How Do We Create Spaces for Healing as Educators of Color?

How Do We Create Spaces for Healing as Educators of Color?

Education tends to make the most rational people seem crazy. So, it begs the question, how do we heal in these sick environments? My go-to answer is to typically just burn it all down and start anew, but we know that those efforts usually just end up looking like a new emperor in the same old clothes.

So, where does our healing come from?

Marcus Harden writes about the importance of acknowledging the hurt that has been caused by systems of oppression -- and the equal importance of finding healing for the students and often-overlooked educators who bear the deepest wounds.

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Combatting ‘Passive Progressiveness’ in Seattle Public Schools

Combatting ‘Passive Progressiveness’ in Seattle Public Schools

A couple years ago, near the end of my term on the Seattle School Board, I used the term, “passive progressivism” to answer a question about why our racial achievement gaps actually got larger every year of my board service. I noted that nearly every person I engaged with while campaigning strongly agreed with my platform, but once in office, I faced stiff resistance from many of these same stakeholders, anytime we were grappling with a racial equity issue.

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Brandon Hersey is our new school board rep in Southeast Seattle

Brandon Hersey is our new school board rep in Southeast Seattle

The Seattle School Board appointed Brandon Hersey as the new representative for District VII in Southeast Seattle.

Whether or not Hersey was a good choice, what I expected to happen is exactly what ended up happening: rather than listening to the people, the board chose the candidate they wanted. In other words, the candidate who would have been elected was not the candidate who was chosen. That’s tough to grapple with.

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Catching systemic racism in the act in Seattle Public Schools

Catching systemic racism in the act in Seattle Public Schools

Systemic racism is often hard to see in action.

It’s easy to look back and wonder, how did we get here? How do we have such deep-rooted opportunity gaps in our schools? How do we have so few Black teachers? How can there be such a thing as a “school-to-prison” pipeline? How do we have so few women of color in positions of elected leadership?

These systemic issues are not necessarily carried out by people of malicious intent. They are carried out by all of us every day as we make seemingly reasonable decisions, and through polices and processes that masquerade as neutral.

We are in the eleventh hour of one such process, but it’s not too late! Today — this very evening — we have a chance to catch the system in the act. So let’s do it.

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Shedding new light on the final three candidates for the District VII School Board position in Seattle

Shedding new light on the final three candidates for the District VII School Board position in Seattle

The Seattle School Board will announce its collective choice tomorrow for the Southeast Seattle district representative on the board. As a reminder, Director Betty Patu, who served in that role for the last 10 years, announced her resignation on May 15, a few days after a deadline that would have allowed the District 7 voters to choose her replacement. Instead, the remaining six school board directors then devised a process to solicit applications from interested district residents, and were wowed to receive 13 applications for what is widely known as “the most thankless job in Seattle.”

Through a series of applicant statements and public forums, we have learned much about the 13 applicants and now, the three finalists for the position. But through telephone interviews with each of the applicants, I sought to shed a bit more light on their qualifications, their priorities and to pose a few relevant questions that I have not yet heard asked.

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Three good candidates, but one clear choice to represent District VII

Three good candidates, but one clear choice to represent District VII

If you’re reading this, you probably know: Betty Patu resigned. It’s true.

You probably know that Betty Patu was the school board director for southeast Seattle (District VII) for a long time.

You may even know that the remaining six Seattle Public Schools board directors now have to appoint Betty’s replacement, which means we southeast Seattle residents will have our school board director chosen without our direct input.

Tonight is the final candidate forum, and we’re hearing from the final three candidates: Julie Van Arcken, a local education advocate who quit her job to run for this school board appointment, and I’m not sure what that job was; Brandon Hersey, a teacher in Federal Way Public Schools and a District VII resident; and Emijah Smith, a community and non-profit leader and longtime pillar of the South Seattle community.

So, I’m sitting in the audience at Rainier Beach High School, and I’m going to try something new. I’m just going to write about what’s happening as it’s happening. And about what I think about what’s happening, obviously. And this way, we’ve got pretty much no filter, which ought to be interesting. And very little editing, so beware.

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As we begin another new school year, what are your hopes and fears for the children in your life?

As we begin another new school year, what are your hopes and fears for the children in your life?

The past couple years have been full of change. Nothing if not exciting — and exhausting — we welcomed our second new baby in less than 13 months this summer. Our house and our lives are in general chaos most of the time.

And so, it was with relatively little fanfare that we sent the two older boys back to school this week. What are your hopes for the children in your life as they embark on a new school chapter? What are your fears? What is on your mind in the first fresh days of this new school year?

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With this many good applicants to represent District VII, who will the Seattle School Board choose? And how will they decide?

With this many good applicants to represent District VII, who will the Seattle School Board choose? And how will they decide?

This unusual appointment process presents a quandary for the six sitting board directors, who were all in attendance at the forum. Patu announced her departure just before the elections deadline, effectively blocking District 7 voters from choosing her successor. Instead, the six school board directors, and not the Southeast Seattle community, will choose who represents the district on the school board for the remaining 2 years and 3 months of her term.

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Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

Let’s meet the candidates for Seattle’s District VII school board position

I’m thrilled with the depth of this candidate pool and impressed with every candidate’s passion and good intentions. They are standing before us volunteering their time and souls to service on the school board. And they’re opening themselves up to everything that comes along with that process, including being considered by people like me who have thoughts and opinions. But the fact also remains that we have to choose one person, and that we don’t get to just take the whole field.

So, as we seek an equity champion, a change-maker with an unshakable sense of urgency and possibility and love, a hero with an understanding of the relationship between systemic oppression and public education, here are my first impressions of the candidates — my takeaways from the District VII Candidate Forum. I look forward to seeing how tonight’s forum at RBHS shapes my thinking even further.

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Black Male Educators: The Endgame

Black Male Educators: The Endgame

Teachers as a whole are vastly underpaid, Black male educators are often in unsupportive environments, and the profession isn’t promoted (or respected) as a viable option in the canon of “careers.” 

So why stay? How do we ask others to come? What are the conditions we can create, right where we are to make this seismic shift? Here are seven reasons that I’ve come up with (feel free to add more!)…

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Guest Post: "Stop feeding the school-to-prison pipeline with expulsions," by Rebeca Muñiz

Guest Post: "Stop feeding the school-to-prison pipeline with expulsions," by Rebeca Muñiz

Rebeca Muñiz is a candidate for Seattle School Board District 3. She holds a Masters in Education Policy and Leadership from the University of Washington. During her time at UW, she conducted research on the Seattle Public Schools racial equity teams, which informed her understanding of systemic disparities in schools and ways we can address it. Rebeca now serves as a volunteer with One America and the Gender Justice League.

Learn more about Rebeca’s campaign at www.ElectMuniz.com.

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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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