Portland Public Schools is committed to academic excellence and personal success for all students. Central to this commitment is the support of racial equity and social justice. Dedicated policy, people, and practice are necessary to create a culturally responsive organization that ensures the success of students who can navigate and compete in a culturally complex society and global economy.
We must ensure that all students are guaranteed a comprehensive, rigorous, equitable, and inclusive education. Universal access to quality education not only benefits students from all backgrounds, but strengthens our communities and promotes societal prosperity. It is through racial equity and social justice that PPS will become a premiere school district and significantly contribute to Portland becoming a place of economic, technological and cultural innovation.
In 2011, PPS adopted a Racial Educational Equity Policy that called out harmful disparities in our schools and identified the district’s role in eliminating them. Since then, PPS embarked on a five-year plan that resulted in several achievements. However, there is collective acknowledgement that there is still much work remaining to ensure all student experience equitable outcomes. Under the leadership of Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, PPS has embarked on an inclusive planning process to identify the most urgent areas of opportunity to continue this important work and incorporate our efforts into our five-year road map for Racial Equity and Social Justice.
Our aim is to elevate PPS Racial Equity and Social Justice practices to a comprehensive, defined framework with clear system-wide equity and social justice actions and measurable results.
The primary focus of the Racial Equity and Social Justice lens is on race and ethnicity. While there continues to be a deep commitment to many other areas of the opportunity gap, we know that a focus on race by everyone at PPS allows direct improvements in the other dimensions of diversity. We also know that race and ethnicity continue to compound disparity. We are committed to explicitly identifying disparities in education outcomes for the purpose of targeting areas for action, intervention and investment.
We believe the district should adopt a student-centered, racial equity and social justice focused lens in all decisions.
We believe all students should have equitable access to enriched opportunities in school.
We believe we have a collective responsibility to ensure our schools provide a caring, supportive environment. School communities should support healthy, positive development of students and help them grow their unique gifts and talents.
We believe the district must work in aligned and coherent ways and in close partnerships with families and communities. We believe that communities, parents, teachers, and community-based organizations have unique and important solutions to improving outcomes for our students and educational systems. Our work will only be successful if we are able to truly partner with the community, engage with respect, authentically listen -- and have the courage to share decision making, control, and resources.
We believe that we are uniquely positioned to effect change broadly across our community because of our role in educating and caring for close to 50,000 Portland children every day. We believe in being courageous and bringing a sense of urgency to this important work.
We believe in setting measurable and audacious goals. Embedded in each goal is the provision of a culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, with clearly defined racial equity and social justice based practices and curriculums.
We believe in accountability in all areas of school and student performance, including the areas of Racial Equity and Social Justice
We believe that speaking a language other than English is an asset and that our education system must celebrate and enhance this ability alongside appropriate and culturally responsive support for English as a second language.
We believe students receiving special education services are an integral part of our educational responsibility and we must welcome the opportunity to be inclusive, make appropriate accommodations, and celebrate their assets. We must directly address the over-representation of children of color in special education and the under-representation in “talented and gifted.”
The Racial Equity & Social Justice Lens
The PPS RESJ Lens is a critical thinking tool which will be applied to the internal systems, processes, resources and programs of PPS to create increased opportunities for all students by evaluating burdens, benefits and outcomes to underserved communities. Through consistent utilization of the RESJ Lens, we intend to strengthen our strategies and approaches toward more equitable outcomes for every student.
The following questions are a guide and will be considered when making decisions and contemplating our strategies.
1. Describe the proposed action, desired results and outcomes, and connection to PPS’s Vision: A graduate of Portland Public Schools will be a compassionate, critical thinker, able to collaborate and solve problems, and be prepared to lead a more socially just world.
2. How have you intentionally involved stakeholders who are also members of the communities affected by this policy, program, practice or decision?
a. Is there stakeholder support or opposition to the proposal? Why?
3. How does the proposed action expand opportunities for racial equity and social justice?
a. Who are the demographic groups affected? b. How will each group be impacted/affected by the decision or action? c. Are there any potential unintended consequences for specific groups/populations? Are there strategies in place to mitigate any negative impacts?
4. Does the proposed action address barriers to equitable outcomes?
a. How will you track progress toward reducing disparities?
5. What information/data are you basing your decision or action upon?
a. What data or metrics will you collect/use to track impacts of the proposed action on the identified populations.
6. Describe any changes you have made or will make to the action after applying this lens.
Racial Equity & Social Justice Protocols
Who will use the Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Lens? The goal is for everyone at Portland Public Schools to regularly apply the updated RESJ Lens beginning in January 2019. All employees will continue to practice utilizing the critical thinking and evaluation skills developed while using the lens as part of PPS’s commitment to racial equity and social justice. We believe this practice will continue to inform our organizational development and strengthen our collective impact. The result of creating an organizational culture where the RESJ lens is regularly utilized and the results are analyzed will focus everyone on achieving measurable outcomes addressing our internal barriers and practices.
When will the RESJ Lens be applied? To effectively roll out the use of PPS’s updated RESJ Lens all departments will identify scenarios for use in 2019. It is expected that departments will complete the RESJ for at least the identified scenarios, however, it is likely that departments will also find it useful for additional scenarios.
What do we do with the information and data from the RESJ Lens?
By December 2018, the RESJ Lens will be finalized. Departments will utilize the fillable form version of the RESJ Lens available.
Completed RESJ Lens documents will be completed and saved to the Team Drive: PPS Racial Equity and Social Justice Lens.
The Superintendent’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) will review completed forms quarterly, beginning in April 2019.
SLT will collaborate with departments and present an annual report/synthesis of RESJ Lens themes. The report will also include process and use improvement recommendations for the tool.
In December 2019, SLT will update the PPS RESJ Lens Protocols.
Educational equity means raising the achievement of all students while (1) narrowing the gaps between the lowest and highest performing students and (2) eliminating the racial predictability and disproportionality of which student groups occupy the highest and lowest achievement categories (from the PPS Racial Equity Policy narrative).
The state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair. The concept of equity is synonymous with fairness and justice. It is helpful to think of equity as not simply a desired state or lofty value. To be achieved and sustained, equity needs to be thought of as a structural and system concept.
The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure. Inclusion involves authentic and empowered participation and a true sense of belonging.
Elimination of performance variability between student groups and accelerated achievement for underserved populations.
Students whom systems have placed at risk because of their race, ethnicity, English language proficiency, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, differently abled, and geographic location. Many students are not served well in our education system because of the conscious and unconscious bias, stereotyping, and racism that is embedded within our current inequitable education system.
Portland Public Schools recognizes the diversity and worth of all individuals and groups and their roles in society. It is the policy of the Portland Public Schools Board of Education that there will be no discrimination or harassment of individuals or groups on the grounds of age, color, creed, disability, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation in any educational programs, activities or employment.
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Title IX Contact: 503-916-3340 District Complaint Resolution Process