Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rainier Beach Student Speaks Out

A fine article from a Rainier Beach student, Ifrah Abshir, writing at Occupy.com about issues at RBHS.  Ifrah didn't just write this article to complain but had spent the summer working with Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools at RBHS  to try to address the issues at Beach.



These injustices are the reasons why I decided to apply for an internship with Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools this summer at Rainier Beach. CDF Freedom Schools is a national movement that empowers young scholars to make a difference for themselves, their families, their communities and their wrld. Rooted in literacy, the books we read at Freedom Schools flipped the standard U.S. education curriculum so that it fit our personal multicultural narratives. Books like "The Rock And The River" by Kekla Magoon tell the story of characters of color with struggles that black and brown students can relate to, an experience they don't often have in the U.S. school system.
On July 31, near the conclusion of the six-week CDF Freedom School program, we participated in a National Day of Social Action. All CDF Freedom Schools across the country came up with individual ways to make an impact in their community. Being a CDF Freedom school site hosted at Rainier Beach High, we decided to take on some of the aforementioned injustices Rainier Beach students face: transportation and conditions of the school building.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/fighting-inequality-seattle-students-lead-protests-change-school-and-transit-policies#sthash.NYC4gJcM.dpufThe main thrust of this article was on middle and high school walk zones and how far they are (and hard on kids who may not get an ORCA card and also not have any access to a car ride).  On July 31st, there was a march from JSEE to City Hall which, as Ifrah points out, is about 1.7 miles which is less than the high school walk zone and yet took 40 minutesMayor Murray came out and heard their demands (for Beach) which are ORCA cards and a new school building.  Apparently, the crowd of students took what he said with a grain of salt.  The article goes onto states that "a representative of the school board" came and said "the district had heard them loud and clear."  I'm thinking it wasn't a Board member but perhaps someone from Communications.  But the rep told them that they needed to go thru the City and the Mayor said the district was in charge of these decision
These injustices are the reasons why I decided to apply for an internship with Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools this summer at Rainier Beach. CDF Freedom Schools is a national movement that empowers young scholars to make a difference for themselves, their families, their communities and their world. Rooted in literacy, the books we read at Freedom Schools flipped the standard U.S. education curriculum so that it fit our personal multicultural narratives. Books like "The Rock And The River" by Kekla Magoon tell the story of characters of color with struggles that black and brown students can relate to, an experience they don't often have in the U.S. school system.
On July 31, near the conclusion of the six-week CDF Freedom School program, we participated in a National Day of Social Action. All CDF Freedom Schools across the country came up with individual ways to make an impact in their community. Being a CDF Freedom school site hosted at Rainier Beach High, we decided to take on some of the aforementioned injustices Rainier Beach students face: transportation and conditions of the school building.
- See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/fighting-inequality-seattle-students-lead-protests-change-school-and-transit-policies#sthash.NYC4gJcM.dpuf

6 comments:

Andrea Ptak said...

Not to mention that the area surrounding the school is one of the most dangerous to be on the streets. This summer has seen at least 10 shootings, with both innocent pedestrians and one unfortunate man driving home from work caught in the crossfire. The Mayor has given lip service to Southend residents, but we have seen little in the way of extra police, etc. They are focusing on "finding and fixing" graffiti instead.

Years ago, the District decided to spend a ton of money to build a performing arts center at RBHS (very nice, state-of-the-art facility), but then neglected to fund a performing arts program at the school. I can only assume that that makes them believe they have done their part for the school.

The location—right across from Lake Washington—warrants an impressive building. That in addition to the IB program could help the school draw more of the middle-income families of all colors that live in the neighborhood. Of course, the City is going to have to do something about the shootings that have plaques our neighborhood for so long.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Andrea, right on all counts. Mayor after mayor have passed the buck in that area. I understand some kind of "street calming" is to happen on Rainier; maybe that will help.

I believe the district did not believe RBHS would survive and didn't want to spend the money on the building. I think they picked Cleveland for the rebuild because it was an historic building. If RBHS had gotten the STEM program in a new building, I believe the roles would be switched.

A new building doesn't always revitalize an area but it certainly did in Ballard. Hale also seemed on a steady climb after its new building(s).

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, you wrote that "a new building doesn't always revitalize AN AREA but it certainly did in Ballard" and go on to say that a new building revitalized Hale (as a school, I assume.)
Are you suggesting that the new (ish) BHS building revitalized the AREA around it? I think you mean it revitalized the school but I'm not clear.
If you are suggesting that a new building could revitalize the area around RBHS, I suspect the heavy lifting on that area would fall to the city - a new building would be wonderful for the students, and could certainly draw more families and students, but the area around it has bigger, ongoing issues (as has been mentioned.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

SC, well, Ballard had a become a school where they had a student killed in a drive-by shooting at the school. I know from residents there that most did not want to send their kid to the school, both because of issues like that AND the state of the building. I think the new building at BHS did give residents more confidence in the school (and I'd like to think that extended out to the greater community).

I think RBHS needs the lift from BOTH the City and the district.

cmj said...

A bit off-topic, but Abshir, the author of the Occupy article, was also featured in a story about the computer science program at Rainier Beach: http://kuow.org/post/teen-girl-loves-computer-science-struggles-fit

NW parent said...

Yes and remember, no one's civil rights were violated when they didn't get into Ballard high school until they had a new building. Funny how that happened.