Portland's Missing Kids: Part II

Back in January, BlueBloggers Leslie Carlson and Wendy Radmacher-Willis wrote about the declining numbers of children in Portland despite the vibrancy of the city. (See "34,000 kids are missing. Will ours be next?")

We also love Portland. We want it to be a place where diversity is celebrated: diversity of color, gender, sexual orientation, income and yes, age. We fear, however, that we’re on the path to becoming a city of singles and dual-income couples with no kids, full of great restaurants, bookstores, nightlife, art and culture, but absent the energy, optimism and life of children. Do we really want to be San Francisco when we grow up?

Today, the New York Times discovers the same thing, in "Vibrant Cities Find One Thing Missing: Children"

Portland is one of the nation's top draws for the kind of educated, self-starting urbanites that midsize cities are competing to attract. But as these cities are remodeled to match the tastes of people living well in neighborhoods that were nearly abandoned a generation ago, they are struggling to hold on to enough children to keep schools running and parks alive with young voices.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Alex Matthews (unverified)
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    Instead of discussing this issue, all men reading this post needs to take a personal pledge to create at least five children over the next 48 hours. You can do it, gents! We believe in you!

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    Superintendent Philips and the School Board made wise decisions.

  • iggi (unverified)
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    kids shudder...why the hell would i want to have any? this is sort of a strange topic for a progressive website -- you support pro-choice, but then you want to force people to have children? blag.

    "but absent the energy, optimism and life of children"...ie, the crying, tantrum-throwing, urine-smelling homonculi that infest every suburb in America.

    well, guess i don't care much for kids.

  • rose bengal (unverified)
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    I'm curious if these numbers take into account families with children younger than school age. Although it isn't statistically appropo of anything, my block in SE Portland has 13 kids under 5 years of age but only 3 or 4 kids between 6 and 18. My cohort of dinks (25-35) seems to be choosing both procreation and Portland. Of course school closures that move kids to schools that are no longer within walking distance may change this demographic in my neighborhood.

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    this is sort of a strange topic for a progressive website -- you support pro-choice, but then you want to force people to have children?

    Progressives aren't supposed to like kids? How are we supposed to make more progressives if we don't?

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    I can't help but read this article in concert with Laura Oppenheimer's recent piece in the Oregonian on "Living Large."

    http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/front_page/111079773619860.xml?oregonian?fpfp

    While part of the issue is clearly housing prices in the city, I fear that part of it is a cultural norm that tells us that families need to occupy more and more space. That can't happen easily in a densely populated urban environment, and families are leaving. It leaves those of us who are left with fewer resources and a diminishing base of support.

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    Um, iggi and alex, you're missing the point. It's not about the quantity of kids, it's that families are taking their kids out of the city.

    It's a quality of life thing, not a procreation thing.

  • Eric Berg (unverified)
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    Unfortunately, iggi's comments represent why many Americans just can't relate to us. "Us" meaning Blue Staters, progressives, liberals, whatever. If I thought these comments were typical among us, I wouldn't want to be one of us, either.

    Don't get me wrong. I respect iggi's choice not to (or even like) children. I don't have kids. But I don't think familes, kids and schools are strange topics for progressives to discuss. Nor do I think talking about them is anti-choice or infers anyone is forcing anyone to have kids.

    The NYT article and Leslie and Wendys' earlier post raise some very important questions on where Portland is going as a city. I've long been concerned with the fact that fewer and fewer households with kids exist in Portland. Our city suffers because of it. I don't want to be more and more like Seattle. I'm also concerned the increase of parents (and not just middle and upper-class) in Portland who choose private schools for their kids.

    There's not a whole lot we can do immediately to lower housing costs and create family-wage jobs for the tens and tens of thousands of Portlanders who need them. Revenue reform in Oregon coming anytime soon to stabilize school funding. However, the Portland school board can and must make choices to create the schools parents want their kids to atttend. The district will never have all the money it needs But it must keep and the improve neighborhood schools it has and add more magnet programs in every part of the district. We know what kinds of public schools parents want. Too many kids can't get into them or end up on a waiting list.

    Let's start here: If Portland had schools parents want, fewer familes would leave the city. Many families would return.

  • Alex Matthews (unverified)
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    Eric --

    You really think people with kids are leaving Portland because they don't like the schools? Isn't it more a function of the suburbs providing more space for the money? That IS a function of housing costs. People who don't like development (cough Jack Bog cough) inside Portland and who support policies designed to limit the amount of housing supply available create higher housing costs for young families.

    If Portland were to dramatically increase the amount of housing supply available, by increasing density along well-traveled corridors, then housing costs would level off. More supply = lower prices (all things being equal). Yes, it will cause some folks' housing values to not rise as fast they otherwise would have, but it's an investment in the long term health of the city. That will mean more tax revenue available, which will mean -- ta da -- better school funding!

    Iggi is free not to have kids, or even like them. I, however, like them and want them, and plan on doing something about that relatively soon. I just hope I'll be able to afford a house inside Portland so I can raise my kids within the city I love so much instead of fleeing to a suburb (yuck). Portland schools may not be perfect, but they're pretty darn good all things considered. I will count on my own skills as a (future) parent to make up for whatever my kids won't learn in school.

  • iggi (unverified)
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    Kari -- ah, understood. that's fine then. though, parents fleeing to the suburbs is okay with me, that just leaves more room for us childless folks. after all, someone needs to keep the fine restaurants and pubs in business.

    Eric -- you're right, it's fine to discuss kids and schools, even if you don't have any. sort of like it's okay to discuss cancer or flesh eating bacteria, even if you don't have either.

    j/k, that was just a fun jab ;)

  • Eric Berg (unverified)
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    Alex,

    I know many too parents who have moved out of Portland or have enrolled their kids in private schools to know the quality of schools doesn't make a difference. It's not he only reason families are leaving, But it's a major one. I know families who move to neighborhoods in Portland to be close to the best public schools. I also know middle-income families who have moved to pay more in rent in Lake Oswego because they think the schools are better than Portland. One family I know did this this year after they couldn't get their child into the public school of their choice because there weren't enough slots. This is what I mean by creating schools parents want.

    Portland's schools are good. Better than some. But Portland's schools used to be better than most, especially for a large city. There are a lot of reasons for this. And they're all connected. (They're not limited to Portland or Oregon, either.). Fewer children living in the city. Fewer households with school aged children in the city. The lack of family wage jobs and affordable housing for working families. Oregon's revenue-spending probelms and the refusal to reform them, especially in the 14 years since Measure 5 passed.

    I'm all in favor of higher-density housing on light rail and street car lines (However, in the Pearl and South Waterfront, housing costs are too high and they forgot to build schools there). Even if Jack Bog never had it his way or if the UBG boundry were expanded, housing prices in Portland and elsewhere would be too damn unaffordable for many working families. And Portland will never be able to compete with Clark County and Oregon burbs for families who want a 4,000 square feet house on a double-lot on a cul-de-sac.

    This is why I suggest we start with having the best schools we can for Portland families. It'll never have the money it needs, but the Portland Public School district can do better.

    If you create it (or keep it), they will come (and stay).

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Whether liberals have kids or not, we all should recognize that "the next generation" is important. If we choose to have kids, then we need a place to raise them that is nurturing and diverse (racially and economically), and that has the educational resources to help the kids succeed. If we choose not to have kids, we should still want these things for kids, so that at least some part of the next generation is raised to love this community, to support this community, to fund this community, and to pay social security taxes.

    I don't mean this as a trite "children are our future," although they are. I mean to say that if anyone reading this blog believes in developing vibrant communities, then they should know that a community is not as vibrant if it's one-dimensional. Kids add dimension; non-creative class residents add dimension; and low-income families add dimension. These dimensions only occur in places where there is a diverse housing stock, i.e. not the Pearl. Even in inner-SE, where we live, the housing prices are too high, but there are enough smaller homes to create a few extra dimensions. I am very thankful for lots of little kids living around us, because I know that it will lead to a more vibrant life for all of us.

  • Paying Attention (unverified)
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    I am soooooo tired of the "we can do more with less" mythologizers.

    Our schools need more money. Lots more money, not tinkering around the edges money. Teachers ought to be paid about twice what they are now (that would be par for someone with a masters degree, about $74k) and there ought to be about twice as many of them. We should attract the very best and brightest minds. The educational infrastructure (buildings, first of all) needs serious, serious attention. We need to get real about good education as a human right and national entitlement.

    If we did this in Portland, we'd have lots and lots of kids in our schools. We'd have families moving back from the nihilist mall-ridden suburbs; we'd have parents having more kids, secure in the knowledge that there was a future for them. We'd have a tax base on which we might build Dr. King's beloved community. Moreover, we would have a thinking, deeper, graver citizenry, which would mean that the Mannixes and Sizemores of this state would be laughed out of the area. Everyone's property values would go up far more than the taxes needed to fund this revolution. All of us would lead happier, more fulfilling lives. All of us, that is, except the fanatical right, who would move to Idaho, which is another sound reason for implementing this plan.

    The reason that we are in this ludicrous fix is likewise not a state secret. Bush and the right wing elite that he represents have been trying to destabilize public education in this country for about twenty-five years now; that is, ever since they made medical care into a profit center, and noticed that public education is the last great virgin unprivatized sector of the economy. What California was to the popular imagination in the USA in 1850, public education is to the neocon Ayn-Rand-licking- ownership-society-junkies in 2005.

    Edison schools, Measure 5, Sizemore's anti-teacher initiatives, the pitting of African American neighborhoods against other neighborhoods in the unseemly scramble for scarce resources, the Arthur charter schools of Kremer (gag me with a #2 pencil), laying off hundreds of already underpaid and overworked teachers, and the selling off of our educational patrimony one building at a time . . . all of these are not discrete events. They are of a piece. They are carefully thought out, planned, strategized over . . . the perfect expression of what the other side really wants, really is.

    We need to stop giving Kulongoski and our state legislators a free pass. We need to ACT UP. Most of all, we need to arrest the accelerating slide into the morass that is the planned obliteration of all that is social and held in common.

    Rant off.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    Alex>If Portland were to dramatically increase the amount of housing supply available, by increasing density along well-traveled corridors, then housing costs would level off.<<<

    Did you just now make that up or did you think on it for a while? Really I want to know. What eco-housing theory is underneath that? People with kids want higher density? The housing you're talking about is also very expensive. That's why Metro has to subsidize it with their TOD program. I guess you are recommending using a bunch of all that money laying around the city for building more housing families with children don't want and can't afford. Well, tha'll turn it all around and help city budgets????

    Eric>>I'm all in favor of higher-density housing on light rail and street car lines <<

    That's a good idea. Build more of what people are moving away from.

    Paying attention>> The reason that we are in this ludicrous fix is likewise not a state secret. Bush and the right wing elite that he represents have been trying to destabilize public education in this country for about twenty-five years <<

    Paying attention, You're just mad the stupid planning around here fooled you. It's not working, never will, so you need to blame other things.
    Your list of who and what to blame is creative, however.

    Some of them are just plain wild!

    pitting of African American neighborhoods against other neighborhoods<<< If there's been any "pitting" it's by the people elected to run the city and school district for the last 30 years. They have been so bad at it the dysfunction is catching up with them. Would it be impossible that Katz, Linn, Canada, Blumenauer, Hales, Leonard, Sten, Saltzman, Bragdon and the rest have anything at all to do with anything bad happening?

    Arthur charter schools of Kremer (gag me with a #2 pencil)<<

    In this city, nothing deserves more disdain than success. Whats's wrong with Kremer or Arthur? Do they threaten your job. Are Kremer and Arthur charter schools driving familles with children out of the city? Are you a PPS administrator. A charter school will soon rescue Smith Elementary from closing. Darn those charters!

    , all of these are not discrete events. They are of a piece. They are carefully thought out, planned, strategized over . . . the perfect expression of what the other side really wants, really is.<<<<

    Uh hey there sleepy. Have you been paying attention or not? The other side?
    Which side has been running this city and school district?

    We need to stop giving Kulongoski and our state legislators a free pass. We need to ACT UP.<<<<

    Don't elect him or legislators like him. They don't know what they are doing or what to do. More money would always be nice. But if that's all he or others have to lead need to be shown the door. If you only want people to sit in the drivers seat but never drive you got em. Otherwise you better be thinking about letting someone else drive.

  • Alex Matthews (unverified)
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    If people don't want that style of housing, Richard, why are people moving into it in droves? Why is the first building in SoWa already 80% sold out?

    If empty nesters move into condos, then that frees up single family homes for those with kids.

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    Richard:

    Your ship just passed in the night, as suggested by your email, "oregonvoterunion." Housing in the Pearl is hot, i.e. people are not moving away from it. But it also doesn't happen to be bringing in exactly the mix that is necessary for a complex community. High density housing is also being occupied, and in NE (duplexes, etc.) it's including some lower income families in redevelopment infill. But it's not enough. If someone is dying for a 4000 sf house and a 1/4 acre, then they're going to the suburbs. I think Portland should be looking at giving a family like that a choice for a larger house and lot, but not as large as they might like, in the very real hope that the family will recognize the other amenities that come with living close to downtown.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    Again you don't know what you are talking about and aren't staying focused. We are talking about families with children. They are not moving to the Pearl in droves. The bulk of them are not looking for a 4000 sq ft house on a quarter acre either. Why do you do the straw man thing. All they want is a 1600 sq ft house on a 5000 sq ft lot at a reasonable price. They can't find it in Portland. The suburbs you hate are so urbanized they are quickly becoming the same way, pushing people further out to places like Newberg, Canby and alike. You just don't get it and that's why things will get much worse befroe they get better. You are wacked out and part of the problem.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    Eric has it exactly right. It is all about the schools. I grew up in Oregon but my wife and I are currently living in Texas where she's doing her residency in family medicine. We're looking to move back to the Northwest and I can tell you right now, our number one criteria for relocation is schools. Sure, other factors such as commute time and distance, housing prices, housing styles, neighborhood planning, parks etc. are all factors that count towards livability. But they are all a distant factor compared to the quality of schools. We have two daughters, age 2 and 6, and for those of you who don't have kids, I can tell you right now, you want to know where the kids are going? Look at the schools. I's ALL about the schools.

    We currently live in suburban Waco, a city about the size of Salem that is located an 1.5 hours south of Dallas/Fort Worth and 1.5 hours north of Austin. Some people actually commute to those metro areas from suburban Waco but that's pretty extreme. Here in Texas the school districts have not tended to consolidate as much as in Oregon. So in this metro area of approximately 250,000 there are about 10 school districts. Two that cover urban Waco, and the rest that cover the surrounding suburbs, although the district lines don't necessarily follow the city limits. Waco has expanded into suburban areas through incorporation but those areas remain in their suburban school districts.

    The point I'm getting to is that here in Waco the school district boundary lines act almost as a reverse urban growth boundary. Waco's central school district has a predominently minority student population and is perceived with some justification to be of poor quality. By contrast, some of the suburban districts have some of of the highest ranked schools in the state. As a result, almost all the new development is happening within the suburban school districts. As I drive into Waco it is absolutely clear from the development patterns where the school district boundaries are. It has nothing to do with parks, housing styles, or anything else. Once I cross the line going into Waco the development stops and it's mostly cornfields, farms and scrub land until I get into the actual older part of the city. On my side of town, all fo the development is leaping outwards across the school district boundaries leaving a large moat of undeveloped land between Waco and the newer suburbs.

    The student population in my school district is actually growing at about 10% a year meaning that new schools are popping up all over. So my first grader gets to attend class in a bright new school that has a great library, computer lab, music lab, and art facility.

    Two years ago when we came to Texas it was with the idea that we would be moving straight back to Oregon the day my wife finished her residency. But now, with the horrifying school finance problems and resultant decline in public schools we aren't so sure anymore. Add to that, the unresolved medical malpractice mess in Oregon (my wife wants to practice OB) and we're now starting to take a hard look at staying in Texas to settle in perhaps Austin, San Antonio, or Fort Worth where some of the suburban school districts frankly blow away most of those in Oregon.

    I spent a good bit of my 20s living in Portland and as much as I love that city, we'll be taking a serious pause before moving back. It's not just about how the schools are at this moment in time, it's also about what they will look like in 15 years when my youngest finally graduates from high school.

  • Adventuregeek (unverified)
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    Being a Pearl loft dwelling DINK myself I would like to see more kids downtown even if I'm not going to have then myself. I only know of one complete family living full time in my building over over 100 units and they had to put there kids in the storage room (really).

    I don't think the real problem is with real estate costs, space or schools. It's the American idea that the only proper place to raise children is in the suburbs in a isolated 4000 sq. ft. house away from the big bad dangerous (and racial diverse) city.

    Of course this isolated childhood often leads to culturaly unaware, consumerist, car dependant, socially mal-adjusted, unworldly adults when those children grow up further perpetuating the family=suburbs mythology. Additionally I belive suburban living often leads to conservative politics due to the isolation and lack of exposure to diverse experiences.

    The only way to counter this trend is to make it socially acceptable, even desirable to raise your children in the city, when this happens the housing will take care of itself. The reason all the new downtown housing is being built for DINKS is that that is who is moving downtown.

    Of course this could be a "chicken and the egg" type problem. Should family friendly housing be build first, or should families be convinced to move downtown first.

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    Wow. Don't know where to start. The family unfriendliness of Portland was apparent to me almost immediately when I returned to this city after 20 years absence.

    I guess my credentials first: I am raising a family of six in a 1300 sq foot house in city limits. Does that give me my urbanite license? Sorry to turn it in now: if I was to do it all over again I'd certainly live in Lake O., N. Clackamas, or Clark County, and that would be almost 100% because of schools (and secondarily property taxes).

    Adventure: The big bad city? Are we talking about Portland, OR? Please! I lived for a decade in North Carolina. My kids' first reaction upon moving to Portland was: where are all the black people? My first reaction: wow, there is zero crime!

    Your vision of life in the 'burbs is an urban myth. It may make you feel good, but it isn't true.

    There are lots of good books about the suburban experience, and its impact is complicated. Just a few points: suburban life is not isolating; in fact, the homogeneity of the suburbs increases (not decreases) participation and interaction (cite: Eric Oliver Democracy in Suburbia). A sense of social isolation and "anomie" is the diagnosis of urban, not suburban life (the classic Lofland, "A City of Strangers.")

    Further, I'd hazard a guess than at least half, maybe 3/4 of the DNKs in the Pearl were raised in suburbia. Doesn't seem to have harmed them too much.

    I'm not trying to celebrate the suburban existence as some sort of ideal, but let's deal with fact here, not mythology.

    4000 sq feet ain't any more affordable in the suburbs than 1200 sq. feet in Portland, not unless you get out past the UGB, and no one is going to do that because the schools are substandard and the commute is hellish.

    Schools are not everything, but if you don't realize how important they are, you seriously misunderstand the priorities of most families.

    Eric is dead on when he notes that this is not an upper middle class issue--probably the greater concern is the increasing unaffordability of Portland for the working class, and the hollowing out of our manufacturing and industrial base.

    Unfortunately, when I see where our urban dollars are going, for trams and streetcars and expensive condos and "clean money campaigns" and other niceties, when the core issues of jobs, a sustainable tax base, and schools seem neglected.

    We're creating a great place to come spend the weekend shopping, but not a place that feels particularly hospitable to me. I think the vital Portland that everyone loves was built and sustained in large part due to families that stayed put in this city in the 70s and 80s. I'm not sure the Yuppies would find this such a great place if they drive them all out of town.

    Sorry to go on so, but an issue obviously close to home.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    AdvenureGeek,

    Obviously by your absurd view of suburban living your self image is just the opposite and all things good. What a crackpot.

    "Isolated childhood, culturally unaware, consumerist, car dependent, socially maladjusted, unworldly adults when those children grow up, suburbs mythology, conservative politics, isolation, lack of exposure to diverse experiences.<<<<

    Do you have any names of those folks?

    The only way to counter this trend is to make it socially acceptable, even desirable to raise your children in the city, when this happens the housing will take care of itself.<<<<

    What a kook. "make" it?? What does make it mean? Somehow socially engineer peoples lives because they too stupid to decide how to live? I bet you are in favor of taking more of their money to do this too. Or you really haven't thought out any of your nonsense and haven't made up more yet.

    Kent,

    San Antonio is way ahead of the curve with much to offer. If you come here be prepared to wait a bit and help turn things around. Still have the skiing, beaches and moderate weather.

    They haven't taken that away yet. However because we are still driving on the same roads to the beach and the mountains as we were 30 years ago the trips are more dangerous.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    Kent, Bend is probably the perfect place for you. Check it out and welcome back.

  • gus (unverified)
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    To those who think all PPS needs is more money:

    I suggest you Google Portland Association of teachers; log onto the site; click on the contract and read Article ten showing the difficulty PPS administrators run into when hiring new teachers or transferring teachers to assignments they are unwilling to take on.

  • Gary Blackmer (unverified)
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    The Portland Multnomah Progress Board in my office surveyed 110 households about three years ago, asking why the left Portland Public Schools. Here are the top 4 reasons cited (multiple reasons allowed):

    Better housing 76% More safety and security 38% Better neighborhood 35% Schools 28%

    Half the people who cited housing were moving from an apartment to their own house. Others cited a larger house, a yard, better price.

    The irony is that we had 80,000 students in the Portland district in 1960, so our housing stock is more than adequate for the the measly 46,000 we now have. It seems that the expectations of adequate housing have grown - apparently every child needs a bedroom and every household needs a media room. From 1990 to 2000 over 65% of our new housing had 2 bedrooms or less. In Clackamas County 65% of new housing was 3 bedrooms or more.

    Combine that with gentrification - young professionals pushing low income families out of low cost neighborhoods to low-cost housing in neighboring school districts. And then when the young professionals are ready to spawn they move to the suburbs.

    Here's a few ideas: simplify building codes to make it easier to add a bedroom and bath (doing that)

    Connect low income families up with low-cost housing in their area so the kids can stay in the same classroom and succeed (doing that - see http://www.housingconnections.org)

    Support our public school system (doing that).

    Entice in-migrants from elsewhere in the country to settle in a Portland neighborhood - the end of the Oregon Trail shouldn't be suburbia (need to work on that)

    It's a start.

  • Paying Attention (unverified)
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    Gus, I've done gone to the website that you suggested and looked up the material that you seem to think is so damning, and I have zero idea as to what you're talking about.

    Please tell me that you're not arguing (on this fictively progressive website) that teachers ought to have LESS rights in their workplace than they do now.

    Let's count the ways that this idea is karmically in step with the fine folks who have brought us the Schiavo circus as the entertainment du jour.

    Start here.

    As a class, teachers are the MOST underpaid, overworked, unappreciated professionals in the present labor pool. If you can read and write well enough to express yourself in this forum, then you owe that ability in large part to the dozens of educators who willingly embrace their low pay, long unpaid hours, low socio-economic status, and their status as a target from buffoons who ought to know better but don't.

    You'd think that level of sacrifice and commitment would vaccinate you against the lumpen attacks of the bully-boy wannabes that constitutes George ("I didn't learn squat in school and it didn't seem to hurt me any") W. Bush's base.

    You'd think so, but you'd be wrong.

    So, relying on the counterintuitive principle that everyone can learn, let's propose a lesson plan that will acquaint you with this particular body of knowledge.

    You know what? Quit your job. Go volunteer at a school for a couple of months. Make sure that you do an average of say, three hours a night of lesson plans, preparation, correcting papers, calling parents, deciphering homework, plowing through district paperwork etc. Get a masters degree and continue your education, more-or-less constantly taking courses at the local universities. Pay for your school supplies out of your own pocket. Get there at least an hour early to use the one copier that works. You'll need it because you won't have enough books for all your students.

    Oh, and care. Care fiercely.

    If you don't care at the end of this little thought-experiment, you haven't learned anything and you don't pass. Caring is a key part of the exit criteria.

    It never fails to amaze me how the very same Luddites who would never accept similar working conditions in their own lives find the labor conditions of teachers to be somehow wildly extravagant.

    Look, if you think that this is such an easy ride, then, by all means, apply for a position. 50% wash out within five years, but with your keen insight into the inner workings of the system, I'm sure you won't succumb to that.

    Better yet: let's even things out. Let's take Kant's categorical imperative and make it a social norm. Let's all play by the same labor rules: janitors, CEOs, hell, the whole parasitic business class, police and fire, small business owners, fast food workers, doctors, lawyers, licensed practical nurses, City Council members, and shills for the burgeoning payday loan industry. Let's all have the same health care system (works for Canada) and the same retirement system. Let's lower the communal Gini coefficient to a less obscene level of inequality. Why nibble at the problem? Let's just really tackle that bad boy head on.

    When you've mastered this material AND when we've created a society in which CEOs don't bring home 400 to 500 times as much as the folks who sweep the floors, then we'll be ready to have a serious discussion about eliminating privilege.

    That WAS your point, wasn't it?

  • (Show?)

    Here's the PAT Contract link that Gus and "Paying Attention" are discussing. It's a PDF.

    Also, "Paying Attention", you parenthetically call BlueOregon a "fictively progressive website". I'd simply point out that while our contributors all consider themselves progressive, our comments are wide open - and we certainly draw our share of thoughtful conservatives, unthoughtful conservatives, and the occassional troll. Even Lars Larson shows up once in a while. Don't let 'em drive you off.

    As for what "progressive" means, as our About page says...

    What do mean, "progressive"? Well, ideology is always in the eye of the beholder. Contributors to BlueOregon will likely disagree with each other a lot. That said, we generally believe in the power of people to organize themselves for the improvement of society, through government and other institutions.
  • gus (unverified)
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    Paying Attention:

    That WAS NOT my point. You WERE NOT even close to it.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    Ok, this is going to sound a little silly to some of you (unless you know me), but I go to Orycon, the Big Sci Fi convention in Oregon.

    Every year they have panel discussions. Some of them are silly and fun, like “Zepplins! Why do we love them so?” or “Interplanetary Space War - Reasons and Strategies” Others are more serious, “Giving up the gun - the modern relevance of Tokagawa Japan`s rejection of firearms”, or “Bearskins and Stone knives: medicine today and tomorrow.”. I attended a great panel discussion on the future of education...”Trends in education: Where we are at? Where we are going?” One of the attendees was a math teacher from LA Unified school district named Shane Sauby.

    When I asked him what effect Homeschooling was having on education, Shane stated that homeschooling was killing public school education. For two reasons: 1. The kids being pulled out of school (or not even appearing on the school rosters at all) are the best and the brightest and 2. the parents pulling those kids out are the very parents who would be assisting in the class rooms and taking an active interest in their children’s school experience.

    He stated that if the homeschooling trends continued, there would be severe repercussions in funding and quality of the public school system.

    Now, Shane’s comments related to Los Angeles. I can’t help by wonder how many of the “missing” kids are just homeschooled or private school kids that never showed up on the PPS rolls. I know for a fact there are a LOT of those kids out there. Kids for whom a “locker” is something they see on TV, and the “lunch room” is their own back yard in the gazebo.

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    The irony is that we had 80,000 students in the Portland district in 1960, so our housing stock is more than adequate for the the measly 46,000 we now have. It seems that the expectations of adequate housing have grown - apparently every child needs a bedroom and every household needs a media room. From 1990 to 2000 over 65% of our new housing had 2 bedrooms or less. In Clackamas County 65% of new housing was 3 bedrooms or more.

    I agree that expectations for the size of house (and the amount of personal possessions that we all have) have grown for families (as well as for DINKs and singles, who are now living in a lot of the dwellings that formerly housed families). We probably can't reverse the desires of those who really do wan bedrooms for every kids, large yards, media rooms, etc.

    However, in my neighborhood, a lot of us have chosen to stay in houses that are smaller and more expensive than those in the suburbs because we love the urban life and its amenities. I'm wondering if we could find out why people like my neighbors choose to stay (rather than just finding out why people leave). There may be those families out there who will always choose a bigger house; but there might be those of us who, given the right policies, schools, amenities and environment, will choose to stay.

    That might give us an idea of the policies the City needs to pursue that would keep those of us who want to be urban families right where we are, and maybe even attract more like-minded people to Portland.

  • Ruth Adkins (unverified)
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    Not to be Pollyanna, but can I just say one of the reasons I love living in this city is discussions like this, and that our city auditor is joining in.

    I am part of a new group, the Neighborhood Schools Alliance, that was inspired by the current round of closures and consolidations (note, there will be more next fall), and by our concern about the lack of community/parent/City involvement in dealing with the enrollment problem. PPS must stop operating in a vacuum--we all must be partners in tackling the problems of affordable housing, disinvestment from Salem, flight of families, and all the rest.

    I love the idea of studying and promoting the reasons for families to stay (along with policy changes to make it possible for families to do so). In my neighborhood (Hillsdale), investments in infrastructure (sidewalks, pool, library, etc), concentration of shops, and plenty of buslines make it an urban paradise. Unless, of course, PPS decides to swoop in and close the neighborhood school...

    But my immediate concern is the Jefferson cluster--on Monday night the Board will vote on proposals to close 3 schools, change the entire cluster to K-6 with 7-12 at Jefferson. Whitaker kids would be moved from their current grossly inadequate temporary building to the Tubman campus and when Tubman is closed, moved again the following year to Jeff. The cluster would no longer have a middle school. Would this be acceptable imposed on any other area of town?

    Instead of pushing through these sweeping changes (fervently opposed by everyone I have talked to who lives in the Jeff cluster), why doesn't PPS convene a task force to look at how to boost up Jefferson and the cluster--get longtime and newer residents, parents, teachers, district staff, PTA, the City, neighborhood and business associations, everyone--at the same table, talking about solutions. Start a PR campaign, involving Jeff students as producers and spokespeople. Look at all the options--K-8; 9-14 (junior college) at Jeff; maybe 7-12 is good, but let's take a look. It's not acceptable for PPS to just say "studies show it's good, so we're doing it; trust us."

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    Gary,

    Thanks for the comments. While we may disagree on voter owned elections, I think we are on precisely the same page on this issue.

    Can you provide a link to the report? I browsed the Auditor website and could not find it. I'd be interested in the methodology used, questionnaire, etc., just to make sure we are accurately evaluating the families' motives. Your assessment sounds right.

    Kudos for the mention about adding a bath or bedroom. Our own house could benefit from a "dormer", but what was once a handyman project is now quoted at $50,000 or more, in part because we need completely new architectural drawings, earthquake assessments, etc. etc.

    But somehow we have to put a lid on housing inflation, and I don't know how to do that as long as the UGB hems us in.

    As an aside, as one who has had to endure the label "breeder," I'd prefer you don't write about people spawning. And I don't understand this swipe: it seems that the expectations of adequate housing have grown - apparently every child needs a bedroom and every household needs a media room. Perhaps you should focus your critical gaze on the young professionals who apparently are in need of one bedroom, one study, one game room, one living room apiece. I can't tell you the number of once family homes in Hawthorne, Clinton, Sellwood, etc. that are now occupied by one or two people.

  • moduz (unverified)
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