Ensuring educational excellence for each and every student is the commitment we have made to families. Our educators, school leaders, School Board and partners have been working to not only address barriers to academic success but also to increase opportunities for success for all students, especially African American males and other students of color. This has required working across departments within our school district, closely examining our practices and making sure students feel like they belong, experience welcoming learning environments and are safe in their identities.
And, we have seen progress. At the State of the District, I shared increased graduation rates for students of color and a significant reduction in discipline. Just recently, the New York Times highlighted new research out of Stanford University, identifying Seattle Public Schools as one of the top districts nationally for student academic growth (3rd in the nation). For example, in five years, African American 3rd– 8th grade students make 5.4 years of growth.
We know that welcoming schools and classrooms, where students’ language, culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, unique abilities, etc. are viewed as assets rather than deficits, are foundational to their success. The month of February offers opportunities to reinforce this commitment across the district and in our schools:
- Black History Month – February
- National African American Parent Involvement Day – Feb. 12
In addition, the Seattle Education Association and educators have come together to organize and participate in the nationwide Black Lives Matter at School week, Feb. 5-9. A working group of educators and community partners has developed supplementary lessons for use during the week. You may view the teaching guide, K-12 lessons and additional resources on the SEA website. Overall, the lessons aim to:
- Reflect the experiences of students, families and friends
- Help students understand inequities based on race
- Affirm that the lives of people of color matter
- Promote the belief that we all have a responsibility to work for equity as a core ideal
Participation of educators and schools in this week is voluntary, so please check with your student’s school regarding their level of participation and for ways to get involved. You can also read about district’s race and equity initiatives in a recent Eliminating Opportunity Gaps/Ensuring Opportunities for Greatness (EOG) article.
Together, we are building an education system that uplifts and affirms every student – ensuring our collective commitment to educational excellence is realized. We invite you to join us in this commitment.