Black Students and Parents Call Upon Seattle Public Schools to Create Antiracist Schools with Recommendations Highlighted in New Report
The report elevates insights gathered from Black male students and their families on their Seattle Public Schools experience
SEATTLE — Today, the Seattle Public Schools’ Office of African American Male Achievement (AAMA) released their report, “Our Voice, Our Vision: Strategies for Supporting Black Excellence in Seattle Public Schools”. This report will support SPS in dramatically improving wellbeing and outcomes for Black boys and teens, and offers recommendations for achieving the racial equity goals outlined in “Seattle Excellence,” the district’s broader strategic plan. The report uplifts four key recommendation themes for Seattle Public Schools to adopt, with each theme offering a specific set of recommendations: 1. Create welcoming, joyous, and safe learning environments 2. Develop instructional approaches grounded in identity affirmation 3. Build strong relationships between educators and students 4. Lead with insights from families and community members in the education of their children Findings and recommendations in the report are wholly informed by AAMA’s “Listen and Learn” focus groups with Black boys, teens, and their families. Each focus group was conducted with different neighborhoods and Black cultural groups that comprise Seattle Public Schools, including with families in Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, and Southwest. “‘Our Voice, Our Vision’ recaps observations from our ‘Listen & Learn’ focus groups, in which we recognized the self-reliant voices of our Kings—our Black boys and teens—and gave them the platform to shine a light on a lot of the ways they experience structural racism in classrooms. After all, the foundation of our work is the pledge ‘Nothing about us without us,’ which means the voices and experiences of our Kings, families, elders, and the Black community must be elevated and they must be included in the decision-making. Our students, families, and communities know exactly what our Kings need to succeed, and after a year of listening to and learning from them in our community engagement sessions, we summarized their brilliance in this report, which gives the district insights for districtwide change. Now is the time for SPS to step up and reconstruct our school system into one where Black boys and teens can thrive,” said Dr. Mia Williams, Assistant Superintendent of African American Male Achievement. “The release of ‘Our Voice, Our Vision’ report is part of our district-wide commitment to deeply partner with our Black students, families and community to create school environments where Black students thrive and have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. Our Seattle Public Schools strategic plan intentionally compels our educational system to improve outcomes for Black male students. By specifically listening to and centering the needs of Black male students – who are amongst the furthest from educational justice – we will ultimately improve conditions of all students. We are thankful that our AAMA Office honors and uplifts the voice of our Black boys and teens in this report,” said SPS Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones. Seattle Public Schools is the first district in Washington state, and one of a few across the nation, to create and house an office that intentionally invests in the cultural and academic strengths of African American male students while simultaneously addressing their specific needs. AAMA critically examines Seattle Public Schools' systemic practices through a racial equity lens to assess and build capacity for the system to better engage, empower and educate young Black male students. Through AAMA initiatives, educators, parents, thought leaders, and students are directly addressing anti-Black institutional and structural racism by creating educational systems, structures, and spaces that advance success for all students at SPS. “I appreciate that AAMA took the time to get to know me as a young Black adult, really dialing in on the fact that my Blackness matters and how I genuinely feel. Seeing our input reflected throughout the report is validating and makes me feel cared about, and that my opinion and input in what I say matters. I have more input in my education than just being a recipient. The report captures what I'd like to see changed in our schools,” said Trevon Mitchell, a Black high school student at Seattle Public Schools. The publication of “Our Voice, Our Vision” marks the next step in a multi-year plan to implement structural changes in Seattle Public Schools and continue to engage community, families, and students in ongoing efforts to improve academic and life outcomes for all students. AAMA looks forward to hosting a community event in early 2022 to reconvene with all the families, students and communities who have contributed their knowledge over the past year. To access the full report, please visit https://bit.ly/OurVoiceOurVision.