Seattle teachers organize Black Lives Matter day
Oct 13, 2016, 6:28 AM
Seattle teachers are organizing a Black Lives Matter demonstration next week.
The demonstration will simply be teachers wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts on Oct. 19. The teachers are planning their demonstration during the kick-off event for Seattle Public Schools’ effort to close the achievement gap between black and white students. The plan is separate from the effort.
The scenario is familiar to last month when teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts during an unrelated event. The demonstration was received as controversial by some and was ultimately cancelled. The annual Black Men Uniting to Change the Narrative event at John Muir Elementary School was canceled as well — the same day teachers planned to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts — after there were threats against the school.
KIRO 7 reports that about 1,000 teachers in the district have ordered Black Lives Matter T-shirts ahead of time. And that Hamilton Middle School teacher Sarah Arvey organized the demonstration in response to the threats directed at John Muir Elementary.
Black Lives Matter and Seattle schools
An email was sent from Seattle Public Schools to families on Oct. 7 explaining the school district’s plans, and the teachers’ demonstration. It explains that the district is starting an effort to close the achievement gap between its white students and students of color.
While Seattle Public Schools outperforms like districts academically and is considered a high performing urban district, we still have unacceptable opportunity and achievement gaps. We have the 5th largest academic achievement gap in the nation between black and white students.
As a result of that gap, the Seattle district is debuting a campaign called “Close the Gaps.” The district is starting the effort with events during Oct. 16-22.
The email also notes that during the kick-off week, the district is promoting Oct. 19 as a “day of solidarity to bring focus to racial equity and affirming the lives of out students — specifically students of color.” The district points out that the Seattle Education Association — the teachers union — is organizing the Black Lives Matter demonstration.
In support of this focus, members are choosing to wear Black Lives matter t-shirts, stickers or other symbols of their commitment to students in a coordinated effort.
The email ends by saying the teachers union is leading the t-shirt effort and “working to promote transformational conversations with staff, families, and students on this issue.”