Open statement to Shoreline School District from Meridian Park PTSA in support of Black students and families

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

"I've never had a Black teacher"
Organizers of Black Lives Lost event speak
Photo by David Walton
We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of police and others, as well as countless innocent lives before them — including those not covered by the media.
 
We appreciate the message of solidarity that Superintendent Miner sent out and were heartened to see the large community turnout to the peaceful protest organized by Shoreline's Black youth. 

We recognize that this moment is one of both grief and reflection, and hope that it is a call to action for all of us to make a lifelong commitment to dismantle our country's shameful legacy of White supremacy.

We are proud to be part of a school district that is engaged in addressing issues of racism and inequality, and hope to work together to continue examining where we can foster change and ensure ALL of our students are seen, heard, represented, and uplifted.

We appreciate the resources that Superintendent Miner shared with families in her recent statement, and would like to see a commitment by the District to prioritize the implementation of anti-racist instructional materials into our curriculum at every grade level throughout the school year. 

We believe that providing our youth with language about race and diversity, as well as historical context surrounding social justice movements, is an investment in future leaders who are equipped to continue the work of ending oppression in our country.

We support the call to make Ethnic Studies a requirement for graduation in Shoreline schools. 

Learning about the experiences of our communities of color is critical if our students are to hope for a future where people are not being killed because of the color of their skin. A deeper understanding of each other and our histories is not only the foundation for a better tomorrow, but literally a matter of life and death.

We call on our District to commit to hiring and retaining teachers, paraprofessionals, and classified staff who represent the diversity of our community, and require mandatory anti-racist and anti-bias training for ALL staff. 

Shoreline School District serves a student population of which approximately 48% are students of color (7.8% are Black), yet only 14% of our teachers are people of color (and only 0.7% are Black). Not only is it important for our Black students to see themselves represented in our faculty, we know that biased expectations by teachers have long-term effects on student outcomes. 

Recent studies show that:

Student–teacher racial mismatch reduces teachers’ expectations for Black students.

White teachers are almost 40 percent less likely to expect their Black students will graduate high school.

For Black students, particularly Black boys, having a non-Black teacher in a 10th grade subject made them much less likely to pursue that subject by enrolling in similar classes.

Assigning a Black male student to a Black teacher in the third, fourth, or fifth grades significantly reduces the probability that he drops out of high school, particularly among the most economically disadvantaged.

Exposure to at least one Black teacher in grades 3-5 also increases the likelihood that persistently low-income Black students of all gender identities aspire to attend a four-year college.

We realize that teachers of color are in high demand due to the student-teacher racial mismatch throughout much of the country. 

The lack of teachers of color has been a self-perpetuating cycle as students of color are not seeing education as a viable career choice due to lack of representation. 

We understand this is a complex problem and commit to supporting your efforts to correct this disparity. While working to employ more staff members of color, we ask for the District’s active support for representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color at school-led assemblies throughout the year by partnering with community organizations and groups, including veterans, performing artists, writers, and more.

We have noticed that the District has refrained from using the phrase “Black lives matter” in its official communications and honoring the National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Our Schools annually in February as our neighboring districts have. 

This absence feels even more pronounced as the City of Shoreline publicly displays two banners proclaiming the message “Black Lives Matter” as a small way to demonstrate support for our Black community members and challenge racism. 

We invite you to reflect on the reasons for its absence in our District's messaging and what that means to our Black students and community.

We are committed to working with you to facilitate change, share in our learning, show that Black lives matter in our practices and policies, and build community around the common goal of dismantling White supremacy within our institutions.

Sincerely,

2019-2020 Meridian Park PTSA Board of Directors

Gretchen Bjork Knudsen, President
Briana Bell, Secretary
Ann Yee, Co-Treasurer
Callie Steward, Co-Treasurer
Alex Hart, Vice President: Events and Family and Community Engagement
Mary Kate Horwood, Vice-President: Clubs and Programs
Nauko Grimlund, Membership Chair
Naomi Hillyard, Fundraising Chair
Whitney Hardie, Art Docent Chair
Nancy Buehler Jenkins, Website Communications


1 comments:

Kristen June 9, 2020 at 2:53 PM  

Thank you for your leadership and conviction. You are a shining example for PTSAs everywhere.

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