District selling out Jefferson
A recent editorial in The Oregonian suggests Jefferson High School should be closed because it is the high school with the smallest number of students.
This reasoning fails to recognize that the Jefferson attendance area actually has the largest number of high school students living within its boundaries: Jefferson: 1,950 students; Marshall: 1,864; Wilson: 1,697; Grant: 1,622; Madison: 1,524; Franklin: 1,476; Roosevelt: 1,395; Cleveland: 1,379; Lincoln: 1,323.
For years, the federal No Child Left Behind Act and Portland Public Schools policies have encouraged students to transfer out of Jefferson. Design team members and parents repeatedly asked PPS to get feedback from neighborhood families during the recent Jefferson redesign process to determine what programs and other changes were needed at Jefferson to retain and attract more neighborhood students. But it never happened.
So, rather than adopting changes that will increase student enrollment, PPS sealed Jefferson's fate by approving narrowly focused programs (two single-gender programs and two technology-based programs) that will appeal to a smaller fraction of the neighborhood students and result in further declines in enrollment. Only 34 students have applied for those programs so far.
Statements in the district's reconfiguration proposal (which are being parroted by The Oregonian and others) suggest that we can expect a closure announcement in 2009 for Jefferson and even earlier for Marshall, Madison or Roosevelt. Those statements indicate to me that the district and others are banking on the failure of schools that serve a higher percentage of low-income and minority students, rather than being committed to making public schools in those neighborhoods work.
If you care about any of those schools there's still time to get involved to ensure their success, but not much time.
Invest in education
There is no better way to invest in the future of Oregon's communities than to provide adequate funding for our public schools. If using lottery dollars will accomplish this in the short term, then we need our elected officials to push this though without hesitation.
As a voter, a parent and a PTA member of the Portland Public Schools district, I implore the Legislature to craft long-term solutions for this desperate problem. We should be ashamed that we invest so little in our public schools. There is no excuse for the great state of Oregon to neglect this critical area. We want our children to have the best educational environment possible.
We must act on the premise that if our children's education gets the proper attention it deserves then Oregon will always be enriched with citizens who care to give back to their communities — citizens with creative minds and good hearts.