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Feb. 5, 2013

Corbett Schools: model for success

Do as I say, not as I do. Who am I? Rudy Crew.

That’s right. Oregon’s new education czar is in charge of telling Oregon teachers how to do their jobs, yet he’s never held their job.

We’re paying Crew $280,000 each year for the privilege of having him tell Oregon teachers (average salary $50,000) how to do their jobs better.

Many of these teachers have decades of experience: teaching and living in their communities. They continue each year in an environment of constantly declining budgets, overcrowded classrooms, and increasing pressure from Salem and Washington, D.C., to "conform" in order to receive federal education subsidies.

It’s our fault. We have starved our education infrastructure. We have failed to invest in the future. We, the citizens, must take responsibility for this failure.

The first step is to question the worth of paying someone $280,000 annually to tell us what to do, despite never having done it before.

Yes, Crew has deep experience in managing large school systems. But history continues to show that large school systems are doomed. The larger the district, the worse it gets. Crew can share statistics that graduation rates and test results improved, at times, during his tenure. But a careful review of these same statistics shows that many schools did worse, and even more were unchanged during his leadership.

Here is a test. Imagine any successful coach in any sport or any CEO in any company. In their first year on the job, how much time would they spend getting to know the strengths of their best player or best employee?

Great coaches recognize their stars and work closely with those stars to share their success with the rest of the team or staff.

The Corbett School District has two high schools. Both are ranked by the Washington Post as No. 2 and No. 4 in the nation. With more than 1,900 public schools in the United States, Corbett is in the 99.9th percentile. While the Gresham-Barlow District and others around the state have cut weeks from the school year, Corbett has never cut a single day.

How does a school produce such incredible success in the face of dwindling budgets? I don’t know the answer to that, but if I was a coach or a CEO or the czar of the Oregon education system, you can be sure I would want to find out.

I hope Rudy Crew spends some time with the teachers of the Corbett School District. I hope he learns something from these teachers. I hope he takes that knowledge and spreads it across our state. Because success, like failure, is contagious.

If he does this, then he’ll have genuinely earned his salary. If he does not visit and remains content to not travel one hour from his office to witness his No. 1 star, then I don’t think he’s worth a penny of our purse.

Sean Mulvihill, Gresham

This property owner won't support school bond

In regard to the article "Gresham-Barlow considers $210 million school bond," (The Outlook, Feb. 1), I am saying no to any and all new taxes.

I know the school district administration has misused the money they have already gotten. Why would they think anyone would believe the current administration would do any better now or in the future?

It's an old saw of the Gresham-Barlow School Disitrct that we residents have the lowest tax rate of all Oregon school districts. It's probably true, and for good reason. We keep voting down their absurb budget proposals.

What taxpayer in their right mind wants to pay more for very little. My personal situation (retired living on Social Security trying to keep my home) does not allow for major increases in my property taxes.

The library already raised my property taxes. My wife and I can barely get by as it is.

My question to the people who propose these kind of tax increases to supposedly benefit the community is: Do you think that property owners are a goose who lays golden eggs?

I highly resent this tax-and-spend mentality. Why don't they focus on improving the reading and math of the students first? New buildings and large multipurpose buildings are not going to ever improve one student's education.

Michael Haight, Gresham

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