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August 29, 2007

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My first indication that resegregation was taking place was more than ten years ago, when I worked at Humboldt Elementary. The day there started with the Black National Anthem. I decided right then and there that something was up.

This resegregation is undoubtedly happening across the district. Funny thing though, when I talk about this in my liberal, politically correct neighborhood--nobody really cares. I think they are secretly glad. This may be one of Portland's dirty little secrets. We talk a good game on diversity, but we are oh so lilly white.

Thank you, blueteeth. This is why I hate Portland and wish I could move. I have lived all over the country and have found Portland the least desirable place to live. "Progressive" my foot!

Marcia,
Please don't post outdated and misleading information about Humboldt. It is a wonderfully inclusive and successful school.

In this century, the school day starts with an all-school morning assembly where students say the Pledge of Allegiance and the Humboldt Pledge in English and in Spanish. The current principle is fantastic, and is currently working on a project for "Bringing Spanish Language and Culture to Humboldt." As a white parent I have always felt that my child and I, and all the school's children and parents, are welcome and appreciated. The biggest problem for Humboldt is the preconceived notions of people who aren't familiar with the school. Comments like yours don't help.

About half of the students who live in the gentrifying Humboldt neighborhood don't attend the school. Many of the families who are new to the neighborhood never even visit the school before deciding to transfer to a different neighborhood school. Due to the low neighborhood capture rate in recent years the school district threatened to close our wonderful school last year. It was only due to the unified and overwhelming outpouring of support of Humboldt's parents, teachers, and staff that the school board took a closer look at the superintendent's closure recommendation and realized that it was entirely unjustified. (I don't mean to suggest in any way that other school closures were justified.)

I agree with the above comments about districtwide segregation and racism in Portland. However, in spite of those forces, Humboldt strives to provide a quality education for all children regardless of racial or economic background. And I think the school is doing a pretty great job with the resources they have. I wish I could say the same of the school board and certain other so-called "community leaders" who support inequitable and segregationist public education policies which have resulted in the loss of students, funding, curriculum offerings, and experienced teachers from many low-income and minority schools. That is where you should be directing your criticism not at Humboldt.

Marcia, I usually agree with your comments but this one was off-base, unnecessary, harmful to our school, and as a result harmful to our students. Please be more thoughtful about the impact of your words.

Sorry if I ruffled your feathers, Humboldt parent. I simply stated what was true. And I also stated that it was ten years ago. But yes, that was the way the day was started then, in the gym with all the kids (all inclusive) singing the black national anthem. And I thought that it was strange at the time, given that we were supposed to be desegregating. I also saw it as an indication that segregation was starting to go backwards, which it has, for all the reasons you state above. No offense intended. Just an observation, and a valid one, I believe.

Marcia,
You criticize the district for its segregationist policies by making a point that could only have the effect of reinforcing the segregation of a neighborhood school. Forgive me for getting my feathers ruffled, but I really don't see the validity of your approach.

You may not work at Humboldt anymore or care if it is an inclusive quality neighborhood school for all children. However, there are many people who are working our tailends off for that. There is no need for you to sabotage our hard work with your careless comments about the school 10 years ago.

As a white person in a racially diverse neighborhood, I see firsthand how White parents in the neighborhood will repeat over and over to other White parents old stories about Black students or about schools that have a significant percentage of non-white students. One Black student does something bad and the story gets repeated for decades about "those kids." Something happens in a Black school or Black neighborhood and it gets repeated forever. Please don't contribute to that. Can't all our children and schools be jugded based upon their individual actions and the current facts? Do Black children and schools really have to carry around the baggage of every negative thing that a Black child or Black school has done for the last twenty years? That is one of the things that makes Portland such a racist city.

If you would like to help break the cycle of racism and school segregation then please at least speak more thoughtfully. And if you would like to take action to support your former school feel free to join parents, teachers, students and community members on Saturday, September 22 when Hands on Portland is recruiting 175 volunteers to perform an Extreme School Makeover at Humboldt (painting, landscaping, new learning garden, etc.) Volunteers can register at www.HandsOnPortland.org. We would love to have your help on the 22nd.

Or, Marcia, if you would just pass on the event and registration information everytime you talk about things that were happening in the school 10 years ago, that would be helpful too.

Just to clarify, I was not passing judgement on whether or not it was ok to sing the black national anthem...That's another issue altogether, but one to which I believe you are responding, HP. My point was resegregation was beginning to take place in Portland even 10 years ago...and the resegregation continues today...and not just here in Portland, as Kozol's books point out.. as do the bloggers here who are documenting how it happens in our own district. Keep up the good work, HP. You sound like a very dedicated person.

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