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ACE UPDATE: What's Happening With PPS & The Anti-Gay Church Proposed Alternative School

Negotiations continue to take place over Portland Public School District's approval of the ''Academy of Character and Ethics'' (ACE) -- an alternative high school proposed by a Portland church that was one of the primary backers of Ballot Measure 36. This school has been proposed in order to address the very real need for college preparatory education in Northeast Portland, and to address the achievement gap that exists for students from low-income communities and communities of color. Unfortunately, problems with the process and with the relationship with Mt. Olivet Church were pointed out by neighborhood groups and by Basic Rights Oregon.

School backers continue to pursue a publicly-funded alternative school, but they have -- according to a letter sent from Rev. James Martin to Portland Public School officials -- withdrawn the application to locate the school at Jefferson High School. This move is a response to tremendous pressure from neighborhood and parent groups, which was bolstered by you.

While this change represents one grassroots victory, the concerns about separation of church and state and safety and equality for GLBT students, administrators and parents remain.

Basic Rights Oregon again met with ACE school officials and E3 funders last week. During that meeting we submitted to school officials a memo outlining our concerns with the school's proposed curriculum, recommended changes for the school to make before continuing forward and highlighted additional areas to watch. As a result of this meeting, we will also submit to school officials a list of potential board members who we can be assured will look out for the safety and welfare of all students, parents and administrators.

Your continued pressure on Portland Public Schools has ensured that this issue remains a high priority for all parties involved.

This school is not a done deal. But Portland Public School Board Members, who will be asked to give final approval for the school in the next couple of months, need to hear from you. Use our action alert to send your letter to Portland Public School officials. Tell school board members that ACE should not receive school board approval unless, at a minimum, the following actions have been taken:

· Rev. James Martin must resign from the ACE board of directors

· Before ACE opens, the board must be comprised of a majority of non-church members AND include at least one LGBT board member on the new board

· Allow Basic Rights Oregon on an ongoing basis to review the proposed curriculum and submit recommendations and concerns to school officials, E3 and PPS administrators.

· PPS/ACE should cease holding school-related meetings at church facilities.

Discuss.
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By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 30, 2006 3:19 PM

I e-mailed the Gates Foundation with my concern that they might be considering funding the school.

I got a reply that they would investigate it.    



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