ICYMI: We hosted the "State of Black Student Genius | A Virtual Community Conference on Liberated Education.", elevating the need for pro-Black and Black-centric education.
Panelists included key leaders focused on Black achievement, including Dr. Brent Jones Ph. D, New Seattle Public Schools Superintendent; SPS Board Director Brandon Hersey; Baillone Coleman of Rainier Valley Leadership Academy; Community Queen and King County Equity Now Chief of Staff Emijah Smith; and more. Watch the full conference here.
Read a few of our obtainable, actionable and necessary Black youth-led solutions towards Black equitable education now below:
- Community Schools
- Restorative Justice
- Black Studies and Ethnic Studies
- More Black teachers
- Anti-Racists Professional Development
- Educator Accountability
- More Student Representation
- Youth Achievement Center
- Community Control of Schools
- Community of Control of Education Resources and Levy Funds.
More details below. In this era of mass incarceration, the school-to-prison-pipeline system is more invested in locking up youth than unlocking their minds. Our current education system uses harsh discipline policies that push Black students out of schools at disproportionate rates; denies Black students the right to learn about their culture and whitewashes the curriculum to exclude many of Black peoples' and other folks of color's struggles and contributions. Our education system pushes Black teachers out of schools in Seattle-King County, and across the country, and spends way more money on imprisoning people than on educating them.
The system's focus on punishment enables police to commit acts of violence against Black folks and communities on such a large scale. Garfield Ethnic Studies teacher Jesse Hagopian explains “The Seattle Police killed Seattle Public Schools mother Charleena Lyles in front of three of her children. I want the police budget to be used to heal those children—and all Black children—with trauma counseling in the schools, restorative justice, and a curriculum that teaches them about the long history of racism and the magnificent Black freedom struggle."
It is long past time for the City of Seattle to correct its misplaced spending priorities.
The City spends at least $409 million annually on the police. We know that a real approach to public safety would, instead, redirect those funds to nurses, counselors, school psychologists, Ethnic Studies, Black students, hiring more Black teachers, and other social programs to support our youth.
Seattle’s Mayor and Council must protect, expand investments to make our communities safe, prioritizing community-led public health and safety strategies.
"It’s time we rethink the role of police in our community and the effect they have on harm reduction and growth as opposed to black educators, counselors, and psychologists. Rather than allocating resources to further militarize the police, we want to fund community-run programs to support BIPOC youth," said Garfield BSU Senator and Black Education Activist, Bethel Getu.
This includes full access to youth mentorship programs, affordable housing, community-based anti-violence programs, trauma services and treatment, universal childcare, and more.
YOUTH-LED SOLUTIONS FOR BLACK EDUCATION:
1. Community Schools Now!
The City of Seattle and Martin Luther King Jr. County must reinvest funding from its criminal legal budget and into funds for Community Schools, at every school servicing 70% or more students on free and reduced lunch. Funding for Community Schools must provide health care, eye care, social and emotional services. In addition, these schools must provide and free, healthy, and culturally relevant meals. Services must be available before, during, and after school, and year-round to the full community. Funding must include a Community School Coordinator to facilitate the development and implementation of the community schools' strategic plan in collaboration with school and parents/community members/partners and to ensure alignment of solutions and needs.
2. Restorative Justice Now!
The City of Seattle and Martin Luther King County must pay for a restorative justice counselor in every school and the creation of a parent/youth/community restorative justice council at every school. The restorative justice council would join peace circles to mediate conflicts in the school, review school discipline data, and help create strategic goals for community building and healing centered education. This council would facilitate a restorative process both between students, and between students and educators.
3. Black Studies and Ethnic Studies Now!
The Seattle Public Schools, with financial support from the City of Seattle, must fully fund Ethnic Studies—including a Black Studies course—at every school, Kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition, Financial Literacy and LifeSkills must be taught in our schools to empower BIPOC students. Black Studies and Ethnic Studies must become a graduation requirement.
4. Hire Black Teachers Now!
Local colleges, Seattle Public Schools, and the office of the Washington State Superintendent for Public instruction must convene a "Black Teachers Now" task force to hire and retain more Black teachers. The City of Seattle and Martin Luther King Jr. County must reallocate funds from the legal system towards providing affordable housing for Black teachers to live and thrive in place.
5. Anti-racist Professional Development Now!
The Seattle Public Schools must implement a robust anti-racist professional development course required for all educators—i.e., including teachers, admin, nurses, paraprofessionals, librarians, and office professionals. This course would not be a one-time training, but instead, provide ongoing trainings throughout the school year and educators’ careers. This course should include antiracist historical lessons, pedagogical methods, assessment strategies, and identity self-exploration to learn how to effectively teach for Black lives. Training would also address the that institutional racism and racialized anger bias has led educators to disproportionately—and violently—call 911 on Black children, and provide alternative strategies for healing centered de-escalation and community building.
6. Accountability Now!
Educators, administrators, security, and staff that physically abuse a student must be held accountable. Too often, school systems cover-up or dismiss instances of abuse in the schools—especially abuses perpetrated against a Black student. Any school staff reported to have physically abused a student should be suspended immediately pending an investigation. Such staff must submit to restorative justice practices and procedures. Accountability for abuse may include immediate firing for staff and for any school district official who removes evidence of abuse from an educator or administrator’s file as well.
7. Student Representation Now!
The Seattle School board must add at least two BIPOC high school student representatives to its board. In addition, the Seattle School Board needs to meet monthly with representatives from local youth organizations that serve BIPOC students, e.g., NAACP Youth Council, Africatown Center for Education & Innovation, African American Male Student Leadership Council, Black and Brown Minds Matter, United Better Thinking, Black Student Unions, youth in the Community Passageways and Creative Justice programs, among others.
8. Youth Achievement Center Now!
The City of Seattle and Martin Luther King Jr. County must allocate funds to support the creation of the Youth Achievement Center—a holistic co-housing complex that is designed to support homeless students, students historically underserved, and system involving youth. This co-housing facility would provide housing, culturally relevant food, freedom educational programming, tutoring services, mentoring classes, trauma counseling, college and career counseling, and other supports.
9. Community Control of Schools Now!
African American Academy and Horace Mann Building: Work with the Black community to develop interventions and programs that specifically address Black children’s unique experiences. Fulfill the commitment to Africatown Center for Education & Innovation to return to Horace Mann to address the ongoing state of emergency for Black students in Seattle Public Schools. Restore African American Academy under community control to implement the necessary education solutions. Implement recommendations from the African American Task Force, Equity Race Advisory Committee of Seattle Public School, African American Males Advisory Committee, etc.
10. Community Control of Education Resources and Levy Funds Now!
Community Control over resources that are intended to impact our lives such as the Education Levy funds. Far too often, data about the state of emergency for the Black community is used to receive financial resources, yet the Black community itself does not receive such funding to address the issues within community. Far too often, such resources are given to white-led organizations to lead the work—we’ve seen millions funneled into the non-profit industrial complex to largely white-led organizations and yet we’ve seen no improvements for decades. The Black community has the expertise, know-how, cultural competency, insight and plan to service its education and community needs. We demand control of our education resources now!
Black Education Rally Demands Funding for Anti-Racist Community Based Schooling
Read on to learn about the Black education rally in South Seattle where Black youth, community leaders and organizers uplifted youth-led education demands.
KCEN’s Emijah Smith Demands Black Education Now!
For Seattle area Black Education Advocate Emijah Smith, the start of school is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done. Smith who is an education expert with King County Equity Now (KCEN) and a parent with a student in Seattle Public Schools points to what has been chronic and systemic failures of Black students in Seattle Public Schools over the past few decades as the core motivation for her work.