Everyone Suffers Until No One Suffers

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The Portland Public School District is going through a painful process of closing some schools while converting others from K-5th grade into K-8th grade schools. These changes are driven primarily by the district’s shrinking enrollment and the belief that eliminating middle schools will boost student achievement.

But another reason for one school closure stands out as an example of political correctness run amuck. School Board member Bobbie Regan had this justification for closing the district’s only small and successful K-3rd grade school, Hollyrood in Northeast Portland:

“This is not OK for one community in one part of town to have a 215-student school when no other community will have this opportunity. It’s totally inequitable.”

But, if having such a small school is an “opportunity” why not leave it open and figure out ways to give other families similar opportunities?

Apparently it’s easier to deny such opportunities to everyone than to let some families have them now while working to let others have them later.

Closing one successful small school just because all schools can’t be small and successful makes no sense. Apparently the public school bureaucracy doesn’t have to make sense; it simply has to make sure that no child has an opportunity until all children have the same opportunity.

If the rest of the world worked this way, we’d still be living in caves.

Steve Buckstein is senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, a Portland, Oregon based think tank.

© 2006, Cascade Policy Institute. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided the author and Cascade Policy Institute are cited. Contact Cascade at (503) 242-0900 to arrange print or broadcast interviews on this topic. For more topics visit the QuickPoint! archive.

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