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« Passivistas & their Activista Mamas | Main | Activistas 101: Multnomah County »


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I noticed while everyone's willing to debate the PERS issue but no one's willing to discuss the issues around access that I brought up as Protest Mama. Should I take take as confirmation? If nothing else this convo will get me to talk to my neighbors about opposing any new charters.


We moved to Portland from the Hamptons, specifically so my children would not be stuck in an all-white, upper-middle/filthy-wealthy school environment. My 5 yr old would have attended a school with 2 full-time art teachers, 2 full-time PE teachers, an astronomical observatory, and optional latin classes. This was our neighborhood, public school. What he also would have experienced was a degree of ostracism (we had a '89 Honda Civic, where most other parents are driving H2s and Bentleys), and some of the most disgusting forms of racism I have ever seen. (Yes, we are white. I was more concerned because: a) there are only about 10 black kids in the school and b) on the East End of Long Island it is "okay" to throw things at Latinos.) My husband and I wanted our boys to grow up knowing that not everyone is the same as they are, but that everyone is still a valuable person.

I spent about a year before we moved researching different schools, public, charter, private, etc., before we got here. Private school was out because we can't afford it. (We're like the family ProtestMama mentioned--one income, barely above minimum wage). Charter schools, while public, still seemed like what we were trying to get away from in NY. In the end, we picked a neighborhood school and busted our butts trying to find a rental in that neighborhood.

I could not be happier with our decision. Yeah, I was sad to find out that there is no art teacher in his school. (I love art.) But then, he has art options in after-school SUN classes. (Granted, he picked the science classes, but hey, he had the option.) He has 25 kids in his class--maybe a little on the large side, but his teacher is wonderful, and from what I see at pick-up and drop-off, the kids seem to all be getting enough individual attention. And most important to me, is the racial diversity in his classroom--it's about evenly split black and white, with a few Asian and Latinos in there too. (Sorry in advance if I offended anyone with incorrect racial terminology.) My son has gone from asking me "But why are black people black?" to just asking me if he can hangout with so-and-so on the playground. This to me is worth any shortfalls the school may have--my son is going to grow up in a school environment where everyone is truly accepted, instead of just being accepted in theory. This never would have happened in the Hamptons, and I was worried it would not happen in Portland in a charter or private school environment.

The biggest problem I do have with his school is that while I would love to volunteer, I just don't know how to go about doing it. Maybe I just missed the sign-up info, or whatnot, but I do read everything that gets sent home. Hopefully, though, I'll figure it out--after all, we are just in kindergarten, we do have some time to learn all this new stuff.


I really appreciate you sharing your pespective on picking a neighborhood school and your experience there so far.

I know from my own experience that it can sometimes be difficult finding ways to be involved as a school volunteer. One really easy effective way is through SMART (Start Making a Reader Today.) Volunteers read one-on-one for one hour per week to K-3rd grade students. Volunteers can sign up through the website at, which also lists the programs days for each school by county.

The Hands on Portland volunteer program is also starting a partnership with Portland Public Schools. You can search their project database or calendar to see if there are special events or ongoing volunteer opportunities at your school( Of course the PTA or SUN coordinator can also usually get you connected to volunteer activities in the school, but not always.

Depending on which school you go to I may have more info about specific volunteer opportunities or be able to put you in contact with someone in the school who would know. You can email me at if you like.

Good luck!


I know it's a bit late notice for most, but there is a session tonight:

The volunteer Portland School Board will meet tonight, Monday, Nov. 5, to discuss Portland Public Schools’ enrollment and transfer process, its effects and its future.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Blanchard Education Service Center, 501 N. Dixon St.

Judy Brennan, program director of the district’s Enrollment and Transfer Center, will present to the board history and data on the current policy governing school choice in the district. Portland has a
long tradition offering both strong neighborhood schools and focus option choices. At the heart of district choice is a lottery system and school attendance boundaries built over decades on incremental changes.

In recent years, federal requirements under No Child Left Behind have complicated the process.

Brennan’s data highlights a city with great disparity in income and racial makeup among neighborhoods even before students choose to
transfer. When demographics are viewed post-transfer, the schools in outer North, Northeast, and Southeast Portland show higher concentrations of poor and minority students than the neighborhoods surrounding them.

The presentation tonight will serve as a foundation for a school board discussion of the transfer policy.

The board agenda and supporting materials are online at


I know this thread is a little old, but I'm hoping there are still mamas out there checking it out... wasn't sure if I should post on a charter school thread or immersion one. Here's the deal: my husband and I REALLY want our new baby boy to attend French immersion school once he reaches school age, and I'm speaking to him entirely in French from the start in the hopes that he'll be on the bilingual track from the get-go. Our problem: the two French immersion schools in town, which I gather are quite popular, are private and very expensive. While it's a ways down the road, affording a private education would be very difficult for us. My gripe: why are there public and/or charter schools for so many other languages but not for French? There are obviously folks interested in sending their kids to French immersion school since there are two popular private ones--- it's so frustrating that there's not a public, tuition-free option.
Now to my point, inquiry, request-- whatever you want to call it-- are there any other parents out there who would be interested in a charter French immersion option in the metro area? I have my MA in French and teach at the community-college level. I am toying with the idea of launching a charter proposal but would LOVE the help of another mama, papa or teacher out there. With so many school choices in Portland and support for school choice in general, I feel that French-immersion as a free option should fit into the picture. I noticed that someone brought up that German and French are no longer in vogue... I'm not so sure. Sure, they may not be the most "practical" foreign languages anymore, but college French enrollment numbers are up and with Fulton Park's newer French immersion preschool and La Creche immersion daycare option in SE, I tell myself maybe there are other interested parents out there... are there??!

Wacky Mommy

An update: We've decided not to move to Beaverton.

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