This past Wednesday the PPS Teaching & Learning Board Subcommittee met to discuss next steps in implementing the PPS resolution intended to address the complaint regarding perceived negative impacts of the Japan Research Residency on the greater MTMS learning community (link to resolution here?).
Those in attendance included Asst. Superintendent Chris Russo, 4 PPS board members, PPS administrators from the Offices of Equity, Teaching and Learning, Dual Language Immersion, and Risk Management, and community representatives from the ONK Advocacy Committee, the Mandarin Immersion Program, and the MTMS neighborhood program.
Chris Russo summarized that the above referenced complaint triggered, in addition to an evaluation of classroom instruction happening at MTMS during the JRR, a closer look at the “mechanics” of the residency. This closer look revealed areas of concern that the District wishes to address. The subsequent ruling – and Wednesday’s meeting – is and was intended to address both areas of concern.
ONK argued that the these are distinct concerns, and their evaluations should be isolated from one another (link to ONK statement here?). Though ONK believes that this distinction was recognized verbally by the district – next steps for the committee is to get this distinction formally memorialized, in order to bring the complaint from the neighborhood representative to a close, and to focus our energies on preserving the JRR under the auspices of district sponsorship.
After opening statements from stakeholders, the bulk of the meeting was spent discussing was to address the primary concern of improving the learning environment and/or experience of 8th grade students who do not participate in the JRR, during the two week period in which the residency takes place. There was productive discussion around challenges and opportunities to address this issue, and ONK is hopeful that we will continue to partner not only with the district in creating positive change at MTS, but more importantly, repairing and building a healthy and positive relationships between families in all programs at MTMS.
The meeting concluded with a discussion around timelines for next steps, and clarification that the JRR will proceed “as it has” until a “viable solution around the mechanics” can be achieved (link to time line here?).
Based on advocacy committees understanding, it is our impression that the JRR will likely continue “as it has” in academic year 2017-18. Academic year 2018-19 is the first year the district references the possibility of changes taking place, if in the end, changes are recommended.
Many of you have been asking for an update on the JRR. This year’s JRR is on track to leave in a couple weeks with almost 80 students in attendance. JRR 2018 will happen during the same April time slot as this year, during the school year and part of the academic curriculum. The ONK Advocacy committee is still tracking details of the recommendation approved by interim Superintendent Bob McKean. While ONK is appreciative that the timing of the trip will not be disrupted, aspects of the recommendation are questionable to how they will be implemented – namely that PPS wants to facilitate but not sponsor the JRR. The implications are that PPS staff can attend, but they will be attending as supervisory adults and not as staff. How this works and still maintains the academic rigor and honoring the work of the staff are big questions.
Kurabu is a Japanese summer day camp for children who are entering kindergarten through fifth grade in the coming fall and are currently in a Japanese immersion program or who speak Japanese at home. Kurabu is a partnership between Portland Parks & Recreation, SUN Community Schools, Oya No Kai, and Mt. Tabor Middle School.
Kurabu is designed to offer children a bi-lingual summer camp experience that is rewarding, fun and reinforces their Japanese language skills. Our program is rich in cultural diversity and serves Japanese and non-Japanese children from the Portland Metro Region. All of our staff and volunteers have either studied Japanese, are bi-lingual, or native speakers, and come to us from local and Japanese schools, universities and the community. The Japanese Immersion Program interns act as lead teachers each week.
A typical week at Kurabu would include a field trip, enrichment class such as taiko or cooking, art, music, Japanese language, and an end-of-week celebration for students and families.
Summer 2017 Schedule:
2017 Kurabu Summer Camp will be running over 4 weeks this summer.
- Week 1 – 6/26 to 6/30
- Week 2 – 7/10 to 7/14
- Week 3 – 7/17 to 7/21
- Week 4 – 7/24 to 7/28
Camps run from 9a to 3p. We do not offer before or after care.
If you are interested in volunteering for Kurabu please use our volunteer signup. We are looking for a mix of high school plus 6/7th grader volunteers for each week.
From the President
I’m writing with some very important information regarding the 8th Grade Japan Research Residency, and I encourage you to read this important ADVOCACY NEWSLETTER.
The 8th Grade Japan Research Residency capstone of Portland Public Schools’ Japanese Dual Language Immersion (JDLI) program has recently come under PPS District scrutiny. The district re-assessment was initiated by a formal complaint from a Mt. Tabor parent. If these concerns are not adequately addressed, as determined by PPS, the JRR may be eliminated completely or be moved to the summer, which fundamentally changes the nature and purpose of the trip. This week, there is a very serious risk that the JRR may be eliminated completely or be moved to the summer, which fundamentally changes the nature and purpose of the trip.
In order to actively monitor, engage, and prepare responses within the process PPS has created, Oya No Kai (ONK) has formed an Advocacy Committee comprised of representatives from all three JDLI schools (Richmond, MTMS, and Grant). The committee is actively working to minimize major changes to the JRR – either in substance or timing.
March 1, 2017 was the original deadline for recommendations to be presented to Superintendent McKean about any changes to be made to the trip. As a result of the advocacy team’s efforts, this deadline has been pushed back to March 13, 2017. However, given the potential disruption to the year-long curriculum and overall JDLI program, it is still an unacceptable timeline.
Accordingly, the JRR Advocacy Committee is working to ensure that any decisions related to the JRR are appropriately informed by rigorous analysis and input from all affected parties (i.e. students and other DLI Programs) and employs a process that is fair, transparent, and considerate.
Following is a brief summary of the JRR Advocacy Committee’s efforts to date, ONK’s strategy for moving forward, and recommendations to our community members who wish to get more involved:
December 2016 – ONK JRR Advocacy Committee formed to respond to the District’s inquiry. The inquiry was initiated by a non-JDLI parent who expressed concerns over academic equity – specifically, concerns that MTMS students who are not in the JDLI do not have a comparable capstone educational experience in the 8th grade, and further, that the JRR negatively impacts non-JDLI MTMS students during the trip. The Advocacy committee set its goal to ensure there is a fair, transparent, inclusive and adequately informed process being followed by PPS in making their evaluation.
January 2017 – Three “Listening and Brainstorming Sessions” were scheduled, to “discuss concerns and their solutions” as listed above. ONK president Jeff Hopper, MTMS JDLI teacher Matt Bacon-Brenes, and two MTMS parents from each of the three co-located programs of the school community (Japanese & Spanish Immersion and Neighborhood) were selected to participate, by Interim Principal Anh Nguyen-Johnson. These meetings were also attended by the Franklin Area Cluster Director and the Sr. Director of the Office of Equity and Partnership, however not by the key decision-maker, Asst. Superintendent Chris Russo or the Interim Superintendent Bob McKean.
Based on what was said in these “listening sessions”, it is ONK’s belief that the JRR is at real risk of being eliminated. The PPS process for making recommendations that will alter the JRR is rushed and lacks transparency, and that the the District does not comprehend that the JRR is much more than a “trip to Japan to celebrate the end of the year” but is the core of the 8th grade JDLI Social Studies curriculum. We do not feel the District has evaluated how altering the JRR in any way would impact the need for the creation of an entirely new 8th grade JDLI curriculum, what resources would be required to implement wholesale changes to the 8th grade curriculum, the impact to the overall JDLI program from K through 12, or how other existing and developing DLI program Research Residencies may be impacted (i.e. Chinese, Spanish).
A more aggressive ONK advocacy effort is required.
We are seeking 100 JMP students and supporters of every age to be present and support and reinforce the testimony of students testifying at this Tuesday’s Portland Public Schools Board meeting:
This Tuesday 2/28 at 6:00 pm
Blanchard Education Center
501 N. Dixon – Portland, OR 97227
Please learn more about this important issue by reading our full advocacy bulletin HERE.
Description of Japan Research Residency:
The Japan Research Residency (JRR) is not a “trip” in the conventional sense. The JRR serves as the “capstone” academic experience for 8th graders enrolled in the Japanese immersion program at Mt. Tabor MS each year and aligns well with PPS Administrative Directive 6.50.021-AD that states “Travel-study programs provide experiential learning opportunities for students and further district goals for intercultural understanding.” The JRR is district sponsored, but is not a required experience. In April/May, after state testing, students travel to Hiroshima, Osaka and Asago-Shi, Japan. They complete interdisciplinary assignments, are paired in homestays, meet daily in field study groups, travel to various historic and culturally significant locations and complete group and individual field study assignments. Students are expected to negotiate restaurants, train stations and phones using their Japanese language and cultural skills. In addition, students will have opportunities to visit and carry out exchanges with six different middle schools.
Purpose of the JRR:
- Learn to negotiate Japanese culture and society independently increasing proficiency in oral and written Japanese as well as cross cultural communication.
- Conduct hands-on research related to math, science, social studies, language arts and Japanese. Projects are begun prior to departure and conclude with major written and oral presentations upon return. The oral presentation serves as a required state writing sample and field study assignment, and project requirements are aligned to state standards for all content areas.
1st 13th the District will be making a determination about the continuation of the 8th Grade Capstone Research Residency, more commonly known as the 8th grade trip. In response, an ONK parent committee is actively communicating with the District decision makers, advocating for the continuation of this essential component of the JMP middle school curriculum. Based on these interactions it is clear that our 8th grade Japan trip may be eliminated, as soon as next academic year. The elimination of the Japan Research Residency effectively means the elimination of the 8th grade curriculum, and the end of a 20 year tradition of inquiry, education and achievement. Whether you have sent a child on this trip in the past, or hope to do so in the future, without your immediate advocacy the simple truth is, there may be no 8th grade trip.
What can you do to help:
Bring your child to the PPS Board Mtg, 6:00pm, 2/28/17. There will be student speakers from the JMP testifying at this meeting. We are seeking 100 JMP students of all ages to stand silently in support and reinforcement of our student testimonies. Students who have participated on the trip and students who hope to. (PPS Meetings are held at the Blanchard Educational Building, 501 N Dixon Street, Portland)