Equal opportunity for Jefferson
In its May 23 edition, The Oregonian stated that enrollment at Jefferson High School will remain steady next year. What it didn't state is that more than 100 Jefferson students were denied transfers during the original transfer period in March, and that if the transfer period had been reopened in May as promised even more students may have tried to leave.
The article also stated that Spanish is the only foreign language offered at Jefferson. It didn't mention that there are only two Spanish classes offered, even though Jefferson is supposed to have a Spanish immersion program for Spanish-immersion students from neighboring middle schools.
The Oregonian stated that there will be limited advanced placement courses at Jefferson, but according to the course brochure provided to parents there are no AP courses offered, as well as no math courses for seniors in the Arts & Technology Academy, no science courses for 11th- or 12th-graders in the Arts & Technology Academy and no arts classes available to students in the Science & Technology Academy. I could go on and on.
The ill-conceived, badly planned, badly implemented reconfiguration of Jefferson into vertical small schools — which further limits the already-limited educational offerings to our students — is a continuation of a long history of the Portland Public Schools failing to offer quality education to Jefferson students.
I disagree with the Cascade Policy Institute, which says that increasing school choice through vouchers and charter schools is the best way to serve Jefferson students. I want the school district to be accountable for doing its job.
The school district needs to offer equal educational opportunities in the Jefferson neighborhood, where the largest number of high school students live.
Plan ignores community
The plan to reconfigure Jefferson High School into vertical small schools for Arts & Technology and Science & Technology was not recommended by the Jefferson Design Team and is not supported either by research or the Jefferson community. If implemented, the plan will further limit educational opportunities for Jefferson students.
The Jefferson cluster has the largest number of high school students in the Portland Public Schools district, and the second-largest number of Kindergarten through 12th-grade students in the district. Because of years of poor policy decisions by the district and lack of equal educational opportunities, many students in the Jefferson cluster don't attend Jefferson and its feeder schools.
The school district should:
• Cancel the proposed reorganization — the fourth in recent years — of Jefferson;
• Respond to community concerns by conducting a comprehensive survey of the parents and students, including parent-teacher associations and site councils of all Jefferson cluster schools, on how to increase enrollment for Jefferson and its feeder schools;
• Increase learning opportunities at Jefferson to equal those at other district high schools;
• Cancel all consideration of leasing any Jefferson cluster schools for use as K-12 private or charter schools;
• Locate the Portland Public Schools Family Welcome Center at a Jefferson cluster school; and
• Appoint an independent auditor to determine how all district, federal and state funds and public and private grants have been spent over the past 10 years.
Jefferson PTSA president and Jefferson Design Team member