Thanks, Portland.

Thanks, Portland. 

This Tuesday, the Portlanders for Safe and Healthy Schools campaign celebrated excellent news the moment that polls closed: Portlanders value, cherish, and ardently believe in the foundational role that public schools play in our city. Our commanding victory is a validating affirmation in our belief that our community will rally to invest in healthy, safe, modern, and efficient schools that will meet the changing needs of a changing city. 

This victory belongs to the dozens of volunteers who wrote thousands of postcards, knocked on doors throughout Portland's rainy spring, rallied their local PTAs, and held thousands of conversations with their neighbors about the importance of getting the lead out of the water at PPS schools.  

This victory belongs to the hundreds of community advocates; the environmentalists, affordable housing advocates, equity leaders, small business owners, doctors, disability advocates and beyond who saw an investment in public education as an integral component of their vision for a nobler, healthier, better city in which to raise a family.

This victory belongs to our community's parents, who will be assured that their children's health won't be jeopardized by sitting in their classroom.

This victory belongs to Portland's children, who will return to public schools in the fall with running drinking water, and a renewed faith that our community is committed to providing them the best future possible as the next generation of Portlanders.  

This victory is yours, Portland. Enjoy it, and from all of us on the campaign: 

Thanks. 

School Bond Campaign Responds to Inaccurate, Intimidating Landlord Letter to Tenants

This morning, The Portland Mercury's Dirk VanderHart published a story about a landlord who told tenants he'll raise their rent if the school bond passes.  We're disappointed to learn that RoseCo Property Management's Paul Medica chose to intimidate his tenants by mailing a deliberately inaccurate letter including misinformation about the school bond that concluded by stating he would "have no choice" but to raise rents on Portland families should Measure 26-193 pass.

A local property manager is taking a strange tack in telling his Northwest Portland tenants to vote 'no' on the $790 million schools bond voters will consider tomorrow: Riffing on the messaging of Donald Trump.

Paul Medica, managing partner of a pair of family-owned property management companies, sent tenants a two-page letter in early May, inviting them to "make your wallet great again," by saying no to the measure—the largest bond ask in state history. If the measure passes, Medica assured his tenants, "I will have no choice but to substantially raise rent rates..."

Tenants across the city are worried about the neurotoxins in their children's water, the substandard fire alarms at the majority of schools, and the presence of carcinogens including asbestos and radon in children's classrooms. Despite Medica's lies, tests in July 2016 confirmed that dangerous levels of lead (as defined by the EPA) were found in sinks, faucets and fountains at all 90 Portland Public Schools. Measure 26-193 would provide over $324 million to address these crucially needed health and safety improvements to ensure every PPS Student has access to drinking fountain after a PE class. 

The integral link between affordable housing policy and healthy modern public education led to numerous affordable housing advocates to endorse the bond, including Oregon Opportunity Network, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc, Hacienda CDC, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, and community advocates Nick Sauvie and Margot Black. 

Portland's students deserve safe and healthy classrooms, and it's unfortunate that a local landlord is proactively intimidating and outright lying to his tenants to avoid any obligation and duty to contribute to the well being of his tenants' (and the city's) children. This bond continues the excellent, accountable, on-time and on-budget work conducted by the district with the 2012 Bond to provide our first wave of major renovations to PPS schools since 1945. It's a shame that landlords are disinterested in contributing to these much needed investments in our schools and the well being of our city. 

The campaign encourages Portland voters to drop off their ballots before the Tuesday, May 16 deadline. To find your nearest ballot drop site, check out the campaign website

Here's how you can help us win on Tuesday!

Election Day is only FOUR DAYS AWAY. Here's what you need to know about the final few days, and how you can help us win safe and healthy schools for Portland. 

1) COME TO OUR CANVASS TOMORROW. 

As of Thursday, only 14% of PPS voters have turned in their ballots, and as of last week, as many as 27% of voters are undecided. We're planning a HUGE canvass on Saturday morning to go out and knock on doors in southeast Portland, Meet us TOMORROW, Saturday May 13th at 10am at our campaign office (116 NE 6th Avenue); more details on our facebook page. (please note the new meeting location!)

(if you can't make our canvass, we'll also canvass on Sunday, and make some phone calls as well. Join us!) 

2) MAKE SURE EVERYONE YOU KNOW TURNS IN THEIR BALLOT. 

Voting is wonderfully easy in Oregon; check out our website for a full list of ballot drop sites across the city. We'll also have volunteers picking up ballots at Ainsworth, Beach, Boise-Eliot/Humboldt, Bridlemile, Chapman, Duniway, Forest Park, Rieke, Skyline, Sunnyside, Vernon, West Sylvan, Woodstock, Winterhaven schools during student drop off Monday and Tuesday morning.

Please share our content on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram; we need all the help we can get to remind folks of the crucial importance of turning in a ballot during a Special Election.

Can you forward this email on to ten people you know? Chances are, your neighbors, coworkers, friends and family haven't turned in their ballots yet. EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

 

3) RSVP TO OUR ELECTION NIGHT PARTY 

Watch the returns come in with the Portlanders for Safe and Healthy Schools campaign! We'll be celebrating at our campaign headquarters at 116 NE 6th Avenue in inner northeast Portland. Our campaign office is located on the third floor; we're ADA accessible, as well as kid-friendly. Our office is accessible via the 6, 12, 19, 20 Bus Lines, and the Portland Streetcar, and there's metered on-street car parking nearby. 

We'll have beverages and snacks, and we expect to know the results pretty soon after polls close at 8:00pm. 

RSVP and invite a friend.

Let's go team!

Education advocates: Pass the PPS bond measure

Education advocates from all around Portland -- whether political candidate, union representative, reformers or parents -- support  Portland Public Schools bond proposal, Measure 26-193.

With less than a week to go, Portland voters will have an opportunity to choose from 11 candidates for three open positions on the PPS Board. Although candidates vary in their backgrounds, perspectives and campaign promises, all found common ground on an important issue: They unanimously endorse Measure 26-193.

Candidates for PPS Board Member positions are joined by Portland Association of Teachers, Stand For Children, the Concordia University Foundation and numerous PTAs in unequivocally supporting this crucial investment in our city's schools.  

Portland Association of Teachers: "Portland's teachers see the impact that our crumbling schools have on our children's education every day," said Suzanne Cohen, President. "Students can't drink water from a fountain after their PE class, have to sit under leaky roofs and wonder whether their classrooms will make them sick. Under these conditions, it's difficult for teachers to educate and provide meaningful instruction for a modern education. This is unacceptable, especially in a city like Portland that celebrates and cherishes public education as a vital institution that serves as the backbone of our communities."

Stand for Children Oregon: "The bond will help give more high school students access to updated career technical education spaces, helping to boost graduation rates and better preparing students for good paying jobs when they graduate," said Toya Fick, Executive Director.

Concordia University Foundation: "Here at Concordia University it is our goal to see quality education facilities across Portland and for every student to have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive in modern education facilities. Please join us in supporting the 2017 PPS Bond," said Gary Withers, the Interim President.  

Concordia partnered with PPS to plan and build the Faubion Elementary School, opening this August. This innovative partnership yielded a multi-purpose space that houses undergraduate teaching classes, Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) classrooms, PK-8 classrooms and health services. It exemplifies the exciting new partnerships PPS is developing to connect Portland's students' education to the city at-large.

Parent teacher associations (PTA) and community advocates also are backing the bond: Boise-Eliot/Humboldt PTA, James John PTA, Whitman PTA, Friends of Glencoe, ACCESS Academy PTSA, Friends of Lincoln and  Benson Polytechnic High School Alumni Association.

Learn more about the measure. 

Equity Partners, Community Advocates Ask Voters to Support Safe and Healthy Schools For All Students

Access to America's public school system has been considered a great equalizer for our country and a bedrock of the American Dream. With 45 percent of PPS students identifying as non-white, investment in Portland's public schools is critically important if we want to strive for social justice. 

It is clear to social justice advocates that the future of the Rose City's communities of color is intrinsically tied to the health, safety, and success of our public education. That's why numerous community advocacy groups have endorsed the measure, including OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, NAYA Family Center, Latino Network, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Somali American Network of Oregon (SACOO) and Black Parent Initiative, Inc. 

"Students of color often find themselves enrolled in public schools with infrastructure that is dated and in sore need of improvement," said Zahir Janmohamed, Policy Director for Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO). 

"Passing this measure will give much needed rejuvenation to our schools and we’re excited to see major renovations in particular at Madison High School and Kellogg Middle School, which both serve students from our community" Janmohamed said.  

Paul Lumley, Executive Director of NAYA Family Center had this to say: “NAYA understands the fundamental role that public education plays in supporting Native American Youth throughout Portland. This measure aligns with our values and supports the educational aims of our community."

Carmen Rubio, Executive Director of Latino Network, echoed these sentiments. "Now more than ever our public schools are vital community spaces and public schools are places where Portlanders access a range of vital community services," Rubio said. Latino Network has endorsed the measure. 

"A YES vote on Measure 26-193 isn't just a vote for schools free of asbestos, radon and lead. It's a vote in support of our young people and their families who spend countless hours within the schools daily," Rubio added.

Removing neurotoxins and carcinogens from public schools is an environmental justice issue, said Huy Ong, Executive Director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon. "Portland Public School students, 45 percent of whom are students of color, don't have access to clean and safe classrooms free of lead, asbestos, and radon. Together we can ensure PPS students have a chance for quality public education free from environmental health hazards."

In order to maintain robustness and strive for fairness, a city must provide excellent public education for every neighborhood. Portlanders, as a progressives championing working families, communities of color and recent immigrants, can affirm these values by passing Measure 26-193.

"As a progressive city, this is our moment to collectively affirm our commitment to our future - our children," said Charles McGee, CEO of the Black Parent Initiative.

"There’s no better way -- in this moment, to affirm our values than by voting YES on Measure 26-193 to building safe and healthy classrooms for every Portland student. Our children deserve no less," McGee said.

These organizations are joined by Portland Association of Teachers, Disability Rights Oregon and over 250 other local organizations and community leaders in endorsing a YES vote on Measure 26-193. Ballots are due May 16.

Portlanders for Safe and Healthy Schools and supporting partners also have provided endorsement quotes and supporting materials in six different languages on the campaign website.  

The Portland Public School Bond is endorsed by more than 250 organizations, individuals, elected officials and community advocates. See our full list here. 

Learn more at the campaign website.

Disability Rights Groups Endorse School Bond

For many Portlanders, it's vitally important that public schools meet the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires buildings to be accessible.

Many buildings lack accessibility. For instance, some schools don't have elevators for a person in a wheelchair to access upper or lower levels. Many restrooms are too cramped, science classroom sinks are too high and fire alarms are missing appropriate strobe lights and horns. Many schools are 80 to 100 years old. They simply were not built with a contemporary concept of accessibility.

As a result, significant areas of our schools are inaccessible to many students, meaning that they are shut out of a multitude of educational experiences. 13% of PPS students are enrolled in special education programming. 

However, the bond proposal by Portland Public Schools would correct that. The proposal, listed on the ballot as Measure 26-193, provides $10 million explicitly for changes that will make schools accessible. This is part of a $324 million budget for health and safety improvements district-wide that also would ensure removal of lead and asbestos and mitigation of radon gas.

"Access to schools means access to an education for students, access to employment opportunities for teachers, and inclusion in our communities for family members and visitors to our schools," said Bob Joondeph, Executive Director of Disability Rights Oregon.

"Ensuring that Portland’s schools meet ADA accessibility standards will help more Oregonians with disabilities achieve greater safety, independence and opportunities." 

Community Vision, Inc, an organization that offers a network of services to assist people experiencing disability to live, work, and thrive independently, also endorses the measure. "We are eager to support meaningful accessibility investments alongside crucial renovations and remediations to ensure every Portlander has access to a safe and healthy school," according to a statement from the organization.

"We urge you to vote YES on measure 26-196 for safe and healthy schools," said Angela Jarvis-Holland, current PPS parent and Executive Director of the Northwest Down Syndrome Association. "This bond includes investments in ADA accessibility, lead abatement and building modern learning environments where all students can thrive," Jarvis-Holland said.

Affordable Housing Advocates Support Measure 26-193

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Excellent public education is a necessary, critical component for any community to thrive and strive for equity. Opportunities provided by safe, healthy and modern public schools are invaluable, particularly to low-income residents and tenants, many of whom rely on school services for childcare and other community supports.

As such, affordable housing advocates recognize the multi-faceted value of  safe and healthy schools and encourage a YES vote on Measure 26-193.

"Removing the lead from the water and preparing our students for a modern education is a necessary investment in the families and communities we serve. We encourage a YES vote on Measure 26-193," said Ruth Adkins, Policy Director at Oregon Opportunity Network.

Ballots are due in less than one week, on Tuesday, May 16. So far, elections officials are reporting turn-out of just around 10 percent, which is lower than campaign officials had hoped for this stage.

Hacienda Community Development Corporation also is an endorser of Measure 26-193. "There is an integral relationship between our work of supporting affordable housing and having excellent public schools to help our community grow and prosper," according to a statement by the organization.

"We're thrilled that Measure 26-193 will provide funding for modernizing Madison High School, where many of our constituents live, and we're happy to see every school in the district receive funding to remove lead, asbestos and radon," the statement continued. Read the Spanish version of the endorsement.  

Prominent Portland housing advocate Margot Black also is a strong endorser. "Parents, students, and teachers of Portland's schools are renters, and as a tenants' rights organizer I believe that every family in Portland deserves the opportunity to send their students to safe and healthy schools, free of neurotoxins and carcinogens," Black said. "Please join me in standing up for tenants and vote YES for the school bond."

Additional social justice endorsers include Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Latino Network, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Disability Rights Oregon and more than 250 community advocates. See all of the endorsers of Portlanders for Safe and Healthy Schools.

Ballots are due to the Multnomah County Elections or at a drop box by 8 p.m., Tuesday, May 16. Ballots can be mailed up until Thursday, May 11. Postmarks do not count in Oregon. For details go to Multnomah County Elections Division voting info page.  

Today's Endorsement: Latino Network

"Now more than ever our public schools are vital community spaces.  Portland's Public Schools not only educate our children but also serve as places where a whole range of vital community services are provided.   A YES vote on Measure 26-193 isn't just a vote for schools free of asbestos, radon and lead; it's a vote in support of our public schools and the children and families that are in them every day.  Please join Latino Network in voting YES this May 16."
Ahora mas que nunca nuestraa escuelas publicas son espacios communitarios vitales. Portland Public Schools no solo educan a nuestros ninos pero tambien sirven como lugares donde proveemos toda una gama de servicios vitales para la commununidad.  Un voto de si en la Measure 26-193 no es solo es un voto para escuelas libre do asbestos, radon y plomo; es una voto en apoyo de nuestras escuelas publicas y los ninos y familias que estan en ellos cada dia.   Por favor, unase a Latino Network  votando SI este 16 de Mayo.
 
-Carmen Rubio, Executive Director, Latino Network