Arbor Heights Elementary

Arbor Heights
Elementary

Community Update — Jan. 24, 2024

Community Update • January 24, 2024

Black Lives Matters in School Begins: February 5-9

As members of the Arbor School community, we must be committed to caring for each of our students, amplifying the voices of the unheard, and utilizing our tools and resources to dismantle hurtful structures and promote collective healing. It is imperative that we speak up about the injustices that have a 400+ year history in this country, continue to shape our institution, and perpetually minoritize individuals in and outside of our community.

In our school, we must reflect on the senseless killings of Manuel Ellis, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the many Black lives that have been lost in the name of racism and white supremacy in America. We must do more than simply witness the deep sorrow and hear painstaking cries in the Black community. It is important to be with them in solidarity. Of course, each of us matters, and yet we must take the time to put a spotlight on the lives that have been undervalued and oppressed systemically, institutionally, and interpersonally. This is a time to understand the harm that has been inflicted on the Black community, and just as much a time to see the beauty in Black lives:

This is the time to say Black Lives Matter.

In our school, we must continue to stand for equity, for our staff, students, and community so we will be equipped with the skills to have these critical conversations with our students and one another.  We must come together and continue to build a community of safety and belonging. To teach our white students how to be strong allies and our students of color that they are important and valued, and to show all our students how to imagine and build justice-driven futures. During the first full week of February, educators nationwide are marking “Black Lives Matter in School” to take a stand for social justice.

Goals and Purpose Overall, the Black Lives Matter in School lessons aim to:

  • • Reflect the lived experiences of students, families, and friends
  • • Help students understand inequities based on race
  • • Affirm that the lives of people of color matter
  • • Promote the belief that we all have a responsibility to work for equity as a core ideal

During the week of Black Lives Matter in School your child’s teacher will share books and lessons focused equity and Justice in the Black community.

Monday, February 5: The Day of Demands, including Restorative Justice, Empathy, and Loving Engagement. Restorative Justice is the commitment to build a beloved and loving community that is sustainable and growing. Empathy is one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. Loving Engagement is the commitment to practice Justice, liberation, and peace.  

Tuesday, February 6:  Diversity, Globalism Diversity is the celebration and acknowledgment of differences and commonalities across cultures. Globalism is our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family that exists across the world in different regions.

Wednesday, February 7:  Trans-Affirming, Queer Affirming, & Collective Value Transgender Affirming is the commitment to continue to make space for our trans brothers and sisters by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence. Queer Affirming is working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists. Collective Value means that all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location matter.

NOTE: All the lessons at the elementary level are developmentally appropriate. Please ask your child’s teacher about their lessons.  Teachers will be sending letters home this week and next with details of their plans and books shared.

Thursday, February 8:  Intergenerational, Black Families, & Black Villages Intergenerational is a space free from ageism where we can learn from each other. Black Families create a space that is family-friendly and free from patriarchal practices. Black Villages is the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other.

Friday, February 9: Black Women, Unapologetically Black – Black Women is the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness. Unapologetically Black is the affirmation that Black Lives Matter and that our love and desire for Justice and freedom are prerequisites for wanting that for others.

These principles are the blueprint for healing and do not include nor do they support ignoring or sanitizing the horror and discomfort that come with dealing with race and anti-race issues.

Ensuring Academic Freedom while Teaching Controversial Subjects Teaching about Social Justice in our current political climate is not always easy, even if it interests historically underserved students.

However, educators in the U.S. have the right to teach and discuss issues that are a part of civil life in society, including racism and equity. Both district policy and procedure and the Seattle Education Association bargaining agreement clarify that teachers have academic freedom to have these conversations; “The instructional program shall respect the right of students to face issues, to have free access to information, to study under educators in situations free from prejudice and to form, hold, and express their own opinions without personal prejudice or discrimination…The district encourages staff members to provide for the free and orderly flow and examination of ideas…” (Superintendent Procedure 2331).  

A key practice that protects both teacher and student is discussing societal issues to avoid any appearance of the imposition of views and opinions on students. This can be done by acknowledging an opposing view, clearly identifying a teacher’s opinion as just that, and presenting factual information. While acknowledging an opposing view, if a lesson is on an equity theme, it does not mean that equal time must be given to opposing views. The contrasting views should be used to provide complete information for students.

Thank you for your support!

Christy Collins, Darren Frink, and Alana Haider

Do you have a special education teaching certificate or endorsement?

We are looking to add a halftime special education teacher to our Resource program.  If you would like additional information, please contact Christy Collins cacollins@seattleschools.org or call 206-252-9250.

From the PTSA

  1. Public School Funding 101: Please join us for a conversation about how local schools are funded and how community members can support improvements at local public schools. Speakers include Seattle school board president Liza Rankin and Vivian van Gelder, Advocacy and Policy Manager at the Seattle Council PTSA. 
    • This event seeks to raise awareness among the West Seattle community about how Washington schools are funded and the impacts to local schools. The aim is to help community members understand ways they can advocate for improvements at local schools.
    • When: Monday, February 5 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm
    • Where: Genesee Hill Elementary cafeteria, 5013 SW Dakota St
    • On-site childcare available. Light refreshments will be served. The presentation will be in English. A recording will be available after the meeting.
  2. Arbor Heights Auction: Our 15th annual Arbor Heights Auction is happening on April 20, 2024, at Tim’s Tavern.  This event is the PTSA’s largest fundraising event of the year, and we are seeking live and silent auction items for our event.  Items include but are not limited to:
    • Experiences (vacation rentals, sporting events, golf, spa days, excursions, classes, wine/beer tastings, etc.)
    • Items (sports memorabilia, gift cards, gift baskets, fitness packages)
    • Wine (for auction night wine toss)
    • We are also inviting local business owners to join us as sponsors.  Sponsors will have the opportunity to promote their business to over 600 families and supporters through 2024 and position themselves as one that cares about the important growth, education, and resources available to children in their community.
    • To learn more about the sponsorship opportunities or In-Kind Donations, visit the Arbor Heights Auction webpage or contact Heather Nordlund heather.nordlund@gmail.com. The Arbor Heights PTSA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible.
  3. More Arbor Heights PTSA information.

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