I believe in public education. I know that public schools can launch students into rewarding, successful lives. I’ve also seen that potential wasted. I believe it’s time we step up. It’s time to do more for our kids. It’s time we make sure every single kid succeeds. I’m stepping up and running for Portland School Board to make sure that every child has the chance to succeed in life.

I grew up in inner-northeast Portland, attending four of Portland public schools. My family, my community, my learning and social experiences in school are what prepared me for a successful life. Three generations of my family have worked for PPS. And my kids are PPS kids.

As a mother, I work hard to make sure my own kids can succeed in this world. I also committed myself to help other parents’ children succeed by volunteering in the classroom, on field trips, and as a PTA member.

But parents can’t do this alone. The most recent state audit revealed that PPS is not measuring up. PPS has failed to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars deliver the outcomes we all agree matter. Bond projects are $180 million over budget and behind schedule. Every year, PPS spends almost $700 million running our schools and yet far too many kids don’t get what they need to succeed, failing to graduate on time or ever.

We have a lot of opportunities to do a better job. I am committed to ensuring we fulfill the promise of quality education for all our young people. This will require better oversight and stronger program evaluation. Our hard-earned money must go into programs with demonstrated success, making sure all our students benefit. We mustn’t be afraid of expecting better.

As a parent, when I send my kids to school in the morning I expect their school is a safe place. You can’t expect a child to learn if they feel threatened, bullied or unsafe. We need to do a better job of protecting our children, particularly students of color, undocumented and refugee children, the houseless, LGBTQA students and those with disabilities.

As a parent, when I send my kids to school in the morning, I expect their school to be a healthy place. Our kids need healthy food, clean water, and time to exercise and get fresh air.

PPS has developed systems to deal with the wide scope of health issues including lead in the water, lead paint, radon, asbestos, and mold. It’s time to evaluate those systems and ensure we are meeting the goal of keeping kids healthy.

Big institutions like PPS are difficult to move in new directions. The kind of change we need at PPS will take experienced leadership, someone with proven ability to work with others, someone not afraid to ask the hard questions, someone with a track record of managing budgets with transparency. We also need leaders with experience in the schools–who have seen beautiful, wonderful moments of caring and learning inside the classroom and also the missed opportunities—chances to positively impact a child—that we won’t get back.

As frustrating as it can be to see the gaps in what we are providing to our children, I am optimistic about our future, for Portland, for our kids. We can do better. I aim to get us to better. We owe it to our young people and to the people of Portland.

That is why I, Michelle DePass, am running for Portland School Board from Zone 2.