Portland Advocate_1981-06

Vol.1, No.2 "NOW IS THE TIME!" FOR AND BY BLACK PEOPLE June, 1981 BlackOrganizat ionsCall High School Closures"Racist" BU F asks Community to "Challenge" School Board July 2 Ten Black Oammunity organizations re– butted denials by Portland Public School Board officials that its expressed in– tention-after t"\\0 new board manbers are S\\Orn in--to vote July 2 to close a second high school with high ''minority'' student concentration was racially mo– tivated. ''If it's not a racist roove, ' 1 said Halim Ra.h.saan, a spokesperson for the National Business League (NBL) chapter, "then what about the population it affects?" he asked, rhetorically of the board's decison it will close Adams high school after it replaces two menbers who refused to go along with the conservatives during earlier board hearings on school closures. Following intense public hearings, preceded by a citizen coomi ttee re– port on school closure, a divided board voted in May to only close Wash– ington-Monroe (W/M) high school. It had the third highest concentration of Black and other Third World students, including recent Southeast Asian re– fugees. District adninistrators said school closure is necessitated due to declining student enrollment. Three elementary shool, with very low en– rollments, will be closed between now and the end of the 1982 school year. Comrunity protest increased when the board focused high school closure only on the three high schools in the city with the first, second and third high– est black student concentration: Jef– ferson, Adams and W/M, respectively. "Again Black students and carnnmity are asked to carry the brunt of the board's decisions requiring students to leave their neighborhoods," said Ron Herndon, Co-Chairperson of the Portland Black United Front (BUF). The BUF has fought to prevent the board continued practice of closing schools in the Black community and thereby force Black children to attend "desegregated" schools in other schools and districts in or near the city. Black cornmunity middle schools were either closed or converted to early childhood centers--for white parents who used the accelerated learning programs funded by federal dollars and returned their chiilldren to neighborhood schools afterwards-while Black middle school ,students, with no other choice, were assigned willy nilly to attend out– lying white schools within the district and schools outside the district. ''We refused to tolerate putting Black kids on school buses to go all around this city helping other schools and districts get the federal dollars that follows the Black student," said Hern– don. "And this is bussing again, but this time of Black high school stu– dents." Besides the BUF and the NBL, . other Black conmunity organizations \\ho attended the joint press conference June 18, 1981, to protest the school's board's recent decision were the NAACP, Portland OIC, Jefferson High School PTA, the Association of Black Social Workers, Albina Ministerial Alliance, and the N.E. Coalition of Neighborhoods. Vesia Loving, a BUF manber who along with Herndon, urged ''the Black com– mmity to cane to the board meeting July 2nd and be heard" on the Adams closure. "It's interesting that t"\\0 new board members wbo have not yet been S\\Orn in have the ability to overturn a (out– going) prior boa:rd decisionwithout hav– ing to hold public hearings again,,., Rahsaan said. Spokespersons for the organizations attending the press conference said they agreed that cornmunity opposition to the closures should be expressed by daronstrations, court proceedings, or by civil disobedience. Ms. Lovir.g said she supported school lx>ard member Herb Cawthorne's promise (Continued on Page 2) Jefferson students rallying in April, 1981 to protest closure of their school. Jefferson was saved, but will Adams students be the next photo feature?