Reestablish & Revitalize Indian Heritage High School @ Eagle Staff (Sacred Licton Springs)

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Please reestablish and revitalize American Indian Heritage High School.

Native education in the Seattle Public Schools has a long history of missed opportunities, inequalities, and disservice to Native students. In spite of some attention and efforts by SPS, Native American students remain the most disadvantaged population within the district. Our students struggle to find inclusivity and cultural understanding in an educational climate that over identifies them as learning disabled, suspends them more frequently than any other group, and seemingly accepts their sad graduation statistics at approximately fifty percent, year after year. This year will be different.

This is a repetition of our official proposal submitted to Seattle Public Schools and the School Board over the last eight years. As in past years, written proposals, signed petitions, public testimony, and student complaints have been insufficient to prompt substantial action by Seattle Public schools. This year will be different.

Our proposal is directly related to a promise by Superintendent Jose Banda to revitalize Indian Heritage High School and develop a Learning Center for Native students and their families. This long-standing proposal is widely supported by local Native elders, leaders, community, city and county organizations, nonprofits, families, and youth. Our collective voices are unified in demanding the promised establishment of a comprehensive, Native-focused K-12 Indian Heritage School and Learning Center returned to its original Robert Eaglestaff site.

This approach is supported by a wealth of federal and state educational research at the graduate level, recommendations from the White House Initiative on Native American/Alaska Native Education, OSPI Office of Native Education, National Indian Education Association, and Washington State Indian Education Association. The need for this alternate approach is well-indicated by Seattle Public School data of astounding dropout rates, low graduation rates, disproportionate disciplinary action and Special Education identification, and the lowest overall school performance rate of any demographic group in the district.

This alternative education plan for Native American students is supported by our community partners: United Indians of All Tribes, Seattle Indian Health Board, the City of Seattle Native American Employees, National Urban Indian Family Coalition, Na’ah Illahee, Washington Indian Civil Rights Commission, University of Washington School of Education, and the Potlatch Fund/Gates Foundation. Most importantly, this proposal is deeply and repeatedly supported by our students and their families.

Timeline for Implementation:

Winter 2016 Native Program at Chief Sealth /Denny Middle School
Fall 2016 2nd Native Program at Nathan Hale H.S. or Ingraham H.S.
Fall 2018 Combine programs to permanent Central location at Robert Eagle Staff School. Fully operational Comprehensive Alternative Native-focus education, K-12 (Licton Springs and Robert Eagle Staff H.S.)

This alternative approach to Native education has proven successful in many locations across the United States and within Seattle Public Schools itself. When Indian Heritage existed in its original location, it drew Native students for academic classes and cultural enrichment. Mentors tutored students after school and families joined their students for evening activities and learning. At Licton Springs Native K-8, families transport their children from long distances to participate in a culturally-relevant curriculum that stresses Native traditions and contemporary issues. As Pinehurst A1, enrollment dropped to level indicating closure. As Licton Springs, the school is growing in enrollment, especially among Native families. When an educational environment effectively meets an outstanding need, all those involved benefit.

This is the year for the Seattle Public Schools to set aside inaction and directly address a long-standing disservice to Native students, their families, and the Seattle community at large. We propose you support our alternative approach to Native education in Seattle Public Schools. We strongly recommend you fulfill the promise of Superintendent Banda and reestablish Indian Heritage at the Robert Eaglestaff site, the site of the Duwamish Tribe's sacred Licton Springs.

Sarah Sense-Wilson, UNEA Chair
Robin Wilson, UNEA Co-Chair
Vicki Pinkham, Secretary
Gwen Lee, Treasurer
Duane Jack, Member At Large David Allen, Member At Large