Yesterday, Portland Superintendent Carole Smith announced she will step down, effective immediately.
Despite recent controversial events surrounding Smith, she leaves behind a district that is more focused on providing children from underprivileged communities with a great education.
On more than one occasion, Smith sacrificed her popularity on behalf of the children attending school every day in the highest need neighborhoods with the lowest performing schools, including increased investment in schools that serve English learners, students of color and children living in poverty.
She worked tirelessly, and at all hours, on behalf of the children in her district. As a former member of Portland’s budget oversight committee, a volunteer citizen’s advisory committee, I witnessed Smith humbly offer a generous amount her personal support and time.
During her tenure, she expanded partnerships, clearing a path for community driven student support. For instance, Jefferson High School’s graduation rate increased from 55 percent in 2011 to 80 percent in 2015 thanks to a partnership with Portland Community College and Self Enhancement, Inc.
I hope the district’s focus on equity and raising high school graduation rates carries forward, because there’s still a lot of work to do. Still today, a quarter of Portland high school students do not graduate on time.
Thank you Carole Smith for your nine years of service. I wish you the best of luck in retirement.