City Club of Portland

How Oregon Is Failing Black Students and What We Can Do About it

12:00pm, 11-30-2018
<< City Club of Portland

In Portland, two-thirds of Black students are failing according to state testing standards. A report by EcoNorthwest and commissioned by KairosPDX and Chalkboard Project shows that this gap has been persistent over the last decade. In a city that is becoming increasingly diverse and prides itself on equity and sustainability, these trends are troubling. The good news is innovation and community-based solutions promise new opportunities for Black children. If these strategies are effective, they can be used across Oregon to support the success of all children.

Join us as we share innovative solutions and discuss how we can build communities where all children thrive. To kick off the conversation, Ron Herndon, the director of the Portland-based Albina Head Start, will share some of the history of the Black community in Portland and the struggle to gain access to quality education.  


Lisa Collins is an education professional with experience in three large school districts. As the director of teaching and learning with the Parkrose School District, she helps teachers and administrators be their best for students and their community. She has taught elementary, middle, and high school students in special and general education over her 25-year career and brings an equity lens to her work and life.

Kali Ladd is a social entrepreneur who is a passionate advocate for equity and education transformation. After spending four years as education director for former mayor Sam Adams, Kali pursued establishing and co-founding KairosPDX, a nonprofit dedicated to closing opportunity and achievement gaps for historically marginalized children. In May 2012, she won election to the Portland Community College Board of Directors and currently chairs the board. In 2016, she was appointed by Governor Brown to the Early Learning Council of Oregon, where she also currently serves.

Joe McFerrin II is the president/CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center and Rosemary Anderson High School (POIC + RAHS). He currently sits on boards for the Portland Public Schools' High Schools Action Team, AdvancED State Accreditation Commission, the YMCA Board of Managers, the Portland Community College-Cascade Campus Bond Advisory Committee, and Grief Watch. He also serves on the Black Male Achievement Portland Steering Committee, Judge Nan Waller’s Juvenile Justice Task Force, Multnomah County’s Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) and Youth and Gang Violence Coordinating Council, and is vice president of the Executive Directors’ Association of the OIC of America.


Joyce Harris is the manager of community outreach at Education Northwest. Her career has been defined by her professional (and personal) work in making connections and meeting the needs of communities and educators. Before coming to Education Northwest, she served as an administrator at the Black Educational Center, a school she co-founded. Her teaching experiences include serving as a science teacher through OMSI and as an instructor in a Portland Public Schools program for racially and culturally diverse talented and gifted students.


Ron Herndon served as President and Board Chair of the National Head Start Association (NHSA) from 1991 to 2013. As Chair he provided leadership and support to Head Start programs across the nation including advocating for over 900,000 low-income children and families.

Through his vision NHSA partnered with Texas Tech University to develop the National Head Start Training Academy for Head Start staff. Ron persuaded Phil Knight, founder and Chairman of Nike, to fund STARTLINE, a national computer training program for Head Start children and parents. Through this partnership Nike also sponsored NikeGo a physical activity program for Preschool children and Nike STARTingBlock a management program for Head Start leaders.

Ron has been the Director of Albina Head Start in Portland, Oregon since 1975. He is a former teacher, counselor, college instructor, and VISTA volunteer.

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