Seattle Times: “Federal government looks into Seattle schools’ treatment of black students”

March 9, 2013

Seattle Times letters to the editor
March 9, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Federal government looks into Seattle schools’ treatment of black students


While race bias in schools is a persistent national scourge, we can thwart this problem where it lives — in the daily crucible of each classroom [“Feds probing district’s treatment of black kids,” page one, March 6].

Civics education is the silver bullet. It improves academic achievement for black students, minimizes unacceptable behavior and makes scarce ugly, racially charged conflict between students and teachers.

When at-risk youth study civics-embedded lessons, they find relevance, empowerment and increased classroom success. Self-esteem grows and disciplinary issues shrink. When lessons lack relevance, grades plummet, frustrations rise and trouble trails ominously. Academic disappointment exacerbated by racial tensions easily leads to explosive behavior.

After 23 years of teaching in Seattle, I’ve seen thousands of low-income black students flourish in classes where teachers frame rigorous lessons within civics contexts. In 2011, successful students like these presented the yet-to-be-adopted Civics for All Initiative to the School Board.

The initiative will fracture the school-to-prison pipeline because all students will be too busy preparing for, say, their biology class’s evolution-versus-creationism debate,their math class’s ethical analysis of marginal tax rates or their history class’s research on race and education.

Would you risk missing these classes just to act the fool?

Neither would our city’s 49,500 young scholars!

–Web Hutchins, Seattle