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On Tuesday July 18th, 2003 at 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Superintendent Jim Scherzinger will be holding a public "outreach and comment" forum concerning Vocational Village High School. It is well known by now that the school district here in Portland will stop at nothing to line the pockets of administrational staff employees at the expense of our children. This meeting will discussing weather or not to sell off Vocational Village High school by declaring it "surplus property" and in doing so the school district would be able "except bids" on the property, selling it off to the highest bidder (which they already have lined up to most likely replace the current site of the school with condos).
On Tuesday July 18th, 2003 at 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Superintendent Jim Scherzinger will be holding a public "outreach and comment" forum concerning Vocational Village High School. It is well known by now that the school district here in Portland will stop at nothing to line the pockets of administrational staff employees at the expense of our children. This meeting will discussing weather or not to sell off Vocational Village High school by declaring it "surplus property" and in doing so the school district would be able "except bids" on the property, selling it off to the highest bidder (which they already have lined up to most likely replace the current site of the school with condos).

For years the staff, parents, and students at Vocational Village have been fighting to save their school and have won thus far. Many attempts by the school district here in Portland have been taken to try and undermine the school. Everything from school supplies for students in class, quality in food, school safety, and even serving an eviction notice to the staff and students at Vocational Village High School. All attempts by the school district have failed to close the school as of yet.

What makes Vocational Village Unique is that it is the only alternative high school in the Portland Metro Area. A safety net have you for students who have all either dropped out of the "factory model" high schools that have been failing district wide in meeting students needs, that have pretty much given up on them. With small class sizes, shorter terms (but same length of a school year) so teachers, students, and parents alike can see progress being made faster then your "average" high school. Work has to be of a 3.0 average or better to pass and earn credit (which is broken down into quarters and half's to give students more options while learning more at the same time).

The school pretty much pays for itself and then some being the only high school here in Portland that actually makes the district money as an alternative school receiving or any school. Federal funding for Vocational Village is $800,000 a year for being alternative. Over $460,000 (which varies based on how many students are at the school but averages out to about that figure) each year in total students, and about $100,000 to $200,000 in total grants for alternative education here in Oregon. This school which costs $1.4 million each year to run shows that this it is a sustainable school already running and effective in providing youth a means of true quality education while basically paying for itself.

This is a true cause worth fighting for, but without you there is no us. There is no future for change, there is no future for our children (except that job at McDonalds). So I ask you all to support this cause with overwhelming support and show the power of the people once again!

For everyone's sake.

Here is the official letter I got in the mail, it reads as follows word for word:

Dear Vocational Village School Community:

I am contacting you to inform you or opportunities to provide your input on an important matter involving the Vocational Village school site.

This past spring, the Portland Public School Board directed Superintendent Jim Scherzinger to provide them with a recommendation as to weather the Vocational Village site should be declared as surplus and, if so, under what conditions and considerations.

As you may know, the school district has already begun examining the potential relocation of Vocational Village to a number of sites. More importantly, a formal relocation committee including students, teachers and staff begins work on September 15th. I want to stress that we value our students at Vocational Village. This process focuses on the physical site of the school.

In addition, the Superintendent will begin a process this fall to look at vocational education district-wide under High School Reform. Lynne George, PhD and a former Director of Student Achievement (DOSA) will be leading the High School Reform effort. Principal, A.J. Morrison with be a part of the vocational education process as well as the new DOSA for Professional-Technical Education after this position is filled.

Our Board policy outlines specific guidelines for how we can approach potential surplus declaration of any property. As dictated by that policy, the superintendent has initiated a public outreach and comment process that involves working closely with the local neighborhood association, school community, business leaders and other citizens.

As the February 10, 2003 Board meeting, the board meeting passed a resolution calling for a recommendation from the Superintendent on the Vocational Village property before September 30, 2003. A Stakeholders' Advisory Committee met on July 8th and July 15th, 2003 to formulate recommendations for the Superintendent.

The Board policy also provides opportunities for public comment throughout this process. You are invited to make your feeling and opinions known at the following times and locations:

July 22, 2003 - Tuesday

Public Comment Meeting with Superintendent Scherzinger
Vocational Village Cafeteria
8020 NE Tillamook St.
6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Better Yet 20.Jul.2003 19:55


Help students by abolishing schools!

July 18th?? 20.Jul.2003 19:58


isn't that a few days ago?

War is Peace, freedom is slavery , Ignorance is strength 20.Jul.2003 21:45

seeking enlightenment

and whats wrong with schools? whats wrong with education?

Public schools are... 20.Jul.2003 22:37


breeding grounds for ignorance. Children are molded to become one more drone for the capitalist machine. The only way to a true education, liberation and enlightenment is to educate yourself. Throw off your chains!

You don't understand... 21.Jul.2003 03:01


Justme this school does do what your discribing, that's why it's worth saving! It shows the bars of the cage so students can realize and decide for themselves what they want to do about how fucked up things are instead of doing nothing because they don't know shit about mother culture. This school teaches students how to combat all the fucked up things that are going on. That's how this school has been able to stick around for as long as it has. The staff and teachers are real, not some bullshit front like they put up in most other schools.

This school teaches how fucked up the school system is, and the system in general. How many schools at high school level do you see 16-21 year olds learning that? Not to mention a school where the whole population is 100% at risk kids from low middle class, working poor, and poor? Trust me, as an activist I know my shit and this is worth fighting for and that's why the school district wants to sell the site off, because there is no bullshit going inside the school and kids are really learning about how to smash the state.

All I'm trying to say is this school needs our help, and unless you want an environment where students are nothing but a number, fine, don't show. But if you want an environment where students know how to stand up for themselves, know how to fight back, and know how push when comes to shove and win then support it.

You say you want change then stand up for it, because here it is right in front of you. SAVE IT before it's too late.

Hope to see you all there Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Typo 21.Jul.2003 03:03


Just so you all know it's on the 22nd, not the 18th it's a typo.

I learned nothing from school 21.Jul.2003 09:38


I learned nothing from my time at school except for how to suffer through long periods of extreme boredom. Real "education" is elsewhere.

alternatives 21.Jul.2003 10:26



Listen 21.Jul.2003 15:29


Real education exsists and it is here at Vocational Village. Will you be so blind to throw that away where everyone has else where? This is a chance to stand up and change Portland Public Schools for the better, for all our sakes and our childrens. Are you willing to stand up and fight back, or just talk?

If this school makes it, the effects will ripple throughout Oregon.

The point is.... 21.Jul.2003 20:19


that you don't need to go to ANY school to learn. In fact, going to ANY school is detrimental to your education, because it prevents you from thinking for yourself and finding your own path. The only example of a school you can go to but still retain the essential qualities is a sudbary school. Other than that, the only purpose i can think of for schools (or robot factories, as i like to call them) is for socialization- and it is only needed in our fucked up misanthropic society where to commune with your fellow humans you must have a bullshit alterior motive excuse.
I'm not writing this to knock you, blank- i think it's great that you care enough to do something. But we must liberate ourselves from inner-slavery (credit B marley for that) before we can make a difference in the world. I hope that doesn't come off as condensending as it sounds to me....

No, this is the point. 22.Jul.2003 00:40


How can you become something if you never see anything else besides a fucked up system that is falling apart, fighting to protect it at all costs without even knowing it? Trapped behind invisible bars every where you look, go, and explore.

I respect your opinion but how do you explain that to a 16 year old with no interst in learning because of all the fucked up "education" in the past? How do we "liberate ourselfs from inner-slavery" if the future doesn't care, because they never knew we are slaves, and would rather smoke pot and drink with friends each and everyday then go to school to find that out. Because after all to them, we're fucked. so screw everything.

When will you realize that there are places (Just like Vocational Village) that are changing that prespective for the better? When will YOU stand up for that? When will YOU rise up?

What's the difference? 22.Jul.2003 11:33


You still haven't shown me any great difference between the "vocational" school and the regular high school, except that this "vocational" school is supposedly more compatable for drop-outs. I'm assuming this school does occupational training, which doesn't make me feeling any better about it. This might actually be a problem, since it stops those "drop-outs" from getting a real education by following their own desires. Schools kill the drive to learn, and it takes time away from the educational system for real curiousity and an interest in learning to return. I suggest you read some books on deschooling like: Deschooling Our Lives (ed. Matt Hern), The Teenage Liberation Handbook, John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing Us Down, or the various books by John Holt.

What a shame 22.Jul.2003 17:41


that different people can't value different modes of and arenas for learning. So A and justme, because you couldn't or wouldn't learn anything from school, no one can, huh? What a rigid world. Doesn't sound much better than the one you say you escaped.

To Blank 22.Jul.2003 20:38

Radical Educator

Thanks for the informative article. I agree that schools often function as a conveyor belt to the status quo, but that is obviously not so in this case. You, at least, seem to have learned much there and I respect your opinion that this school is, in fact, different. I'm a fan of the "free skools," and I also appreciate justme's point that one doesn't necessarily need school to learn and be educated. But I think one idea that justme missed is that not everyone starts out with the same resources. Some people have access to internet and great books and can travel to interesting places because their families have the money to do that. Other people can't.

Schools, obviously, often exacerbate that problem by presenting many more opportunities to the children of the wealthy. But from what I understand, Vocational Village is not one of those. Some schools, and correct me if I'm wrong Blank, but I think this school is one of them, make it a point to redistribute some of those resources by targeting children who otherwise would have had few opportunities. They try to make up for deficits caused by poverty. In other words, they provide decent educational materials, access to books and computers, free or reduced price meals, even campus-based health care. In short, they are models for the redistribution of resources in an otherwise grossly top heavy society. Which is why, I believe, this school is being targeted for "downsizing."

This is an era of more for the wealthy, less for the poor. People who have never known want are frantically fighting to take every last scrap from the mouths of anyone who wasn't born in the right income bracket. This is a very opportune time for the rich and the near rich, and they're making the most of it. When Bush Sr was in office, and Reagan before him, the rhetoric was all about how so-called "welfare queens" were taking too much. Now that the welfare system (for the poor, at least) has been completely gutted, the same culprits are going after decent education for the children of the poor. The fat middle classes sit on their asses and pine about how much poor people are taking, and plot ways to get resources "back" from the poor. In fact, the only reason there doesn't seem to be enough to go around is because those same middle and upper classes consistently, gluttonously, take more than they need.

I support Blank's desire to see this school saved, because I see this as an opportunity for us to keep the system from gutting programs for poor and oppressed people in at least this one little sphere.

Just to clarify... 23.Jul.2003 08:28


Just to clarify, my family did not have money to send me to one of those super-elite private schools (which was half of the problem... my options were even more limited). I also didn't have a ton of resources; one day i simply stopped going to school. I didn't even know i was unschooling until one day my sister happened to find The Teenage Liberation Handbook (great book! read it, everyone!) and gave it to me. Of course, not everyone has parents that will except unschooling... i was lucky in that respect. My only advice to kids trying to convince their parents on this matter is to make as much ruckus as possible while in school so they will be open to just about any other option.

To justme 23.Jul.2003 19:13

Radical Educator

Yes! I completely agree that unschooling is a great alternative for those who prefer it. I also love that book. And I applaud you for making the right decision for yourself and for enlightening others about it. My comments above, however, still stand. They are not opposed to the ideas you share in the least. On the contrary, I wholly recommend the path you have chosen for anyone who thinks it might be right for them. I also believe, however, that a decent public education should be an option for those who want it. As a society, we have the responsibility for providing access to education. We have the responsibility for ensuring acces to at least minimum cultural participation for anyone who desires it. And, we have the responsibility to take back some of the resources being siphoned off at the top and directing them back to those who need them. Most of the students at Vocational Village need those resources.

So you and Blank are not in direct opposition. You simply advocate different paths, and I believe both paths should be open. Thanks to you both for such meaningful discussion.

so how did the meeting go? 24.Jul.2003 09:14


I'd like to stay informed about this issue... will there be a cable access show about this at any point?

sorry. here's the follow-up 10.Aug.2003 12:04


No Building, No Plan, No Clue -  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2003/07/268698.shtml

Note: the next meeting is tomorrow,
Monday, August 11, at noon
Vocational Village School @ NE 82nd and Tillamook