PPS School Board: Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever

by Steve, October 27th, 2007

schoolsAs I’ve written here before, there is no political will on the Portland Public Schools Board of Education to reverse their effectively segregationist open transfer enrollment policy.

The school board knows about the racial isolation brought on by this policy, and the annual shift of tens of millions of dollars out of our poorest neighborhoods into our wealthiest. They know full well that the balkanized “academies” at Jefferson, Roosevelt, Madison and Marshall do not give students adequate educational opportunities, and they know full well that this encourages even more out-transfers from those schools.

But they are certain, from their own “market research,” that “School Choice” is a “strength” of the district.

This is all becoming more clear as the Student Support and Community Relations committee continues to meet, and prepares for the November 5 board meeting, where this will be a major agenda item. Look for committee recommendations to “tweak” the policy to make it simpler. But don’t expect any recommendations to ameliorate the devastation this policy has caused to our poorest neighborhoods.

Simplifying the lottery can mean only one thing: removing or relaxing any kind of weighting that might have given advantage to poor or minority students.

I think it’s safe to say that there is a deliberate pattern here, foisted upon our district: in tight times, screw over the populations least likely to complain, and make sure the middle class neighborhoods get the best of the best.

The school board is creating a time bomb. In the neighborhoods expecting the most demographic growth, they’ve closed schools, sold or leased the buildings, and have completely gutted the high schools. In ten years, everybody’s going to be saying “What the hell happened?” and everybody will pretend they don’t know. I’m telling you right now who’s responsible: Ruth Adkins, David Wynde, Bobbie Regan, Dan Ryan, Sonja Henning, Trudy Sargent, and Dilafruz Williams.

None of them has the political courage to stand up to the corporate-dominated Portland Schools Foundation and say “Enough!”

40 Responses to “PPS School Board: Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever”

  1. Comment from Sunny:

    If your predictions are true, Steve, at the head of the responsibility chain will be Ruth Adkins. Why?

    Because she is a founder of Neighborhood Schools Alliance, a group created on the unwavering foundation that all neighborhood schools should be equitable, and that “choice” should never be more important than, or cause harm to, neighborhood schools.

    As head of the Student Support and Community Relations committe, if Adkins does not recommend that:

    1) all PPS neighborhood schools have equitable curricular offerings, and

    2) Neighborhood-school to neighborhood-school transfers are eliminated, because they are destroying many of our poor and/or minority-populated neighborhood schools

    she will demonstrate that all she has previously publicly stood far is a lie.

  2. Comment from The Poor Children:

    The board needs ask itself only one question when deciding what to do about the transfer policy:

    1. Do we value every PPS child equally?

    If yes, they will completely overhaul the transfer policy to ensure that every neighborhood school has equal educational opportunities, along with equal access for specialized focus-option programs, if desired.

    If no, they will keep the current transfer policy as is, or simply make the minor adjustments Steve is predicting, keeping intact the discriminatory treatment of poor and “brown and black” children, as PPS so sickeningly describes them.

  3. Comment from Pumpkin head:

    I disagree that it is a lack of political will that is preventing the school board from acting on this issue. I believe it’s because the school board members share the racist and classist beliefs of the corporate-dominated Portland Schools Foundation.

    The school board members won’t change the policy because most of them value the education of middle class children more than poor children, and because ALL of them think the best way to improve education for the poor and minority kids is to get them away from their poor and minority neighborhood schools.

    The school board won’t take responsibility for PPS’s failure to provide an adequate education to students in low income and minority schools. They prefer to blame the parents. Therefore, making it easier for students to leave those neighborhood schools is the best solution in the school board members’ racist classist eyes – so that the families who value education enough to pull themselves up by their bootstraps can do so without being hindered by the problems inherent in the low income minority neighborhood schools, which they believe has nothing to do with board policy and everything to do with “those communities.”

  4. Comment from Zarwen:

    I want to let everyone know that the School District has been reducing needs-based scholarship slots for tuition-based kindergarten over the past few years. At the recent SSCR meeting to which Steve referred, the Winterhaven community asked for scholarship slots to be increased back to the level of several years ago. They were told that this is not possible because “SES costs keep going up” and “the solution is for the state to fund full-day kindergarten for all.”

    While I do not disagree with the latter statement, I think it is awfully crappy for the district to eliminate scholarship slots for full-day kindergarten, especially at magnet schools, and then David Wynde scolds parents in the press for not admitting low-income children to their schools—as if the parents had any power over the admissions process at all!!!

    “Disingenuous” just doesn’t cover it. “Disgusting” is really not adequate either. Any suggestions?

  5. Comment from Steve:

    I have to believe that some of the current board are bothered by the inequity, but don’t have the spine to stand up to the heavily corporate PSF board. Sonja Henning? Dan Ryan? Dilafruz Williams? Ruth Adkins, for cying out loud?

    But maybe I’m just hopelessly naive about the moral compass that guides these board members.

  6. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Weighing in here.

    PSF and SFC decide BEFORE THE FACT if the school board members have the right cultural attitudes which correspond to theirs. It is not having the political will or not caring about poor kids. The board members don’t have the willingness, awareness, insight, nor interest in doing something different than the prevailing PPS political positions which of course are outlined by PSF and their ilk. If they had that then they would never have been supported and thus would never have been elected. Catch 22 anyone?

    Pumpkin Head: Your comments about the education of poor kids not being as important to the board as middle class kid’s education (though I would say upper middle class kids) is the crux of the whole problem. It is interesting to note it has not always been this way. In the early 80′s everyone’s education was seen as equally important. Of course, Matt Prophet was the supt. then and would have had it no other way.

  7. Comment from Zarwen:

    Steve B. is right. The Foundation wasn’t founded until 1996, the same year that massive cuts were implemented all across the District, and the differences between the have and have-not neighborhoods were exposed like bloody sores. The work of the Foundation has served to exacerbate, rather than alleviate, those differences ever since. What’s so egregious is that they claim to be doing just the opposite!

  8. Comment from FREEAK:

    Drop Out Distress, Congress turns attention to high school graduation rates. This is the headline on MSNBC. While I am currently struggling with the delima on to use or not to use the transfer option for the next school year, I just read that congress may be renewing the 5 year NCLB guidelines with much more emphasis on highschool now!
    We should all be appalled by this. Because of NCLB there will be more testing, more conditioned learning (rote memorization…NOT education), and more students (forced to) drop out so that the school(s) rating isn’t affected by their test scores.
    What I don’t get with the comments on this blog are related to the (percieved) descrimination on the trasfer policy within Portland Public Schools. I was told if I list my child’s ethnicity as hispanic then there is a greater chance of getting the transfer (by a teacher). Is this not true?
    Of course the laughability of it all is that my ethnicity nor my childrens should even matter. My father emigrated from Cuba in the 60′s (at 13 with his parents left behind in Cuba….they were called peter pan kids)…but he picked himself up learned English, earned his MSW and I learned from him that I could do the same and put myself through college and graduate school. My husband is Mexican in terms of ethnicity…BUT he was adopted by Caucasian Amercians. Sooo….our children are soundly middle class and it is fair to use this “marker” as a means to get a transfer from our neighborhood school? Or am I am being naive and would they have a better chance if I listed caucasion or blank?
    I shouldn’t even be debating this, but our neighborhood school is so laughable that my husband may start working full time (he is Mr. Mom) so we can afford private school (NOT an option I want to consider but we are)…..if we apply for the transfer and don’t get it.

  9. Comment from Zarwen:

    FREEAK,

    I think you may be overreacting a bit. While I am no fan of NCLB, the dropout rate IS one of the factors affecting a school’s rating, so no one will be forcing, or even encouraging, anyone to drop out.

    I don’t know who told you that your child’s ethnicity would influence his/her chances of transferring, and I don’t even know whether that is true, but the lottery is run by a computer program that is supposed to be colorblind. There has been talk of weighting the lottery in favor of minorities, but as far as I know, such a plan has never actually been approved—at least, not officially.

  10. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Zarwen, haven’t seen the dropout rate affect a school’s rating. Seems like most of what I see has to do with test scores and if a poor scoring kid isn’t there this can only help. Can you help me here?

  11. Comment from FREEAK:

    Steve,
    That is what a friend who teaches in Sacramento has said….they don’t want the “poor testers” because it brings the numbers down, it would be better to have the kid drop out.
    This concerns me because every child deserves an education. Under NCLB my main concern is that kids no longer enjoy learning. My son never cried and I mean NEVER. He was born smiling. Every and I mean everyone commented on this. His preschool staff and other parents always talked about his positive easy going nature. He is agreeable almost to a fault.
    But now the testing he has to do in pre-k, yes pre K. Every day since starting at Vernon 1 and a half months ago he has been near tears when papa picks him up. Today I went on the website and was appalled at the testing (and labeling) done in pre-k. No wonder he is miserable.
    He is a good kid. At home he can write his name, count objects and even knows off colors, but he is a basket case at school and can barely sit still long enough to write his name let alone the 55 minute test he was subjected to today! And the teacher said he had cartoons on for the kids (no money for assistants so the TV is baby-sitting your kids so my kid can be tested).
    So I do worry about this. I worry that education has become about numbers and not individuals. Believe me, at a school that has struggled with poor performance in the past, and last years numbers were lower then the previous years, it is all about the test scores…Now I already have a child that used to love learn who is already beginning to resent it.

  12. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    I was just told today that it is against PPS policy to let kids watch any TV at school other than “educational” programming. (Which can be a pretty broad umbrella.) But no Disney!

    (You hear that, Beach Elementary School? I heard they’re still parking the kids in front of videos on rain days. Which in Portland is basically the entire school year.)

    Crying like that is no good, poor little fella.

    E me off list is you want to talk more, FREEAK — my e-mail address is on my website.

  13. Comment from Zarwen:

    Steve B.,

    I misspoke—actually it’s the graduation rate that affects the overall school’s rating. But the graduation rate is just the corollary to the dropout rate, so in the end, the effect on the school’s rating is the same.

  14. Comment from marcia:

    Education in Portland has become about data, and the data is not to inform instruction. It is all about ACCOUNTABILITY. The data sheet for kindergarten teachers is astounding. Ask to take a look at it sometime. Many of the tests are redundant and not useful to the teacher, yet the district is demanding they be done. And with 30 kids in the room, what do you think it looks and sounds like as you try to give all these tests one on one to students? Chaos. And so much teaching time is lost to the testing, even in the early childhood years. I think part of the problem is that the ones in charge haven’t been near a classroom in years, and probably got out of the classroom because they couldn’t take it. But they don’t hesitate to create more work for the teachers. Maybe it’ has something to do with them trying to look good and create job security for themselves, because God Forbid they would ever have to return to the classroom. We have been complaining about this for over 3 years. Finally the union is starting to take notice. Parents need to start raising a ruckus, too.

  15. Comment from Anne:

    FREEAK-
    I am so sorry to hear about your son and the testing. I have heard more than one parent talk about refusing to allow their kids to take those standardized tests at school and some have talked about an organized boycott. You (and perhaps your child) will be pressured tremendously if you do refuse to test, but it may be worth it.

    And now let’s talk about those rubrics–charts that dissect and rate activities like writing,instituted as part of NCLB. Ask your third grader what they do in writing. Does it involve rating their writing from one to six? That is the rubric system. 3 years ago when I was on site council at a PPS school, some parents of third graders brought this to my attention, told me their previously cheery, enthusiastic writers were now totally discouraged and producing inane, lifeless paragraphs. (Your post reminded me of this, FREAAK.) The parents attributed it to the rubrics.
    The rubrics are designed to align with the standardized test. It all has to do with “accountability” and lining the pockets of the testing and curriculum companies.
    Vicki Phillips, in all her wisdom, wanted to further discourage children by posting students work with the rubric ratings, thus showing “good” and “bad” examples of writing in all classrooms. Many teachers I know refused.
    I have been out of PPS for 2 years now–this is my best recollection. It all came back to me when a friend came over my house fuming about writing and rubrics the other day after volunteering in her third grader’s class. The teacher had apologized when my friend complained saying her hand was being forced. And BTW this was at one of PPS’s most “elite” schools.

  16. Comment from Anne:

    Marcia-
    We were writing our posts at the same time! Thanks for your up-to-date report from a teacher’s perspective. Bless you for continuing to teach, despite all the pressure under Bush’s insane NCLB.
    You are right that parents need to speak up. I bet there would be much sympathy for an organized boycott of standardized testing.

  17. Comment from marcia:

    Hi Anne. And guess what kindergarten got this year. A writing rubric. Yep.

  18. Comment from Anne:

    Mass boycott of NCLB tests urged in San Diego

    Published in San Diego Union-Tribune
    10/03/2007

    To the editor

    Regarding “School struggles under rising federal standards” (A1, Sept. 30):
    As professor emeritus in the College of Education
    at San Diego State University, I believe that
    conducting school reform without carrying out
    social and economic reform, in a nation where the
    rich get richer while the poor grow poorer, is
    like washing the air on one side of a screen
    door. It won’t work. Those who claim it will can
    be easily dismissed as stupid or dishonest.

    No Child Left Behind is not about education or
    equality; it is designed to meet the needs of
    elites in a society divided by rich and poor.
    NCLB regiments what children know, and how they
    come to know it, by eradicating freedom in the
    classroom, replacing the mind of a creative
    teacher with the minds of textbook writers,
    supervisors, and high stakes standardized exams
    serving as a noose on all concerned.

    The Big Tests measure little but class, race,
    fear and subservience. Still, they are used as a
    false form of science to not only restrict
    knowledge (particularly history, art, music,
    physical education) but to deepen segregation and
    excuse inequality. Parents and youth do not have
    to submit to test tyranny. It is easy and legal
    to opt out. I urge a mass boycott.

    RICHARD GIBSON
    San Diego

  19. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    FREEAK – can you please say which web site you visited to find out more about the testing that’s being done at Vernon? This is astonishing. In my daughter’s pre-K classroom at Chief Jo, I have not heard about any tests. But testing starts in earnest via a test called the DIBELS – Dynamic Indicator of Basic Early Literacy Skills. This is a one-minute test administered with a stopwatch — I kid you not. Children are told to speed read a group of nonsense words. The more nonsense words you can read, the better. Many experts in the field of early childhood object to this test on the grounds that it measures speed, not fluency or comprehension. I can’t understand why phonics instruction and quantitative measures such as DIBELS are being used by thinking, caring people when the preponderance of data (at least that I’ve read) suggests their use is not only unhelpful but potentially harmful.

    A colleague of mine is preparing the groundwork for a nation-wide boycott of NCLB-mandated tests. Stay tuned. I’ll be sure to share what I find.

  20. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    Sorry – forgot to say that testing starts in earnest in Kindergarten at Chief Jo.

    Also, check out this story on a teacher in Madison,
    WI who recently refused to administer the state test. He was told that he would be fired if he kept refusing, so he gave in.

    Here’s the story.

  21. Comment from FREEAK:

    NoPo
    The test at Vernon is about 30 minutes to an hour in pre-k (depending on the student, his/her focus and the speed at which he/she can answer the questions). As soon as I get the copy from Vernon I will pass it on but we were told it consists of the following: Written name, counting, then given 10 objects and asked to count, then some taken away and asked how many are left and how many were taken, then a test on letters and ability to A) identify the letter B) identify upper case C) identify lower case, then there is a list of words (yes still in pre-k test mode here) can the student identify any of the words…..on the pps website go to early childhood eduction and follow to pre-k. BTW, our son’s teacher is against these tests too but he has to do it and turn the test scores in to the district office….just seems like very high expections for pre-k.
    Gabrielle

  22. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    FREEAK/Gabrielle – I checked out the PPS site as you suggested but couldn’t find info on the pre-K assessments. If this is a district policy, this is very disturbing. I’m going to contact Chief Jo and see if this sort of testing is being done there. Does anyone else know anything about pre-K assessments at other schools?

    Gabrielle – would you please write to me at souprabbit@gmail.com so I can get a copy of the Vernon assessment? We need to get the word out on this practice.

    Here’s a link to an excellent article from the Boston Globe Magazine from last weekend that calls this rush to provide academically-oriented instruction to pre-K children into question.

    At the end of the day, schools are only following federal marching orders via NCLB, so it’s no wonder that children are being prepared in pre-K to take state tests in the 3rd grade. But this does not make this practice any more justifiable.

  23. Comment from Steve Buel:

    NoPo,
    It would be nice to think schools are only following marching orders, but I have found many, many educators, often administrators and young teachers who think the tests are just fine and a good measure of children’s education. Most of the older teachers I have talked to are pretty indifferent to them — they are living with them.

  24. Comment from marcia:

    “just seems like very high expections for pre-k.”
    The curriculum has been pushed down…K is now what first grade was a few years ago. Pre-K is what K was..However, I don’t remember having to test Kindergarteners on sight words before last year. Now Pre-K, too? Well, Steve, the teachers I know are not at all happy with the number of assessments that are now required. There were always assessments, but the number of those tests has grown, and are not necessarily informing instruction in many cases. A few key assessments would give the same information.

  25. Comment from Neisha:

    Kindergarten and first grade teachers are not happy about having to “score” writing at my kid’s school either. The teacher experience level ranges from fresh-out-of-grad school to 20 plus years, and no-one likes it.

    I volunteered in first grade a week or two ago, and the kids were scored on whether they wrote at least two sentences and started sentences with a capital letter and ended with a period. Most didn’t understand the concept of sentences and some of the six-year-olds had trouble with the fine motor skills required to get their stories on paper, even if they are reading above grade level.

    One of the kindergarten teachers told me that she needs to have every child read her writing back to the teacher in order to score the writing. But, they can’t all read. And there are around 30 kids in the class, several of whom are half-day. Sigh.

  26. Comment from FREEAK:

    NoPo,
    Here is the link http://cms9.pps.k12.or.us/teac.....dards.html to the test info. In case this does not work go to the pps website, on the left select parent guide, then select grade level benchmarks and standards, under Literacy select prek-5. There it lists all the damn standards, tests et al as well as the 2007-2008 required testing weeks (the file is called the Assessment Windows 2007-2008) and when the data must be in the computer to be sent to district.
    Gabrielle

  27. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    Here’s the scenario I’m trying to get my arms around:

    1) PDX is projected to grow by about 1 million people over the next 20 years or so.

    2) The vast majority of affordable housing is in North Portland, specifically the Jefferson cluster and zip codes 97217 and 97211.

    3) In these areas, ?? number of people have purchased ?? number of homes over the last ?? years, as compared to the next highest areas of PDX.

    4) The current capture rate for the schools in these areas is ??

    5) The capture rate for Jefferson High is ??

    Conclusions:

    1) If Jefferson High continues on its downward spiral, the district transfer policy stays in place, and more money flows out of these schools, these schools will likely go into decline and become even more racially and economically segregated.

    2) As the schools go into decline and become more racially segregated, and as more people move into these areas, they will be less likely to send their kids to these schools.

    3) Alternatively, the declining schools in these areas will turn would-be PDX transplants away, i.e., they will not move to PDX because the schools in the affordable areas are in decline and are segregated along race and income lines. So much for the 1 million people who are supposed to come to PDX.

    What do you think of this line of thinking?

  28. Comment from Steve Buel:

    Soomething like 80% of Portland doesn’t have kids. Hence the poor schools only screen out 200,000 people. 800,000 still come. I am reading a book which says you can’t predict this stuff anyway.

  29. Comment from Zarwen:

    NoPo,

    The capture rate for Jefferson is something like 25%. However, it is surrounded by “alternative” schools (at least 3 of which are in former PPS neighborhood schools), charter schools, and at least one Catholic high school (which is also in a former PPS neighborhood school). So while the District was busy destroying Jefferson, they made sure there were plenty of alternatives in place for the kids who don’t get into Lincoln, Benson and Grant.

    One of the new charter applications to be considered by the school board this month is a virtual school. So now we will be able to take kids out of neighborhood schools without even needing to lease a building.

  30. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    Zarwen – so what do you think the endgame is here from the Board’s perspective? Is the idea to shut down Jefferson and have all the kids go to private, charter, or parochial schools? Do you think low-income kids will be able to afford computers and Internet access to attend a virtual school?

    Of course, the other phenomenon is the increasing gentrification of Portland and soaring housing costs all across the district that are forcing low-income children and families to relocate. So is the strategy simply to wait out these forces so that dealing with low-income families in PPS is no longer an issue? I say this only partially tongue-in-cheek. I can easily imagine the district being filled with lots of boutique schools that are defined by race and class, and that whatever remaining low-income minorities are left in PPS would attend a school “just for them,” e.g., KIPP schools.

  31. Comment from Steve:

    I’m not convinced they have an “endgame.” They are part-time amateurs, and they were led down this path by Vicki Phillips, who was trying to create a model Gates Foundation high school. She created a citizen involvement process that systematically alienated every constituent group, and then claimed buy-in from the community.

    Now that she’s gone, nobody on the board has the guts to admit they were sold a bill of goods by Phillips and Gates. Instead, they’re pursuing the type of architecture that would literally set in stone the “academies” concept, a concept the greater Jefferson community has resoundingly rejected.

    Most of the current board will be long gone before their time bomb explodes.

  32. Comment from Zarwen:

    NoPo, the folks controlling the Board (not necessarily ON the board—same people running the PSF) have an agenda of acquiring as much school property as possible and then developing and/or reselling it for a profit. To that end, the Board does have an agenda to shut down Jefferson at some point. It is the largest high school in PPS by square footage but has the lowest enrollment by number and the lowest capture rate by percentage, so they have really done their job well if you look at it from their point of view. All that’s left is to find somewhere to put the last 600 kids or whatever. They’ve sent the girls down to Tubman already, so it’s obvious that they are hard at work on the “final solution.”

    I have lived all over the country and never seen a school district run for the benefit of real estate brokers before. Everyplace else I’ve been, school property has been treated as a public trust. Properties that were declared “surplus” (for sale) had already been replaced by the acquisition of another property. I find it extremely bizarre that a School Board would publicly state a goal of trying to divest a school district of its property assets, but that is exactly what happened here. If you want some history, check out my guest column on Terry Olson’s blog, dated Sept. 24.

  33. Comment from paul g.:

    Steve

    I have to (mildly) dissent from your last comment. I’ve only been in the district seven years, but the problems with Jefferson preceded Phillips.

    You may not like the academy “solution,” but give Vicki credit for trying *something*. Previous boards simply ignored the growing problem.

    Now we’re back in the old boat–just closing our eyes and ignoring the issue.

  34. Comment from Steve:

    Agreed, Paul; I’m searching for answers here, not claiming to have them all.

    We’re not just back in the old boat. We’re still in Vicki’s boat, which she abandoned. We’re bouncing rudderless through the rapids, headed for the rocks. It’s an affront to those of us in the Jefferson community who have clearly and repeatedly voiced our desires for Jefferson (a comprehensive high school) but have been rebuffed.

    Again, we see this kind of problem arising from the open transfer policy. But what problem does that policy solve?

  35. Comment from Nicole:

    NoPoParent,
    You’re right about the strategy (backed by PSF, Gates, Broad, etc.) to close down neighborhood public schools and replace them with boutique schools defined by race and class, like Waldorf/Montessori; KIPP; etc.

    During the Jefferson design team “process,” Superintendent Phillips sent design team members on school site visits to Texas and NY to visit KIPP schools. The trips were probably funded by Gates or PSF, but PPS would never answer the question of where the money came from for site visits.

    Here’s a link to a blog posted on the NSA website about the conservative and privatization influences Vicki Phillips imposed on the design team process:
    http://www.neighborhoodschools.....g/node/197

    Pau G, You’re wrong about Vicki Phillips deserving credit for trying something at Jefferson. Jefferson has been subjected to almost constant reorganization/reconstitutions, etc. for years. It would be difficult for ANY high school to thrive under that amount of upheaval. Ms. Phillips was doing what many have done before her – experimenting on Jefferson because PPS can get grant money for trying new things at low income and minority schools.

    Everyone agrees that improvement was needed at Jefferson. The saddest thing is that some of the best gains at the school were happening immediately prior to the latest Phillips/PSF/Gates-directed reorganization into 4 separate academies.

  36. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    Would someone be able to give me a history of Jefferson High, brief or extended? You can reply to me here or off list at souprabbit@gmail.com

    I moved to Portland from St. Louis. For those of you not familiar with St. Louis, the public schools in the city of St. Louis are in the worst shape they have ever been. See this post for more info.

    I raise the specter of St. Louis because I can see PPS going in this direction in the next 10 to 20 years. In short, an increasing abandonment of public schools, declining enrollment, declining educational quality, flight to the suburbs, huge growth in private, parochial, and charter schools, and increased racial and economic segregation. What can be done to prevent this fate? I ask myself this question a lot these days.

  37. Comment from Zarwen:

    NoPo,

    I don’t know when Jefferson was built, but I know it was before WWII. Up until the late ’60′s, both Jefferson and the surrounding neighborhood were majority white–like 99% (as was all of PDX then). At that time, Jefferson was well-regarded, a very desirable school, similar to any other hs in town.

    I think it was the building of I-5 that started everything going downhill. The white families left and were replaced by a mostly poor and black population, as the freeway rendered the neighborhoods no longer desirable to those who could afford better. But it was still a well-attended high school. The transfer policy did not yet exist, either.

    When the feds starting demanding desegregation plans from urban districts, Jefferson opened the first magnet program in PDX, for the performing arts. This was intended to bring white students back to Jefferson to reintegrate the campus. The arts program was well-received, but since participation did not require enrolling at Jeff(!), the plan did not accomplish its purpose.

    Then, in the early ’90s, we passed Measure 5, which destabilized school funding. Bit by bit over time, the acclaimed performing arts program at Jefferson was dismantled, to be replaced by a series of bizarre and ineffective experiments (which are still going on today–this Gates grant is really just the latest in a series) that had the cumulative effect of emptying out the building. NCLB only accelerated the process.

    When I moved here in 1992, Jeff had over 1000 students. Today it has barely half of that. Every “new plan” is supposed to boost enrollment, but they always have the opposite effect. (How is sending the girls down to Tubman supposed to boost enrollment at Jeff???) No one is stupid enough not to see that, so that is why I think the PPS agenda is to shut Jefferson down and sell it either to PCC or to property developers. I think that is what Carol Smith meant when she said “Jefferson is gonna be great.”

    Hope this info is helpful.

  38. Comment from NoPo Parent:

    Zarwen – this helps a lot. Thanks.

  39. Comment from becky:

    I believe that at one time you had to be a Jefferson student to be a Jefferson dancer. I think starting with the 2008-2009 school year, attendance at Jefferson will again be a requirement for being part of the dance program.

  40. Comment from Sheila A.:

    No one is stupid enough not to see that, so that is why I think the PPS agenda is to shut Jefferson down and sell it either to PCC or to property developers. I think that is what Carol Smith meant when she said “Jefferson is gonna be great.”

    These are the first negative words I’ve heard about this new superintendent. Wow. She’s thinking about property development, right?? Interesting.