Apartheid (… an Afrikaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, literally “apart-hood”) was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation…
I feel very strongly about this bill because my dad had no other choice but to live in the Central District when he was growing up in Seattle because of a city covenant that did not allow African-Americans to live outside of a boundary determined by the city. That meant little opportunity for my dad to grow beyond that border. He was fortunate enough to have a high school coach, at Franklin High School, who saw his talent and with his coach’s help, my dad, Brice Taylor, was one of the first three African-American students to attend the University of Southern California even against the wishes of the college president, but that’s another story.
My dad went on to become the First All American at USC in football and that opened doors for him. Not everyone had that kind of opportunity. That’s why, what I term the Apartheid Bill, hits home for me. Some people find fault in my use of the term “Apartheid” but that is how I perceive it, through my lens.
The Seattle Public School system reverted back to neighborhood schools from an all-city draw, when students could select the school or program they wanted to attend, not long ago which re-segregated our schools. Then with transportation cuts, it became even more difficult for students to attend special programs outside of their neighborhoods.
Now, Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew want to split the city in half along racial lines again, through legislation, into two separate school districts, separate but not equal. This is why politicians should not determine education policy. Either they don’t know enough to make an informed decision or they are following through on a donor’s agenda.
Case in point, House Bill 2048.
The bill, which is very vague, proposes to cut the district in half. I believe the bill is intentionally vague so that no one neighborhood can respond that they do not want to be part of what we are thinking will be a north and south divide although Pettigrew did mention something about dividing the district per grade levels. The bill states that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is to draw “new district boundaries” so I think we can consider Pettigrew’s remarks a red herring.
In Seattle, the north is made up of more affluent neighborhoods, roughly speaking, and the south end, which is mostly the 37th District that Pettigrew and Santos represent, is a less affluent area made up of minority communities with the exception of Seward Park, parts of Madrona, Mount Baker and Capitol Hill.
Do you think those neighborhoods want to be set aside and be a part of Santos’ plan to split from the north end?
Santos said that her district is not getting a fair deal so the assumption is being made that she wants to split the school district, and therefore the city, in half with a northside and a southside. My dad would be rolling over in his grave.
The 37th District neighborhoods are:
- Rainer Valley
- Central District
- Columbia City
- Mount Baker
- Rainier Beach
- Beacon Hill
- Seward Park
- Capitol Hill
See the map for the exact boundaries here, http://sdc.wastateleg.org/kline/district/.
If you continue the line westward, West Seattle would be included in the southern half of a second Seattle school district. How would West Seattle residents feel about that?
Has Santos or Pettigrew asked their constituents what they think of this idea? Apparently not.
So far the League of Women Voters opposes the bill, the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition wrote a statement to Pettigrew and Santos opposing the bill, the Seattle PTA recently came out with a statement about the bill (see below for the full statement) and The Medium, representing the Central District, came out with a scathing piece about the proposal.
The price tag for whatever it is Santos wants to do is, according to her estimate, will cost $700,000 although the OSPI is to figure it all out later. Because of the estimate, this bill will not go through the Ways and Means Committee to cost out the bill but directly to the House Rules Committee where Frank Chopp will determine whether it should be taken to the floor for a vote in the House. (Note: I’ve been told that the bill may go to the Ways and Means Committee since this posting.)
So, $700,000 to establish an entirely new district with separate school boards and central staff with a few new buildings, separate transportation systems and technical infrastructure? I don’t think so, but we’re still not entirely sure what Santos is thinking because she has not clearly laid it out.
How about the levy and property taxes? How will that work? Apparently our State Superintendent is to figure that out also. All we know now is that Santos wants to split the school district in some fashion, probably along the lines of the district she represents, and it will cost $700,00. Not much to go on.
Is this what we want, a divided Seattle along racial and economic lines?
Our neighbors, schools, PTA’s and friends need to be informed of this bill, because most are not.
Please contact your representatives and members of the House Rules Committee and tell them what you think of this bill.
You can find your district here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/
This just reinforces the fact to me that politicians should not be making education policy because for the most part, they have no idea what they’re doing or have big money donors calling the shots for them.
And, by the way, what about the Paramount Duty that our legislators are to uphold during this session? They are in contempt of court for not ensuring adequate funding for education in our state and yet, they are coming up with nonsensical bills that will cost more money than we have.
From Seattle Council PTSA:
STATEMENT Regarding HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048
February 16, 2015
The SCPTSA Board has found little evidence or analysis that indicates that splitting up the Seattle School District, reducing the number of school board members, or appointing school board members would improve our school communities or create better outcomes for students and families. On the contrary, we are very concerned about the potential for exacerbating inequity, creating additional uncertainty, and further diminishing the voice of parents and families.
Even as we understand that legislators are attempting to address very real challenges in our schools with these proposed bills, Seattle Council PTSA board opposes bills HB 1497, HB 1860 and HB 2048.
Our 82 PTAs pour tens of thousands of volunteer hours and currently supplement the Seattle School District’s operating budget by $3.6 million a year . We are providing basic education needs that the State is not funding, like librarians, tutors, counselors and instructional aids. Additionally our PTAs coordinate safety net programs like weekend meals, after school activities, and many other efforts.
While the State sits in contempt of court for failing to comply with the constitutional mandate to amply fund basic education, these bills focus on disrupting the governance and administration of Seattle Public Schools – with little to no consultation with Seattle’s families and communities.
Seattle families and communities need a school system which adequately provide for the basic education needs of all student and helps to unify our communities. The SCPTSA Board urges legislators to focus energy and effort on policies which strengthen families and communities such as are illustrated in our legislative priorities:
1. Ample funding of K-12 basic education per the McCleary decision; with increases in revenue orchestrated in a progressive, equitable, and sustainable manner.
2. School capacity planning, building maintenance, and capital funding solutions to reduce over-crowding and reliance upon portables, and provide stability, with sufficient and appropriate permanent education environments for K-12 students, both in the present and long term.
3. Safe environments for all children, staff, and teachers, both at school and during school sponsored activities off school grounds, including appropriate supervision, safe walk zones, safe transportation, and reasonable school start times that support healthy sleep.
4. Improved family engagement initiatives and processes that increase the authentic collaboration of parents, teachers, and students with education policy makers, Seattle Public Schools staff, and elected officials.
5. Initiatives and policies that provide all children with equitable access to all facets of a quality education, while giving special attention to our most vulnerable and underserved children.
Seattle Council PTSA Board:
Cassandra Johnston, Acting President
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative Chair
Cecelia McCormick, Special Ed Director
Annabell Quintero, Southwest Region Director
Iris Nielsen, Northwest Region Director