In an effort to promote black history and ethnic studies in the Edmonds School District, the district’s Board of Directors last week adopted a resolution endorsing a Black Lives Matter at School month of action during February.
In honor of Black History Month, the board unanimously voted to adopt the resolution at its Jan. 28 meeting. It encourages teachers, staff and students to participate in activities and discussions throughout the month that are inclusive and enrich classroom instruction throughout the school year.
The resolution was inspired by Black Lives Matter at School — a national movement that aims to address racial inequities in schools by holding an annual week of action during the first week of February. Edmonds district parents wanted to take it a step further and approached the board about sponsoring a month of board-sanctioned events, said Family and Community Engagement Coordinator Sally Guzmán.
Guzmán said parents involved in diversity and equity teams across the district — like the Equity Alliance for Achievement (EAACH) and the Communities of Color Coalition — formed a committee and rallied support for the resolution.
“It’s pretty exciting to see that they actually are the ones who emailed the school board,” she said.
Black Lives Matter at Schools began at the start of the 2016-17 school year in Seattle when thousands of educators came to school Oct. 19 wearing shirts that read “Black Lives Matter: We Stand Together” in response to the disproportionate number of black students being overly disciplined in schools.
According to Guzmán, the Edmonds School District has been expanding its efforts to promote equity in schools and each school has an equity team that encourages a Black Lives Matter curriculum. However, Guzmán said there are still ways that schools can improve by integrating different perspectives when teaching subjects like history.
“When we think about our history and how integral perspectives are in the teachings that we do in classrooms every day, we don’t do a great job of representing our students of color, especially the black perspective,” she said. “It’s important for us, as a system, to recognize that bias we have and work to address it, and this resolution is a statement that says we will do this.”
Guzmán said a key part of the resolution was a district commitment to ensure schools continued to teach about black history after Black History Month.
“We really need to make sure that we’re talking about all our students — especially our black perspective — throughout the year,” she said.
The district kicked off its first Black Lives Matter at School event Sunday by celebrating black storytellers, inventors and leaders at the Edmonds Library. During the event, local equity leaders read stories that were either by black authors or that featured black protagonists.
Other events this month include Celebrating Black Youth Expression and Leaders on Feb. 5 and a Conversations About Race on Feb. 7. More information about the events can be found here.
In other business, Hazelwood Elementary’s Resource Program for the Visually Impaired and Blind staff briefed the council about how the program has evolved to serve students in preschool through high school.
During the presentation, students told the board about their favorite parts of the program, which ranged from visits from a seeing eye dog to teaching general education students how to read Braille. Board members then put on goggles that simulated having cataracts, 20 to 200 vision and tunnel vision.
Students also gave a presentation on their work under the Amplify Science Curriculum, which included a lesson involving dissecting a cow eye.
Also during the meeting, the board was recognized by district staff, faculty and students for School Board Recognition Month in January. In honor of their recognition, Hazelwood Elementary’s Resource Program for the Visually Impaired and Blind students Yasmin Fisher and Gideon Hostelfer read Gov. Jay Inslee’s School Board Recognition Month State Proclamation in Braille.
–By Cody Sexton