In researching a prior blog I came across a term I'd never heard before: "educational apartheid."
According to Syracuse University Professor Dr. Boyce Watkins, the case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, the mother jailed for falsifying documents in an effort to get her daughters a better education, is a clear example of the practice.
By Watkins' definition, American educational apartheid "dictates that schools in poorer neighborhoods are of significantly less quality than other schools." Watkins says "The racial division within American schools are nothing less than a blatant and consistent human rights violation and should certainly be treated as such."
A great deal of research has been done on the issue with many of the works citing No Child Left Behind and high-stakes testing as major contributors to the problem.
Watkins' comments and the research I found made me wonder about Seattle Schools. Is educational apartheid at work in our own backyard?
My own examination last fall of the district's School Reports revealed that all but one of the city's low-performing elementary schools are south of the Ship Canal Bridge in the city's less affluent (poor) neighborhoods and there isn't a single high performing school south of I-90.
Those figures were later supported by the University of Washington's Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) which found that only 10 percent of the African American children attending Seattle Schools are currently enrolled in high performing schools. The study goes on to show that while 40 percent of Black elementary students attend so called "level 1 schools" (those schools identified as being low-performing) only 4 percent of White students attend such schools.
The CRPE produced an interactive, color-coded map on the issue. To view the map go to http://bit.ly/h2MYT8. Once on the map you will need to click on your back button in order to reveal the location of Seattle Schools and their performance levels.
Researcher Jonathan Kozol, author of the book "The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America," found that inner-city children in the U.S. are now more racially isolated than they've been at any time since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
It took an Open Records Act request to find out if that is the case here in Seattle. According to statistics obtained by KING-5 News, those Seattle high schools that enroll primarily White students - like Ballard and Roosevelt - have experienced an increase in the number of White students under the district's new school assignment plan. At the same time those same schools are enrolling fewer students of color. The same would appear to be generally the case at the elementary level as well.
The district points out that under the new school assignment plan students have the option to apply to attend other schools. To date though the district has denied our requests for information on the ethnicity of those students who are requesting re-assignment.