Paul Gaustad in the Tribune

by Steve, July 27th, 2007

We interrupt my latest public schools rant to bring you some hockey news. Portland’s print media are generally ambivalent at best about hockey in the Rose City, despite the game’s storied history here and the fact that we have an elite Canadian Junior team that plays at least 36 games a year here.

Over the last year, the Tribune has been laudable in bucking the anti-hockey trend most notable over at Thee O. Today, they publish a great piece on Beaverton boy and Buffalo Sabres center Paul Gaustad, who trains at my local rink. With all the Joey Harrington hoopla, it’s nice for a character guy like Gaustad to get a little ink.

An Invitation to Connie Van Brunt

by Steve, July 27th, 2007

Poor Connie Van Brunt. Before she acceped her new job as head of the Portland Schools Foundation, she had “never been blogged about critically”. But as soon as her new job was made public, Portland neighborhood schools activist Terry Olson took notice. (I later filed a little response to the Oregonian’s puff piece on her, as did Terry.) Since then, Ms. Van Brunt has complained to anyone who will listen that “there is a solid misconception about me” and “I didn’t think there was a clear understanding of me.”

One of her Chicago friends even jumped to the defense of Van Brunt and charter schools in the comments on Willamette Week’s Web site: “She is most dedicated to the children themselves, not simply any ‘-winged agenda.’ … Charters are a response to the woefully bureaucratic and poorly managed public institutions.”

Neighborhood schools advocates can be forgiven for suspecting that someone who has worked for the Chicago Charter School Foundation and advocated charter schools as a solution for minority kids might want to continue the recent trend of public education policy in Portland. That trend sees school funding flowing from poorer neighborhoods into wealthier ones, with neighborhood schools left to “compete” with charters, alternatives, and special-focus schools for the crumbs that remain.

I’ll tell you who has a misconception. It is people who think Portland Public Schools bear any resemblance to Chicago. In the first place — and this is critical, hence my continued harping on it — there are no majority black attendance areas in Portland, yet there are majority black schools. Segregation in Portland Public Schools is a direct result of PPS policy, not demographics. Portland’s neighborhoods are remarkably integrated, and becoming more so. The culprit in inequity in Portland is the PPS open transfer policy which threatens neighborhood unity and the very livability that is so vaunted here.

So here’s my invitation to Van Brunt. I’ll allow that perhaps we’ve got you all wrong. Maybe you’re not a one trick pony shilling for the likes of Gates and Broad and other school privatization proponents. I invite Ms. Van Brunt to be the first civic leader in Portland to acknowledge that the open transfer policy of PPS has created a two-tier system of education in our neighborhoods.

If she’s really interested in educational opportunities for poor and minority children, I challenge her to call for equal opportunities — not “separate and equal”, like the abysmal Jefferson cluster redesign, but truly equal — across the Portland Public Schools district. In a city unique for its middle class (Jack Bog notwithstanding) not having given up on neighborhood public schools, I challenge Van Brunt to call for a comprehensive plan to reinvest in our poorest neighborhoods. I’d love to know what she thinks of my New Deal for Portland Public Schools as a starting point.

There you go, Connie. This is an opportunity for you to clear up all of our misconceptions. I look forward to hearing from you.