Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Oregon Student Files Reverse-Discrimination Case against Community College

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Oregon Student Files Reverse-Discrimination Case against Community College

Article excerpt

PORTLAND, ORE.

A Portland Community College student here has filed a reverse-discrimination complaint alleging she is being denied free tuition because she is White.

Adrienne Williams, 29, claims a teacher development program violates the college's nondiscrimination policies because it is open only to minorities.

She sent her complaint to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which investigates charges of discrimination on campus.

Williams enrolled at the college this summer in hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. With little money, she worried about looming debt from five years of study, and she looked for grants and loans.

She wanted to apply to the Portland Teachers Program, which offers free tuition for minorities who qualify.

"I was pretty upset when I saw it," Williams says. "We are talking about a program that is funded with government dollars."

The 10-year-old program was developed in response to the shortage of minority teachers. In Portland, 36 percent of students are minorities, but only 12 percent of classroom teachers are. Statewide, minorities make up 18 percent of students but only 4 percent of teachers.

In a decade, the program has provided 60 Blacks, Latinos, American Indians and Asian Americans with teaching degrees. Thirty-eight teach in Portland schools, according to Jim Williams, a Portland school administrator.

Students start at the two-year school and then go on to earn a bachelor's degree and a graduate teaching certificate at Portland State University. …

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