‘Portland must change how it teaches students of color’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Let’s get into it.

What we’re talking about

Doris Santoro, a BDN Portland contributor and education professor at Bowdoin, has this piece today (the first day for Portland public schools).

Portland prides itself on its diversity — both in its schools and broader community. Unlike many Maine communities, Portland Public Schools offers the opportunity to learn from and grow with students from diverse backgrounds. Unfortunately, this diversity often ends at the school entrance.

I have observed in classrooms throughout the city’s public schools for the last decade. My Bowdoin College students learn to teach in Portland’s schools. I volunteer weekly in my child’s elementary school. I am proud that several Bowdoin Teacher Scholars are employed by Portland Public Schools. Yet, too often to document, I have sat in a high school classroom surrounded by students of color. The bell rings and a new set of students takes their seats, most of them white. I am told that the first is a lower-track class and the second is a higher-track class.

Also known as “ability grouping,” tracking is prevalent across Maine schools and throughout the country. This practice becomes particularly pronounced in middle and high schools as students are separated into levels such as honors courses, general courses and college prep courses. …

Portland’s schools fall short of offering equitable educational opportunities to all students. But our city’s commitment to diversity, not to mention U.S. law, requires that we examine and alter the practice of tracking in our schools.

My neighbors who are people of color and/or multilingual are frustrated by unequal outcomes, especially within the high schools. The most recent Portland Public Schools district scorecard reveals striking disparities based on race and family income.

Read her full post here.

Tonight: Jake Bleiberg went to a “Rally for Decency” in Westbrook tonight, which is being held in reaction to the unfolding LePage saga. He’ll have a full story tonight. Watch our Facebook page for updates.


That snakeskin in Westbrook didn’t just come from an anaconda, it came from the biggest, scariest kind of anaconda — We got an update from the scientist who studied the snakeskin that has now been confirmed as belonging to an anaconda. Turns it, the skin came from the bigger species, known as a green anaconda. Oh, good.

If you’d like to know more about these fascinating creatures, Jake Bleiberg pulled a few facts together here.

The mayor is giving KISS a key to the cityMayor Ethan Strimling plans to give the rock band KISS a key to the city when they play in Portland on Sunday night. He writes on Facebook: “During their show, I will be presenting KISS with a key to the city for their work helping veterans … and they are allowing me to bring a guest. I would like that guest to be a local veteran, so I am looking for nominees.

“If you know a veteran who would like to go to the show, please post a note below telling me a little about their story or send a private message. We will select the top few and choose the finalist through lottery. Portland connection not required, but definitely noticed.”

‘How I Trolled Maine’s Racist Governor into an Ugly Public Meltdown’ — A Brooklyn comedian says he asked the question that provoked LePage’s now infamous “three-ringed binder” comment — which led us here.  Andrew Ritchie writes in Vice: “Not to brag, but last week, while I was on vacation, I may have set in motion a series of events that could end the career of Maine governor Paul LePage.”

Want to take a train from Portland to Montreal? — Advocates for a train line connecting Portland to Lewiston and eventually Montreal will hold a public information session about the proposal Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Stroudwater Distillery in Portland. A study of the project has received $400,000 through a bill passed in the Maine Legislature in March 2015 and another $50,000 from both Lewiston and Auburn. But a year and a half later, the Maine Department of Transportation has not taken bids from companies to undertake the legislated study.

Here’s an op-ed in the Press Herald today arguing for the train line.

Celebrate Gene Wilder this weekend on Munjoy Hill — Spencer Albee writes on Facebook: “Myself, Sean Wilkinson and the fine folk at St. Lawrence Arts will respectfully be presenting free screenings of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (5:00pm) and Young Frankenstein (7:00pm) on this Saturday, September 3rd. All ages. First come, first serve.”

The Big Idea

‘David Lynch on Where Great Ideas Come From’ — This is a really cool video from The Atlantic on one of cinema’s most creative directors.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage

Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.