After lambasting the O for lambasting public employees, I’m not keen on writing a post about the failings of Portland Public Schools. Suffice it to say that the education my freshman daughter is receiving at Grant High is in no way comparable to the education my son, who is a junior, received when he was a freshman. That’s due in large part to the 90 minute study hall she is subjected to two or three days a week, the math and science classes that also meet but two or three times, and the non existent electives she did not get to choose from.
Then again, my son is chafing at the bit because of the research and reading study hall he is required to take as a junior, one of three study halls he has this year. ”We do absolutely nothing; Get me out of that class,” he says at least once a week, a directive I aim to follow up on soon, even if the only alternative is for him to come home even earlier than he already does.
Indeed, perhaps nothing is more tragic then listening to a group of smart, boisterous goofy 16 year old boys in your kitchen, as they scarf down $80 worth of groceries–that cheese, salami, bread, and fruit was supposed to last a week–all the while talking about the cell phone games they play and the music they listen to during endless hours of study hall. ”I wish I could take a real class instead,” says one boy routinely, utterly without guile.
And you ask yourself, if these intelligent, happy, motivated kids are languishing, what is happening to the kids like Julio Marquez, the latest victim of gang violence, or the thousands of other teens who struggle academically, who are unhappy and unmotivated.
And you think about what it will take for meaningful tax reform to be implemented, for new kinds of public private partnerships to be created. Because of course you are not lambasting Portland Public Schools or Grant, or principal Vivian Orlen, but the deficits of the larger educational system, one that is going out not with a bang but a whimper.
And in the end, you say: oh well, my kids, they’ll be all right.