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Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Apr 05 2012

School Board Testimony

I provided public testimony as a member of the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, 4/4/2012. The work of the Roundtable has been strengthened by participation from School District Leadership and the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable members wanted to take an opportunity to share with the school board our values relative to the Superintendent Search. Below is a copy of my public testimony.

Good evening.

My name is Bruce Harrell and I am speaking as a member of the Race and Social Justice Community Roundtable; a partnership of 25 community organizations and staffed by the City of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights.

The Roundtable’s purpose is to end institutionalized racism and race-based disparities, especially in the area of education. We are a tool and a resource for you [The Seattle School Board] and for the Superintendent Search Committee. I am one of 5 speakers today from the Roundtable.

I am also speaking as a Seattle Public Schools graduate. My parents attended Seattle Public Schools. My oldest son graduated from Garfield, my daughter attends Cleveland High School. I currently have a Franklin High School Student working in my office. I believe in the Seattle Public Schools and in your leadership as a Board.

Tonight is my moment to speak, but your moment to shine in your selection process as one of the Best School Boards in the country.

Our specific ask is that you use the Race and Social Justice Toolkit and Questionnaire in your process during the selection period. Thank you for assembling a wide range of perspectives in the Selection Committee that you have assembled.

In fighting institutional racism, there is no name or face to fight. There are policies, many of which may appear neutral on their face, that serve to create racial disparities. The policies do not fully recognize historical racism.

Our new Superintendent must have an appreciation of the concept of institutional racism and the hidden forces which lead to underachievement. Simply blaming our problem on parents who are not responsible or children who are unruly achieves nothing. Use us. We are a resource to you. Thank you for what you do and for your commitment to our children.

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Sep 27 2011

Council passes initiative to provide high-speed Internet access and technology skills training to low-income students

Press Release issued 9/27/11

Council passes initiative to provide high-speed Internet access and technology skills training to low-income students

The Great Student Initiative will help educate and prepare Seattle students

SEATTLE – The City Council voted unanimously on Monday to approve the Great Student Initiative (Resolution 31328). Legislated by Councilmember Bruce Harrell, the Great Student Initiative will serve as a model for the nation in bringing together and maximizing public-private partnerships to help students and families acquire broadband Internet access and technology skills training.

The program can help approximately 16,000 of the 47,000 students in Seattle Public Schools on the free lunch program. Only 46 percent of households in Seattle with incomes averaging under $30,000 receive high-speed Internet access. The public-private partnership will map out resources for a sustainable program to achieve Council’s policy directives in making sure students from all socio-economic backgrounds have access to high-speed Internet and vital job skills training.

“I am excited to launch Seattle’s Great Student Initiative and lead a national effort to educate our students on important digital literacy skills,” said Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “The information and communication technology job sector contributes over $3.5 billion to Seattle’s economy and information technology job growth is projected at 22 percent in this decade, one of the fastest and more sustainable job industries. We must equip children from all backgrounds with tools to access online educational resources to compete in this global economy driven by technology, science, engineering, and mathematics. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), 77 percent of jobs in the next decade will require technology skills.”

Data from the Federal Reserve show students without home Internet access have a high school graduation rate six to eight percentage points lower than students who have access in their homes. This is a major opportunity to ensure that more students graduate.

“Seattle Public Schools is pleased to partner with the city to begin to eliminate the digital divide,” said Susan Enfield, Interim Superintendent. “We thank these companies for stepping up and helping low income families throughout Seattle.”

Through the Comcast Internet Essentials program, students on the national free lunch program will have access to $9.95 a month Internet service and a $150 netbook computer.

“Educational enrichment cannot be confined to the walls of the classroom. Connecting students to online resources at home will remove obstacles to opportunity, allowing students to compete on an even playing field and live up to their full potential,” said Kelley Dunne, President and CEO, One Economy Corporation. “The Great Student Initiative is a collaborative digital inclusion program that fully engages city leaders, corporations, teachers, parents and the community in improving education for Seattle students.”

“Getting technology and Internet access into the hands of our students is essential in building a pathway toward graduation. This will not only lead to a healthy workforce, but help in creating jobs,” said Council President Richard Conlin.

“While the world has gone digital, many low-income families have not, making passage of the Great Student Initiative especially important. Through our Internet Essentials program and continued financial commitments to digital literacy programs we look forward to doing our part to help close the digital divide,” said Len Rozek, Senior Vice President, Comcast.

“All students should have access to the building blocks of a quality education so that they can go from learning to earning,” said Sig Behrens, General Manager of U.S. Education for Microsoft. “The link between education attainment and economic growth has never been clearer. Seattle is on the leading edge of Microsoft’s Shape the Future vision, which prioritizes ensuring that low-income students have access to the same digital tools that can help to put them on par with their more connected peers. This should be made an educational priority for all, not a privilege for some.”

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Jul 28 2009

Commencement for Seattle’s High School Graduates!

When is the last time you’ve attended a High School graduation? Last month I had the pleasure of celebrating the academic achievements of Seattle’s 2009 high school graduates. It was an incredible experience! Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph. D., and I spoke at or attended several high school commencements, including Ingraham High School and Garfield High School. I participated in Roosevelt High School’s rehearsal exercise and attended O’Dea’s commencement services at St. James Cathedral.

We are living in a time when less than 7 in 10 American students graduate from high school in four years. Our Council was recently briefed on the graduation rates of the Seattle School District and what was very interesting is how, using the exact same data and representative class, the graduation rate significantly changed depending on the methodology used to track it. For example, in looking at Washington State’s graduation rates for 2006, the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) deduces the graduation rate to be 48.6%. At the same time, the National Governors Association Compact’s rate was 52.9%, and the Cumulative Promotion Index (Ed Week/Swanson) rate was 62.6%. However, the Manhattan Institute’s (Jay Greene) rate for this class was 74.4% and that is the rate most commonly used. According to Mary Beth Celio from Northwest Decision Resources, her study concluded there was a 66.5% graduation rate. Again, these rates are based on the same graduating class of 2006. What is critical about Mary Beth Celio’s presentation is that it is possible to identify the warning indicators and tipping points for failing students. Race, gender and free or reduced lunch status can only predict 11% of future dropouts. What are more indicative factors are middle school unexcused absences, early “F” grades, and whether they enter Seattle Public Schools as late entries. By using these early indicators, we should be able to significantly improve our intervention strategies.

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Apr 09 2009

19th Annual Youth and Law Forum

My news release today announcing the 19th Annual Youth and Law Forum on Saturday, April 18, 2009.

Effort Intended to Empower Seattle’s High School and Elementary Students to Make Well-Informed Career and Life Choices

SEATTLE—City Councilmember Bruce Harrell announced today that as many as 300 youth will participate in the 19th Annual Youth and Law Forum, to be held on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the First AME Church, Seattle. Councilmember Harrell has participated in the Forum since it began in 1990. This year’s theme, “Law and Order”, will focus on teaching young people how to better understand the judicial and law enforcement fields from the very people who serve in them, as well as educate youth on court procedures and their legal rights and responsibilities.

“This city-wide Forum provides youth an excellent opportunity to build their confidence and to make well-informed decisions about their career path and life choices,” said Harrell. “It can be a first step in positioning Seattle’s youth for today’s challenging and diverse job market.”
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Mar 28 2009

Obama, King and Lincoln:
Nice Work Madrona Elementary School!

Madrona K-8 ArtworkOn March 26, 2009, Mayor Nickels and I celebrated the magnificent drawings done by the students at Madrona K-8 Elementary School. Students in Ms. Letta Baker’s class were asked to develop images of their three favorite historical figures. They developed images of President Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Abraham Lincoln. The top seven pictures have been on display in my office at City Hall since March 20, where onlookers and viewers have been amazed. On March 26, these paintings were transported to the Mayor’s floor for another viewing, where people were equally impressed with the work.

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Nice Work Madrona Elementary School!