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East Portland activists demand bus pass

Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, a program under the OPAL Environmental Justice activist organization, held a rally Nov. 14 in part to demand public transit passes for East Portland school districts, such as David Douglas and Parkrose.

Portland Public Schools high school students use TriMet to get to school under the YouthPass program.

YEJA members say they want to see the same opportunity for East Portland youth to use the transit system for free.

“I can really see the disparities in the communities I represent,” said Oregon House Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer at the rally, according to a news release. “We are going to keep working on this. Your stories about taking hours to get to jobs and activities are critical.”

YEJA reports attendees included Keny-Guyer, current Portland mayoral candidate Ted Wheeler, and Reynolds school board member Diego Hernandez, who also is running for House District 47.

St. Mary’s event raises nearly $400,000

Soccer star Brandi Chastain spoke to a crowd of more than 750 at a Nov. 4 luncheon to benefit downtown Portland’s St. Mary’s Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school. The luncheon raised a total of nearly $400,000 for scholarships.

During the 2015-16 school year, 39 percent of St. Mary’s families are receiving $1.7 million in tuition assistance.

Smarter Balanced gets low marks

The Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, released Nov. 16 results of a survey of 1,200 teachers on the new Smarter Balanced standardized tests. What they had to say was not complimentary.

The OEA says teachers reported a number of issues, such as lost learning time, a negative impact on students who need accommodations, and “substantial challenges” for under-resourced schools. Ninety-five percent of teachers complained of lost learning time and 74 percent reported the new computerized test did not meet the requirements of students with disabilities.

The OEA is working with the Governor’s Office, the Chief Education Office and the Oregon Department of Education on changing the system of assessment.

More minorities enroll at PSU

Portland State University reported Nov. 16 that enrollees for fall 2015 were 28 percent students of color, a 5 percentage point increase from the year before.

The university is recruiting students of color into its programs, particularly Hispanic and Latino students, who now number 2,932. Numbers also are up for other racial minorities.

Officials say it is the biggest boost in minority enrollment in PSU’s history.

PPS gets $5 million in tech funding

The Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission is teaming up with Portland Public Schools in a five-year, $5 million grant to boost early literacy through technology.

The grant marks the beginning of a new push in 20 PPS schools for K-3 literacy using technological supports.

The MHCRC, which manages much of the region’s franchise fees from cable companies, launched the TechSmart Initiative for Student Success a year ago and plans to give $19 million over the next 10 years. The PPS grant is the fourth investment made by the MHCRC in local public education under the TechSmart Initiative. Previous grants went to David Douglas School District, Parkrose School District and Reynolds School District.

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