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Excerpts from a Portland Business Alliance forum on Wednesday featuring 15 of the 22 candidates for Portland School Board; the candidates were asked to name the biggest problem the district faces:

'Student achievement. Test scores are rising, but a disproportionate number of disadvantaged and minority students aren't sharing in that success.'

Ñ David Wynde, Zone 2

'We need to bring relevance and competence to the schools. I want to create schools where students want to learn.'

Ñ Rion Lyle, Zone 2

'We need to convince all the stakeholders that this district is still a viable option for the education of their children.'

Ñ Martin Gonzalez, Zone 2

'Portland Public Schools have not overcome inequities of class, race and ethnicity. Equal opportunity is not enough. Our goal should be performance, not opportunity.'

Ñ Richard Garrett, Zone 7

'The biggest issue we face is breaking the cycle that says every time there's an issue in the district, it's a crisis.'

Ñ James West, Zone 3

'The biggest challenge is to make sure that every child sees achievement gains. Our students can't wait until the funding improves.'

Ñ Bobbie Regan, Zone 3

Note: The other nine candidates focused on school funding.

Excerpts from an April 11 Portland City Club presentation by Tim Nesbitt, president of Oregon's AFL-CIO:

'We should turn challenges into opportunities. The flip side of the loss of manufacturing jobs is that we have thousands of highly skilled workers either underemployed or unemployed who can provide a competitive advantage to new manufacturing firms with a minimum of retraining.'

'We can't expect to compete in a full-time world with part-time schools and substandard services.'