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Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 01 June 2012

Crew was officially approved for the job
by the OEIB Thursday morning at
Parkrose High School.

Rudy Crew is officially Oregon's CEO of schools – that's Chief Education Officer, a unique position expected to "lead the transformation of" all public schools from early childhood programs through college.

He toured the city yesterday, meeting students at Jefferson Middle College and Portland Community College, before attending the 2012 Oregon League of Minority Voters Annual Liberty and Hope Award Dinner – where he was buttonholed by many community leaders curious about his new job.

Crew, who has led school districts across the country, is considered a controversial choice to work under Gov. John Kitzhaber's – also controversial – new Oregon Education Investment Board, coordinating a redesign of public education throughout the state.

Meanwhile, protesters with Oregon Save Our Schools were frustrated Thursday morning in their attempt to hold a picket line at Parkrose High School, where the OEIB held its morning vote to approve Crew.

Susan Barrett and Steve Buel of Oregon SOS said the OEIB changed its meeting site at the last minute from Portland State University to Parkrose, where picketers were outnumbered by Portland Police officers in a steady drizzling rain.

"We really think it's because of the rally, and it's ridiculous – we saw nine police cars out here today," Barrett said. "We're just parents and community members who want to see our schools funded, and to waste taxpayer dollars to put the police force out here is just unbelievable."

Barrett and Oregon SOS are critical of the corporate-style approach they say is leading the OEIB to play up educational initiatives rather than stable school funding statewide.

Crew met with students at the Jefferson Middle College Thursday afternoon, along with Portland Schools Superintendent  Carole Smith, at right.

"We are here today because this is an Oregon Education Investment Board, and they need to invest in our schools, which means actually putting dollars and resources in our schools so that all kids can have access to well-rounded opportunities," Barrett said.

"Instead of funding, what we got was achievement compacts to 'hold our schools accountable,' when where's the accountability to us?

"Okay, you're going to hold our schools accountable for test scores and graduation rates, but you know what? To achieve those things, to achieve better outcomes for kids, we need resources – we need teachers, we need teaching assistants, and we need those things that keep kids engaged," Barrett said. "And that is not what this board has been talking about at all."

  At the Oregon League of Minority Voters Annual
Liberty and Hope Award Dinner with Dr. W.G. Hardy,
Jr, at left, and  Kelvin Hall.

The Skanner News put this question to Crew during his tour of the Jefferson Middle College, which he said impressed him so much with its program combining high school and college credit – with guaranteed college admission for students who get good grades -- he already hopes to duplicate it in other communities around the state.

Stable school funding is important to him, he said – but it's not his top priority. Rather, he plans to initiate new educational programs first.

"I think that you'll start to see the funding conversation will come through this kind of work, as opposed to just simply going out and simply asking for more money," he said.

"What I'm saying is that I think that money follows success, and when we have programs like this it's going to be up to us to channel these successes so that they factor into the conversation about more funding and more stable funding -- and I think they exist already but the channel for it doesn't exist.

"So my attempts will be to find out where these pockets are, begin to see how and what it would cost to scale them, and move them in a direction such that they are part and parcel of the funding conversation.

"And then build into this in some incremental way – year by year, biennium by biennium -- the kind of funding that ultimately supports this continuation and ultimately allows it to grow elsewhere," Crew said.



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