When I was in high school, I couldn’t have cared less about how my school rated in terms of academic excellence. I wanted my drama club, music and German classes, and that was about it — as far as things fit to print, anyway. Then again, 20 years ago, in the small, agricultural town in central California that I grew up in, there was only one public high school — I couldn’t choose to transfer to another school or attend a magnet or charter school.
In Portland Public Schools, there are more than a dozen public high schools to choose from, and the ability make those choices is highly valued. One of the features of the new High School Redesign would elimate high school transfers between community schools.
Magnet and charter schools would still be available options, as long as there was room. The idea of getting rid of transfers is that all the high schools — Jefferson or Lincoln or any other — will offer the same advanced placement classes, college prep and other opportunities for student achievement. Of course, the devil is in the details, and there’s a long way to go before any changes are actually made.
What’s your neighborhood public high school like? If you or your child goes to a magnet, charter or private school, would you choose a neighborhood public school if it was higher quality? What would you change about the public high school you or your child attends? How important to you is having equality across all high schools in the district?
Special Note: Online Host David Miller and Senior Producer Allison Frost will be at the Jefferson High School campus from 8-10 a.m. to talk to students and principal Cynthia Harris on this first day of classes in Portland Public Schools.
- John Wilhelmi: Co-leader of the PPS High School Design Team
- Steve Rawley: Editor and publisher of PPSEquity.org
- Cynthia Harris: Jefferson High School Principal
- Howard Yank: Curriculum Resource Coordinator for Vancouver Public Schools