Working for Racial Equity in Seattle Schools Honors Programs

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Photo: Joshua Huston

“The Racial Equity in HCC Team, a network of about 100 Seattle parents, teachers, students and community members district wide, has worked hard this year to improve the racial equity of Seattle Public Schools’ advanced learning programs.

The Seattle school district offers advanced classes “for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Highly Capable.” To place into the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC), a student needs to score in the top 2 to 3 percent on standardized tests of cognitive, reading and math skills. SPS also offers Advanced Learning (formerly known as Spectrum) for students who have been evaluated for and designated as Advanced Learners.

However, both accelerated programs overwhelmingly consist of white students. In 2015, white students made up 45.6 percent of SPS population, but were 72.3 percent of HCC-eligible students. That same year, 16 percent of students in the Seattle School district were black, but only 1 percent were in Advanced Learning programs. Among SPS’s 12 percent Latino student population, only 3 percent were counted as HCC- and Advanced Learning–eligible students. This compares to data from the U.S. Department of Education from 2009 that shows black students comprising 16.7 percent of total U.S. students and 9.8 percent of students in gifted programs. Data from the USDE also shows that as of 2009 Latino students comprised 22.3 percent of students nationally and 15.4 percent of students in gifted programs. Among the 200 biggest school districts in the U.S., Seattle has the fifth-biggest gap in achievement between black and white students. Seattle’s white-black gap is also the biggest in Washington.”

READ THE FULL STORY IN SEATTLE’S CHILD 

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How Chris Cubas Spent $30,000 In One Month

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“In a new Fusion comedy documentary, Chris Gets Money, Austin-based standup comedian Chris Cubas endeavors to make sense of income inequality in America. Cubas grew up financially insecure and has never been able to comfortably make ends meet as an adult. Why? He works hard for over forty hours per week. His family worked hard. Why do so many hardworking people still struggle to pay for basic necessities like shelter and food? Cubas reasoned that if he could live like the super rich for a little while, maybe he would develop a more nuanced understanding of their logic. The documentary explores questions like, why do those in the top 1% find it sensible to purchase seven sports cars, but unreasonable to pay their employees a livable wage and offer health benefits? How is finding tax loopholes for wealthy people a real job? Is the American Dream truly achievable? Cubas gets money — $30,000 to be exact — to spend over the course of 30 days and embarks on an anthropomorphic journey into Austin’s wealthy westside.”

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The Case for Buying School Lunches

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Cathy Walls-Thompson. Photo: Joshua Huston

Since Michelle Obama’s Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act passed in 2010, the nutritional quality of school lunches has improved dramatically. The act established science-based nutrition standards for all food sold and marketed in schools, increased access to healthy food for children from low-income households and helped communities create local farm-to-school networks.

Lunchroom manager Cathy Walls-Thompson has witnessed the benefits of the act firsthand in the kids she serves at Hawthorne Elementary in Southeast Seattle’s Columbia City. The children have started choosing locally grown fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains instead of French fries or tater tots. 

“I encourage kids to just try it, and see what happens,” says Walls-Thompson. “Parents tell me all the time, ‘I’ll be doggone — my kids are eating salad now because of you!’” She adds that she’s lost 165 pounds by following the new guidelines.” 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN SEATTLE’S CHILD