February 5th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

High-School Redesign: PPS Expresses "Disappointment" to The Oregonian About An Article Before Publication

PPS School Board
Two weeks ago, The Oregonian published an informative article about Portland Public Schools' high-school redesign.

The redesign has been in the making for two years but has yet to produce any definitive answers about the future of Portland's schools. Taking PPS' own public statements at face value, Oregonian education reporter Kimberly Melton conducted an analysis to show which of the district's 10 high schools might close or become "focus-option" schools. Although the school district takes an absurd pride in telling the community it has made "no decisions" about those two outcomes, closing schools remains one of the goals of the process.

But Robb Cowie, the district's chief spokesman, was alarmed by The Oregonian's endeavor anyway, according to an email he sent to district staffers on Jan. 13. Cowie believed -- incorrectly, it turns out -- the daily planned to publish its story the following day. (In fact, Melton was writing her story for the following week.) In any case, Cowie hadn't read the story when he sounded the alarm bells.

Here is Cowie's entire message, emphasis in bold is mine:

>>> Robb Cowie 1/13/2010 1:51 PM >>>
There is a possibility that tomorrow's Oregonian will include an article that will evaluate how our high school campuses might be used in the future, according to the criteria that has been discussed at the recent board work sessions.

We have communicated our disappointment to the Oregonian about the timing of such an article, its speculative nature and the impact it could have on the process. However, it appears that this article is scheduled to run in tomorrow's In Portland section.

This afternoon, we will send an e-mail to principals alerting them to this story. We will ask them to remind their staff and communities that no decisions have been made about individual high schools, and that any proposals by the Superintendent and decisions by the school board are still several weeks away. We will follow this up with an e-mail to all families that communicates the same message.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Robb Cowie
Executive Director
Department of Community Involvement and Public Affairs
Portland Public Schools
501 N. Dixon Street
Portland, OR 97227

Cowie's "disappointment" evidently had no effect on the daily's coverage, a fact that serves as a nice counterpoint to this flap at The Washington Post over its schools coverage.
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