Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Saxton and open enrollment

Front page ariticle in the Tribune yesterday, picked up by the Oregonian today, is making a big deal out of basically nothing.

Ron Saxton, it seems, wanted to get his son Andy into Lincoln High Schools International Baccalaurate program, but they lived in the wrong part of town for him to automatically qualify. So, the Saxtons moved into an apartment in the right part of town for a year to establish the proper residency for the school.

At the same time he filed to run for school board, and he used his old address as his permanent residency (which he fully intended to move back into as soon as it was within the rules for him to do so.)

The newspapers and the Democrats are making a big deal out of this.

Two issues here:

1) Did he act improperly in filing to run for school board under his old (permanent) address even though he was living in the apartment? No, say the Secretary of State's office. At the time, Ron even checked it all out with the SOS and the school district, and was told that it was OK.

2) Is it OK for a person with the means to move to access a desired program for his son?

#1, it seems, is not even an issue, even though my friend Jack Bog seems to want to hang him for it. He asked everybody about it at the time and got the OK, and even now the powers that be say it was OK.

#2, it seems, is something that is ENTIRELY consistent with Ron Saxton's education message. He wants to give EVERY child the chance to do what he was able to do because he had the means. It strikes him as unfair that just because he has money, he is able to work within the established rules to use that money and gain access to the program he wants for his kid.

Ron Saxton supports open enrollment, which would mean a kid in NE Portland could attend a Beaverton school without having to get the permission from a bureaucrat. So that parent wouldn't have to move to Beaverton just so his kid could attend the school of his choice.

So, far from being a liability in this campaign, Ron Saxton should use this issue to point out that school district boundaries are a leading cause of inequities in the school system. He should make the point that it is totally unfair that right now, only parents such as he, who have financial means, have the ability to send their kids to the school of their choice.

The system traps everyone else. That might be convenient for the bureaucrats, but it is not they who are the primary customer of the public school system!


Jack Bog said...

You can't have two permanent residences at the same time. Did he lie on the school enrollment form, or did he lie on the election papers?

Stick a fork in him. He's done.

Not that I relish that fact. Ted's just the Other Goldschmidt White Meat.

gus miller said...

Jack writes: "You can't have two permanent residences at the same time."

Is it possible that this is a matter of Ron's son declaring residency on one form for school boundary purposes while Ron filled out another form for purposes of his school board candidacy.

Perhaps when all is considered the court of public opinion rules Two people, two different permanent residencies or as Ron claims the school district is more interested in verifying that a student sleeps within a school's boundaries for enrollment purposes. In subsequent years residency was of no concern for Ron's son as district policy grandfathers in students who subsequently move after satisfactory enrollment.

rickyragg said...

"permanent residence" is a red herring where enrollment is concerned - as your friend probably knows. Nowhere is the term used in the PPS website - for obvious reasons. Where's the "permanent residence" for people temporarily transferred to Portland by their employer? As an attorney, your friend should appreciate the nuance.

I think it's just a sideshow to allow Jack to vote for Teddy after all.

Just wait and see.

Rob Kremer said...

Yep, thanks Ricky.

Two completely different standards for "residency," for precisely the reasons you point out.

So, Jack, he violated nothing. He complied with both the "establish residency" requirements for PPS, and certainly was within the "permanent residency" definitition for running for school board.

Not ready for the fork yet.

Jack Bog said...

As Ron claims the school district is more interested in verifying that a student sleeps within a school's boundaries for enrollment purposes.

Let the offender make up the rules after the fact -- great way to resolve a legal question.

kigogal said...

Thanks for talking about this, Rob. I read about it in the O and the Trib and at Jack's blog, but what I was feeling about the issue was much more in line with your post.

What seems most interesting to me is that Ron really wants to fix the system so that all kids have these opportunities, but the court of public opinion seems desperate to want to hang him on this. Why is that?

Rob Kremer said...

I'm not sure what you mean there.

How did Ron get to "make up the rules after the fact?"

Anonymous said...

I don't buy your arguement about Saxton being wealthy enough to do something most other people can't do, to get their kid into the school of their CHOICE.

Anybody can take their mortgage/rent money and move it around to get into the right neighborhood. Even poverty level people can (and do, in LO shcool district) find an apt for $500-$600/mo and move. That is all Saxton did to benefit his child. No class warfare there.

What Saxton also did was keep his house (which, granted, poverty folks don't have the means to do) and run for School Board from that house address. So the class warfare arguement only works on the School Board issue, not the IB program issue.

rickyragg said...

I have a thought experiment
(until it becomes an initiative petition, perhaps).

Suppose that restrictions somewhat similar to school district enrollment requirments were to apply to, oh, let's say, city employees. Suppose all city employees would have to reside (use your own definition for "reside") in the City of Portland. I can just imagine the angst of all those public employees (and certain others) who are currently railing about Saxton's "lying", etc. Oh, the humanity! We would see creative definitions of "reside" become a cottage industry and moral relativism would run rampant when the foo is on the other....