Washington State NAACP Youth Council

 

We’re a coalition of anti-racist youth representing eight districts in the Puget Sound and multiple ethnicities.

Websitelinktr.ee/wastatenaacpyouth

Join them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wastatenaacpyouth/

 

What is the NAACP Youth Council (N-YC)? 

Too often in public education, the voices of youth are excluded and the response to racism is little to no action. No longer. 

N-YC unites anti-racist youth across Washington into one coalition that demands a seat at the table. As Shirley Chisholm once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” We are youth with representation at dozens of schools across several districts -- with loads of folding chairs. It’s time not just for the youth to be at the table but for anti-racism to be at the top of the agenda. 

 

Our Mission:  

Creating authentic partnerships to promote healing-centered, culturally-responsive practices in order to create positive school climates to eliminate racial and systemic trauma, white supremacy, and anti-blackness; to build a transformative educational system that inspires belief in the brilliance of all scholars. 

To achieve this mission, we demand the following from public education throughout Washington: 

  1. Mandate Ethnic Studies, Pre-K to 12th, and Fully-Staff Ethnic Studies Departments in Every District  

  2. Mandate Thorough and Frequent Staff Racial Equity Trainings

  3. Increase Voice of Youth, Especially BIPOC Youth, in Decision-making at All Levels of Public Education

  4. Hire and Retain More BIPOC Educators 

  5. Incorporate Restorative Justice Practices in Police-Free Schools Instead of Problematic, Outdated Discipline Practices

  6. Support Black Lives Matter at School Actions, including the new “Year of Purpose” 

  7. Increase Access to Opportunities and Mental Health Services 

  8. Abolish the Highly Capable Cohort Program

  9. Mandate Climate Change Education, Emphasizing Environmental Racism, and Dramatically Decrease the Carbon Footprint of Public Education

 

 

 

DEMANDS of the WASHINGTON NAACP YOUTH COUNCIL for 2020-2021

Here are these demands in more detail: 

1. Mandate Ethnic Studies, Pre-K to 12th, and Fully-Staff Ethnic Studies Departments in Every District 

The default in all subjects and grade levels has been whitewashed, male-centric curricula, making Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) feel unwelcome in our schools and protecting systems of oppression. Instead, we must: 

  • Mandate the implementation of Ethnic Studies in every single course, starting in preschool, as ethnic studies is not an elective; it is people’s lives, bodies, and experiences that deserve to shine in every subject. Until it is implemented in all subjects, make it a graduation requirement for each educational level (elementary, middle and high school);

  • Fully support the work of students and staff members who work tirelessly to present their cultures in multicultural community events. Schools must respect the students putting on these events and increase their promotion; 

  • Get feedback from youth, especially BIPOC youth, on transforming current curricula into ethnic studies; 

  • Prioritize ethnic studies over advanced learning, which disproportionately serves wealthy, white students;  

  • Contract with ethnic studies experts like the XITO Institute and Washington Ethnic Studies Now; and 

  • Include in ethnic studies courses critical content including life skills, know your rights, financial literacy, and sex education that is more inclusive of sexual and gender diversity. (See Demand #7 for more details.)

 

2. Mandate Thorough and Frequent Staff Racial Equity Trainings

In part because of the overwhelmingly white teaching force, too many educators are ill-equipped to teach ethnic studies, work with BIPOC colleagues, support a healthy learning environment for BIPOC students, and create positive relationships with BIPOC families. Consequently, Washington districts must undertake the following measures: 

  • Include a rigorous anti-racist screening as part of the hiring process; 

  • Create a district and state racial equity policy and display it in every school; 

  • Create and/or improve Racial Equity Teams in every school throughout the district and state with accountability measures, including the following: 

  • Mandate staff participation in trainings led by the Racial Equity Teams; 

  • Include disenfranchised voices (students of color/BIPOC) and be accessible to the community; 

  • Meet regularly, including professional development days,  and make notes available for transparency and accountability; and 

  • Explore solutions tailored to each school – conduct quarterly surveys so that Racial Equity Teams can create meaningful professional development that fits the distinct needs of each school. 

  • Train teachers and staff at all levels in anti-racist concepts and strategies, which must be co-led by BIPOC youth and include:  

  • Facilitating productive conversations about race, sensitivity around language, culturally sustaining teaching, cultural appropriation, stereotyping, racial harassment, restorative justice, microaggressions & macroaggressions, implicit bias, intersectionality, tokenism, colorism; 

  • Systems of power, privilege, and oppression:

  • Accommodations for all religions, languages, holidays – not just Christian ones – such as prayer accommodations for Muslim students, no testing during Ramadan, and much more; 

  • Gender identity/expression (and how it relates specifically to BIPOC youth);

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES); 

  • Encouragement & empowering Black and Brown students;

  • Mental health check-ups & how to address mental health needs; and  

  • Culture shock, with respect to students’ immigration status. 

  • Increase accountability for staff on issues including but not limited to race and racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression because these issues are intersectional and accountability for one is vital for all;

  • Ensure staff do not unfairly penalize students learning English as a second language; 

  • Begin each training with a Land Acknowledgment statement; and 

  • Mandate reflections and evaluations after every training to assess racial equity literacy growth by staff. 

 

3. Increase Voice of Youth, Especially BIPOC Youth, in Decision-making at All Levels of Public Education

Voices of students of Color should be included in decision making, at all levels, without administrators laying all the responsibility (and all the labor) on BIPOC students. To counter this, we demand that districts do the following, with efforts to include and center BIPOC youth: 

  • Provide more platforms for meaningful youth input, not last-minute feedback, which feels like box-checking; 

  • Establish student representation on the hiring committees at all levels, including committees, buildings, and district; 

  • Ensure youth representation on superintendent search & interview committee;

  • Compensate youth labor with money and/or credit; 

  • Elect student representatives to school boards, representatives with genuine influence, not tokens to give the illusion of youth voice;

  • Institute a streamlined, transparent process of reporting race-related incidents, with clear, appropriate consequences and restorative practices; 

  • Make changes to ensure that teacher tenure doesn’t protect racist behaviors in teachers; 

  • Hire BIPOC to review and revise the student handbook, discipline practices, and district policies; 

  • Collect racial identity data that accurately represents people who have more than one ethnicity in their identity; 

  • Respond to communications with BIPOC youth in an urgent manner; 

  • Create a system for students to give feedback on teachers’ racial literacy; and

  • Schedule regular meetings with  representatives from the NAACP Youth Council. 

 

4. Hire and Retain More BIPOC Educators 

The demographics of Washington educators, especially teachers, simply do not reflect the demographics of the students. Consequently, districts must undertake the following measures: 

  • Hire more anti-racist BIPOC staff, especially young men of Color and nonbinary educators, and compensate them equitably;

  • Hire more bilingual staff to better serve our ELL students and families;

  • Incentivize the teaching career BIPOC youth by creating internships, scholarships, and programs that encourage and facilitate the exploration of the teaching profession (such as the Seattle’s Teaching Academy); 

  • Increase outreach to and build relationships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and programs that prioritize training educators of Color; 

  • Support and retain BIPOC educators once they are hired, given that they, like students of color, are disproportionately disciplined; and 

  • Create anti-racist climates in districts that are unwelcoming to racist educators, as well as white educators oblivious of racism. 

 

5. Incorporate Restorative Justice Practices in Police-Free Schools Instead of Problematic, Outdated Discipline Practices 

Discipline practices that negatively impact students of Color have plagued public education for decades now, funneling Black and Brown students into the school-to-prison pipeline. 

In contrast, restorative justice practices have proven to be more effective in addressing discipline issues. Instead of focusing on discipline, the district needs to connect students in need with support, case managers, and mentors. 

Additionally, students who are targets of racism (especially on social media) must be protected by districts. Thus, districts need to: 

  • Remove all police from schools and prohibit staff from calling the police on students;

  • Take serious action when white students are harassing of BIPOC students; 

  • Focus on students in need with support, mentorship, and case managers instead of disciplining; 

  • Create a process with a concrete timeline for students to submit formal complaints against racist teachers;

  • Ensure that schools investigate when youth of color file complaints; 

  • Make changes to ensure that teacher tenure doesn’t protect racist behavior in teachers; 

  • Train teachers in Restorative and Transformative Justice practices; 

  • Track data to learn if teachers are disproportionately disciplining students with marginalized identities;  

  • Implement Restorative and Tranformative Justice district-wide, rather than school by school;

  • Involve Racial Equity Teams, a Board of students, and families of involved parties when determining resolutions; 

  • Have students appoint an anti-racist staff member to be trained or certified on Restorative and Transformative Justice. (If there isn’t a dependable staff member, hire one.); 

  • Encourage students to bring one trusted person to the Restorative and Transformative Justice circle; and 

  • Provide weekly updates when investigating a case. 

 

6. Support Black Lives Matter at School Actions, including the new “Year of Purpose” 

The National Education Association and Washington Education Association have both passed resolutions of support for Black Lives Matter at School actions; it’s past time district across Washington follow suit in supporting this movement’s demands: 

  • End zero tolerance policies

  • Mandate Black history and ethnic studies

  • Hire more Black teachers

  • Fund counselors not cops 

 

When districts don’t support the national Black Lives Matter at School week of action, they are sending the message that Black lives don’t matter. District must actively pass policies and resolutions early in the year so that educators have months to prepare for Black Lives Matter actions.  

In addition to the week of action in February, educators throughout Washington must participate in “The Year of Purpose” actions, most of which are centered around the 13 Principles of Black Lives Matter:

  • First Day of School: Black to School 

  • October 14: Justice for George Day

  • November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance 

  • December 3: International Peoples with Disability Day 

  • January: Queer Organizing Behind the Scene

  • February 18: Unapologetically Black Day

  • March 6: Student Activist Day

  • April: Revolutionary Black Arts 

  • May 3: Black Radical Educator Day

  • June 5: #SayHerName Day

  • Juneteenth: Education for Liberation Day

  • Last Day of School: A Day for Self Reflection

 

All of these actions are described in detail at blacklivesmatteratschool.com. 

 

7. Increase Access to Opportunities and Mental Health Services 

Many youth of privilege, disproportionately white,  have access to connections that lead to opportunities. Not all students have these connections so, to be equitable, we must prioritize bringing such opportunities to BIPOC youth. Consequently, districts in Washington must undertake the following measures: 

  • Hire BIPOC counselors and therapists, and increase student access to them;

  • Provide consistent, continuous, and comprehensive training for all therapists and counselors on Black Mental Health; 

  • Provide social, emotional, and mental health studies for all students K-12, taught in a culturally responsive way;

  • Provide more information on opportunities available, like internships and summer programs, and ensure that students have access to receive opportunity information in a timely manner;

  • Provide opportunities besides college, such as trade, internships, etc.

  • Ensure all schools are providing these opportunities, not just some schools;  

  • Provide accessible financial nights (on topics like filling out FAFSA, filing taxes, budgeting, stocks, cover letter, resume, interview etiquette, etc.) for students and community members held throughout the year provided in multiple languages, at multiple times/days

  • Prioritize BIPOC organization/businesses when doing community outreach for internships and programs

  • Make college and career opportunities more accessible to BIPOC students via a main page on district websites, as well as paper resources; 

  • Make College Possible consistent in all high schools;

  • Provide more support to BIPOC youth/low-income youth for college access earlier in their education;

  • Assign college and career counselors in a more equitable way, with more funding and FTE going to schools where fewer students currently go on to college; 

  • Create/reinstate/support programs, like teaching academies, that encourage BIPOC students to become educators, especially educators of ethnic studies; 

  • Earmark district funding for BIPOC scholars, creating a pipeline for students of color into higher education (which is what Seattle Young People’s Project and UW’s DREAM project have tried to do to fill the gaps created by Seattle Public Schools);

  • Reinstate and increase family support workers in all schools; and

  • Much like the Family Life and Sexual Health program, have a designated week in elementary and middle schools for students to gain exposure to BIPOC people in different professions as well as promote college readiness. 

 

8. Abolish the Highly Capable Cohort Program

Washington’s Highly Capable Cohort Program (HCC) is fundamentally flawed and inherently racist. It segregates students based on the label of “gifted,” and data shows that Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students are underrepresented, as well as disabled students, students experiencing poverty, migrant students, and students who are transitional bilingual. Testing is biased to whiteness in the methods used, and parents with privilege can appeal for their students using paid private testing, a system that highlights inequities in the testing and identification system. Additionally, HCC curriculum is not anti-racist or culturally responsive. 

In order to provide education that benefits all students and centers BIPOC students, we demand that HCC be abolished and we instead recommend rebuilding an educational environment in which students are able to participate in different learning opportunities and enrichment classes of interest without any barriers, like the Schoolwide Enrichment Model.

In addition, districts must take action to decolonize and make anti-racist segregated advanced high school courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) courses and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. 

 

9. Mandate Climate Change Education, Emphasizing Environmental Racism, and Dramatically Decrease the Carbon Footprint of Public Education

Climate change is as real as ever. Educating young people and helping them understand the issues climate change comes with encourages us to take action and adapt to environment friendly norms, especially since this can affect BIPOC and low-income students even more drastically. We demand districts to:

  • Teach environmental literacy and environmental racism. Provide students a better understanding of global warming and commit them environmental education. Have students use data and evidence to take action against climate change; 

  • Make this climate change education engaging. Host competitions all over the district. Climate change may not be the most interesting subject to learn about, but it must be done for better future for the generations that follow. Have students garden and see who can have the cleanest school in the whole district. Let’s reward students for the effort they put into this. Create projects on reduce, reuse, and recycling; and

  • Be energy-efficient and less wasteful and commit to being 100 percent clean energy. Use LED lights. Have cafeterias consume less meat and dairy products, which is not only helps the environment, but can also be healthier. Reduce paper use by relying on digital platforms. Encourage staff and students to walk, bike, bus, or carpool, if possible. 

 

In addition to the above demands, we also demand the following from Seattle Public Schools (SPS): 

 

1. Add “Ethnic Studies” to the new Strategic Plan 

Though the Strategic Plan is supposed to improve the education of BIPOC youth in SPS, this same plan has been cited as the reason funds have been diverted from ethnic studies, which BIPOC youth and educators have been demanding for years and which the Seattle School Board has supported through unanimously passing two resolutions in support. If the Strategic Plan represents the priorities of SPS leadership, then ethnic studies must be added to it so that it also become the district’s priority, as it was under Superintendent Nyland. 

 

2. Fire Superintendent Juneau

The NAACP Youth Council is calling on the Seattle School board members to end Denise Juneau's contract and fire the Superintendent. During the Superintendent's two-year tenure, she has neglected to protect students from abuse, failed to hold her cabinet members accountable, created a strategic plan focused on testing, and stalled the critical work surrounding ethnic studies. The Superintendent's actions have had detrimental effects on students, particularly Black and Brown students. At the same time, her failure to hold cabinet members accountable has created a toxic racist environment for Black and Brown staff working in the district. Additionally, we call on the Seattle School board members to create an open/transparent Superintendent hiring process that includes meaningful youth voice. 

 

3. Renovate Rainier Beach High School in an Occupied Renovation to be Completed Before 2025 

Rainier Beach was built in 1959. While it has had minor upgrades – a performing arts center in 1998 and a library in 2001 – it has never benefited from a major renovation. Students of Rainier Beach, a school with one of the highest free and reduced meal rates in the district and with a student body nearly entirely of Color, have been protesting poor learning conditions for years. We demand that this renovation: 

  • Be occupied; and

  • Include students on the design team. 

In addition to the above demands, we also demand the following from Highline Public Schools (HPS): 

Cut all ties with police departments in Highline Public Schools 

Highline Public Schools board to permanently end their relationship with all police departments. We are calling on Superintendent Enfield and the Highline School Board to terminate the school district’s existing relationships with all police departments, as well as SROS (school resource officers) and SSOs (school security officers), from Highline Public Schools. 

The countless acts of police brutality that have taken place across the nation and in our community have made it undeniably clear that cops do not provide safety for Black and Brown communities, but actively harm and endanger them. Students of Color make up about 77% of the school's student population. Hence the presence of SROs in our schools jeopardizes the safety, well-being, and futures of our students by adding to the racial trauma currently impacting them and their families. And so, while we acknowledge that members of the Highline community have had some positive interactions with our SROs, this alone cannot pardon what is taking place on the streets, and what history tells us is rooted in the centuries-old subjugation, brutalization, and criminalization of Black and Brown people, whom our district predominantly serves.

We as students have witnessed these effects impact our peers on countless occasions throughout our lives, and because of this, we need to make it clear that armed law enforcement officers are not physically, emotionally equipped for handling student conflicts. 

 

This demand includes: 

  1. Ending existing relationships with the King County Sheriff’s Department and remove police officers (including SROSs and SSOs) from all schools within the Highline School District. 

  2. Reallocating those funds towards community chosen transformative justice programming and mental and physical health services, and invest in student wellness and holistic de-escalation spaces within our schools. This implementation must be led by Black, Indigenous, and people of Color within the community.

  3. Recognizing and accepting our petition on change.org created by Youth Voices for Change.

To connect with the NAACP Youth Council, contact N-YC Youth Coordinator Jon Greenberg: jon.t.greenberg@gmail.com