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PORTLAND HIGH SCHOOL REDESIGN -- Questions to Consider

Portland has been rather quiet about the high school redesign issue. As of last evening, it was formally decided that Marshall High School (all three academies) in the struggling Lents neighborhood of Southeast Portland will be closed. Benson Polytechnic High School will become a smaller magnet school, although it will remain a four-year vocational high school. Jefferson High School will become a focus school. The affected student communities and their families have been vocal. However, where was the rest of the Portland community? Were people silent because they did not have children in the schools? Did they not care because their children's schools were not targeted? It takes a village to raise a child. Where was the rest of the Portland village during the high school redesign process? Here are some questions to ponder as the high school redesign takes effect.... Your silence will not protect you (or yours).
The WILLIAMETTE WEEKLY featured a very good article by Beth Slovic on the closure of Marshall High School in its October 6 issue, "We Were Marshall: Portland Public Schools' Path of Least Resistance Led Straight Through Lents."
See  http://wweek.com/editorial/3648/14598


Questions to consider:

1. Why were letters sent to families of Marshall High School (all three academies) and Jefferson Harriet Tubman Academy (high school) students notifying them of the closure of their schools BEFORE the School Board vote was taken on Tuesday, October 12?

2. Which of Benson's programs are going to be whittled away while more vocational "tracks" are added to the comprehensive high schools?

3. What new criteria are being demanded of students wishing to attend Benson?

4. Who will determine which vocational "tracks" (i.e., potentially, janitorial/fast food service/nanny vs. doctor/lawyer/engineer) will be offered at which comprehensive high schools?

5. Will students be allowed to transfer to schools that offer a vocational "track" that is of more interest to them? Won't that create the same problem that contributed to this fiasco?

6. Is there a good-faith commitment to not close Benson and Jefferson? After all, what is currently proposed for Benson and Jefferson is what was formerly proposed for Marshall.

7. Why give the student representative a vote, if the student representative's vote does not count? Dina Yazdani's (the student representative) vote would have created a tie situation in the votes cast to close Marshall High School. (School Board members Martin Gonzalez, Dilafruz Williams and David Wynde also voted against the closure of Marshall High School.) Disregarding the student representative's vote is extremely disrespectful to the student representative and to her peers, the constituency of Portland Public Schools.

8. When is the next School Board election? Can we vote out School Board members who do not appear to be interested in serving the entire Portland community, just their little neighborhoods, which also happen to be in the more affluent parts of Portland?

9. Why are "neighborhood" schools only applicable to some neighborhoods?