The history of Seattle is one steeped in racism and, not surprisingly, public education is faring poorly in Seattle. This is for complex reasons, mostly associated with racism of white students and parents not wanting to be bussed to diverse schools from rich, white Queen Anne in the early 2000’s. I remembered when my husband and I moved to Burien, a suburb of Seattle, and we tried to find a neighborhood with good schools (which I later learned was a code word for a white neighborhood). There wasn’t one. The schools were rated 1-4/10. One school had an IB program and that was where all the wealthy parents sent their kids if they couldn’t afford private school or if they still wanted their students to get the “diversity experience.”
I was determined to fight racism in Seattle and ended up working for the major school districts in Seattle and Burien, only to find myself broken by the horrible conditions. Then I started substituting in the districts, finding substituting better than teaching full-time because then I wasn’t being negatively evaluated or forced to apologize when a child threw a chair (truly happened), played gay porn in the background of my class via Bluetooth (yes, that also happened), played basketball on the third floor in the hall while I was teaching in a classroom without a wall (yep)… the list goes on and on.
I replaced many teachers who had been solid teachers who quit mid-year due to the double-bind of administrators trying to hold them accountable for things out of their control while having their own statistics to worry about.
Finally, I realized that, with the pandemic over for the most part, I could resume my tutoring business without injuring my conscience. They would no longer be closing schools because more people would be able to substitute without fearing for their lives in the midst of a global pandemic.
My tutoring business is routes people to a donations page to a seminary scholarship for African Americans in the Seattle area, at SPU (Seattle Pacific University). I am still working for free and committed to public service. But I will support from the outside.
I don’t feel bad about this because, reading books by educators of color suggests that no one, of any color, is happy about public schools right now. We are committed to diversifying the public school teaching force, but should also do the same for private schools.