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    Juneau's Journal February 14
    Posted on 02/14/2020

    I hear you and we will do better

    I want to start this week's newsletter by saying I'm sorry.

    Last night, families, students, and community members attended a community meeting regarding teacher misconduct. Thank you to those who attended for sharing your frustrations and disappointment. I heard you and Seattle Public Schools must and will do better.

    It is unacceptable for any student in Seattle Public Schools to be unsafe or feel unwelcome in their classroom. I'm sorry that any student has experienced this in our district. I promise we will fix this.

    I am committed to listening to our students, family, and community and working in partnership to create safe, welcoming school environments for our students each and every day.

    Powerful Student Leadership During #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool Week

    I had the privilege of attending a powerful, student-designed and led assembly at Garfield High School last Thursday for Black Lives Matter at School Week. This was one of many events across the district to celebrate and affirm the lives of our students. From poetry, song, and dialogue, students at Garfield shared their truth and lifted their voices for justice and change.

    As superintendent, there are moments to lead and there are moments to listen. Many teachers use the 70-30 rule in the classroom, to listen 70 percent of the time and instruct 30 percent. I try to take this into account in my work as well – to listen to our students and let them lead.

    Three students dance on stage during a school assemblyThis past week was filled with frank conversations and true leadership from our students. At Rainier Beach High School, students hosted the Young, Gifted, and Black Showcase, which featured incredibly talented students from across the district, including a panel of Black high school students called “The Youth are The Truth.”

    At Emerson Elementary, fifth grade students created posters to reflect causes they believe in and participated in a march around the school to learn about the historical and current importance of marching to show unity towards positive change.

    When visiting Decatur Elementary this week, I saw teachers including Black Lives Matter at School Week curriculum in their lessons. Many of the classrooms displayed “I can explain how redlining affects schools and leads to ongoing examples of racism” as a learning target for students.

    Each and every day, our students are bringing excellence to their classrooms, schools, and communities. And they are asking us to create a system that supports that excellence and allows them to thrive. Black Lives Matter at School Week is an opportunity for us to reflect how, as a district, we can work with students to change broken systems and undo legacies of racism in public education.

    Seattle Public Schools is committed to this work. Through our five-year strategic plan, Seattle Excellence, our entire district – from the bus stop to board room – is laser-focused on actively addressing racism in our educational system.

    Black Lives Matter at School Week teaches the important and crucial message that Black lives matter, not just for this week, but each and every day in SPS. So, while the week is over, the work is not.

    Thank you to the SPS Ethnic Studies Advisory Group, the Seattle Education Association, and all the staff, educators, administrators, students, and families who supported student learning and advocacy during Black Lives Matter at School Week.

    I look forward to continuing to listen and work with our students in the pursuit of educational justice and #SeattleExcellence.