|Posted on 11/14|
|Thoughts on Nigel Jaquiss’ article ”Flunk Factories”This was well done. Thank you Willamette Week and Nigel.
This article on Portland Public Schools does an excellent job of examining some of the shortfalls of the district. However several issues remain to be addressed. How exactly can the citizens of Portland bring about change in any shortened time frame? The last PPS Board election saw two new members added but what can they do to alter the course set by the existing bloc of five. The next election cycle is almost two years away.
Do comments in this Willamette Week article attributed to Bobbie Reagan show some sort of realization that what the school board has been rubber stamping need to be further investigated and changes made? http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-21514-flunk_factories.html
Will other leaders in our state call for an audit of the district, come up with a timely plan for corrections and then hold the district accountable? After all if PPS is not acting as a good steward of its state funds then this is impacting everyone in our state—dollars that maybe other districts could be using more wisely and who are just as deserving.
Has anyone counted how many groups have popped up due to some sort of dissatisfaction with PPS? The most recent publicized group, the Portland Parents Coalition, has a legitimate complaint filed with the Oregon Department of Education asking about compliance with the state and federal mandates on length of the school day and year among other issues. There easily are enough beefs and named groups that one needs two hands to count.
Several questions remain. Among them the real estate dealings of NAYA and its purchase of both the Columbia site in late October of 2009 and more recently the purchase of the Foster school site this past year under School Board member and NAYA executive director’s watch.
Who is responsible for the calling of an audit and what would this mean to Portland and the rest of the state? Our group, back in April, had hoped to demand just such an audit. In a fit of prudence, we delayed due to PPS not providing requested public information in a timely fashion. The request dragged on into September and was not fully answered.
Our current budgeting systems cannot generate a report that would meet the specific parameters of your request. We provided you with information that is as close to your request as possible within our current systems and programs, but our staff would have to write an entirely new program to fulfill your specific request.
E-mail from Jollee Patterson 9/26/13
This seems more than disingenuous as the district has all sorts of chart fields on employees. Can they really not generate a list of who is working at the administrative offices and at what position? The site the Superintendents office did have that gave some information on this is no longer available on line. http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/admin-connection/01SectIntroCalendarsHandbooks.pdf
Which entity would be responsible for an audit?
–Oregon Department of Education—Rob Saxton has a complaint in front of him already from the Portland Parents Coalition. How long will his group take to come up with a response and what if anything will be accomplished?
–Oregon Government Ethics Commission who would rule on the propriety of two board members drawing a salary from venders who are contracted with PPS to administer failing alternative education programs.
–The Secretary of State—Kate Brown employs an auditor, Gary Blackmer, who is certainly well known to Portlanders. However PPS employs its own performance auditor, Richard Tracy, for a number of years and has paid him well over $1,000,000 for some worthwhile audits. For a full listing from the PPS site: http://www.google.com/cse?q=Richard+Tracy+audits&cx=011829215040839930623%3Adxseia1pgag&nojs=1&ie=UTF-8
–Nancy Golden who is the new Oregon Education Investment Board chair. This position is the one created by Governor John Kitzhaber to replace our Oregon elected Superintendent of Schools.
–Our State Legislature in the past has requested and directed the appropriate agency to carry out audits such as a more recent look at Tri-Met. This would be appropriate since any extra funding dollar going to PPS is a dollar out of the pocket of another district in the state.
Sadly each of these institutions will no doubt fail to act and if they do will find insufficient cause to take action if recent history continues.
We all need to be vested in finding some better solutions that actually work to increase PPS’ abysmal graduation rate, a high school schedule that leaves many students with a large chunk of the day warehoused in study halls and not even beginning to be prepared for life after high school. More money is not the answer. Leadership from the district and the board to address the issues is needed. If leadership is lacking it needs to be replaced starting at the district offices.
Notes—other district employee chart fields