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Letter: Support Portland’s diverse student body

This week’s conference on the priorities of the Board of Education reminded me of two years ago, when people lost their jobs or couldn’t go to work (“Portland Superintendent’s Notebook: Budget will keep the focus on teaching, learning “, February 16). The nurseries were reaching crisis; everything was affecting normal life.

I remember the city manager presented a Portland budget and said he had tried to cut it as much as possible because of the difficulties. It seemed quite thoughtful.

Within weeks or months, however, the Board of Education announced its budget, including a huge increase for something I don’t remember. They said that it seemed time to make pre-K fully operational and that they really wanted to bring something else, also expensive.

Interesting contrast.

This week, I felt a bit anxious reading some comments about the school budget. Yes, we have the most diverse school district, which makes it really interesting. What a great opportunity for all children. Of course, this brings challenges, but it seemed to me that the city was doing well, as far as schools are concerned. I trust them to provide the best possible education for all young people, as (Superintendent) Xavier Botana puts it, to “close the opportunity gaps between our economically disadvantaged students…and our more advantaged students…”. I hope so. Why should it be pointed out that the most economically disadvantaged students are primarily students of color, English language learners, and students with disabilities?

I want to encourage and encourage them all and I trust that the school board – the whole system – is there for all children. Let’s have equity for all students regardless of their designation in life at this point. Portland is fortunate to have so many students from different backgrounds. Of course, there are many challenges, but it also offers all young people opportunities to experience diversity.

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Grace Braley
Portland

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