Rantz: Seattle Public Schools to hold racially segregated ‘listening tour’ with superintendent

Apr 11, 2022, 5:45 PM
Brent Jones...
The Seattle School Board of Directors has selected Dr. Brent Jones to be the new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. (Photo courtesy of SPS)
(Photo courtesy of SPS)

Seattle Public Schools is conducting a “listening tour” for parents to discuss how to make the district more welcoming. But only certain racial identities are welcome at some of the meeting meetings.

SPS and the Seattle Council of Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) is hosting seven listening sessions with superintendent Dr. Brent Jones. The remote tour starts on April 19. One of the sessions is for Black families and a second for Native American families. They also recently added meetings specifically for East African and Black Immigrant Families, plus Multigenerational African American Black Families. The district and PTSA believe these race-exclusionary meetings promote equity. But they may represent illegal discrimination.

“The district is trying to segregate our communities,” one parent told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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Seattle Public Schools push racial segregation

SPS says it’s committed to a nondiscrimination policy where it says it “does not discriminate in any programs or activities” on the basis of race. Yet they’re embracing “affinity groups” for meetings, which embraces a condescending claim that, in this case, black and Native American families don’t feel comfortable around families that don’t like themselves.

“We often use affinity groups to invite a variety of voices, which reflect the many facets of our school community, into relevant and meaningful conversation,” a district spokesperson tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The upcoming listening tour is designed to offer safe and welcoming spaces so that unique perspectives, input, and concerns can be shared with the superintendent.”

This statement implies that the meetings would not be “safe and welcoming” unless they were segregated by race.

It also indicates the district believes Native American and black families are especially sensitive to these views. There are no meetings specifically for Asians or Latino families. What about Jewish or Muslim families? These groups must be perceived by the district as less sensitive than black and Native American families — a belief that may be considered a microaggression.

Of course, there would never be a white families meeting because that would be too racist for SPS. Perhaps it should all be seen as racist. Instead of separating people by race — since that used to be considered racist — the district could embrace an approach that truly offers a welcoming environment?

Segregation to create a welcoming environment

It’s ironic that a listening tour that hopes to create “safe and welcoming environments” would discriminate based on race. It’s why some parents are disgusted.

“Separating parents into distinct ‘groups’ is the antithesis of creating a welcoming environment, I thought SPSD was all about inclusion and equity,” the parent tells me via email. “Why are Asian, Hispanic, White, and Pacific Islander families that only speak one language cast into a session for the ‘general public’? Regardless of race/language all of our parents have valid concerns and ideas about safe and welcoming communities.”

A PTSA goal is to “center” its work around “the voices of those furthest from educational justice.” PTSA leadership apparently believes Black and Native American students are furthest from educational justice, which may explain why those groups are given separate meetings.

PTSA leadership did not respond to requests for comment. But a look at their equity push explains their stance.

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PTSA just held ‘equity’ training

Like many left-wing groups, the PTSA has been focused on creating policies to promote equity, and they spent considerable time during the COVID pandemic towards this goal.

On March 30th, the PTSA held diversity training for its 80+ PTA groups in the district. It included a video from White Fragility author Dr. Robin DiAngelo who explained all white people are racist and that when they get defensive when called racist, it proves their racism even more. Parents were also offered a number of antiracism resources meant to give these parents left-wing action steps to bring to their schools.

This small group of PTSA leaders is foisting wokeness on a district that is welcoming the fringe views. But is this really what the average Seattle parent is looking for in the education of their children? If the dwindling enrollment is any indication, the answer is no.

During the training, PTSA members were told that “it is time to reimagine family engagement practices and policies for greater equity and effectiveness.” The focus is on family engagement because it is “the number one indicator of student success.”

Imagine the outcomes if the PTSA — and SPS — focused on all families equally. Yet in 2022, educators and PTAs are now leaning back into racial segregation.

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Rantz: Seattle Public Schools to hold racially segregated ‘listening tour’ with superintendent