Protesters stormed a Portland, Ore., school board meeting earlier this week, demanding more time to learn about a bid to reduce racial and economic segregation in the city’s public schools, Reuters reports.
The meeting was cancelled and the vote postponed Tuesday to allow protesters to speak, including one who called the proposal “the public policy version of a drunken Facebook post,” the report says.
The board was slated to discuss a proposal that would limit transfers between schools, which White and affluent families have disproportionately used to remove their children from low-performing and mostly minority schools.
Sixty years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the notion of “separate but equal” education, schools across the country are becoming more and more segregated along racial and economic lines, Reuters writes, citing a UCLA study published in May.
Portland school officials aim to address the issue, but the proposal does not go far enough and would not work as intended, according to protesters who are mainly from the Don’t Shoot PDX activist group:
“The new policy language is well-intentioned but ineffective,” said parent Matthew Markanovic.
Other demonstrators said parents had not had enough time to weigh in, and that they did not trust public school leaders to implement policies that benefit people of color…
School district spokesman Jon Isaacs told Reuters an earlier version of the proposed policy changes had already proved effective.
Segregation has skyrocketed in western area of the United States in particular, according to the UCLA study, which also found that Black and Latino students tend to attend schools with a substantial majority of poor children, while White and Asian students are typically in middle-class schools, Reuters writes:
In Portland, school segregation is an inadvertent legacy of the George W. Bush-backed No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which made it relatively easy for parents to transfer out of neighborhood schools, Isaacs said.
The measure led to overcrowding in some schools and empty classrooms elsewhere, he said.
As the powerful #BlackLivesMatter movement continues to branch off and spread beyond the nation’s flawed criminal justice system, schools will likely become the next battleground in the campaign against racial inequality and injustice in America. After all, the seeds of injustice take root in our nation’s schools. The pipeline from school to prison is a well-documented problem.