Contained in this link is the absolute best overview of the miserable thing we call the PPS Transfer Policy, I could find. In fact, it is so good, that it – as a few of the subsequent comments suggest – should be required reading for anyone looking to untangle the history behind the mess we’re in.
Upon reading it, I did a double take on Comment #8, by former PPS School Board member Steve Buel. I’m copying and reposting part of it here, because I think it may be a clue to a very puzzling occurrence I mentioned in an earlier post; the odd fact that kids residing within the Jefferson catchment area who have once transfered away from Jeff and want to come back, have been turned away. I have heard this from at least five families – every time their kids tried to return via the Transfer Lottery, they have been denied. Considering that the Lottery operates based on availability of space, I found these testimonies extremely mind-boggling. That is, until I read the very end of Steve Buel’s entry:
“…..There were quite a few racist policies going on at the time and we tried to eliminate all these. For instance, if you were white and you transferred to a school in the black community then you could return at anytime if you wanted to. But if you were black and transferred out of the black community parents had to sign a paper saying their children wouldn’t transfer back.”
Now, the absurdity of it all may begin to make sense… As I think back, the families who told me of their failed attempts to return, were indeed all black. The era that Steve Buel talks about is the early 80’s. If you read the entire post I began this entry by referring to, (which you really should do – it is extremely informative!) you will know that he – in his then capacity of school board member – and several other notable individuals at that time managed to push through policies that made North Portland schools better and leveled the playing field more significantly for NoPo kids than anyone else to date! I can’t say for sure if the polices he mentions are still in place, (possibly minus the signed guarantee) and are indeed the reason these families were turned away from returning to their neighborhood high school, but it really makes me wonder. Or, perhaps there are other devious motives at play…? I’m sad to say, but based on what I’ve learned about our fair[skinned] city so far, I would not be surprised if these built-in racist policies still remain undercover in our own school district! I have not been able to dig up any other reasonable explanation. If anyone out there knows of a different, plausible reason, please post a comment and enlighten me!