Equity & Diversity

Seattle Defends ‘White Privilege’ Conference Trip

By Catherine Gewertz — May 08, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Did the Seattle school district err when it used federal money to send 20 high school students to a “white privilege” conference in Colorado last month?

U.S. Department of Education officials want to know whether the $8,500-plus spent on the trip April 18-21 violated federal law or regulations.

Department spokeswoman Elaine Quesinberry said officials are asking whether the expenditure was part of—and was consistent with—the district’s federal Small Learning Communities grant.

The conference’s Web site describes the event as an opportunity for “critical discussions about diversity, multicultural education and leadership, social justice, race/racism, sexual orientation, gender relations, religion, and other systems of privilege/ oppression.”

David A. Tucker, a spokesman for the 46,000-student district, said the gathering at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs “explored a number of issues we feel can expand our students’ educational and social experiences and understanding.”

An April 26 e-mail to the district from Eric Earling, a Seattle-based regional representative of the federal Education Department, said the department would explore “allegations of mismanagement of federal taxpayer money” connected with the trip.

SoundPolitics, a Seattle blog, had raised questions about the trip in an April 5 post by editor Stefan Sharkansky. It sparked dozens of responses.

“And they wonder why people are fleeing the Seattle public school system,” one reader wrote. “Maybe if [the district] focused on the 3 R’s things would change. Instead they teach bigotry against ‘white people.’ ”

Mr. Earling, who is a political appointee at the Education Department, is an editor for SoundPolitics.

Tom Hutton, a spokesman for the university, acknowledged the conference’s title “can be polarizing,” but defended its educational value for teenagers.

“It’s important to examine our own views and stereotypes, and high school is not too young to start that,” he said.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in Washington. See data on Washington‘s public school system.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Enrollment Down. Achievement Lackluster. Should This School Close?
An equity researcher describes how coming district-reorganization decisions can help preserve Black communities in central cities.
Francis A. Pearman
5 min read
Illustration: Sorry we are closed sign hanging outside a glass door.
iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity School Librarians Are Creating Free Book Fairs. Here's How
School librarians are turning to free book fairs in an effort to get more books to children in poverty.
9 min read
Students at Mount Vernon Library in Raleigh, N.C., pose with free books after their book fair. School librarian Julia Stivers started the free book fair eight years ago, in an effort to make the traditional book fair more equitable. Alternative versions of book fairs have been cropping up as a way to help students' build their own personal library, without the costs associated with traditional book fair models.
Students at Mount Vernon Library in Raleigh, N.C., pose with free books after their book fair. School librarian Julia Stivers started the free book fair eight years ago, in an effort to make the traditional book fair more equitable. Alternative versions of book fairs have been cropping up as a way to help students' build their own personal library, without the costs associated with traditional book fair models.
Courtesy of Julia Stivers
Equity & Diversity Download Want to Start Your Own Free Book Fair? Here's How You Can Get Started
Book fairs may shut out families in poverty. Here's how some school librarians are making free versions.
1 min read
Photo of book fair.
iStock
Equity & Diversity A School District Could Offer Reparations to Black Citizens. How It Might Look
Reparations could come in the form of cash payments paid for by donations or a new tax.
5 min read
Photograph of the shadows of protestors as they march on a street
iStock/Getty