Seattle Public Schools promotes “Stolen Land Acknowledgement” and “Stolen Black & Brown Labor Acknowledgement” in training presentation; provides training to “dismantle dominant cultural norms”


Parents Defending Education received 455 pages of documents from a public records request to Seattle Public Schools that contain training provided to teachers. One training session in the documents appears to be aimed at staff from Dunlap Elementary School and is dated October 28, 2020. This session starts with a page titled “Stolen Land Acknowledgement.” The document states: “We respectfully acknowledge that our meeting is taking place on occupied Coast Salish land, and that we live and work on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish people.”

The next slide states “Black Lives Matter” and is titled “Stolen Black & Brown Labor Acknowledgement.” This slide states with an apparent typo: “We want to recognize that the United States was build off the stolen labor of kidnapped Africans and enslaved Black people’s work, which created the profits that created our nation.” The presentation then adds that “we also recognize the Brown labor” that appears to be referencing illegal immigrants with the following list that also mentions “reparations”:

  • Currently happening in Eastern Washington, California, and across the country.
  • They are working under terrible work conditions, for less pay, facing COVID 19 and RACISM in order to survive while providing the food and other necessities we need.
  • This acknowledgement is only one small step and a commitment to working for reparations and liberation for BIPOC EVERY DAY.
The training presentation has a “Stolen Land Acknowledgement.”
The training presentation has a “Stolen Black & Brown Labor Acknowledgement.”

Another presentation was about the implementation of “Tiered Fidelity Inventory.” The website for the program explains that it is “to provide a valid, reliable, and efficient measure of the extent to which school personnel are applying the core features of school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports.” The program appears to specifically target students by their race in an effort to acknowledge “institutional racism” and “dismantle dominant cultural norms.” The school district’s presentation states:

This is a guiding document to support school teams in establishing safe, restorative, supportive and welcoming environments that represent and center the voice of students, families and communities, specifically the Black boys and youth we serve. In order to create equitable systems, schools must engage in ongoing trainings that build understanding of institutional racism and examine the impact of current practices on students furthest away from educational justice. It is critical for Tier I teams to identify and respond to cultural collisions as an opportunity to grow, engage, and foster a welcoming environment and dismantle dominant cultural norms.

The presentation also explains that teachers should change their curricula to fit the cultures of students. The presentation states: “Educators ensure that all students in the class can see their home lives, histories, cultures and home languages incorporated into the classroom environment, curricula, and instructional practices on a consistent basis.” The program appears to be an effort of the school district to implement restorative justice practices that focus on the race and identities of students.

The presentation states the following as a “foundational belief” of Seattle Public Schools: “Racism in our society exerts a downward force on the experiences and achievement of students of color that must be met with active countermeasures: in order that race is not a predictor of success and to reach our goal of racial equity, we need to become culturally responsive and actively anti-racist practitioners.” The presentation also quotes known political activist Ibram X. Kendi where he states that the opposite of racism is being “anti-racist”:

What’s the problem with being ‘not racist’? It is a claim that signifies neutrality: ‘I am not a racist, but neither am I aggressively against racism.’ But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. The opposite of ‘racist’ isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is anti-racist.

The school district is implementing a program to “dismantle dominant cultural norms.”
Teachers are encouraged to change their curricula to fit the cultures of students.
The school district promotes “anti-racist” practices.
The school district promoted known political activist Ibram X. Kendi.

In an email from a district employee dated January 22, 2021, the school district appears to use or at least consider Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards. The organization Learning for Justice has pushed for its “Social Justice Standards” to be adopted in schools throughout the country. The document for these standards includes goals to achieve for students. One goal is that “students will develop language and historical and cultural knowledge that affirm and accurately describe their membership in multiple identity groups.” Another goal appears to outright state that the purpose of the “Social Justice Standards” is to turn students into political activists: “Students will make principled decisions about when and how to take a stand against bias and injustice in their everyday lives and will do so despite negative peer or group pressure.”

The school district appears to use Learning for Justice’s Social Justice Standards.
Learning for Justice promotes “social justice education.”

The following is the document that PDE received from the school district.