Tag Archives: Seattle Public Schools

OPINION: Vote ‘YES’ for Seattle Schools by February 8

by Vallerie Fisher


Seattle voters have another decision to make this year — and this one should be a no-brainer! Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has two critical levies on the ballot and as a South Seattle educator, I urge you to vote “YES” by Feb. 8.

These levies are voted on for renewal every three years — most recently in 2019. Seattle voters have supported these levies year after year because our students rely on this funding for everything from textbooks to after-school programs. These levies are an investment in our children’s future and well-being.

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PHOTO ESSAY: Student Voices, Demands From Last Friday’s COVID-19 Walkout

by Ari Robin McKenna, photos by Chloe Collyer


Recently, in Mx. Sam Cristol’s ethnic studies class at Cleveland STEM High School, students were discussing the effects of COVID-19 in Seattle. “We started with the idea of all of us being frustrated with the way that these issues are being handled — and not handled, for that matter,” said student organizer Nya Spivey, “and then we were like, well … what as students can we do?” Spivey and classmates Mia Dabney and Ava May decided they could do something, and so they did.

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Western WA’s COVID Cases Level Off, Hospitals Brace for Surge, More Masks and Tests Available

by Sally James


Washington’s medical officials are bracing for the next few weeks in the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. But they also offered a glimmer of good news at their Wednesday, Jan. 19, media event

“The next several weeks will be very difficult,” said Umair Shah, M.D., M.P.H., secretary of health of the Washington State Department of Public Health (DOH). Even though case counts have leveled off in most of Western Washington, they are still rising in Eastern Washington. Hospitals are struggling with too many patients and barely enough room or staff to care for them properly. Gov. Jay Inslee has sent National Guard personnel to help several state hospitals. 

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Why School Was Cancelled at Kimball Elementary for the Past Three Days

by Ari Robin McKenna


When Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) mass COVID-19 screening flagged seven of their coworkers last Monday, Kimball Elementary School staff knew they were in for a week. A tight-knit group who has a strong relationship with their Parents, Teachers, and Students Association (PTSA), Kimball’s staff braced themselves.

As the week progressed, Kimball — in Southeast Seattle and serving 75% students of color — was without one Instructional Assistant (IA) after another, as well as multiple teachers and an administrator. By the end of the week, Kimball was short six IAs. School staffs across Seattle have been worn down by factors including a national substitute teacher shortage, the challenges teaching students returning to in-person school after a such long break, and unrealistic pressure to “catch up.” Yet while the entire system is in crisis, throughout last week, Kimball staff approached its actual breaking point.

Kimball Music Teacher and Seattle Education Association (SEA) Union Rep KT Raschko, described staffs’ still-determined ethos in the hallways of the Van Asselt building, where Kimball is housed while its new building is constructed:

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OPINION: Fighting a Hostile Learning Environment Within Seattle Public Schools

by Emi Ponce de Souza with An-Lon Chen


Just over a year ago, my son Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce, then a high school senior, filed a formal complaint against Ballard High School. Over the course of a semester, English teacher Wendy Olsen had perpetrated negative racial stereotypes and Principal Keven Wynkoop had shielded her from responsibility. We hope that detailing our family’s experience will help make the complaint process easier for fellow Seattle Public Schools (SPS) students and their families to navigate.

Our case took ten months from beginning to end. Several weeks after The Seattle Times ran an article about the district’s findings, at least two other families filed complaints. Shortly after those complaints were filed, the district placed Principal Wynkoop on administrative leave without specifying its reasons.

This was an important step, but only a partial one. Wendy Olsen continues to teach at Ballard High. Acting Principal Dr. Joseph Williams III, a Black man, faces an uphill battle in trying to change an entrenched culture. Perhaps most glaringly, none of the district’s determinations addressed the issue of race. Trying to prove a school-wide history of racial microaggressions was like nailing Jell-O to the wall.

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Seattle Public Schools to Offer Vaccine Clinics for Students This Weekend 

by Sally James


Some South Seattle school buildings will be offering COVID-19 vaccines this weekend for students in the district and their families. 

Students do not have to attend the school where the clinic is offered.

Some of the clinics offer both first and second doses, and some offer only second doses. All students must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If your child is receiving their second dose, please bring their vaccination card with you to the clinic to be updated.

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SPS’ ‘Let’s Go’ Program Prepares South End Students to Become Bike Commuters

by Ari Robin McKenna


In early November, a big green trailer pulled up, parked, and disgorged dozens of blue kids’ bikes at Louisa Boren STEM K–8 (LB STEM) in West Seattle, the first of Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) 71 elementary schools that will benefit from the Let’s Go bike program this year.

For the next three weeks, third to fifth graders will learn everything they’ll need to know about how to bike to school by themselves. An SPS press release states, “In addition to the physical fundamentals of helmet safety, balancing, steering, pedaling, and stopping, Let’s Go teaches kids the rules of safe and courteous riding along with skills to cross a street at intersections.”

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FEEST Empowers Students to Action Across Seattle

by Ronnie Estoque


Access to affordable, healthy, culturally relevant foods in schools has always been a focus point for FEEST, an organization led by Youth of Color in South Seattle and south King County. Recently, FEEST has reassessed the curriculum they’ve taught their students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Highline Public Schools (HPS) to help improve their organizing skills. Both SPS and HPS have guaranteed that their school food will be free to all students for the remainder of the 2021–2022 academic term.

“We want school lunch to be free for everyone K–12, indefinitely,” said Cece Flanagan, a community organizing and training manager at FEEST. “We are also ensuring that youths’ basic needs are being met by offering free groceries and meal deliveries, loaning technology to connect to school/virtual meetings, ensuring youth [organizers] are connected to mental health supports, and paying them a competitive wage.”

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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.

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