By Alex Ng
Open Letter to Seattle Public Schools Students, Families, Educators, and Communities
“We need to mobilize what works.” – Dr. Nicole Law
Seattle School District leaders consistently do just the opposite. They immobilize what works, even after it has been proven to work. They impede and stall the work our communities call for, and take away from educators the very tools that work to serve our students in this time of dual pandemics. They immobilize ethnic studies by dismissing educators of color most dedicated to this critical work our communities of color are yearning for. They take away platforms like Zoom even after SpEd specialists and families tell us this works better than Teams to meet the needs of our students. Seattle School District leaders immobilize what works, perhaps because they fear the outcomes of a truly just public education system that uplifts our students’ inherent greatness instead of crushing it.
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) accepts and perpetuates incompetence in central office leadership, knowing the most dedicated, most passionate educators at the school-level will step up time and time again to fill in the gaps and fix what central office staff left broken. This is a viscous cycle of inequity and incompetence that leads to defeated teachers and inequitable educational conditions being passed on to students because even the most dedicated, most passionate educators at the school-level can’t possibly fill all the gaps or fix all the broken things central office leaders so willingly passed onto us.
In their directives and desire to wrestle local control way from schools, SPS leaders are causing enormous, unnecessary stress and anxiety for educators, students, and families. They are not prioritizing the uniqueness of each school community, despite explicitly saying they believe in doing so. As with so many inequities and injustices in the time of COVID-19, SPS leaders are further revealing their disregard and disrespect for educators, students, and families. From not paying educators for planning and leading professional development for the entire district and betraying their own official communication and heaping uncertainty onto school communities, to simply being absentee leaders and passing unpaid labor onto classroom educators, Seattle School District leaders are showing themselves for who they have always been: middle managers earning 6 and 7 digit salaries with no real commitment to the communities they are supposed to serve.
Seattle students, families, and educators deserve better. We deserve better than perpetual incompetence. We deserve better than leaders who pay lip service to equity only to reinforce inequities through their rigidity. We deserve better than their casual disregard for the needs of our communities. We need leaders who live the words of Dr. Nicole Law: leaders who mobilize what works.