Axios Seattle

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It's Tuesday! We missed your faces yesterday.

🌧 Today's weather: Morning showers. High near 53.

It's a great day to contribute to our newsroom by becoming a member!

🎂 Happy belated birthday to our members Ken Glass and Sherrill Hooke!

Today's newsletter is 758 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 📖 Pushing back on book bans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats in Washington state want to pass a law this year that would slow conservative efforts to ban books in local classrooms and school libraries.

Why it matters: The push in Washington's Legislature follows a nationwide wave of attempts from the political right to limit what kids can read — often targeting works written by or about LGBTQ people and people of color.

By the numbers: Across the country, attempts to ban books reached a record high in 2022, with at least 17 occurring in Washington, according to an American Library Association database.

  • Washington saw at least another seven challenges to books or course materials during the first eight months of 2023, the organization said.

The big picture: California and Illinois have already passed laws to try to limit book bans. More than a dozen other states are considering similar measures.

Details: Under the Washington proposal, school officials couldn't ban library books or course materials solely because the material focuses on protected classes, such as Black, Hispanic, Indigenous or LGBTQ people.

  • The bill would also block challenges from people who don't have students in the district.
  • Even if a parent's challenge of course material is successful, school officials could choose to provide an alternative just for those parents' children, rather than changing the curriculum for all students.

What they're saying: "This bill seeks to ensure that students have access to inclusive texts, libraries and stories," said state Rep. Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), the prime sponsor of the measure, during a recent House floor debate.

  • That's important so students of all backgrounds can find books they can relate to, as well as to ensure schools can "teach the truth" about history, "whether it be inspiring or shameful," she told a House committee last month.

The other side: House Republicans, who are in the minority, universally voted against the bill.

  • State Rep. Skyler Rude (R-Walla Walla) said he supports the anti-discrimination aims of the measure, but still thinks some books with sexual content aren't appropriate.

Full story

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2. Home value racial gap, mapped

Difference in the typical value of homes owned by Black and white people, by metro area
Data: Zillow; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Homes owned by white people continue to be worth substantially more than those owned by Black people in the Seattle area, according to new data from Zillow.

Why it matters: Homeownership remains the biggest driver of the wealth gap, per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

By the numbers: In the Seattle metro area, the typical value of homes with Black owners in December was $583,700.

  • That's 16.7% less than the typical value of local homes with white owners, which was $700,900.

The big picture: Nationwide, there was an 18% gap between the typical value of homes owned by Black people ($291,000) versus white people ($354,000), Axios' Brianna Crane reports.

  • This gap was widest in Birmingham, Alabama, where Black-owned homes were typically valued 46% lower; and in Detroit, where they were 45.4% lower.

Of note: McAllen, Texas, was the only metro where the typical value of homes with Black owners was higher than those with white owners.

What they're saying: Black owners seeing their homes being appraised for less than those of their white counterparts isn't new. "It's no longer a myth or legend that this happens," HUD chief of staff Julienne Joseph tells Axios.

  • The majority of the appraiser workforce is white, and it's often difficult to report appraisal discrimination, though new policies are aimed at addressing both of those hurdles, Joseph says.

Go deeper: Explore the interactive map

3. Morning Buzz: Pac-12 leadership change

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🏈 The Pac-12 athletic conference has "mutually agreed to part ways" with commissioner George Kliavkoff at the end of the month.

  • Kliavkoff had been unable to land a media deal that satisfied conference members, a key factor in most of the conference schools announcing plans to leave the league. (AP)

🚪 Expedia Group closed its Seattle headquarters for the weekend to beef up security after the company discovered spy cameras in two campus bathrooms.

  • A former employee pleaded not guilty to voyeurism charges last week in connection with the case. (GeekWire)

Two veteran Seattle police officers were suspended for one day without pay after taking 20 minutes to respond to a shooting. (Seattle Times)

4. Where are we?

Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

👋 Melissa here. Last week, I told you about Lonely Planet rating Ruby Beach — a few hours' drive from Seattle — as one of the world's best beaches.

  • But lately, I've been enjoying beaches a bit closer to home.

Name where I took this photo and we'll enter you to win a gift card or some Axios Seattle swag!

  • Hit reply to submit your guess.

👟 Melissa got some waterproof tennis shoes that have proven handy on beach trips.

🤞 Clarridge plans to be back in your inboxes this week, if her recovery from post-travel illness continues to go well.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Egan Millard.