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December 18, 2005


I can't believe their plans to segregate these schools by gender. It wouldn't be so bad, except that the areas that curriculum for girls/boys would be targeting would be different.

I think that Philllips is an absolute idiot and I'm glad we don't live in the PPS district. While she laid off teachers, she was hiring admin at more than $60K each. Seems to me you could keep a few teachers and keep those admin positions open for a while. Teachers are expected to do a whole lot more because of budget cuts, why aren't those in the PPS Admin building?

Actually Jefferson isn't "almost all black" its just significantly more black than other High schools. I don't know the actual population numbers but from my experiences growing up in the Jefferson school neighborhood I'm pretty sure Grant HS and Marshall HS have a similar demographic of african americans in attendance. This is an assertion that is levied on North Portland schools consistently by the media.

In reality Jefferson has a higher number of students living in poverty which brings certain realities into the class room, usually being characterized as a racial issue by the media. Roosevelt has all the same issues as Jefferson but never gets press about it because St. Johns isn't percieved as in the center of the "Black Community". Being the school is located in the roughest part of North Portland (which ten year ago was much rougher with drug dealers openly plying their trade) this is where the negative reputation comes from. Most of the parents in my neighborhood were adamant that kids in my neighborhood went anywhere but Jefferson because of the perception of how dangerous it would be to walk home from N. Killingsworth and Albina everyday.

Just a mention from first hand experience growing up within walking distance of the school.


Jefferson has an African-American enrollment of 65%. The next closest high schools (Benson, Grant, and Roosevelt) have fewer than half that number. Check the PPS website for verification.

Poverty and dark skin go hand in hand.

65% isn't exactly all black. When I toured the school looking at going there in 88 I didn't notice a demographic any differnt than any other public school I've ever gone to. It also had some interesting programs that I was attracted to (much more interesting than the engineering programs at Benson). What seperates Jefferson is the neighborhood directly surrounding it (at one time it was extremely bad). Go a few blocks in any direction and it markedly improves.

As for enrollment-
Whats the enrollment of Jefferson compared to Benson, Grant or Roosevelt? Simple math, 65% of 700 is a significant difference over 65% of 1500. So even if its 65% it may be a smaller number than the enrollment at Grant or Benson as they fill their seats (I know Benson used ot be filled to capacity and had an incentive to cut students who didn't perform to standard). Doesn't Jefferson have a much lower population than the rest of Portland's schools?

The education gap is an issue of poverty which does disparately impact people of color demographicly but is not driven by race. I just prefer when discussing the issue the conversation does not get mired in a victim olympics instead of concentrating on results. OlsonOnline tends to vear towards solutions and though I disagree with her much of the time I respect her for this focus.

Terry of OlsonOnline is a HE, dude. As in male. Not that it should make any difference.

Jefferson's enrollment decline is largely a product of the district's school choice policies. Parents believe that Jeff is a lousy school, so they send their kids elsewhere. Read my posts of March 10 and 23, 2005, for a fuller discussion of the disastrous impact of "open enrollment" on not only Jefferson, but Marshall, Madison, and Roosevelt as well. And their feeder schools.

Sorry - assumed you were female becuase of the pictures.

As for the school choice. Portland has a long history of alternative and magnet schools. Its only been recently with the issue of vouchers appearing in other states has school choice been viewed as fault for poor performance. (Its also ironic that thirty years ago school choice was the ultimate solution for racism propagated by the democratic party and now its against it becuase to allow school choice creates supposedly hurts the poor).

This "disastrous impact" has only been noticed recently. Many of my friends went to Jefferson. It was viewed as a better school than Roosevelt though in a rougher neighborhood. Grant was the school that stole many of the north Portland students away because it was considered a "cool" place to go (more fun - more school pride).

Benson and Lincoln bound students were college prep to begin with so Jefferson's reputation only had part to do with them choosing not to attend there. As for Jefferson's performance - in North Portland its widely discussed that the school district itself is at fault because they have a history of tieing the hands of Jefferson's managing Principle. This was compounded by the inablity of the Principle to choose his/her own leadership team (as principles have turned over there repeatedly)or have more power in dealing with unions in getting more parents to volunteer (many times union contracts stand in the way of parents being able to volunteer in certain capacities) .

I don't have facts or research only rumor to go on but its a consistant rumor and a few friends I've had that are active in various groups in the area have mentioned this theory mulitple times. (An expert could likely prove me wrong but I doubt they'll change my mind as these issues get complex). I don't follow the Oregonians coverage closely though because of the racial spin the media tends to put on Jefferson's performance.

The same students can transfer into another school and magically improve (thats what the Oregonian impliess). Is it the students or the management of the school causing the statistical difference (and I also believe that Madison HS has similar income demographics as Jeff these days)?

Its my thought that the real cure for Jefferson is to do what a business facing a bad reputation does (think Hyundai in the mid-90s). Offer a guarnatee. A no-name candidate back in 2002 named James West had a great idea for Jefferson that I think would work. If a Jefferson graduate does not place at college level within a year of graduation (so when they enter college if remedial education is required the the school) the HS will pay for the remedial college class (it also wouldn't hurt if Jefferson offered scholarships to graduates in the top 20% of the class as a way to attract higher caliber students - Alaska's Universities did this to keep its students from fleeing the state). With the issue of quality guaranteed many would risk the bad perception for the convienience of the neighborhood and the guarantee of college level competancy. This program would likely cost much less than many of the more complex solutions proposed currently.

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