I’ve noticed one of the rehab options for the Portland Public School District is to use the term “arts integrated curriculum” as a panacea, as an anchor for parents logically advantaging their children through the district’s incredibly stupid student transfer option. (Using this option students can lottery into “better” schools, causing tides to shift with rumor, test scores and speculation. Little or no school transport is offered for these students so many/most of them come from middle-class or better two-parent or better households, reinforcing race and class barriers.)

In the 1970s and 1980s Jefferson High was a non-integrated performing arts school which sent more than it’s share to Julliard. Personalities clashed with principals, the program evaporated, and the magnet which drew students from all classes and communities switched off. Now Jefferson is a troubled school, on it’s umpteenth transformation, and we all hope for the best. Congrats go to the boys AND girls basketball teams, which both just won state championships.

John Marshall High School starts off badly, in a tough neighborhood, landscaped for invisibility, its orangy bricks might remind visitors of a poorly maintained penitentiary or other state institution. To stem migration to other more promising schools through the student transfer option, Marshall High has recently been split by the district into four schools, one of which was named Renaissance Arts Academy.

The unfinished web site for the new school leaves few clues. A tour of the campus exterior reveals no artwork. Who was John Marshall anyway? Why if nothing else, the author of Cohens v. Virginia.

Discouraging, at best, is the new school sign – a readerboard, changeable as a whim. The usage of code terms “Renaissance” and “Academy” reveal the corporate toolism involved.

Not far from Marshall High School are two endangered murals, one of which is by former Marshall students. The first is Peace In Portland (below) painted on a lonely bodega at 92nd and SE Holgate. It’s simple, Mt Hood in the moonlight and a wish.


The flag reads, “Dedicated to the People of SE Portland / By Marshall High & Friends / In the Spirit of Pride & Peace. Mural Design: Jacqueline McKay, Travis Wallender, Robbie Koch, Ray Baxter.”

Wallender became the nationally known graffiti artist BORE, and died in 2005. His memorial was in PPA – BORE – in Memoriam.

South across Lents Park is Music In Community, (below), an endangered mural painted on plywood, the back of a tennis backboard. The mural is labeled as being made through Portland Youth Builders, which is located nearby. More like an advertisement. The mural is designed by a bunch of kids and volunteers, the mural is painted by Bob Swan, a criminal justice prof at PSU.

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