June 7, 2020
Dear HEA Members,
In this Issue….RECN Support, Local Organizing, MLK Labor Council, School Board Connections, Summer Book Club, HEA/HPS Joint Listening Sessions
While the Highline Education Association has often felt united in our fight to end racism and achieve justice for all, we admit that the fruits of that solidarity have never been experienced deeply nor widely across our country, our state, or even our own community. As a result, this has been an extremely difficult time. Our communities are hurting. Pent up grief and outrage has spilled into the streets. The only way we can advance as a society and as a profession is to eradicate racism in our institutions, in our profession, and in ourselves.
To achieve these ends, our members must place anti-racist work at the forefront of all we do.
White members in our educational system must educate ourselves and hold each other accountable to evolve into anti-racist educators, colleagues and union members. We must root out practices that rob our students of the joy of true learning and personal achievement as well as recognize and eliminate microaggressions that diminish our colleagues’ and students’ worth.
We must advance instructional programs and testing policies that promote an anti-racist society regardless of whether that requires changes in our own school system, lobbying in Olympia or actively working for fundamental changes in Washington DC.
We are a powerful influence in our students’ lives. We can choose to use that power to reinforce the status quo or make needed changes. My hope is that we will all take steps to contribute to the latter… ensure that children feel comfortable walking down the street, youth can safely jog through a neighborhood, and families are able to engage in the everyday activities of life without harassment and intimidation. We must step up as union members and leaders to transform into the anti-racist organization our members, students, community deserve because Black Lives Matter.
At the same time, while it is critical to center the voice of our Black and Brown colleagues, families and students, it is important to recognize that they are exhausted. Now is the time for those of us who have had the privilege of sitting back to step up.
• We must step up and use our power as educators to fight racism whenever and wherever we see it. That was the message I shared from HEA leadership at the school board last Wednesday. You can find a link to the text of my comments here.
• We must step up and make our district and our union more than just an ally in the fight for justice but truly anti-racist. Members have already begun sharing their insights and ideas that are generating meaningful discussions between district and HEA leadership. Joint listening sessions will be held on Tuesday as described below.
• We must step up in our own classrooms and schools to educate the next generation of anti-racists. If you don’t know where to start, there will be a HARWE book study group sponsored by HEA - see below for more information.
Thank you for everything you are doing to ensure that the world moving forward from today reflects the fact that Black Lives Matter.
RECN Support. While it is important to take care of ourselves and our loved ones during this time, we understand our BIPOC members face additional stress. The Rainier Educator of Color Network (RECN) is currently designing safe spaces for members of color to connect. Please email Shawna Moore or Lori Fleck if you would like more information about joining in these sessions.
Local Organizing. Neighborhood schools are setting up actions to show solidarity with our Black students and our other students of color. Your HEA Building/Program Reprsentatives recently received a sample message that went out to Madrona educators (thank you, Sandra!); please reach out to them for a copy if that helps in your own planning.
• Reps email Exec Board member Brandice Tranholt with the name of your school's point person if organizing an event for your students. Federal Way EA has been working in collaboration with the dynamic leadership of the FW Black Collective. Here is their statement and some event guidelines.
• We continue to look for Building Support Team leads to help us organize and expand the visibility of events and strengthen the impact of demands. Email incoming HEA secretary Katie Utesch to become a part of the movement.
• If you would like to contribute posts to our website and the HEA Facebook page, please email pictures and short descriptions of your events to Thara Cooper.
• If you would like HEA to build connections with a local organization doing great work for our families or students in your area, please email Sandy Hunt.
HEA Demands of the MLK Labor Council. At the rep council meeting Monday a motion was passed to demand that the MLK Labor Council, which we are an affiliated member of, remove the Seattle Police Officer's union from the council. A group of members drafted a letter (thank you, Joey, Isaura, Rupika, Mike, and Shannon!) and we spoke to it at a meeting on Tuesday. The MLK council will be voting on it at their next meeting on June 17th. You can find a link to the final version of HEA's letter here.
School Board Connection. At Wednesday's school board meeting, HEA rank and file members were in force supporting Director Aaron Garcia's motion to end the HPS contract with the police. Thanks Christian and the many, many others who participated in the board meeting. School board directors would not take up the motion but indicated they would work on this over the coming months. The next school board meeting will be June 24th at 6:00 and includes a public hearing on the budget prior to the board meeting (5:00-6:00 PM).
Summer Book Club. HEA will continue to support HARWE (Highline Anti-Racist White Educators) with a zoomed in book club over the summer on 4 dates: 7/1, 7/15, 7/29 and 8/12. The book they are reading and discussing is How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. A few copies of the book are still available to those who commit to attending. An informational flyer is here. Email Amelia Swinton to register. Clock hours will be available.
HEA/HPS Joint Listening Sessions. By now, you should have received a message in your school email, inviting you to participate in one of four listening sessions on June 9, hosted by Superintendent Enfield and President Hunt. This is an opportunity for HEA and HPS leadership to hear from you what we should do differently --and what we need to stop doing-- so we can disrupt inequality in our school system and truly deliver on our promise to know every student by name, strength and need, so they graduate prepared for the future they choose. The sessions are organized by grade band as listed below, but if you are not able to attend at your designated time, please feel free to attend another session. In the interest of protecting against Zoom-bombing, the Zoom meeting information is not included here (since eFocus newsletters are published online); please use the information provided in your school email to register. If you cannot find the email, check in with your HEA Building/Program Representative and ask them to forward it to you. Hope to see you on Tuesday!
All sessions are June 9.
- Grades preK-2 | 9-10 a.m.
- Grades 3-5 | 10:30-11:30 a.m.
- Grades 6-8 | 2-3 p.m.
- Grades 9-12 | 4-5 p.m.