may have changed since then. I toured 15! Kindergartens and there was such a huge difference between the overall philosophy of the schools. We chose MLC and are very happy there. It's 20 min. from our house and we live next door to Creston Elementary. The fit of the school was far more important to us than proximity. Portland has some amazing free choices that could be expensive private schools in any other city.

We're looking at some of the charter schools for next year (due to philosophy, not location) and I haven't been able to find out the "scoop" on admission - do you need to live near the charter school or just enter the lottery and hope? Or (like our previous city), is there a test to take to even enter the lottery, or will living in the local area give you an additional lottery slot?
We're not looking for the "best" school - we're looking for the Best Fit. We'll start visiting schools next month, way in advance of the Kindergarten Roundup, since we're prepared to move to the neighborhood of whatever school is right, in order to facilitate the neighborhood experience.
Does anyone else have any feedback on the charter application process? Thanks!

In my prior post, I realize that I was a little negative about the PPS school district. I'd really like to clarify that my issues are principally with the overpaid administration and absolutely NOT with the underappreciated teachers. I believe that it is the fabulous teachers (and aides and support staff) in this district that keep the numbers of students going to public school in Portland relatively high. I have enormous sympathy for any teacher who has to teach incredibly high class sizes and deal with complex behavioural and social issues present in all schools. So to teachertiredofcrititism and any other teacher reading this feed - I'd like to say a sincere THANK YOU for all the incredible work you do day-in-day out for all students in this city.

Leah, I appreciate what you're saying, and I don't think you're picking a fight. In fact I just wanted to say THANKS to urbanmamas for discussing this topic so respectfully. Increasingly this is one of the few places on the 'Net where you can count on civilized discourse over hot issues...

SarahC.:

Maybe I was unclear. I didn't mean to imply that elementary school was ONLY for socialization. I do realize that the primary focus of any school is education. However, what I want from my son's early education experience is for him to be excited about learning and going to school. It is interesting to me that you say "school is not a place for socialization." I am surprised, as many of my friends growing up, I met at school, and I am fairly certain that school is where a bulk of childhood friendships are formed.

I also believe that, unless you are in an immersion program or another program with a specific focus (I realize your child is in such a program, and I am in no way try to diminish the importance of such programs), most elementary schools will teach the same things. Granted, different schools will have different approaches, but by the same token, different teachers in the same school also have different approaches to teaching.

My son's first grade class practices "differentation," thereby tailoring the lessons to the individual child. For example, my son--the talkative monkey he is--has a huge vocabulary, so while some of the other kids are working on word identification, his teachers have him working on sentence composition. This is amazing to me. When I was in elementary school, I was pulled from my regular class to go into what was my school's equivalent of the talented and gifted program. It was embarrassing being singled out as the "smart kid," and I would often resent missing what happened in my regular class. I am glad my son can be challenged in his class.

This is getting long, but what I am trying to say is while the primary objective of sending a child to school is the acquisition of knowledge, there are also other factors that come in to play, such as the socialization aspects. And for our family, it is the ability to socialize with our neighbors, via our neighborhood school, while receiving a quality education, that is keeping us in our neighborhood school.

To echo Obama Mama:

I am not mad at teachers in PPS, either. I don't like the District using our kids as chess pieces. I loved Ockley, and cried on the day my 8th grader was promoted. Like the ugly cry, with puffy eyes and nose running. If PPS had a high school that would approximate that experience, my kid would be there.

I will respectfully point out a piece about equity. People who live in neighborhoods with "bad" schools, often feel hurt and angry when their neighbors are displaced due to rising housing costs or rental to owner-occupied conversions, and then their new neighbors reject their schools. It feels bad. I have heard and participated in many conversations particularly in communities of color about this issue. I'm sure that this conversation happens in communities where class, not ethnicity is the primary issue. So I wanted to lend some voice to that.

For our family, focus, magnets and charters don't work because of our need for diversity. My kid has had really bad experiences in schools that aren't diverse. Stuff that makes mamas weep in a closet.

We moved from Jefferson cluster to Marshall cluster, because that's where my broke ass could afford a house. So I will volunteer at the schools in my cluster even though my kid doesn't go there. I would encourage folks to find ways to support your local school whether your kid goes or not. I'm a broke, full-time WOHM single mama, so time is precious, but I think it really connects me to my new community.

Kmat:

I don't want to get into an argument. I do feel that your statement of "I also view the early elementary school years as more of a time of socialization than of academics" is a sticking point for me. It may be that we are using the same word for two different things.

At my daughter's school (and from talking to teachers from other school) there is a huge shift from the kinder year to first grade. There is little to no play time inside the classroom. The children spend much more time sitting at desks. One father put it like this - last year there was a lot of background noise in the classroom, this year there is very little. As I said, it might not be the best but in many schools first grade is the beginning of a more academic focus. Often this is in preparation for testing in third grade.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from the students in my daughter's class is that they do not get to spend as much time socializing within school this year.

If you read both of my posts you should get a sense that I value the social aspects of creating community at a school. That is not the same as what happens within the classroom daily. The biggest issue I have with feeling like we needed to transfer was that we would not know our neighbors as well. I really regret this but it was something we had to do to really give our daughter what she needs. I personally spend a lot of time at her school working on community with others and even help to coordinate many after school events. I see my role as a parent to build this for our family.

Your son and my daughter sound a lot alike in the vocabulary area. She was a serious reader in kinder and was writing one to two sentence paragraphs in school. I took her and a few friends to dinner and a play last spring and the friends were having her read the menu and playbill for them. By my desk I have some poems and special notes that she wrote for me over the summer. She actually does go to the second grade now for literacy and she is thrilled. At her school there is a lot of movement between classes in the morning so it does not seem totally odd. If she was in a mono language program I think it would be even harder to challenge her.

Lots of good thoughts expressed today--one more thing to consider is that the school you buy into when you buy your home is not necessarily the school that will be your child's when s/he is school age. We bought our home with a partial eye to it being in the Duniway boundary, but before our daughters reached school age the boundaries were redrawn. We are now slated for Llewellyn. At first I was disappointed because the people I knew with kids at Duniway had great experiences--but as a teacher, I also know that a school is only as great as the teacher you get and the community and administration supporting it. Our neighborhood is changing, and more families with young children means better things for Llewellyn--it's not the same school it was when we bought our home almost 10 years ago, and it won't be the same when we are ready for it in two years. Look at the school, but don't base your entire decision on it. You have options, and you'll weigh them based on the needs of your child when the time comes. With few exceptions, there are wonderful things to be found in every school. Schools that you hear are fantastic have their issues, too. Concentrate on the strengths of where you end up, work to change the things that aren't working, and make a commitment to express appreciation to your child's teachers and to find joy in the life you've chosen. It'll all be fine.

Great debate!

I must disclose a few things about myself before I comment. The first is that I am married to a PPS teacher who has taught at an "inner city, bad school" and is currently at a very good school outside of the neighborhood. I'm also a resident of N. Portland - and I transfered my child out of our neighborhood school.

Like others have suggested, don't give into the hype about a school being good or bad. Visit it first - give it a chance. If it fits your child and family (the latter is also very important), then stay there. If it does not for both, find a good fit.

We transfered our child from our neighborhood school, not because of the teachers, but because it was a poor fit overall. We found the communication very lacking, so we were missing events. And, living in the neighborhood, we would find this out after the events ended or while they were underway. We found there was very little parents were able to do to raise the bar within the school. I believe we were told they needed copies made - and leave the rest to the administration. This turned a lot of people off from the school. These were people who were willing and dedicated to helping improve the school, bring in art and music, volunteer, and generally make it a place people wanted to send their kids. Efforts were shunned - so parents started transferring their kids.

And, I think that is the key. Parental involvement makes all of the difference. To get that involvement, the teachers and staff have to be open to it. At the N Portland school my husband taught at, no one at the school was open to help or suggestions or involvement. It is what drove staff turn over through the roof as well as the transfer rate. At his current school, the parents are involved and active - and enrollment is up, parent satisfaction is high, kids have a great learning environment, staff is supported, and the school does well every year. But as someone has commented, they have their issues too....they are just different ones.

At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you child as well as your family. I personally wouldn't be happy if we moved to the neighborhood where my child's school is located. So, when she gets to high school, we will hope Jefferson has improved - and if not, try the transfer route.

Sarah:

I think we just have a terminology problem. (Maybe we need a school for mama-language :))

By socialization I don't only mean playtime. I was also thinking of during "learning time." For example, my son's class sits at tables with 6 kids per table. While they are doing their work, there is still a degree of interaction between the children. Sometimes they help each other, sometimes it's just chit-chat. In any case, they are learning how to deal with different people from different backgrounds (whether racial, economic or whatnot).

It is this aspect of the elementary years which is more important to me, than say, whether he leaves elementary school being able to recite pi to the 14th decimal. That is the kind of academic learning I would like to reserve for the junior high/high school years.

For those of you considering magnet/charter programs, go to the portland public schools website and follow the links for both the school facts pages and the transfer and school choice information page. PPS has it's own process and deadlines for the lottery, but a lot of the schools have additional mandatory meetings, forms and deadlines specific to their program. Last year their was a giant event at the Expo center for all of the schools, including the magnet programs, charter schools, alternative schools, etc. They had a huge area devoted to explaining the lottery system and assisting with all of the paperwork. I believe they held the even the weekend that the lottery opened for the following September.

For us, there was a laundry list of factors that we weighed before making a choice about where to send our daughter, and they were (in no particular order):

-Proximity/transportation
-Educational approach.
-Diversity (of thought, lifestyle, ethnicity and income).
-Test scores (I'm sorry to anyone offended by this, but I care if the 3rd graders can't meet federal benchmarks for reading and math)
-Class size/teacher-student ratio.
-Parental feedback.
-Overall "vibe" (this one really was the most important one to me. I think how "good" or "poor" a school is on paper matters little if you walk in and feel horribly uncomfortable or right at home. After all, you and your child are going to be spending a tremendous amount of time there).
-Extras (arts focus, language immersion, science based, etc.)

This has been a good, thoughtful discussion, but (as a couple of commenters have noted) even being able to CONSIDER changing neighborhoods for school purposes is a huge luxury. Sadly, I cannot relate.

Great discussion of a very complicated issue. I think almost everyone on here would agree that they are willing to work to improve the system, but not everyone is willing to contribute/sacrifice (depending on your POV) the education of their child to help do so.

I agree with many of the points made by Teachertiredofcriticism, particularly that too often low test scores are interpreted as an indictment of teachers. However, I'd argue that a logical interpretation is that schools with lower test scores have less competitive students, and in all likelihood lower funding (as you said, reflecting lesser socio-economic status). Now, you can argue that those factors will only get worse if the involved parents take for the hills (or the 'burbs), and you'd be right. But I also think you can't vilify a parent for switching to a school they think will give their kids a better environment for learning. Not necessarily better teachers, but more advanced students and better resources. Is that worth the trade-off of a likely more homogeneous, upper-class, and crowded classroom? That's up to each parent. Let's just hope that most of them make truly informed decisions, rather than simply looking at the latest test scores.

When we talk about education in terms of winners, better, advanced, etc. we are relegating someone ELSE's children to being losers, worse, remedial.

I used to work at a high school and I remember talking to a parent about mentoring another student. The parent's response was "I put my energy into my kids, I help with homework, coach their teams, know their teachers. If other kids don't have that, that's not my fault" My repsonse was/is that I cannot keep my kid in a bubble. She is going to be out in the world, where she will come across the kids that we have turned our backs on in our quest for the best for our children. What happens to kids who don't get a competitive education to enter college or secure family wage earning jobs? A lot of not great things. The seeds of poverty, illiteracy, crime flourish in an inequitable school system.

Jonathan Kozol, anyone?

None of us can change the world by ourselves, but don't we want to walk the talk that says I'll do my part to ensure that more kids are looked after than just mine? Whatever that looks like for you and your family.

I'm certainly not sayng that everyone should pull their kids out of the non-local school tomorrow.Just like we think about our impact on the planet, what is our impact in this education system?

Protest Mama for President! Sending admiration your way for saying it better than I could have.

we've gone both ways - when our oldest was heading into kindergarten, our neighborhood school was not ideal. we subscribed to the ideal of improvement through involvement, but we couldn't bring ourselves to make our daughter into a guinea pig. so, we visited several schools, filled out the transfer forms, and enrolled in a charter school when we got the call. i still remember how excited i was.

she attended the charter school for two years. it was a perfect pedagogical fit with an awesome, progressive community. BUT we spent an hour and a half every day (meaning me, the 3 year old, and the baby) driving. it sucked.

in the meantime, we moved. our neighborhood school, while traditional and still not one of the high-falutin' "desirable" schools, offered a more positive environment and family involvment. so we left the charter.

it was a tough adjustment, but we found that with supplementation at home, our involvement, and an increase in a sense of neighborhood community, it was the right choice for us.

we enjoy walking to school. the class sizes are around 22 kids. the teachers and staff care. the students and parents are very diverse....and our kids are happy.

we've found ourselves in two really great situations, but what works for us is our neighborhood school. i really recommend you give yours a try.

i'm another one who can't relate to this discussion at all. can't afford a house, period, so the idea of switching neighborhoods for a school is a foreign luxury to me. certainly i can relate to wanting a good education for my child, and one that is sensitive to whatever her particular emerging needs may be, but honestly, once she hits school-age, it's gonna be a matter of getting into a neighborhood we can afford, staying involved, and hoping for the best. i might pursue a magnet or charter if it has a particular immersion focus that would be apt for her, but other than that ... i feel we have a duty to support our neighborhood schools that are struggling -- how else are they going to improve?

i also think protest mama had some excellent thoughts about the negative impact of gentrification on community dynamic and demographic. i think that gets lost in the shuffle many times when pondering these kinds of issues.

Does anyone have kids at woodlawn or chief joseph? We live in between both (neither walking distance, ahh!!) and would love to hear the things that work and don't for your family. I plan on visiting both but would love to hear from other parents. Thanks

Woodlawn Mama,
Woodlawn is our official neighborhood school too. We live between Woodlawn and Chief Joseph, but Ockley Green is our closest school. We're considering Woodlawn and Ockley Green for next year since Chief Joseph is already pretty crowded and doesn't accept many transfers anyway. Both Woodlawn and Ockley have their Back to School night tonight (Thurs). They start with a presentation and then the students take their parents to their classroom. Woodlawn starts at 6pm and Ockley Green starts at 6:30. We're going to both to check them out and to hear the opening presentation.

PTA meetings are also a good way to get info about the school. Woodlawn PTA usually meets on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 and Chief Joseph usually meets on the third Tues but time varies so check at www.chiefjoe.org. We're also planning to attend the indoor play gym at Peninsula Park for ages 4 and up on Wednesdays at 12:30 to connect with other parents who may be enrolling at the neighborhood schools next year. If you would like to talk more, send me an email piedmontparent (at) yahoo. com

I would have recommended our neighborhood school but PPS closed it in a misguided attempt to sell or lease OUR school to a private school.

At this point, it is hard to tell where PPS is going. If you pick a neighborhood based on its school, will PPS choose to maintain that school?

Will they continue the Phillip’s “vision” of dismantling excellent small schools to justify a building spree of larger 400 to 600 student elementary schools?

Alternatively, will they put that money back into maintaining and sustaining their current small neighborhood schools, schools that better support Portland’s walkable bikeable neighborhoods?

We moved into our house 10 years ago, not intending to stay here longer than 5 years. Even though kids were in the long range forecast, the schools were fairly stable when we moved into this neighborhood. In the last 10 years, 2 of the schools that we have fed into have closed, and the boundaries have changed several times. Elementary, middle, and high schools are all different from when we moved into our house and are actually not the closest schools to us. We seem to be the guinea pig neighborhood. Now that we have a 2 year old, the thought of the transfer process or moving is appealing to me because it would be nice to know that our school boundaries aren't going to arbitrarily change while our child is in school. We're much more likely to move rather than transfer because I feel very strongly that I'd like for my daughter to live in the neighborhood where she attends school. Meanwhile, we like our very walkable location, which is one of the reasons that we've stayed in our house so long.

Thanks for the lead-in Steve and somewhat of a sidenote on the whole issue...as a school designer, I'd prefer to see PPS go to 400-600 student schools and think it can be done efficiently and in a way to promote a "small school" feeling within the school. When you have continuous budget problems, I feel that it's best to make facilities and administration more efficient. I'd rather have the money spent on staff and education rather than building overhead and admin. New schools, when projects are done successfully, not only energize their communities, there are inherently some huge advantages to them: energy efficiency, technology, and structural soundness. Granted there are some beautiful schools in the District which should be used to their full potential, there is definitely a cost-effectiveness issue when rehabbing and updating old buildings. Any improvements, whether replacing or refurbishing and updating, are going to take a huge amount of funding, and our Portland community needs to take responsibility and invest in the state of our schools, and the District needs to efficiently lead those projects.

In one case, I've heard that in a few adjacent small PPS schools that the PTA from those schools try to figure out how they can all share a music teacher, librarian, etc. This is a PTA issue?

Move into the hood if you think you want that public school AND you like that n'hood best for yourselves. The anxiety of waiting to see if you get in by lottery is worth avoiding, trust me. We just went thru that, and got in by the skin of our teeth (5 got it, 1 declined, we were thank-god 1st on the wait list of 40-some kids). It's a great childhood experience for your kid to be going to same schools as neighbors (we wanted to root in school's n'hood and are moving there within year). If you later decide on a charter, at least you have a great n'hood school as back-up. Hopefully for you the same school you like is in same n'hood you like.

I find it quite disarming that the folks who have over the past 5+ years moved into, some would say gentrify, N and NE Portland...who adored the cheaper real estate and hip street cred of living up there...when the time comes to actually invest in their own communities by putting their children into the local schools...want more than anything to ship their kids off to a different neighborhood schools?
What if all of the concerned parents of Nopo actually put their kids in the school they should be attending and made an effort to become more involved (school board, pta, volunteering...)and to make your own community that much better?!
Living in SE, and having a child in school here, it amazes me the amount of families who commute all this way to send their kids to school here instead of taking the bull by the horns, digging in their heels, and making a difference in their own schools?

well said, farmgirl!

Well, farmgirl, we moved into our NE home six years ago, before having kids, not because we "fell in love with the cheap real estate", but because it was what we could afford. We live in Cully, which gets us no street cred, I promise. Our neighborhood is not trendy, or even "up and coming" and yes, our daughter goes to a magnet program in SE. It must be nice for you, being able to afford to live in a neighborhood with a school that other people are willing to travel to, but some of us don't have that luxury. As it happens, our little neighborhood school was closed the year we moved in, they combined the younger grades of the middle school with our new "neighborhood" elementary school and added the eighth graders to the high school, something I am vehemently opposed to. So, we found a magnet school that was lottery-only (meaning their is no "neighborhood" and kids come from all over the city) that we loved and our daughter loved and we entered the lottery and crossed our fingers. If you are so concerned about my local schools and my community, perhaps you should climb down off your soap box, yank your kids out of their nice, sought-after SE neighborhood schools and move here.

Here's my concern about my neighborhood grade school. It has a more than double the average suspension rate. Grade school. Kids being suspended. I'm less worried about test scores than I am about the social environment, safety, kids feeling like it's a safe and enjoyable place to be, etc. I'm still trying to keep an open mind about going there, but I have to admit that turns me off.

Kim:

I feel comfortable saying that like adults and incarceration rates, poor kid and kids of color were disproportionately suspended/disciplined compared to their white, middle class peers.

Discipline rates are not reliablefor that reason. We experienced far more aberrant behavior at one of the most "desired" schools in PPS, that we did at Ockley Green. Kids fought, injured each other, cussed out parents and were rarely disciplined at High Falutin' Academy. Thusly, the reportable discipline rates stay low and the school retains its "very desirable" status.

There was a report a few years back by the Juvenile Rights Project in Portland about the overrepresetation of minority students in school discipline which backs up what ProtestMama is saying. If I recall correctly the report provided data about how minority students got punished more frequently in PPS, and more harshly than white students for the same level of infraction.
http://www.jrplaw.org/Overrep.htm

Sorry again, protestmama, we moved into our house 10 years ago because we wanted to live in a house where we could walk "somewhere", and live close enough in that we could run or bike to work. We moved to the Alberta Arts neighborhood because it was the only neighborhood that we could afford to live that had houses that were larger than 800 sf that we could afford and met our neighborhood critera. Let me tell you, it wasn't too hip to be living here then. There were more buildings with bars on the windows or that were boarded up than were occupied. The month after we moved in there was a police stake-out across the street from our house, and in January of the following year, the first homicide of the year was 1 block from our house. This was, of course, pre-New Seasons and just about everything else on Alberta. About the only place that we could walk to was the Kennedy School and Bernie's Southern Bistro. The neighborhood was getting positive press and looked like it would be improving. Lucky for us, it has. So, call it what you will. We call it economic reality.

While we have lived here, the elementary school that we fed into has been closed. The middle school that we fed into has been closed (although rightly so), and we've been moved into the Jefferson cluster from Madison, although we are closest to Grant. So, with that as a background, would you feel confident in the stability of my neighborhood schools?

My sister used to teach at Woodlawn, and I volunteered there for 2 years in a row about 5 years ago. My grandma used to commute from Parkrose to volunteer as a SMART volunteer while my sister worked there. So, I don't think that you can say that my family hasn't invested in this community. My sister left Woodlawn about 4 years ago along with most of her colleagues. She said that she's heard that there are currently only 3 teachers at Woodlawn that were there when she taught there, so you might look into what the turnover rates are among staff and how they like the principal. She actually had a kid (5th grader) bring beer to class one day, to name just one of the few issues that she encountered (not that this couldn't happen at any other school in town).

Will we move before my 2.5 year old daughter is ready to start school? That's something that we discuss constantly. Would we have moved here when we did if we had a child 10 years ago? I would venture to guess that we never would have. Perhaps that would appease those against gentrification, although I do feel that we've been a part of making this neighborhood a better place to live in the meantime. Will we benefit economically from living here when we do sell our house (if ever)? Yes, but you could probably float away in the sweat that we have expended here. Perhaps we wouldn't be criticised for it, though, if it had been expended in SE Portland.

anon:

this has been a very busy thread so I can understand why you may have confused others' comments with mine. You may want to read over the thread again, because the comments that you seem to be referencing (hipster, why people purchased homes in NE) weren't mine. I know some folks around here have a reaction to what they THINK I said.

So if you're gonna call me out, albeit anonymously, please let it be about something offensive I wrote. Cool? Awesome.

But I would love to have a conversation about were activism for children begins and ends for us as mamas. Does it end at our front door? Regardless of where our kids go to school, what are we doing for other kids? lack of resources? disproportionate discipline rates? Are we our brother's children's keeper?

/hijack

Thanks for those responses, ProtestMama and JS. Those are not perspectives I had considered, although they're so obvious when you say them. As I said, I'm trying to keep an open mind and I am just not sure which way to go. I love my neighborhood and community. It feels wrong to abandon it with regards to school. I agree with everyone here who has said to spend some time in the school itself before making a decision. I'm looking at PTA calendars and plan to start there.

I think the questions raised above are so important. If we leave our neighborhood schools, are we saying that the school is good enough for the rest of the children but not ours? What about all those families who don't have the option to seek out alternatives and transfer their kids? Seems like we help to further the gap between the haves and the have nots.

I do wonder what the transfer system will look like in the future. Is the notion to disuade families from driving across town to better schools? To invest in their communities? Does anyone have an idea of the direction PPS is going with this?

By no means, is this easy. We may even transfer our child when the time comes. But I would hope I can hold onto the reality that I'm leaving behind a school full of children that have no options.

We actually just moved from the Woodlawn neighborhood, less because of schools and more because we were in a very industrial area, and our single level/2-bedroom house was squeezing us just a bit with our 4.5 year old son and 18-month-old daughter. I taught a week-long writing workshop at Woodlawn this summer, working with 8th graders who are part of the I Have a Dream Foundation. I had a great experience and really loved the kids. I heard mixed reports about Woodlawn from the Americorps volunteers who I worked with, and who had spent the past year at Woodlawn. They mentioned a lot of staff turnover this past year, etc. But that said, I think it's so important to go and visit and get impressions on your own. Since my son will be school age next fall, I'm more tuned in to the conversations about public vs. charter, and I'm struck by the fact that some parents never even consider their neighborhood schools. We moved into a neighborhood where we live right next to the elementary school, which happens to be a Spanish immersion, and even though I've heard some lackluster things about it here and there, I'm very hopeful that we can enroll our son there and volunteer our time. I do find myself sympathizing with parents on both sides (and I agree with previous posters, that to have the conversation itself is a kind of luxury). On the one hand, I've raised my kid a certain way: healthy food, lots of books, minimal media, etc. and if I send him to public school, it could be big class and lots of desk time, Doritos for lunch and the Lion King every afternoon (okay, probably not that bad). On the other hand, if I send him to a charter, he's got uber-stimulation and maybe learns the meaning of "hypothesis" and the city is his classroom, and etc., but he doesn't have any friends who are a different color than him, or who speak a different language. Anyway, I don't think it's a simple choice -- lots to consider. Thanks all, for the discussion about it. I think it's really valuable.

Sorry for the mistake, ProtestMama. It was a long day yesterday, and my creativity is extremely limited when it comes to nicknames for myself. I guess I didn't see a difference between "anon" and "farmgirl", etc.

I really like the issue that you raise about volunteering and caring for kids who are not your own. My volunteer job at Woodlawn was as a coach for a lego robotics after-school team. Like the above poster, the kids in the program were great kids, but we had absolutely no parent help or support. At the same time, my day job was designing an addition and remodel at one of the Lake Oswego elementary schools. It was an interesting situation, because by morning, I would be meeting with staff and community members in LO. I actually went to a programming meeting where, when I told them that certain things were out of our scope of work and budget, a parent actually said "How much do you need? We can raise $50-100,000 in one night at an auction". So, I would go from working with this community to my lego meetings where the majority if not all of the 4th and 5th graders had never played with legos and didn't know how they went together. We had to get a grant for our $300 lego kit and to enter the team in the competition.

So, I think that ProtestMama's question is very valid. Of course, we're going to look out for our own kids first, but when should we look at the greater community?

Along the lines of the initial question, when seeing these discrepancies, where do you send your child? I've been accused of being a utopian, but I don't know if I want to sacrifice my child's education for my visions of a utopian society. But then again, what is eduction and the value of a school and is it purely academic?

Anon says, “as a school designer, I'd prefer to see PPS go to 400-600 student schools” and “When you have continuous budget problems, I feel that it's best to make facilities and administration more efficient.”

I am not surprised that the “School Designer” is in favor of a dramatic redesign of our elementary schools, but when you have “continuous budget problems,” why close small efficient schools, like Smith School, to send the children to much larger LESS EFFICIENT schools like Markham (look it up)? PPS now says Markham School is in such poor condition and is so inefficient it needs to be demolished and rebuilt!

Another part of the economic equation is that small neighborhood schools to which people can walk or bike will attract more future families (and there money) to Portland. In addition, these small neighborhood schools require less costly transportation and are healthier for the whole community and environment.

Small neighborhood schools also encourage more participation and volunteering by neighbors of all ages, which never shows up on a PPS balance sheet.

I would rather have money spent on staff and education than on facilities plans from Texas, school designers, busing and additional health care for overweight and /or diabetic children.

PPS now admits the school age population in Portland is rising and we expect hundreds of thousands of people to move to Portland in the coming years. How can you be so confident these 400 to 600 pupil schools will not become 700 or 800 pupil schools?

Once we abandon and redevelop our current small school sites there will be no going back.

Everyone has brought up so many good points. I feel there is a HUGE point missing though! Is everyone using their vote to get the change in their schools they desire? Choose a candidate who KNOWS standardized tests don't measure a child's potential. A candidate who will FUND public schools. Our school's need a major overhaul that can't be accomplished by suits (pants or skirts) that haven't been in a classroom since they were a child. As parents and community members we need to make sure the changes we want made are accomplished. Whether you're voting in a national election or state election, there ARE CANDIDATES who actually SUPPORT public schools.

FYI: these candidate are generally DEMOCRATIC. Go OBAMA!!!

e -

I didn't realize that living so close to SE 82nd Ave put my child in a "desirable" SE school! I am only trying to say that I have made a commitment to making my own community here in what you might call "outer" SE a "better" one by trying to become involved in my son's school. It takes time, it takes energy, but I think for the ENTIRE PPS, it is worth it!
And for the record I lived in Cully 8 years ago... cute spot!

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