The Statistics Do Tell a Story

on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 Posted in Stories, Happenings, School Partnership Network

How do you measure success? While numbers aren't always the best indication of how successful a particular program is or isn't, they often do "tell a story" about what is happening on a broader basis. Therefore, when Jen Hall of the SPN staff recently compiled the latest statistics on existing church/school partnerships which we've tracked in the metro area, we were all very interested to see what the "numbers" actually said!

In a state normally considered to be one of the "least churched states" in America, the strength of our current church and school partnership movement is significant—significant enough to garner attention from around the country!

As of January 2014, there were 471 public schools in the greater Portland metro area, spread among 29 unique school districts. According to SPN's data, documented over the past three years, we now know of 434 partnerships between a church and a local school. Of the 471 metro area public schools, 258 currently have at least one faith partner, and more than 260 churches are involved in at least one school.

Such data is only as good as the information collected, and gives us a snapshot of our dynamic and fluctuating programs. For example, to this date SPN is working with information received from only 20 of the 29 districts. We know some of our data is now outdated, but we also know that many other collaborations are taking place which we have not documented.

All that being said, the statistics still tell a story about what is happening between the faith community and their local schools in the greater Portland/Vancouver metro area. Churches in our area are actively engaging with their school administrators, staff, and families to meet very specific needs. That involvement takes on a myriad of forms which makes the combined impact significant.
Over the past couple years we have seen a marked increase in activity in places like North Portland, Milwaukie, Hillsboro, East Vancouver and Gresham. More and more we are fielding requests from both schools and churches who want to find potential partners. Those with existing connections are finding new ways to work together for the greater good. Some districts, like Beaverton, have identified partners for virtually every one of their schools. Other districts have incredible opportunities for the expansion of their partnerships.

The bottom line is that the numbers tell a story... of individuals from numerous congregations and ministries taking up the challenge to serve in their public schools. And a story of school administrators, PTA's, and classroom teachers opening themselves up to the possibilities.

There's a lot about living in Portland that some of us may not be proud of (doctor assisted suicide, legalized marijuana, human trafficking issues, the preponderance of strip clubs, etc.), but here is one area where we can take pride: the Portland/Metro area is a national leader in church and school partnerships. The numbers really do tell a story, and it's a good one!