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Seattle Public Schools: Education is Fundamental

by Your People on June 8th, 2010

Dear Seattle Public Schools,

Remember me? You educated me from K-12. I know, it’s been a while since I’ve graduated, but let me tell you what I remember about my education from back in the day. The schools were always diverse. Obviously that hasn’t changed, since your homepage is in eleven languages. But diversity can be deceiving. While the honors program was at some of the district’s largest and most diverse schools, I don’t remember ever seeing more than ten Black students in the entire program. Consequently, I spent a fair amount of my education as one of one to three Black students in my class.

Sure, I dealt with being called on for all the wrong reasons (Yes, I know it’s Black History Month. No, I can’t say I can give you any personal insight on slavery or the Civil Rights Movement.) I was also singled out for my hair, which I usually wore in braids. Fortunately, I just got the usual questions (Is it real? Can I touch it? Do you wash it?) , and not “if you’re going to wear your hair like that, please sit in the colored section.”

My, how things have regressed. It seems that with only one month left in the school year, a teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary (oh, the irony) decided that she was allergic a Black student’s hair products. The teacher also thought it would be a great idea to take the girl out of the honors class and put her in the regular class. Permanently.

So, let’s look at this situation. The teacher (who owns a dog,) can’t stand the smell of the child’s hair. Instead of standing farther away from the child for the rest of the day and sending a note home with her requesting that the parents change hair care products, she kicked her out her class. What life lesson are you trying to impart, teacher? That the little girl had the Curse of Ham, and is better off with her own kind? That there is something wrong with her and she doesn’t belong? *slow clap* Either way, congratulations on traumatizing an 8 year old girl. I’m sure the impending lawsuit will cover her therapy for years to come. I wish I could support the parents’ lawsuit, but dammit my taxes are going to go up to pay for this. FML.

But I am your people, Seattle Public Schools, and let me use the education you gave me to help you. First of all, your advantage is that the Superintendent is a Black woman who closed African-American Academy and T.T. Minor and whose support in the Black community is lukewarm at best with a young daughter, so she wouldn’t possibly approve of institutional racism at the school. In order to prove that this won’t be tolerated you will..are you listening?…FIRE the teacher. Not send her to sensitivity training, not put her on administrative leave, not reassign, fire her. Crap, now the Teachers’ Union is suing? I hate life. Even when you take the racial element out of this, this whole incident is wrought with gross incompetence – removing a child from class who was not misbehaving, reassigning her to a different class without parental notification, and failing to notify anyone what the problem was – this is a million kinds of fail. Now that it’s summer, you have time to prepare next year’s teacher training program, which should include the course Procedures 101: The Rules and How to Follow Them.

I am your people. Read the comments for advice from my people.


Seattle Public Schools , Afrobella , The Stranger , Wikipedia

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