Category Archives: Equity

Black Lives Matter at School

You are Invited to Celebrate and Learn!

The Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion at Genesee Hill has planned a variety of opportunities for students and families to celebrate and learn about Black Lives Matter at School Week Feb 1-5.

Black Lives Matter at School Virtual Living Room

Explore the BLM at School Virtual Living Room! The room includes a BLM reading shelf centering Black voices, virtual backgrounds for staff and students to use during class meetings, a Black Lives Matter Support Board for families, students and teachers to share the support for BLM in our community, a BLM at School Primer for Adults, and links to the weekly community challenges, BLM events, and fun videos and activities for the whole family. Make it a fixture in your own living room during this important week and beyond!

BLM Weekly Challenges in February

This year, as we celebrate BLM @ School Week and Black History month, we invite GH families to take weekly anti-racism challenges during the month of February. For the first week’s challenge, we invite GH families to fully engage and participate in Black Lives Matter at School week (February 1-5). View full details of the challenges here.

The goal of these BLM weekly challenges is to help families start and sustain conversations about race Learning about race starts at home. In fact, the research shows that children actually start to notice race at a very early age, and parents can play a powerful role in helping children of  all ages develop positive attitudes about race and equipping them with the skills to promote a more just future—but only if we talk about it! We hope that participating in these challenges helps to normalize conversations about race, and that eventually they become a part of your family’s regular discussions at home.

Each challenge offers a range of activities designed to educate and engage students and parents in ways both small and big, so each challenge is accessible to everyone regardless of where you are on your learning journey. So make a commitment to take these challenges and let’s show up together for racial equity at Genesee Hill!

PTA BLM and Anti-Racism Conversation

Then, join us at the next PTA Meeting on February 4th at 6:30 for Family Connections: a BLM and anti-racism conversation. This Family Connection segment is a time for parents and caregivers of Genesee Hill students to engage more deeply with each other on educational topics impacting our school and district. We’ll be hearing from teachers about Black Lives Matter instruction and engagement at Genesee Hill, as well as breaking into small groups to discuss how our conversations about BLM and anti-racism are going at home. We hope you’ll join us! Look in the Thursday bulletin for the link to join.

Event to Celebrate Local Black Student Brilliance
Finally, on Friday, Feb. 5, we encourage everyone to attend the virtual event Young, Gifted and Black. This powerful keynote event of the 2021 Black Lives Matter at School week is centered on the creative and intellectual brilliance of African-American students throughout Seattle Public Schools and nearby districts and will feature dancers, poets, filmmakers, singers, speakers and more. Event details here.

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Unity Night 2020

ALL are invited and welcome to celebrate Unity Night together next Wednesday, Dec. 9, 6-7:30pm. Ms. Sealey and Ms. Bronson will co-host this special evening featuring  live student performancesart, and music, plus multiple opportunities to connect with other Genesee Hill families. We’ll even have a virtual room for showcasing the amazing student projects focused on celebrating family culture that have become a Unity Night tradition. More details below:

Unity Night bowl of noodles - December 9

  • RSVP: If you haven’t already RSVP’d to attend this popular event, please do so here so that we can send you the Zoom link. Or find the login information in the weekly school bulletin.
  • Pre-Order Takeout: Pre-order a take-out meal from a local POC-owned business to participate in our Virtual Potluck!  Your family can pick up a delicious meal the afternoon of the event while supporting a small business. Choose from a home-cooked family meal of marinated pork loin with mac & cheese and grilled veggies, a mouth-watering fried chicken meal, or authentic Thai street food. View the menu options and pre-order your meal by 5 pm 12/7 using this Meal Pre-Order Form. (There is also an option to order Thai take-out the day of the event. Details are in the pre-order form.)
  • Pay It Forward: Since our first Unity Night in 2017, every family has been welcome to share our community table and enjoy a meal, whether or not they were able to contribute a dish to the potluck.  This year, families have the option to buy an extra Family Meal in their pre-order for a GH family who requests one, or for a GH staff member.  If you would like to request one of these meals, please contact our Equity Chair, Kristen, at equity@geneseehillpta.org. Donors will be matched anonymously with families/staff who request a meal, and all meal requests will be kept confidential.
  • Community Cookbook: You can even recreate the potluck at home by preparing a recipe shared by other GH families in our very first Genesee Hill Community Cookbook which is available to view now! There is still time to submit your favorite family recipe. You can upload your recipe as text or a photo to the  GH Community Cookbook shared folder. Questions? Please contact Michele Guiao at micheleguiao@hotmail.com

Even though we can’t gather in person this year,  we hope you will join us to build CommUNITY and support our connectedness while we are apart. Please invite your friends! We look forward to seeing you at Unity Night! 

"UNITY" in text and ASL letters with a rainbow behind

 

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Anti-Racism Resolution

One of the 2020-2021 goals of the Genesee Hill teaching community is to address and dismantle white supremacy culture in education at our school. This has also been a goal of the Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion (FCEIGH) since its inception two years ago, as well as the staff Equity Leadership Team. In the last two years, these two Equity Teams have partnered to present our school community with equity book club gatherings, BIPOC speakers, listening circles and community-centered Unity Nights. It’s been a start; and this past spring, the family committee and staff committee began drafting an Anti-Racism Resolution to further lift up the intention of our shared anti-racism commitment, in order to address our impacts and begin to take tangible action steps and hold each other accountable. 

Our shared understanding and acknowledgement of what white supremacy culture is and how we commit to anti-racism will make this moment a powerful movement in our community. Being anti-racist is not what we say about ourselves, but about what we do individually and together. This is where true change happens. In order to continue this process, we are asking everyone in our school community to read the resolution, share it widely, provide feedback, and attend the special meeting on October 26th to be part of the vote to adopt it. We want everyone to have the opportunity to engage in the process of creating our next steps … how will each of us support a shift in culture at our school?

As you read the resolution (viewable here), be aware that this is meant as an aspirational statement of intent. It is the widest possible net to state what we believe – that our community is anti-racist. Within the resolution there are broad statements of direction that highlight what we mean by this, but a resolution does not provide the map on how to get there. A resolution gives us a guidepost in which to strive toward; the impact the resolution will actually have on our community comes through in how we build out our actions. Together, we get to define these actions, and these actions will evolve over time as we evolve as a community. 

Timeline:

  • June-September: Anti-Racism Resolution was drafted and reviewed by our FCEIGH, GH staff Equity Leadership Team and administration, and PTA board. Staff adopted it and began work on their action plans. 
  • October 5: PTA Board approved the resolution draft for presentation to general PTA membership; called for a special meeting to review and adopt.
  • October 13: PTA general membership approved the motion to hold a special meeting.
  • October 20: Slido will be opened to gather feedback on the resolution. The Slido will remain open for one week here.
  • October 26 at 7pm: Special meeting of the general PTA membership will be held to adopt the resolution. While all comments will be reviewed, the vote to adopt the resolution will go to PTA members. If you are not a member yet, you can sign up at any time (and the $15 fee should not be a barrier to participation; if you would like to request a waiver, please email membership@geneseehillpta.org) Look for log in information for this meeting in the October 22nd bulletin.

At the October 26th meeting, we will hear an update from the staff Equity Leadership Team and the Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion about their current action plans to support the Anti-Racism Resolution, and we will begin the action planning for our wider community to engage with and direct the ongoing work of dismantling white supremacy culture at our school. We are excited to be able to adopt a school-wide resolution, knowing that it’s going to take all of us working together to create the tangible action steps that make anti-racism our shared reality. Your participation is needed as we continually build a more inclusive, welcoming and equitable school community. Please join me on October 26th

Kristen Corning

PTA Equity Chair

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Letter Regarding Academic Pods

from Genesee Hill Equity Chair, Kristen Corning Bedford

What are our kids going to learn this year? From one parent I hear this question with an exasperated tone, frustrated and stressed. And from another I hear the same question, no less stressed and frustrated, but with an added tinge of hope and possibility. What could our children learn this year?

The stress of what parents are managing as we approach the Fall cannot be overstated. A friend of mine, who is a therapist, recently told me that out of all her patients, parents are doing the worst. It’s a lot. And within the stress and strain there are multitudes: some parents are losing jobs, others are working overtime. Regardless of the situation, no one is able to provide their children with what they receive at school. And some children are further from educational justice, lacking also the safety and nutrition that school may provide.

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of just calling it this year – suggesting that perhaps we could just give everyone across the nation a pass, all work together on a common project and regroup at the start of school 2021. The children would be ok educationally, because we’d all be taking this skip year together. But this doesn’t solve the very real crisis of childcare, which is where our systems are really breaking down and where we’re seeing the fault lines of a society that does not value Black, Brown and Indigenous lives, and severely undervalues female labor and caretaking.

Here’s what I can say with certainty, after six years as a parent at Genesee Hill, serving as both the parent representative on the Building Leadership Team and co-chairing the Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion for the last two: this is a staff that is doing incredible work, both in community building and in professional development, in order to support and educate our children. Not just in reading and math, but in how to be compassionate, engaged leaders with critical thinking skills.

And when we’re asking ourselves, what is my child going to learn this year, the number one thing on everyone’s mind are the formation of educational pods. Families are frantically trying to make sense of this time and figure out how to support themselves and each other when the systems are failing them. We cannot judge people for doing what they need to do to survive. But we owe it to our community to ask what’s equitable. How do we survive the coming Fall, when we’ll be expected to carry on with our jobs while also supporting our kids’ education, all while sitting together at the kitchen table? How do we focus support on the most vulnerable, not the most inconvenienced? How do we use our privilege to create change for others as well as ourselves?

If you’re mad, you should be! If you’re frustrated and scared, now is the time to channel that energy into making the system better. This must be a community effort, pushing our district and government leaders for greater clarity and innovative solutions for a new future. Here’s how you can use your voice to make a difference:

First, if you’re considering forming a pod with other families, we ask that you focus on childcare and socialization instead of curriculum. Childcare is something everyone is seeking, but providing educational advantages contributes to a widening educational gap. Ask yourself, who is getting left behind? Pandemic pods and withdrawing students from SPS highlight the growing inequities surfacing during Covid19. Because enrollment and attendance are central to determining funding for public schools, withdrawing your student further diminishes public schools’ ability to serve the most marginalized students and keep staff employed.

There is no single solution that will work for all, but we can be informed in our approach and intentional in our application. Integrated Solutions offers a great article that includes a list of questions to ask ourselves, which include the following that I’ve been focused on for my family:

  • Am I clear on what is a need and what is a desire?
  • Instead of thinking “how can I make sure my (privileged) kid doesn’t fall behind?” – can I ask myself, “how can I help to strengthen the public institutions we all depend on?”
  • Have I searched for local organizations (particularly those run by BIPOC) who are pushing for equitable approaches to these current situations and can I join with them? 

Genesee Hill also has a robust grade level cohort model that is set up to support families in connecting with and supporting each other. If you’d like to figure out ways to ensure all families at our school are getting the support they need, you can reach out to our Cohort Leader at cohorts@geneseehillpta.org.

Second, join the PTA and the Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion. We need more people showing up with diverse perspectives, to ensure we’re hearing from everyone and establishing norms not dependent on the dominant culture. How we hold meetings, choose leaders, listen and respond are all part of the evolution happening across institutions and industries. As a community of passionate parents and caregivers, we must link our individual school efforts to district wide efforts, in order to create equitable educational opportunity.

Third, contact the City Council, the School Board, and the School District. Tell them what you expect from them in supporting a more just response to the pandemic, and that there are changes you would like to see put into continued practice, like reducing testing and implementing ethnic studies. This blog post and letter, both prepared by educational researchers, outline actions to urge policymakers to take. (They come from the following document, A Guide to Equity in Pandemic Schooling by Dr. Erica Turner.) You can also learn more about how to support systemic change by reaching out to our PTA Legislative Chair, legislative@geneseehillpta.org.

What our children could learn this year is much greater than what they’d typically get in a year of gradeschool. They could learn resiliency and community. They could witness the beauty of slowing down and appreciating what they have – that what we need to learn is often much simpler and often not proven out by test scores. They could learn that they are part of a system and that they have the power to change that system. All education happens in relationship, teacher to student, parent to child, friend to friend. Perhaps our kids could learn that the adults, working together, ensured they were taken care of, while being given the opportunity to witness the possibilities that emerge from complexity and chaos.

While the above reflects my personal opinion, I’ve posted here as a representative of the Genesee Hill Family Committee for Equity and Inclusion and PTA.  Please feel free to send comments or questions to: equity@geneseehillpta.org All dialogue is welcome. 

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