How we’re covering structural racism and systemic change in education, and how you can get involved

Educators and advocates said they saw a sudden window of opportunity to radically change how schools serve students of color.

In interviews, people I spoke with — educators and advocates, mostly — said they saw a sudden window of opportunity to radically change how schools serve students of color. It’s not that people haven’t been working toward change for decades — many have. But people on the front lines of education equity work saw a national social movement rising and heard the big questions Washington education leaders were weighing to make schools safe. They wondered why we couldn’t also use this moment to make them equitable.

JR: Katherine, how did your experience as a Seattle Public Schools parent frame your approach to reporting on this project?

KL: Both of my kids graduated from Seattle schools my daughter in , my son in , and I’ve come to realize how Eurocentric the curriculum was from talks with my daughter, who’s now works for a publishing company that specializes in books about women, especially immigrants and women of color.

She says she learned nothing about a huge swath of American history, society and culture. Her teachers only covered a few African Americans — Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King were the go-to’s — and failed to cover the Civil Rights movement or Jim Crow laws. She’s come to recognize misogyny and racism threaded through pop culture, even some of the shows she watched as a kid. When Erin Jones the education consultant and state superintendent candidate talked about how teaching from a Eurocentric worldview hurts everyone, including white kids, that resonated with me.

Teaching from a Eurocentric worldview hurts everyone, including white kids.

Hannah and Katherine, what surprised you most in the course of interviewing people for this story?

KL: Trish Millines Dziko, the founder of Technology Access Foundation, said if you could put significantly more money into high-quality, ongoing teacher training, and if you could also focus on anti-racist teaching, you could completely change the system. As reporters, I don’t know if we pay enough attention to this.

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