Students need our support now more than ever!
Bellevue, May 18 2021
An Open Letter to The Teachers of Bellevue School District,
This year has been fraught with challenges that you accepted and maneuvered quickly to adapt new and innovative teaching techniques. Thank you for all of the hard work and heart you put into making the best of an extremely stressful situation.
We have a lot of work to do as we head into the 2021-2022 school year. Many children will be behind academically, and possibly dealing with lingering mental and emotional issues. Teachers and parents need to join forces now more than ever to ensure our children's well being and success. We share the twin values of keeping our children safe while providing them with a world-class education.
We are writing to you directly because we are concerned that the BEA leadership has mischaracterized our goals and pitted parents against teachers, to the detriment of our children and the BSD system. We love and value our children's teachers, and want us all to succeed as a community. Regrettably the BEA leadership has characterized the community and the representatives they have elected to the school Board as racists. They have left behind underserved children that desperately needed to be in school full-time this year, and they have taken actions that are now putting the students’ and the teachers’ well-being at risk in the coming year. Ultimately they have left us divided and further exacerbated tensions.
Teachers, we ask that you please consider the following evidence as proof of an inadequate and malignant BEA leadership. You have the power to correct the course -- beginning by voting NO on any motion that may further divide the BSD community at upcoming BEA meetings.
Did you know?
BEA leadership uses “white supremacy” to depict our district and community. BEA President Allison Snow has stated in public Dr. Duran’s resignation as “an unrelenting attack by the entrenched white supremacy within our district and community.” Communications from BEA leadership have baselessly accused the BSD school board for failing to support equity work in the district. The BSD board is composed of five elected accomplished, educated and caring mothers who have dedicated endless hours on a voluntary basis to serve our BSD community. It is very distressing that the BEA president blatantly uses white supremacy to mischaracterize the Board and the community as a whole. Ms. Snow’s remarks are out of bounds and her hateful accusations will prevent us from moving forward together.
BSD is a minority majority district. Our community is becoming more diverse with 70% students from ethnic minority groups. Our diversity is reflected in the school board with two women of color serving. The Board has committed itself to serve all students while paying particular attention to the underserved communities. The diversity of our community is also reflected in the top leadership team of our district, with both the acting Superintendent and Deputy Superintendents being women of color.
The under-served communities were the most impacted during Covid. In our community and throughout the nation, children of lower socio-economic status have suffered greatly. Children whose parents work long hours outside the house remained at home alone on a device with little support instead of getting meaningful in-person instruction. Children with special needs and/or learning disabilities have fallen further behind. Mental illness has run rampant and Seattle Children’s Hospital Psychiatric Unit has been at capacity for months. Even as science evolved, CDC guidance changed, and surrounding districts went back for longer hours in-person, BSD students still do not have access to the same opportunity.
Families leaving the District has created a budget shortfall which is harming everyone. Long negotiations between the District and BEA delayed the reopening - leading to many families pulling their students out of the district to seek full-time, in-person educational opportunities elsewhere. As of Oct 1st 2020, BSD’s enrollment was down by 1,500 compared to the same period in 2019 according to official data published by OSPI. This reduction in enrollment led to a budget shortfall which resulted in the most recent layoff of the BEA members.
Continued alienation of families may cause levies to fail further affecting both the students and teachers. The impact of the exodus of families from the district extends far beyond just the enrollment number. Overall support of the district by the community is an all time low - in one school, family donations are at 20% of the level they were 2 years ago. There is a real risk that levies to be renewed in 2022 will not pass as fewer families have a vested interest in the district. Our levies pay for educational programs and services, including special education, the arts (e.g. K-5 art and music), STEM programming, access to second language classes in 6th-8th grades, athletics, and the 7th period. It only takes a few hundred families to change their vote from YES to NO for the levies to fail next year and the loss of funding for these programs will result in a large reduction in teaching staff that any recent layoffs will pale in comparison.
Teachers, we believe in you, our school board, our community and our children. Families want to hear your voices and not the divisive and hateful words of Ms. Snow. We can work together with renewed, stronger relationships to bring a better tomorrow to BSD.
Concerned Members of the Bellevue Community
School Is Essential
Asian Parents for Educational Excellence
Bellevue, March 22nd, 2021
Dear Governor Inslee,
We applaud you for your recent proclamation to help bring in-person learning opportunities to all students in the state of Washington. However as you are keenly aware limited in-person learning hours will not address the ever widening learning gap between many of our students and their peers who have access to full-time in-person instruction. They are not catching up -- they are falling further behind.
One of the key reasons that districts are not able to offer more in-person hours is the restriction imposed by the 6-feet social distancing requirement. We urge you to work with L&I, DOH and OSPI and update immediately the social distancing guideline in schools by following the latest recommendation from CDC. California has already adopted the 3-feet rule and Washington needs to do the same. We are aware that you already had a meeting with representatives of WEA on this issue. Regrettably WEA's latest claim that "each new change contributes to instability and disruption for our students and educators" illustrates a tone-deaf response to a crisis. Students not having access to fulltime school is the biggest and most destructive instability and disruption that hundreds of thousands of families in this state face everyday for over a year. With vaccines readily available for all educators there is no reason to continue limiting our students' access to the classroom.
We are confident that you will continue making decisions on this and related matters solely based on science and putting the interest of our students, the future of our community, above all. The clock is ticking and please let us know what we can do to help!
Bellevue, March 10th, 2021
Dear Governor Inslee, Superintendent Reykdal, and Senator Wellman,
This week many schools across WA have reached an unprecedented milestone that few schools in many parts of this country and around the world have ever done even during times of war -- staying closed for an ENTIRE year! To commemorate this monumental moment, families of BSD will have a RETURN TO SCHOOL event tomorrow. You are cordially invited to join the parents and students so you can address them about your plan to put an immediate end to this war on children. They deserve to hear from the leaders of this state directly after being kept away from school since last March.
Time: Thursday, the 11th, from 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Location: Highland Middle School, 15027 NE, Bel-Red Rd, Bellevue, WA 98007
We would be honored to have your presence.
Bellevue, January 7 2021
An Open Letter to The Teachers of Bellevue School District,