NAACP Advocates for Ethnic Studies in Seattle Public Schools

by Kelsey Hamlin

It’s been well documented that Seattle has a problem when it comes to racial gaps in learning, discipline, and opportunities for all of its school children. Some of these systemic issues can be traced all the way back to redlining, Seattle’s historic practice of effectively restricting designated residential areas to certain races.

Other parts of Seattle’s systemic issues are simply a very real result of underlying biases and prejudices that proliferate in seemingly small ways, at first, that create a very clear, big pattern when pieced together.

That pattern is constantly noticed by marginalized students, and is clear to members of the Seattle King County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a nonpartisan civil rights organization. So they decided to do something about it.

The organization made a resolution. Its first clause points out that Seattle Public Schools have committed to “eliminating opportunity gaps.”

The resolution highlights that Portland Public Schools board members mandated ethnic studies be taught in schools by 2018. California made it law to have an ethnic studies curriculum by 2019, and has encouraged schools to adopt the curriculum sooner.

The NAACP wants ethnic studies to be a graduation requirement. The implementation of this would include voluntary schools by 2018, then mandated for schools with Race and Equity Teams by 2019, and then mandated all schools by 2020.

The resolution was endorsed by King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, as well as two other associative organizations.

Only time will tell if the resolution matters to Seattle Public Schools.

kelsey-1Kelsey Hamlin is a reporter with South Seattle Emerald, and interned with the publication this summer. She has worked with various Seattle publications. Currently, Hamlin is a University of Washington student, and the President of the UW Chapter’s Society of Professional Journalists. Hamlin is a journalism major at the University of Washington with interdisciplinary Honors, and a minor in Law, Societies & Justice. Find her on Twitter @ItsKelseyHamlin or see her other work on her website.


Featured image courtesy of the National Association of Ethnic Studies

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