There is another whacked bill that was dropped last week by Representative Eric Pettigrew along with House Education Committee Chairperson Sharon Tomiko Santos. We’re still scratching our heads about Santos but…it’s usually about political stability (that of the politician) or money. Time will tell on that one because the reasons she gives don’t hold water.
House Bill 1860, which I call the Apartheid Bill, basically states that no school district “may comprise more than 35 thousand students or have more than five board members”. Yes, the recurring theme of five board members comes up again but more on that later.
Santos has made it clear that she envisions the Seattle school district to be divided into a north end and a south end. We assume West Seattle would be incorporated into the South end but I have a feeling that would not be happening.
In Seattle, roughly speaking, the north end of Seattle is mostly white and middle to upper middle class. The south end, which at one time was the only area where African-Americans could live according to local law (and where my dad grew up), is a diverse population of recent immigrants and vibrant Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Philippine and African-American communities.
The bill, if Santos and Pettigrew would have anything to do with it, would be drawn along racial lines splitting Seattle into a north end and a south end.
We have already resegregated our schools with a successful push for “neighborhood schools”. Before that there was an all-district draw when students could select the school they went to and transportation was provided.
Now they want to ensure that there is a very clear racial divide.
Nutty? One would think, but many of us have our suspicions of what’s really going on behind the curtain. I’ll save that for a later post.
Shall I go into the reasons why this is a bad idea? There are so many besides dividing Seattle along racial, social and economic lines. Who will receive what levy money? Will a new district be set up with new buildings and staff? What about property taxes, how will that be divvied up to support both districts? And the mayor’s preschool program, how would that work? Where would West Seattle go or should they also have their own district?
The cost would be enormous and we still haven’t heard how they plan to adequately fund education as the Supreme Court has demanded them to do.
Pettigrew and Santos never met with PTA’s in their district, Seattle School Board members or even their own constituents.
The Southeast Seattle Education Coalition presented the following statement to their legislators and to the community at large:
HB 1860– Statement from SESEC’s Steering Committee
The Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) is concerned about legislation introduced in Olympia that would create a task force to look into the viability of splitting any school district with over 35,000 students enrolled. Currently, this task force would only be looking at splitting Seattle Public Schools into two smaller districts.
SESEC believes it is our collective responsibility to stay focused on providing a quality education for every child regardless of where a child lives, racial background, or life circumstances. We want to see the legislature and our elected leaders focused on fulfilling their duty to provide a quality education and to fully-fund education, per the McCleary court ruling. Families and children in SE Seattle need quality education now—adequate funding for schools is an important component of ensuring our children receive the education they need to learn and thrive.
There has been no known research, either nationwide or within Washington State, to indicate that smaller school districts effectively and equitably close the opportunity gap. There is little to no data to indicate that two smaller school districts will receive equitable funding, a fair levy system or more resources to combat the trauma of poverty.
SESEC and its members are also concerned that, currently, there would be no way other than geography to split Seattle Public Schools. This would create two systems of segregated and unequal school districts and has the potential to be a drain on limited resources due to duplicating services and personnel.
While we appreciate our Representatives focusing and thinking deeply about education, we are concerned that community voice was not included in this bill. SE Seattle families would be impacted by a split in the school district. We are concerned their voices haven’t been heard, nor concerns addressed. Conducting business without community voice or accountability sets a damaging precedent. We look forward to working with our Representatives and our legislative partners to design solutions that include a racial equity lens and community input. This is our preferred way to work and conduct business.
We stand with our school district partners on this matter. We value our relationships with school district leaders, school board members, educators, and partners. We will continue to stay focused on our work with Seattle Public Schools, our coalition members and partners, and community to push for quality education for all children, especially those living in SE Seattle.
Signed by SESEC’s Steering Committee,
Erin Okuno, Executive Director
Vu Le, Chair
And this from The Medium, Are 37th State Reps. Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Santos Segregationists?
Oh yeah, and about House Republican Chad (Mr. Charter School) Magendanz, who represents the folks in Issaquah, a well-to-do mostly white suburb of Seattle, who is so concerned about the children living in the south end of Seattle, see:
Can’t get a straight answer from the Washington State PTA
The Washington State PTA, the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children : The Unholy Trinity
Thoughts on the Washington State PTA Convention
The Washington State PTA Convention: Be There
Are you starting to see some connections here?
The vultures are circling.
Something is amiss.
What I know for sure is that we can no longer trust Santos to work in the best interest of our children.
Pettigrew and Santos talk about splitting the district by “grades”. What does this mean? Your guess is good as mine.
It was absolutely shocking that Tomiko-Santos and Pettigrew would make such a proposal without public meetings- before legislators went to Olympia. Equally shameful that Tomiko-Santos only gave the public TEN minutes to testify on an issue that impacts 52,000 students.