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June 4th, 2014 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: News That Won’t Keep You On A Waiting List.

murmurs_4031COTTON-TOP TAMARIN - IMAGE: Ltshears/cc
     
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  • Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith says she’s serious about closing the gap in the way the district disciplines African-American students. In recent years, black students have been suspended or expelled at rates more than four times that of whites, and the disparity has been growing despite expensive racial-sensitivity training intended to reduce the gap (“Expel Check, WW, Sept. 25, 2013). As first reported on wweek.com, Smith said June 2 she wants to cut by 50 percent the overall number of PPS students suspended or expelled, and to cut by half the disparity in disciplinary rates between black and white students, all by the end of the 2015-16 school year. Smith’s announcement in part responds to calls from the Portland Parent Union for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions (“Suspended Disbelief,” WW, April 9, 2014). The district will focus on research-proven alternatives to kicking kids out of school. “We aren’t just saying we want this to happen,” says PPS communications chief Jon Isaacs. “We are setting the direction.”
  • The results from the May 20 primary have all been tabulated, and here’s one slightly unusual result: Dr. Monica Wehby, the Portland pediatric neurosurgeon who won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, cast a ballot. Records show that since registering to vote in Oregon, Wehby has missed 16 of 31 elections. That compares to incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), who has voted in 46 of 47 elections. Wehby’s spokesman Charles Pearce says she was busy working. “As a pediatric neurosurgeon,” he writes, “Dr. Wehby has an extremely demanding schedule that often can change in a second based on the needs of her patients; yet, she still voted in the majority of general elections in which she was eligible.”
  • It’s been another rough week for primates at the Oregon Zoo. Last month, WW examined the zoo’s controversies in the wake of the death of Sumatran orangutan Kutai and the firing of the zoo director and chief veterinarian (“12 Mammals That Matter to the Oregon Zoo,” WW, May 28, 2014). The day after our story ran, regional government Metro announced that six cotton-top tamarins—a species of monkey—had died in quarantine at the zoo’s $8.8 million veterinary medical facility. Metro pledged reforms June 2, announcing it will hire a new hospital manager to oversee medical care, and asked the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to evaluate its procedures. But Metro still hasn’t released reports explaining why the monkeys died. “It’s capacity,” says Metro spokesman Jim Middaugh. “We are slammed.”
 
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