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Seattle Schools Plan For Achievement Gap

Monica Spain
Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland addresses the crowd with Mayor Ed Murray standing by.

Earlier this year, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray formed an advisory group with the express goal of closing the academic achievement gap in Seattle Public Schools. The group’s recommendations were laid out Thursday at an event at Garfield High School.

The plan from the Seattle mayor’s Education Summit Advisory Group is the culmination of months of work from city and school officials, parents and business leaders. After sifting through community feedback, it’s proposing the district focus on four key areas: improving access to learning by adding programs such as before- and after-school classes, emphasizing more positive learning environments, providing family support, and making it easier for high school kids to enter training programs and college after they graduate.

The school board’s president, Betty Patu, has been involved with the district for over 30 years. She says this is different than any conversation she’s heard before, because of the commitment from so many different corners.

“And just to listen to the heart of a lot of people who were part of this whole process – I mean, they were for real. You know, they really want to see changes and it wasn’t from one group; it was a variety of different groups that were actually involved in this whole process,” said Patu.

By Seattle Public Schools own admission, the district has not lived up to its responsibility to give a high-quality education to students of color, particularly black students.

A recent study ranks Seattle as having the fifth-worst achievement gap between black and white students among major cities.