A toxic administrative and learning environment with poor communication, indirectly hostile interpersonal relationships between parents and a bunch of adorable kids with potential who are taking all the fire in the middle. Many staff are talented and caring, but the lack of administrative transparency, effective communication and expertise in organizational culture turnaround hamper efforts to improve. There's also a lot of gossip, backstabbing and juvenile behavior perpetrated by a small, but influential, group of parents. Children are not held to high standards based on undiscussed assumptions that this must just be how these children act at home or with their parents. Having volunteered in my own child's classroom and seen her and many other kids out of school I would say absolutely no - these kids are living up to the complete absence of any clear, strong and age appropriate expectations around psychological health and academic achievement during school hours. We tried this school for a year, made efforts to pitch in and turn things around and ultimately had to take a spot in a much more functional and psychologically welcoming space, but I think every day about the kids and families who feel stuck there.
School climate is terrible at King. The school makes some half hearted attempts on an individual basis, with a school counselor or two, and schoolwide with *tons of confusing, wordy and ineffective signs* promoting various IB learning competencies.
None of this is intelligently woven into the fabric of the culture of the school by engaging in a structured campaigns of organizational change with parents, children, teachers and community.
It's mostly done on an intermittent basis by a couple of admin and staff people (who won't promote leadership on this outside of their ranks) and in the rare moments they aren't putting out a fire that results from the overarching lack of communication, safety and other issues affecting the school.
King also has instituted an embarrassingly outdated reward and incentive program which - true to what research says - eliminates children's intrinsic motivation to show even basic courtesies, such as picking up their messes at lunch, without expecting reward and recognition.
This patronizing and outdated incentive system sends a strong message: what other people in the world are expected to do we feel you can't or don't understand so we must bribe you and will not hold you accountable when you trespass against this norm.
Why don't administration instead use language around what behaviors are expected and communicate those consistently as a value: "June, at King we don't throw garbage on the floor. Please pick that up." That's what kid's parents would say to them if they were there.
Instead let's give a King Buck to a kid who picks up a piece of dropped litter and leave her going "Huh? But everywhere else I go people don't praise me for just doing something expected."
That's the rub. Admin think they are offering positive reinforcement, but what they are inadvertently saying is "Children, we don't think you understand basic civility. We assume your parents don't teach you this at home and so we must teach you through bribery." That's the message kids and their parents are getting and it's insulting.
It's a kid's job to push the rules in environments where the boundaries are not yet established (you know, new classroom, teacher, peers). They do it with their own parents all the time. Low expectations are at the very foundation of the poor climate at the school.
Pros: the new Mandarin Immersion Program (MIP) is a school district priority and has a wonderful opportunity to grow. Immersion educations are great. Teacher quality seems good, and many parents seem interested in improving King.
Cons: MIP seemed to take a step backward from year 1 to year 2. There's a noticable disconnect between the school administration, the dual language immersion office and the teachers - oversight, rules and policies seem to be made, cancelled or modified on the fly. Given the number of established immersion programs out there, and the desire to turn King around, why wasn't a well-organized immersion program set up in the first place? As others noted, the principal seems to be a revolving door position. Quite a few children don't participate regularly in classroom learning, disturb others and shift the teacher's attention away from teaching. The school building is lacking in ... just about anything you can think of. There is a continuing safety problem around the school, 5 shootings last school year alone, and all occurred during the day or early evening. The bulk of parents lack a platform for getting the ear of teachers and the principal to make their voices heard. I would like to give King more than 2 stars but there's no way it should even be considered "average" - way too many problems with no fixes in sight.
My child has attended the neighborhood school at King since Kindergarten. Three principals in four years makes for an unstable school. Teachers and kids are not held to high standards because principals are new and scared. There is little communication between teachers and parents. A lot of meanness amongst kids of all ages.
A lot of behavioral issues at King. This affects all the kids at the school. The Chinese immersion program has the same problems as the rest of the school: poor discipline, misbehavior, bullying in and out of the classroom, low expectations on the part of the teachers and administration and poor academic outlook. It made little sense to put a Chinese language program at this school since the families in the area did not ask for it or want it.
When our daughter was a baby we started becoming involved, playing at the park, talking to some teachers and parents, attending PTA meetings and school events. We really got a feel for the school. After gathering all this 'insider' info we took the leap and decided to enroll her, and she has excelled and thrived more each year. We trust in the school's leadership, I have always been able to communicate openly about any concerns, and they have all addressed my concerns and been onboard with hearing ideas. This year, to be honest, I have had no concerns. her teachers are incredibly talented, classroom size is small, rich diversity which we greatly value, and strong academics as well as arts integration, World IB Curriculum (Spanish language focus), a Chinese Immersion Program. The school has strengthened partnerships with Portland Playhouse, Right Brain Initiative, American Music Program, Art-a-La-Carte, VIBE, PSU, Portland Art Museum. Afterschool class options such as Spanish, Baile Folklorico, Yoga, Art, Chess Club, African Dance and Drumming. Middle schoolers started a Jazz Band. Really excited to see our neighborhood school, kids and families thriving.
2nd year at King and my daughters love the Chinese immersion Program! I have a Kindergarten and 1st grade child in the program and they favor the Mandarin class over English. Very impressed with the selection of teachers and the variety that the program has to offer. My girls are writing characters, speaking, singing, and taking lessons from the teacher, all in Chinese and it's absolutely brilliant!
My daughter has really struggled with bullying at King School. The middle school kids are really rough, and mean. Girls have fistfights in the halls. Teachers are teaching classes that they're not certified to teach, and admin is a mess. I can't recommend it.