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March 8, 2013 at 6:30 AM
In a word: How does Seattle Public Schools treat minority schoolchildren?
A federal investigation into why the Seattle Public Schools discplines African American students more often, and more harshly should spur more, rather than less, debate about race. Compelling charts here should inspire cogent response, not finger-pointing or racist accusations.
And why are district officials suffering heart burn over the “Citizenship and Social Justice” class at the Center School? After a parent complained, the district’s Human Resources Department launched an investigation and convened an ad hoc committee to examine the curriculum. The class continues, but if you’re the teacher, you’ve got to be feeling uneasy. Actually, teacher Jon Greenberg, seems more fighting mad than angry. In a widely distributed letter, he wrote:
“While I’ve been accused of facilitating lessons on race that disrupt the learning environment, I’ve never seen the Center School learning environment more disrupted in its 12-year history than it has been in the wake of Superintendent José Banda’s letter ordering me to cease the race and gender units while the curriculum is under review. While this white family is claiming that the student felt intolerable discomfort, students of color leave the Center School every year, often citing that our school culture is both isolating and alienating to them because of their race. Many of those who stick it out do so despite the racial discomfort felt on a daily basis. But I see no complaint filed on the behalf of these students. And would it be taken seriously if it were? ”
For a city so arrogant about its progressive values, Seattle is as awkward about race as a preteen talking about sex. As I wrote in my Friday column, conversations about how different ethnic groups have been treated both historically and today are happening in households, including mine, all of the time. These conversations should not make us feel guilty or victimized, it should make us better informed thinkers.
In one word, how do you feel public schools treat students of color, either your own children or minority students that you know? I’ll start with a few: Gingerly. Awkwardly. Sometimes sincerely.
Share your word in the cloud below.