Portland Public Schools superintendent Carole Smith closed the first week of the school year with a speech at the weekly Portland City Club luncheon. WW
reported optimism from parents and School Board members in April
, for Smith's patient, methodical style, and this occasion marked her first significant public address since taking office almost a year ago.
The hour-long speech touch only briefly on Portland's elementary schools, which are, in general, at or exceeding "benchmarks," and focused instead on high schools, their "rather flat" test scores, and their "stubbornly low graduation rates." Emphasizing the critical ninth-grade year, Smith described a new program in place that identifies at-risk eighth graders and gives the names of those students to every member of the high-school faculty. For students nearer the achievement spectrum's other end, she mentioned a goal of increasing the number of college credit classes.
Smith did not dwell on the race
issue, but she listed "equity of expectation and opportunity" as a bullet point on the PPS plan, which always sounds like a really good thing.
Here's a complete transcript
of her speech.