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Black families are leaving PPS

Enrollment data shows black student populations are growing in surrounding districts but shrinking in Portland

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: SHASTA KEARNS MOORE - Portland School Board Member Steve Buel responds to the nearly two hours of testimony from Hands Up Don't Shoot PDX protestors during a January board meeting. Black families are leaving Portland schools for the suburbs.Portland Public Schools is losing its black student population while neighboring school districts are growing theirs, according to data released recently from the Oregon Department of Education.

Black student enrollment at PPS is down by 2.84 percent over last year to 4,861 students. Compared to 2012 enrollment data, the black student population has shrunk 7.6 percent or nearly 400 students.

Meanwhile, black student enrollment in surrounding districts has all increased. For example, eastside Reynolds School District is up 5.96 percent and David Douglas School District is up by 1.28 percent.

PPS, the largest district in Oregon, still has the largest total number of black students, who make up 10 percent of its 47,647 students.

Enrollment figures across Oregon are painting a picture of a state of a different hue as Hispanic students continue to be the fastest-growing student group at 22 percent.

“Oregon’s demographics are changing. As a state, we must achieve significantly better outcomes for students of color if we want to see our achievement results increase statewide,” said Oregon Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton in a news release. “Our state is working to address these needs with the Governor’s strategic initiatives designed to help close achievement gaps, better support students, and more actively involve historically underserved communities and families.”

Hispanic enrollment at PPS is up 1.4 percent this year to 7,516 students.

PPS is also the second-fastest growing school district in the state, according to the statistics released Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Bend-La Pine Schools grew the fastest at a rate of 1.75 percent, while PPS added 536 kids at a rate of 1.14 percent over last year.

Download the 2014-15 enrollment data, including statewide numbers for race and ethnicity, at the ODE's website.

By Shasta Kearns Moore
email: shasta@portlandtribune.com
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