Tag Archives: Seattle Public Schools

Seattle Promise Is Building Educational Equity

by Shouan Pan, Dr. Brent Jones, and Ana MariCauce


In the midst of a global pandemic, the Seattle Promise program, which guarantees two years tuition-free at Seattle Colleges, is thriving. This fall, more than 1,100 students are enrolled in Seattle Promise, working toward a degree or certificate they might otherwise not be able to afford. 

Nationally, during the pandemic, nearly all community colleges saw enrollment drop. But at Seattle Colleges, the nationally recognized Seattle Promise program actually grew post-secondary enrollment because of our partnerships and targeted student services. 

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OPINION: Anonymous Survey Reveals Educator Despair, Poor District Communication

“I’m not sure I’m making a difference anymore. We are drowning here.”

by Tracy Castro-Gill and Ari Robin McKenna

(This article is reprinted with permission from the Washington Ethnic Studies Now blog.)


On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Human Resources Department (HR) sent an email to parents and then 39 minutes later to educators — almost as an afterthought — announcing the unexpected closure of schools just three days later on Nov. 12, sending parents without work flexibility scrambling for childcare.

The HR email author might have mentioned the national teacher shortage. They might have mentioned that — in the wake of the pandemic — substitute teachers have dried up. Nearly every school in the district is shuffling to cover daily absences, with teachers having to use up designated grading and planning time. They might have mentioned that a district calendar initially had Friday as a holiday, and office staff at various schools circulated it before it was updated. They might even have mentioned that, for over a month, staff at SPS district headquarters have been signing up to cover absences — despite, in some cases, not having an active teacher certification.

Instead, HR chalked it up neatly to teachers insisting on taking leave. “We are aware of an unusually large number of SPS staff taking leave on Friday,” the email explained. Then they chose to end the email assuring their audiences that the district’s central office, the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence (JSCEE), would remain open Friday — as if anyone reading this email cared about anything other than classrooms and children.

Continue reading OPINION: Anonymous Survey Reveals Educator Despair, Poor District Communication

NEWS GLEAMS: SPS Students’ Extra Day Off, Sound Transit Seeks Community Input, & More

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!


✨Gleaming This Week✨

Continue reading NEWS GLEAMS: SPS Students’ Extra Day Off, Sound Transit Seeks Community Input, & More

South End Equity Questions After Protest Highlights Special Education Staffing Moves

by Ari Robin McKenna


A mix of well over a hundred teachers, parents, and students showed up at the district headquarters in SoDo Wednesday, Oct. 27, for a rally on a quickly darkening, drizzly evening. A number of speeches were given under the partially covered colonnade in front of a red wall — on the other side of that wall the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) board was in a budget session addressing a $28.1 million loss of revenue due to enrollment decline and eyeing an estimated gap of $78 million for the 2022–2023 school year.

The rally was organized by Seattle Education Association (SEA) leadership in conjunction with the Special Education PTSA (SEPTSA). The protest was in response to word that there would be 50 schools affected by special education staffing adjustments — which SEPTSA reported on their blog. With the slogan “Needs Before Numbers,” the speakers at the rally criticized the impact of these moves at specific schools and a general lack of parent and teacher involvement in staffing decisions. Attendees also questioned whether a disproportionate amount of the 3,440 students that have left the district since 2019 were receiving appropriate special education services.

Tess Bath, a special education instructional assistant at Highland Park’s Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program, addressed the crowd warmly. “It’s really nice to be here with all y’all. We’ve been crying a lot and it feels really healing to just share space.” The start of the 2021–2022 school year, on the heels of two COVID-disrupted years, has been brutal on educators, and Bath read from a letter she’d sent to the district about how disruptive staffing changes can be in her line of work. “SEL is built on consistent and trusting relationships. To sever those would alter the very foundation of our program and our ability to do our jobs and serve our students … They deserve to have enough support to meet their IEP [Individual Education Program] goals, access their LRE [Least Restrictive Environment], and be seen as a priority by their school district.”

The disruption that occurs when a single educator is required to leave their school and the relationships they’ve built is incalculable. But given the context of a pandemic, a massive budget shortfall, and a special education system that favors white students, some have expressed doubts about the timing of this rally, and the information that catalyzed it. 

Continue reading South End Equity Questions After Protest Highlights Special Education Staffing Moves

NEWS GLEAMS: Election Checkup, Seattle Relief Fund, Black Future Co-op Seeks Community Input

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!


Photo depicting a Black- and male-presenting individual filling out their voter registration form.
Register to vote today! Photo courtesy of King County Elections.

Election Checkup

Only six days left until Tuesday’s important Nov. 2 election!

Seattle’s Mayor, City Attorney, at-large City Council Pos. 9 seat, King County Executive, as well as other local city and county district races will be decided. The winners of those contests will chart the course of how the region tackles homelessness, policing, and housing affordability.

Did you get your ballot, or was it damaged in the mail? If you need help with your ballot  or other questions, call 206-296-VOTE (8683).

Are you registered to vote? It’s too late to register by mail and online, but you can still register and get a ballot through Election Day, Nov. 2, by visiting the King County Elections Center, 919 SW Grady Way in Renton, or a variety of voting centers in the county.

Who can register to vote in Washington? Simple, you must be:

  • A citizen of the United States.
  • A legal resident of Washington State.
  • At least 18 years old by election day.
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order.
  • Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction.

Read more about who can vote.

This article is funded in part by a Voter Education Fund grant from King County Elections and the Seattle Foundation.

Continue reading NEWS GLEAMS: Election Checkup, Seattle Relief Fund, Black Future Co-op Seeks Community Input

Seattle School Board Candidate Laura Marie Rivera Answers the South End’s Questions

by Ari McKenna


The Emerald asked the two finalists in the city’s tightest school board race, Laura Marie Rivera and Vivian Song Maritz, nine questions collected from community members with a stake in education, and then one of our own.

Though the District 4 primary was decided by voters in that district — which includes Ballard, Magnolia, and Northern Queen Anne — the runoff is citywide, so South End voters get to weigh in. The board member elected — while not representing the South End directly — will develop policy that impacts schools, families, and communities here.

Besides writing policy and hiring and evaluating the superintendent, school board directors balance the annual budget and are meant to determine what education entails based on the vision and values of the community they represent. While important, school board director positions are currently unpaid — but for a $4,800 stipend.

Voting closes on Nov. 2, 2021. Vivian Song Maritz’s answers are available here.

Continue reading Seattle School Board Candidate Laura Marie Rivera Answers the South End’s Questions

Seattle School Board Candidate Vivian Song Maritz Answers the South End’s Questions

by Ari McKenna


The Emerald asked the two finalists in the city’s tightest school board race, Laura Marie Rivera and Vivian Song Maritz, nine questions collected from community members with a stake in education, and then one of our own.

Though the District 4 primary was decided by voters in that district — which includes Ballard, Magnolia, and Northern Queen Anne — the runoff is citywide, so South End voters get to weigh in. The board member elected — while not representing the South End directly — will develop policy that impacts schools, families, and communities here.

Besides writing policy and hiring and evaluating the superintendent, school board directors balance the annual budget and are meant to determine what education entails based on the vision and values of the community they represent. While important, school board director positions are currently unpaid — but for a $4,800 stipend.

Voting closes on Nov. 2, 2021. Laura Marie Rivera’s answers are available here.

Continue reading Seattle School Board Candidate Vivian Song Maritz Answers the South End’s Questions

COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

by Sally James


Nothing about COVID-19 follows a predictable path. This week is no exception. In the past few days, there was a mixed bag of encouraging news and news of concern, both nationally and locally.

Overall, the state case rate continues to drop. According to the Washington State Dept. of Health (DOH) there are 234 cases per 100,000 people, and of those, 11 per 100,000 are in the hospital. Both numbers are down from earlier this month. 

But that good news is tinged with the reality that these are still close to numbers during the peak of last winter’s surge. Taking care of COVID-19 patients has forced hospitals to delay treatment for other patients, especially in Spokane. 

Continue reading COVID-19 Numbers Show We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet

Local Celebrity Chef Fueling Our Children’s Engines With Great Food

by Lola E. Peters


Emme Ribeiro Collins and her family moved to Seattle from Brazil when she was only 6 years old, a first grader. Lunch is the main event of the day in Brazil, and school day lunches were prepared by her grandmother or mother. She remembers them as delicious, filling, and made from scratch. She remembers the care and tenderness put into those meals. 

It was with this memory she first entered the lunchroom at her new Seattle elementary school. Jarred into cultural dissonance by food she didn’t recognize and found unpalatable, served impersonally without any connection to her culture or health needs, she often chose to go without lunch. “Foods I found okay were things like spaghetti, which was homey and comforting … I often chose to go hungry at school and just ate at home.”

Now, in what she calls, “a full-circle moment that is super important to me,” the executive chef of Seattle Public Schools (SPS), and recent winner of the Sept. 10 episode of the cooking show Chopped, Collins is still amazed how poorly our culture feeds our children during their most physically and mentally vulnerable years. She and her boss Aaron Smith, director of Nutrition Services, are teaming together to reimagine how to serve this youthful clientele.

Continue reading Local Celebrity Chef Fueling Our Children’s Engines With Great Food

Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases

by Ari Robin McKenna


With public school students back learning in-person for the second week during a delta variant surge, parents and guardians await crucial, timely information from their school or district in the event there are COVID-19 cases at their child’s school. Such information helps parents and guardians keep their kids safe and take precautions that impact collective safety. In South Seattle and southwest King County — where the majority of People of Color in the county live and where higher COVID-19 case rates have persisted throughout the pandemic — clear, transparent, effective communication becomes even more crucial. In these historically under-resourced communities, plenty of doubts remain about current communication during this delta stage of the pandemic.

When Seattle Public Schools (SPS) refreshed their COVID-19 dashboard on Monday evening for last school week, they reported 44 confirmed COVID-19 cases within their 104 schools and other educational sites. Ten of those cases were in the northwest and northeast districts, and 24 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the southwest and southeast districts. This is despite the total number of students actually being 2,984 higher in the north. Though this week-one data set is minuscule, it accedes to the norms of the bigger picture: Seattle-wide, parents and guardians anxiously sent their kids to school on the first day, and perhaps predictably, more than twice as many from the South End have gotten sick.

To put the disparate current infection rates in perspective, a glance at the current King County “Daily COVID-19 outbreak summary dashboard” geography stub on Sept. 8 shows all of the highest reporting areas to be in the southwest corner of the county map. Central Federal Way, SeaTac/Tukwila, and South Auburn have the county’s highest COVID-19 positive case rates per 100,000 residents at 11,224.4, 11,328.6, and 12,843.1 respectively. Meanwhile, by contrast, whiter north Seattle neighborhoods have some of the county’s lowest rates, such as Ballard, Fremont/Green Lake, and northeast Seattle, which are at 2,996.1, 2,958.3, and 3,693.8 respectively.

Continue reading Communication Key as South Seattle Schools Reporting Disproportionate COVID-19 Cases