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Once again, Portland's public school system has become a national laughing stock. In the 90s, the cartoon strip Doonesbury rightly made fun of our schools for performing so poorly. Oregon has consistently ranked near the bottom of states in overall school performance. Earlier this year, we even had a grade school superintendent adding the peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the lexicon of racist buzzwords.
This superintendent is in the news again:
Portland Public School leaders spend a lot of time talking about race.
So much so that [in October], PPS sent no less than 93 teachers, principals and administrators to San Antonio, Texas, to attend and present at the 4th Annual Summit on Courageous Conversations.
“Courageous Conversations,” to the uninitiated, is the framework for equity training that the district adopted in 2007 and began rolling out to the schools this year.
The final costs of the San Antonio trip aren’t yet tallied but could come to thousands of dollars, not counting the cost of substitutes to cover their positions at school during the five-day event.
But now teachers and staff at Harvey Scott K-8 School in Northeast Portland say the focus on race has gone too far, since Verenice Gutierrez became principal in 2010.
Teachers are so upset about the environment this has created that, privately, they are questioning why race has dominated the conversation over academics.
“We all agree in teaching Courageous Conversations,” says one teacher. “The issue is, it’s gone past the point of comfort. Even the kids of whiteness in our building feel they aren’t part of the building anymore.”
Adds another teacher: “Our whiteness is constantly thrown in our face. We’re taught we’re incapable of teaching students of color.”
Never mind that the first teacher quoted above is so afraid of violating the unwritten PC code that she actually creates the term, “kids of whiteness”. What is a badly underperforming school district doing sending 93 teachers to San Antonio for a conference?
Well at least the academic results are improving.
Portland Public Schools has given up its chance to compete for up to $40 million in federal funds after failing to reach an agreement with its union about using test scores in teacher evaluations, one of the grant's requirements.
The district in August filed an intent to apply for a Race to the Top grant but has dropped its efforts after officials could not obtain the union's support, another requirement for the application.
The Obama administration introduced the competition among states in 2009 to encourage innovative programs to improve student achievement. This year, it offered $400 million to individual districts to develop personalized education plans. Nearly 900 said they planned to apply.
In the metro area, Canby and Hillsboro were able to get the union buy-in necessary for the grant, but struggles with unions caused districts in other parts of the country to abandon their applications.
And then there's this, just reported Tuesday:
So let’s review. The Portland Public School District is unable to overcome union pressure to apply for federal funds to help balance its hugely bloated budget, but it’s perfectly comfortable with a superintendent making teachers and students of one particular race completely uncomfortable simply based on race. Meanwhile, students of that race made uncomfortable by school policies end up graduating at the lowest rate IN THE NATION.
Here's a thought experiment: replace "white" with "black" in the story above and tell me if this would be acceptable anywhere in America.
Portland, Oregon - home of the continuing failure of political correctness.