Urban Education

Seattle Schools Target Inequities

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Caprice Hollins is Seattle’s newest weapon in its battle to eradicate racial inequalities in its schools.

Caprice Hollins

Ms. Hollins began work Oct. 11 in a newly created position: director of equity and race relations. Her charge is to remedy racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities in the 45,000-student school system.

Her work, she said, will include developing programs that foster cultural awareness, implementing teaching strategies that eliminate institutional racism, and revamping district policies and procedures that produce inequities, from enrollment practices to course offerings.

“The key is to get the big picture,” said Ms. Hollins, a psychologist and college instructor who has counseled students and families from many cultural backgrounds.

In a bid to lend the position “director-level focus,” Ms. Hollins will report directly to Superintendent Raj Manhas, said district spokeswoman Patti Spencer.

Mr. Manhas and his chief academic officer, Steve Wilson, conceived the new job as part of the district’s drive to examine how race affects everything from teaching and learning to parent involvement, Ms. Spencer said.

The district has been sponsoring ongoing workshops in schools about the impact of racism in the classroom, and has been working to close the achievement gaps between different racial and ethnic groups.

The new Seattle post is unusual for uniting multiple equity concerns under one umbrella and being so forthright in its intent, said Paul D. Houston, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, based in Arlington, Va.

“I don’t know of any other place that has a position like that,” he said.

“It’s very commendable that they’re talking so frankly about the impact of race and class and not trying to sugarcoat it.”

Vol. 24, Issue 10, Page 13

Published in Print: November 3, 2004, as Seattle Schools Target Inequities

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