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    Ethnic Studies Update
    Posted on 11/19/2020

    The Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Board of Directors adopted Resolution 2016-17/17 on July 5, 2017 in support of Ethnic StudiesPDF icon. Led by the NAACP and supported by Seattle Education Association's Center for Race and Equity, educators have been working since 2017 to build a program reflective of the needs and concerns of the Seattle community.

    Ethnic studies is a curriculum program and a discipline of study focused on the experiences of people and communities of color with an emphasis on indigenous origin. We have heard the feedback from our educators and community for ethnic studies to be integrated into all curricular areas for PreK-12 students. Thanks to this important community feedback, Seattle Public Schools is working to create a sustainable system that builds ethnic studies as a foundation for all learning content areas.

    The Department of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction (CAI) has partnered with the Department of Racial Equity Advancement (DREA) to prioritize ethnic studies in integrated curriculum. The director of integrated curriculum, a new position between these two departments, will oversee this important work, as well as help integrate ethnic studies into all curriculum, content areas, and grade levels.

    SPS will also be hiring an ethnic studies program manager, as well as two full-time curriculum support specialists. DREA and CAI will partner with community stakeholders, students, and educators that have organized to institutionalize ethnic studies in SPS to ensure the hiring process is racially equitable and in alignment with the ethnic studies movement shaped in community. The NAACP Youth Council has also created a sub-committee to partner with DREA throughout the hiring and onboarding of the ethnic studies program manager.

    This year, SPS is also excited to launch Black studies for high school students in grade 11, the first course in our Black Education Program. The Black Education Program is a response to the insights and requests from Black students, families, and communities across Seattle.

    Black studies will be available to all high school students in grade 11 while in remote learning. Students who take this course will earn credits toward graduation and will learn about the Black and African American experience from a national and global perspective. This includes, but is not limited to, African history, American history, critical race theory, American enslavement, Black and African American-led social movements, Black and African American social autonomy and economic development, Black and African American innovation, as well as Black and African American leadership nationally and globally.

    This course will be taught through an intersectional lens, with resources created by Black educators, theorists, leaders, authors, organizers, historians, researchers, and scholars. This course will also build upon students' critical analysis and awareness of miseducation embedded in traditional curricula and accounts of history, racial equity, Black and African American identity, and Black and African American experiences nationally and globally.

    With the launch of this first Black studies course, SPS is also working to develop integrated curriculum for grades K-5 that embeds Black studies across all subjects, and to create a districtwide Black studies course for middle and high school students. This work will continue to advance and accelerate as we build our ethnic studies team within central office.

    Thank you to the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee and WA Ethnic Studies Now for all of their work to advise and create meaningful, sustainable ethnic studies opportunities for all of our students in SPS. Thank you to our educators who have continued this important work since 2017 and for being a valued voice as SPS builds a system that will sustain, grow, and thoughtfully refine ethnic studies well into the future. This important work can only happen through the dedication and hard work that you have all put in.