Are Seattle Schools Racist?

Comments

1
Maybe they just don't know how to fucking behave?
2
My guess would be that there is both some institutional and personal racism in some school administrators, but that the overwhelming majority of racist outcomes in Seattle Schools are actually wealth and class issues that are racially disproportionate in the community that feeds Seattle Schools.
3
Probably.
4
@1 Maybe like they don't, but that's not the point. Seems like the whole point is to figure out whether or not students of color were disciplined by administrators in a manner consistent with white students in similar circumstances.
5
It really depends on the school. But we're all just guessing.

I found African-American students at BF Day, Hamilton, and Roosevelt didn't seem to have more problems than other kids, but that's North of the Ship Canal.
6
"It will be great to see what they find"

I'd be surprised if the findings were made public.
7
Center School may be close to "lily-white Queen Anne and Magnolia," but it's apparently a more diverse population than you may think. It draws from all over the city, and in the 2010-2011 school year, here's the breakdown:

American Indian: 1%
Black: 6%
Hispanic: 7%
Asian/Pacific-Islander: 8%
White: 73%
Multiracial: 5%

Overall, as of October 2011, 43% of students were white..

8
I meant to say "for the entire District in October 2011, 43% of the student population was white.
9
Kids in the ghetto acting all anti-social? It could never happen.
10
@7,

So you're saying that the school is less diverse than the district overall. What's your point?
11
Once again, we need to see things clearly. If there is indeed unfair discipline happening, we must do something about it. But how do we know if it is not justified? What if some student groups genuinely make bad choices more often than their peers from other groups? Is it a flaw in the discipline, or the disciplined? This social-scientific conundrum is heavy in education; closing the achievement gap has many of these same issues regarding equity in education. Is this institutional racism, or is it a societal phenomenon that students of color are more likely to act out because of factors in their non-school lives? I hope they can come to a TRUE conclusion about the REAL problems involved, and actually do something that can help these kids and not just point fingers and blame for no good purpose.

Education is more than what happens in a school building. We must start doing more to solve our societal inequalities if we want to see those inequalities reflected any differently in a school environment than they would be anywhere else.
13
What is the rate of suspension of Asian students vs whites? Why does every comparison in Seattle or King County of racial disparities always leave out Asians? There are more Asians in the area than blacks and Hispanics combined.
How about the gender disparity? What is it? Is it sexism that causes it? Why is that less troubling?
14
@12 wth? Maybe their parents pay $200 a month for a four person cell plan, but the "cost" for that teen's unlimited texting usually runs to less than $20 a month. Seriously, get out of Magnolia much?
15
@11,
Indeed, you're spot on. I read the headline and article with caution. Consider this article from 2006:

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/R…

I also am acquainted with a teacher, a Returned Peace Corps Vol who served in Africa and after her service taught public school in New Orleans. She had such a discipline problem with her students that she quit teaching all together. I also recall an opinion piece in either the P-I or Seattle Times years ago from a white male teacher who greatly lamented the discipline problems in Seattle public schools. He mentioned that the approaches to solve these were misguided largely because he reasoned that the home lives of these kids were chaotic.

This morning's piece was short on any mention that the children's home lives might have something to do with high rates of suspension & expulsion. I believe they are factors. I don't have difficulty with the DOJ investigating this. However, I'm dubious anything will really change. Read the above article from 7 years ago.
16
Most students have $200 a month mobile phone plans


This is fucking bullshit, and you fucking know it. Even a ridiculously generous minutes/texting/data plan won't run you much more than $100. MOST students have parents who are struggling to get by in a ridiculously expensive city.

@11,

Why can't it be both? Black and Latino students have higher rates of acting out *and* they are punished much more severely than white students who commit the same infractions. The same shit happens every damn day in our criminal justice system which is presided over by experienced professionals who ought to know better. Why is it so hard to believe that school administrators fall prey to the same fears of the Scary Black Man?
18
I'll bet Tuba Man wishes there were more discipline. Fuck it, even Bill Cosby got trashed for trying to tell ghetto garbage to study and quit blaming other people.

Of course, there's enough white, liberal guilt and "we're all victims" at the Stranger for the whole city.
19
"Black and Latino students have higher rates of acting out *and* they are punished much more severely than white students who commit the same infractions."

And we know that black and latino students are punished more for the same infractions because people say it over and over again but offer no proof. I can think of a couple dozen black and latino youths who stomped white and Asian people, sometimes to death, for fun in this city over the past few years and never did more than a year or two. Tell me about some of those priveledged white youth who stomp black and Hispanic elderly people to death in this "racist" city of ours and get a similar punishment. If blacks and Hispanics are so poorly treated I wonder you can't name murder after murder that white youths committ against blacks and Hispanics which result is a slap on the wrist. I also wonder why these mob attacks are not called hate crimes. When was the last time a mob of whites attacked blacks or Hispanics when it wasn't called racist? When it's the other way it's called racist to even notice or object.
20
The district shuttered a bunch of schools in 2009 in South Seattle,

Okay, first, schools were closed all over the district. Not just South Seattle.

Second, the new overcrowding is primarily in West Seattle and NE Seattle but overall, yes, the district enrollment is steadily rising.

Third, the district has known about this issue for years. In fact, former School Board President Steve Sundquist said this over at Crosscut (but what did he ever do about it? nothing).

But Dominic is right; AA students get disciplined at a far higher rate (and I suspect for many of the same things) as white students. Then, a single student (and his/her parents) can challenge a race/social justice class and get that part of the unit suspended? One kid is unhappy and the district jumps?

The district was directed (and Dominic might remember this one) by the Board two years ago over the brohaha about using the novel Brave New World to make sure that when teachers do use challenging materials and presentations that they have the professional development and awareness to do it in a culturally sensitive manner.

Where was that training? Did it ever happen?

I just don't get why the district cannot do better on race-related issues.
22
@11, 15, 18, please try to pay attention. The object of the investigation is not if black students are punished more often, it's whether they are punished more frequently and more harshly than similarly situated white students. The key here is the "similarly situated" part.

Are black students more likely to be punished and punished more harshly than white students for the same infraction. That's the question. The question is not whether black students are more likely to commit an infraction.
23
@22: Yes, but it's pretty clear Dominic has already made up his mind on the answer to that one.
24
I'm a teacher in a south-end school in Seattle. 90% of my students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and we are almost evenly split between white, African American, Asian American, and Latino students. I have also worked in schools that are almost entirely white and rich, and schools in the middle. In my experience, students from difficult home situations who are living in poverty cause more problems and therefore are more harshly disciplined than students who don't. Unfortunately, more of the kids I know that are living in difficult situations are not white or Asian American. Although my school tries its best to work with and support kids who have serious problems, when kids are acting violently they get suspended. Kids who cause the most problems get suspended more frequently, and the more often someone gets suspended, the longer his or her suspension will be. Also, kids with serious problems at home who go to school where 90% of other kids who also have serious problems at home will not do as well as when they have some models of classmates who don't, and are able to model learning behaviors in school.

This study doesn't seem to focus on the big problem: what can we do about inequality in Seattle and how can we support the students who have fewer opportunities to learn and grow? My school, which already has a student body that is 90% in poverty, has two programs for students labeled emotionally or behaviorally disturbed. The district's rationale for putting them here is that most of the kids labeled emotionally or behaviorally disturbed are from poor neighborhoods. The district also insists on an inclusion model, putting the kids with diagnosed behavior problems in the same classes as all the other high needs kids in our school, which adds to the behavior problems in our classes. In my opinion, this placement is racist. If the federal government wants to change racism in Seattle Schools, why not take the EBD program out of ours?

Although we have many high needs kids at my school, the district will not fund a counselor at my school and did not allocate us a vice principal until last year. The title one money we receive barely supports one extra classroom teacher a year. Teachers are not given any type of room grant to buy classroom supplies, and Kindergarten classes have 28 kids in them. Again, if law makers would like to see racism in action, I would invite them to try to teach my first grade class for one day, and then think about how to make real changes in our schools.
25
@22,
Um, it is you that isn't paying attention. I never said I had a problem with the DOJ review. I do want punitive actions if necessary, applied to ALL children at Seattle Public schools justly. In fact, I invite the investigation. If you read the article I referenced and @24, we merely mentioned that a fundamental component was missing from Dominic's commentary and the article referenced in today's Seattle Times.

Look, I believe both headlines, Dominic's and the Seattle Times' are bombastic. But, to be sure as one commentator remarked, there could be BOTH a double standard (racist?) AND a recurrent disciplinary situation with African American students in Seattle Public schools that warrants examination .
26
I wonder why all the racist shitbags in this comment thread are so afraid of an objective study.
27
@26: I'm not afraid of the study at all, and am absolutely not a racist shitbag. I just hope that the study will not muddle or ignore important aspects of what is happening in our schools AND our society. We need to do more than constantly focus on the end-result of racial / economic inequality. We need to do more to address the issue BEFORE it becomes a discipline problem in the courts or in our schools. I certainly hope that the study finds that the punishments are 'fair' (probably won't). But that won't change anything about the fact that students from poverty (who tend to correlate with students of color) are dealing with so much in their lives that school (and other 'positive' choices in life) are not worth their time or effort.
28
Yes, even in our fair and liberal city the plague of racism haunts the school system. I myself am an African American male (East African descent), and for awhile I went to school up north. Whenever something went missing in class, the security guard would come upstairs to my classroom, call out the few African American males, and outside in the hallways he would search us and our bags. He never found anything. We were only fifth graders. I didn’t realize it as racism then, but now that I reflect on it I am filling only with anger and disappointment at the ugliness I had to endure at such an early age.
29
@28 What makes you assume that a "liberal city" would be any less racist than some other city in the United States? Liberalism is a white, middle class ideology. As poverty in the United States has become increasingly racialized (and genderized) - and arguably has been for some time - why would you expect an ideology wrapped around the interests of business-minded, employer-class, white males to aid or assist poor, black, working class people?