December 7, 2012

Another View: Green Party school board members accomplished much in Portland


I am writing in response to a story you published titled "Burlesque dancer wiggles into seat on Portland school board " (Nov. 10).

From 2003 to 2006, I served as a school board member representing District 2. I am a member of the Green Party. I take issue with your characterization that "... voters are willing to give Greens another chance on the school board, after a disastrous stint that largely ended in 2007."

Greens are committed to social justice. When elected to office, I made policy and resource allocation decisions based on this committment. When I joined the board in 2003, there was a culture where its elected members worked in collusion with the administration to preserve not only social hegemony but also an unchecked administration.

The board, rather than advance social policy and examine resource allocation, chose to rubber stamp the work of the administration. It was a tight club. The political body was not doing its job as defined by the state's constitution.

In order to advance social justice, it was necessary to work hard and challenge the institution. This is what leaders for social change have always done.

Greens were successful in passing policy that did the following:

1. Protected private student information from military recruiters.

2. Protected student health by banning irradiated foods from being served.

3. Secured the opening of Casco Bay High School -- a school that does not sort its students by race and class, as do Portland's two large comprehensive high schools.

4. Fought a weighted grading system that contributes to racial and class under-representation in rigorous courses.

5. Provided students with free passes to use city buses.

Stephen Spring is a doctoral student at the University of Texas and a former member of the Portland school committee.

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