Featured Stories

Roosevelt principal should stay

by: L.E. BASKOW, Roosevelt alumni, parents and supporters marched from the campus in North Portland to Jefferson High School on May 16, where they converged on a public meeting to discuss high schools. They marched to protest the school district’s decision to reassign Roosevelt Principal Deborah Peterson away from the school.

Thank you for telling the truth about the intentions of Carole Smith and Toni Hunter to force Roosevelt Principal Deborah Peterson to resign despite the tremendous improvement Deborah has championed (The Principal Problem, May 28). She has accomplished the desired turn-around there and has amply demonstrated her ability as a principal, having won the respect and support of the entire Roosevelt family. She has earned the right to stay.

Deborah has been the champion of the blossoming of success at Roosevelt. But the work is far from finished. For it to continue, her leadership is required. Deborah has accomplished at Roosevelt much of what Carole and Portland Public Schools have said they want their redesign of our high schools to accomplish in all of our other high schools.

What benefit is expected to accrue to Roosevelt by removing Deborah as the site principal? I have personally asked Carole Smith and Toni Hunter that question - twice. Carole's concern was budgetary, but two solutions for that which retain Deborah have been presented to Carole without a reply. Toni Hunter's response was that a five-year-old plan called for her to leave. That's it.

I find that inability of theirs very telling, and it raises what I think are valid suspicions about the motivation or the agenda that Carole Smith and Toni Hunter are pursuing - one that is not open and public, as I believe it should be, nor grounded in factual data concerning the improvements occurring under Deborah's leadership.

Bob Johnson

Tualatin

Accomplishments may end up 'history'

A way must be found to keep Deborah Peterson at Roosevelt High School, or her many accomplishments can just as easily be relegated to 'old history' for the St. Johns community (The Principal Problem, May 28).

Rarely has one person been able to energize so many students, staff and community members, and enable such a profound change as has taken place at Roosevelt. To risk losing all the gains by not continuing her place at Roosevelt would be tragic for all of those involved.

I call on Portland Public Schools to do the right thing.

Donald Carlson

Southeast Portland

If Roosevelt ain't broke, don't fix it

As a parent, restaurateur, contractor, landlord, homeowner and volunteer, I can give testimony to Deborah Peterson's many accomplishments at Roosevelt High School and the positive changes that have been made in our North Portland community (The Principal Problem, May 28).

The students at Roosevelt now have hope and a future with the 17 Advanced Placement courses that better prepare them for college. Five years ago, Roosevelt had zero AP courses. Drama and arts did not exist at Roosevelt five years ago, and now the drama and arts program is flourishing - all because of Deborah's insistence that it be available for our students.

Deborah has helped galvanize our business community and the North Portland community in general. She has been able to do crossover work that engages all members of the community, has made us all aware of how vital our students and young people are in our community and has been a champion for all of North Portland.

The most amazing thing about all this is that she has not taken away from the time her position requires her to be at Roosevelt. She is always available, always conspicuous, on task, and many nights I have seen her in her office well beyond school hours.

We are all united in asking Portland Schools Superintendent Carole Smith to make the obvious and right decision - to keep Deborah Peterson at Roosevelt High School and to stop the madness of the 'revolving door of admins' at Roosevelt High School.

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it!'

Marty Jackson

President, Roosevelt High School Booster Club

North Portland

Media should focus on achievements

As an administrator of Mt. Tabor school, a former teacher and a parent of two college students who went to Mt. Tabor, it baffles me as to why Tribune reporter Jennifer Anderson did not talk to more parents, teachers, and students to find out the facts before writing one-sided, insulting articles. The school you have 'described' in your two recent articles (The Principal Problem, May 28, and Battling bullies, April 2) is not this school.

There are so many wonderful things happening here. Our students work hard to be good citizens, get good grades and help make Mt. Tabor a special place. Our principal, Van Truong, puts students' needs first and has since Day One. Our dedicated parent volunteers put in many hours and offer their time to also help all students succeed. We have a very cohesive and caring staff and everyone has worked to help all kids succeed and also stay safe.

We could fill your paper every day with the great accomplishments of our students, yet we see very little of that in the paper. I would hope you only look for the good in our students, our staff and our schools, because you will never be at a loss for a story.

Brian Anderson

Northeast Portland

Need to work together as a staff

I have taught at Mt. Tabor Middle School for 11 years and am saddened both by the Tribune's attack on the school, and its principal, and by the notion that at least five of my colleagues continue to feel so disenfranchised and unheard (The Principal Problem, May 28). During Ms. Truong's first year at Mt. Tabor, I, too, struggled with some of her decisions and with her decision-making style. Moreover, I saw that our reputation in the community was suffering as parents, colleagues at other schools and even our own students learned of our internal strife.

In her second and third years, I observed Ms. Truong making significant efforts to make her decision-making processes transparent, to include all stakeholders in those processes and to return the focus of the school to providing the absolute best experience possible for our students. Test scores and increased enrollment attest to her success with the latter, even in the ever-tightening budget climate.

Barbara Kutasz

Southeast Portland

Parents have strong voice at Mt. Tabor

The parents and community members of Mt. Tabor's site council were disappointed to read Jennifer Anderson's negative story 'The Principal Problem' (May 28), mentioning the Mt. Tabor Middle School that is contrary to our experiences as active parents at the school.

Mt. Tabor test scores are up, students are receiving a rigorous curriculum, and staff and parents work collaboratively with the principal Van Truong to create a supportive learning climate for all students. Enrollment for next fall is up substantially, adding to the already thriving school community.

PTA and Site Council members shared with Anderson positive information about the school, but it was not included in her story. We see Mt. Tabor as a school of excellence. Examples of this healthy and supportive environment include:

• The tone set by the school leadership is student-centered, focusing on providing support for students to reach their potential.

• There is a focus on quality instruction, high expectations, support for struggling students, getting resources to teachers, maintaining a personalized atmosphere for students through the 'lodges,' and providing a diverse set of classes and electives in a neighborhood school setting.

• Difficult decisions on staffing by the principal were made after reviewing data and consulting parents and staff.

• Through surveys we helped design, parents had a strong voice on instructional and school climate issues.

The leadership team at Mt. Tabor is strong and caring, and the environment is professional, friendly and collaborative.

Julia Brim-Edwards

Mt. Tabor Site Council

Southeast Portland

Teachers should evaluate administrators

As a teacher at 'Rodney Dangerfield High School' (good one, Jennifer), we've already had plenty of backlash and retaliation at Madison, so more of it wouldn't be much of a surprise (The Principal Problem, May 28). It's kind of the norm in parts of Portland Public Schools these days. If it isn't a whole staff, then individual teachers are targeted, and trust me, you can lose your job for speaking out. I know several people who have been canned at Dangerfield High. PPS didn't used to be this way.

Teachers are evaluated every two years, by administrators - good and bad and in-between. Oh, what a wonderful world it would be if teachers could evaluate administrators and the proverbial shoe was on the other foot.

Valerie A. Gogoleski

Northeast Portland