Portland Public Schools and Vernon IB World School are committed to academic excellence and personal success for all of our students. Central to this commitment is educational equity. Our school’s equity work aligns with the the cultural transformation of Portland Public Schools - the changes in policy, people, and practice necessary to create a culturally responsive organization that ensures the success of every student by name. This work is necessary to prepare every student to navigate and compete in a culturally rich society and global economy.
On June 13, 2011 the Portland School Board unanimously approved the Portland Public Schools Racial Educational Equity Policy (2.10.010-P). The policy calls out race-based disparities in schools, identifies the district's role in erasing them and holds up high expectations to ensure that all students reach their academic potential.
Portland Public Schools has committed to significantly changing its practice in order to achieve and maintain racial equity in education. 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.
The concept of educational equity goes beyond formal equality—where all students are treated the same—to fostering a barrier-free environment where all students, regardless of race, have the opportunity to benefit equally. Educational equity benefits all students, and our entire community. Students of all races shall graduate from PPS ready to succeed in a racially and culturally diverse local, national and global community. To achieve educational equity, PPS will provide additional and differentiated resources to support the success of all students, including students of color.
Equity Work @ Vernon
Staff Professional Development
Once a month, our entire staff gets together to continue our personal and professional journey towards racial and educational equity. When your children arrive to school on those late start Wednesdays, our staff is busy collaborating on taking our students to the next level. But this work doesn’t end after those meetings, and really does not end in general.
The PPS Successful Schools Framework is our guide towards professional growth and development. All of our Monday after-school staff meetings and embedded weekly professional development intentionally connect to this framework. You’ll notice that at the center of this framework is Equity, as it is central to all of our efforts.
CARE is Collaborative Action Research for Equity around four key areas: Rigor, Relevance, Relationship, and Realness. All of our staff follows the cycle of inquiry (below) to identify and reflect on specific culturally-relevant pedagogy and approaches.
Guiding Questions for Equity @ Vernon
- If a school is said to be culturally relevant in the way in which it interacts with its children of color, what do we see occurring in both the physical and relational environment?
- In what ways does race impact the education of ALL children at our school? Using Critical Race Theory, how does your school philosophy, policies, programs and practices contribute to lowered achievement of our students of color?
- Do we hold different or similar definitions, standards and expectations surrounding the roles and responsibilities for White families as we hold for families of students of color?
- How are we, as a school, developing our will and skill to have courageous conversations about race? What serves as evidence of our development? What has prevented our development?
- What circumstances and conditions challenge our school’s ability to become culturally relevant? What steps might we take to address these challenges?
- What are some ways we have discovered or recently acknowledged that race impacts our personal/professional lives? The lives and education of our students?
- What do we believe is the defining elements of and outcomes for effective partnerships between schools and families/communities? To what degree is our school engaged in partnerships with defined elements and outcomes?
- To what degree is an effective “Anti–Racist/Equity Leadership” learning community emerging in our school?
- How has effective “Anti–Racist/Equity Leadership” emerged in our school? Which leadership qualities does our school possess/lack?
- What are circumstances unique to our school that may challenge the will, skill, knowledge and capacity of our emerging “Anti-racist/Equity Leadership”?
- What specific skills and capacities does effective “Anti-Racist/Equity” leadership in our school require?
- Who needs to participate in order that the partnerships are effective between schools and communities?
Parents & Community: Join Us in our Mission!
- Join one of our parent affinity groups: Families of Black Students Parent Group, contact Ben or Brad. We are also hoping to form a Families of Latino, Native, Pacific Islander Group this year as well.
- Volunteer to be part of our annual Black History Month activities, including our African-American author read-in, our Black History celebration, or specific classroom/grade-level activities. (Contact our counselor April Mears or classroom teachers for specifics)
- Support our mission and vision to diversify classroom libraries. Each year in February the East Portland Rotary donates hundreds of culturally-relevant books featuring characters from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to our classroom libraries. We believe that classroom libraries should act as “windows, bridges and mirrors.” Windows so students can see into other worlds, mirrors so that they can see themselves reflected in what they read, and bridges to connect the two. If you would like to donate a title or two to our February event, please contact Ben or Brad.
- Join our Site Council. The Vernon Site Council is made up of Vernon staff and parents/community members. The purpose of the Site Council is to make decisions that impact student achievement using our school’s Comprehensive Achievement Plan and focusing on School/Family Partnerships with our Equity work. Site Council meetings take place once a month, generally on the second Monday, from 5:45-7:00pm in the multipurpose room (see school handbook and calendar for specific dates). If you are interested in participating, please contact Ben or Brad.
- Attend monthly PTA meetings to share your voice and perspective (see school handbook and calendar for specific dates or check the PTA website)
- Attend a Vernon Community Movie Night. This year we are proud to host 3 special evening events to connect our community (October 20, January 19, April 20). Join us in our mission to engage, sustain, and deepen interracial dialogue on race through community building and film. Last year was our first ever event in May 2016 focused on Vanport and we’re excited to build on that in 2016-2017. (poster from last year's event)
- Attend a Beyond Diversity training. Beyond Diversity is the foundational two-day seminar designed to: help teachers, students, parents, and administrators understand the impact of race on student learning. Participants engage in thoughtful exploration of race and racism, grapple with how each influences the culture of schools and District offices, and practice using the tools of Courageous Conversation to identify and address policies and practices that negatively impact achievement for students of color.
- Read, Learn, and Engage in your own personal journey. Our staff handpicked books to read over the summer in 2016 and to build our own library to assist in our journeys and we are happy to share them in the hopes that our community joins us in this valuable work. Email Ben or Brad for more info.
Since 2006, Portland Public Schools has invested in professional development, coaching and consulting services with Pacific Educational Group, for the purpose of developing and accelerating the district's capacity to engage in systemic equity transformation. The Vernon staff consistently use the Courageous Conversations agreements, conditions, and compass in our equity mission.