1. The PPS Vision plan is a cosmic circle
On the left is the “integrated” diagram that is currently shaping Portland Public School’s budgeting and strategic planning.
It is a vision modeled after the zodiac map
Portland Public Schools reImagined was branded by Prospect Studio, a strategic foresight consulting group based in San Francisco. They “specialize in strategic foresight and equity-centered design to reimagine and reinvent education.”
PPS reImagined is blind to our kids reading, math, or science goals. The words reading, math, and science appear only five times in the 52-page document. In this reImagined universe, Portland students are benefiting from “disintermediation.”
This vision was inspired by science fiction writer William Gibson’s belief that “the future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.” PPS reImagined embraces this inequity. Education consultants will thrive, while our students lack essential reading, math, science, and critical thinking skills.
Solution: Three questions, then let’s move forward.
- How much did this vision plan cost to produce?
- Was there a formal and open RFP (Request for Proposal)?
- Why wasn’t a local consulting group chosen for this work?
The Board must work with the Superintendent to chart a reality-based strategic plan. We can mirror Corvallis, Eugene, or Seattle in providing our community with a straightforward, inspirational, equitable, and measurable plan.
We need to treat this like the crisis that it is. According to the board’s own 8th-grade graduate portrait, only 5.9% of our black and 22.9% of our Hispanic/Latino students eighth-graders are college/career ready in both math and reading*. We must engage and elevate these students!
2. The Equity plan is not working
PPS’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Framework (RESJ) is nineteen pages. The goals and charts in the framework are confounding. The framework has no benchmarks. In terms of deliverables, the framework has produced a one-page equity lens and an outdated timetable.
PPS has failed to implement an equity plan to recruit and develop black teachers. The demographics of the PPS teaching staff are not reflective of our community , it is disproportionately white. This ineptitude robs our students of a well-rounded, interesting, and diverse education.
While the PPS district office knows that having teachers of color benefits all students, they have failed to demonstrate success.
Solution: Adopt a real plan and hire more teachers of color.
In 2020, the voter-approved bond measure included $60 million to develop a Center for Black Student Excellence at Jefferson High School. This is an exciting, yet formative project. Nearly all the money goes into the building of the center, $42 million is earmarked for construction and $14 million for design. I am hopeful that the Center for Black Excellence will be available to all black PPS students. If elected, I will work with the school board and the Albina Vision Trust to make sure that the Center for Black Student Excellence is a sustained investment, not just another well-designed building.
While the Center for Black Excellence is being built, our students still need access to a diverse cohort of teachers. As a board member, I will take these three actions:
- I will advocate that PPS establish a functional equity lens, like the North Clackamas and Salem school districts, that demonstrates we are laser-focused on diversifying school communities and elevating student academic performance.
- I will request that the Racial Equity and Social Justice department work with the Human Resource Department to create and enact an action plan to recruit, sustain, and develop a more diverse workforce across all of PPS.
- I will advocate that PPS School Board access funds to support the Portland Teachers Program. We need to rebuild this pathway for getting more diverse teachers. We must increase black teachers ten-fold. This is an achievable goal considering black teachers currently make up less than 1% of our teaching staff.
3. We are paying too much for underperformance
We are systematically failing our students of color. This oppression costs all of us a lot of money. We are paying a heavy price to sustain this unjust, callous and inefficient system
Above is a snap shot from the latest budget report that ranks spending report. Schools receiving the most money per student have low test scores.
There are many things I don’t know, but we need to fix this situation immediately. The first step is to improve all neighborhood schools. If elected, I would make sure that all neighborhood elementary schools provide culturally appropriate academic curriculum and targeted services that engage all students and raises their reading, math, and writing skills.
PPS promised to do this in 2017 and has failed to deliver. In their Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum, you will find 4 google slides with no plan. This is fully unacceptable.
Our elementary students and their parents should have confidence that the district is committed to delivering excellent education services and equitable outcomes at all schools. This trust has been broken, and I will work to restore it.
Solution: Bolster and Support Neighborhood Schools
PPS Board and the District Office must demonstrate how enrolling and supporting neighborhood schools:
- Improves Communities,
- Raises Academic Achievement,
- Fosters Diversity
- Maximizes Tax Dollars
PPS has a System Planning and Performance department that is fully capable of clearly informing the board, superintendent, and the public on these issues.
Many Portland parents are afraid to send their kids to their neighborhood school. The only way to change this is to demonstrate a commitment to safety, excellence, and diversity. The current system is like The Hunger Games, where parents assigned to underperforming schools go to extremes to avoid it.
It is time that PPS demonstrate its commitment to its mission: Every student by name prepared for college, career and participation as an active community member, regardless of race, income, or zip code.
The data clearly shows PPS is failing. I will work to rebuild the trust, maximize our investments, and raise the achievement levels of all students.