Desegregation, integration and the charter of Portland Public Schools Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h128nh15w

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  • Portland Public School District and in particular Jefferson High School are examined in a functionalist framework to determine the extent to which they meet community needs. B. Malinowski's functionalist theory is employed to analyze desegregation and integration policies and actions of the Portland Public School District and Jefferson High School, a chief focus of integration and desegregation plans. Malinowski's theory of culture places education as a key element in cultural maintenance. His theory provides an analytical structure to examine the form and function of an institution such as a school district. By examining the policies of the district and the actualities that occurred in the implementation of those policies it will be possible to reveal the underlying assumptions that the district made regarding integration and desegregation. It is then possible to evaluate the extent to which the policies, the practices and the assumptions meet the needs of the community they are intended to serve. The Portland Community has been only slightly affected by an increase in minority population which reached 14% in 1980. The Jefferson High School community has received the greatest impact, being transformed from a white homogeneous population to a diverse multicultural community in the span of 25 years. In the school's enrollment the minority population reached 55% in 1970; they were primarily black students with increasing numbers of Southeast Asian students. The district's response to these changes is examined by the use of two case studies to determine the extent to which the district has recognized the changing needs of the community it serves. The first case study focuses on Project Turnabout. This 1974 project was specifically targeted for Jefferson High School to increase the total student population and reduce the percentage of minority students attending the school. The district's policies toward integration and desegregation are examined in their historical context. The second case study focuses on the District's 1980 Comprehensive Desegregation Plan. This plan was designed to meet the needs of what had become the more vocal black community. This plan changed some of the basic policies toward desegregation and integration, the most significant being the recognition of Portland as a pluralist community. The Portland School District's basic charter has affected the way the district has dealt with desegregation and integration issues. The charter, often implicit rather than written, guides the district's policies and more importantly the organizational structures which implement those policies. These structures have not been changed in basic principle and continue to reinforce basic assumptions about the school's function in the community. The function remains one of creating uniformity and assimilating students into the dominant culture. This function must necessarily be at odds with the needs of a more pluralist community.
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