Portland principal sparks outrage for claiming education system built on ‘white supremacy’


Melissa Baran, the Sherwood High School principal, earned some criticism for recent remarks about the education system

Melissa Baran, the Sherwood High School principal, earned some criticism for recent remarks about the education system

A principal at a Portland school drew the ire of some parents after she called out the education system for being built on ‘white supremacy.’

Melissa Baran, the principal of Sherwood High School, made her comments speaking during a school board session on January 20.

‘We know that there is so much good that’s been coming out of Sherwood High School for such a long time,’ Baran said, according to KOIN 6 News. ‘We also know that what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working for every student, for every family, for every community member, for every staff member.’

Baran made note of underrepresented students, saying, ‘Historically, our under-represented students, our most vulnerable students that are experiencing a variety of different circumstances, that the system hasn’t been working for them.’

Baran then said, ‘Education as a whole was built on the system of oppression and white supremacy, and we are trying to talk about that more.

Baran is the principal of Sherwood High School, where she's been in charge for 19 months

Baran is the principal of Sherwood High School, where she’s been in charge for 19 months

‘And we’re trying to really examine what is the system moving forward, and how do we make sure that what we’re doing doesn’t perpetuate those differences — doesn’t perpetuate those gaps that we have been talking about as a district for a long time.’

A deleted post in the Sherwood Community Info Group (Original) Facebook page referred to Baran as a ‘BLM Marxist.’

The school district is located in an area that used to lean Republican, but now trends more towards the Democrats, making it ripe for political infighting.

The Sherwood School District previously shared anti-racist materials on their website, one of which called for people to vote Democrat, leading to a removal and apology from the district.

A ‘Black Kids Matter Unity Event’ over the summer in front of district offices was also countered by an ‘All Kids Matter’ event.

While at least some parents have lashed out at Baran, she does have the support of district superintendent Heather Cordie.

The school is in a suburb of Portland, which has been the site of many protests against police

The school is in a suburb of Portland, which has been the site of many protests against police

Pictured: Protesters and police officers clashing during a Portland protest on New Year's Eve

Pictured: Protesters and police officers clashing during a Portland protest on New Year’s Eve

‘During that presentation to the board, Mrs. Baran shared true facts — specifically, that the system of education in general, in its current format, does not work for all students, families, or staff members; that the system of education has a historical context of oppression and white supremacy; and that there is a need to move forward in a way that no longer perpetuates systematic marginalization of under-represented student groups,’ Cordie wrote in a letter last Friday.

Cordie also called out the Facebook post that targeted Baran and noted the principal’s status as the sole Black leader in the school district.

‘None of the other (white) participants in the meeting who concurred with and supported the work discussed by Mrs. Baran were singled out in this post, and this fact speaks volumes about the personal motives behind the post,’ Cordie wrote.

Pictured: Protesters flooding Morrison Bridge in Portland after George Floyd's murder

Pictured: Protesters flooding Morrison Bridge in Portland after George Floyd’s murder

Pictured: Protesters throw fireworks at polce officers during a protest in Portland

Pictured: Protesters throw fireworks at polce officers during a protest in Portland

The Sherwood Gazette reports Baran was named principal of the high school effective July 1, 2019.

Prior to that, Baran was an assistant principal at Beaverton High School for several years.

The backlash she has faced for her comments has not deterred her goal for the school district.

‘Creating opportunities for success for all of our students is our focus moving forward,’ Baran said to KOIN 6 News. ‘We will continue to examine everything we are doing, with the hope and plan of building the system that best serves all students and staff within our school.’

Portland has been a flashpoint for protests surrounding racial equity since George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

Following the inauguration of Joe Biden, Antifa protesters smashed the windows at the Oregon Democratic Party’s office in the city.

Additionally, around 200 people gathered outside of an ICE building to protest officers there, which was not the first time a protest took place in front of that building.

The education system is a growing point of interest in discussions of race and history in the United States.

Education has become a big issue in discussions of race and America's history, with Donald Trump promoting a 'patriotic education' commission during his final days in office

Education has become a big issue in discussions of race and America’s history, with Donald Trump promoting a ‘patriotic education’ commission during his final days in office

Towards the end of his presidency, Donald Trump created the 1776 Commission, which was intended to promote a ‘patriotic education’ and was perceived as a rebuke of the 1619 Project from the New York Times, which delved into the United States’ checkered history on race and slavery.

‘Critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together,’ Trump said in September, according to NPR.

‘It will destroy our country.’



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