On June 15, a diverse panel of educators will discuss the intersection of race, identity and the classroom at Town Hall Seattle, an event that is co-sponsored by The Seattle Times Education Lab.
Plentiful research shows a strong correlation between diverse teaching staffs and student success, yet teaching remains a largely Caucasian field in the United States. One prime example: Washington, where 90 percent of our public-school teachers are white, and 44 percent of students are not (as of the 2015-2016 school year).
How does that disconnect play out in the classroom? And what’s being done to fix it?
Those questions will be the starting point for the event #EducationSoWhite on Thursday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m., where a diverse panel will take the stage at Town Hall Seattle at Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street. The panel consists of education equity advocate Sharonne Navas, plus education equity advocates and teachers Jesse Hagopian, Saraswati Noel, Joy Williamson-Lott and Nathan Simoneaux.
The Seattle Times Education Lab is a co-sponsor of the event.
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Issues on the docket: how to keep teachers of color in their jobs (turnover is higher than among their white counterparts), the achievement gap, the school-to-prison pipeline and how to make students from marginalized groups feel welcome in schools.
Two local students, Christina Joo and Sage Cook, will emcee for the event, and the discussion will be moderated by Education Lab editor Linda Shaw.
Kristin Leong, Town Hall’s community programs curator, said she came up with the idea for the event after attending a gathering last fall called #JournalismSoWhite, which addressed the lack of diversity in newsrooms.
“These conversations are very complex,” said Leong, “But students, parents and teachers are ready to have them. This event is just an entry point.”
This isn’t the first time Leong, who taught middle-school humanities in Bellevue for almost six years, has explored identity gaps in the classroom. In January, she began publishing brief interviews with students and teachers about what they have in common — or don’t — for what she’s titled the Roll Call Project.
You can hear more about that project at #EducationSoWhite, which will also include a photo booth and ways for the audience to engage with education equity advocates. Admission will be $5.