Working at Cross Purposes

by Steve, January 16th, 2008

Here are my prepared remarks delivered to the Portland City Council Wednesday at Jefferson High School.

Good morning, and welcome to my neighborhood high school. I am truly honored to be here among some of Portland’s best and brightest young adults.

I appreciate the symbolism of City Hall coming to Jefferson High, and I would like to take the opportunity to focus your attention on a serious issue facing our schools and our city.

Eighteen months ago, auditors from the county and city issued a report on the Portland Public Schools student transfer policy. Their audit found the policy not only failed to mitigate ethnic and socio-economic segregation in the district, it actually made the problem worse. To date, the school board has not fully responded to this audit, which was a condition of the Multnomah County I-Tax.

As a parent of two young children in the district, I found this audit somewhat startling, and began to do my own investigation last summer. Using the district’s enrollment and transfer data, I found that segregation is just the tip of the iceberg.

It turns out that this transfer policy, which allows students to freely transfer between neighborhood schools, taking their funding with them, is responsible for a massive shift of public investment away from our neediest neighborhoods and into wealthier parts of town. In the 2006-07 school year, this amounted to a $43 million divestment from the parts of town that most need investment.

This is made worse by the fact that the district follows it with school closures and draconian program cuts, leaving us with a two-tiered system of public education. This inequity has reached a level that cannot be tolerated by a city that prides itself on equal opportunity and diversity.

I put together a report to the school board in September, and I’ve brought the final draft to share with you today. This report shows this pattern graphically, and recommends an equitable solution.

The reason I’m talking to you about this is that we have two governmental bodies with overlapping jurisdictions, whose policies are effectively working against one another. On the one hand, we have PPS policy that is divesting from our neediest neighborhoods and fragmenting communities by undermining neighborhood schools. On the other hand, we have valuable work being done by Commissioner Sten and the Bureau of Housing and Community Development, to try to reverse some of these effects.

We are clearly working at cross purposes.

So I’m asking you, as policy-making professionals, to exert influence on your partners at Portland Public Schools. They are unpaid volunteers, and they don’t necessarily have the policy expertise that you have. They need help and guidance to correct a policy that continues to divest from the neighborhoods we should be investing in.

The report I’ve given you and the school board outlines a sensible, phased plan to return balance to the school district’s public investment policy and bring it in line with city policy goals. I urge you to take the time to read it, and lobby the school board to do the right thing. Let’s end a system that punishes children based on the color of their skin and the neighborhoods they live in.

Thursday Thirteen from Wacky Mommy, Ed. #128: Thirteen Reasons Why I’m a Better Blogger Than Hockey God

by Wacky Mommy, January 16th, 2008

Hullo 13ers and All You Sexy Little Usual Suspects,

Here are Thirteen Reasons Why I, Wacky Mommy, Am A Better Blogger Than My Husband:

13) Sex talk. Honestly. How much of that do you get around here? So to speak.

12) I, Wacky Mommy, like to have my girlfriends drop by. (Virtually, and in person.) We can talk, cuddle, make goo-goo eyes at each other. Here? So much yelling. Ouch. I’m like, turn it down, it’s hurting my ears a tiny bit. Also, some of you commenters over here? Damn. All I can say is, Get yourself a blog. My commenters are all, Hit it and quit it, babe.

11) I am willing to share the details of our day-to-day life, even when my kids are protesting: Girl Scout cookies! Culinary magic! Advice columns! Sunday School updates! Big Love!

10) When is the last time he gave you a book review? Or any big love? Heh heh heh heh heh.

9) I am willing to blog nine times in one day if that’s what it takes to entertain you people. Frankly, I do not see that kind of commitment over here.

8) Does he know I’ve hijacked his blog and am posting this? No, he does not. He is putting the sweet little blonde children to bed as I’m typing. Thank God they have one responsible parent.

7) I have been at this longer than he has. It’s my blog’s third birthday on Valentine’s Day! Happy VD! Clap, everybody, clap!

6) Are you in it for the money, honey? Yes. I think my ads keep the site lively. I never know what the heck is going to pop up. Anytime I bring up ads (ie — Why won’t you put some on your site, Hockey God?) he’s all, “Ethics,” yadda yadda, “You’re a commercial whore,” yadda yadda, “What won’t you do for a buck, damn,” etc. (He does sell more T-shirts than I do though.) (Not that I’m keeping track.)

5) Do you find the sailor-talk over here? No, not so much.

4) Do you get General Hospital updates from him occasionally? That’s right, that’s only over at my place. (Why am I posting here, you ask? I’m selling Girl Scout cookies on my site, I cannot add a new post up top. JUST KIDDING. That would be AGAINST POLICY.) (What do the Girl Scouts do if you break policy, anyway? Chuck Thin Mints at you until you promise to shape up?)

3) Hmm. I’m thinking, he does have MetBlogs going on, too. And his full-time job, doing whatever it is he does in between going for coffee, playing hockey and playing ping-pong. And when he’s here, he’s building castle beds, taking care of the kids, saving the world, one school at a time. Maybe I should cut him a break. Yeah, maybe not.

2) He does not have quite the flair that I do for the English language. That certain je nais se qua. See? French, too!

1) He never ever ever writes Thursday Thirteens anymore.



Wacky Mommy has her own blog. Sometimes one blog is just not enough for her.