People in other big-city school districts around the country have a hard time thinking of Portland Public Schools as a truly urban district.
Not only is Portland tiny (47,000 students, compared with 700,000 in Los Angeles), but only 43 percent of its students are poor (in Chicago, 85 percent are). A majority are white (in Philadelphia, 13 percent are). What’s more, middle- and upper-income professionals in Portland do something their counterparts in Detroit, L.A. or Washington, D.C., rarely consider: They send their children to central-city public schools.
But there is one way in which our small, mostly white, heavily middle-class school system is statistically right in line with some of the grittiest urban districts in the nation: A shockingly low share of Portland’s high school students earn diplomas.
As The Oregonian reported on the front page recently, just 53 percent of Portland’s high school students graduate in four years.
Portland’s 2010-2011 budget is $653,796,298 = $13,910.55 per student. Madison spent $15,241 per student during the 2009/2010 budget.