Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Leader for the Children of Seattle

There was a time when schools were primarily about children, now we are faced with public school systems across America that are primarily places of employment for adults. They have evolved from learning centers to employment centers. It is much easier for a an adult to derail the successful school career of a child than it is to derail the career of a school employee.

This is wrong and we need a change. 

Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Education (CE3)
Is a gathering of African American and Africans focused right now on Seattle Schools hiring a Superintendent that is capable of leading Washington's largest school district. The past 25 years has been terrible for the well being of African American students as scholars.  Policies, funding, curriculum, and methodology have worked against poor, brown and black children for too long. They need a champion, a Superintendent who will change the status quo of adult focused education and put the focus where it belongs, back on the children. 

We are pleased to have three African Americans positioned on the Seattle Superintendent Search Committee; Mona Bailey,  Kevin Washington and Wanda Hackett as an alternate.  All are connected to our community Kevin is Education Chair for Tabor 100, and Mona retired from Seattle Schools as Deputy Superintendent and is a Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Wanda is Education Co-Chair for Seattle/King County Black Child Development Institute. All have shared in establishing the characteristics that we see as good for our children. We thank them for volunteering their knowledge, skill, and experience for the good of our children.

Teams of CE3  participants are meeting with School Directors to assure that they understand the importance of a School Superintendent who can bring equity and excellence to African American students. African American and African students make up the largest non white student population in Seattle schools (19.2%) So far we have met with Betty Patu, Susan Carr, Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee to brief them on what we think is important in a superintendent who can bring equity and excellence to a student population that is diverse. We have a focused and special interest in one who has elevated the education for African Americans and African, or a non white, non privileged population of students left to linger at the bottom of the achievement ladder. There are clear differences between them and we think we have found a few  School Directors who are clear in their thinking about closing the achievement gap that places African American and African students at the bottom of outcomes. 

The Issue of Literacy
I have attached one outcome measure that I would like all African Americans and Africans in Seattle to know and see as an opportunity for community to make a difference. 
You might have heard that if a child can not read at grade level by 4th grade their chances of entering the juvenile justice and subsequently the adult corrections systems are increased. The longer they go without adequate literacy the the chances are greater. So If you will take a look at this outcome measure for Seattle's African American students you will see that 47% or 282 of African American 3rd graders are not reading at grade level. of these 120 are well below grade level. The amount of funding directed at getting children to standard is quite significant. 

What if the African American community received these funds for enriched learning that is being given to those outside of our community?  I believe that as a community we could teach 282  8 and 9 year olds how to read and read well. Also how to add, multiply an divide.  Of our We Can. More about an idea for this is in my next blog. 

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