LWSD board will vote on the district’s Equity Policy on September 13th. Below is the latest draft:
34.9% of the school district’s students board are Asians. The voices of Asian students deserve to be heard by the school district. It is critical that you comment on the Equity Policy. If you remain silence, as one board member admitted, Equitable Outcomes could mean “bring down our Asian students performance”; If you remain silence, Asian students may become target of social justice endeavor – this year, the school district compiled a flyer for the Asian American history month. In that flyer, a personal opinion piece from 2017, which falsely portrayed Asian Americans as “anti-Blackness”, was listed under “Present Day issues including racism and stereotype”. The school district later removed that link upon our request.
We encourage LWSD families to send your comments regarding the Equity Policy directly to the board members at email@example.com .
We recognize that many Asian families are also immigrant families. Language barrier may prevent them from actively participate in school district’s public comment opportunities. Hence, we crafted below letter to the board members to express some of the common positions the Asian community hold in regarding to the district’s Equity Policy. If you agree with those positions, and would like to join our petition to the district, please sign up using the form below the petition letter, and we’ll forward the letter along with your names to the school district as part of our petition.
Dear LWSD board members,
The board’s value statement that “The Board believes that each student has the potential to achieve excellence, learn at high levels and accomplish significant academic and personal goals.” resonates with many of us. We believe that the first priority of our schools is to serve every single one of our students. All students’ interests and needs should be the focus, not just addressing the current political climate, which will of course change over time anyway. We feel that a more long term and inclusive approach would be better.
With that, we’d like to state our major positions on the Equity Policy:
1) Anti-racism: We respectfully request the board to make sure that Asian students are not forgotten, ignored or even falling victim of anti-racism discussions and practices. Without doubt, the Asian American community faces racism. From the Asian stereotypes, such as the model minority myth or Asians are’t athletic; to the perpetual foreigner perception, anti-Asian racism has long been carried out in many shapes and forms. Although we applaud the school district’s effort in combating racism, we want to point out that if we are not careful, Asians can fall victim of anti-racism efforts. Below are two recent examples:
In the board’s June Equity Policy study meeting, an associate superintendent talked about the importance of teaching history to combat racial injustice. He mentioned history of Black African Americans, history of Indigenous people, yet he forgot and failed to mention history of Asian Americans. More than 30% of the school district’s student body is Asian, yet those students did not come to his mind.
Then at the board’s July Equity Policy study meeting, a board member said “THE WORD RACE DOESN’T JUST GO TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN OR LATINO OR WHATEVER”. Asian students fell into the ‘Whatever” category in this board member’s mind. He has been on the board for many years, yet he could not remember the second largest racial group in the district!!
2) We believe the district’s equity policy should be broad and inclusive. Race is only one component of equity. Overly focusing on race would send a message to ELL, low income, special needs, LGTBQ, and many other kids that they are not important in this policy. We understand that race is a very hot topic right now. Yet, the school district should be reminded that ELL students, homeless students, low income students, and students with disabilities have consistently ranked at the bottom in performance, behind any racial group. Combined they represent 32.3% of the district’s student body. What would be the board’s justification for singling out “anti-racism” in the policy title, and listing it at the front? Data source: https://washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/ReportCard/ViewSchoolOrDistrict/100127
3) Equitable outcomes: The school district’s Equity Policy should not become the weapon to deprive Asian students from achieving their full potentials. Demanding equitable outcomes is questionable. Not all students are the same. How can schools deliver equitable outcome without holding some students back? Students should be encouraged to excel and be successful at their own pace. And across the country, a prevailing trend now is that Asian students are being targeted under the name of “Equitable Outcomes”. At the August 23rd board meeting, an interchange between two board members confirmed our fear:
Board member A: “WHEN YOU SAY EQUITABLE OUTCOMES ONE COULD INTERPRET THAT AS WE WANT TO BRING DOWN OUR ASIAN STUDENT PERFORMANCE.”
Board member B: “YES. IT IS A TORTUOUS INTERPRETATION, BUT YES.”
Some related national stories: De Blasio’s obsession with racial balance in schools has a clear victim: Asian students (https://thehill.com/opinion/education/521696-de-blasios-obsession-with-racial-balance-in-schools-has-a-clear-victim ); The purge of Asian American students at Thomas Jefferson High School has begun (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/02/purge-asian-american-students-thomas-jefferson-has-begun/ ).
4) Workforce diversity: We stand in strong support to hire the most qualified teachers and staffs regardless their race, gender, ethnicity, or any other identities. Although we support increased outreach effort to recruit, hire, and retain a diversified workforce, we do not support trading quality for diversity. To put things in prospective, if we were to demand 34.9% of the district’s workforce to be Asian Americans, many, including those on the district’s management team, would be replaced for identity reason. Will that be for the best interest of students? Perhaps not. A teacher can make or break a student’s life. And our students deserve the best education possible.
5) Washington Civil Rights Act: Voter approved and reaffirmed Washington Civil Rights Act ( https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=49.60.400 ) clearly bans discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, gender, ethnicity, etc. in public education or public employment. We would respectfully request the school district to make sure the Equity Policy is in compliance with the this state law.
Names of the undersigned…
Update: LWSD board voted and passed the district’s Equity Policy (OE-14) on September 13th, 2021. We appreciate that the board listened to our concerns, and adopted some of our suggested changes.