Every student in Portland Public Schools deserves an education that fulfills his or her potential. That's why PPS has invested in staff training to help educators develop the skills and strategies to close the achievement gap ["Murmurs," WW, Dec. 24, 2013]. Training is just one part of PPS's overall effort to improve equity in our schools.

PPS has been accountable for the results. PPS schools measure progress by looking at the gap in learning between the lowest-performing racial subgroup and white students at key benchmarks, from early reading scores to graduation rates. This approach holds us accountable for the progress of all underserved groups, not just black students.

Despite years of budget cuts, the achievement gap has narrowed for our lowest-performing students on nearly all measures—even as student achievement overall has also steadily improved. Are we there yet? Of course not.

Today our schools still produce better outcomes for white students than they do for students of color. That's why we need to stay focused on equity to sustain that progress.

Erin Hoover Barnett, communications director
Robb Cowie, public affairs director
Portland Public Schools


The biggest mess is the one left us by Jeff Cogen ["Clickworthy," WW, Dec. 25, 2013]. Now we have a temporary Multnomah County Board chair, and an incompetent sheriff with no checks whatsoever on overspending his budget year after year.

Cogen was a fraud. Just a hippy-dippy lightweight with a stoner's outlook on managing the county by flirting with the board and being a cheerleader for county employees: "Wow, awesome. You guys do an awesome job. Wow, cool, keep it up."

Talk about a total bust.

—"Irving Berliner"

Three cheers for Steve Buel. The Portland Public Schools board could use a few more like him.



Every country and state taxes alcohol ["Price Check on Fireball," WW, Dec. 24, 2013]. They lied in Washington state that prices would fall, and now that their lie is for all to see, they are changing tactics in Oregon.

Why would the grocery-store lobby support this if they were not going to be making a major profit? I used to be in favor for abolishing OLCC sales, but now I feel completely the opposite.

—"J McCarthy""


In our Dec. 11, 2013, story "Gender Rap," Portland Police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson discussed reasons why female officers use force less often than their male counterparts. Neither Simpson nor WW meant to suggest the bureau intentionally keeps female officers out of dangerous assignments. 

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