The visionPDX Input Report



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Portlanders want quality public education for the city’s children,
young adults and lifelong learners.

Section Summary

Education is a fundamental component of a well-functioning, economically healthy, vibrant city. Respondents recognize that education happens on both the individual and community levels and want to see an integrated system of early childhood education through high school, college, professional and community education that meets the needs of community members as well as the city and our regional economy.

When considering education, Portlanders frequently mention the value of lifelong learning. They believe that learning communities have a higher sense of social cohesion and civic duty, and that community education and information sharing enables us to find creative, innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Portlanders see education as the foundation necessary to achieving individual and community goals.

Note: For more on improving the quality of public, see Education: Pre-K-12 Schools. For more on young people and families see Social Issues: Family & Youth.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. The success of our community depends on the success of our public schools.
  2. Active community involvement strengthens our public schools.
  3. A strong neighborhood school system benefits the entire community.


  1. The success of our community depends on the success of our public schools.
  • Portlanders want a strong public school system and believe it will be a resource that benefits the entire community, not just students and their parents.
  • Respondents believe strong schools play a vital role in building successful communities by:
    • Providing children with quality education to become productive community members and leaders;
    • Acting as a force of upward social and economic mobility;
    • Attracting businesses and good jobs by developing the skills of the future workforce (see Economy: Business);
    • Serving as centers of community activity and learning (such as Schools Uniting Neighborhoods sites);
    • Reducing criminal or harmful behavior; and
    • Increasing the quality of life for both students and the wider community.
  • Respondents believe that the success or failure of public education will be an indicator of our city’s future, as most Portlanders rely on public schools to educate their children.
"Portland citizens cannot lose sight of the importance of a strong public education system, both directly (for parents of school-age children) and indirectly (as community members who benefit from an educated populace.)"

"I think great cities start with great schools."

"If Portland wants to become a truly international city, one that supports business, embodies progressive, forward-thinking and positive growth, it needs to make great strides in supporting, financing and planning to build a stronger public educational system for our city.

  1. Active community involvement strengthens our public schools.
  • Greater community engagement in schools is viewed as a way to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and to promote the intellectual development of students.
  • Portlanders believe that strengthening education is the responsibility of the entire community, and that school improvement efforts are most effective when sustained by active community involvement and partnerships.
  • Respondents want increased volunteerism in schools, such as internships and mentoring programs, to support educational attainment and achievement (see Education: Community Education).
  • Build a strong relationship between schools and the business community (see Economic: Business).
  • Offer incentives for professionals to volunteer in the lives of youth, either during school times or after school.

    "More parental involvement in public schools."

    "I would like to see people getting more involved in the schools. We should set up organizations to bring the community together for the betterment of schools."

    "I would like to see the Mayor ... provide leadership to bring the business, post secondary and social service communities together to champion high school graduation with college/work ready skills for all."

Sample Strategies:

  1. Encourage interaction between students and other community members, such as seniors, by allowing school-based volunteers to obtain a tax credit.
  2. Provide a forum for a community discussion about responsibility and the role for government versus parents in making schools and the education of youth successful.
  3. Businesses could adopt a school to support classrooms, reinstate music and art classes or improve playgrounds.
  4. "I would like to see city employees volunteering at Portland Public Schools (maybe 1 hour a week) and getting paid for it. My former employer, Legacy Health System, did this and I thought it was a great idea!"
  5. "Anyone with a child in public school must 'volunteer' for 8 hours a school year doing something: fixing up old buildings, computer/tech work, repairs, PR, paperwork, etc."

  1. A strong neighborhood school system benefits the entire community.
  • Portlanders understand the power of a positive relationship between local schools and the surrounding community (see Urban Livability: Family Friendly and Urban Livability: Sense of Community).
  • Most people agree that caring for the youth of our community is a shared priority and responsibility and that we should be investing in neighborhood schools to strengthen our sense of community.
  • A majority of respondents desire a system of strong neighborhood schools that are fully integrated in, and valued by, their respective communities.
  • Portlanders are concerned that the neighborhood school system is failing and they fear that the system will be weakened further as poor quality drives families to seek other education options for their children, including alternative and private schools (see Education: Pre-K-12 Schools).
  • These people believe alternative schools drain the neighborhood school system of students and support, reducing enrollment and causing neighborhood schools to close.
  • Portlanders are concerned that once neighborhood schools are closed they are hard to reopen.
  • There is a great sense of urgency to keep neighborhood schools from closing.
"I believe in the benefits of a neighborhood school. I've heard a lot of talk of charters and magnets, but I want my children to attend a school they can walk to, who will have friends in the neighborhood and be supported by a united community."

"More funding for schools, with a commitment to neighborhood schools that build local community."

"We need to devote much more attention to our public schools. They really need help and a community that cares working to strengthen them."