On October 5th, youth leaders of the NAACP Youth Council demanded that Superintendent Juneau be terminated. Below is an excerpt of the speech given by Angelina Riley, co-president of the NAACP Youth Council, outlining the reasons why they are demanding her termination.
One mission of Washington Ethnic Studies Now is to center the voices of BIPOC students, and we are doing that by assisting the NAACP Youth Council in collecting signatures on a petition. By signing the below petition, you will show your support for BIPOC youth and send a message to each director of the Seattle Public Schools school board.
Fire Superintendent JuneauRead or edit the petition
In addition to being NAACP Youth Council co-president, Angelina is the founder of Black Minds Matter, a Southend activist, and winner of the Black Education Matters student activist award.
I was a former member of two years for the Superintendent Juneau’s advisory board, and on July 10th of this year, I, and the majority of our original members, formally resigned for a couple of reasons that I’ll explain. I joined the board back in November of 2018 with the promise that my voice would be heard, and that students in schools across the district would be represented, and, unfortunately, throughout my time with the board I didn’t see that happening, and I would come to find that my voice made little to no difference to the system of schooling or the different operatives that our schools had.
On several occasions where we’d ask for transparency or demanded more seats at the table, we were turned away, and we were given tasks that did not relate to the lists of issues that we planned to discuss when the group was first brainstorming its list of demands and its purpose at its birth. And though we had a few occasions where we were able to have slight input on the strategic plan, we didn’t really see many of our ideas reflected in the final product. So, we demanded several changes throughout the years to the structure of the board itself, including a student-elected cabinet and the removal of City Year, which were, you know, individuals who specialize in discussion facilitation, which we felt wasn’t really necessary for a discussion between a superintendent and youth, and that demand wasn’t met.
Furthermore, the one year ban on SPD [Seattle Police Department] in Seattle Public Schools that was made the week after I, and others in the community, started to push for these changes – Superintendent had initially created that ban for one year with no plan on how different communities would be consulted with. She never consulted with us – her advisory board – or organizers, which she knew, who were on the front lines, and we felt ignored. We felt like she wasn’t engaging with us.
My next point is education is emancipation. As Aneesa had reminded us – and I say this all a lot – the district strategic plan states over, and over again that they will center students furthest from educational justice; however, the superintendent terminated a partnership with the program meant to create a curriculum that centers Black and Indigenous history without consulting her advisory board, and, specifically, students furthest from educational justice. We just want to reiterate that courses that center Black and Brown stories and curriculum that acknowledges our complex history, yet affirms our greatness is important. And, in doing so [terminating the partnership], she has extended inequities that exist in our education, which further effects the future of our society. Those actions perpetuate anti-Blackness, and they perpetuate racism at a time where millions of people are in the streets protesting for liberation. It has shown us that she does not value Black voices, and without honoring Black student voices, they’re neglecting Black education, which is ultimately our liberation. It is subtly showing us that we don’t matter, and we know that all lives won’t matter until Black lives do.
We also want to acknowledge the treatment of our former ethnic studies manager and other SPS staff who have been removed in unethical manners, including being escorted out of the Seattle Public Schools John Stanford building; and the 300 calls to SPD and 40 arrests in one school year; the placement of white staff members with no personal background on BIPOC American experiences in position made to benefit Black students from those communities. We want to acknowledge the lack of follow through on dismantling the HCC [highly capable cohort]. We want to acknowledge the white washing of anti-racist curriculum; the leading with ego; the lack of family engagement; the lack of student engagement.
We want to make this clear that my education the education of my peers is not a service issue.
This is about the fact that I watched my classmates lose interest in every class for years.
It’s about my Black peers that I watched get physically assaulted by teachers and by staff members.
It’s about this fight for Black girls in our schools who are being over-disciplined and criminalized from young ages.
It’s about Black students who feel they need to assimilate to [white] culture in order to get closer to opportunities that their white counterparts do not have to work as hard to be recognized for.
It’s about how our Black Lives Matter week is confined to a week and is only recognized when one of us is murdered.
This is about the fight for LGBT+ youth in our schools who hardly ever get the support they deserve when someone incites hatred towards them.
This is the fight for special education students in my school.
It’s a fight for the students who come to school hungry and don’t find the nutrients they need in our lunches. It’s a fight for educational rights that’s personal, because we’re the only ones the district fails, and we’re the last generation of students that they will fail and that this educational system will fail.
Fire Superintendent JuneauRead or edit the petition