As members of the School Board, we are committed to accelerating and deepening our efforts to eliminate racial disparities in our schools ["Expel Check," WW, Sept. 25, 2013]. We want every one of the 47,000 students in Portland Public Schools to succeed and to be treated equitably. The fact that we continue to see racially disproportionate discipline means we cannot back away from this challenge.
Portland's focus on equity has produced important gains. Today, fewer African-American, Asian, Latino and white students are being expelled than three years ago. The rate at which Native American students are disciplined compared to white students has also dropped since 2010-11. PPS has narrowed the achievement gap for students of color at a number of key academic measures.
Portland has made progress by tackling the achievement gap through policy, program and practice changes. We have boosted resources for students at underserved schools. In addition, we have expanded programs that have helped schools get better results for all students, and have reduced out-of-school discipline (such as restorative justice).
We have also supported training to help all staff take on a leading role in eliminating inequities from our schools. Understanding our own perceptions about race helps everyone at PPS—from School Board members to staff—challenge ourselves to better serve all students, particularly students of color.
The fact that students of color are disciplined at a higher rate than white students is unacceptable. It is not an excuse that this disparity is long-standing or that it afflicts every major school system in the U.S.
We will continue to tackle this problem on all fronts, until we achieve better and more equitable results at all our schools.
PPS asks for no feedback on its Courageous Conversations. They are degrading to whites, and assume that somehow our "whiteness" is causing the problem. We had teachers come out of these meetings in tears because they were made to think they did not get where they are because of hard work, but because they are white. These conversations seem to be the politically correct thing to do, but as this article shows, PPS has no idea what it is doing.
—"Sheila Reed Wilcox"
COLUMBIA RIVER CROSSING
So what's the problem? ["The Toll Truth," WW, Sept. 25, 2013.] If people flock to I-205, then there will be less traffic and pollution going through central Portland. I see that as a win.
FROHNMAYER AND BIG TOBACCO
The people of Oregon can never repay Dave Frohnmayer for his years of selfless service ["Reputation for Rent," WW, Sept. 25, 2013]. But he sure as hell is going to make us try.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR must include the author's street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words.
Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210.
Fax: (503) 243-1115. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org