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Think Out Loud

The Meaning of Jefferson High

Pete Springer/OPB

A majority of Portland School Board members support closing North Portland’s Jefferson High School as part of its oft-modified high school redesign plan, and its vote on June 28 will seal the school’s fate. But many community members have made impassioned pleas to the board to keep Jefferson open, citing its historical and cultural importance as a community cornerstone and the state’s only majority African American high school. Others - including parents of students in the Jefferson cluster - contend that the school’s lackluster academic performance, limited course offerings and low enrollment make a strong case for its closure by the board. The case of Jefferson illustrates the challenge facing Portland Public Schools: how to balance history and cultural diversity with sound fiscal policy.

Do you live in North Portland? What does Jefferson mean to you? To your community? What questions do you have for the school district?


  • Anna Kullgren, North Portland resident with children in Jefferson cluster
  • Lennie Edwards, Digital media and video production teacher at Jefferson
  • Tim McLaughlin, North Portland resident and former Jefferson volunteer
  • Lakeitha Elliot, Jefferson Class of 1994, SUN Program Coordinator in Gresham-Barlow School District
  • Erica Marinowski, senior at Jefferson

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