Student Responses to Race

Today I went to Chief Sealth High School in Seattle to view a performance of the “Rough Eagles” performance. For the third year, a group of students from a high school in Seattle’s middle and upper class north end and with a group of students from a high school in Seattle’s working class south end. These students work with professionals from a local theater to devise a response to a popular American book about race. This year they created a theatrical response to Richard Wright’s Native Son.

Last month CommonAction began a partnership with Ray Williams and Caprice Hollins at the Seattle Public Schools Office of Equity and Race Relations to create and coordinate a program we’re calling the Seattle Student Equity Project. In this project teams of 5-6 students and an adult partner from every high school site in the city (20) will attend a few days of trainings focused on student voice, diversity and equity, and project planning. Using a tool I will work with our Student Advisory Board to develop (based on James Banks’ work [PDF]), these Student Equity Teams will assess students’ perceptions of equity and diversity in their schools.

Next the Student Equity Teams will develop service-learning projects that respond to their findings. We’ll encourage the projects to range the span of meaningful student involvement, from students planning education to advocating for school improvement. It should be exciting, especially considering that I think this is going to be a door-opening strategy for a district-wide meaningful student involvement plan. The project should extend through the end of the school year, so read on for updates.

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