The Equity in Education Coalition is the only statewide civil rights organization focused on revolutionizing education so that a child’s race and zip code aren’t the predicating factors in defining their success.
We envision a future where the opportunity gap is eliminated in Washington State – a future where every child of color in Washington achieves success from birth through their careers.
To achieve this vision, EEC continues to build a movement of power within communities of color to advocate for an education system that promotes equity.
The EEC is founded, led, and staffed by people of color. We believe our state cannot and will not end the opportunity gap without hearing the voices of black and brown people on education issues, and we are the platform for these voices.
Why Equity In Education Matters:
Historical understanding of the educational system informs us that public education was never tasked to educate all. We aim to eliminate the institutionalized racism and classism of the public education system because we believe that each and every child in our state deserves access to a high quality education.
This is no small task. Washington has one of the largest and persisting opportunity gaps in the country, meaning that barriers to academic opportunity for kids from low income communities and communities of color are still so great that we can effectively predict a child’s grades based on their race, family’s income level, and zip code.
We don’t doubt the opportunity gap exists in Washington:
- Inequitable funding between low-income schools and high-income schools within the same school district creates a system of separate and unequal educational opportunities.
- Rising rent and mortgage prices have created a poverty flight from Seattle to other areas of King County. This creates housing instability, upheaval of a student’s normal regiment and misunderstandings of poverty trauma among teachers.
- Racial disparities within disciplinary practices in school buildings and school districts show that black and brown students get disciplined more often for the same infractions than their white counterparts – causing black and brown students to be out of the classroom more often.
The barriers to opportunity that our kids face cause them to fall behind in school, jeopardizing their future success.
We must take action in closing the persisting opportunity gap in Washington. Our education system should support each and every child in reaching their full potential, not just a privileged few.
It starts with access. Children from communities of color simply do not have access to the same level of resources as other students. For example, in Seattle Public Schools, nearly 60% of white children have access to the highest performing public schools in Seattle, while only 8% of black children have similar access. Also, only one in four elementary schools in Southeast Seattle are considered high performing, compared to 67% of elementary schools in the rest of the district.
Money and performance – Washington State’s distribution of funding for schools makes no provisions for the high level of need in districts serving predominately low-income communities. Specifically, schools in wealthy communities which raise substantial supplemental funding through local PTSA groups, receive the same amount of state funding as those schools in low-income communities where PTSAs are not able to raise supplemental funding. As a result, schools in low-income communities struggle to pay for even the most basic educational functions, and simply cannot consider other vital enrichment programming such as music, drama, sports and other programs.
However, it’s not just money that is distributed inequitably. Senior-level teachers with established records of performance are more likely to have long-term assignments in higher performing schools. Conversely, schools in low-income communities have far more turnover among teachers, and a far greater chance that newer, less experienced and under qualified teachers will be assigned to these schools.
Inequitable disciplinary practices – According to Seattle Public Schools, Hispanic students were three times as likely to be expelled and African American and Native American students were four times as likely to be expelled as white students. Inequitable discipline is cited as a primary contributing factor in the high drop-out rate among children of color.
Homelessness, hunger and poverty – According to recent reports, more than 30,000 students are homeless in Washington State and several hundred thousand more struggle in deep poverty. We know that homelessness and poverty has a devastating impact on a child’s ability to consistently attend school, much less succeed in school.
Despite this direct correlation between poverty and student success, State funding decisions too often benefit education at the expense of effective programs addressing homelessness and poverty among children.
Lifelong impact of education – A child’s ability to learn and thrive in school will have consequences that last a lifetime. Indeed, education is directly linked to increased economic opportunity as well as improved health outcomes.