There were three major changes at Concord this year that affect our students and go against the race and equity efforts stated by the school district:
(1) Kindergarten classes are overcrowded way beyond the legal amount of students allowed and the dual language groups were reduced from 2 to 1, leaving a waiting list of students wanting to enroll in the dual language program. (2) The Spanish-language literacy time was ended. (3) The Solid Ground–Marra Farm partnership with Concord was ended for no good reason.
These changes are unfair and make the opportunity gap worse for Concord kids. They need access to high- quality education and resources to succeed. The opportunity gap is the difference between what kids need to succeed and what they have access to at school. These changes also happened without the participation of families.
Spanish Literacy Time. This year, Spanish literacy is not in the dual-language program. For many years, Spanish-speaking students at Concord learned to read and write in their native language. This decreased the opportunity gap for native Spanish speakers. Now Science and Social Studies are taught in Spanish, but not reading and writing. This change makes the opportunity gap worse for Spanish-speaking students. And we know the way our teachers were teaching worked – Denny teachers say students from Concord are ready for middle school.
We ask Concord and the district to:1. Ask teachers to vote about the best way to teach the dual-language program. If the teachers agree, bring back Spanish literacy time for all grades the same way it was taught last year.2. Work with the Concord Dual Language Committee to find out what Concord families and kids want. Use the Racial Equity Analysis Tool to find this out. Use this group to guide the dual-language program.
Kindergarten. Our kindergarten classes have more than 25 kids in each class. That’s too many. Washington State requires 15 kindergarteners or less in schools with many students who get free or reduced lunch. Many kindergarteners are also on the waitlist for the dual-language program. More families want dual-language, but the program was changed from 2 kindergarten classes to 1 this year. Denying Spanish-language education is unfair. Kindergarten classes much bigger than the legal limit are unfair and brings down the quality of education. Both make the opportunity gap worse for our kindergarteners.
We ask Concord to:1. Immediately get kindergarten classes closer to the limit of 15 students. Take all students off the dual- language waitlist and make 2 dual-language classes and a traditional (English-only) class.
Solid Ground–Marra Farm Partnership. Concord had a partnership with Solid Ground at Marra Farm for 10 years. It helped students make connections between science classes and food, gardening and farms. This program was free. The new Breakfast After the Bell program is a great program that gives students some things Solid Ground did, but not everything. The Solid Ground Americorps member taught 6 hours of healthy eating and cooking to all Concord kids every year. They also walked 2nd and 3rd graders to Marra Farm for 6 hours of gardening and science classes every year. Solid Ground also brought kids in afterschool CLC to the farm and led activities at Spring Break Camp. Breakfast After the Bell does not do any of this with our kids.
This kind of program helps students be healthier, do better in science and be more positive about learning.1 Outdoor time at Marra Farm with physical activity is also important for health and learning. Concord has shorter recesses than many other wealthier Seattle schools. Solid Ground gave our kids more time for physical activity outdoors. This change is unfair and makes the opportunity gap worse for our kids.
The Solid Ground Americorps member now works at a different school. We want our kids to continue to visit Marra Farm. Without the Americorps member to teach at Marra Farm, our teachers must work harder to use the farm in their lessons. We know it is important that field trip lesson plans show a connection to what students are learning. We also do not want to add more work for our busy teachers.We ask Concord to:1. Let teachers use the Solid Ground lesson plans (created by Phoenica Zhang) to meet field trip requirements2. Work to bring back the partnership with Solid Ground. Send a Letter of Intention to Solid Ground that says we want to bring back the partnership if staffing is availableThe district says their top priority is to provide access and opportunity for every student with high-quality curriculum, support and resources.2 They also say the Racial Equity Analysis Tool needs to be used with all changes to see if the change is fair and if it will reduce the opportunity gap.3 Working with families to look at new changes is an important part of this process. The changes at Concord this year did not use the Racial Equity Analysis Tool to see if the changes were fair to our kids.We ask Concord to:1. Use the Racial Equity Analysis Tool to see if new changes are fair and reduce the opportunity gap2. Communicate clearly with families about ideas for new changes. Tell families how they can share whatthey think about the new ideas. Tell families how they can take part in the decision on the new idea.3. Make it easy for families to take part in making decisions. Families need clear information about thebackground and process. They also need translation and interpretation to fully take part.We stand in strong support of our Concord teachers and staff. We know they work very hard to teach our kids with fewer resources than other schools.We are here to support the kids of Concord, our kids. We are ready to work with Concord and the district. Many of us are on Concord committees and are interested in more ways we can work together. The district says their priority is providing access and opportunity to all kids. We ask that Concord and the district work to eliminate the opportunity gap for our kids by giving them fair access to the high-quality education, support and resources requested in this letter.Sincerely, Concord Families