Apr 05 2012
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.
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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