Council unanimously adopted the Seattle Education Action Plan today, which will guide City investments toward eliminating opportunity gaps in Seattle’s education system. The Education Action Plan is the culmination of a citywide community effort to end the disparities in school achievement between white students and African-American/Black and other students of color who have traditionally been underserved.
“Positive change can happen, and I am confident we will move the needle toward helping our African-American students and underserved students,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “I saw it firsthand as a PTSA member at Cleveland High School where we kept a laser-like focus on all students’ success. In 2010, almost 40 percent of Cleveland High School’s sophomores were not considered proficient in reading, and within 4 years reading proficiency jumped to 84 percent. Cleveland High School’s graduation rate went up to 89%, rivaling Roosevelt High School’s at 90%. We now have an ambitious citywide plan, but it cannot collect dust somewhere. Everyone must be held accountable to this plan to prepare every student for lifetime success.”
The Plan sets a goal of helping 70 percent of African American/Black students and other students of color achieve success in college or a credential program. The latest research shows that 67 percent of jobs in Washington state will require some form of post-secondary credential. Currently, students of color meet 3rd grade reading standards at a rate 31 percent lower than white students; students of color are suspended or expelled at three times the rate of their white peers; students of color graduate on time at a rate 24 percent lower than white students; and 43 percent of African American and Latino students do not graduate on time or at all.
In the past year, the Mayor convened an Education Advisory Group, comprised of representatives from the City, Seattle Public Schools, community organizations, businesses, philanthropies and education advocates. The City held 20 community conversations, in which over 2,000 parents, teachers, and educational leaders discussed how to eliminate the opportunity gap.
Under the recommendations from the Education Advisory Group, the City will focus on ten investment areas:
- Promoting Family Engagement & Collaboration
- Enhancing Before & After School STEM Opportunities
- Expanding School-Based Mentoring
- Reducing Disproportionality in Discipline
- Increasing Innovation School Investments
- Growing Summer Learning Programs
- Adding Workplace-Based Learning Programs
- Supporting Educator Workforce Diversity
- $5M one-time investment for 13th Year program
- Expanding Birth to 5 Year programs
The revenue to fund these programs will come from the new Sugary Beverage Tax, reallocating existing revenues, finding new partnerships with higher education, businesses, philanthropy, and potential renewal of the Families and Education Levy and Seattle Preschool Program. The City has already invested more than $2 million towards implementation of the recommendations in the 2017 budget.
Council President Harrell added, “This must be a collaborative partnership between the City, Seattle Public Schools, our local businesses, philanthropy, education leaders, parents and our students. I want to acknowledge the tremendous leadership of Mayor Ed Murray and his team, Education Director Dwane Chappelle, members of the Advisory Group, and the effort from the community over the last year.”