Last Saturday’s Banner Drop-off and community breakfast was a success, drawing a broad base of individuals from organizations including Creativity not Control, the African American Longshoreman’s Coalition, The People’s Institute Northwest, No New Jim Crow, Youth Speaks,Occupy/Decolonize Seattle, Food Not Bombs, 206 Zulu, Seattle Community Media Lab and more to help hold the district accountable to a higher standard in their negotiation process with the community as well as to prevent the attempted displacement of Africatown. TheSeattle Public School District has been in conversation with the Africatown coalition since the summer, but has yet to propose a workable solution to the crisis of education for Black youth in Seattle. In fact, on August 29th, the school district itself admitted in a meeting with More4Mann coalition that it has no plan specifically for African American students. However, in the past two weeks SPS has approached the coalition with several verbal demands to vacate the premises of Horace Mann School, even sending contractors to begin construction in the currently occupied building.
|Pegi McEvoy w/ Africatown coalition members|
Pegi McEvoy, assistant superintendent of Seattle Public Schools dropped through the event around 11am with a letter of intent for the Africatown coalition, and was approached with the sincere concerns of community members around the lack of consistency and transparency in the negotiation proceedings. Although the district has proposed several alternative sites in an attempt to divide and relocate the 18 Africatown organizations that have been operating out of Horace Mann since the summer, the coalition holds firm in its commitment to stand together as one and continue culturally-competent, community-led educational programming for Black youth from this site until SPS demonstrates a genuine commitment to children of color in Seattle.
Disparate disciplinary policies as well as the persistent and growingachievement gap were back-burner issues that Seattle Public Schools had no tangible plan to address up until this summer when 18 organizations moved into Horace Mann School and began running their own programs geared specifically for under-served neighborhood youth. This came in the wake of the federal prosecution of Silas Potter and other district administrators’misuse of public funds which led to the ousting of former SPS superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, the incompetence of current SPS general council Ron English, and a general historic pattern of corruption and chaos in SPS leadership that stretches decades back. The existence and persistence of the Africatown coalition has led to the convening of at least one task force and an advisory committee to examine the issues around educational inequality brought to the forefront by the More4Mann campaign.
As negotiations continue, More4Mann will continue to hold space in Horace Mann School until a definite long-term solution is produced in this struggle for justice. Ultimately, we know we are our own solution, and we are committed to assisting SPS in reaching their own goals of being able to serve every child in the district. Look out for more updates soon to come on the ongoing negotiations, join us at Horace Mann for our Thursday 6pm meetings, and for moment-to-moment updates on the Horace Mann site, follow @More4Mann on twitter. All pictures on this post are courtesy of Purple Reels.