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Get the lay of the land for Portland area schools. Learn the basics of navigating the system.

Determine what you’re looking for in a school, and what your child might need.

Get the essential details on your school options, and learn how to interpret the data.  Give and get the scoop in our Schools Forum

Know how to get the inside scoop on a school. Learn what to ask and what to look for on a school tour.

Make a plan to go after the schools you like best. Understand the application or lottery process.

When you finally commit to a school, get tips on how to transition successfully.

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Welcome to Scoop On Schools

If you are wondering how to find the best Portland area school for your child, we’ve got you covered! Follow a step-by-step process created by two Portland moms who have gone through it themselves and want to give you the scoop on how it all works.

We may not be blogging anymore,  but we're still around! If you want to let us know about changes in the school scene please leave comments, find us on FACEBOOK, post to the FORUM, or CONTACT US

Wednesday
Nov282012

Class Dismissed

Well, this is a bittersweet moment… Over the past 21 months we’ve written 100 blog posts and this is the last one for the foreseeable future.  We’ve taken some of the most relevant of these posts and linked to them throughout the main body of the Scoop On Schools website (steps 1-6), which we hope will be helpful to our readers.   

We’d like to thank the countless Portland parents, teachers, and students who have given us the scoop over the past few years – as well as all the amazing thought leaders out there who have educated us in our quest to find knowledge we could pass along to you.  And last, but certainly not least, many, many thanks to Deborah Kass-Ray (TherapistMama), Kristin Walrod (StoryMama), Jen Barth (ActivistMama), Rebecca Brown Schroeder (AdvocateMama), and Chandra Emery (PeaceMama) for contributing their smarts and writing skills to Scoop On Schools!

And thank *you* for reading and passing Scoop On Schools along to your friends. We wish you the best of luck as you navigate your school options.  We know that whatever school community your child joins will be better because you’ll actively be part of it! 

Jacqueline Jannotta Rothenberg (ResearchMama)

Katy Mayo-Hudson (TeacherMama)

and Tamara Miller (JournoMama)

Wednesday
Nov212012

Happy Kids = Grateful Parents

Last Thanksgiving we shared one of our favorite blogs with you, which this week appropriately talks about Why Gratitude Works.  Have a Happy & Delicious Thanksgiving:-)

In the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite blogs.  It’s called “Raising Happiness” and it’s written under the aegis of the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley. What I love most about this blog is that it’s based on scientific research, which pleases the nerd girl in me :-)

Christine Carter, PhD, writes about a variety of topics all with the aim of helping parents to raise happier, more joyful kids (thereby making for happier, more joyful parents!).  And what way is there to create better learners in our schools than to raise more emotionally intelligent, happy & whole children?  Check out what Dr. Carter has to say on the subjects of Education and Learning

This week her post is on gratitude.   Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday
Nov132012

Option 3: Non-Traditional Schools

Most of us take for granted that school is the way it is, the way it’s always been - but does that mean the standard school is ideal for your kid? Once you start peeling away the onion layers and looking at the roots of traditional education, your mind may start to shift. To get a sense of how traditional schools were designed and thus how you might want to stray from that model when it comes to your child, I highly recommend this short visual lecture by Ken Robinson (worth the 12 minutes, I promise). If his talk inspires you to consider some type of non-traditional school, you will have plenty of possibilities in Portland.

Whether you’re looking at public or private schools, options in both of those camps include schools that don’t follow the mainstream approach. They may use a century-old method like Waldorf/Steiner or Montessori; or they may be some amalgam of “tried & true” and their own unique approach. The latter also tend to utilize collaborative, project-based, and experiential learning, with examples around town such as Renaissance, Emerson, The Living School, and others somewhere on the spectrum. But no matter which of these less-traditional paths you might choose to follow, the challenges and rewards tend to be similar. Based on dozens of conversations over the past few years, along with my own research and experience as a Montessori mom, I’ll lay out the pros and cons of these non-traditional approaches in a broad-strokes way. But it bears repeating that every school is different (even within the same method – e.g. Waldorf) and your assessment of a particular school requires diligent investigation!

The Scoop Half-full:

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Monday
Nov052012

Option 2: Private/Independent Schools 

While all of us writers for Scoop On Schools have experience with our school-aged kids in public schools, some of us also have enrolled our children in local private or independent schools. (There is a subtle distinction between the two. We are using the word “Private” since that’s the commonly used term around town.) The differences between private and public schools are sometimes insignificant, and other times quite notable. Over the past few years we’ve had frank conversations with scores of parents about their private and public school experiences. Adding to that our own experiences of both, we want to tell you like it is: the good, the bad, the ugly (and the pretty). Some of it may be obvious, but here goes:

The Scoop Half-Full:

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Wednesday
Oct312012

Option 1: The Neighborhood School 

In the next few weeks, we will examine the three main paths Portland kids can take for school. (To say nothing of homeschooling, which is too big in scope to explore here.) Over the past several years, we’ve talked to parents, teachers, administrators and kids about the pros and cons of their school choice. In the course of researching the local options, we’ve come up with some general observations that can help guide you in your school search. But to really get to know an individual school, be sure to do some of your own research, too.  

First up: neighborhood schools.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct242012

Changes on the Horizon

When we created Scoop On Schools two years ago our goal was to bring together and simplify the much-needed information on the Portland school scene.  Before that, parents like us had to scrounge around, piece together the facts, gather the buzz on things such as ‘how the lottery works,’ ‘what types of schools are available,’ ‘what’s the difference between a charter and a focus option…’  It just made sense to put it all in one place, in a simple layout, where anyone could access it.  We did that and we are proud of the fact that Scoop On Schools has become the go-to place for anyone interested in Portland schools.

But our lives are taking us in different directions now and we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the blogging portion of our website after next month. It has been such a privilege to connect with so many amazing people dedicated to making Portland schools the best they can be. We’ve talked with teachers, administrators, and countless parents about their concerns, their aspirations, and their fantastic educational programs. Through all of this we’ve come to see how Portlanders are progressive with their education, like they are with everything else.  It shows in schools that are pushing the envelope, and also in how community-driven activism is moving education forward. Sharing what we’ve learned has been an inspirational experience.

Scoop On Schools won’t go away, though!  Over the next few weeks we are summing up what we’ve learned the past couple of years, giving you our best scoop on the different types of schools around town. And the site will stay up for as long as it’s relevant, with us responding to comments and questions as we are able. As for the future, we would *love* to pass the torch to another team of dedicated folks who are passionate about the [local] education scene.  So, if you or anyone you know might be interested, please contact us.  And in the meantime keep on clicking and sharing all the useful info here at Scoop On Schools!

Sunday
Oct212012

Ballot Measure 26-146 - Should Parents Vote Yes or No?

Debate and disagreement about how to fund our schools has been longstanding in Oregon. This November, Portland residents will once again weigh their values around improving education against their personal stances about taxation when they fill in their ballot bubbles.

At issue is Ballot Measure 26-146, which is a limited income tax of $35 for each adult income-earning Portland resident—individuals in households below federal poverty level pay no tax—designed to “restore school arts, music education; fund arts.” These funds will go to all schools that serve Portland students within the six Portland school districts (Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale) to pay for certified arts or music education teachers for Kindergarten through 5th grade (K-5). Districts will receive the funds required to hire and maintain one certified arts teacher per every 500 students.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct162012

In Consideration of Creativity

Lately a new work project has been putting me in the path of fascinating readings and conversations about the creative process, and it has gotten me to thinking.  What can I, a parent of an eight and eleven year old, do to better foster creativity at home?  As I get deeper into the literature, I am finding that the answers do not necessarily involve craft supplies.  Some of the answers are as simple as they come...

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Monday
Oct082012

Tips from Parents on Improving Your School

The neighborhood school is an appealing option for most people.  Who doesn’t love the idea of walking their kids down the street with neighbors, building community, reaping the benefits of whatever cultural diversity your neighborhood has to offer? In many ways this is an iconic image of America. But it doesn’t always play out that way here in Portland.

Sometimes the draw of a language immersion or other type of “specialty” school is hard to resist.  And other times parents move into a community and don’t like the buzz they hear about their neighborhood school. Maybe it has underwhelming test scores, behavioral problems in the classroom, lack of enrichment or other attractive features.  Whatever it is, parents will fall into 2 camps — they either flee, or come hell or high water, they make it work. 

We spoke with a group of impressive parents who fall into that latter camp.  Their east side elementary schools had a great need for improvement; and today, due to their efforts, most are in turn-around mode, steadily and vastly improving.  Because some of them wanted to remain anonymous, we opted to leave out all names, but still bring you their insightful tips - tips that are useful for any parent involved at any school:

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct022012

The Portland Montessori School (fka Providence Montessori School) - profile

*UPDATE:  Providence Montessori School has officially changed its name to The Portland Montessori School.

The Portland Montessori School*, formerly known as Providence Montessori School (PMS) has the distinction of being the first Montessori school west of the Mississippi, started by the Sisters of Charity of Providence in 1962.  The school continues to evolve from its humble beginnings 50 years ago and is no longer run by nuns (nor does it teach a Catholic curriculum, in case you were wondering). Today Providence Montessori goes up to the 4th grade, with 5th and 6th grades being added over the course of the next 2 years. With its green space and play area, Providence Montessori School is situated in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of NE Portland, not too far from the 84 or Burnside.  After talking with folks in the PMS community, here’s what we learned:

The Scoop Half-Full:

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