As more students fail to meet academic standards in Seattle, public education officials in the city are proposing that diversity, equity, and inclusion programs receive more funding than core academic subjects.
Seattle Public Schools would spend more than $5 million on so-called DEI initiatives, including a "racial equity analysis tool" and an after-school program for black male students who are "referred to as kings," according to a district budget proposal for the 2022-23 school year. The budget allots a little more than $4.5 million for core academic subjects, such as math, science, and literacy. More than half-a-million dollars would be cut from the science budget as well. The school district lists "racial equity," "engaging students of color," and ensuring disciplinary policies are not used "as a substitute for culturally responsive behavioral and social emotional supports," among its guiding principles for the budget.
The decision to prioritize DEI programs comes as students' proficiency in reading and math has fallen 6 percentage points and 16 percentage points, respectively, since 2019. Test scores from last year found nearly 56 percent of Seattle students are not competent in science and about 57 percent are not competent in math. Just 30 percent of black students and 18 percent of Native American students are meeting grade-level standards. Public school officials in the region have blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for learning losses.
The Seattle school district's budget recommends around $1.3 million for scholarships and programs in "Native Education," about $1.5 million for "African American Male Achievement," and nearly $1.3 million for the "Department of Racial Equity Advancement." Another $600,000 would be set aside for "Ethnic Studies and Black Studies," a district representative told the Washington Free Beacon, as well as $650,000 for a Latino academic support and cultural studies program. In addition, each of the district's three budgetary goals has to do with improving educational outcomes just for black students.
Under the proposed budget, however, math and literacy courses receive around $1.6 million each, and science courses get $1.3 million—around $850,00 less than the district's DEI programs.
When asked why the "Native Education" would receive more funding than science classes, a spokesman told the Free Beacon budget allocation is "a complex process that involves community input, stakeholders, students, etc." The total Seattle school district's budget is around $1.14 billion.
Parents across the nation in recent months have agitated against the rise of race-based educational movements like critical race theory and "antiracist" instruction in public schools. Some have gone as far as to sue school districts, alleging the movement's are fomenting a new form of racial discrimination. The issue became particularly salient during last year’s Virginia gubernatorial election, with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin pledging to ban critical race theory being taught in public schools.
School districts as far away as Madison, Wis., are pursuing similar budgetary initiatives to Seattle, allocating tens of thousands of dollars a year for a Native American land-acknowledgment plan, among other measures.
Seattle Public Schools’ budget, as recommended by the school board, was introduced in June and will be voted on in July.