The Seattle School Board is considering a resolution that would encourage all its schools to teach ethnic studies.
The Seattle School Board is considering a resolution that would encourage ethnic studies to be taught at all its schools, similar to one proposed in January by the Seattle King County NAACP.
The board’s resolution, to be introduced Wednesday, isn’t as detailed or concrete as what the NAACP had proposed. The NAACP had asked the district to start rolling out an ethnic studies requirement starting this fall.
Instead, the district’s measure encourages staff to “make every attempt” to better incorporate ethnic studies in current classes. But it also directs Superintendent Larry Nyland, by the end of the year, to come up with a plan for how to incorporate the lessons into K-12 curriculum.
The NAACP resolution drew widespread support from social justice activists, community groups and teachers. A group of ethnic-studies supporters plans to meet for a rally outside district headquarters Wednesday evening before the board meeting. The School Board is scheduled to vote on the resolution July 5.
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Studies from the National Education Association, University of Arizona and Stanford University suggest students of color who take part in ethnic studies classes improve academically.
The Seattle School Board, the resolution says, acknowledges that textbooks, curriculum and instruction overwhelmingly include a European-American perspective.
It also states that the board “recognizes that students whose history and heritage is taught, understood and celebrated will learn better, be more successful and develop positive aspects of identity,” and that ethnic studies helps white students better appreciate the “democratic ideal of equity and justice that the United States was founded upon.”
Since 2015, Washington state has required the Native American curriculum “Since Time Immemorial” be taught in schools. More than 200 Seattle teachers have been trained in that curriculum, which includes the history and current events of the state’s 29 tribes.
In materials for the ethnic-studies resolution, district staff said they expect to spend about $88,000 by the end of August to start to craft an ethnic studies curriculum, some of which would go toward a consultant.
The district also created an ethnic studies task force earlier this year, charged with coming up with develop recommendations on how to teach ethnic studies in high schools.
The task force’s target date for the recommendations is October 2017.