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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 9, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Federal government looks into Seattle schools’ treatment of black students

Civics education serves all students

While race bias in schools is a persistent national scourge, we can thwart this problem where it lives — in the daily crucible of each classroom [“Feds probing district’s treatment of black kids,” page one, March 6].

Civics education is the silver bullet. It improves academic achievement for black students, minimizes unacceptable behavior and makes scarce ugly, racially charged conflict between students and teachers.

When at-risk youth study civics-embedded lessons, they find relevance, empowerment and increased classroom success. Self-esteem grows and disciplinary issues shrink. When lessons lack relevance, grades plummet, frustrations rise and trouble trails ominously. Academic disappointment exacerbated by racial tensions easily leads to explosive behavior.

After 23 years of teaching in Seattle, I’ve seen thousands of low-income black students flourish in classes where teachers frame rigorous lessons within civics contexts. In 2011, successful students like these presented the yet-to-be-adopted Civics for All Initiative to the School Board.

The initiative will fracture the school-to-prison pipeline because all students will be too busy preparing for, say, their biology class’s evolution-versus-creationism debate,their math class’s ethical analysis of marginal tax rates or their history class’s research on race and education.

Would you risk missing these classes just to act the fool?

Neither would our city’s 49,500 young scholars!

–Web Hutchins, Seattle

Change of perspective needed

We readers are lucky to have Jerry Large. His columns are consistently levelheaded and informative. They are an antidote to the bad news that usually slams us in the face every morning.

Large’s column on so-called “discipline” in schools is a beautiful example of the power of his approach [“Time out for a lesson in school discipline,” NWThursday, March 7]. He minces no words: “What we need is corrective education, not dumb discipline.”

He calls to mind the truth that it is how we see other people that determines how we treat them. We need to change our perspective. We need to regard every person as whole, and worthy and deserving of our full attention, free from our preconceptions and projections. Before we discipline somebody else, we need to educate ourselves about ourselves.

–Paul Niebanck, Seattle

0 Comments | More in Education, Race, Seattle | Topics: Seattle Public Schools

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