Racial Equity Efforts at Whitman & PTSA Equity Committee
Racial Equity Efforts
Whitman Racial Equity Team (RET)
The Whitman Racial Equity Team (RET) is made up of a small group of SEA and non-SEA school staff to focus on implementing the district’s Racial Equity Policy #0030 Whitman’s RET participates in racial equity literacy trainings twice per month to support the analysis of individual, institutional, and structural racism that is contributing to school wide disproportionality.
In addition to our Racial Equity Team’s work, Whitman’s Administration Team works closely with other school teams to center racial equity in school wide initiatives including ASB student events and activities, family and community gatherings, and whole staff professional development sessions.
Whitman MS PTSA Equity Committee
The Whitman PTSA Equity Committee, is a group started by Whitman families. The Whitman PTSA Equity Committee supports and partners with the WMS Staff RET.
WMS PTSA Equity Meetings
- The PTSA Equity Group meets the first Thursday of every month.
- Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What Does Your Whitman Middle School PTSA Equity Committee Do?
Thank you to the combined efforts of the WMS Racial Equity Team and the PTSA Equity Group which brought the Garinagu HounGua Performers to Whitman Auditorium. The Black, Brown, & Ethnic Student Union and Spanish students were in attendance along with other WMS families. It was such a joyful event.
March 2023 | Garinagu HounGua Performers
Black, Brown and Ethnic Student Union (BBESU)
The Black, Brown and Ethnic Student Union is being lead by Ms. Stephanie Jackson, Whitman Spanish Teacher. Their plan is continuing to meet during Advisory every 2nd and 4th Friday, and the RET (Racial Equity Team) Student Leaders meet with the RET on the 4th Wednesday of each month from 2:35 to 3:20 p.m. Our primary goal is solidifying connections between students of color within the building and their communities. Students who are Jewish or descended from other ethnic minorities, such as the Romani people from Europe are also welcome and have been participating in both RET and the BBESU.
Update: The Black and Brown Student Union (original name) is now called the Black, Brown, and Ethnic Student Union. This was voted on by the students in this group. It meets bimonthly and is very active now.
BBESU Hosted Events
February 2023 Black History Month, the BBESU had an in-school field trip to see Wakanda Forever in the Whitman Auditorium. This presentation was supported by the PTSA Equity Team and the Whitman RET Group.
The BBESU were able to meet with the Garinagu HounGua performers, a group of Honduran Garifuna people who live in Seattle, prior to their dance performance for the Whitman Community on February 28, 2023.
Examples of Whitman MS PTSA Equity Team Efforts 20 – 22
- School name change efforts
- Book clubs – partnering with staff
- Organizing Gift cards for Whitman families in need
- Black Lives Matter apparel – coordination of student art, vendor, distribution, etc.
- Supporting equity efforts of PAW and Friends of Whitman Music FOWM
- Liaising and collaborating with Staff RET team
- Attending board meetings and advocating for equity
- Planning use of equity budget·
- Posting/sharing resources in weekly PTSA newsletter (Equity Corner)
- Providing feedback on Whitman CEF grants applications
- Land acknowledgement education to Board
- Learning from/attending SCPTSA and WSPTA DEI efforts/mtgs and bringing back info to Whitman community
Washington PTA Resolution 2.26
On May 11, 2021, The Whitman MS PTSA adopted the WSPTA Resolution 2.26, “Dismantling Institutional and Systemic Racism”. To view, open the Child Safety and Protection tab and select 2.26 from the list.
Renaming Whitman Middle School
Renaming Whitman Middle School: Letter To The Superintendent
On November 19, 2022, the Whitman PTSA including: Erika Goodmanson, PTSA President, on behalf of Whitman Middle School PTSA, John Houston, Principal, Whitman Middle School, Tonia Galindo (Apache) & Melissa Fuller, Name Change Committee Chairs, on behalf of PTSA Race & Equity Team requested approval from Superintendent Jones to rename Whitman Middle School.
Email the Erika Goodmanson, PTSA President at email@example.com if you would like a copy of the letter or links to the google documents referenced in the letter.
Letter to the Superintendent
On Nov 19, 2022, at 4:12 PM, Whitman PTSA President firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Hello Dr. Jones,
We are writing to you today to request permission to move forward with the process for renaming Whitman Middle School. We are requesting this as a collective group of school leadership and staff, students, families, and the PTSA. In support of this request, you’ll find our proposal, and significant community support for a change – 268 students, caretakers, and staff signed on in support.
We want our middle school to be a place kids come to learn, feel safe, and be inspired. The current name, Whitman Middle School, named after Marcus Whitman, is harmful to our students, especially those with indigenous roots, the community, and the school district as a whole. Whitman Middle School is on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish People. Students, community and staff have expressed concern that a school that is on what was originally tribal land, promotes a colonizer that brought about a massacre of indigenous people. In fact, the Washington State Legislature voted to replace a statue of Marcus Whitman last year for similar concerns.
We believe changing the name is important to supporting the district’s commitment to anti-racism and creating safe places for students of color.
Changing the name of the school will be led by the WMS BLT, Whitman PTSA, and the Whitman principal – John Houston. In addition to working closely with the school leadership and district, we are committed to working closely with the community throughout the process to ensure there are frequent communications, feedback opportunities, and participation opportunities. We are committed to making these opportunities available, accessible, and welcoming to all families and community members, and as such we will be providing translated communications and interpreters, in-person and virtual engagements, and utilize both online communications and hard copy communications.
Please see attached our proposal, and community support. Please advise if we are approved to move forward, and if so, please share any feedback, or actions you’d like us to take. We just connected with Tim Robinson and Pauline Amell Nash to coordinate with their teams, but please let us know if there is anyone else from the district we should be working with closely on this. We appreciate your time and consideration.
Erika Goodmanson, PTSA President, on behalf of Whitman Middle School PTSA
John Houston, Principal, Whitman Middle School
Tonia Galindo (Apache) & Melissa Fuller, Name Change Committee Chairs, on behalf of PTSA Race & Equity Team
- Proposal, Community Support Document, Washington State Legislature vote to replace a statue of Marcus Whitman, Addendum: Renaming Whitman Middle School Proposal and Next Steps
Erika Goodmanson, President: Whitman Middle School PTSA 206-582-8464
Find Us: Facebook @WhitmanMiddleSchoolPTSA or on Instagram @whitman.ptsa
Email Erika Goodmanson, PTSA President at email@example.com if you would like a copy of the letter or links to the google documents referenced in the letter.
Name Change Committee
What: Changing the name of the school is something students and the community have expressed interest in this year and in previous years. Our next steps are to reach out to the district and get the conversation started.
Planning Needs: The committee will need to work closely with the school and the district throughout the name change process. The committee will need to gather support and demonstrate a serious interest among the community to change the name. There are various ways this can be done. The committee may consider creating a petition to show broad support for the name change.
Committee Needs: Committee Members are needed. Chairs: Melissa Fuller, Karin LaBelle, and Tonia Galindo.
Seattle Public Schools Strategic Plan
Seattle Public Schools’ Strategic Plan “Seattle Excellence” is described on the district website and states the plan is “focused on supporting students of color who are furthest away from educational justice, beginning with African American boys and teens.
Our work is not about changing students. This work is about changing broken systems and undoing legacies of racism in public education. By actively addressing racism in our educational system – and ensuring students furthest from educational justice thrive -conditions in Seattle Public Schools will improve for all.”