Friday, January 24, 2014

Parents for Student Success January 2014 Report to Community

January 25, 2014

We have been busy, organizing and accomplishing, and we are only three weeks into the Month.

Mayor Ed Murray Transition Advisory Committee
I, am honored to have been selected by Mayor Ed Murray to be one of 43 people to be his advisor during his first year in office.

We have a Mayor who has likewise organized and worked hard for equal rights and won the battle but the real victory of complete social and economic justice is still beyond us. He is not through and neither are we. African Americans and the LGBT populations must form a strong union if we are to bring Seattle into a model for greatness.

We can chart new courses for Seattle. We can make it a beacon of social and economic equality. And we can create the kind of alliances that will make it happen. But, it will not be easy. It requires, strategic planning, political will, and focused hard work toward the intended goal. That is my commitment to Mayor Murray during this year as an advisory and throughout the four years of his first term. Along the way we will evaluate, what is working, what is not, we will measure the growth of capacity and engagement. We will have high expectation for changes where needed for all. We will inform and be informed, find the brightest among us to guide the change. A kickoff to the new ways of our being engaged and respected is our coming together in collective action.

The African American African Gathering 

This was the first of what will be an annual event. TAAAG 2014, This first TAAAG was convened by Dawn Mason and Mohamad Sheik Mohamad to allow the newly elected Seattle Mayor, Ed Murray and other decision makers; Seattle Council Member Mike O'Brien, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, Seattle School Supt. Jose Banda, School Board President, Sharon Peaslee, SPD Chief Harry Bailey, and LGBT Commissioner NaaSira Adeeba, an opportunity to listen to the African American and African Diasporan population. The expected diversity of black Seattle residents attended and filled the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute theater. We were presented with innovative, and action oriented models for solutions to education, economic development, community development, accountability of human services, and technology access. 

This was an opportunity for us to hear a wonderful mix of age, issues and voices. A different coming together of our many brilliant African Americans was refreshing. Dr. Renee McCoy was the perfect moderator.  The Presenters; Elmer Dixon, Marcelas and Monique Owens, Erin Jones, Evelyn Allen, Wyking Garrett, Royal Alley-Barnes, Felix Nogoussou, Zithri Ahmed Saleem, Karen Toering, and Lola Peters.

There were several good outcomes, including; When what is being discussed is inclusive and respectful of us, we will be engaged, we must leverage our relationships, time and resources in strategic ways. Any who speak in the name of African Americans or receive funds in our name will be asked to inform us, build capacity with us, solve problems, not just manage them. The Mayor wants equity for African Americans, improved experiences and we agree to do our share of the work in a collective, self determined and strategic way to bring into being replicable models that are are transforming. 

We were quite pleased that Mayor Murray embraced Africatown Central District as the historical and cultural hub for African Americans in Seattle. The Mayor did not reject our plan to secure the surplussed Fire Station at 23rd and Jackson as an anchor for innovation, economic development Colaboratorium Center. 

There is follow up work to do that can engage all of us. All were invited to do that work, moving forward in ways different than those that have us educationally and economically stagnant in a technology fueled, economic growth region. We have our work to do and so do others who have to see inclusion to that makes Seattle diverse in reality, and as Mayor Murray said,  "not look like Western Europe."

Documented and Aired for Public ViewDocumenting the African American community for historical purposes is important to sustainable progress. We often repeat what does not work because we did not know that it doesn't work and then overlook great models, because again we did not know. With modern communication, self publishing, online research, and being in the the most technically literate region of the world, there is scant reason to not be informing and to be informed and knowledgeable. Zithri's presentation speaks to this and innovative models of shrinking the technical divide will be in our future. Our children will write, publish, and so will their parents. Texting is fine, but we will not be tricked into having 164 characters define our experiences or document our contributions. So, yes, please keep reading.

Seattle Channel 21,  taped the entire 2 hour event, and it will air several times:
There will be a test. And I am told that Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim has made it mandatory viewing for the Mayor's Administrative Staff. So if they have to know what we want, we must know. 

This is the link for the online version of the video by Seattle Channel 21. Or you can watch it on TV during these scheduled times.
Upcoming Broadcast Times:
  Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:00 p.m.
  Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:00 a.m.
  Thursday, January 30, 2014 9:30 a.m.
  Friday, January 31, 2014 9:00 a.m.
  Friday, January 31, 2014 3:00 p.m.
  Saturday, February 01, 2014 2:00 a.m.
  Saturday, February 01, 2014 2:00 p.m.
  Sunday, February 02, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Seattle Police Chief, Dept of Justice and Police Search
Mayor Ed Murray introduced newly appointed Police Chief Harry Bailey. He says that he wonders why given the excellent local and national respect Harry, that it took him the First Gay Mayor to hire the First Black Police Chief. Chief Bailey came out of retirement to help Mayor Murray work with the Dept of Justice. An agreement has now been made President Barack Obama's DOJ to address biased policing based on race and other issues. This is an early win for African Americans and so many others with the Mayor Murray administration. Mayor Murray and Chief 
Bailey will put in place a Seattle Police Department that will attract the best candidates for the next Chief. Here is the schedule for community input to the process:

Here is the Community Workshop schedule:
6-8 p.m. 
6-8 p.m. 
6:30-8:30 p.m. 
West Seattle
12-2 p.m. 
South Seattle
6-8 p.m. 
North Seattle
6-8 p.m. 
6-8 p.m. 

Follow Through
The TAAAG 2014 planning team; Royal Alley-Barnes, Wyking Garrett, Lola Peters, Rahwa Habte, Anisa Hassan, and co-convenors. Dawn Mason and Mohamad Hassan will expand to include additional people for the Collective Action Strategy Team. 

Those who want to bring their energy and willingness to move in collective actin should let us know by sending contact to:


Education Priorities in the Legislature
Changing education for Seattle students and teachers, has its basis in the legislature. Education and economic self sufficiency and asset sharing are two toughest issues we have to turn around. Ed and I have worked on issues together in Olympia and our legislative experience and respect will allow us to work closely to bring better solutions for African Americans and other populations who experience an unshared economy. 

Following TAAAG, Parents for Student Success, the organizing I operate out of, arranged for 25 parents to go to Olympia and join up with Excellent Schools Now Coalition, to share  knowledge and support education legislative priorities that if enacted will elevate the education experiences and outcomes for African American students. Our students need higher expectations. They need to be on an education path that makes college and vocational education natural next steps after high school. Creating a 24 credit education creates a secondary education that is rigorous and rewarding. They will be able to learn skills that require hard work, and complex problem solving add science, and technology in ways that allows them to partake in the economic growth of this region that is based in science, math, technology and the arts. 

Parents for Student Success in partnership with ESN will host seminars that will help parents understand Common Core Standards (what a child should know at every grade level) and ways to support and manage their child's education.

Charter Schools - A Long and Hard Process but worth the effort

There are several charter schools proposals awaiting authorization by the WA Charter School Commission that have been proposed by other than privileged community groups and with large African American and African leadership and inclusion.  First Place, Coral Academy of Science, Excel, King County Academy, and SOAR, are the ones with which I am most familiar. The application process was tedious, exacting, and required team building and team work.  There are two African Americans on the WA Charter School Commission, Trish Millines Dziko, and Dr. Doreen Cato.  All 19 public charter applications are posted online for public review. Some are as many as 500 pages when including required attachments. 

January 30, The Commission authorized 7 public charters, including three with a strong African
American leadership and focus; First Place will be a K-5 school, located in the Africatown Central District neighborhood, Rainier Pro, in Highline, and SOAR will be in Tacoma, Hilltop. 

Dawn Mason, M.Ed
Consulting Director, Parents for Student Success
(c) 206.280.6992 (best)