Charlie Hales, a champion for public schools

By Mary Nichols of Portland. Mary Nichols is the mother of six young children who attend Portland Public Schools. She is also the Founder of Karmic Marketing, a marketing firm specializing in social media.

My name is Mary Nichols and I'm raising six kids who are all counting on very strong public schools. That's why I'm supporting Charlie Hales for Mayor. We need a passionate, proven advocate for schools in the Mayor's office and also someone who is clever about all the unique ways the city can help our schools. It's not the city's job to run the schools, but it's the job of our Mayor and City Commissioners to come up with every single possible way they can assist the schools with money, supplies, resources and support - in these hard budget times.

We can't count on our state legislature to do enough for our local schools. That's why we also need people at every level of government, including in City Hall.

Here is Charlie's extensive record of actions on behalf of our schools. He wasn't there in 2003 when teachers generously donated their time and he immediately admitted his mistake when it was pointed out. However, in the course of ten years as a City Commissioner, he was involved in dozens of actions on behalf of our schools - including all six Portland school districts, and that meant working with school leadership, parents, teachers and students to get them more help.

You don't have to take my word for it, look at his record:

“I saw your [Commissioner Hales’s] letter to Carol Turner regarding the identification and possible sale of properties owned by the District which may be determined to be “surplus” at this point…The creation and maintenance of superb parks throughout this city is a great attraction and wonderful amenity. If we are considering disposal of properties in “park deficient areas”, now would be a good time to address that deficiency.” [City Archives Folder “Parks- Portland Public Schools"]

“As you know, in addition to the proceeds from the march [June 1, 1996 March for Our Schools], the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and hundreds of individual donors and businesses, stepped forward to provide $23.9 million in emergency resources for Portland-area school districts (including $9 million from City). These funds helped settle a looming teacher strike and allowed for the rehiring of hundreds of school employees who would have otherwise lost their jobs.” [City Archives Folder “Portland Public Schools”]

“The Council itself should discuss and deliberate the requests rather than have presentations. Having a listing and description of all of the requests from Council offices provides the context we need in order to make a decision on school funding. Among other requests, we know which need immediate funding and which can be delayed until mid-year until revenue receipts are secure.” [City Archives Folder City Council- Measure 50 Allocations]

“Yesterday I had our briefing from Ruth Roth on the financial analysis of the needs of all of the school districts. After looking at the issues I believe the East Portland districts have carefully managed their funds while undergoing significant changes, particularly related to ESL and special education students, and do in fact have important financial needs….While I know this is a different allocation formula than what was used by OFA last year, it seems to me to be simple and straightforward. I propose that the minimum contribution to the schools be as follows:

  • Portland Public Schools $2,000,000
  • David Douglas $275,371
  • Centennial Schools $138,265
  • Parkrose Schools $128,013
  • Reynolds Schools $87,888” [City Archives Folder City Council- Measure 50 Allocations]

“While the City has made special financial allocations to Portland school districts over the past three years, our bureaus have a number of regular and on-going programs in support of our school districts. We find that we devote about 39 full time equivalent employees and $3,949,305 annually in partnership with Portland area school districts. In the briefing next week I would like to…have a discussion with you and others about the programs and partnerships we are engaged in, what we might do better, or what we might do that we are not engaged in…The desired outcome is that we have partnerships with school districts in which the programs and services the city bureaus provide to schools are meaningful and needed, effective and well coordinated. “ City Archives Folder Title R.C.85.05 [.20]

Additional ordinances assisted schools technically, but these are representative of those forwarded during Hales’ tenure.

It’s a long list. That’s why I know Charlie is the only candidate ready to make a difference on day one. Join me – support a champion for our schools!

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    Seems that Hales is not newly seasoned but well seasoned - built on not just rhetoric but record. Great post!

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    Nobody argues the candidates care about the kids and schools whole-heatedly.

    What distinguishes Smith is that he offers high-level resolution to issues that have plagued the Portland Public Schools, a "this changes everything" response, rather than band-aiding the punch-list. Smith's experience is an author of fiscal legislation who knows what needs to be done upstream to resolve this annual flood that erodes Portland education's high ground

    What distinguishes Hales is that for decades he has been called upon to work on the fiscal issues around the schools... and the parks and infrastructure as well. With all the leadership roles as elected and appointed and volunteer that Hale held, with all that know-how and experience and time and support, then why is the funding of PPS still so broken?

    Could it be because - as in last night's debate in answer to the question, "What is the job of a mayor in Portland" (at 39:05 )when Hales says that as part of the leadership requirement for a mayor, he is "... the only one of these three candidates for this office that are here tonight, who's ever managed in the City of Portland's big, strange system of government. And the fact that I have that experience means that I won't have a learning curve. Something else that we ought to make sure we have in a mayor." - that Hales doesn't understand that learning is life long, that one of the top skills for executive management -primary for creating change - is constantly being in a learning curve? Or that maybe being an Oregon State House Representative may be a bigger, badder, stranger system of government? Or that collaborating with political opponents on opposite side of a party line at a national level, " call the community together around some common problem or build partnerships... to lead and sometimes change a big bureaucracy..." might make an executive seasoned enough to hit the ground running? It appears that Hales is capable of visioning only so high, and then has a limited horizon, where he cannot see.

    It is time for Portland to change the way it does government.... and business.... and infrastructure and so much more; time to move Portland forward out of these cyclic fiscal dramas. Jefferson Smith, a mayor who can.

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    I support Jefferson Smith, who is himself a very strong supporter of our public schools.

    I certainly wouldn't argue that Charlie Hales has bad intentions toward public schools. But he had a choice during all those years he was avoiding Oregon taxes by claiming to live in Washington for tax purposes, all the while continuing to vote in Oregon. Those Oregon taxes, like mine and everyone else's in our state, support our public institutions and facilities. He made the wrong choice.

    It was not a principled choice and it does not reflect well on him.

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