A previously scheduled meeting Monday night at Portland's Center for Self Enhancement
turned into a community referendum on Saturday's surprise proposal to consider moving Benson Polytechnic High
to Jefferson High School's
campus as part of Portland Public Schools'
And the community is not happy.
president of SEI and host of the community meeting, spoke first about his concern. "It upset me to such a degree to think about how long we've been in this struggle," he said before launching into a lengthy talk of all the ways PPS has undeniably experimented with social engineering using African-American students from the Jefferson cluster. In the 1980s, for example, 44 students from the then-Eliot Elementary School (now part of Boise-Eliot K-8 School) were bused to 20 different schools to promote racial integration in the district.
Today, only about 400 students attend Jefferson while Benson has close to 1,000. Of those at Benson, almost one-third come from the Jefferson cluster. But Hopson laid blame for that trend at the feet of PPS, which has implemented so many reforms at Jeff that it's hard to keep count of the changes let alone the principals.
"This district systematically created the failure we see," Hopson told Superintendent Carole Smith last night to the applause of the crowd.