On January 30, 2016, an Education Roundtable was held by the Commissions on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Hispanic Affairs, and African American Affairs, along with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The two and a half hour long event was held at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle. Check out photos from the Roundtable here!

The purpose of the event was to address school disciplinary procedures and the disproportionate effect it has on students of color. Each representative presented data and shared stories relevant to what education and school discipline look like when applied to our student communities and respective youth.

Read more about the Roundtable via the Seattle TimesNW Asian Weekly, and the International Examiner.

Community Feedback

Participants were asked to submit comment cards throughout the day to provide input on concrete solutions, various ways to address gaps and disparities in student success in relation to discipline, suggested action items, and to share their personal experiences. The Commissions collected the feedback and summarized the comments based on central themes below:

Centering Student Voices / Student Leadership

Students know their firsthand experiences better than we can as non-student adults today. There are so many of us here—how can we get more students involved in these spaces? How can we have student voices centered in reforming education and creating policies that will ultimately affect them the most?

Bringing our students into these discussions would be an amazing opportunity for them to develop leadership skills while learning how to navigate the more political areas that are often seen as inaccessible to our youth, especially our youth of color. Additionally, how are we accounting for student experiences, incidents, and disciplines that are not recorded and not found in the data?
–College Student

Addressing Student Support

We must approach support in an expansive and impassioned way. How are we equitably serving the needs of our students, i.e. particularly those who do require added assistance or multimedia packages?

How are we raising awareness of student issues such as mental health in an inclusive, non-shaming way that would allow for cohesive class environments? Many of us have heard stories or supposed rumors about unaddressed bullying and neglect on behalf of faculty/staff—we must see this as both destructive and dismissive of student crises.
–Community member

Why are we so opposed to lower class sizes, more social workers, and effective translation/interpreters for our LEP families? What if we shifted the focus of classroom learning from teaching solely test-based curriculum towards courses in identity development, social and emotional learning, etc. to begin cultivating compassionate student leadership?
–Community member

More Innovative Training Models for Non-Student Staff, Parents, Community Members

We need more cultural competency training for ALL school staff. We need better ways to communicate between schools and families. We need to support the efforts of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) systems to create a sustainable framework that engages whole communities of students and non-students.

Cultural competency training will lead to better practices of accountability. We need to be aware of our biases. We need to be aware of not only when we are listening but also how we are listening to our students. Just as students must learn to respect and support one another, staff and educators must also commit to the same regiment. We must integrate our roles with student support rather than act as referrals to counselors.
–Parent / Guardian, Educator, Community member

Newer Methods of Classroom Politics / Engagement

We must maintain classroom climates of support. Rather than focus so heavily on rules and their respective consequences, we must look to more positive approaches for student encouragement. How are we teaching students to understand their own selves in a way that helps them support their classmates? If we focus too heavily on punishment and intimidation, students will reflect the same outwards.
–Community member

Connecting to Greater Issues: Social and Educational Reform

How are we seeing students through the lens of intergenerational violence, trauma, and poverty?

How are we connecting these issues to greater systemic needs for reform? We need to acknowledge that the data-proven disproportionalities of school discipline on students of color are connected to the same issues our communities are facing outside of the classroom.
–Educator, Community member

What does this mean for ongoing political controversies surrounding refugees and immigrants? How can we proactively address the now-increasing rates of religious discrimination and bullying of students, especially those who are Muslim? What guidelines should we be providing staff and parents to better understand the needs of their children and students?

Presentation Materials

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Education, the Office of the Education Ombuds, the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee and Washington Appleseed spoke about their agencies’ past efforts and ongoing projects to improve data collection and diverse student success. See below for their presentation materials:

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee