Leaders of Oregon’s largest city and the state’s biggest school systems talked up local education programs at a national conference in Portland on Thursday.
The National League of Cities sponsored the conference, because it sees a greater role for local government in education. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said there’s a payoff for cities: “If we have less kids that are getting disproportionate discipline, then failing in school, and winding up in the criminal justice system - we’re going to save money - aside from the fact that it’s better for people.”
Portland Community College president Jeremy Brown pointed to a city-funded program that helps low-income high schoolers reach college. “Our retention rate, from one year to the next - for students who start and then continue - is 83 percent,” he said. “That’s unheard of.”
Portland Public Schools superintendent Carole Smith shared her recipe for success with the national audience: “Partnership, partnership, partnership.”
Organizers also praised state funded programs in Washington that re-engage school dropouts.