« Re: consensus on the need for single-payer national health care | Main | Red-iculous new blog »

March 21, 2006

Re: Portland Public Schools--major changes ahead

[Comment posted re: Portland Public Schools--major changes ahead 3/21/2006]

I find some of these comments hard to understand.

In order save children the “trauma” of major school transitions, we’ll close 11 schools, thus forcing every one of those students to undergo a major school transition right now!  In other words, for a K-6 school, the net marginal savings in child-school-transition-trauma will become positive 7 years from now when the kindergardeners of today would be graduating from grade 6 and going to a new school.  What hokum of an excuse.

“Portland's system of tucked away neighborhood schools is romantic and parent friendly, but not necessarily economical and education friendly.”

So, you’re saying the goal is parent-unfriendly elementary schools?

Since when should the overriding objective of schools be “to be economical”.  And what makes neighborhood schools “not education friendly”?  If they are so bad, why do all the parents want them?  Are parents unreasonably selfish or spiteful of taxpayers?  One of the major factors in childrens’ success is parental involvement, so why would we be breaking the neighborhood school-community link and accessibility and convenience for kids and parents?  We should be encouraging, not discouraging this.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The anti-government, no-tax, free-market vouchers (so-we-can get-rid-of-public-education) crowd has us operating in their frame -- it is all about low cost, none of it is about civic investment and our role as citizens, just as taxpayers.

But let me ask a simple question: How efficient do schools have to be to convince them that they are efficient enough to be allowed more money to educate better?

The answer is: never.  That isn’t their objective.

And just how efficient are the schools?

The Chalkboard Project did a great job of looking for efficiencies, and came up with a nice set of recommendations.  But it saves $205/student/year after 8 years, out of about $7600/s/y cost -- in other words, it takes years to save 2.7% (or looked at another way, it is already 97.3% efficient!).

“Chalkboard believes savings of approximately $205 per child per year ... should be achieved by 2014-15 ....”

I’m not saying that isn’t a good thing to do, it is, but let’s not let ourselves be trapped by the rhetoric of “inefficiencies” into cutting not the fat, but into the bone of education.

40% of Oregonians are concerned schools are inefficient (but they are a loud 40%), but about 75% think we should have one of the best school systems in the nation!  That's were we should put our focus: what does it take to get there?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Re: Portland Public Schools--major changes ahead:


William Neuhauser

Well, you seemed to pooh-pooh "romantic" and "parent friendly" as important values for the commuity in a school system (frankly I don't care about romantic in schools any more than you do!). It was an admittedly pointed way of showing how lowly you considered that value compared to efficiency, at least efficiency is what you keep repeating in different modes and not what parents think.

I'm perhaps oversensitive to the point because I am so sick of the right-wing free-market fundamentalists that reduce everything to cost and everyone to a consumer as if there is no other value.

Carla: I'm sorry if I got under your skin. I read your blog enough to know your heart is in the right place.

It is hard enough to raise kids today and give them the time they need without depersonalizing and extending "commute" time to school -- it takes away from time to help with homework and reading time with kids. I think families and the support they need and the good they bring to communities is underrated and should be part of our society's equation in deciding how much to spend on schools.

BTW, personally, I'm not that concerned about the neighborhood aspect as kids get older, but almost every parent I've ever talked to prefers neighborhood elementary schools unless there is some unusual overriding reason like support for a clearly rare need or capability or vastly superior school.

(Of course, Yamhill schools like rural schools everywhere have a different set of challenges since there isn't the population density to have options. One we struggle with here is how to deal with temporary population fluctuations -- for a couple years, whether to consolidate due to lower enrollments ... but now Carlton and Yamhill are increasing population by 25-30% in 2 years.)


So, you’re saying the goal is parent-unfriendly elementary schools?

Wow. Twist words much?

Economically sound and education friendly should be the higher goals. Neighborhood schools in Portland are having trouble with one and in some cases, both, of these.

I spend most of every day in schools, working with kids. I see students in Yamhill County (where the author of this blog apparently resides) and in Washington County. I've seen the pros and cons of small, neighborhood schools vs larger schools.

I'm in no way advocating the Chalkboard Project. In fact I think much of what they've published so far is BS. But that doesn't negate that there are problems with the way Portland manages its school system.

Its unwieldy in terms of building management. Lots of small schools are much more of a financial drain. It also requires a lot more administrative/maintenance/certified staff in the district, which is a resource drain. Further, these smaller buildings don't accomodate adding more classrooms..so they can be stuck with larger class sizes having to fit in these much smaller classrooms.

The main reason (IMO) parents are unhappy is because this is going to be a change. Few people like change. But having a lot of experience in districts where there are neighborhood schools (Hillsboro) vs larger buildings with more kids (Beaverton), I can say that Beaverton has a more educational friendly, economical set up.

Beaverton's resources are used much more efficiently. They've got the money to put into hiring good teachers and specialists. They've also got a very good parent involvement scheme in their schools that's consistent. Hillsboro's is much more "hit and miss".

If you really want to take issue with something I'm saying...you might consider clarification first. Or maybe just don't twist what I'm saying.


Great post. Great points. The Chalkboard Project is all talk, no action, and a major distraction in the debate over schools. I wrote about Chalkboard a couple of times on my blog.

Also check out the Neighborhood Schools Alliance website http://www.neighborhoodschoolsalliance.org/ (kind of messy and disordered like the group itself) but there's some good stuff on the site voicing absolute opposition to school closures.

The comments to this entry are closed.

September 2011

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Campaigns I Support

About Progressive Viewpoints