We must work to close the achievement and the opportunity gap. These two issues are not mutually exclusive, in fact they must be addressed together in order to make meaningful progress. The achievement gap continues to show that the system isn’t fair and equitable across the board, particularly for students of color, LGBTQ students, students experiencing homelessness, and undocumented students. Seattle has the fifth worst achievement gap in the nation between students of color and non-POC peers. In this progressive city, we must do better.
Some students are not provided the same opportunity and pathways to succeed as others - failed by a system that fails to recognize institutional barriers. Closing the opportunity gap is ensuring that Seattle Public Schools supports all different types of students and families. Examples of this include IB programs, competent special education, individualized instruction, positive behavioral intervention - aggressively working to close the school-to-prison pipeline.
We can’t take singular or narrow approaches to these problems – they must be addressed together if we are going to deliver meaningful results. With a young, queer, and native perspective, I look forward to challenging the status quo and innovating on solutions that will improve our education system and our community overall.
In a time where hate and discrimination is being spewed by national leaders we have a real responsibility to ensure Seattle Public Schools are a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. We should recognize and celebrate the rich cultural diversity present in our community and our schools. We must protect immigrants, students and families, ensuring their rights are defended. We must do more to protect, embrace, and celebrate LGBTQ students and their families. Improving the pathways to success for all students, particularly our most vulnerable and disproportionately impacted students such as students of color, queer and transgender students, students experiencing homelessness or housing instability, students with disabilities, and undocumented students, will greatly improve the learning environment and future success of all students. And, with pervasive social problems such as sexual assaults in our schools, we need someone to stand up and fight for ways to address this that disrupts this harmful behavior.
We need representative leaders to stand up for our students and illustrate that they can achieve their goals while being proud of all of their identities.
We must protect public education and public education investments. Across the country, billionaires are attempting to buy school board seats. They are doing this so they can push voucher and charter school agendas into our public school system. This takes dollars away from public schools and instead invests them in private schools that selectively pick which students can attend. This is wrong and we must fight to ensure it doesn’t happen in Seattle. Investors are investing to make a profit – not to help our kids succeed. Rather than taking money away from public schools we should be demanding the legislature fully fund education and invest more in our students and support our teachers.