Our city’s history of racial segregation via redlining is well-documented. But Seattle’s present-day race divide, most visible in its schools, goes less discussed.
Not so during a discussion on “Race, Class and Education” that I took part in on Wednesday night. In politically correct Seattle, the gloves came off.
Sponsored by Humanities Washington, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering conversation about culture and community, the talk took place at the Royal Room in Columbia City, the heart of rapidly gentrifying South Seattle.
I anticipated an audience full of parents wanting to discuss South End schools. But it was mostly teachers. And they had plenty to say.
For instance: Affluent parents who talk about equity in public education don’t really want it. They may like the way it sounds, but won’t embrace the hard fact of what it means to treat all students equally.
“It’s easy enough for everyone to say I’m down for equality,” observed my co-panelist Wayne Au, a former school teacher and now professor of education at the University of Washington, Bothell. “But when it comes to, say, de-tracking ninth-grade English, they go, ‘Wait a minute, you’re going to take away the honors program? Is that going to mess up my kid’s chance to get into Brown?’”More