PPS: Putting the Cart Before the Horse

by Steve, January 23rd, 2008

First, let me ask you: Can you imagine running a big city newspaper in the twenty-first century, and not having a Web site?

Evidently the Oregonian ran a letter I sent them, but I missed it because I rarely pick up the dead tree version. And their vertically separated sister organization, OregonLive.com, does not publish the entire newspaper online. Which is why big papers like the Oregonian will soon be a thing of the past.

So for those of you (like me) who missed it, here’s what it said (the headline is the O’s, not mine):

Transfers hurt N. Portland

Missing from Paul Schuberg’s proposal for combining Roosevelt and Jefferson high schools into one “21st century facility” is any discussion of size and demographics (“I, too, have a dream — for Jefferson High,” 1/21/08).

Roosevelt and Jefferson had a combined neighborhood area PPS population of 3,169 in the 2006-07 school year. Any serious facility plan must take into account that North Portland school enrollment declines are more a factor of the district’s loose transfer policy than demographics.

Maybe schools of this size would work; maybe not. But let’s be honest when discussing school facilities, and focus on providing adequate facilities where students live, not where they’ve ended up after more than a decade of mutually-reinforcing program cuts and out-transfers in North Portland.

I’ll be doing some more PPS data analysis to try to help the district understand that if they’re seriously talking about closing two high schools, they damn well better site the remaining and new schools based on neighborhood populations, and not current enrollment. Stay tuned.