cherish their public schools and want quality public
readily available to every pre-k-12 student.
Portlanders cherish their public
schools, respect the hard work of educators and hold
an unwavering commitment that all young people receive
a high quality education. To that end, they call for
increased community involvement and financial investment
in public schools.
Respondents especially value their
neighborhood schools, and many advocate reinventing
them as multiple-use facilities that unite communities.
A number of Portlanders are troubled by the practice
of parents removing their children from neighborhood
schools because they believe it weakens the public
school system and creates racial and economic segregation.
A smaller group of respondents appreciates being
able to choose high performing schools, charter schools
and private schools for their children.
Community members often raise their
concern over educational inequity, particularly for
students of color, those with special needs, low-income
children and youth, immigrants and refugees. They
want equal opportunity for educational attainment
and diverse, engaging learning environments that meet
the needs of all children.
Respondents are concerned that,
in addition to cost of living, the school system is
a major reason families are moving to the suburbs,
and they promote improving the quality of pre-K-12
schools as a way to attract and keep families in Portland.
Improving the quality of pre-K-12 public education
is a top priority.
Portlanders generally appreciate educational choice.
- A thriving public school
system will keep families in Portland.
- High quality teachers
are essential to achieving educational excellence.
- Schools should be inclusive
and supportive of all children.
- Every student should
have access to diverse and engaging learning opportunities.
- Portlanders want accountability
for student achievement levels, but they question
the effectiveness of standardized tests.
- A community-wide discussion
is needed to better define educational objectives
- Should Portland offer
greater school choice or prioritize systemic reform?
- Opinions differ on
the purpose of public education and how to measure
the quality of preK-12 public education
is a top priority.
- Many express concern about the state
of Portland’s public schools.
- Portlanders want the city to lead and
innovate in education—as it does in many
other areas—serving as a national example
of educational excellence in which every
student is equipped with the skills and
abilities to succeed in higher education
and in the workforce.
moved to Portland … because we thought
the schools were good but have seen
them go downhill in the time we’ve been
generally appreciate educational choice.
- Respondents value the diversity of educational
opportunities offered by magnet, charter
and special-focus schools, including language
immersion programs, arts programs and
- There is widespread support for the Schools
Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) schools and
their associated programs.
- Many believe magnet and special-focus
schools provide greater opportunities for
- Parents appreciate charter schools for
their immediate impacts, and often choose
them over waiting for system-wide change
to trickle down to their neighborhood school.
- Those who oppose school choice and charter
schools do so because they believe underprivileged
communities, low-income neighborhoods and
the overall public school system are weakened
when parents choose to remove their children
from neighborhood schools.
- A smaller portion of respondents actively
support the school choice program and view
the policy as a major strength of the Portland
Public School District.
reason for living in Portland is so
that my daughter can attend the Chinese
Immersion Program at Woodstock Elementary
want] a bigger and broader commitment
to educating our best and brightest,
with multiple charter schools for bright
- Maintain and expand SUN schools.
thriving public school system will keep
families in Portland.
- Portlanders are concerned that perceptions
of poor school quality are leading families
to either move to the suburban fringes or
place their children in private schools.
- Many believe that enhancing educational
quality is essential if the city is to remain
an appealing place for families to live
Livability: Family Friendly and Social
- Portlanders link quality schools to housing,
believing that availability of family-friendly,
affordable housing boosts public school
enrollment and the tax base necessary for
- Some suggest reinvesting in or rethinking
neighborhood schools—making them the hub
of community activity—to attract families
to close-in neighborhoods.
are moving out into the suburbs where
housing is affordable, leaving only
the ‘well to do families’ and poor families
here in the Portland Public Schools
district. Well, it doesn’t take much
genius to see that the ‘well to do families’
are sending their children to private
schools which is a catalyst in the hindrance
of our city.”
saddened and frustrated by the struggles
experienced in the school system right
now and feel overwhelmed by the number
of people choosing to move out of the
schools are failing because all of the
kids are moving away. We need to get
families to move back and provide excellent
love our neighborhood but want a high
quality, stable education for our children.
Even as much as I love my house and
my neighborhood, if faced with a decision
we will move ourselves out of Portland
and into a school district that provides
the quality of education we are looking
- “Create an aggressive multi-faceted
strategy to keep the city family friendly,
including excellence in public K-12 education.”
- Increase affordable housing options for
families as an incentive to keep them from
moving to the suburbs.
- Businesses should financially support
quality teachers are essential to achieving
- Many respondents want to attract and maintain
quality teachers by providing them with
the following resources:
- Appropriate compensation (salary and
- Adequate educational resources and
- Supportive work environments;
- Access to training; and
- Manageable class sizes and workload.
- Some Portlanders suggest increasing teacher
quality by paying them based on performance
as a way to reward good teachers and motivate
those that need improvement.
value education and it is very hard
to feel this way if we keep on losing
teachers at the Portland Public Schools.”
good teachers want to teach here, not
afraid of it.”
your favorite teacher? I bet you learned
more in that class than any other class
you took. We need more teachers like
should be inclusive and supportive of all
- Portlanders worry that neighborhood schools
are segregated by race and income level.
- They want to address the disparity in
educational attainment between white students
and students of color, and urge the development
and implementation of means to ensure the
educational success of low-income and minority
- The learning environment should incorporate
opportunities for all types of learners,
including those with disabilities, special
needs or a limited knowledge of the English
- A few Portlanders suggest school uniforms
as a way to make the learning environment
more equal for children of differing economic
- A small number of respondents request
time and space in public schools for prayers
(this was true of Christian and Muslim respondents)
and more religious influence in schools
want ALL students to succeed. We need
to improve support for low-income and
minority students in Portland’s public
want inclusive schools. Stop the segregation
of children with disabilities.”
ESL resources for public school students.”
- Cultivate mentorship opportunities
for minority students.
student should have access to diverse and
engaging learning opportunities.
- There is widespread agreement that every
student should have access to a rich and
engaging educational curriculum, including
foreign language options, art, music, physical
education, environmental education and access
to technology and innovative educational
- Many respondents want to enhance high
school learning options and environments
with internships, apprenticeships, credit-based
work experiences, vocational training and
- All students should have the opportunity
to take part in community service and informative,
hands-on learning experiences.
- After-school programs are valued as important
tools to keep children and youth engaged
in positive activities that help them learn.
- Respondents want to ensure equal access
to safe and supervised after school education
the community to support schools more
need more than writing, reading and
math. They need art, music, PE and other
creative outlets that allow them to
discover who they are and become functional
adults with great things to contribute
would like] every child to receive an
exiting, stimulating and creative education,
such that they want to graduate from
high school and maybe go to college.”
kids staying in school (after school
programs, college incentives, etc.)”
- Fund programs that enhance the
learning experience, such as language immersion
programs, special education, internships,
after school activities and early education
- Develop programs that provide children
an opportunity to learn about locally grown
want accountability for student achievement
levels, but they question the effectiveness
of standardized tests.
- Respondents value accountability, but
are concerned over current models that fixate
solely on the results of standardized testing
to measure student achievement.
- The effectiveness of these models is called
into question and a broad view of student
achievement that goes beyond testing is
- Some believe that test-based accountability
devalues critical thinking and other important
skills in favor of the basic content knowledge
that can measured on standardized tests.
would love to see … more teachers being
allowed to teach a curriculum rather
than teaching to tests.”
critical thinking not just how to take
the national obsession with standardized
testing will abate in the next 20 years,
so that teachers can focus on creative
lesson planning and emergent curriculum,
and stop teaching to the test.”
community-wide discussion is needed to better
define educational objectives and priorities.
- Many want school officials to engage in
a community-wide conversation that includes
students, parents, businesses, government,
community members and organizations to clearly
determine and prioritize what students need
to learn and what skills they need to acquire
to be successful in the 21st Century.
- Respondents define educational objectives
in terms of intellectual, social and
career development, and young people’s development
as productive community members and leaders.
- Portlanders often mention wanting the
school curriculum to change; comments ranged
from focusing more on Portland values (such
as sustainability and civics/volunteerism)
to concentrating on the fundamentals of
reading, writing and math.
- Respondents would also like to see the
high school learning experience better aligned
with higher education and workforce needs.
school students need to be prepared
for the changing demands of the workplace.
They need to be taught the skills of
a recent mom, I want a school district
with … a dynamic and unique curriculum
that matches our local love of nature
need a better vision for schools and
what we want our children to learn.”
public school system is broken … and
is not developing the type of citizen
students that will be essential to maintain
our economic and political viability.
I want to see a real discussion on completely
redesigning the schools system from
the bottom up. Portland should start
the trend towards looking at how schools
should be organized for future needs
instead of continuously patching a system
that most acknowledge as untenable for
the long term.”
Portland offer greater school choice or prioritize
Portlanders disagree about whether greater school
choice is a solution to the school crisis or part
of the problem. The majority of respondents mention
wanting systemic public school reform—from updating
curriculum to stabilizing school funding—with
the aim of improving education for all. These
Portlanders want the focus placed on a well-performing,
Others want an expansion of charter schools, magnet
schools and school choice, believing that equity
in education only comes with school options. This
group values the specialized schools that already
exist in the Portland area, and they foresee a
need to expand them to offer this type of educational
experience to more students.
differ on the purpose of public education and how
to measure its success.
Respondents have varying perspectives on the
purpose public education should serve—ideas range
from teaching youth about morals and incorporating
religion, to lessons about civics and community
service, to developing greater critical thinking
skills, to enhancing qualities that help young
people become the next generation to drive our
The disagreement over public education's role becomes
clear when Portlanders discuss how to measure
its success. One of the more pronounced disagreements
over measurement comes with the idea of school
testing. Many are concerned about how the
national trend toward standardized tests affects
our local schools and what curriculum options
are diminished by the time taken for test preparation.
They want teachers to focus on developing students'
critical thinking skills and/or preparing young
peope for the workforce. Another group would like
to see our schools attain educational excellence,
and believe that the way to prove student success
on a local, national and even international level
is through testing.