Bacon has spent his entire career working as an educator in and around Portland. He began teaching in the mid-’80s and became vice principal of Albina’s Jefferson High School a decade later. Many of his students from Jefferson are now parents of his students at Boise.
But the same families who grew up in the neighborhood can’t afford to live here now. Bacon says the student body’s homelessness rate has been ticking upward, and others have long commutes from the outskirts of the city. The travel means students often can’t stay for after-school programs or that parents pick their kids up early to avoid traffic. The students who rely on public buses often face an hour of commuting each way. “When an older sibling who comes to school on the bus is sick, that means the younger sibling doesn’t come to school either,” says Bacon. “Kids also just don’t sleep enough. They get up early to get here and then get home late.”
Bacon laments that the neighborhood’s new residents haven’t embraced Boise. It used to be a source of pride for the area, which had long battled for a quality school to call its own. That sense of ownership is fraying.
He knows his school will become whiter, though that will take time. In this year’s parent meeting for incoming kindergarteners, he was surprised at the number of white families. He says Boise will “be here for whoever wants to come” and that he’s tried to embrace the white families who have already enrolled. “I’m not going to spend too much time trying to force white people to come that might not want to come, but we’ll be open to their questions and sell the best parts of the school like we always do,” he says.
There are plenty of reasons why white, more affluent parents don’t send their children to Boise. They might cite the test scores or the draw of creative instruction at charter schools. But much of it involves internalized racism—racism that is amplified by ineffectual school district policies.
White families often transfer their children to Trillium Charter, a high-achieving school that’s less than 10 minutes away and 82 percent white. They can also send their kids to Portland magnet schools if their test scores are high enough or use the petition system to transfer to schools closer to their jobs. According to district figures, only half of neighborhood children attend Boise. Staff say many of these are black families who’ve long attended the school and have managed to stay in the neighborhood. The black students who fake their addresses, indicating they still live in neighborhood boundaries, also skew the numbers.
Dude! I found out that your from maine! I'm originally from wisconsin but I go to the art school in Portland!!