Corrected Map and Some More Analysis

by Steve, August 26th, 2007

Thanks to those who pointed out typos in the graphic I posted the other day documenting Portland Public Schools’ diversion of state revenue from poor neighborhoods to rich ones. I have corrected it for proper labeling of 97219 and 97266. I appreciate any other corrections people notice. (I’m a one man, in-my-spare-time operation, working without the benefit of fact checkers and info-graphic artists, so I hope you’ll excuse the sloppiness.)

A reader e-mailed me to ask about 97219, one of the only West-side areas in the red. I’ll admit this surprised me. Here’s the break-down by school:

School budget per student enrollment neighborhood PPS population +/-
Capitol Hill 4217 341 356 -63255
Jackson 4342 688 652 156312
Maplewood 4164 307 342 -145740
Markham 4750 359 496 -650750
Rieke 4537 280 328 -217776
Stephenson 5166 310 265 232470
Wilson 4554 1556 1642 -391644

The entire ZIP is down just $1 million (compare to 97217, down $8.2 million), but still, I didn’t expect to see Wilson high in the red at all, even if t is only by less than half a million.

I’ll highlight other ZIP codes as I have time. In the meanwhile, I encourage you to download and study the spread sheet if you can’t wait.

17 Responses to “Corrected Map and Some More Analysis”

  1. Comment from Neisha:

    That’s a really interesting spread sheet. Thanks for this!

    It would be so great to see something like this again in October when the district has fresh enrollment numbers. Anecdotally, it seems that with the K-8 conversions and closure of Rose City Park, schools in the Grant cluster have pretty much shut down transfers, and not even siblings are getting into schools that used to take lots of transfers (Irvington, Alameda, etc). I’m guessing this will have an impact on neighborhood to neighborhood transfers.

    I’m going to take a closer look, but at first glance it looks like (when you take away the in-flux Grant cluster) the net gain schools within zip codes are the various special focus schools (Beach, Ockley, Sabin, Atkinson, Buckman, Winterhaven, Hayhurst, etc).

    What about putting some sort of special focus in every school?

  2. Comment from marcia:

    what about focusing on teaching and learning, which is what they are supposed to be doing in school, and forget about all the hokey pokey. Provide every school with P.E., Art, music, child development specialists and foreign languages. WOW! What a concept…..Create good schools in all neighborhoods. Not just the elite neighborhoods. And then, if one school can’t afford Music or art, then discontinue it in all the others, so everything is equitable. No more selling off half million dollar houses, or trips to Paris so the elite get the frills and the rest get the crumbs.

  3. Comment from Neisha:

    Well, I don’t think schools like Sunnyside or Woodstock are elite. What they are is very popular with parents. Marcia, do you think we should scrap all those programs completely?

    I agree that every neighborhood school should have equitable programs, but I’m not yet convinced that we should scrap all special programs to get there. For example, I think the dual (“two-way”) language immersion programs are a really good thing, particularly for English-language learners and non-English speaking parents who would like to volunteer in the classroom.

    Maybe a better option would be to make focus options in only neighborhood schools with limited transfers? Or be like Beaverton and only allow transfers to district-wide magnets? I’m open to discussion on this.

    BTW, I did some digging and transfers to the Grant cluster schools really are more limited than they have been in the recent past:

    Compare 05-06 with 06-07 numbers. And these numbers are before the bulk of the K-8 conversion and the Rose City closure and resultant boundary changes.

  4. Comment from Neisha:

    Oops, I meant compare 04-05 with 05-06 and then 06 and 07. Sorry!

  5. Comment from Himself:

    I think we’re zeroing in on it here: some special focus schools are valuable. But we know they act as magnets where ever we put them. So why put the environmental school in one of the priciest residential markets in town? Why not put it at Ockley Green? Why not put the International Baccalaureate program at Jefferson, as promised?

    Magnets can really work, but instead of programs designed to keep (and draw) white people into poorer areas, we get corporate grant-funded experiments in free-market education in our poor and minority schools, and first class, traditional high schools in our rich schools.

    Beaverton does a lot of things better than Portland. No transfers in elementary school, for example, with no reason to want to transfer, either. All elementary schools have identical programs. None of this bullshit we have in Portland where some schools have music, some have art, some have PE, some have all, and some have none. And the ones that have most are in the rich, inner neighborhoods and the ones without are in the poor, inner and outer neighborhoods.

  6. Comment from Neisha:

    I completely agree. And it looks like some of this is happening, like the new dual Russian immersion in outer SE (at Kelly, I think) and dual Spanish immersion at Clarendon/Portsmouth and at Rigler. But, there definitely needs to be some tweaking of the transfer system and the focus option structure.

    Maybe lots of focus options in all parts of town with transfers limited, and a neighborhood preference followed by a cluster preference at every one? Or the Beaverton system where you either go to your (uniformly strong) neighborhood school or a limited number of district-wide magnets? But, allowing people to transfer into a neighborhood school in another neighborhood is really counterproductive. Also, this hodgepodge of some focus options having a neighborhood (Sunnyside, Buckman, Beach), and others having no neighborhood (Winterhaven, DaVinci, Richmond, Benson) doesn’t help. We need an approach that creates the schools that kids need where they live, and not in the zipcodes with the least numbers of kids.

  7. Comment from Neisha:

    Oh, and the other thing that needs to go is the wackiness of magnet schools sharing a building with a neighborhood school, like at Bridger and Hayhurst. Something about that dynamic seems to eventually suck the life out of the neighborhood school (see, e.g., Richmond).

    The bottom line is that the way we have structured focus options and the transfer system is harming neighborhood schools. So, something has to change.

  8. Comment from Himself:

    Neisha, I’m more of the mind that we should have fewer special focus options, especially at the elementary level. And you’re absolutely correct about the focus schools in neighborhood school buildings. From what I’ve seen personally, it’s a really bad idea.

  9. Comment from Neisha:

    Yeah. You know, thinking it through a bit more, I think that the dual-immersion programs are actually different from other focus options. Those programs have a huge benefit for ESL and ELL kids in that about half the kids are supposed to be native speakers of a non-English language, about half the kids are supposed to be native speakers of English, and both sets of kids become bilingual. That’s a win-win for everyone involved and those programs should be located in neighborhoods with large numbers of kids who are not native English speakers.

    The other type of focus option, the kind focused on a subject matter or instructional philosophy, seems to be popular with wealthier parents interested in something other than their neighborhood school. We need to take a closer look at these programs and their effect on neighborhood schools.

  10. Comment from Nicole:

    I agree that we need fewer focus options at the elementary level not more. Most of the focus option subjects should be offered as part of the curriculum in every neighborhood school – science, envirnonmental studies, social studies, art, opportunities for hands on learning, introduction to a foreign language, etc.

    I think elementary school foreign language Immersion Programs should be located in the neighborhoods where there is a significant number of ESL students who speak that language. The district should also offer some foreign language opportunities in all Neighborhood Schools across the district without implementing additional full-blown immersion programs. And by 7th grade every school should offer at least two foreign language electives. Children who don’t start a foreign language before high school are at a big disadvantage if they ever want to become fluent in a second language.

    Humboldt doesn’t have an immersion program, but they have had Spanish/English bilingual teachers in the school to help ESL students, and to offer English for ESL parents, they are also planning to introduce Spanish language opportunities during and after school for students and parents. The district and Portland Schools Foundation could help implement foreign language opportunites like those in all neighborhood schools. Maybe after-school foregin language classes for parents could also be offered to community members in the neighborhood to help support the program financially and to make public schools a more central part of the community.

  11. Comment from Neisha:

    Those are some great ideas, Nicole. Thanks for this discussion, everyone! As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a newer PPS mom who has been lurking on these sites (this one, Wackymommy’s, NSA, Terry Olson’s) since spring ’06 when my child was in pre-K and the whole district was in flux. Basically, I have been too shy to post until this week. Thanks for not flaming the newbie!

  12. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    I always say protect the newbies or they won’t come back to my blog!

  13. Comment from Neisha:

    Thanks, Wacky Mommy, and sorry for mistyping your blog name!

  14. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Eh, I’ve had people call me worse.

  15. Comment from Zarwen:

    I just want to remind everyone that the inequities of course offerings, esp. at elementary schools, started back in 1996. Our district-wide share from the state was cut back drastically, and instead of making a district-level decision, the wussy superintendent told each principal to decide what to cut in his/her building. Many, if not most, principals used the opportunity to get rid of someone they didn’t like, someone who was active in the teachers’ union, etc. Then when money was raised for “buy-backs” (which led to the birth of the PSF), they used it to reward their “friends.” One used it to buy back a secretary instead of a teacher. His DOSA (now they are called area directors) complained to her superiors, who refused to do anything about it, and the DOSA ended up getting fired!

    I was the choir director at one of the low-income middle schools. My singers were the only ones who showed up to fund-raise. What did they get in return? The shop program was restored, ’cause the shop teacher sucked up to the principal, which I refused to do.

    But that is what you must do if you want to keep your job in PPS; otherwise you’ll end up like that area director who blew the whistle ’cause it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, doing what’s right isn’t a priority for the folks in charge. The evidence is all over town.

  16. Comment from jecado:

    During the “reconfiguration” “discussions” of 16 months ago, I noticed some quirks in the PPS enrollment data sheets upon which your analysis is based. I’m not sure how these considerations affect your very nice analysis, but I think they’re worth pointing out.
    First, there is no consistent understanding in PPS documents about what actually counts as “budget per student.” On these enrollment data sheets, the “per student” budget includes foundation money raised by parents at the schools (less the 1/3 tax that goes to the general PSF fund). Not that PPS makes it easy to determine, but a better measure of the money “taken away” or added to schools might be the “public funds per student” spent at those schools.
    Second, there’s no good way to take into account the actual number of school-aged students in the enrollment areas; the “neighborhood” student number on the sheet is the number of neighborhood students in PPS schools; there could be a substantial number of school-aged students attending public schools outside of the district, home-schooling, or attending private schools.
    Again, I have no good sense of how these considerations affect your analysis. They might, though, and I thought they were worth pointing out in order to allow you to continue improving your evaluation.

  17. Comment from Himself:

    jecado, thanks for the info. The budget per student figure does include fundraising money, but only that which is used for personnel. Here’s how PPS defines it: “Funds included are general funds (personnel, supplies, operations); grant funds (including Federal grants such as Title 1-A), and special revenue funds (including tuition paid for fee-based full-day kindergarten, and funding of personnel through fundraising/donations). Capital expenditures, and centrally budgeted functions such as utilities and custodial services are not included.”

    I actually think it’s good to include personnel paid for by fundraising, but it would be nice to have it broken out as a separate figure. My sense is that it simply aggravates the inequity. It would also be interesting to see the fundraising money that goes to other things like after-school programs, playgrounds, trips for the kids, etc., that is exempt from the PFS tithe.

    I’m also keenly aware that PPS does not track school-aged kids in a given attendance area, but only the kids registered in the district. It would be possible to use census data (which is available at a very find grain — block-by-block, I believe) and find out how many kids are lost to the system.

    But PPS doesn’t receive state funding for those not in the system, so that would be a different study. As it stands, this is a good look at how PPS is spreading the wealth in Portland, the vast majority of it from the state general fund.