High school asks only black students to sign pledge to be better students

Parents at a Seattle high school are upset after the school staff asked only black students to sign a “Keepin’ it 100” pledge to be better students.

Franklin High junior Niya Thomas, one of the students at the school, came home and told her mother, Neffertiti Thomas, about the pledge, which asked “African American scholars” to pledge to come to class on time, complete high school and hold themselves up to a high standard.

“I don’t think they read that letter feeling encouraged, uplifted at all,” said Neffertiti Thomas. “They walked away feeling like I can’t do enough, I still didn’t make it.”

While everyone in the class got the pledge, Niya said it was addressed specifically to the black students.

“Every student counts in the school, I feel like if you gave it to one culture, you should have given it to the others as well,” said Niya Thomas.

“We were upset because the whole 12th grade class got the paper but it was supposed to be for us,” said senior Bazia Potts. “I know I felt embarrassed and my peers felt embarrassed as well.”

Seattle Public Schools has since issued a statement on the pledge:

Seattle Public Schools is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps and accelerating learning for each and every student.

A student covenant was recently created by staff at Franklin High School. After meeting with senior students, Franklin staff discontinued the covenant as it proved to be a distraction from their original intent which is to increase efforts and support for African American students and ensure college readiness.

In addition, a parent/community advisory group is under development to increase the school’s collective wisdom, inform their practices and build capacity to reach the goal of 100% of African American students college ready.