Nov 18, 2014 - Policy VS Practice at Seattle Public Schools, Does it Make a Difference?
Press Release November 16, 2014
Urban Native Education Alliance
Policy VS Practice at Seattle Public Schools, Does it Make a Difference?
When American Indian/Alaska Native/First Nation learners continue to score 30-40% lower than that of their white peers on state standardized exams; 29.9% of Native American learners at SPS are identified for Special Education program; Native learners experience the highest drop-out rate beginning in the 7th grade with another spike in the 10th grade; and, approximately, 74% of Native American students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Wouldn’t you think implementation of policy and procedures would help Native American learners. I don’t know, the data doesn’t show it. These data have not changed for many years, maybe even decades, for SPS American Indian and Alaska Native learners…when is strategy going to affect all students at SPS.
Additional to this data, there is deep-seated racism in the Seattle Public School institution as seen through an authority figure, Ingraham Principal/Vice Principal, at Ingraham H.S running amok. The leadership at Ingraham is telling our Native American children and youth…no!, literally and silently. They say no, you may not have a school-wide assembly; no, you may not disapprove of our misrepresentation of American Indian ways; no, you may not speak out about our misunderstanding and misinterpretation, they turn the table and say we are aggressive and confusing; no, you may not display art that you identify with; no, I will not discuss it with you or your guardian/parent.
The SPS Policy, Ensuring Education and Racial Equity, was designed to be used during the decision making phase of any project as mentioned in SPS Five Year Strategy Plan, “In August 2012, the Seattle School Board adopted School Board Policy No. 0030, “Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity.” This historic and foundational policy serves as a guide for our collective efforts to close the opportunity gap and organize Seattle Public Schools to deliver on our promise to ensure all students are prepared for success in college, career and life.” Policy N0. 0030 is meant to be used at decision points to assure educational and racial equity whether it is about designating resources or accepting curriculum. However, it seems business as usual at SPS schools. And using the meager Title VII funding to implement “Since Time Immemorial” curriculum and overburden the SPS Indian Education program is not okay.
The SPS Five Year Strategic Plan addresses the need to incorporate cultural responsiveness and equity but if Policy No. 0030 has a tool that could be a lens to review strategic decision making and is not used, how is the SPS Strategic plan being implemented. A strategy for attaining goal one of the SPS 5 Year Strategic Plan is, “Elevate professional practice by investing in effective, culturally responsive teachers, staff and leaders” Ingraham High School seems to be unaware of this strategy or they choose not to implement this strategy. This is a strategy for attaining goal two of the SPS Strategic Plan, “Adopt a sustainable annual budget aligned with district goals in a manner that assures an equitable distribution of resources that prioritizes the needs of students” When does this strategy get implemented…will this strategy get implemented only after AP students have been accommodated first? This is one of the strategies for the last goal in the SPS Strategic Plan, “Ensure each school’s culture promotes equitable outcomes in student learning through a welcoming, supportive, safe and healthy environment” Ingraham High School is failing in all three strategies for this goal, when is SPS or Ingraham HS going to implement this plan or is it merely a document for show.
The City of Seattle and SPS recently passed an historic resolution, “Indigenous Peoples Day.” “The school board has a responsibility to oppose “systematic racism toward indigenous people” which “perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education and social crises,” the resolution states. The school board “seeks to combat prejudice, eliminate discrimination and institutionalized racism, and to promote awareness, understanding, and good relations among Indigenous Peoples and all other segments of our district.”
The resolution promotes closing the equity gap for Indigenous Peoples, [though it hardly touches the gap in real life application] “through policies and practices that reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, ensure greater access and opportunity, and honor our nation’s indigenous roots, history and contributions.” It strongly encourages district staff to include the teaching of the history, culture and governments of the indigenous peoples of the state.” (11/16/2014, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/07/columbus-day-out-seattle-public-schools-indigenous-peoples-day-157224)
We are so thankful for the many sacrifices and suffering of the original people of this state and our ancestors throughout this great nation so that we may be here today to speak about the iniquities that continue to plague our children’s and youth’s access and opportunities to equitable education, involvement, acknowledgement, voice, and leadership. Therefore, we plan to meet at SPS school board on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm to bring these inequities to light. Please join us in peaceful rally, Native American youth presentation, and testimony to raise awareness of the ongoing issues that plague our American Indian/Alaska Native/First Nation children and youth.