Paul Anthony? Resign? What's Really Going On Here?
UPDATE: By dianeravitch June 28, 2017 Portland, Oregon is in big trouble. Despite massive spending by the fake reform Stand on Children–err, Stand for Children–the corporate reformers lost in the school board election. Read more and comment on Diane Ravitch's blog.
Nothing less than the heart and soul of Portland Public Schools (PPS) is at stake in the outcome of the unprecedented vicious personal attack on board member Paul Anthony. The attack comes at a critical time when PPS is searching for a new superintendent. Let’s be upfront about this from the start: Paul Anthony is under attack because the board has shifted as a result of the May 2017 election. Getting rid of Anthony is key to perpetuating the status quo.
Stand for Children (SFC), Teach for America (TFA), and other surrogates of billionaire/corporate reformers invested over $100,000 to elect a candidate that lost. It was a stunning loss for SFC, an astrotuf organization that has entrenched itself in the Oregon Department of Education as well as many others across the country. Apparently, SFC is determined that its agenda prevail. That’s why it’s so important to them that the hard-working, resolute Anthony relinquish his seat even if they must slur his character and demean his integrity in the process. The losing candidate received official endorsements from the Portland Tribune, as well as Portland school board members Julia Esparza Brown, Pam Knowles, Amy Carlsen Kohnstamm, and Tom Koehler. These are the very sources who have chosen to malign Anthony.
The letter from the Portland Association of Public School Administrators (PAPSA) is suspect. I'm trying to imagine a scenario in which a group of principals would come together -- at year's end, their busiest time -- with the unusual objective of sacking a school board member. What was the catalyst for such a letter? How long had this discontent been percolating? Did PAPSA vote on a resolution? How many principals signed on? Who took the story to the Portland Tribune? So many questions.
Prospective superintendent candidates want to know how the board leans and if it is a collaborative body,
Timing is crucial. Anthony must step down before a new superintendent is chosen. Prospective superintendent candidates want to know how the board leans and if it is a collaborative body before showing interest in the position. There are two types of superintendents these days: corporate reformers v. real education reformers. Both types believe that our public schools are in trouble and need to be reformed. The methods, actions, and outcomes initiated by each couldn't be more divergent. Corporate reformers are working to privatize our public schools. Real education reformers are working to strengthen our public schools, and they consider them the foundation of our democracy. (See below.)
Looking at the PPS Board as a fantasy league (or the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress for that matter), the current board looks something like this. Generally speaking, the Red team members are corporate reformers. They are a strong team that sets the agenda and pushes it through. The Blue team, the real education reformers, is scrappier and at times must resort to creative tactics to address issues of concern and achieve their goals. This board (term ending June 30, 2017) would generally favor a corporate reform superintendent.
The new board may look more like this (below). The Red team and the Blue team are more evenly divided with perhaps a swing vote (purple). This is the type of Board that prospective superintendents shy away from. Board members don't work well with each other because they have fundamental differences in defining what a quality education is.
Or, the new board could look like this (below). As in the case above, this board is not appealing. It has the potential for constant bickering and positioning depending on the issue. Decision-making will not be an easy process with this Board. The corporate reformers really needs another team member to court a corporate reform superintendent. To accomplish that goal, the current Red team is sabotaging the Blue team by insisting that Anthony resign. This is unconscionable. Anthony was elected by the people -- as were they.
What would happen if Paul Anthony were to resign? Would there be a special election? If there were, you can bet Stand for Children and other billionaire surrogates would spare no expense to elect a corporate reformer. Julie Brim Edwards would be poised to set the agenda and whip the Board into advancing issues favored by the power elite that -- based on the experiences of other similarly configured Boards across the country -- are not in the best interest of children.
You can configure the new board in a number of different ways, but the only way that the Red team can court a corporate reform superintendent is to get rid of Anthony. Any way you look at it, the new board is not a slam dunk for corporate reformers. That's why the corporate contingent of the board is adamant that Anthony resign. It's disgraceful!
According to the Portland Tribune:
Lurie, the Alameda principal in Northeast Portland, pointed to a statement Anthony made last month to The Oregonian about the district's failed search for a superintendent. "We need someone who can address our issues with honesty and integrity and own up to what's wrong," Anthony told the newspaper. "And if we can't have that, we aren't going to be able to move forward."
Well, let's just take Anthony out to the street and stone him! If this statement is the best his detractors can come up with to demean him, there is nothing to see here. I would hope every member of the board would share that same sentiment. We do not condone the Anthony's language especially in these times when public discourse has stooped to an unprecedented low. We hold our public servants to a higher standard. That being said, it is understandable that frustrations may run high when reasonable ideas and actions are dismissively rebuked by a cliquish majority on the board.
Paul Anthony shows up. He listens. He tries to help people solve problems. I hope his family recognizes how much we appreciate the time, effort ,and heart he puts into this thankless volunteer job.
I hope Paul Anthony doesn't resign. We need him. Students and families need him. Teachers and school staff need him. Personally speaking, he is the only school board member that has ever been present at events I have hosted or attended-- even though he doesn't represent my zone. Paul Anthony shows up. He listens. He tries to help people solve problems. I hope his family recognizes how much we appreciate the time, effort ,and heart he puts into this thankless volunteer job. Maybe he'll get to be to a member of the majority on the new board of real education reformers. It could happen! Maybe Mike Rosen and Scott Bailey could come clean with the public about whether they consider themselves "corporate" or "real education" reformers. It's really that simple. You can't be both.
Parents Across America Oregon has asked that the hiring of the new superintendent be a publicly transparent and engaging process.
Parents Across America Oregon has asked that the hiring process be transparent. We have also suggested the board contact Jim Harvey in Seattle, who runs the National Superintendents Roundtable, to identify superintendent candidates who won't pursue a corporate agenda.
My ideal board would consist entirely of real education reformers. Parents Across America has created a position paper on A Quality Education that varies considerably from the vision of corporate reformers. What's the difference between corporate reformers and real education reformers? Below are some major differences. (With an assist from Mark Naison)
Promote national testing and test based accountability standards for public schools.
Close schools deemed "failing" and remove their teachers and administrators.
Favor corporate charter schools over public schools, especially in high poverty areas and prefer the segregation of African American and Latino students into those charter schools.
Support programs like Teach for America which de-professionalize the teaching profession.
Promote “edtech” -- sometimes called “personalized learning” – which diminishes the role of the teacher to that of record keeper and requires students to acquire learning via computer.
Support the proliferation of a wildly expensive statewide longitudinal data systems while minimizing the need for oversight of student data privacy.
Real Education Reformers:
Urge parents to revolt against untested state standards and excessive testing.
Create teacher and parent activist groups like Save Our Schools, BATS, the Network for Public Education, and Parents Across America.
Protest the an mass exodus of the most talented veteran teachers and the sharp decline in the percentage of Black teachers in many major cities where teacher temps from programs like Teach for America have become the predominant labor force in newly created corporate charter schools.
Oppose gentrification of the nation's major cities when community schools are closed leading to the dilution of political power of working class people, immigrants, and people of color.
Oppose the shrinking of the working Black and Latino middle class, and the weakening of the nation's unions resulting in many more children living in poverty.
Reject the need for massive data collection and advocate for student data privacy.
Maybe, if the Portland Public School Board could get its act together and decide who they want to serve -- students or corporations -- we could get a great superintendent to lead PPS and deliver an excellent quality education to our children.
NOTE: Parents Across America Oregon has implored the Portland Tribune many times to cover education issues of interest from our perspective. Consistently, the "newspaper" had ignored our emails and phone calls while regularly printing stories cheerleading the corporate reform viewpoint..
A School Board Member Complains to the Feds About the Quality of Education for Minority Kids in Portland