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Why I’m running for the School Board for Portland Public Schools

Before letting you know why I'm running, I want to thank everyone who has endorsed me, including the Portland Association of Teachers, the Portland Federation of School Professionals (our terrific classified staff at PPS), Stand for Children and the Northwest Oregon Labor Council. I'm backed by the people in the trenches, working with kids every day--along with the skilled workers rebuilding our schools. And thanks to Willamette Week for their endorsement as well!

Why I'm running: It’s all about the kids.

Every school day, in classrooms across the district, you can find wonderful things happening in Portland Public Schools. Every day a couple of thousand dedicated employees pour their hearts out for our students. It’s hard work.

At the same time, our district lets down too many kids and families, especially those students who we historically have not served well—children of color, children from low-income families, children who are just beginning to learn English, children who qualify for special education services. We can do better.

For almost 20 years, I have volunteered as a school activist, working for changes at the district level that improve education for all of our students, especially those who have been historically underserved in our schools. I have served on committees, knocked on doors, led workshops, made presentations, phone-banked, led research initiatives and organized community-based interventions to push for positive change.

In the past few years I have been in the middle of important reforms for PPS:

  • I played a leading role in passing the 2012 bond. As a result, we will have four rebuilt schools, many new roofs, and more (but not enough) schools that are wheelchair-accessible.
  • I brought together community members to stop a destructive district boundary process in the Jefferson cluster; our counter-proposal was largely adopted by the School Board.
  • As a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Enrollment and Transfer (SACET), I helped stabilize neighborhood schools by advocating for changes in the transfer process.
  • As a member of the District Boundary Review Advisory Committee (DBRAC), I am helping to dismantle the K-8 schools which have poorly served many of our neediest students.

In addition to my volunteer record, I have worked for 30 years as an economist, honing my analytic capabilities. For more than two decades I have been an advisor to Vancouver school districts on career and technical education (CTE), experience that should also prove helpful in Portland.

Portland Public Schools should be a great school district. We should be a global leader in crafting an education system that prepares all our kids to be active citizens. We should be engaging our teaching staff in designing a system that supports their creativity. We should be fully integrating our schools into our city, partnering with businesses and non-profits, immersing our students in solving real-world problems.

Imagine a district that brings its racial equity work all the way down into the classroom, and gives our teachers the tools they need to bridge the achievement gap. Imagine a district that finds the sweet spot of optimal inclusion of our children with special needs in regular classrooms. Imagine a district that builds on our growing number of immigrant students to go fully bilingual. Imagine a district that meets the intellectual and social needs of our academically accelerated students.

Instead, according to media reports, we have a school district serious management issues. Two different audits found Portland Public Schools to be severely lacking in management systems and risk management, with a central office that is comprised of top-down silos that don’t collaborate with each other. This is a district that, compared with surrounding districts that have higher poverty and lower spending per student, too often gets worse results.

I have a record of bringing people together to do good things for kids. I want to put my skills and experience to use on School Board. There’s a lot of work to be done!

It’s often said that public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. We need strong schools now more than ever.

Thank you for your support!

Posted on February 8, 2017.