Portland Public Schools spent $135,703 in October to send 79 employees, including Superintendent Carole Smith, to a national conference in St. Louis sponsored by one of its more controversial consultants, Pacific Educational Group. The consultant leads Courageous Conversations, racial-awareness training intended to help teachers and administrators recognize âsystemic racismâ in themselves and their schools. The travel costs, released to WW under a public records request, come on top of $1.2 million the district has already spent on no-bid contracts with Pacific. As WW reported this fall, the training has done little to improve the districtâs persistent racial achievement gap and disparate discipline rates (âExpel Checkâ, WW, Sept. 25, 2013). PPS spokeswoman Erin Hoover Barnett says the investment is worthwhile: âThe Courageous Conversations national summit was an outstanding opportunity for our teachers, principals and administrators to learn new strategies and share our strategies for closing the achievement gap.â
Anti-TriMet blogger Lane Jensen has deleted his website after being arrested for the second time this year in connection to charges that he harassed transit agency spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt with repeated text messages (âA Visit From the TriMet Squad,â WW, Oct. 31, 2013). Jensen was arrested Oct. 17 on 31 counts of telephone harassment of Altstadt. On Dec. 7, Jensen aired a podcast taunting transit officials. âSorry, TriMet managers,â he wrote on his blog, Portland Transit Lane. âYou might be able to tell me what I can type, but itâs totally different when I start a podcast.â It wasnât. Transit police arrested Jensen again Dec. 17 for violating the terms of his release by talking obscenely about Altstadt in the audio. Jensen was bailed out by fellow TriMet watchdog blogger Al Margulies the next day. Jensen tells WW he doesnât know if heâll ever reboot his blog.
The abrupt October firing of Chris DâArcy, longtime director of the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust, continues to generate waves. Last week, the Salem Statesman Journal reported that a state review of the firing had found DâArcyâs boss, Tim McCabe of Business Oregon, didnât follow proper procedures in letting her go. Now, House Democrats say they will introduce legislation in February aimed at moving the arts organizations out from under the stateâs economic development arm. âWeâd like to take a look at whether Business Oregon is the appropriate place to be managing the cultural trust and arts commission,â says House Majority Leader Val Hoyle (D-Eugene).
Give!Guide Update: G!G surpassed $1.35 million this weekend, ahead of schedule to meet this yearâs goal of $2.1 millionâand nearly one-third of our 5,269 donors are 35 and under. You have until midnight Dec. 31 to donate. Please go to giveguide.org and give!