The Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC) is concerned about legislation introduced in Olympia that would create a taskforce to look into the viability of splitting any school district with over 35,000 students enrolled. Currently, this taskforce would only be looking at splitting Seattle Public Schools into two smaller districts.
SESEC believes it is our collective responsibility to stay focused on providing a quality education for every child regardless of where a child lives, racial background, or life circumstances. We want to see the legislature and our elected leaders focused on fulfilling their duty to provide a quality education and to fully-fund education, per the McCleary court ruling. Families and children in SE Seattle need quality education now—adequate funding for schools is an important component of ensuring our children receive the education they need to learn and thrive.
There has been no known research, either nationwide or within Washington State, to indicate that smaller school districts effectively and equitably close the opportunity gap. There is little to no data to indicate that two smaller school districts will receive equitable funding, a fair levy system or more resources to combat the trauma of poverty.
SESEC and its members are also concerned that, currently, there would be no way other than geography to split Seattle Public Schools. This would create two systems of segregated and unequal school districts and has the potential to be a drain on limited resources due to duplicating services and personnel.
While we appreciate our Representatives focusing and thinking deeply about education, we are concerned that community voice was not included in this bill. SE Seattle families would be impacted by a split in the school district. We are concerned their voices haven’t been heard, nor concerns addressed. Conducting business without community voice or accountability sets a damaging precedent. We look forward to working with our Representatives and our legislative partners to design solutions that include a racial equity lens and community input. This is our preferred way to work and conduct business.
We stand with our school district partners on this matter. We value our relationships with school district leaders, school board members, educators, and partners. We will continue to stay focused on our work with Seattle Public Schools, our coalition members and partners, and community to push for quality education for all children, especially those living in SE Seattle.
Signed by SESEC’s Steering Committee,
Erin Okuno, Executive Director
Vu Le, Chair