Portland OR February 8, 2010 -
At its regular meeting tonight, the PPS Board will vote on whether to accept Resolution 4214, a $320,000 revenue contract for the Starbase program, an educational program funded by the Department of Defense. Students in Starbase get 25 hours of so-called science, math and technology instruction at local military bases. A growing number of Portland parents and community members strongly oppose the Starbase program, because it is used as a recruitment tool by the military and heavily targets low income youth. They are urging the Board to vote down this contract.
"We oppose the militarization of our children through a science curriculum," says Jessica Applegate, mother of two PPS students. "This program is funded out of the Department of Defense recruitment budget and takes place on military bases."
According to the Starbase Portland site: "The goal of the Starbase Portland Program is to raise the interest and improve the knowledge and skills of at risk youth in math, science, and technology by exposing them to the technological environment and positive role models found on military bases and installations."
Nancy Rawley, questions how funds are used within the Starbase program. "Reportedly five PPS employees are being paid by the U.S. military to "administer" the Starbase program." says Rawley, the mother of two elementary school children. "That money would pay for a whole lot of microscopes and science supplies, wouldn't it?"
Carrie Adams thinks PPS is cooperating with the Department of Defense to racially profile students. "Students of color are disproportionately represented in their program," she writes in her education blog, "Cheating in Class". "The Portland schools participating in Starbase are schools with high percentages of minority students."
Applegate, Rawley, and Adams and others plan to continue to raise awareness about the Starbase program in Portland schools and call on all those concerned to write to the Board and Superintendent Smith to call for an end to the program.