Tracy Castro-Gill for Highline School Board

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I am an anti-racist educator who has dedicated my professional life to racial justice in education. Below are my proposals for work to be done in Highline School District!

Check out the link to my resume at the bottom of the page for more details on how I am the most qualified candidate for  District 1 Director!

Racial Equity Goals

Seventy-eight percent of the students in Highline School District are students of color, yet nowhere in the school’s strategic plan does it address the racial inequities these students are experiencing.

Approximately 70% of Black students in HSD are not meeting standard on State test scores. Approximately 65% of Latinx students, the largest ethnic group in HSD, are not meeting standard. White student data is the inverse, with students meeting standard at approximately 65%.

STANDARDIZED TESTING IS RACIST

While the test scores can highlight disparities, they are not good measures of what our students can actually do. We are harming the largest populations of our students in HSD.

I propose ceasing immediately the use of standardized test scores as a measure of how successful students, educators, and schools are. We can replace this data with student and family climate data. Our community can tell us what they need us to do better than any test score.

Research supports the use of culturally responsive, relevant, and critical pedagogy in decreasing all disparities among racial and ethnic lines, including testing outcomes. This includes creating an Ethnic Studies Program in HSD (Sleeter, 2011). When we focus on our students, their lived experiences, and the needs of their families and communities, everyone is successful.

Restoring the Humanities, Arts, and Physical Education

Shifting focus away from standardized testing will breathe new life into the disciplines that have been pushed aside for decades.

We talk about social emotional learning and trauma informed practices as if we aren’t the cause of the trauma!

Let kids play and sing and dance again! Let kids discover the beauty of the world around them through the humanities. Let’s teach kids what it means to be a productive, compassionate, and socially just citizen.

Life is not a test score.

Educator Diversity

83% of educators in HSD are white.

There has been a lot of talk about diversifying the teaching force, which is necessary, but nothing is being done about the workplace environment for teachers of color. I propose an audit of workplace environment, focusing specifically on the experiences of educators and administrators of color, to determine what we can do in HSD to attract, and more importantly, retain educators and administrators of color.

Research supports the need for educators of color, especially Black educators, not only for students of color but for white students as well (Anderson, 2015).

Educator Leadership

I am an advocate for and a believer in the power of educators and collective bargaining. My work with Seattle Education Association’s Center for Racial Equity helped launch the ethnic studies program I now lead. This would not have been possible without the leadership of educators in Seattle.

I will work with Highline Education Association to identify educator leaders, especially educator leaders of color, who are currently working on initiatives they believe are best for our students and build on that work.

Educators know what students need.

Racial Equity Literacy Training

Too much focus has been given to multicultural efforts. Since culture is not the cause of systemic inequities, it cannot be the solution.

All staff in HSD must have mandatory racial equity literacy training.

Racial equity literacy means having the tools to identify inequities, address them, and create sustainable solutions by focusing on the inequitable systems of power that are the real cause behind racial and ethnic disparities in HSD. No amount of multicultural education will change the power dynamics that lead to racial oppression (Gorski & Swalwell, 2015). Every person in the district needs to have these tools.

Sustainable Funding and Resource Allocation

Highline School District has relied on grants and one-off funding sources for too long. It is time to prioritize budgeting allocations to make sure all programs are sustainable for future generations.

I propose an immediate audit of income and spending in HSD to determine where dollars are being misused, what programs need to be prioritized, and how to fund them sustainably from renewable sources of income.

Community Leadership

We need to bring community into every phase of decision making and leadership.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Family members and students intentionally included in hiring processes
    • I propose revising district hiring policies to require community and student voice in every hiring decision
  • Student advisory boards at all three levels: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12
    • These advisory boards will advise the school board, the superintendent, and the superintendent’s cabinet
    • Accountability will be built into decision making by requiring all district decisions to include a report from these advisory boards, and a justification for why student voice was or was not included in the final decision
  • No more tokenizing of people and communities of color on task forces that have no systemic power
    • Accountability will be built in to decision making by requiring all district decisions to include a report from these task forces, and a justification for why community voice was or was not included in the final decision
    • All task forces must be created to match the demographics of the student population and will be created through a recruiting process, not an appointment process
  • A system for capturing data from school board testimonies and letters to the board and superintendent
    • This data will inform the district of it’s efficacy
    • Data will be captured and coded as part of institutional memory of community voice

A vote for me is a vote for years of experience in education and racial justice activism.

Donate to My Campaign!

Sources Cited

Anderson, 2015

Gorski & Swalwell, 2015

Sleeter, 2015

Endorsements

Rita Green, Education Advocate

To learn more about my education, job history, and activism, please see my resume.