Uphold high quality inclusive kindergarten in Seattle
This petition had 2,903 supporters
Seattle Public Schools pulled all funding for the Experimental Education Unit’s inclusive kindergarten program. This is the only kindergarten program in the entire district that is fully inclusive – bringing together children with a full range of developmental disabilities and their typically developing peers throughout the entire school day and creates a caring, supportive community in which everyone belongs. This decision is a huge blow to all of us who believe that all children have the right to full, equal access to quality education.
The EEU kindergarten program has changed lives. Kids who had been expelled from other placements have flourished in our kindergarten because they were accepted and valued. Kids who had been headed to a completely segregated special education class are thriving in general education because EEU kindergarten gave them the skills they needed to navigate, participate in, and learn from a general education classroom. The EEU also greatly impacts families. For many families, the support and training that they received at the EEU has empowered them to become potent advocates for their children and for systemic changes that benefit all children.
The justification given for cutting funding was concern from parents and community members about equitable access for students with special needs, even though the special education spots at the EEU are assigned by Seattle Public Schools via a lottery system. The “inequity” comes from the level of services provided at the EEU versus what is provided in the public schools. The EEU teachers and staff sacrifice their quality of life to do the best by their students; the EEU leadership makes sure that they succeed by providing the necessary training, resources, and support. Most SPS teachers are just as committed, but lack the necessary supports, so too many students are receiving mediocre services in segregated classrooms.
The law requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment possible; the EEU kindergarten program proves that it is not only possible, but also enriches the lives of everyone involved – kids, families, professionals, and the larger community. SPS has the legal and moral responsibility to figure out how to implement the EEU kindergarten model district-wide, not shy away from what’s right because it’s challenging. Kids shouldn’t be relegated to segregated classrooms just because they learn differently.
What does it say about all of us if we allow SPS to take away the only truly inclusive kindergarten setting in Seattle? What message are we sending to our children about community and justice? Can we look ourselves in the eye if we silently acquiesce to this step toward marginalization of those who are different?
Please join me in defending the right of every child to receive a quality education and be a full member of the community. Tell Seattle Public Schools that we will not tolerate this affront to social justice; demand that they reinstate funding for the EEU kindergarten program and demonstrate their commitment to inclusion. Our kids, our community, deserve it. Thank you so much for your support.
For more information about the EEU: http://haringcenter.org/eeu/
3-minute video: https://vimeo.com/95781509
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