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Schools go under our microscope

Rethinking Portland Public Schools is a job for everyone who lives here or has a stake in our public school system. Most agree that a strong school system is key to a thriving city.

In our first Rethinking Portland section on Nov. 11, the Portland Tribune found that a lot of city parents wanted to send their children to public schools but were concerned about funding and the perception that the district has been lurching from crisis to crisis without regaining momentum. Some of the parents we talked to had given up and gone to the suburbs; some were anxiously waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Their worries were punctuated by the fact that the temporary Multnomah County income tax is ending and a stable state funding solution continues to elude the Legislature.

As district Superintendent Vicki Phillips recently put it: 'This is a defining moment.'

In this edition of the Portland Tribune, you'll find our second Rethinking Portland section, this time asking the question: How do we create an excellent Ñ not just good Ñ school district?

Reporters Todd Murphy and Jennifer Anderson spent six weeks examining Portland Public Schools as well as a number of districts across the country touted as the best by education experts. They came up with some recommendations for the the district.

We also asked a variety of district officials, educators, parents, taxpayers, students and business leaders to give us their vision of how to reshape our school district to fit current demographic and funding realities. Five of their essays can be found in the special section. Five more can be found here. The remainder will run in the Feb. 28 Insight section.

All offer lots of food for thought.

We encourage you to join the conversation by e-mailing your ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We'll publish them in the weeks to come.

Ñ Connie Pickett, Rethinking Portland editor