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Portland Public Schools Approve Public Funding For Anti-Gay, Church Sponsored School

[UPDATE: Make sure to read it. Click here.]

An alternative high school sponsored by a Portland church that was one of the primary backers of Ballot Measure 36 has received the approval of the Portland Public School Board to in the fall of 2006 with the support of public funds.

The so-called "Academy of Character and Ethics," or ACE, proposed by Mt. Olivet Baptist Church will open at Jefferson High School in North Portland in 2006 with about 50 students and grow to 200 students, according to the Oregonian .

Mt. Olivet was a major contributor to the Yes on 36 campaign, donating $15,000 to the 2004 measure that banned same-sex marriage.

While the school district says the school will operate independently of the church, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church states clearly on its own website that the school is their project, the school's board of directors has been assembled by the church and its principal is a member of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

Basic Rights Oregon supports religious liberty and the ability of churches to open their own private schools. But we have big concerns about a "values-based" public school led by a known anti-GLBT organization and what appears to be an enormous potential breach of the separation of church and state.

In response to this news, BRO requested a meeting with district administration this morning and within hours met with school board members, the Assistant Superintendent of Schools and the Director of Alternative Education Options.

Basic Rights Oregon has urged administrators to investigate our concerns and to put this school on hold until the many very important questions that are arising can be answered. A big thank you to Anne Trudeau and the Northeast Schools Alliance for bringing this to our attention!

Tell Portland Public Schools what YOU think about its approval of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church sponsored alternative school.

Demand that Portland Public Schools investigate this issue immediately, find out the facts, make a promise to uphold the separation of church and state and ensure that no group that is affiliated with any organization with a history of prejudice gets to use the financial or physical resources of Portland Public Schools open a school.

Send emails to:
Maxine Kilcrease, Assistant Superintendant of Schools
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By Anonymous jeffrey t howard, at March 18, 2006 11:37 AM

perhaps BRO could help put some one who will defend our values and ethics on PPS or better on the board of the new school. A lesbian or gay man on the board of the school of ethics would send a powerful message to the kids in the program.    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 20, 2006 1:39 PM

Portland Public Schools needs to be educated about the insidious nature of discrimination, bigotry and potential abuse that will be further directed at LGBT youth under color of "religious belief and doctrine."

We (meaning LGBT folk) still have little power in this city, county, state, nation because we are seen as passively tolerant of the discrimination we are subjected to under the guise of "traditional values".

While the NAACP, C.O.R.E. and Martin Luther King made great and courageous strides forward in the quest for racial equality (not there yet!) they would not have done so without the counter-part more radical rights groups such as the Black Panthers and SNCC.

It's a sad commentary on America that racial problems between the police and the black community in LA weren't taken seriously until the LA riots in 1992. Nor were racial and antiwar issues taken seriously by the government in this country until the Watts, Detroit, Milwaukee & Newark riots in the 60's.

We need look no further re: one of the major turning points in our own LGBT history than to the Stonewall Riots in New York City back in 1971.

I would never advocate violent acts against either people, or property...but perhaps it is time to learn from our own history and that of other equality movements and see that, as long as we're willing to "get along", 'they', meaning the ignorant, self-rightous, hate-filled and politically opportunitic will be content for things to "go along" or worse still..."go backwards" as seems to be the current trend on far too many things in this country right now.

I'm mad as hell...and perhaps none of us should take it anymore.

Peace (if possible)

Jenn B.

By Anonymous Mike Druydd, at March 21, 2006 9:30 AM

This appears yet another attempt to bash at the separation between church and state, in both governments and schools. Privately funded schools can get by with curriculum like this but not a public school! If the local church-and affiliated school-in question desires to hold these vexing ideas and beliefs in their "christian hearts" - that is their business - and we will keep "them" in our prayers(!) but the Portland Public Schools has NO business approving public funding for this! And further, how can this church/school feel and act if this is a "done deal" (?!) unless of course, here in Portland, the public school systems have at last become fully "christian".    

By Blogger sarah, at March 22, 2006 12:36 AM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

By Blogger sarah, at March 22, 2006 12:37 AM

Maxine Kilcrease
Assistant Superintendent of Schools

Dear Ms. Kilcrease,
We were recently made aware of an alternative school being established by the Mount Olivet Baptist Church. This school, to be named the "Academy of Character and Ethics" is clearly a religious based institution designed with the intention of teaching children their parishioners version of morality. While we understand and accept that churches have a right to freedom of expression, we also understand that the Constitution of this country calls for a definitive separation between religion and government. The reason for keeping the two entities separate is the same now as it was then. The government should not legislate our beliefs and religion should not dictate them.
How then can the Portland Public School District justify providing public funding, our tax dollars, for an "alternative school" that is run solely by members of the OlivetBaptist Church, from the board of directors to the principal? Why should we be forced to fund a project that ultimately will teach children to hate and otherwise judge those that this particular congregation deem immoral?
My partner and I, denied the privilege of marriage and the rights therein, pay the highest tax rates as a single filer. We pay taxes to the federal government, the state of Oregon, the county of Multnomah and all the other fees, etc. associated with living here. We willingly want and expect to do our part to help maintain and improve the infrastructure of our society, but we draw the line when it comes to having our money used to assist an organization that openly and proudly despises us. What the Portland Public School is essentially requiring us to do is pay a group a people to teach their students that we are perverted, mentally ill and in dire need of redemption. Does that make any logical sense to you? Suppose for a moment that you were asked toprovide financial support to a religion that believes that, as a woman, you have no business working outside the home? Suppose this same religion promoted the premise that any woman seeking public positions should be considered immoral? Would you want to write the check for your own condemnation? Without our consent, this is exactly what the public funding of this "alternative school" is expecting us to do.
There are also many heterosexual people who believe wholeheartedly that the activities of the church and those of the government should not intertwine. They pay taxes to the public school system in hopes that the children will receive an education that prepares them intellectually for life. They do not contribute money to have others attempt to prepare them morally based on their personal views.
Beyond the violation of separation of church and state is the economic factor. Portland professes to be next to destitute in its availability of funds for publicschools. If we must invoke religion perhaps the quote, "charity begins at home" would be applicable. If Portland is facing closing the doors of several public schools because of financial limitations, there certainly isn’t any money to fund a school preparing to teach prejudice and hate.    

By Blogger sarah, at March 22, 2006 12:39 AM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 30, 2006 6:45 AM

There IS a gay school board member.    

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