It’s time for the histories and cultures of all Oregonians to be recognized within our systems of public education. We are building a movement that calls on the City of Portland, Multnomah County, and Portland Public Schools to work with Know Your City and other culturally specific organizations to provide inclusive Oregon Studies curriculum for youth and K-12 schools in the Portland region.


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By bringing inclusive cultural studies to our schools, we give a fair chance to every youth to be empowered and succeed. Here’s why.

  1. Inclusive cultural studies cultivate the leadership of community-minded citizens that excel in their school studies and are engaged for the rest of their lives.
  2. Inclusive cultural studies have demonstrated the ability to improve graduation and student achievement rates.
  3. Inclusive cultural studies help our youth  understand the communities who lived before them in their neighborhoods and the lessons provided on how to thrive as a community.
  4. Inclusive cultural studies help to eliminate racism and other forms of discrimination that frequently occur in our society.

Download the PDF with background information on Our Stories Matter.

Take Action by Signing Our Petition!

Endorsing organizations:
AFSCME Council 75
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Basic Rights Oregon
Bus Project
In Other Words
Latino Network
Milagro Theatre
NAACP Portland Unit 1120-13
SEIU Local 49
Standing Up for Racial Justice PDX

Endorsing Teachers: Tim Schulze, Susie Bartley, Brett Bigham, Karanja Crews.

Endorsing Businesses: Lara Media Services, StoryMinders LLC.

Share the campaign on social media with the hashtag #OurStoriesPDX.

Why We’re Taking Action Now

As the population of the Portland region grows, displacement and discrimination continues to erase the value of our combined histories and cultures. There is a serious need for cultural and historic preservation that helps the future generations of our communities thrive.

Even though our schools are more diverse than ever, there is an educational void for our most vulnerable students. We’re concerned about our youth of color, young girls, lgbtq youth, and historically oppressed youth who the lack of access to educational programming that highlights their history and culture.

During history and civics lessons, their personal experiences are often misrepresented or ignored, which makes school success more of a challenge, through no fault of their own. Youth are more empowered in their lives when they intimately understand the communities who lived before them, in their neighborhoods—communities who struggled due to social inequality, but also provide lessons on how to thrive together.

We believe the celebration of human rights creates a stronger and more prosperous community. Every individual, no matter who they are, can reach their highest potential when they are recognized for their humanity. We emphasize everything we share in our struggles, to broaden perspectives and deepen the meaning of the word “community.”

Background Information

In 2012 the City of Portland adopted the Portland Plan, in which the 5-Year Action Plan called for actions that would “promote curricula that reflect the experiences, histories and cultures of Oregon’s communities of color, immigrants, and refugees to boost student investment and performance.”

In 2013 the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 739 – a piece of legislation that urged for the recognition of Oregon’s diverse history within curriculum related to Oregon Studies. The bill’s direct language stated, “The Department of Education shall develop academic content standards for Oregon Studies and shall prepare materials to support teacher training and classroom instruction… shall include a balanced presentation of the relevant contributions to society by men and women of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American and other racial  groups in Oregon.”

While these policy objectives are an opportunity to strengthen the voice and visibility of marginalized communities, no adequate funding was provided for the implementation of these programs.

As a follow-up to these critically important policies, Know Your City launched the Human Rights Education Report, a research tool to assist in accountability and full implementation inclusive cultural curriculum that reflects the history and cultures of all communities in Oregon that are affected by systemic injustice. The Human Rights Education Report will be a tool to help ensure that all students have access to enriching educational experiences about human rights by documenting the policies and activities enacted by schools that support inclusive cultural studies.

Additional readings:

Oregon was recently the subject of a viral online article that highlighted its history as a racist white utopia. http://gizmodo.com/oregon-was-founded-as-a-raci…

ALLY youth has been building national and international awareness advocating for ethnic studies in Portland Public Schools. nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/students-call-ethnic-studies-portland-high-schools-n458696

A Mexican American Studies (MAS) program was launched in the Tucson Unified School District in 1998. In 2011, it was reported that there was a 2.5% drop out rate for MAS students, compared to a 56% national dropout rate for Latinos. http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-upr…

A business plan developed by Portland State University Business of Administration Capstone Students about the development of inclusive human rights curriculum on behalf of the Oregon Center for Human Rights: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1We3PLy6Cw-AMWS…