Thursday, November 1, 2012

Portland Public Schools' lost opportunity

$40 million (or is it $30 million?) in federal grants (no payback) lost without even the opportunity to compete. Neither the grants nor the amounts were guaranteed, but clearly worth the effort. [Portland Public Schools gives up on Race to the Top efforts].

The grant requires union approval. This from "Gwen Sullivan, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, [who] said the union couldn't agree with the grant's definition of a rigorous teacher evaluation model, which would use student test scores in some manner."

Yet - according to the Oregonian - Senate Bill 290 "requires districts to use student assessments as one factor in evaluating teachers starting next year." And "[t]he state's agreement with the federal government over the No Child Left Behind law also requires using state tests as one measure in teacher evaluations."

Thus the opportunity lost because PPS and the union couldn't agree on something that is mandated by law? But the headline says it all - PPS gives up. Let the union strike - it cannot be a legally sanctioned strike.

There is no reason why the largest city in Oregon should have a non-performing school system where the administrators and the teachers care so little for the children they are challenged to educate.

Teachers don't want to be held accountable and administrators just don't care. The children are unrepresented in this battle over holding teachers accountable. There is no social content in this union stance - it is children held as hostages while workers threaten to withhold their services unless their demands are met.

Children as hostages. They have no leverage. Parents are of little help and others who believe they have no dog in the fight are just happy sticking their heads up their asses. Those who brag that their children attend public schools are idiots.

A child only gets one pass at k-12 education. The education he or she receives not only impacts the future of the child but also that of the city and the state. What could be more important in your family than the education of your children?

What will be the parent's excuse when their children 'graduate' and have no job or the ability to obtain one that will lead to a career? Future Portlanders will be riding bicycles and mass transit not because of concerns for the environment but because they have been relegated to the low income stratum.

Parents of children who are attending the low performing schools (see 2011 Graduation Rates) in Portland School District are short changing the future of their children by failing to choose private schools.

However, one cannot fail to ascribe fault to the political leadership in Portland. Bike lanes, ecodistricts, sustainability center, and all things urban renewal take priority. Building a better city for whom?

But you keep voting for them.

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