Editorial: Seattle Schools needs voices for diversity

This week, we learned that Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield announced that Ann Chan, head of human resources, will be leaving at the end of the month.

Chan was hired by former Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson after a nationwide search, and she started working for SPS on Nov. 1, 2010.

According demographic information released by SPS, the district was 44 percent white and 56 percent non-white on October 1, 2010. Asian and Pacific Islander students comprise about 21.5 percent of all students, grades K–12, in this 2010–2011 school year.

Of course, in a district that is mostly made up of people of color, it’s a cause for concern.

Irigon has taken the first step by reaching out to the SPS board, letting the board know that it concerns him that diversity doesn’t seem to be valued by the new administration.

“Asian and Pacific Islander communities want to be assured that the educational needs of our children will be addressed by a superintendent and a board who are aware of our existence,” stated Irigon, in a letter to the school board.

At the same time, we want to make the point that Enfield has the right to appoint and hire whomever she thinks is best for the district.

However, we want to urge her to consider candidates of diverse backgrounds in her selection process. Differing perspectives will bring a certain controlled discourse to the table that can ultimately benefit the district and its students. The more avenues and solutions that are considered, the more thorough the discussions will be.

Additionally, increasing diversity can be a source of inspiration to students of this diverse school district. Consider what a difference it would make to you, if you were a student of color, to look at the people running your schools and see that they look just like you.

This week, Enfield and Chan were away and unable to provide additional thoughts or comments on the situation.

However, it should be noted that SPS’ media relations department was eager to schedule an interview for a time when Enfield will be available. Perhaps this means that SPS is aware of the community’s perception on this issue and is ready to address it. We hope that it’s sooner rather than later. ♦

*This editorial has been edited to omit a statement that said Chan is the only API in SPS, which is incorrect. We regret this mistake.

One Response to “Editorial: Seattle Schools needs voices for diversity”

  1. schoolparent says:

    “Chan, according to activist Frank Irigon, is the only Asian American in the central office of SPS.” That’s
    a completely false statement!
    Students of all colors will be better served by giving the racial politics a rest. Hasn’t enough money been thrown away by constantly grinding this axe?

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