Dropouts in Portland Public Schools an entrenched pattern & per student spending

Betsy Hammond:

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.

One thought on “Dropouts in Portland Public Schools an entrenched pattern & per student spending”

  1. Interesting article, but high on opinion and low on facts. The author might believe the things she says, but that doesn’t make them true.
    She throws around several statistics, such as 53% graduation rate within 4 years, but doesn’t disaggregate this information to determine the meaning and significance.
    57% of public school kids not poor (43% are), but how do the income levels distribute? What does the distribution look like for income by graduation rate — that is, a 2 dimensional model.
    “The school district has implemented a series of reforms… Portland took good ideas and managed to botch their implementation…” Assumes the series of reforms were good ideas. Assumed they failed because the implementation was botched. Perhaps the characteristics of their problems were not analyzed — folks just went along with the most forceful argument and those is had political power, and put into place solutions for problems they didn’t have or were of lesser importance.
    Must be Portland’s “laid back tolerance of different lifestyles” — just throw something at the wall and see if it sticks. I can see many politicos nodding to this — where are the facts? Probably at the same place the facts were that justified the previous reforms that didn’t work.
    Generally, the author looks at stuff that is not working, prejudges the issue, finds differences between what the school did, and what she thinks they should have done, and pronounces that the cause of the problem. Makes it sound so simple, and just another reform idea that might be tried and will fail.
    See. All one needs is a simple untested hypothesis and political backing and that equals truth — until practice shows that is wrong.

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