Thousands of teachers donned "Black Lives Matter" t-shirts in Seattle yesterday to show support for students of color in their community, according to the union.
"We have the fifth-largest opportunity gap between our African-American and our white students in the country," Phyllis Campano, the president of the Seattle Education Association told ABC News today, "So we know, as educators, that we need to show our kids that we believe in them, and we set high expectations for them."
"It's not really about Black Lives Matter as a movement, but about how black lives matter in our schools," Campano said, "it is not about the t-shirts, it is about how we support our students of color in our community."
Campano said that they are still trying to finalize numbers, but she estimates a few thousand teachers in about 80 schools donned t-shirts yesterday to show support for Seattle's black students. In addition to wearing the t-shirts, many schools also held workshops after school and events to discuss issues of racism and civil rights, but these events varied school-to-school.
"With our scores on education being put out there, everyone keeps saying we are failing the black kids in our community," Campano said, "What do we need to do? We need to come together, we need to show support."
Campano said that the feedback they received from the community was overwhelmingly positive, although she says they did receive a few negative emails from a few community members. A law enforcement group, Blue Lives Matter, wrote in a statement on its website that they disagreed with the "political message" that is being promoted in schools.
"The t-shirts were a catalyst to the conversation, and the conversation in our schools is how do we make education better for our children of color? It should be a national conversation," Campano said.
Campano said she hoped that events such as this one will help students of color feel like they are a part of the schools they are in.
"They don't see themselves in curriculum or the histories, and we need more educators of color," Campano said, "but in the meantime we need to make kids feel like they are truly included, and a part of the school."