by Ari Robin McKenna
This is the fourth in a series of articles featuring the words of local ethnic studies educators who are doing work to address systemic racism in our classrooms. To read the first, on Amanda Hubbard, click here. To read the second, on Bruce Jackson, click here. To read the third, on Shraddha Shirude, click here. To read the series intro, click here.
Editor’s Note: The following article includes a discussion on the racist attitudes some teachers harbor towards BIPOC students. This content might be disturbing, so we encourage everyone to prepare themselves emotionally before proceeding. If you believe that the reading will be traumatizing for you, we suggest you forego it.
If ethnic studies were to become an integral part of Seattle’s K–12 public education system, as Heather Griffin hopes, it could result in a profound shift away from systemic racism, led by youth, towards a more equitable future for this city. But for this to happen — sooner rather than later — Heather knows many of Seattle Public Schools’ white parents will have to reckon with their doubts, reason through their concerns, and reach for an understanding of the deeper fears they may be gripped by but hesitate to give voice to. Heather Griffin knows, because she has.
Continue reading Heather Griffin on Why White Parents Shouldn’t Be Threatened by Ethnic Studies
by Melody Ip
When schools throughout King County announced plans in late summer to start the 2020–2021 school year with distance learning, many families began scrambling to find tables, chairs, and other items to create a conducive learning environment. Parents cleared out garages, shifted furniture, and bought whiteboards, preparing for the long haul. But with school starting this week, it is clear the greatest stress points are the uncertainty of the school year ahead and the reality of parents’ increased involvement in their children’s schooling — regardless of their own work schedules, education levels, or other responsibilities.
Continue reading Challenges of Returning to School In the Midst of COVID
by Erin Okuno
Returning to school this year will look and feel different than it has in the past. Gone are some of the rituals: pictures in front of the school sign, hunting for homeroom teachers’ classrooms, reunions with classmates. This year, students in Seattle and many South King County districts will be returning to school at home through remote/distance learning.
Continue reading Educators Give Advice to Assist With Online Learning
by Carolyn Bick
Rainier Beach High School freshman Fatima Kabba says it’s really hard for her to learn from home, even with a good internet connection.
“Sometimes, it’s pretty hard, because you can’t find, like, a quiet space to do your work,” Kabba said. “And sometimes there’s other people with different classes, and sometimes you might share the same room with your siblings, so it might be hard for you to concentrate. If we did have online classes, imagine having seven siblings, each one [on] a device — and you’re probably in separate rooms, but you’re going to hear their noises.”
Continue reading With the School Year Approaching, Serious Barriers to Education Persist Among South Seattle Students
by Kayla Blau
A seven-year-old Black student was put in a chokehold by a white school security guard at Stevens Elementary in March, right before schools closed due to COVID-19. The incident further exposed Seattle Public School’s commitment to punitive policing of students, a dangerous practice that fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.
KUOW reported that the student was screaming “I can’t breathe!” while the security guard, David Raybern, held her in an illegal restrictive hold with his “right forearm across her neck,” the article noted. Principal John Hughes was present for the abuse and did not intervene.
Continue reading OPINION: Why Does Seattle Public Schools Spend $3.2 Million on Security Guards?
by Ramone Johnson
My name is Ramone Johnson and I’m 17 years old. I’m from Illinois originally, and ever since I’ve been to school out here in Washington, any situation in school has been blasted way out of proportion. I want to share my experience to help students and teachers understand each other and learn to value every student and make schools a better environment for everyone.
I started recognizing I was being treated differently as one of the only Black kids in my Seattle middle school. The school administration and security guards came as hard as they possibly could towards me. If I called out the way they were treating me differently than other students, they would call me disruptive and send me out of the classroom. It’s like they wanted to prove a point when I refused to adapt to their environment. I watched them give some students extra time to finish assignments, and they wouldn’t do the same for me. What made him better than me? We were both students that needed help. Instead, they’d treat me like a terrorist. They’d have the cop and school security guard following me around all day and blame me for things I didn’t do.
Continue reading OPINION: What Teachers Should Know About the Experience of Being a Black Student in Seattle Public Schools
by Ben Adlin
Parents looking for ways to help their kids build healthy reading habits will have another resource this summer: Real Dawgs Read, a program created by the University of Washington to help structure and reward independent reading.
The program asks K–8 students to read 30 minutes per day for 30 days over the summer. Pretty much anything goes — books, magazines, comics, and newspapers all count toward the goal. Students submit written logs of their reading and, in exchange, receive a personalized certificate and a UW-branded goodie, such as a hat, hoodie, or socks.
Continue reading An Unusual UW Merchandising Deal Is Encouraging Thousands of Kids to Read
by Ari Robin McKenna
This is the second in a series of articles featuring the words of local ethnic studies educators who are doing work to address systemic racism in our classrooms. To read the first, click here. To read the series intro, click here.
When Bruce Jackson was a child, his household was swept up into a greater story that still reverberates across the world today. His uncle, Zayd, was killed defending writer and civil rights activist Assata Shakur during a confrontation with police on the New Jersey Turnpike. A documentary about Shakur’s life ends with the following words regarding her chosen surname:
“It is a name that I took to carry on the name of Zayd Malik Shakur in honor of his family, and in honor of the forces of beauty and good on this earth which I’m grateful for. That is my name.”
Continue reading Ethnic Studies Educator Bruce Jackson and the Beautiful American Story Never Told
by Racial Equity Education
A cultural revolution is happening in Seattle and around the country as we experience a collective awakening of individuals and institutions to the damages caused by centuries of white supremacy and systemic racism. It is becoming more apparent that K–12 schools continue to contribute to racial injustice, even in some of the most progressive districts.
Seattle Public Schools, despite passing a resolution in 2017, has yet to mandate, implement, and fully fund ethnic studies curriculum districtwide. While the Seattle district office claims to be committed to centering youth voices and serving students furthest from educational justice, they continue to merely pay lip service to the demands that have been clearly voiced by Garfield students for years. Yet the district’s recent decision to remove Tracy Castro-Gill as Head of Ethnic Studies for Seattle Public Schools has set back years of work by discrediting their own Ethnic Studies program and the many dedicated educators who have built it.
Continue reading OPINION: Racial Equity Education Launches National Crowd-Sourced Public Education Campaign
by Ari Robin McKenna
This is the first in a series of articles featuring the words of local ethnic studies educators who are doing work to address systemic racism in our classrooms. To read the series intro, click here.
To Amanda Hubbard, ethnic studies is foundational; it is the basis for effective instruction in the classroom, from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Period. She’s done with students of color being given a footnote’s worth of space in the curriculum — an elective if they’re lucky — while the Eurocentric victors’ tales are taught, definitively, as “history.” She’s done with a White supremacist educational culture that defies all the current best-practice research emphasizing both the process and the power of learning from mistakes — in favor of maintaining a biased, high-stakes hierarchy of winners and losers.
And so, Amanda Hubbard is working, beyond her teaching hours, to develop a better way.
Continue reading Ethnic Studies Educator Amanda Hubbard Takes Us Above and Beyond the Winner/Loser Binary