Tribute by Kim Stafford
for Carole Smith
February 20th, 2014
When others bowed over a page of demands.
you looked into the eyes of each.
When others arrayed points of contention.
you praised both sides.
When others privileged strategy.
you sought convergence.
Perhaps you learned from rivers
how the confluence resolves.
Perhaps you learned from rain
how to bless everyone.
For you remembered the tribe: child,
parent, teacher, keeper of the tribe.
You sought no voice without all voices
and we learned.
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Real-world learning is essential for all students
March 23, 2015
It's been a busy and productive spring for our students and schools.
Thousands of our students attended the Portland Workforce Alliance (PWA) Northwest Youth Careers Expo March 17, exploring everything from high tech to medicine. Thank you to the 130 employers who participated and many others who offer career days, job shadows, internships and inspiration to our students all year long.
Schools showcase talents, PPS mourns a loss
March 2, 2015
We've have had an amazing month in our schools.
On Feb. 19, we said thank you to Portlanders for rebuilding arts education in our schools with The Heart of Portland: K-12 Arts Showcase at the Newmark Theater. The showcase – a gallery of visual art as well as performances representing every school – was a testament to the level of artistic talent among our students and the skill of our art teachers in helping them express it.
The Lunar New Year came alive in our schools with celebrations including the traditional Lion Dance as well as music, food and other cultural activities. Mock Trial students at Chief Joseph/Ockley Green organized an assembly around the Trayvon Martin case, and the Jefferson Black Student Union invited the community to celebrate The Color of Blackness with art, dance and poetry during Black History Month. Meanwhile, Benson pulled off another outstanding Tech Show, including a special appearance by former science teacher Harold Browning, age 98, fulfilling his wish to visit Benson again.
Graduation rate gains offer roadmap for acceleration
January 29, 2015
We received hopeful news from the state this week. Portland Public Schools’ four-year graduation rate improved another three percentage points this year, with a 17-point gain over the six years since the state began using the current method to track how many of our students graduate.
We also know that our graduation rate – now 70 percent, two points below the state average - is still not good enough. We know that as a community and as a state we must improve education for our students and earn the place of pride nationally that Portland & Oregon have the ability to reach. Our students deserve no less.
I believe that our steady gains, even as we faced years of cutting some of the very programs that engage our students most, offer a roadmap for accelerating our progress as our funding improves.
The guideposts are in the data.[More]
Supporting academic success and positive behavior in schools
January 7, 2015
Welcome to 2015! I hope that your winter break was enjoyable.
I wanted to start the New Year by reviewing where our schools are heading and inviting your participation.
In the fall I laid out three key priorities:
- All students reading at benchmark by the end of third grade.
- Decreasing the rate of suspensions and expulsions for all students and the disproportionality in exclusionary discipline between white students and students of color.
- Accelerating improvement of our high school graduation and completion rates.
A time for gratitude
November 26, 2014
I was moved and inspired when I met Madison senior Mustaf Mohamed as he received the Stand for Children "Beating the Odds" scholarship this month. Having spent most of his childhood in Kenyan refugee camps, Mustaf immigrated to the US when he was 11 and is now excelling in AP classes at Madison. Mustaf expressed his gratitude for the opportunities and the people who have supported him. [More]
Students shape school culture, experience
November 4, 2014
Students shape school culture every day through activities including leadership, academic endeavors, and athletics. This fall, for example, I am excited to see new and returning members of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council gather from all of our high schools to bring student perspectives to district initiatives. [More]
Telling the story of a growing school district
September 30, 2014
Visiting schools this first month, I have been energized to see everyone from our youngest learners to our high school seniors gear up for the academic challenges ahead. I have enjoyed hearing from our teachers, administrators and staff as they reconnect with students and have been especially thrilled to help welcome hundreds of new teachers, counselors, school secretaries, media specialists, educational assistants and other staff who are filling our new positions or replacing employees who have retired or left. [More]
Celebrating a new school year, new employees and shared progress
September 3, 2014
I am happy to welcome you to the 2014-15 school year and hope your first day went smoothly.
This week, thanks to state funding for schools, we start the school year with hundreds of new staff members. After years of cutting staff and programs, so far this year PPS has hired more than 500 employees, such as teachers, media specialists, school counselors and psychologists. Included in that total are 180 new teaching positions. [More]
Sharing the excitement of a new school year
September 2, 2014
A new school year brings a sense of excitement. Most of us remember the anticipation of entering a new school or a new grade and reconnecting with friends and teachers. [More]
Excited to welcome teachers back to school
August 21, 2014
While our students enjoy the final days of summer, our teachers are returning to their classrooms to get ready for them. I am excited to welcome our teachers back this year. Joining our many experienced PPS educators are 400 teachers new to the district. Some are new to the profession. I am grateful for better budget times and our ability to hire at a level not seen in many years. [More]
Getting ready to welcome you back
August 13, 2014
Portland Public Schools is looking forward to welcoming you to the 2014-15 school year on Sept. 2, with kindergarteners starting Sept. 5. [More]
Much to recognize and celebrate
June 13, 2014
As we wrap up another school year, many of us are filled with mixed emotions. Our hearts go out to the Reynolds High School community as they struggle to make sense of the events that recently took place. We are also very mindful of the losses suffered in a number of our own schools in recent weeks. I have been moved by the way our school communities have come together during these tragedies with both care and compassion, and a desire to support one another. [More]
Recognizing an historic moment
May 20, 2014
Yesterday was a truly historic day for Oregon. Federal District Judge Michael McShane issued his opinion that Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. [More]
Appreciating the dedication of our teachers
April 30, 2014
It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge our teachers and professional educators in celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, which begins today, May 5th, and runs through Friday, May 9thth. We are very fortunate to have so many talented, dedicated and committed teachers and professional educators serving our students and families every day. [More]
Praising outstanding students, teachers
April 28, 2014
As we move into the remaining weeks of the school year, I am pleased to acknowledge exceptional students who have been recognized for their accomplishments. From our Gates Scholars, to our daVinci School students winning Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, to the Grant High School magazine staff who won the Gold Crown Award from the Columbia (University) Scholastic Press Association, I am proud of our students. [More]
Historic moment for PPS: Budget strategically reinvests after many lean years
March 31, 2014
Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting to the Portland School Board my seventh budget message as Superintendent. The $534 million general fund budget I proposed for the 2014-2015 school year represents a significant reinvestment in our schools and is my first budget message where we are able to strategically invest without simultaneously cutting programs. This is really exciting news for our students, our staff, and our community. [More]
Together we can help all students read well
March 21, 2014
As we all look forward to Spring Break, I want to wish you a relaxing time away from school. While you are enjoying your downtime, I hope you will make reading a big part of your week. [More]
Best contract in decades forged through tough, collaborative process
Feb. 28, 2014
Today, as this lengthy and challenging bargaining process draws to a close, I want to express my gratitude to you, the Portland Public Schools community. Your engagement, input and support was invaluable in helping the Portland Public Schools Bargaining team navigate the process of reaching a negotiated settlement with the Portland Association of Teachers. It buoyed us and kept our focus on the critical task of crafting an agreement that provides for the best possible educational outcomes for our students. [More]
Message to families regarding PAT bargaining
Feb. 13, 2014
I send you this personal message today to let you know we are working diligently to avoid a strike by teachers. I understand how extremely disruptive a strike would be to your student and your family. I have listened to your voice mail messages and read your emails and social media posts. Please know I am aware of your concerns, and they are important to me. [More]
Recognizing your dedication to more students graduating
Feb. 12, 2014
The Oregon Department of Education reported Feb. 6 that our four year graduate rate has risen another four percentage points, part of a significant four-year trend from 53 to 67 percent. State data also show outstanding gains at Franklin (7 percentage points), Jefferson (9 percentage points) and Roosevelt (7 percentage points). [More]
Supporting students in the event of a strike
Feb. 12, 2014
The labor union representing PPS teachers has authorized a strike. The school district continues working with the teachers union to reach an agreement on their labor contract. If agreement is not reached, the date that the union would call for teachers not to report to work is Thursday, Feb. 20. [More]
Update on Negotiations with the Teachers Union
January 30, 2014
Last night, the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) announced that they will hold a strike vote next Wednesday. While PAT has chosen to take a step toward a strike, bargaining teams are meeting with a state mediator tomorrow in continuing negotiations. [More]
A Turning Point?
January 21, 2014
Each year at this time, I have shared PPS’ budget forecast as we look ahead to the next school year. Each year for the past six years, that forecast has been grim. Every year we have faced a deficit that would lead to cuts because of inadequate state funding. [More]
Seeking a contract settlement
January 5, 2014
I hope the winter break was restful and restorative for you and your family. As we return to school and start the new calendar year, I know that many families have been concerned about the status of teacher contract talks. Here is a brief update. [More]