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Meet Scott Bailey

I grew up in Northeast Portland, not far from where I now live. I was the fifth of five children in a middle-class family. While we certainly weren’t rich, I grew up with a lot of advantages, including high expectations. At a very young age I knew I was going to college because, well, it was already decided (all five of us ended up with college degrees). I attended Fernwood School when it was a K-8. One of the formative experiences of my grade school education was in seventh grade when I spent a year getting bullied by another student. It set me back socially—it was seven years later when I finally came to grips with all the feelings I had bottled up inside—but I like to think it helped me to be a more empathic person.

I graduated from Grant High School and went on to Oregon State where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies. I moved back to Portland with no direction except wanting to get involved in the community. I worked for several years in social services for Portland Youth Advocates where I started the first treatment program in Oregon for youths abusing alcohol back in 1978. I lent my support to several social justice causes. I spent a couple of days in jail after protesting at the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant. As part of a coalition of nonprofit organizations I wrote an analysis of charitable foundations in Oregon, challenging them to channel more resources to addressing sexism, racism and poverty. I debated the head of United Way on the old Town Hall television show, raising the same issues.

Throughout this period, I learned a lot about myself—what we now call privilege—and my relationship to the greater world. I spent several years immersed in organizations that used consensus decision-making and democratic management. I learned a lot about power and powerlessness.

In 1983 I went back to school and earned my master’s degree in economics at Portland State University. I’ve worked as an economist ever since, analyzing regional and state economic trends. I’m a union member. Since 2008, I’ve taught economics on the side at Clark College. Teaching is hard and I have the upmost respect for those who have chosen it as their primary profession.

I married Nancy Abens, the love of my life, in 1984. Nancy is an incredible artist who teaches fine art photography at Lincoln High School. See her website here. We have two children, both of whom attended PPS and graduated from Grant. Charlie works construction here in town, and Wilson just received his PhD in chemistry from a public university. When my kids were younger, I was a soccer and baseball coach, serving as president of the Hollywood Soccer Club.

When my older son entered kindergarten, I became involved as a volunteer with increasing levels of intensity: first in the classroom, then on site councils, and then in school funding issues. I started to become aware of school quality issues as well. With a group of school-funding activists, I co-founded Community & Parents for Public Schools (CPPS) in 1999. As past president and board member of CPPS, I have been heavily involved in district-level education issues in Portland Public Schools for over two decades.

I ran for the school board in 2009, losing to Pam Knowles. Eight years later, PPS has made little progress in addressing many of the issues I raised then—lack of management systems in the central office, inconsistent quality of principals, special education, TAG, CTE, among others.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with many dedicated school activists who have taught me - and continue to teach me - a lot. A core value of mine is collaboration—we are simply better together. Almost everything “I’ve” accomplished as an educational activist has been part of a “we.” One of my goals as a school board member is to help drive PPS to more and better collaboration with staff, students, parents and the community at large.

I’m running for the school board because I have the experience, skills and temperament to help lead this school district into doing great things for all kids.