Portland Students Paid "Community Service Credit" for President’s Day Teachers Protest

The Portland Public Schools spokesman, Matt Shelby, says PPS stands by its decision to use the school district’s email system to call on students to use their President’s Day holiday to join with organizations such as as The Bus Project and teachers unions to lobby for school –and teacher–funding increases. (See the email below) In exchange, 8th graders will receive “Community Service” credit. Sound like political advocacy to you? A local attorney thinks so, too. 

While claiming that this protest is politically neutral, the schools are encouraging students to protest alongside groups that ally themselves only with leftist political causes. In fact, in so doing, according to Ross Day, an attorney in Oregon who has expertise in election law, this school-encouraged political protest appears to be in violation of the Little Hatch Act. 
Let’s look at the groups the schools encouraging students to protest alongside.

American Federation of Teachers – Oregon –teachers union
Bus Project –which now touts establishing a “politicorps” for “young activists”and supports only  leftist, ‘progressive’ causes
Children’s Institute Community &Parents for Public Schools, Portland–Minority rights, pro public schools organization
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon –an organization which allies itself with only liberal causes.
Friends of Music–the website that comes up is a PPS one at Beaumont School
Onward Oregon–a leftist group which currently supports a state sponsored bank
Oregon Business Association–the liberal business association
Oregon Education Association –the teachers union
Oregon Head Start Association–advocating for more government spending on early education
Partnership for Safety & Justice–youthful offender stay out of prison group–a liberal cause
Progressive Oregon–Noah Heller, the apparent leader of this group, lobbies for the ban on plastic bags, has written for the Daily Kos, a far left blog and Blue Oregon
Rural Organizing Project–this old timey organization appears now to have morphed into a gay rights groups
Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality
Stand for Children–which crowed about electing “pro school” (liberals) to office.

With the possible exception of Head Start, the fact is these groups don’t support education for children as much for the teachers. Don’t tell us that this union protest for more money, using the kids as a props, is politically neutral. It’s obviously not. This is a protest to call for more money for the school monopoly in the state–not to ‘stand for children.’

If these groups were really there ‘for the children,’ they’d be scrambling protesters to call for greater access to charter schools, virtual schools and home schooling. But the schools aren’t sending out email missives for those, more conservative, educational causes. They send out the emails only to sustain the public schools monopoly on education. 
Updated: If they were really in the corner of the kids then they’d encourage kids to go testify in favor of budget cuts of less worthy programs to make more funding available for schools. If they were there for the children they’d send a broadcast email to all parents encouraging students to agitate for PERS reform so there would be more funding available ‘for the children.’
But they don’t. They only send emails out to support leftist groups calling for a bigger piece of the government pie for–c’mon, you know: the teachers unions. 
The Portland Public Schools have chosen only one side to ally themselves with. The left. Shame on you. Shame on taxpayers for letting the left get such a strangle hold on the schools that this incident doesn’t surprise them.

Fellow blogger, civil rights attorney and Veterans activist, Rees Lloyd, was sent the following email along with every parent at this school. District spokesman, Matt Shelby, told our news department that PPS stands by the email. This appears to be tacit confirmation that the following school wasn’t the only one using the taxpayers’ email system to advocate for political causes.

Rees says if were licensed to practice law in Oregon he would have filed a lawsuit by now. 

From: Cate Boyce <cboyce@pps.k12.or.us>

To: WestSylvan6-List@pps.k12.or.us; WestSylvan7-List@pps.k12.or.us; westSylvan8-list@pps.k12.or.us
Cc: Rhonda Morris <rmorris@pps.k12.or.us>; Petra Toscano <ptoscano@pps.k12.or.us>; Anna Wessinger <awessing@pps.k12.or.us>; Pylaar Solomon <psolomo1@pps.k12.or.us>; Mary Crittenden <mcritten@pps.k12.or.us>; Karen Rouse <krouse@pps.k12.or.us>
Sent: Mon, Feb 7, 2011 4:02 pm
Subject: [Westsylvan8-10.11.list] State House Rally for adequate funding for Schools – 8th grade community service
We need you!! Students, parents, teachers & staff!! Come show your support for strong schools, strong futures and adequate funding at the State House Rally on President’s Day, Monday, February 21 from 10-2. 
All 8th Graders will receive Community Service Credit for attending so you can show your civic spirit and get your hours, too!!!
Just a few facts to get you inspired to come to the Rally:
* The proposed budget means eliminating 445 teacher positions or 32 school days in Portland.
*Only 33% of 9th graders in Oregon who finish high school in four years go on to college.
*Oregon has the 2nd shortest school year in the nation. It is 12 days short of the national average, and 15 days short of the top 10.
*The Rally is supported by:
  • American Federation of Teachers – Oregon
  • Bus Project
  • Children’s Institute
  • Community & Parents for Public Schools, Portland
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
  • Onward Oregon
  • Oregon Business Association
  • Oregon Education Association
  • Oregon Head Start Association
  • Progressive Oregon
  • Rural Organizing Project 
* Legislators said that the huge turnout of school supporters for the 2009 Rally directly affected their decisions to vote for stabilized funding for Oregon’s schools. Our presence really and truly does make a difference.
Sign-up is easy: Email Kate Swindell at katebs@comcast.net with your name(s), email address and phone number and we will do the rest to get you registered. You can also check out the website (www.stand.org/or/rally) for more information and if you decide to sign up through the website, just let Kate know so the E/W Sylvan team is all accounted for. We are hoping to get our bus expenses covered but if not possible, we will be requesting a nominal $5 donation per person.
Our goal is to have a bus full of E/W Sylvan Rally-ers!!! That’s only 50 of us – we can do it!!! 
Cate Boyce
West Sylvan Middle School
8111 SW West Slope Drive
Portland, OR 97225
Excellence can be achieved if you…Care more than others think is wise…Risk more than others think is safe…Dream more than others think is practical…Expect more than others think is possible.
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