By: Organizing for Racial Equity (ORE)
The fight for ethnic studies in Washington State has largely been led by educators, especially in Seattle Public Schools, thanks to the organizing of groups like Social Equity Educators and the Center for Racial Equity. Ethnic studies, however, needs to be rooted in deeper efforts to achieve racial justice, and not just in education. Below is a piece written about the accomplishments of grassroots organizing for racial justice at the State level at the Washington Education Association (WEA) Representative Assembly (RA) this past April. This is what’s possible when teachers lead on racial justice!
Within our union, there are still racial inequities that need to be addressed. However, during the WEA Representative Assembly held from April 25th to 27th, the conversation began again as racial justice seemed to become the theme of the convention. Marquita Prinzing and Kaitlin Kamalei Jenkins from Seattle Education Association (SEA) tag teamed as lead organizers for Organizing for Racial Equity, a statewide movement that brought forth many racial equity policies at the WEA RA.
Organizing for Racial Equity started as an idea between a few educators at the SEA Mock RA meeting. However, the thought quickly grew into a statewide organizing effort. Many different locals were represented on the core team, including Seattle, Shoreline, Edmonds, Tacoma, and Mukilteo. The team drafted policy submissions, crafted floor plans, and wrote informative documents. The team also ensured that there was a concrete promotional plan, including networking, engaging with caucuses, creating a social media plan, and branding materials. By the start of RA, we garnered support from locals across the state.
With the hard work of the team and the support of the WEA community, we were able to pass all eight of the motions that our team presented. Our motions included:
- Amendment #3: Adding a racial equity analysis question to policy submission forms
- NBI #32: Calling for racial equity training and tools for the WEA Board
- NBI #31: Supporting a Statewide Educators of Color Network
- NBI #33: Creating an Ethnic Studies Taskforce
- New Resolution #9: WEA supports Ethnic Studies
- NBI #41: Supporting Black Lives Matter at Schools
- NBI #78: Calling for more equitable race & ethnicity data
- New Resolution #3: WEA acknowledges White Supremacy Culture
There were also many other racial equity motions passed by other members of SEA and other locals represented by Organizing for Racial Equity. Another huge win for racial equity was NBI (new business item) 40: in support of the i1000 Affirmative Action bill—a key step to legalize diversifying the teaching force, which was authored and supported by ORE members.
Thank you for all your support and thank you to all SEA members that were on our core team. We look forward to continuing the movement, especially with the National Education Association RA coming up soon. If you would like to join Organizing for Racial Equity, please join our Facebook group to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OrganizingForRacialEquity/.