by Alycia Ramirez
It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended much of life as we knew it. We’ve not only had to drastically change how we live, work, and play but also how we provide an education to our kids. With public schools across Washington just returning to a hybrid model after months of remote learning this school year, there have also been calls demanding that school districts open immediately for full-time, in-person instruction. However, these calls often ignore entirely the inequitable effects the pandemic has had on Black and Brown communities.
The demands for full-time public school reopening increasingly come from white parents who say remote learning is disproportionately harming Black and Brown families and who claim a full reopen would benefit Black and Brown kids the most. At School Board meetings, on social media, and elsewhere, I have heard white parents repeatedly professing their concern for the widening education gaps facing Black and Brown children and insisting the remedy is to offer five-day-a-week, in-person instruction — now.
Continue reading OPINION: Dear White Parents, Stop Using Kids as a Political Weapon Against Schools
by Ari Robin McKenna
On March 19, Michelle Sarju announced her candidacy for the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) District 5 School Board Director seat. SPS District 5 includes most of the downtown area from the Sound to Lake Washington and, specifically, the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, the Chinatown/International District, First Hill, Leschi, Madison, and the Central District. Outgoing District 5 Board Director Zachary DeWolf has been one of those who have endorsed Sarju as her campaign launched.
In an interview with the Emerald, Sarju reflected on her professional life and how she feels it has prepared her to step into this role at this particular, historic moment. She also spoke about why she thinks it’s important the board includes a Black resident from the Central District who has had three children in SPS.
Continue reading Michelle Sarju Talks About Her Candidacy for District 5 School Board Director
by Andrew Engelson
In an online news conference Friday morning, Governor Jay Inslee announced — almost exactly one year to the day after he issued an order closing schools statewide to confront the rise of COVID-19 — that he will sign an emergency proclamation requiring all K-12 students in the state be provided with some in-class learning by the end of April. The order requires that by April 5, all students in grades K-6 must be provided a hybrid model of instruction with at least some in-class learning, and by April 19, all students in grades K-12 must be provided some in-class instruction.
Continue reading Governor Inslee Orders All Students To Have Option of In-Class Instruction by April 19
by Ari Robin McKenna
This week, the Seattle Public School (SPS) District and the Seattle Education Association (SEA) resumed bargaining about when the return to in-person education for pre-K to first grade — as well as students enrolled in moderate to intensive special education service pathways — will happen and what it will look like. In a pandemic month that also featured a failed coup and the inauguration of our country’s first Black, Asian, and female vice president, SPS has already seen a school board member abruptly resign and the staff of a South End elementary school announce that they will refuse to return to in-person learning until it’s safe for their community to do so. With pressure mounting to reopen SPS as soon as possible and bargaining already strained, there is mounting evidence that suggests white families stand to benefit more and that their communities will face fewer impacts from a return to in-person learning.
In a Facebook message posted on Jan. 7, SPS board representative Eden Mack announced her resignation. Mack, who represents District 4 (which includes the neighborhoods of Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Southern Ballard) mentioned a “dysfunctional culture” and also stated, “The massive gap between the true cost of providing basic education in an urban school district and what the State provides is not imaginary.” Mack then went on to ask the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) of the state of Washington for an “intervention.”
Continue reading As Seattle Public Schools Negotiates Some In-Person Classes Resuming, Equity Questions Loom