Undoing racism in SPS

I was moved to write this letter to Phyllis Campano, President of the Seattle Education Association, after reading her comments in today’s (7/9/16) Seattle Times Education Lab.

Dear Phyllis,

I am so pleased that Garfield teachers are pushing to end tracking. This is incredibly important leadership; it can help parents of our gifted/tracked students (I have been one of these) to own the inequity of the system. However, I was disappointed that you were quoted as saying, “We can’t wait for the district to move on this…” The implication is that the district is not making enough effort.

As you well know, the Seattle School District has done a tremendous amount to put the spotlight on the issue of structural racism in SPS, and to support positive change. Until teachers and/or parents commit to dismantling structural and institutional racism in our deeply segregated school system, we’ll be crawling towards equity. Teachers are in a unique position to catalyze much faster change.

I wish you had emphasized that it’s a collective responsibility for everyone in our community to get on board. IMO, you should have said, “The district is acknowledging structural racism and pushing to dismantle it, and now we teachers can and must take leadership to make this change happen in our classrooms.