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February 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM
I get the frustration. I feel it everyday as I pore over the mounds of public education data crossing my desk. State and local school district audits. Surveys, studies and statistical analyses of the thousands of programs in public education. The latest results from the standardized test of the moment. Collectively, the news is always sobering. Student performance is up in our state, but gains are incremental and hard-won. The news is worse for low-income kids, most of whom are of color.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores from the National Center of Education Statistics charts the growing gap in core subject areas. The University of Washington analzyed college matriculation data to understand the extend of the college completion gap. A small group of committed indviduals has been trying to push a conversation around disproportionality in school discipline rates. The Seattle Public School’s own study showed minority students being disciplined more frequently and more harshly than white kids even for the same infractions. I’ve written about this, most recently calling for a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.
There is no shortage of serious problems standing in the way of the an equal educational opportunity.
Unfortunately, only a few issues will gain traction in the arena of public policy, even fewer will garner the kind of solution-oriented support that will actually make a difference. The problems that we choose to make our stake in the ground – or as my grandmother would say, “pointing to the hill I’m prepared to die on” – says a lot about what Seattle values, and who.