Letter to Teachers from Portland Public Schools Administration

Today one of our member organizations, Oregon Save Our Schools, published the second in a series of emails that were recently sent out by Portland Public Schools (PPS) Deputy Superintendent Yvonne Curtis . The first letter was a letter to PPS parents. This letter was sent to PPS staff.

There is a serious problem when teachers are being told not to talk openly to parents about issues around curriculum, instruction, assessment, and parental rights under the law. Imagine this: a child has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The parent calls their child’s teacher to tell the teacher that their child has been incredibly overwrought about the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessments. The teacher knows that the child has also exhibited signs of high anxiety at school recently, especially when the upcoming assessment is discussed. The teacher knows that the parent has the legal right to opt their child out and as a professional trained in pedagogy, assessment, and child development, believes that the information gained from the test does not outweigh the emotional distress the test is causing the child. After receiving a letter like this from their District Office, is it likely that teacher would recommend to that parent that this child not take the test? If the teacher did recommend that the child opt out and inform the parents of their right to do so, what would be the consequences from the teacher’s employer?

This is just one possible scenario of many that could affect an individual child or family. Larger questions are why is a school district trying to silence the voices of educators that the district assures parents and the community are highly competent professionals who can be trusted with their children on a daily basis? What are they afraid of? What are they trying to accomplish?

Let Oregon state officials know that cultivating this culture of fear is not acceptable. Sign onto our partners Oregon Save Our Schools and Oregon BATs joint Action Network letter.

Kathleen Jeskey