Does reorganizing Portland's high schools make sense?


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Air date: 
Wed, 07/01/2009 - 5:00pm

Portland's high school dropout rate is the highest in the metropolitan area. While the statewide rate declined last year, Portland high school students are dropping out at twice the rate - 8.2 percent - of students in other Oregon communities. The city's high schools are also grappling with other issues: a growing number of students opting for GED credentials, budget shortfalls, and demands from parents for greater accountability to the community.

Portland Public School Superintendent Carole Smith has launched a major reorganization of the high school system to address these and other issues. The plan calls for closing some high schools, restructuring others, creating more magnet schools and restricting the ability of students to attend schools outside the district in which they reside. Can the reorganization address the problems facing Portland's high schools? Is it still viable in today's economic environment? How will it affect communities that feel they've been short-changed by the school system in the past?

 Jo Ann and Dave talk with Sarah Singer, project manager of the Portland Public School District's high school redesign team and Sarah Carlin Ames, communications coordinator with the team about their plan, its goals and whether it will meet the needs of all Portland students in the coming years.

Jo Ann and Dave also talk with David Fidanque, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon about the recent Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action and on strip searches of school students.

 The conversation doesn't end when the program does. You can join in additional discussion of the week's issue on our blog at (click on the "blog" tab). You'll find additional information, important links, comments from other listeners and commentary from Jo Ann and Dave. Have a question for our guests, but can't call in during the program? Post your questions on line so we can make them a part of the Voices discussion.


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