Why Did This School Single Out Black Students To Sign A Pledge To Be "Better?"

Photo by Thomas Barwick
Parents and students are rightfully outraged after a Seattle high school targeted Black students to sign a covenant to be better in school.

A Seattle high school is under fire after singling out African-American students to sign a pledge to be "better." 

Franklin high school parents were outraged when their teens brought copies of the letter home and pointed out how it specifically targeted Black seniors, indirectly implying that they were the only ones who needed to make improvements. "I don’t think they read that letter feeling encouraged, uplifted at all,” said Neffertiti Thomas. “They walked away feeling like I can’t do enough, I still didn’t make it.” 

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The pledge, which was titled "Keepin' It 100," tasked "African-American scholars" with pledging to be punctual, finish high school and "hold themselves to high expectations," according to Fox 13 Seattle. While each of these are admirable goals, the students and their parents rightfully took issue with letter only addressing the school's Black students. "Every student counts in the school, I feel like if you gave it to one culture, you should have given it to the others as well,” student Niya Thomas said. 

The Seattle Public School District Board issued the following statement in light of the incident:

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"Seattle Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps and accelerating learning for each and every student.

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"A student covenant was recently created by staff at Franklin High School. After meeting with senior students, Franklin staff discontinued the covenant as it proved to be a distraction from their original intent which is to increase efforts and support for African American students and ensure college readiness.

"In addition, a parent/community advisory group is under development to increase the school’s collective wisdom, inform their practices and build capacity to reach the goal of 100% of African American students college ready."

The school's Black Student Union is also in talks to set up a meeting with the principal, while the district has also promised to establish a parent/student advisory group in hopes of finding better solution to bridging the opportunity gap.

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