Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian, July 7, 2011
Among the 50 Oregon high schools with at least 25 African American students in 2009-2010, only seven had any African American students enrolled in calculus and none had more than five black students take the course.
That is according to a U.S. Department of Education civil rights survey, released last week, that found poor and minority students have less access to rigorous courses and experienced teachers than other students.
According to the feds, Portland’s Grant High, whose 375 African American students gave it the largest African American enrollment of any Oregon high school, didn’t have a single black student in calculus that year. Grant did have a handful of African American students take physics, and it had 85 students take calculus–all of them white, Asian or Latino.
According to the federal figures, somewhere between 7 and 35 African American students took calculus in an Oregon public high school during the 2009-10 school year out of the state’s more than 4,000 African American high school students. (When fewer than five students of any race take a particular course, civil rights officials round the number up to five to protect student confidentiality.)
Latino students were better represented in advanced math. According to the federal data, about 35 Oregon schools had at least one Latino student take calculus that year, with Woodburn High enrolling about 30 Latino students in the course.
Portland Public Schools recently adopted a racial equity policy under which it acknowledges that African American students have experienced inferior educational outcomes. District leaders say they will work hard to try to change that.