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caption: Left to right: Sage Cook, Christina Joo, Kristin Leong, Joy Williamson-Lott, Saraswati Noel, Jesse Hagopian, Sharonne Navas and Nathan Simoneaux at Town Hall Seattle
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Left to right: Sage Cook, Christina Joo, Kristin Leong, Joy Williamson-Lott, Saraswati Noel, Jesse Hagopian, Sharonne Navas and Nathan Simoneaux at Town Hall Seattle
Credit: Courtesy of Kristin Leong

Why is #EducationSoWhite in Washington state?

What value do we attribute to education? It is common to hear how it changes lives, promotes imagination and creativity and invites opportunity. It is often a social endeavor, and thus encourages the wide sharing of ideas and knowledge.

The founders of Washington state clearly valued the concept of education. Article IX of our Constitution states:

“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”

But what’s the reality? If you are one of the students of color who make up 44 percent of the population at the state's public grade schools, what does it mean that only 10 percent of your teachers look like you? Why is that the case, and what should be done to remedy the situation?

Those are questions addressed at this recent panel discussion, #EducationSoWhite.

The panelists were Sharonne Navas, Jesse Hagopian, Saraswati Noel, Joy Williamson-Lott and Nathan Simoneaux. Event organizer Kristin Leong opened the conversation, with the help of youth emcees Christina Joo and Sage Cook. Seattle Times education editor Linda Shaw served as moderator.

The discussion took place at Town Hall Seattle on June 15. Jennie Cecil Moore recorded the event.

Listen to the full version below: