In schools and on the field, equity is an investment in righting wrongs

In schools and on the field, equity is an investment in righting wrongs

By Erin Jones

As a former high-level athlete...

As someone who came to the United States in 1989 with the dream of someday playing for the national soccer team (I was good but never that good)...

As someone who tried out for 2 WNBA teams in 2000 and learned that non-drafted players typically were paid $20-$30,000/year (about the same as what I made as a starting teacher)...

As someone who has known players in both the NFL and NBA...

The issue of pay for female athletes has been on my mind for a long time.

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Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

Twelve candidates have applied to represent District 7 on the Seattle School Board. Here's what we know so far ⁠— and what to watch for.

Over the weekend, the Seattle School Board finally released the applications of the 12 Southeast Seattle residents who filed to replace Betty Patu on the board. The District 7 seat, which Patu held for 10 years, was vacated July 1 and will be filled when the six remaining board members cast votes for their preferred applicant at the Aug. 14 board meeting.

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If July 4 celebrates the American dream, let July 5 remind us to always seek to be better

If July 4 celebrates the American dream, let July 5 remind us to always seek to be better

I didn’t post anything yesterday for a reason...

I was not trying to dampen anyone’s celebration of the 4th or offend anyone on a day that has become set aside as “holy” by some in this nation. However, that being said, independence is not something I celebrate on the 4th.

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Dear Leslie Harris... I wrote you a song.

Dear Leslie Harris... I wrote you a song.

Leslie Harris is the president of the Seattle School Board, and she will preside over an important decision this summer as the board appoints a new representative for District 7 in southeast Seattle. Here Matt Halvorson asks for a transparent, inclusive process... in song!

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Liberating Structures: Why Black Male Educators Leave the Field (part 1)

Liberating Structures: Why Black Male Educators Leave the Field (part 1)

The structures and systems are shackles. We have to remind ourselves that we the people are the system. Our participation keeps the gears turning.

It’s time we break the shackles!

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The portal is now open. Seattle, our time is at hand.

The portal is now open. Seattle, our time is at hand.

The portal is now open. Our time is at hand. 

It sounds like science fiction, but alas, the portal is online rather than interdimensional, and the opportunity we now face would allow us to completely revamp our school board before the end of the year.

So the machinations of the Seattle School Board might involve fewer lasers than you were hoping for, but it’s important nonetheless. 

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Betty Patu is resigning from the Seattle School Board. We're just asking for a legitimate, transparent process... (that results in appointing a champion for equity)

Betty Patu is resigning from the Seattle School Board. We're just asking for a legitimate, transparent process... (that results in appointing a champion for equity)

Betty Patu, our longtime school board director in Southeast Seattle, will resign her position at the end of the month, but the timing of her announcement has cast doubt on the integrity of the entire process.

Patu announced her resignation at the May 15 school board meeting, which wouldn’t be remarkable except that if the announcement had come three days earlier, her replacement would have been elected by voters.

As it is, the school board will take applications from the public, and the board will have the final say in appointing Patu’s replacement.

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A quick thought about the Seattle School Board

This is the year, if there ever was one, to really change Seattle Public Schools. In addition to the four seats up for election this fall, two additional school board members in Seattle (Betty Patu and Zachary DeWolf) have announced their desire to resign this year and vacate their seats early.

The school board only has seven members to begin with. By the end of this year, we could essentially have a completely new school board. I've written more about this that I'll share tomorrow, but I just want to plant the seed for now.

Our school board has been a dysfunctional roadblock to change for too long. Imagine six new champions for equity filling these school board seats. Think of what's suddenly possible!

This is a rare opportunity. Let's make the most of it.

An outdated update on the Seattle School Board science curriculum debacle

An outdated update on the Seattle School Board science curriculum debacle

Above all, if we don't know what impact this will have on marginalized communities in the district, then we need to find out. If we're serious about wanting to close the opportunity gap, then the first and most important question we need to ask about every single decision concerning our students and our schools is what impact it will have on Black students. What impact will this have on low-income families in Seattle? What impact will this have on Seattle Public Schools’ indigenous students? What impact will this have on the kids we talk about wanting to uplift?

If our outcomes are ever going to change, then our decision-making processes have to change. Otherwise, we will continue to end up in the same places again and again and again.

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Stephan Blanford: Seattle students, lagging behind other districts, deserve a new science curriculum

Stephan Blanford: Seattle students, lagging behind other districts, deserve a new science curriculum

Our kids deserve better. They deserve a school board and a community that prioritizes “students furthest from educational justice.” The school board can show it is serious about its values by approving the recommended science curriculum.

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Washington is now the first state to pass 'mandatory acceleration' legislation

From a press release written by Katie Gustainis, Marketing and Communications Director with Stand for Children Washington:

Washington State is now the first state in the country to adopt an automatic enrollment policy for advanced math, English, and science classes in all high schools. The policy, also known as Academic Acceleration, is designed to reduce historic barriers to dual credit and advanced class enrollment, especially for underrepresented students. In addition to reducing enrollment disparities in advanced courses, the attainment of college-level credit in high school also reduces financial barriers for post-secondary opportunities.

“Stand for Children and our tireless advocates will continue to strengthen programs that work to lift more kids toward bright, successful futures,” said Libuse Binder, Executive Director at Stand for Children Washington, a longtime champion of the policy and legislation. “If students are qualified for advanced coursework, we expect to see them challenged and ultimately surpassing every indicator of student success.”

The policy was included as part of HB 1599 (section 502, page 49) in an amendment introduced by Senator Mark Mullet, passed by the state legislature on April 22 and was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on May 7, 2019. School districts have until the 2021-22 school year to implement the policy, and the law also allows families to opt their student out of the advanced classes if desired.

The 2019-2021 biennium budget passed by the Washington State Legislature includes funding to provide for dual credit programs including subsidized Advanced Placement exam fees and International Baccalaureate class fees and exam fees for low-income students.

Stand for Children Washington, a bipartisan education advocacy organization, championed the legislation as partners in the High School Success Coalition along with Black Education Strategy Roundtable, College Success Foundation, Graduate Tacoma, Treehouse, and Washington Roundtable.

What is Academic Acceleration?

Academic Acceleration is a process where students who meet standard on state-level exams are automatically placed into the next most rigorous course in the matching content area(s). As of 2018, at least 50 school districts in Washington have already implemented the policy and a majority have improved the equity of advanced classes by enrolling more historically underserved students (Stand for Children analysis of OSPI data, 2018). The program seeks to rectify historic bias that has limited access for students of color and other underserved groups to advanced education options.

Research on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual enrollment programs (partnerships between high schools and colleges) show that advanced, college-credit earning programs increase students’ likelihood to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and to perform better in college. There is also evidence that these effects are particularly profound for low-income students and students of color (see references).

 

Policy has Roots in Federal Way and Tacoma School Districts, 2013 Legislation

The commitment to ensuring equitable opportunities in advanced coursework in Washington  was pioneered by Federal Way Public Schools - the state’s 9th largest district - when its school board implemented an Academic Acceleration policy in 2010-11. The district saw a dramatic rise in enrollment of advanced classes with a notable increase for students of color. According to 2019 data, passing rates for advanced classes at Federal Way are at 92% and all racial subgroups are passing at rates of 87% or higher.

"I saw the dramatic benefits of academic acceleration firsthand when the policy was instituted while serving on the Federal Way School Board in 2011, and those benefits, particularly for  scholars of color, have continued,” said Sen. Claire Wilson of the 30th legislative district, vice-chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “It surpasses my greatest hopes for my first year as a lawmaker that this opportunity-gap-closing strategy will be available to all students in school districts across our state. Equitable access to academic acceleration is a fundamental, essential investment that enables more scholars, particularly those from communities of color, to fulfill their potential and thrive in the diverse communities to whom we look for new generations of scholars and leaders.”

Sen. Wilson was also the co-sponsor of the Academic Acceleration policy’s original legislative vehicle, SB 5343.

Inspired by the success in Federal Way, in 2013 the Washington State Legislature passed HB 1642, championed by Stand for Children - Washington, which established the Academic Acceleration Incentive Program to encourage adoption of the policy with grants for school districts. As recently as 2016-17, school districts who received the grant and implemented the policy saw significant gains in enrollment by students of historically underrepresented populations (OSPI, 2018).

"Every kid deserves to know they are capable of tackling any challenge and that they are worthy of the opportunity to try,” said Rep. Eric Pettigrew of the 37th district in South Seattle, the prime sponsor of the 2013 bill. “After six years of pursuing this policy, I’m so proud of this outcome and everyone that helped us get there.”

Tacoma Public Schools — the state’s fourth largest district — followed Federal Way’s lead in 2014-15 and has similarly seen dramatic increases in enrollment across all student groups. Enrollment in advanced classes has doubled from 27.5% to 71.1% for all students since 2013 and tripled for historically underserved students of color from 19.5% to 60% (Tacoma Public Schools, 2019).

“We’ve seen huge results in Tacoma with more kids taking these classes and these exams. And that corresponds with more kids graduating. And as those numbers go up, we have to remember that each one of those numbers is a kid,” said Josh Garcia, Deputy Superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools and one of the original architects of the policy in Federal Way.

References: Advanced classes improve graduation rates and post-secondary enrollment

Linda Hargrove, Donn Godin, and Barbara Dodd, College Outcomes Comparisons by AP and Non-AP High School Experiences (New York: The College Board, 2008).

Chrys Dougherty, Lynn Mellor, and Shuling Jian, The Relationship Between Advanced Placement and College Graduation (Austin, Texas: National Center for Educational Accountability, 2006).

A. Berger et al., Early College, Early Success: Early College High School Initiative Impact Study (Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research, 2014);

Anna Rosefsky Saavedra, "The Academic Impact of Enrollment in International Baccalaureate Diploma Programs: A Case Study of Chicago Public Schools," Teachers College Record 116, no. 4 (2014);

Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics, Longitudinal Impact of the AP Experience Among Advance Kentucky Students (Frankfort, KY: Author, 2013);

What Works Clearinghouse, WWC Intervention Report: Dual Enrollment Programs (Washington, DC: US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, 2017).

 

Relevant Press on Academic Acceleration and Dual-Credit Programs

 

Stand for Children - Washington

Stand for Children - Washington is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under‑tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. To fulfill our mission, we organize parents and community members to speak up and demand excellent schools for their children. We work closely with state legislators to shape education policy and with school districts to implement programming that will benefit every kid. We ensure that the policies we fight for reach classrooms and directly support students by supporting school districts with guidance and tools to implement successful strategies.

We need to choose a middle school for our son. How do we make an informed decision?

We need to choose a middle school for our son. How do we make an informed decision?

In the Seattle area, choice is a privilege that not all families benefit from. Economic privilege is inextricably linked to school choice — school performance (as measured by assessment scores) correlates to median household income, so higher-performing schools tend to be in the higher-income areas of the city. And since school assignment is typically determined by area of residence, for those families with limited financial resources, the ability to choose a school that works for their children may be nonexistent.

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Seattle's kids desperately need strong candidates for school board this year. Are you one of them?

Seattle's kids desperately need strong candidates for school board this year. Are you one of them?

Critics of the current school board note that it spends too much time focused on issues that don’t improve student achievement and don’t resolve opportunity gaps. In fact, actions the board has taken in the past have made those gaps worse. And though it made an impressive hire, appointing Denise Juneau as superintendent last summer, it has also hampered her and the professional educators that she leads in addressing these issues.

So, could you do better?

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A Parable on Whiteness (from a Four-Year-Old)

A Parable on Whiteness (from a Four-Year-Old)

One evening, sitting on the floor in our hotel room in Oakland, Zeke started drumming on a plastic cup.

“This song is about a town where everything is white,” he told me after a few minutes. “White, white, white. Everything used to be rainbow colored, but something happened to turn it all white. Now they can’t tell what house is theirs. Everything looks the same.”

Then he sang for a while as he drummed.

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