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Budget cuts at area schools have us sick

School_hall
Last week, I listened to a Planet Money piece on a financial crisis in Barbados in the 1970s. The country had to borrow money from the IMF, and in doing so, were told they needed to follow some rules in order to reduce spending -- rules that meant they'd have to reduce social services, or reduce wages. After a few of the protests you'd imagine, magically the business leaders and the labor leaders came together and, through difficult talks and careful negotiating, agreed to reduce wages instead of laying off workers or cutting important social programs. Many businesses instituted productivity bonuses and other incentives to help increase worker loyalty.

Decades later, Barbados' economy had improved, wages were much better, employment was stable and -- amazingly -- a deep sense of trust had developed between business and labor interests. Jamaica had experienced a similar crisis and dealt with it differently. In Jamaica, the economy was still bad.

Listening to this story in the background of news from the past few weeks -- in Oregon and around the country -- is sobering. I wish we were as strong and community-focused as Barbados was in the 1970s; I wish we could come together and agree on belt-tightening and shared support for the things that matter to us: people, one by one, jobs, one by one, students, one by one. But no.

In Portland, PPS superintendent Carole Smith has proposed a series of budget cuts meant to reduce the expenses by $19.1 million. In order to be "equitable," she plans to require all schools to make similar cuts. These will, if her proposed budget is approved, be to PE and library employees (126 full-time-equivalent, or FTE, positions); ESL and special education employees (52 positions); and central support and operations (25 positions).

All of my three children qualify for special education, and I've met dozens of the district's amazing special ed staff. I have tears in my eyes, now, as I consider the future for them; and for my kids; and even more, for other kids whose parents don't have as much space in their lives as me. I've carved out a lot to support my children, and I know that not all special ed parents have the ability to do so. These teachers already have a huge load, and in my mind's eye I see their faces and the way they stand at the end of the day as I type this, and I know that we are already loading too much on their shoulders, on their hearts. Cutting these positions hurts, not just them and their families, not just the special education kids and the ESL kids and their families; it will have a ripple effect throughout the community. As support for these children, families and teachers falls away, more kids will end up falling through the cracks, dropping out of school or reacting out of loss and neglect in a way that we will describe as criminal. It's no wonder our criminal justice system is yawning under the load.

I don't need to tell you -- the argument is already made -- that the cuts to PE and library staff are bad. Nothing good will come of keeping children in their seats for more hours of each week. Cuts to PE programs are bad for behavior, attention, and learning, oh, and then there's the obesity crisis.

Brenna wrote to me last week to tell me of the struggle she's facing in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. Two schools had started Spanish Immersion programs, and her family had tentatively, then enthusiastically, jumped into them. These programs are proven to improve students' educational and life outcomes, and the parents were excited about their future. Last week, suddenly, the programs were on the chopping block, too. She's now considering her options: maybe a charter school?

Our schools can't take these cuts; neither can our kids, our communities. And yet, we march forward, unsure about how to stop the unstoppable machine that is a school district, a machination of city and county and state budgets, falling revenue, rising costs. I feel like the Planet Money piece should be telling us something -- that perhaps we could look each other in the eyes, trust each other, find a better way -- all agree to take a hit in some smaller, less drastic way that would get us through the bad times. Why can't we be the radical place we're known as, and scrub our hands of the old deals and find a solution that means no teachers have to lose their jobs, no kids have to sit in one seat for a whole day, no ESL or special ed students have to fall through the cracks? I'd be ok with paying more in taxes. Why can't it be that simple?

That's the solution that I want. Can we demand it? Can we at least raise a ruckus? I don't know exactly how, but this is what I want for the city, the region, our kids, our community. I'm tired of watching all this happen, and I want to make change. Now: how?

Comments

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I understand clearly that you are calling for community action to support the public school system, and I definitely agree with you that I'd be happy to pay more taxes to support better schools, despite the fact that I don't use them for my child. When other people's children don't have full access to a wonderful education, that affects all of us. My choice was to homeschool. I know that's not an option for everyone, but I want people reading this to know that there is a huge homeschooling community in Portland and there is a truly outrageous number of resources out there to support you. In fact I'd say the main problem is sorting through them to separate the truly amazing from the merely good. There are classes for children of all ages in just about any subject you can think of, and social networks for kids and parents.
And both Oregon and Washington law are simple to comply with. A good place to start is the Greater Portland Homeschoolers Yahoo group, which has 1,103 familes: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GPH/ It's definitely correct that special needs kids stand to lose the most in public school budget cuts. So it's no surprise that the homeschooling community includes many special needs kids.

as the mom of a toddler, i'm finding it harder and harder to consider OR public schools, and i can't afford private.

what to do? one long, hard look we could take is at our prison spending. why is cutting school funding o.k., but closing prisons is off the table? can't we even just explore the idea to talk about how we might do it safely? the department of corrections proposed closing three minimum security prisons, and the governor said no. the DOC will get $15 mil from the e-board to keep prisons open. why do prisons get millions without even a discussion about options, but schools don't? this won't solve the whole problem, but it's a discussion we need to have.

I'm sorry to say this, because I work for the government and I don't really have a problem paying taxes, but I'm not OK to pay more for the schools at this point. I saw a few things recently that prompted me to look up how we fall in the property tax ratings and we are some of the highest in the country. The taxes are not the problem, unless you say that perhaps there should be some kind of business tax that supports schools.

I don't know what the problem is. When I was in college, the headlines made me wonder what the problem was, and I was able to choose to write a research paper on it. Even then it was inconclusive, I still couldn't figure out what the problem was. A lot of it seemed to be increasing the education goals at an unrealistic (funding wise) rate. Public schools had a lot of costly demands besides those to reach their educational goals, such as making accomodations for children with traumatic brain injury. Things that charters and private schools don't do.

I think the worst thing the schools can do to meet their budgets is laying off teachers and staff. Then you have more unemployed people who are not able to pay taxes, for one thing, and you have children who are not meeting those educational goals because of the learning environment.

I haven't looked closely, but I wonder if there are material/technology things that can be put off, I'd rather see that than people laid off, low-overhead programs canceled, and school year shortened. We need to tighten the belt somewhere, there just isn't enough money to go around, and we need a hierarchy of needs, a Maslow's for education.

I have lots of thoughts on this issue. First, why the uproar over losing PE teachers? As a child, we never had PE teachers and we actually spent more time in PE than kids do now. Our classroom teacher led PE two to three times per week. Honestly, I'd rather lose PE teachers and have classroom teachers build this in to their day than lose librarians, special ed folks, etc. The whole outcry over obesity and sitting kids in desks all day doesn't fly with me. Not that I don't value the specialized knowledge a PE brings, I just figure it's like the difference in my home budget between cable and not. I can still watch tv without it and it's an expense that can go when push comes to shove.

This coming on the tail of the decision to not move on the high school redesign also has me upset. PPS cannot afford to keep all of it's high schools open. And yet, no one wants theirs to close. Enough said.

Finally, the part that has me the most upset? Some schools will be able to just kick their foundations into gear and hire their own teachers to make up for it. And the struggling schools will feel the hit. The whole idea of equity in this system is a joke. It doesn't exist.

Kim, if school foundations do kick it into gear that's great - remember that 1/3 of everything the individual foundations raise (after $10k) does go to the Equity Fund at the Portland Public Schools Foundation to be distributed to high-needs schools.

In my opinion, neighborhoods need to rise up, find out what their neighborhood schools need, and we need to raise that money within our neighborhoods to meet these needs. Perhaps each neighborhood can even "adopt" a school within the community, if they meet their goal and an additional school needs assistance.

I believe we need to think big to change the problem (ummm, sales tax!!), but look small to correct this current school crisis. Communities need to get organized, work with their schools and PTAs to figure out what is actually on the chopping block at the individual school and set a fundraising goal to save these programs.

My oldest daughter doesn't start school until next year, but I'm going to call my school's PTA today and find out how I can help.

Also, in my opinion, adding PE (and music, etc.) to the already huge jobs that these teacher's have is not a fair solution to the problem.

David Douglas District isn't having it. They voted against cuts.

Cuts are going on all over the country, Portland is no different from anywhere else. And to be fair, it is beyond ridiculous that we don't have a state sales tax in Oregon to fund schools and roads like many other states around the nation.

The best schools will still have some recess around the lunch hour. They also will recruit many parent volunteers to help with the library and playground duty... sign up to help when your list comes around!

jj, I have to respectfully disagree with your perspective.

http://ppsequity.org/category/fundraising/

Scroll down for just a bit for a discussion of how this actually plays out.

It's under "Foundation Fallacies."

I have no answer, but am willing to pitch in. When money got tight I was no longer able to buy supplies that my son's preschool needed so I started coming in to their parent volunteer days. Man, was that a better deal for me. Camaraderie, advice to get and give with other parents, not to mention feeling more a part of things & a sweet plant and card at the end of the school year.

This was a special ed preschool (my son has Down syndrome) and we lost his teacher at the end of the first year to budget cuts. She actually went and found another job because quitting would mean someone else would be spared the ax and she knew that without seniority she would probably be losing her job. Wonderful young woman that I could tell loved those kids without pity (do you know how rare it is for someone to love my kid without pitying him?). We ended up with another great teacher for his second year, thank goodness.

Now we are off to the self-contained classroom for kindergarten. I was discouraged during our IEP from insisting that my son be in the neighborhood school because kindergarten is very academically focused now and the other kids are going to see he's different and so he's not going to have friends, blah, blah, blah. So if budgets get cut again, will they cut the special ed class and put my kid in the regular classroom where I wanted him in the first place? One of the reasons I eventually gave in and agreed with them was I knew I was asking them to hire an aide to sit with my son. With money so tight how can I insist that they hire someone just for him? Ugh. So I kind of feel like I have taken one for the team by letting him go to the place where these kids are segregated.

I'd gladly help out with fundraising in any fashion, contributing my time and money, to make that neighborhood school a place where we are accepted and all the kids can have PE & music and access to the library every day. Put me down as a volunteer for the revolution. :-)

Our kids are in school for education, and while PE is a nice option, it's not necessary. No PE does not equal obesity. Schools can add another recess or outside time, isn't that what we all want?

@Kim, regarding using foundation money to fund PE and library, etc., that does happen today (my daughter's grade school's FTE librarian was 100% funded thru foundation money).

However, as I understand it (in part from my now-middle schooler's VP), the district will identify specific programs/positions to be eliminated, and will apply those cuts at all schools. Further, they will not allow foundation money to be used to rehire for or fund those positions. The feeling at the district is that the State is too dependent on the ability of schools to plug these staffing holes with foundation money, and that's just not realistic because it creates huge inequities. One of the district's goals, as it's been communicated to me, is to send a strong message to the State that it will never be able to provide equitable programming across all its schools if there is an expectation that staffing for "the extras" be financed through foundation dollars.

@Kim, I'm also feeling ill over the postponement of the HS redesign. We have too many HS facilites and too few students to support them. We're throwing money at schools that are of an unsustainable size. It's time for PPS to make some hard decisions and to make them now; it can't make everyone happy, but it can do some things that will benefit the district as a whole. And while they're at it? Dump this K-8 nonsense and bring back Middle Schools. That is the only way we'll ever be able to have any hope of offering age-appropriate "extras" to our middle-grade kids. Economies of scale, PPS....

Thanks for mentioning our struggle with the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. One things that has been very clear throughout this horrifying process, is that our schools lack good leadership. Here the money has generally been coming in for the last few years so the flaws were not so apparent. Now we can clearly see where there are real problems.

I have always been a die-hard liberal. This is causing me to rethink a lot about how our money is spent. Until I see better leadership, I will not be able to support more money being taken from families who need it. I will give everything I can to what benefits children. In fact, our parent group pledged over $47,000 to provide for materials for our children's classes and we were ignored by the School Board and told to go away by the District Administration. They are not making decisions based on what is good for children.

There are ways to do more for children with less money spent. Instead they are choosing their political careers.

We need a revolution. We need to fight for our kids. That is the biggest priority we should have as a nation, to produce the greatest learners, thinkers, and creators through education. And sadly, we are far behind.

KYouell - Did they tell you your child would not make friends because the classroom is academically-focused? I hope I am misreading that because they are dead wrong. Kids today are a lot more understanding about disabilities than they were when we were kids. While I do not want to sugarcoat things my child with a disability has been doing well in general ed and the kids have been the best part. She definitely has friends. Have you connected with the NWDSA? They are a really strong and organized group of advocate parents that believe in inclusion and parent empowerment.

I know I am in the minority but I prefer K-8's. All the middle schools I go to are full of kids acting way too grown but the K-8's keep them younger longer. Our K-8 was a middle school first so we have it a little better I think than the K-5's that had a bunch of big kids dropped in to them.

I appreciate so all your comments and would love to respond to each, but I just wanted to make one thing clear now (with my littlest bit of time): I am not asserting that PE solves obesity, or that our children will get obese without PE. my point is simply that, in a country with an obesity crisis, cutting PE is a terrible idea and will certainly make things worse rather than better.

Sarah, I don't know if I agree with you about that, that cutting PE is a terrible idea. I'll probably stumble with this, but in my head it's thought out...making schools tackle the obesity problem by having a meager amount of PE allows families, communities, food producers, etc to not be responsible for addressing the real problem. In my more conservative moments, which always surprise me, I feel like this is another example of asking schools to step up where families are falling down. Schools use alot of resources feeding children, caring for them before and after school, providing them with preschool, offering health clinics, all things that families and communities need to provide. I understand that if schools did not, children would suffer. But I also really believe that by asking schools to pick this up, we are relieving the responsibility for it from other, perhaps more appropriate, resources. I don't have the answer to it, I just know that this is how I feel sometimes. We've asked schools to take on a whole social contract that exceeds their mission of K-12 education and I don't think we've given them adequate resources to do it. I don't know that I want them to do it, in all truth.

Cutting our schools any further for any reason, to me, is insane. Cutting teachers places a burden on other teachers. For some children, PE and that PE teacher are a huge connection. More than that, Oregon has some highly qualified teachers, and more on the way, Oregon is going to lose those teachers to states such as Texas, Alaska, Montana, Vermont, Illinois, New York. Other states have prioritized the budget, and value education, as well as include subjects such as art, music, PE, and extra-curricular activities. How about cuts from government or bigger business? Prison redesign? A SALES TAX, the way that most states pay for schools? Higher taxes on gas,cars,cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, fast food (I am a moderate drinker, I own 2 cars, and I am happy to pay more for it if it means my son's education will be better funded). Cutting our schools is sad and wrong. Our schools are already suffering. SALES TAX

Yes to SALES TAX! The time has come.

SALES TAX and no income tax please! And while we are at it how about we attract businesses and repeal the taxes that recently passed. How do expect to grow and employ people without businesses? I think Oregon continues to miss the boat here. No businesses=no jobs; no jobs=no school budget. Does this sound familiar? The great thing about a sales tax if you can buy more, you pay more. It's a fair tax.

Another thought... How about we actually deal with immigration. Become a citizen and pay taxes. It might not fix the situation but it sure couldn't hurt.

In the meantime there will be cuts in all state services by 9%. That is everything not just schools people. How do you think DHS is going to weather these cuts. The people who really need the resources now more than ever are the one's that will be feeling the effects. It is a way bigger impact than just the schools.

The state has to come up with 1/2 billion and we aren't exactly attracting businesses to our great state.

Continued budget cuts are a huge contribution to the inequities in our schools, but I feel strongly that a more comprehensive solution to better graduation rates, better learning (that really sticks, and is not just temporarily remembered for tests), and overall happier kids on their way to being successful adults lies in the methodologies employed in the classrooms. There are many incredibly effective practices happening in PPS's charter schools, magnets, focus options and alternative schools that seem to more effectively use staff's time, and in many cases, allow them to be the educators they want to be to truly affect their students. (I'm referring to approaches such as project-based, place-based, storyline, arts-infused, science-focused, Montessori, Reggio, etc.) The phenomena happening in these petri dishes are not absorbed into traditional curricula nearly enough. Our graduation rates alone (a problem that is typically a result of kids falling behind and through the cracks many years earlier) should be indicative of an outdated system that's hobbling along with a lot of imposed interferences. It's frustrating how infrequently kids seem to be the focus in many behind the scenes decisions that get made around curriculum and overall school experience. There is a lot of known research in child development that backs up many of these innovative teaching styles, and disproves a lot of long-standing approaches still present and ubiquitous in most public schools. When budgets are extremely tight, at least those schools have a great chance of offering a well-rounded education, and preventing kids from falling through the cracks.

Sales tax and tolls on the bridges from Washington. Seriously, i can't understand why we don't have them. Residents in Washington, who pay their property taxes there, drive on Oregon roads and bridges everyday and shop and dine tax free. It's absurd.

I agree with the author that finding a way to come together around our schools is what needs to happen. Our neighborhoods have become fractured because of school choice and this will be a more difficult task for Portland to do in certain areas of town. If charters are the answer then so be it but Portland's fairly recently audited charter system reveals that they are not doing remarkably better than public schools and with about 2 or 3 exceptions are over 80% white and middle class so someone needs to figure out how to make this more equitable at least in how it is applied in Portland. The "school within a school" model is not the answer because you end up having the public school kids looking at the charter school kids having more opportunities that do not end up "trickling down" to them as intended. I do feel that online education or virtual charters are something we should be more open to. Anyone making the charter school argument needs to come up with a comprehensive long term plan that includes the poor, minorities, non-English speakers, and those with disabilities and then I will be listening. Simply saying that the opportunities are there for the taking is not a solution because many of these families cannot read the application, know where to sign up, afford to buy clothing that is logo free, send lunches that are logo free, attend mandatory meetings, meet minimum volunteer requirements, and must be able to walk to school if no bus is provided. The abysmal experience of my friends who have had kids with autism at Portland Village School tells me that charters still have a ways to go and their initial success has to do with making it hard for families that do not fit a certain bill to stay and succeed. I am sure these are unintended consequences on the part of the charters but still very real issues they need to look at if they are going to be more equitable.

Is there a group that is rallying for a sales tax? If not, can we start one?

Still uncertain personally about a sales tax as the answer and I need to do more research but for those organizing just know that it is political suicide for a legislator and the best use of time is to actually sway the people of Oregon vs. lawmakers. I wonder if people would have as much of a problem with it if the prices on the shelf already had the tax calculated in them? I know that it was nice to come from a sales tax state where you never knew if you had enough once you got to the counter to a state where 2.99 meant just that. I bet people would get used to the idea if it did not mean they had to change their shopping behavior. Is it possible to do this locally vs. statewide? I learned recently that the highest percentage of tourists in Oregon are actually Oregonians so another revenue booster would be to market Oregon outside of Oregon.

Stephanie, that totally depends on the charter school. They're all quite different in approach. Some are better suited to certain needs than others, of course. They get different (less, from what I understand) from the other public schools, and are smaller, so this does make it harder to accommodate certain IEPs. But like you say, that's not the intent. I'm personally glad they give families more options for kids who aren't doing as well in their current school.

I agree that sales tax needs to come to Oregon. However, most of the money school's get is from state income tax. If you want to reform the school funding system, you need to start there.

And something no one is talking about yet (out of fear, I imagine) is the amount of teachers and space we will need in 3-4 years. If you haven't noticed, the country has an alarming number of small children running around. 2007 was considered a little baby boom, the biggest increase in live births since the 1950s. Even President Obama has said we will need at least a million new teachers in the next five years. What happens if we can't pay for them when enrollment increases by 20%?

We are training the teachers now, in record numbers. But with teachers unable to find work, and needing to pay student loans, they are leaving Oregon, and in some cases, the US. Those determined to stay are forced to take non-teaching positions, and will have a hard time keeping their license over the next 3 years without teaching.

This issue is bigger than PE and special ed. And those of us with small children face an even more decrepit system in a few years. I hope that we can do something as a state (gubernatorial election, maybe?) before then.

Stephanie, also regarding charters... Certainly not all schools require logo-free items (and those that do don't punish you if you cross this). And, they are 100% lottery, so inequity is at a minimum. If people continue to argue that they're "elitist" in any way, then you can say the same for many other public schools that are not charters, as many require a mandatory meeting if they're doing anything slightly different. I also doubt the lack of other language translation is more of an issue with charters than it is with many other types of public schools. A bit of a rant, I know. I just think charters are literally chartering new territory and proving great things that benefit many kids, especially if they then get incorporated into other schools (this is up to PPS, who seems to have been dropping the ball on this). Back to the general budget issue...

No income tax and Sales tax! Parents volunteer--time, money, resources, whatever. PE--when I was in elementary school 30+ year ago it was 3 days a week taught by my teacher not a specialist as was music (in elementary school.)

I meant No income tax but YES to sales tax! (However Washington Schools are also struggling) We need to look at other areas in the state and county budgets and reduce wasteful spending. Focus on education.

What about pay or benefit cuts for public employees? Why is this never talked about? My husband took a 25% cut in salary last year in his private sector job, but it's more like a 35-40% cut when benefits are figured in as well. While the paycut has been difficult, at least he still has a job, unlike the 1/3 of the office that was laid-off. My own self-employment basically came to a stand still last year. Luckily, business has picked up a bit for me, but my husband will only receive a 2% increase this year despite working 45-50 hour weeks. Don't eliminate positions or cut school days from the school year to balance the budget. Make all of the public employees face the same economic realities that the rest of us in the private sector have faced and cut their pay and/or benefits. Perhaps this is the time to finally reform PERS. What about eliminating the endless paid holidays that public employees are afforded and go down to the standard 6 that everyone else gets?

Angie, you must be pretty deluded about how much public employees make and the amount they work. Pay cuts, job cuts, benefit cuts, furloughs, shortening of the school year--these are all designed to pay public employees less and they've been happening for just as long as the private sector now. Just open up the paper and get informed. I have a hunch your husband was making a bit more in the private sector than your local public employee. His cut looks bigger, but I bet his paycheck is still bigger too.

There is supposed to be a difference between employment in the public and private sectors for equivalent jobs. We have public employees serve in positions for work that is needed on a constant basis, consistently. Therefore it is reliably serving the taxpayers, is considered a fundamental service to taxpayers that they want on a consistent basis, and is relatively simple to budget for and provide. Private sector is generally more market based and therefore people employed in that sector can expect more fluctuations in employment, and ALSO in compensation; they take pay cuts when times are lean and bonuses and perks when times are flush. Public sector workers should be able to expect possibly lower wages than equivalent private sector jobs, but reliable work and benefits. Public workers get no bonuses, perks, parties, or incentives that their private sector counterparts do.

It benefits the taxpayer to keep public sector workers in their positions for many reasons. One is the continuity, and this is very true with teachers. Too many benefits to continuity to list here. Teachers have great jobs in many ways, but their fundamental expectations from their employers are being whittled away, that's not very nice, and I don't think fair. I don't think we should begrudge people who have great jobs that they love, more people should have that. Also we should be preserving ANY jobs at this point. Teachers and school staff are all taxpayers also, and contribute to our economy and society.

I really think there are cuts to be made that are not cutting staff. Put some upgrades on hold, defer non-critical maintenance. I agree that we all need to pare down to what is affordable, but I don't believe it has to create financial instability for public workers.

As far as I know, most public workers get the same holidays and vacation time as standard large corporate businesses.

It is very difficul to maintain the quality of education and yet stay within the shrinking budget. It seems almost impossible, except for... measures 66 and 67, which I fully supported. But we were told they would help preserve the quality of education in Oregon, right? So what happened? Why didn't the state planners and the politicians tell us the measures will not raise anywhere near what is needed for the schools?

For those of you that do want to take action, please join Stand for Children.

Measures 66 and 67 bridged a $727 million budget gap for schools, public health and other services for this year, but did not solve the long term problem with education funding.

If we want our children’s schools to offer a strong education and consistent programs, then Oregon has to stabilize its revenue system. Oregon is reliant on the highly volatile income tax, which increases when the economy is strong and decreases dramatically during recessions. This makes budget prediction near impossible. Some years, revenue falls short of predictions, resulting in cuts. In other years, revenue exceeds predictions, resulting in a surplus. In most states, when revenues exceed expenses, the surplus can be put into reserves (a Rainy Day Fund) to guard against future downturns or invested into infrastructure improvements. Oregon, however, has a unique law that states that if the actual revenue received exceeds the State Economist’s prediction by 2% or more, all unanticipated revenue has to be “kicked back” to individual and corporate taxpayers. This “kicker” law prevents us from saving during good times – leaving the state with nothing to fall back on during recessions. This makes for a "boom-and-bust" cycle of investment in schools.

What can we do about it? Demand a Rainy Day Fund, in part funded by kicker reform. Stand for Children members are doing just that. This spring our members sent emails to legislators (520+ emails were sent), wrote letters to the editor, and held “blue umbrella rallies” in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Newport and Lincoln City to call attention to the need for a rainy day fund. Click on this link to see the Oregonian’s coverage of the Portland “blue umbrella rally”: http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2010/02/stand_for_children_members_mar.html And we continue to push our legislators for a Rainy Day Fund as the 2011 legislative session approaches.

Stand for Children members also recognize that addressing funding is not the only thing we need to do. The status quo isn't working for too many of our kids and our students' performance on national assessments is declining. While other states are making gains addressing the achievement gap, Oregon's gap is widening. While we must strive to provide adequate and stable funding for our schools, we simply cannot, again, put kids' needs on hold. We also need to push for reform that allows us to achieve better outcomes for all kids with the money we do have.

Please email me or go to www.stand.org if you are interested in getting involved!

Emily Nazarov
[email protected]

Stand for Children supports stabilizing revenues on the backs of the poor and consistently disenfranchised. I wish I could get back the year of donations I made as a member before I learned the real deal.

Stephanie,
Could you provide some details regarding "Stand for Children supports stabilizing revenues on the backs of the poor and consistently disenfranchised"? I am not disagreeing with you, I just would like to understand.

Emily's comment duscussed using kicker money for reserve fund. I think getting rid of kicker law would actually benefit the poor, as it is the upper income taxpayers who get most of the refund (they pay most of the taxes). But I am sure there is more to this issue and I am not familiar with all this organization stands for.

http://ppsequity.org/2009/02/26/audio-jonah-edelman-and-me-on-autonomy-and-accountability/#comments

http://cheatinginclass.com/2010/06/stand-on-children/

I can admit I am being reactive and perhaps overly so due to the latest statements from the Lincoln Stand For Children rep at the school board meeting calling for closures. I have tried to like Stand for Children but about 2 years ago when I was meeting with some local leadership it was evident I knew more than they did about local issues and my kid was only in kindergarten. On top of that they knew nothing about special education and while they seemed curious I was really put off by the blank stares when I brought up some pertinent issues that impacted students with disabilities. They had no idea how to approach it and it was clear I was making them uncomfortable. I talked with a gentleman from Stand about schoolboard election reform and again it was the blank stares. When I brought up my rationale that it was not really fair for people in the West Hills or East County to vote for my North Portland representative he redirected me to showing up for some legislative breakfast and I dropped it. To be fair, my local legislator had no clue how to approach election reform either when I asked him. I am sure these are people that really mean well for the most part but for such a large organization to know so little about local issues and then their reps to call for closing poor schools to save their programs makes them even less credible in my eyes.

Take anything on ppsequity with a grain of salt. The guy who ran it loudly and persistently claimed that racism and classism were the reasons that people didn't send their kids to their neighborhood schools. All the while he didn't send his kids to their neighborhood school and when PPS moved to require kids to attend their neighborhood school, he upped and moved to Beaverton.

You're much better off finding out about Stand for Children, including the Portland chapter, yourself than relying on anything you read in polemics.

My daughters' PE classes had to memorize the choreography to the Thriller dance in order to pass 1st trimester physical education. How cool is that? Keep PE in PPS!

That is one perspective of PPS Equity that is short on important details and facts. You should take anything you read with a grain of salt and research it elsewhere which is why I gave Stand the time of day until I learned better.
You downgraded and disregarded my own lived experience with Stand for Children as some kind of aggressive attack. I think they can weather my personal opinion delivered rather objectively but it is a classic derail to label someone with a different opinion as "hostile". Good on ya for keeping it real.

To stay true to the thread for those of you interested in where some of the tax money is going in PPS it is going to the focus and charter schools and less so neighborhood to neighborhood transfer as per data from the enrollment and transfer office. Those schools are not serving a diverse population if equity in education is something that floats your boat. If you have not been able to lottery or personally afford the mileage and fees to get into those schools that should perhaps tick you off as well.

Ummmm....memorizing a dance? How about something a little more challenging. They could do crap like that at home....if we're going to pay for PE.....teach something REAL!

Personal opinion is by definition subjective, not objective. You claimed that "Stand for Children supports stabilizing revenues on the backs of the poor and consistently disenfranchised." You may believe that but your belief is not evidence. It's irresponsible to make charges that you can't support other than by saying it's your opinion.

If you don't like charter schools you shouldn't send your child to one, but getting riled up because other parents were lucky enough to win a lottery or because other parents can send their kids to a charter school in a taxi seems like sour grapes.



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