Community leaders ask Portland Public Schools for racial equality

PORTLAND, Ore. – Leaders and concerned members of the African-American community addressed Portland’s school board Tuesday night  to talk about educational racial equity issues, specifically concerning the re-opening of Tubman Middle School and the future of Jefferson High School.

Community leaders said Portland’s new school bond did not adequately take into account African-American student needs, and they want the school board to re-open Harriet Tubman Middle School this fall, not next fall, as the board is planning.

Background: Historic $790 million Portland school bond passes; here's what it will do

“We want to make sure the same equity that we insisted upon many years ago be observed now, said Ron Herndon, Director of Albina Head Start. “Make sure that these children have a sense of fairness, are able to attend Tubman Middle School.”

The school district has said in the past it would be unable to open Harriet Tubman or Roseway Heights middle schools by fall 2017.

"We do not believe that we have the capacity to open those schools right now," former PPS Superintendent Bob McKean told The Oregonian last year.

"I recognize holding the middle schools off for a year is problematic for trust," he said, "but it would be irresponsible for me to lead this district to believe that it can do things that it simply doesn't have the capacity to do."

The Oregonian: PPS may delay opening of two middle schools

Herndon and other community members also want money made available to refurbish Jefferson High School, which he says was unfairly left out of the new school bond measure.

“It was disturbing to learn that Jefferson was kept off of the recent bond measure, because there were some who felt that there were voters who would not have passed  it, had Jefferson been on it,” he said. “We’re saying, again, if people believe in equity and fairness there needs to be a plan, now, on how you are going to refurbish Jefferson. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the system. It needs attention. Now.”

African-American community members are also pushing for a “right to return” policy, so students displaced from Northeast Portland by gentrification could still be attend Tubman or Jefferson.
 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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