May 2015 Elections: Portland Public Schools, Zone 1 and 2

Home/News & Events/Elections/May 2015 Elections: Portland Public Schools, Zone 1 and 2

May 2015 Elections: Portland Public Schools, Zone 1 and 2

(Photo from left to right: Jose González, Julie Brown, Paul Anthony)

Civic Engagement is central to APANO’s mission of ensuring that Asian and Pacific Islanders are fully engaged in the political process, and have opportunities to vote in elections. In order to inform and educate our members about the May 19th special election, we have reached out to candidates who are primarily running for seats on local school boards and institutions of higher education. We will be posting candidate responses (from only those who have responded) on a daily basis

Candidates have been asked the following questions to engage more directly with constituents, and for voters to be more familiar with their vision and policies. We are giving equal opportunity to all major candidates in the race.

 

Portland Public Schools, Zone 1

Julie Esparza Brown

1. How are you qualified to represent the interests and concerns of diverse communities of color, immigrants and refugees?

As a woman of color, I have spent my 30-plus years as an educator pushing for equitable education for children, particularly those of color and with differing abilities.  As a public school educator for over 15 years I was a special education teacher, bilingual teacher and school psychologist.  In one district I lobbied the district and school board to create a special education classroom where I taught in Spanish – still a rare classroom even almost 25 years later!  The students, however, with a variety of disabilities, only spoke Spanish and with instruction they could understand, make great progress.  In my work as a university professor, I author publications related to the differentiating students who struggle due to learning a second language from those with true disabilities.  I also consult nationally on these issues.  I keep abreast of the new communities in our area and learn what I can about their unique backgrounds, life experiences and languages to learn how to help teach my pre-service teacher students how to make connections with all of their students.  Finally, I am a good listening and am genuinely interested in strengthening our educational system to better serve ALL students.

2. What policies and practices do you support that ensure all Asian and Pacific Islanders can be meaningfully engaged in the decision-making of the institution(s) you would represent if elected?

I believe that the board needs to work differently to better connect with all of our communities.  Not every parent feels comfortable coming to a school board meeting that appears formal and inhospitable.  Thus, it is important we instead go out to our communities to meet with parent groups at places they are comfortable at.  It is also imperative to have qualified interpreters present at all meetings so that communication can be ensured.  Focusing on hiring community agents who represent our cultural and linguistic community groups also foster reciprocal understanding to help parents and schools learn to work together.

3. Oregon currently graduates half of it’s English Language Learners, who make up 10% of the state’s K-12 student population. What policies will you support to ensure that students–including ones who identify as English Language Learner, have access to quality education and career-readiness programs after graduation?

I am a proponent of multi-tiered support systems in every school.  In those systems, we get beginning information on student’s skills at the beginning of the year and then make decisions about which students need extra support.  We can also see that if all of the students who are struggling are ELs within a classroom or a school, that we need to adapt the core instruction to be appropriate to the language levels of the EL students first before we determine that individual students need support.  Once classroom instruction is appropriate for all students, then we can look individually at those needing more support.  These students would then be provided more intensive interventions but during all instruction and interventions, the language the students will encounter in the curriculum and in teacher directions must be explicitly taught so that all instruction is comprehensible.

4. Access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care ensures Oregonians are able to thrive and contribute. Please explain the policies you will support to increase access to care, and address health disparities, specifically for immigrants and refugees.

I would continue to support partnerships with health care providers that we currently in place and work to expand new partnerships with culturally specific community groups.  Also, it is crucial to have supports to assist families in securing insurance benefits in order to access needed services.  I am a big proponent of wrap-around services being available at school sites through community partnerships.  It will be important to review the policies in place for such partnerships to ensure “red tape” is not a barrier.

5. What policies relevant to your institution(s) do you support that strengthen economic opportunity and jobs for all communities in Oregon?

I support school policies that hold us accountable for increasing the educational attainment for ALL groups of children.  Without literacy and a high school diploma, there are very few opportunities for individuals.  Ensuring we increase the graduation rate and focus on preparing our students for college and career with strengthen our entire community.

 

Portland Public Schools- Zone 2

Paul Anthony and Jose González
1. How are you qualified to represent the interests and concerns of diverse communities of color, immigrants and refugees?

Anthony– I have a long history of being a strong ally of diverse communities in Portland.  For the last twelve years, I have been the Chair of the Humboldt Neighborhood Association (Humboldt was the last majority-African-American neighborhood in Portland and continues to be one of the most diverse and dynamic neighborhoods in the Metro area).  I have served on the Board and Executive, Community Economic Development, Land Use and Transportation, and Schools Committees of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, the Interstate Urban Renewal Area’s Parks and Transportation Committee, and committees for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Portland Community College.  I have used these positions to bring marginalized community members to the table, to improve safety and livability in historically marginalized communities, bring in sustainable and culturally respectful economic development, and bring city investment and services to communities of color.

González- A quality education is a basic right—and too many of Portland’s students don’t have access to the opportunities and support they need to thrive in our public schools. Every neighborhood deserves a quality school, and all of our students deserve the same opportunities.

I will be an advocate for equity and access for all of our students and families. I will be a voice for the students most in need of the opportunities a quality, well-rounded, and culturally-appropriate public education can provide—including arts education, which we know helps underserved students thrive.

Racial equity issues play a prominent role in my campaign for several reasons. First, because I am a proud person of color who has worked for equity in the Latino community and beyond for over 30 years, as founder and executive director of Miracle Theatre Group (Milagro), and through leadership on community boards. Second, because equity goals affecting PPS administration, teachers and students are far from being achieved and will require more attention and resources, particularly from leadership.

2. What policies and practices do you support that ensure all Asian and Pacific Islanders can be meaningfully engaged in the decision-making of the institution(s) you would represent if elected?

Anthony– The Portland Public Schools Board has a long history of throwing barriers in the way of communities of color having meaningful input on decision-making.  The Board has regularly scheduled events when parents cannot reasonably attend, limited testimony by means that effectively make it available for a privileged few, and held interminable listening sessions that only serve to further marginalize and silence already marginalized communities.  I will use my position on the Board to seek out diverse points of view and see that marginalized voices have a meaningful platform for offering their opinions, priorities, and problems.  I will use my position on the Board to ensure that District administration truly responds to and incorporates the opinions of the Asian and Pacific Island communities, in collaboration with APANO.  And I will use my position on the Board to take Board members, administrators, and other District decision-makers out into the schools, neighborhoods, and community organizations, where Asian and Pacific Islanders are comfortable and at home.

González- Portland parents share similar values: We all want our children to succeed, and have the opportunities that a quality education provides. And we believe every neighborhood school should be a place where students have what they need to succeed. Portland’s families are partners in education, and we want to find the right solutions for our kids.

I am running because I want to be a voice for all parents, especially those who are stretched thin ensuring their families’ basic needs are met, or haven’t historically been welcomed to the table. In that role, I will ensure PPS is seeking out and elevating the voices of parents of color and communities of color leaders—on all issues, not just those that impact equity.

PPS must continue to recognize that every family has a different capacity for involvement, and specifically reach out to families who aren’t usually meaningfully engaged.


3. Oregon currently graduates half of it’s English Language Learners, who make up 10% of the state’s K-12 student population. What policies will you support to ensure that students–including ones who identify as English Language Learner, have access to quality education and career-readiness programs after graduation?

Anthony– The most effective tool to address the needs of English Language Learners is dual language immersion.  I have direct experience, since all three of my children went through Spanish immersion. I was able to see how they benefitted as Spanish language learners.  More importantly, I saw how their Latino, native-Spanish-speaking classmates benefitted.  They became fluent in both English and Spanish, thrived academically, and became truly bicultural.  Research overwhelmingly confirms my experience that immersion programs are the best and fastest way to ensure academic success for English Language Learners.  I will use my position on the Board to expand and grow immersion programs for Asian and Pacific Islands children.  I am also a strong supporter of hands-on learning and Career and Technical Education, proven strategies for raising achievement, improving engagement, increasing graduation rates, and ensuring genuine readiness for college and career for all students.  It is not by accident that Benson High School consistently has the highest graduation rates for historically underserved students.  I will use my position on the Board to expand such programs, broaden hands-on learning programs, connect graduating students to Portland Community College, apprenticeship programs, and trade schools, and create new opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander children.

González- The Portland Public Schools Board is charged with setting the vision and priorities for the district, and making the right investments to support those goals. As I’ve done for decades through my service at Milagro Theater and on numerous non-profit and community advisory boards, I will bring people together to find community solutions.

Portland Public Schools needs to make smart investments that support students and teachers. Our hard-working teachers carry huge responsibilities and care deeply about their work and how it impacts the lives of their students, and they need our support. And our students need support both inside and outside the classroom to truly thrive.

While increased revenues and smaller class sizes can be part of the solution, no single approach or tool will close the opportunity or achievement gap. High quality, comprehensive, culturally competent curriculum is also key, alongside identifying and meeting students’ individual needs. Outside the classroom, there are partner organizations rooted in communities of color who are often best equipped to provide these supports and services.


4. Access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care ensures Oregonians are able to thrive and contribute. Please explain the policies you will support to increase access to care, and address health disparities, specifically for immigrants and refugees.

Anthony– The most effective tools PPS has for addressing health issues are health education programs, school nurses, and the school-based health clinics.  Portland Public Schools has a poor history of providing culturally-relevant curricula; I will use my position on the Board to push for culturally-relevant health curricula.  School nurse positions are funded by the MESD; I will advocate for increased school nurse funding with the MESD Board.  With the leadership changes at MESD, this an opportune time to strengthen the relationship between PPS and the MESD.  School-based health clinics are funded by Multnomah County.  I will use my position on the PPS Board to advocate for more culturally-sensitive services.  I am active on the Planning Committee for a school-based health clinic for Benson, the only high school on the east side of the Willamette without such a clinic.  We anticipate construction this summer with the clinic opening in September 2015.  I have also been working with the Benson Dental Health program, working with Portland Public Schools, Portland Community College, and the OHSU School of Dentistry, laying the groundwork for opening it as a free children’s dental clinic.  We hope to begin seeing patients in the clinic within the year.

González- Quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care has been a priority in my work at Milagro. One important program that Milagro has developed in collaboration with other community partners is OYE (Opciones y Educación), a coalition to promote healthy sexuality in Latino communities in Oregon using theater and popular education. Subjects tackled by the project include open communication, LGBT issues, body image, and “the ins and outs” of sexual health. Joining Milagro in this alliance are diverse organizations like Cascade AIDS Project, Edúcate Ya and Latino Network, and their joint efforts will be recognized by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners at their upcoming Public Health Heroes Celebration with the 2015 Social and Equity Justice Award.

This may not be typical work for a theatre company, but my leadership style is one that looks for creative solutions for our community’s most intractable problems. I will bring the same approach to Portland Public Schools. With regards to health care, strong partnerships with community based organizations—as well as utilizing our schools as gathering places for the community—can be leveraged to support the health needs of Portland’s immigrants and refugees.

5. What policies relevant to your institution(s) do you support that strengthen economic opportunity and jobs for all communities in Oregon?

Anthony– Broadening hands-on learning opportunities, Career and Technical Education, and connecting graduating students to Portland Community College, apprenticeship programs, and trade schools will dramatically increase student achievement and graduation rates.  They connect students from all communities in Oregon to opportunity through higher education, jobs, and sustainable, responsible careers, growing Oregon’s economy and creating greater opportunities for all Oregonians.  Because it is in the best interests of the students, Portland Public Schools needs to diversify its staff.  In the process, it will provide more opportunities for communities of color, including for Asian and Pacific Islanders.  But hiring is only the first step; Portland Public Schools must do a much better job retaining a diverse workforce, which it can only do by creating a respectful, welcoming, culturally-sensitive workplace.  I will use my position on the Board to create policies to further these goals, and carry out the administrative oversight to guarantee they are being carried out.

González- After years of cuts, Portland Public Schools’ is now investing in our schools. This opportunity comes with responsibility. I will put our students first and set a strong vision for student success, prioritizing strategic investments to achieve those goals.

Every student deserves a high-quality education that engages them now, and presents real career opportunities in the future. As a PPS grad and parent, I know that dedicated teachers and rich educational opportunities—arts, STEM, and partnerships with industry, labor and colleges—increase students’ success. PPS has been making positive moves in this direction: With the support of voters, there is now an arts teacher at every K-8 school. STEM programs are in development at Franklin and Roosevelt High Schools. Jefferson High School has a strong partnership with Portland Community College. And Benson’s CTE program is at capacity. I look forward to building on the success of these programs, and finding ways to engage more students in programs like these, that show a clear path toward a career.

Read all of our candidate responses here!

By | 2016-11-18T23:23:41+00:00 May 6th, 2015|Elections, News & Events|