The following is an OPINION letter drafted by one of our CRE Coaches commenting on a State Bill affecting education:
January 22, 2020
I am writing this letter against State Bill 6282, as sponsored by the following State Senators: Pedersen, Wellman, Kuderer, Salomon, Mullet, Carlyle, Hunt, Frockt, Holy, Padden, Hawkins, Zeiger, Wagoner, Wilson, C., and Das.
I am writing as a Burien community member who has professional background in the education field. After reviewing the language in the proposed legislation, I find this proposed SENATE BILL 6282 highly offensive in the public education setting. I am against SENATE BILL 6282 for several reasons:
First and foremost, the proposed legislation creates structural barriers to dismantle injustices in the educational infrastructure by causing fear and tension among schools and parents through fear-based language. The fear-based language such as “…to protect highly capablestudent services when a school district removes access to the cohort model program or changes the district’s program to a noncohort service delivery model for highly capableinstruction,” creates the misperception that parents should fear their school districts’ racialequity initiatives for student integration into the general education environment. Even though research shows that high quality teaching and learning can happen in the general education environment, the proposed legislation is seeking to continue the problematic practice of concentrating a high amount of attention and resources to highly capable students based on fears unsubstantiated by any evidence.
Secondly and technically speaking, students in the Highly Capable Cohort model do not need learning plans because they do not have significant learning deficits. Federal and state guidelines dictate that individual learning plans such as Section 504 plans and Individualized
Education Plans (IEP) are based on significant learning deficits. The proposed state bill, however, makes individualized learning plans dependent upon setting as opposed to students who have significant learning deficits. When students in the Highly Capable Cohort have a disability, which adversely impacts their learning, and require special education services, they receive an IEP. The proposed legislation also appears to be written without any intentionality and details as it does not have clearly define roles and/or responsibilities for evaluating, crafting, implementing, and/or monitoring such individualized learning plans. Thus, this proposed state bill was not well-thought out or vetted in the real-world context of public education system. Additionally, I highly doubt this proposed legislature was discussed with a group of racially diverse community representatives with a racial equity lens in the bill making process.
Finally, as a society, we have the binding legal decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, which made clear that separate was not equal, resulting in the forced desegregation of public schools throughout America. However, the proposed legislation favors segregation. The proposed legislation only dictates individualized plans for highly capable students in noncohort model (general education), measures against and in preference of the cohort model (separate setting)andoffersparentsremediesforfailuretoimplementnoncohortlearningplan. While school districts across our nation are working towards redesigning their infrastructure to eradicate racial inequities, this proposed legislature attempts to maintain them.
I strongly urge you to vote against this proposed state bill because it winds back the clock on the civil right efforts we have made as a nation and state. We need to continue to advance, as a nation and state, racial justice and racial equity. As state law makers, please consider creating and supporting legislature for anti-racism and centering on marginalized voices.
Racial Equity Coach
Seattle Public Schools
Seattle Education Association Center for Racial Equity