Just days before Seattle school Superintendent José Banda interviewed with the Sacramento School Board for its top job, he sent a blistering email to his own board members about their treatment of his staff over the selection of new elementary-school math textbooks.
Banda and his staff wanted the same textbook that a review committee had recommended. But four of the seven board members had pushed for — and ultimately got — a different math book, and it was their exchanges with Banda’s staff leading up to that choice that prompted his email, which was sent on the eve of the board’s vote.
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Africatown Central District is neither “Little Amsterdam” nor Lower Capitol Hill: Capitol Hill Housing opposes preserving first and only Black Bank in Pacific NW
-The Africatown News Digest Editors
The quasi-government Seattle NGO known as Capitol Hill Housing has recently announced on its website that it will actively oppose the preservation of Africatown history represented by the Liberty Bank building at 24th and Union, the only surviving commercial building in the CD to have been designed and built, from footing to roof, by Black people for Black people for the specific purpose of housing a Black institution.(1)
Liberty Bank was uniquely designed and completed by architect Mel Streeter in 1968, and opened its doors the same year. Streeter is known for leading in the construction of, and, in some cases, contributions to a number of landmark institutions in King County, such as: John Muir Elementary, City of Auburn City Hall, the regional Federal Aviation Administration Building and Beacon Hill Neighborhood’s former African American Academy Building (which is now Van Asselt Elementary School). Notably, he was integral in the construction of Seattle’s world-famous Qwest and Safeco Fields. Liberty Bank opened as the FIRST and ONLY African American bank in the Pacific Northwest region of the United Sates. Its founders included a number of people of historic note, and its design is reflective of the culture that characterized Seattle’s predominantly African American Central Area in the 1960s, a culture that Seattle’s mayor has acknowledged the need to protect and preserve against gentrification. The changing demographics of Seattle’s Central District, without protection of the neighborhood’s historical landmarks, portends an erasure of a rich cultural past and heritage created by Seattle’s African American community.(2)
Liberty Bank opened as a Black owned and operated Bank in Seattle at a time of tremendous national and regional Black upheaval. It was also a time when the African American community was actively creating sustainable institutions to combat racism in the forms of red-lining and economic exploitation, which went unchecked by the dominant culture leading up to, during and after the Black self-determination and institutional development era. The need for African American-owned and -run institutions that offered equitable opportunities for success was clear. Indeed, the absence of such an African American financial institution in Seattle today has long raised calls for the reestablishment of a Black bank. (3)
Liberty Bank would be one such key institution, used to expand the African American entrepreneurial class, and as an antidote to the refusals by enterprise capital of mainstream institutions to invest in that class despite comparably positive credit worthiness, relevance, and need. It was a natural outgrowth of the NAACP’s Sentinel Credit Union and soon became a source of needed capital and developmental loans to many African Americans whose entrepreneurial creations still exist today. The Bank was thriving enough after its opening to begin a second branch on 3rd Avenue in downtown Seattle in 1988. What the African American community experienced as economic “apartheid”, however, halted the effort. The bank regulator during this time was Thomas Oldfield, who aggressively seized both bank branches. Within four days Liberty was re-formed, with new and compliant owners, as Emerald City Bank. Very shortly thereafter, ECB was merged with Key Bank, which itself has now abandoned the Liberty building as a banking service location, and is seeking to liquidate it as a profitable real estate sale instead. In response, local neighbors have appealed to Seattle´s Historic Landmarks Nomination Board to protect the building. The hearing will be Wednesday, Feb 5th, 3:30 PM, in Room 1756 of the Seattle Municipal Tower, 700 5th Avenue, 17th Floor.(4)
Enter Captiol Hill Housing, a perspective buyer and developer, whose gentrification influence within the Central Area has steadily grown in the years since the City-Hall-led takeover and shutdown of its former neighbor and Black-controlled competitor, the Central Area Public Development Authority (1976 – 1994). The minutes of CHH’s January 2014 Board Meeting state “At that hearing, CHH and our consultants (DKA Architecture and Larry Johnson Partnership) will present our opinion that the building does not merit preservation, however, the history of Liberty Bank will be honored.” (1)
It is not surprising that CHH’s interests conflict with preserving Liberty Bank, and it is good diplomacy for them to hire both DKA Architecture and Larry Johnson Partnership to represent those interests, given Larry Johnson’s expertise in the historic designation process and Don King’s effective work in converting the African American Heritage Museum building into 36 allegedly affordable apartment condominiums, even if few Black residents of Africatown Central District could actually afford them. This is more diplomatic, for example, than developer Ian Eisenberg’s blunt proposal to install a cluster of marijuana shops nearby and to re-christen this part of Africatown-Central District as “Little Amsterdam”. (5) However, it is Black contractors and construction workers who will actually build and develop Africatown.
It is surprisingly presumptuous for CHH, in the very same breath in which they propose to tear it down, to authoritatively declare that “the history of Liberty Bank will be honored”, assuming for themselves the right define and verify such an alleged honoring. It is similar to the Roman general Manius Manilius politely “honoring” the city of Carthage with a few tears and verses from The Iliad as he carried out the utter destruction of that African city. (6)
Capitol Hill Housing’s quasi-government bankster board includes a former VP of Bank of America, an associate of HAL Real Estate Investments, an associate of Vulcan Real Estate, an agent of ShoreBank Pacific, the owner of Dunn & Hobbes LLC, a representative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a former chair of the South Lake Union/Queen Anne Design Review Board and a facility manager for Seattle U, but this board is notably lacking for African Americans. There is, of course, the one recently added exception to that rule, Pamela Banks, the President and CEO of none other than the dead anti-Black Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, which is fronting with CHH for this project, much like it has fronted for the Urban League Village/Housing Resource Group in years past. (7)
This is the same Urban League that was the single largest recipient in the Urban League/Seattle Public Schools Scandal of 2011, in which nearly two million dollars was reportedly misspent, and in the midst of which the former Urban League CEO James Kelly conspicuously resigned (The same James Kelley who, while still serving as CEO, brought a firearm onto Rainier Beach High School’s campus and threatened students with it in 2002)(8), the same Urban League that still claims it is innocent of any wrongdoing in that scandal.(9) This is the same Urban League that has received annual no-bid City contracts of approximately half a million per year, year-after-year until 2011, for youth violence prevention initiatives, while youth violence continued to mushroom, and community members kept asking what, if anything, the Urban League was doing about it.(10) This is the same Urban League that is now negotiating for a similar $400,000 contract, allegedly for creating job opportunities and reducing violence. And this is the same Pamela Banks who served as the UrbanLeague’s liaison to the City under the James Kelly administration while the previous no-bid contracts were negotiated. This is the same Urban League that helped both City Hall and the School District to illegally breach their 1997 signed contract with the African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center (a contract which is still a clear matter of record no matter how many prominent Seattle players wish it wasn’t), and turned most of that Museum’s building into not-so-affordable condos in what became known as the NAAM Scam.(11) This is the same Urban League that orchestrated the false arrest of AAHMCC founder Wyking Garrett for attempting to tell this story at the 2007 unveiling of the NAAM Scam, as proud former FBI Agent and NAAM officer Carver Gayton (who once claimed to possess privileged information on Lee Harvey Oswald(12) looked on and cheerfully gloated into the microphone. (13) It is therefore not surprising that this Urban League lacks substantial credibility among long time Central Area residents, and must still instead allow itself to be used as a front by forces and interests originating outside of the Africatown Central District. In fact, we continue to demand a federal RICO Racketeering investigation of the City of Seattle’s, King County’s and the State of Washington’s dealings with this Urban League.
Some of CHH’s apparent supporters, on various forums and blogs, are already attempting to falsely frame this issue as a choice between “affordable housing versus an ugly bank building”. Liberty Bank has never been ugly and never will be. But even if beauty was unilaterally defined by the followers of Oscar Niemeyer and Paul Andreu, it would be ridiculous to say that Liberty Bank’s supporters were against housing. Everyone knows and agrees that all humans need housing. The more obvious but less comfortable questions, concerning red-lining and reverse-red-lining, are about who shall be empowered to develop and administer housing, who shall be housed where, and who shall have to plead with whom in order to request a place to live in any certain area.
On January 18th at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, Mayor Murray recognized the importance of the Africatown Central District as no less than that of the Chinatown International District. He went so far as to say that the colonial relationship between Seattle and its African American population needs to change. Liberty Bank at 24th and Union is an excellent place for that change to begin.
We look forward to seeing you all on the 17th floor of Seattle Municipal Tower on February 5th!
The Arrested Development of SPS
Posted on November 22, 2013
Tuesday, November 18, 2013 around noon police arrived at the Horace Mann School with SWAT, paddy wagons, police in SPD cars, and police on bikes to clear the Horace Mann building of its occupants. At the time, only 4 people, running a small radio station, remained in the building. The police presence to extract 4 people could be called excessive with officers knocking down doors with rams and climbing in through roof top hatches. How much money did they spend on this exercise? video of the events)
More 4 Mann raided without warrant or eviction notice!
The arrestees were taken at gunpoint with more than 20 officers present. Putting up no fight, they were taken to the east precinct where they were released with threats from police of impending charges from Dan Satterberg, King County Prosecuting Attorney, and given a letter that banned them from SPS properties including public meetings.
Despite desperate media attempts to paint the occupants as violent, the More4Mann participants at Horace Mann have remained peaceful. Putting forth a message of equality and equity in Seattle Public School.
More for Mann’s main concerns being:
1) Disproportionality in discipline and racial inequity in Seattle Public Schools
2) The mismanagement of the 1.2 billion levy that is contributing little to no dollars to dealing with disproportionality and racial inequality in Seattle Public School and is allocating less than $20,000 to minority contractors for SPS capitol projects
3) Ronn English, an infamous school district attorney who continues to implement questionable practices and policies that border line corruption
While this story is traumatic and very real to black community it is not an isolated incident, but instead seems to be a part of the pedagogy and strategy of Seattle Public Schools to continue to allow black and brown students to be marginalized and disenfranchised.
After nearly 40 years of operation, the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) announced the closure of the American Indian Heritage Middle College High School, a.k.a. Indian Heritage, located at 1330 N. 90th Street, Seattle, WA.
José Banda the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools presented a public statement last July 2012 expressing commitment to consult with the Native community on ‘next steps’ in consideration of revitalizing the Indian Heritage, the pending BEX Levy, demolition of the Indian Heritage facilities, and the preservation of the murals created by Andrew Morrison.
Instead the Indian Heritage and Native students suffered continued decline in 2012-2013 being reduced to digital learning, no Native-focused instruction, no Native-infused curriculum, and a new instructor unfamiliar to Native students, parents, and community.
The Native community proposals and concerns addressing these drastic changes have been ignored by SPS.
After the May rally to save the Indian Heritage program SPS had met with Native community members and said the Native students would be temporarily relocated to Lincoln High School during construction of the new school, that SPS would work with them in revitalizing Indian Heritage, that the murals would be preserved, and Indian Heritage would come back to the new school.
Instead SPS claims the Indian Heritage was eliminated because there were ‘not enough kids’, but SPS never contacted the students about the plan and made no effort to recruit new students, the Native students have now been forced to assimilate into an entirely different program and relocated to Northgate Mall.
It is unconscionable that resources been completely withdrawn from Native programming and services, while SPS acknowledges the statistical facts illustrating disproportionate academic performance, disciplinary action, and highest dropout rates for Native learners.
We want SPS to address why 30% of Native students are in Special Education, we want to know why SPS fails to comply with Individualized Education Program and 504 Basic Plan, and why Native students are underserved and over represented in this area of education. The trajectory for Native learners in SPS is of tremendous concern given the districts decisions to eliminate Indian Heritage and displace current programs functioning at the Indian Heritage facilities.
At this time we will again initiate and voice our opposition with Seattle Public Schools plan to eliminate Indian Heritage. We as a community will invite SPS to listen to our viable plan that includes our recommendations to revitalize the Indian Heritage program by:
• Temporarily relocate the Indian Heritage program to Lincoln High School as planned NOT to Northgate Mall until the new site has been completed in 2017.
• Revitalization of Indian Heritage program at Ingraham H.S. and West Seattle H.S. location
• As SPS is a recipient of Title VII federal funds for enrolled Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native students, we ask that they comply with regulations that include:
(1) meeting the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives;
(2) the education of Indian children and adults;
(3) the training of Indian persons as educators and counselors, and in other professions serving Indian people; and
(4) research, evaluation, data collection, and technical assistance.
Thus as Title VII Part A states, “ensuring that programs that serve Indian children are of the highest quality and provide for not only the basic elementary and secondary educational needs, but also the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of these children.” Currently there is absolutely no demonstration of this in SPS relocation program.
• We recommend that all the murals that were made by artist Andrew Morrison (Apache/Haida) be preserved and incorporated in its original form into the new school (and not be replicated as Mr. Morrison requests).
• Rename the Wilson-Pacific School ‘Robert Eaglestaff School thereby keeping a promise made to the Native community in 1996 by John Stanford and echoed by Norm Rice.
• Provide support for new a ‘Native Heritage’ AS-I school with Native focused instruction/curriculum and culturally responsive services.
• Preserve the Sacred Site of the Duwamish Licton Springs.
Further, we continue to ask Seattle Public Schools to act accountably and quickly to remedy the impact of disproportionality and educational inequality upon black children and youth in SPS.
We continue to ask that SPS partner with Africatown Innovation Center for Education to develop culturally responsive and relevant curriculum.
We continue to ask that SPS partner with AICE to provide teachers in SPS with trainings that engage them around best practices and strategies for teaching black children.
We will not rest until every black and brown child and youth in Seattle Public Schools are educated at the level that all children deserve with the same opportunities and rights that are inalienable for all people.
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Seattle education activists arrested for trespassing
by Renee Lewis
November 20, 2013 8:18PM ET
Group ‘Africatown’ teaches culturally-based curriculum for black students
Seattle police on Nov. 19 move in before the fourth arrest at Seattle Public Schools’ Horace Mann building, which has been used by community groups for educational enrichment programs.Ken Lambert/AP
Four men were arrested for trespassing at a Seattle school building where their organization taught a culturally-based curriculum for African-American students, police said Wednesday. They were released hours later, vowing to continue their work to close what they call a racial achievement gap in education.
Seattle Public Schools (SPS), which owns the off-campus Horace Mann building, said that it wanted to renovate the facility and called the police because some members of the organization had refused to leave.
The four who were arrested are part of an organization called Africatown, part of a nationwide community development initiative. In Seattle, Africatown says it aims to transform the historically black Central District into a vibrant cultural center. The group says its aim with respect to Horace Mann, which is located in the Central District, was to provide quality education that addresses the history and culture of African-American students who are in public schools.
“We want a correct curriculum. We don’t want this European colonial storytelling,” Omari Tahir-Garrett, a historian who was among those arrested Tuesday at the school, told Al Jazeera. “The problem is it’s a colonial curriculum that doesn’t teach the truth about indigenous peoples, or about how they kidnapped us from Africa and brought us here.”
“It doesn’t work for African-American children,” he said. “Our kids are on the streets, driven from the school system.”
Africatown had provided summer enrichment programs at the Horace Mann school building since the beginning of the summer, using the facility under an agreement with another community organization that leased the building from SPS.
SPS said it had rented the building to the organization, but had decided to renovate it and use it for a planned alternative school program.
“We gave all of the organizations notice six months ahead of time that they needed to vacate … and everyone left by Aug. 1 with the exception of one group of folks, the Africatown group,” Teresa Wippel, a spokeswoman for SPS, told Al Jazeera.
In every SPS lease, Wippel said, there is a clause saying the school system reserves the right to take over the building if needed.
At the request of SPS, police entered the Horace Mann building Tuesday afternoon and arrested the four men from Africatown for criminal trespassing, said Mike Jameson, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department.
“The people inside were there against the will of the owner. They were asked to leave, but they refused,” Jameson told Al Jazeera.
He added that the department had information that led officers to believe the men inside might be armed, prompting the department to send in its tactical team to make the arrests. No weapons were found, Jameson said.
“They threw the SWAT team at us over nothing. The same mainstream press that blew up the story (about weapons) had to come clean and admit there were none,” Greg Lewis, an Africatown supporter who was inside the building at the time, told Al Jazeera.
Africatown members said that their group is nonviolent, and two of the men who were arrested at the building Tuesday said they were running a small radio station from the building and making posters there when the police arrived.
“We were making signs that say, ‘Decolonize Apartheid Curriculum’ when all of a sudden we heard loud banging. I opened the window and see five policemen pointing guns in my face,” Tahir said.
More4Mann, a group of activists who support Africatown, said that the police presence to extract the four men could be called “excessive,” and that police officers were “knocking down doors with rams and climbing in through roof top hatches.”
Lewis said the officers did not have a search warrant or probable cause. Jameson said they did not need a warrant because the owner of the building, SPS, had called the police to remove the men.
Lewis and Tahir said they are looking for another building because the one SPS offered as a replacement is not in the same area and is more expensive.
Tahir said it is important that they succeed in their mission.
“Schools need to stop teaching lies to black children; they don’t feel good about going to school and are pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline,” Tahir said. “How can you tell black children that Jefferson and Washington are their heroes?” he said, adding that Washington was a slave-owner. Washington had owned 318 slaves, which he released in his will when he died.
Tahir said his organization believes the curriculum should be career-based, so graduates can find jobs in a tough economy – instead of having to depend on what he called the “equal-opportunity employment” of dealing drugs on the streets.
“You can lose money and get it back, but time you’ll never get back,” he said. “And these kids are running out of time.”
SOURCE: Al Jazeera
Shaw capital working management tips: Fred Stephens: How lax management contributed to Seattle school scandal
In early 2005, as construction cranes dominated the skyline, African-American activists demanded that Seattle Public Schools give more work to minority contractors. Their complaints had grown louder as public agencies ended affirmative action in the years after passage of Initiative 200.
“I want my jobs back, or I’m going to be a thorn in somebody’s side, OK?” Harold Wright, an electrical contractor, said during a February 2005 School Board meeting.
Within weeks, Wright said, he and other contractors were introduced to Fred Stephens at a meeting with then-schools Superintendent Raj Manhas.
Stephens, who had spent most of his career in government, soon was hired as the district’s facilities director and began mending relations between the School Board and minority-owned construction firms.
And on paper, he succeeded. Millions of dollars in contracts were flowing and the tension with minority contractors eased.
In reality, the program was steadily collapsing under the weight of mismanagement. On June 28, five years after he took the job, the district called Seattle police to report an alleged theft of $35,000 by the man Stephens hired as a liaison to the contractors.
That very day, Stephens was nailing down details of his new job, a top post with former Gov. Gary Locke at the U.S. Commerce Department in Washington, D.C., that he had sought for more than a year.
Stephens would be there, 2,700 miles away, as auditors closed in on a financial scandal that would cost Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson her job.
While political and financial costs for the district have mushroomed, Stephens, 64, has been largely silent. He declined to answer more than a dozen detailed questions, responding only with a few terse e-mails to The Seattle Times. He puts the blame solely on Silas W. Potter Jr., the manager who ran the contracting program.
Stephens’ friends say a family tragedy may have contributed to his lax oversight of Potter. Stephens says he believes investigations “will demonstrate that I have committed no wrong doing.”
But a series of expert reviews found that, despite one warning after another, Stephens allowed Potter to turn the minority-business program into a favor factory, doling out at least $1.8 million in questionable or wasteful contracts.
The consequences of Stephens’ “major management failure,” as one investigator called it, are piling up.
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From: Nova Project PTSA
Date: September 17, 2013 9:55:28 PM PDT
Subject: Horace Mann building
Dear, Students and Families of Nova.
I was asked to write a letter stating our staff’s general position on the ongoing situation with the Horace Mann building. To this point, most of our staff has signed this letter. Our hope is to gather signatures from as many of you who are willing to sign this letter, and then distribute our signed letter to local media/networks, especially The Central District News. I would like to send it out sometime this week, the sooner the better. (I realize that we could gather more signatures if we waited longer or pursued more communication channels, but timeliness is a definite concern in what has been a confusing and now fast-moving process.)
Liza has created a link to a Google form that is super easy to use and should hasten signature collection. Just click the below link and fill in the four boxes (first and last names, school, email), then hit submit. Once we have closed the signing period, we’ll send out the letter with your signatures.
Here’s the link:
No pressure is intended; sign only if you agree with what the letter states. Again, the letter was written in concern for the absence of our Nova staff and community’s collective voice in what has been a several-month’s-long conversation within the Central District and other communities.
Coordinator & Teacher, Earthology/Ecology/Environmental Justice/Gender Studies
The Nova Project