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Courageous Conversations taken to extreme at Scott?

What is going on at Scott School? I have a lot of questions (Teachers Protest Drum Beat on Race,

Nov. 1).

I was so excited when I learned it was to be an immersion school, and kids could learn about each other and leave the school knowing two languages. I liked Verenice Gutierrez and was sure she would bring a positive learning environment to the little neighborhood school.

The basic premise of Courageous Conversations sounds like a program that might help provide educational equity. But any program can be carried to such an extreme that the intended benefits are lost. This seems to be what has happened at Scott School.

What happened to celebrating diversity? Is Scott still a public school?

It looks like Latino students are being bused in and white students are being bused out. It reminds me of a reverse of the 1950s when black students were bused in to white schools to integrate. Now we are back to segregating. Is this really the way we want to “evolve” in our educational system?

Today I learned there was to be a “witch hunt” during the staff meeting. Carole Smith was there and they were going to try to root out those who talked to the Portland Tribune in the Nov. 1 “whiteness” article. Is this to target individuals?

I do not have a student at Scott, but we did have two grandsons who went to school there; one still does, and I was a volunteer for five years at the school.

Race was not a problem until it was introduced by this principal. I know this kind of leadership is not good for poor little white kids, and if people really thought about it, is it good for the brown kids either? Is this teaching them to get along in our society or is it making them militant, angry and racist, too?

Also, I am a property owner two blocks from the school and we pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. I really want to vote for money in schools, but I simply can’t if any student is left out.

How much did it cost the district out of its special professional development fund to send 93 people to San Antonio for a week? Did money from that fund come from taxpayer dollars? How many more teachers could have been hired with the money spent in San Antonio?

Seems to me, spending that money to hire more teachers and smaller classrooms would bring the test scores up for all students.

The disparity mentioned in the article to justify this type of school is that 67 percent graduation rate of white students and a 49 percent graduation rate for Hispanic students leaves a large gap in the success rate of students graduating in the district. Well, frankly, 67 percent isn’t exactly anything to brag about. So, what is the district trying to achieve? Bring the Hispanic graduation rate up to 67 percent (still nothing to brag about); or bring the white graduation rate down to 49 percent. Then we’d all be equal?

The goal of the district ought to be raising graduation rates for all students. This needs to be increased to a goal of at least 90 percent for all students regardless of color. This has been a realistic, attainable goal in other schools in the nation, and there is no good reason it can’t be done in Portland.

The way to increase achievement and the graduation rate for all students is to create a positive learning environment with a focus on student success and academic achievement, not on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I’d sure be happier voting for school bond measures if more teachers were hired, classroom size was smaller and I could see student achievement increased. Doesn’t money need to be “trickled” down to those we contract to educate?

Is it time for a good housecleaning both at the school level and the district level?

Susan Van Bevers is a Northeast Portland resident.