June 11, 2020
In this Issue...Black Lives Matter…in School…in Highline Schools…in the Streets…on the Corners
Dear HEA Members,
Today, I relay an official statement from your HEA Executive Board, included below, which we soon will release widely. My hope is that two messages are crystal clear, which may not have been front and center in the past.
First, we recognize we live in a nation founded on racism and gender discrimination that are embedded deeply in our institutions and systems. We abhor how this is manifest in the brutality of our policing system and at the same time must take responsibility for our own role in the system, for example, in the preschool to prison pipeline.
Second, while the HEA may have felt united in our fight to end racism and achieve justice for all, we must honestly admit that has not been experienced either widely across our country and our state or deeply in our own schools or communities. This becomes our work now. Staying united has never been more important. White educators, from our places of privilege in the educational system, must educate ourselves and hold each other accountable to evolve into anti-racist educators, colleagues and union members. We must support our colleagues of color while listening and learning from them. We must root out those practices that rob our students of the joy of true learning and personal achievements as well as eliminate microaggressions that diminish our colleagues’ worth. We must commit to advancing instructional programs and testing policies that promote an antiracist society whether that requires work in our own school system or lobbying Olympia or even Washington DC to change racist laws and policies.
We can no longer be bystanders to the death of our children’s spirits and the destruction of their dreams. I ask all HEA members to challenge racism whenever and wherever we see it, eradicating it in our schools, our union, and as it manifests even within ourselves.
From the HEA Executive Board: The Highline Education Association stands in solidarity with our Black students, families, educators and community as the world honors the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and David McAtee and remembers all those who have been taken due to the unrestricted power of police brutality. The needs of students and families in our community require us to act. While our actions can take many forms in many places, they will require concerted effort over an extended period of time. Furthermore, these actions must center the unique and diverse perspectives, experiences, and cultural identities of all our staff, students, and community.
Because educators hold impactful positions within our communities, we must use our positions to be sources of positive change. Our students, especially our Black, Indigenous and Students of Color, need us to reflect critically and engage honestly in transformative learning in order change our classrooms, school system and union! It is through this process that we will address intentional and unintentional biases and end the culture of white supremacy in schools.
While we recognize that HEA members in different locations will take independent actions to achieve these ends, what binds us to the national movement of Black Lives Matter in Schools is our commitment to achieving four demands: 1) replace “zero tolerance” with restorative justice practices, 2) mandate Black History and ethnic studies, 3) hire more Black educators and other educators of color, 4) fund counselors & community services not cops.
The Highline Education Association will act on its mission to advocate, educate, organize and empower our members in order to achieve these demands. Return regularly to learn how you can take action. Connect through the newsletters featured on our website or learn more on our Facebook page.
Black Lives Matter in School=Educate. Read this short article by Erica Ijeoma, a local student leader, for a brief history of the Black Lives Matter at School movement and the impact of that movement on her.
Black Lives Matter in Highline Schools=Advocate. Over the last two years, HEA has approached the HPS school board to approve the celebration and instruction of BLM in Schools. While a number of teachers and a few schools have fully or partially employed the curriculum, a concerted effort to work toward the demands or join the full week of actions as a system has not yet been achieve.
Today, is a call to action by your union, asking for your commitment to and participation in the movement for BLACK LIVES MATTER AT SCHOOL. It means reaching out to our students, families, and communities from the start of the year to co-create spaces for sharing and celebrating what makes us unique and what makes us human. This commitment will require, for some of us, educating ourselves before we can educate our students. This commitment challenges us to stay laser focused on the things that are meaningful to our students and families and not get sidetracked by test scores and meaningless mandates. Together with our students, families, communities and each other, we can achieve our demands and bring to life the movement’s thirteen guiding principles. Please join us on this journey today.
BLM in the Streets=Organize. Another all-out effort to honor Black lives in Washington State. According to organizers, “The day of action will include a general strike and a silent march to honor the lives lost and send a powerful message that Washingtonians no longer tolerate the racism that is built into so many of our institutions” This march is another effort to amplify the need for reforms. Recognizing that flexibility is key, there is no need to use a personal or sick day to participate in Friday’s general strike. There are a variety of options for participation. There be a silent march that will take place starting at 1:00 PM in Judkins Park in Central Seattle. There is another march at 1:30 PM, starting at Cal Anderson Park in Seattle. BLM Seattle King County is asking everyone who wants to participate to stay safe by wearing masks and keeping a six-foot distance from each other as much as possible. If you plan to attend, we ask for you to make signs keeping the focus on BLM while wearing HEA t-shirts to show solidarity.
If you are not able to attend rallies or the silent march, there are other ways you can participate. One of the most important would be contacting government officials to press for changes at the local, state, and national levels. If you have not yet registered to vote or if you have moved locations, take the time to do that as well.
BLM on the Corners=Empower. Chinook Middle School students and educators are sticking around and setting up a local sidewalk demonstration celebrating SeaTac. Their solidarity action is planned for 10AM-Noon outside Chinook MS. SeaTac community police have been invited to join in and show their support for BLM in Schools. (S. 188th St.& 42nd Ave S.) Many other schools in the district are organizing themselves so be sure to connect with your building rep to get the details. Events are planned throughout the month at many other locations around the state. Bookmark the WEA website to stay up-to-date.
This is just a start! As a NEA local, read our shared belief statements below. Each week watch for ways to advocate, educate, organize and empower ourselves and our students to achieve true racial justice individual and collectively through the support from your unions: HEA/RainierUniServ/WEA/NEA.
■ Our work promotes a vision for public education that advances inclusion, equity, and racial and social justice in our schools and society. ■ Our work must dismantle white supremacy, and ensure that bigotry or discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, disability or national origin are not part of our classrooms, educational curricula, school policies and discipline practices. ■ Our schools must be safe for all students, and free from state-sanctioned, racialized, and gender-based violence. ■ We must work to dismantle discipline systems that create the school-to-prison pipeline by implementing practices that encourage inclusion and are free from racial and ethnic bias, and invest in counselors and other student supports. ■ Our work must result in action - programs, campaigns, policies, and capacity-building efforts for local NEA members that dismantle institutional racism now and into the future. Initiatives should create sustainable infrastructures that can continue to create systemic change, and hold decision-makers, elected officials, and institutions accountable. ■ Our work must recruit, engage, and promote leadership of educators of color to share the ladder of opportunity. ■ Programs, campaigns, and projects must be driven by goals that are clearly outlined, tracked, and measured, and that have accountability systems that explicitly promote racial justice. ■ Our work must promote education policies and curricula which highlight and honor the histories and cultures of people of color and indigenous peoples. ■ We must work to ensure that all students have access to a safe and quality education, regardless of their country of origin or immigration status. ■ Our work must promote and support the engagement of students of color and LGBTQ students in shaping policies that directly impact their educational experiences and foster safe and inclusive schools.