Does Seattle Need Polished Pebbles?

The city of Seattle, Washington has decided to tackle the achievement gap between black boys and white boys in education. They have funded a pilot program, Our Best, to work with boys between the ages of 14 and and 24 years of age. According to an article in Seattle Magazine:

In 2015, 56 percent of white Seattle Public Schools graduates ended up going to a four-year college; just 30 percent of black students did the same. This achievement gap has lifelong ramifications; nearly 70 percent of young black men who drop out of school will end up in prison, and one in three black boys will be incarcerated in their lifetime.

While we congratulate the efforts Seattle is putting forth to address this achievement gap, it leaves us (and people in Seattle) wondering: what about black girls?

Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program was founded by Kelly Fair because she recognized that young girls of color need just as much support as boys in education. The achievement gap and the obstacles students of color face is not limited to boys. While Seattle has stated that if Our Best is successful they will later apply the program to girls, it still shows that the needs of girls’ is being seconded.

“The intent is that if you fix a demographic that is clearly doing statistically the poorest, you are in fact fixing the institutional problems for the other demographics as well,” says City Council member Bruce Harrell, an Our Best proponent. “In fixing a lot of the institutional practices that work to the detriment of young black males, I think young black females and even others will reap the benefits.”

Surratt adds, “Unfortunately, across almost every metric that you can imagine, every social, economic and health indicator, young black men are suffering the most, and so we wanted to tackle this part of the community first.”

Crenshaw, who criticized Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program for excluding girls in a New York Times op-ed piece, is less convinced, calling that theory “trickle-down social justice” that “doesn’t work any better than Reaganomics did.”

All this has us wondering, does Seattle need a school-based program specifically for girls similar to Polished Pebbles? What are your thoughts on how to address the achievement gap for both boys and girls of color?


One thought on “Does Seattle Need Polished Pebbles?

  1. Kelly, you continue to do a fantastic job of drawing attention to your efforts and Polished Pebbles since we first met around 2010 or 2011.

    Seattle, Houston and every major city where there area areas of high poverty have a need for organized programs that connect k-12 youth with a network of adults and learning experiences beyond what’s available to them in their immediate family and local community.

    What they also need is an intermediary working like I’ve tried to with the Tutor/Mentor Connection, who gathers information showing where programs are most needed, builds a database showing what programs already operate, and leads an on-going public education effort intended to help existing programs attract needed resources, including ideas, while also helping new programs start where none now exist.

    Every city already has one or several organized tutor and mentor programs, but usually, not enough, or too few in many areas. I hope you’ll use your visibility to help intermediaries grow in these areas as you also help Polished Pebbles expand.

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