Thursday, February 08, 2007

APP Update

In December, the Superintendent approved a recommendation from the Program Placement Committee to resolve the overcrowding at Washington Middle School by re-locating about half of the middle school APP students to Hamilton International Middle School. Many members of the APP community strongly oppose this split of their community and nearly all of them have grave questions about the yet undetermined details of this plan - how will students be assigned, who will teach APP classes at Hamilton, how will those teachers be prepared, will Hamilton offer a music program, will the students get an appropriate academic opportunity at either school, how will this impact the high school program at Garfield, how will this impact Hamilton, etc. In addition to the community's anxiety about this decision, the decision violates District Policy D12.00 which prohibits expansion of APP to additional sites except following Board Review and substantial district wide enrollment growth. There has been neither a Board Review nor district wide enrollment growth.

Although no one in the District staff was bothered by the violation of the Policy, when it was pointed out to members of the Board, they took an interest and asked the Superintendent to explain.

The Superintendent initially replied that Policy D12.00 was superseded by other Policies, notably F21.00 and B61.00. I spoke to the Board and showed them, conclusively, that these other Policies not only do not supersede D12.00, they actually confirm it.

The Superintendent then asked the Board to interpret the Policy. The Student Learning Committee concluded that the Policy allowed the expansion of APP to an additional site if the Board conducted a review of the decision, so they wanted to schedule a work session of the whole Board. The Executive Committee, however, decided that this matter did not warrant a work session. The Executive Committee delegated the duty of conducting the Board Review back to the Student Learning Committee.

So the Student Learning Committee will conduct a review of the decision to split the middle school APP students between Washington and Hamilton at their regularly scheduled meeting on February 27 from 4:30 to 6:30. They will determine the format of that review at their next meeting on February 13.

The Student Learning Committee is chaired by Brita Butler-Wall and includes Directors Soriano and Flynn. They will make a number of decisions.

  • They will decide whether the Board Review has the authority to reject the decision.
  • They will decide whether the Policy requires Board Review AND substantial districtwide enrollment growth or if the Policy requires Review OR substantial districtwide enrollment growth.
  • They will decide whether districtwide enrollment growth means program enrollment growth or district enrollment growth.
  • If they believe they have the authority to say, they will decide whether to approve or reject the split.
Background information:
There are about 1,300 students in APP, the program has as many students as a high school.

APP students attend elementary school at Lowell, middle school at Washington, and high school at Garfield.

APP is a community.

Lowell is also overcrowded, but the District deferred a decision on resolving that problem to the end of this year.

The Superintendent proposed dissolving high school APP in his Preliminary Proposal for Reshaping Seattle Public Schools; he later revoked that decision.

While there is strong animosity towards gifted education in Seattle Public Schools, it is highly regarded nearly everywhere else in the country.

Enrollment at Washington is not markedly greater this year than it has been over the past several years. Most of the increase in Washington's enrollment this year is not attributable to APP.

Enrollment in APP has grown in the past few years due to a number of factors including the District's efforts to expand the program through outreach, liberalized eligibility criteria and a liberalized eligibility process, and lost confidence in Spectrum programs and neighborhood schools.

The District spends no general fund money on APP, it is funded by a grant from the State. The grant pays for the eligibility testing, the administration of the program, and professional development for teachers.


Anonymous said...

The "animosity toward gifted education" is really heartbreaking. Those who work in the exceptional program at our child's school have confirmed it. That is just insane; it's something the district should be bragging about, instead of endlessly handwringing about everything that's not going right. Has it always been this way? Or was there a time when the district was actually proud of how it serves the needs of children who require acceleration?

Beth Bakeman said...


Can you tell us more about what you would like to see happen? What would constitute a positive resolution of this issue to you and others in the APP community?

I get why you have major concerns with how the APP issue has been handled (and so do I) but I don't know enough about the issue to know what should happen.

Anonymous said...

"APP is a community." A community of elitists who take away from the quality of the educations of the other general education students at Washington and Garfield, and Lowell- oh wait, the general education kids got pushed out of Lowell years ago.

Anonymous said...

Here is a mindblowing idea- the programs are overcrowded. Instead of forcing them to remain that way, allow the District to create more than one site at each level. Will it be perfect instantly? No. But wouldn't it be better to have more than one option? Think about it, wouldn't it be nice to have say, an arts and humanities focused AAP track (take advantage of the Hamilton language programs) and a science and math track?

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous, APP is a community because we are people like any other. How, exactly, is it elitist for us to want what everybody else wants: an appropriate academic opportunity for our children so they are learning every day at school? How does APP take anything away from the quality of education for other students, at Washington, Garfield, or anywhere? What does any general education student at Washington go without because APP is there? Would you prefer that APP were not there? What does any general education student at Garfield go without because APP is there?

Please provide details to support your statements.

Charlie Mas said...

I want to be very clear. The APP community has not said "NO" to the split. The response has been more nuanced than that, it is more like "This could work and work well, but only if... ".

Despite having nearly ten months to work on this problem - the problem being overcrowding at Washington - the District did not give this much thought at all. None of the critical details have been defined.

We don't know how students will be assigned or what transportation will be provided. We don't know how the teachers will be trained or assigned. We don't know how the District will assure program quality when there are no program reviews and no accountability. We don't know how the District and the buildings will support the programs. We don't know how this change will impact Hamilton. We don't know how this change will impact elementary or high school APP.

The split could be wonderful - it could also be a brick in the back of the head of the program.

I will tell you that the community puts a very high value on keeping the students together. There are a number of other possible solutions that don't involve a split and some that did create two locations in a way that would be more acceptable to the community, but the District made the one choice that the community specifically asked them NOT to make.

Anonymous said...

The district could relieve overcrowding at Washington simply by requiring Meany and Madison to offer Spectrum like all the other middle schools do.

Charlie Mas said...

The District claims that Meany is full.

Meany has a stated planning capacity of 813 and an enrollment of 497, yet Meany is full.

The District assigns students to Meany, yet Meany is full.

The District provides yellow bus transportation to Meany for any student from the Southeast region who elects to enroll at Meany - only 55% of the students at Meany are from the Central Middle School Region.

Yet the District adamantly believes that Meany is full.

Anonymous said...

"What does any general education student at Garfield go without because APP is there?" Math.

Ted Howard has to constantly make the choice between serving the APP students (who are really just taking AP clases at that point, which is something that can be done at all high schools) at the expense of the general education students. For every APP class that is added, that means that a gen ed class goes away. For example, adding AAP math sections mean that gen ed students who needed more basic math got forced out of Garfield and into night school.

No school should be set up on a model of haves and have nots. I think that APP should be broken up and offered at more than one location.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Want to break up APP (which really doesn't exist as a "program" at high school yet another failure by this district)? That would be difficult because of the lower numbers of AP classes offered at other high schools, the lack of qualified teachers to teach them and then you have a school like Hale that is actively getting rid of them. Roosevelt has a high number of AP classes but they are overenrolled as it is. You can't kick kids that go mainly to one school out and leave them nowhere to go.

The district has no vision on this issue once again.

Anonymous said...

Garfield last year had
NINE above grade level math classes, yet students who were behind grade level, even when no fault of their own ( never having failed a math class and taking as much math as was available)
were forced to take math after the regular school day and or during the summer.
Is this equitable?

How about the APP students take their extra enrichment courses after school and allow the teachers to teach the grade level classes during school?

Anonymous said...

We all belong to many different communities. For which community do we choose to advocate? What if our advocacy for one community hurts a different community to which we belong? APP is a community, but so is each individual school. It seems to me that people on both sides of the issue choose to frame it in a way that perpetuates the "us v. them" mentality.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah... so providing classes for this set of students deprives that set of students of a teacher and classroom.

Of course, providing classes for that set of students would deprive this set of students of a teacher and classroom.

Fortunately, anonymous is able to say which set of students is completely deserving and which set of students is completely UNdeserving.

Apparently Anonymous does not believe in academic achievement for every student. Anonymous only wants students to achieve up to grade level. After that, they are on their own. So, to the student who meets the GLEs for their grade in February, we simply say "Nice work, Johnny, take the rest of the year off." And what do we say to the student who comes to school in September already meeting the grade level expectations for that year? "No learning for you this year; you've learned enough."

This is a pretty stunted vision of equity: no student works beyond grade level until every student is working at grade level.

I prefer a vision of equity in which the District and the school teach every student at the frontier of their knowledge and skills, whether that frontier is at, below, or beyond grade level. I believe in academic achievement for every student in every school.

Anonymous said...

High schools should at least provide a high school education-
there are resources for students who are above that level- the community colleges have Running start classes that many high school students participate in at little cost to themselves.

Along with the Advanced Placement classes that are offered at area high schools and online- Seattle has two schools which offer the International Baccalaurate program.

This doesn't even mention the many private prep schools in the area that enroll students who want to go beyond the offerings at their local public high school, or the Early Entrance program at the University of Washington.

Lots of choices for those who qualify.

Anonymous said...

"Garfield last year had
NINE above grade level math classes, yet students who were behind grade level, even when no fault of their own ( never having failed a math class and taking as much math as was available)
were forced to take math after the regular school day and or during the summer.
Is this equitable?"

Absolutely not. It's appalling that the needs of one set of students should be pitted against another's. No school district should be doing such a thing to the community they serve. They are creating artificial scarcity, artificial divisions where none should exist.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

So the solution is that no school should provide AP classes so long as any student in the building can't take general math for the third time?

But then no high school would offer AP classes.

The student who is ready for an AP class has just as much right to an appropriate education as the student who wants to take general math.

The idea that some math is high school math and some math is not high school math is artificial and absurd. If a high school student is doing it, then it is high school math. The Standards are a FLOOR, not a CEILING. They represent minimum achievement, not maximum achievement.

Anonymous said...

No Charlie, the solution is that no single group of students should so dominate a single school that it works to prevent other students from getting an education.

Either APP needs to be its own K-12 school, with all of the social ramifications of isolation and lack of interaction with peers, or it needs to be offered at more than one site. Frankly, I think that APP at the high school level is not anything more than taking AP classes with your friends from Lowell and Washington. There is no need for all AAP kids to go to Garfield.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You know, I get that teachers want to be anonymous on this blog. But the rest of you who are willing to freely give your opinions on everything but not willing to sign your name to it?

That last "anonymous" statement about "social ramifications of isolation and lack of interaction with peers" really shows a lack of understanding about the needs of gifted students. First, they would be interaction with peers - it would be students who work at the same level. Gifted students come in all races and backgrounds.

Second, I just can't get past how people think these kids are little hothouse flowers and their parents are trying to keep them away from other students. It's not true.

It's as Charlie says, everyone's academic needs should be met. If Garfield is not doing that for ALL their students then they should go to the district and lay it out and demand change.

I have thought a gifted school K-8 would solve a lot of problems for this district but the district doesn't really care about these students and so it will never happen. Or they fear that it will be "those" students getting more than other students. Better to have programs which vary from school to school and create more problems.

The problem lies within the district's thinking, not the parents'.

Anonymous said...

"No Charlie, the solution is that no single group of students should so dominate a single school that it works to prevent other students from getting an education."

Students who don't need advanced choices do have other options. Every school in the district offers the regular ed classes. Garfield is *it* for most of the AP courses. Why can't we see this as a crowding problem that hurts *everyone*, not a problem that pits one set of students against another? If a school is so crowded that it's hard to use the bathrooms, we don't say "Oh, if only there weren't so many boys here, all the girls could use the bathrooms any time they wanted." We say there are too many people for the resources in this building, period.

Everyone knows that overcrowding causes animosity and infighting. But you don't solve the overcrowding by giving in to all the stuff about "He pushed me" and "She stepped on my toes." You solve it by finding more space.

I do think that ultimately a split is probably the best solution, but the split has to preserve what works for all these folks.

I'm curious about the problem with the math classes, by the way -- are the advanced classes a great deal smaller than the others? Because otherwise I don't see how they could be pushing anyone out. All those kids would have to have math of some sort anyway, wouldn't they? So they'd be using up classrooms and teacher time regardless of what they're learning. If the classes *are* really small, then I'd be afraid that you wouldn't be able to hold them at all if you split the students to two different buildings.

The problem isn't too many students taking AP classes, anyway, any more than it's too many students taking regular classes. The problem is too few classrooms and too few teachers.

I'd like to see some stats on who takes all these AP classes. My understanding has always been that lots take AP classes who haven't been through APP, and lots of APP kids take regular classes. But I don't recall any hard data.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"Garfield is *it* for most of the AP courses."

Not it isn't. The IB programs are at Ingrham and Sealth, and all of the high schools have the ability offer AP courses. Some (Ballard, Roosevelt) offer nearly as many AP courses, though they may have fewer sections than are avialable at Garflield. If the APP students were not all housed at Garfield, and instead were distributed among the high schools, there would be more AP offerings at each of the schools to reflect the spread demand.


Brendan said...

I totally agree with Melissa that several of the anonymous comments reflect a misunderstanding of the needs of gifted students. But in both tone and substance, it appears that misunderstanding and mischaracterization is willful, even hostile to children. What they are advocating is, in effect, denying APP kids an appropriate education. The district isn't considering that. So those posters don't seem to be here to discuss, learn, or persuade. Probably a better use of everyone's time to not engage this moot debate. Charlie raises some important issues to be watched, but they are not the substance of most of the anonymous posts.

Brendan Works

Anonymous said...

Incidentally- I am not indentifying myself to protect my kids privacy.

Garfield last year had
NINE above grade level math classes, yet students who were behind grade level, even when no fault of their own ( never having failed a math class and taking as much math as was available)
were forced to take math after the regular school day and or during the summer.
Is this equitable?"

So the solution is that no school should provide AP classes so long as any student in the building can't take general math for the third time?

(-no one intimidated that NO AP classes should be offered, only that there should be a balance of offerings-
NINE acclerated math classes- compared to ZERO remedial math classes- doesn't sound balanced to me)

Ok I get that reading comprehension is not your strong suit perhaps.
But I never said that these kid who needed to take grade level math- at the appropriate time- had ever failed a math class

In fact, as I have brought up before, my daughter had never gotten below a B in math- however- because Garfield tests students for math placement, rather than going by middle school placement, she placed into a below grade math class.

She never had taken a math class more than once, she always had taken what ever math was required & we even paid for tutoring and Kumon, when we saw that the math curriculum in the classroom, was not filling gaps left by previous instruction.

Freshman year she placed into .05A-through testing. She finished the year ready for 1.B

Sophomore year, because she was still a semester behind grade level, ( even though she began freshman year a year behind), her math class wasn't offered during the day, but after school.
I complained to the principal, to Ammon to the school board.

Having a math class after school, not only impacted the ability of the students to participate in sports or clubs, to work, to utilize yellow bus transportation, but also to avail themselves of tutoring and study groups for other classes.

If I had realized that being a semester behind in math- again- without ever failing or retaking a class, would mean that she had to stay "after" school, I would have paid for a summer class, since classes through the district are often not available/meaningful.

At the same time she was taking the math class, she was also taking marine biology, ( which Garfield offers instead of AP bio), honors english and AP history- not the courseload of a slacker.

She falls into the category that this district likes to ignore- and that doesn't get addressed. Students who are gifted and learning disabled.

She and her friends made attempts to get to grade level.

Summer school was being offered last summer to rising juniors and they registered for class on time in the spring.

Unfortunantely, they showed up for three days, before the school told the kids, the math class ( as well as some other classes) were canceled.
According to my daughter- no alternatives were given- I called down to the district & it was the first they had heard of it.

Again, while these students were at below grade level, by about a semester, if their experiences were like my daughters, they had never flunked a class, had taken all the math that was offered but had holes, either in their instruction or their understanding, to keep them below grade level.

These kids after taking the math class at Ingraham- after their Franklin class was canceled
( incidentally, very motivated kids to ride the bus every summer morning from the Rainier Valley to north Seattle)
are now at grade level, and taking chemistry and other college prep classes along with my daughter.

Some parents, who know how to work the system, are apparently able to either supplement the classroom work or are able to wangle teachers who supplement the district curriculum.

For those of us, who aren't so savvy, our kids pay the price.
Not so equitable.

Anonymous said...

There are just the above parent who is posting about this topic regarding the negative impact that housing APP at one site is having on general education students. I posted earlier, and will I do not have a child who was impacted by the Math situation at Garfield, I raised it in answer to the question "What does any general education student at Garfield go without because APP is there?"
I know the issue was raised to the District, however, it appears that the one APP site folks seem to out shout common sense.

Charlie Mas said...

The situation described for the math student seeking a class is not a result of APP at Garfield anymore than it is a result of any other student at Garfield.

Schools have limited resources and need to allocate them as they think best. The district is poorly run at the headquarters level and totally botched summer school.

That has NOTHING to do with APP at Garfield or anywhere.

Yes, other schools can offer AP classes, but they don't. And they certainly don't offer the classes in the same number and variety as Garfield. If they did, then APP families would choose to enroll their children at those schools and those who want APP students spread out would get their wish.

If there were nine advanced math classes at Garfield, then there must have been enough students who wanted to take and fill those nine advanced math classes. If there were no remedial math classes - a contention I seriously doubt - then either there was not enough demand for those classes or the school was ignoring that demand. If the school is ignoring the needs of the students, then your beef is with the school, not with APP. If the demand wasn't there, that's not APP's fault.

My reading is just fine. How is your logic? How is APP responsible for setting the schedule at Garfield? How is APP any more responsible for the absence of these classes than any other students at Garfield?

How many advanced math classes would be okay in the absence of a remedial math class? Eight? Seven? Or is it zero?

No where in that whole story about gaps in math education and the District's failure to provide math classes in summer school was there any reference to APP. APP is not your problem. You have a problem with the District over the summer school, with your middle school and elementary school for the gaps in your daughter's math education, and with Garfield for not scheduling the class she needs, and I'm sorry for all of that, but APP is not the source of your trouble.

The equity you seek - one in which all student families are equally able to support their children's education - simply isn't possible. If you know a way, I'd love to hear it.

Anonymous said...

No where in that whole story about gaps in math education and the District's failure to provide math classes in summer school was there any reference to APP. APP is not your problem.

Ok how about this
why is it- that high schools- Ballard for example- that do not have so many accelerated math classes as Garfield did, also offer math courses for students who are not either yet in accelerated or grade level math- during the regular class day.

If those nine classrooms were full as I imagine they were, that means that 288 students were taken an advanced math class.
This wouldn't be counting those who are at grade level and in regular courses, or those who are taking math at the community college.
Thats about two full time teachers worth.

For some reason, the school decided to schedule the math courses of the advanced students during the day, but pushed the remedial students to after school.

Since other schools that offer catch up courses during the day, why wouldnt I think that if the parents of APP students who apparently were able to get so many accelerated courses on the schedule, were not such a dominant presence in the school, that the needs of other students would have equal consideration?

The fact that the APP parents have known each other since their children were in elementary, makes for a weird dynamic in high school- they aren't so open to hearing ideas and concerns from parents whose kids aren't in APP, even in the PTA, IMO.
I also suspect that some would prefer that their childs AP classroom, be limited to those students that were his classmates in APP at Lowell and Washington- it galls them, that anyone can take an AP course at Garfield .

Im not unfamiliar with gifted education- both my kids are gifted- but they also have learning disabilities- a condition I mentioned before, that is not adequately served in Seattle public schools, and an area which the Spectrum/APP community doesn't seem to want to address.
Im not sure why though- do they think it is catching?

Charlie Mas said...

There was a lot of conjecture in that last post, and none of it was very charitable. I cannot imagine the selfish, if not downright evil, community you describe. It doesn't sound like anyone I have met within the APP community.

The question was posed:
Why do other high schools offer math courses for students who are not either yet in accelerated or grade level math during the regular class day and Garfield does not?

I don't know. I suggest you ask Ted Howard that question. I strongly suspect that he will have an answer for you. Your belief that APP is somehow the reason is completely unfounded.

The suggestion was made that APP families are a dominant presence in the school and use that political power to influence the schedule in their children's favor.

That's another intriguing but completely unfounded idea. APP has been in Garfield for years and years, but the school is just now starting to offer appropriate classes for APP students in grades 9 and 10. APP students are 400 of the 1,600 in the building - one-fourth of the enrollment - that's hardly dominate. In fact, the 288 seats in advanced math classes is clearly inadequate.

I'm not sure what Anonymous is suggesting. Is the idea that APP families should lobby to have the advanced math classes offered after school so that teacher time during the school day could be dedicated to remedial classes?

First of all, I don't think APP families are so presumptuous as to stick their nose into the scheduling of classes. Second, I don't think their meddling would be appreciated. Third, why in the world would you ask the families of the 400 APP students to make this sacrifice instead of the families of the 1,200 general education students? Is that your idea of equal consideration?

There are a number of high schools where the parents have known each other since their children were in elementary school. Students go from Schmitz Park to Madison to West Seattle High School. Students go from Thurgood Marshall to Washington to Garfield. It is not such a weird dynamic at all. In fact, it is a normal dynamic.

As for the PTA, is a quarter of the PTA's time, effort, and resources devoted to the needs of APP students? I doubt it. I doubt that the PTA even mentions APP more than four times a year.

I am not aware of a single APP family member who has any negative feeling about AP classes being open to all. In fact, every member of the APP community that I know is DELIGHTED that AP classes are open to every student who wants to take them. These folks are the foremost advocates in Seattle for all students to take at least one AP class while in high school. Garfield is very proud of the number of AP classes they offer, but they are even more proud of the fact that more African-American students take AP classes at Garfield than at any other school in the District. I don't know where you got the opposite impression.

There is a LOT of discussion and sensitivity in the Spectrum/APP community about students who are both gifted and learning disabled. Much more than you seem to think. What do you think the community should be doing that they are not? I will be happy to undertake any sort of action you think is necessary. While it is true that the District has not done right by a lot of these students, that is the District's failing, not a failing of the Advanced Learning community. The District is trying to do better in this area, but change does not come quickly or easily. I'm sorry if you don't feel that the community has supported you in this struggle. I don't know if the special education community has given you much support either. I suspect that both of these communities are busy enough tyring to get either one of these services for students, let alone both.

Again, I wish you well. I hope you address your questions to the people who can answer them. I hope you will go directly to the people who are failing to adequately serve your child, but I don't think that APP is either the source of your trouble or the source of your solution.

Ted Howard sets the schedule for Garfield. If you don't like when your child's classes are offered, then he is the person you need to speak with.

Colleen Stump is the District's Advanced Learning Manager and also the Special Education program manager. She is the person you need to speak with about services for students with double diagnosis.

If you want the APP advisory Committee to undertake some action, then contact me or Val Morris-Lent, or any member of the committee and ask for that action. We are hard-working activists, but we don't know everyone's problems without people coming forward with them. Part of the reason I participate on this blog is to hear what action the community thinks is necessary. What do you want us to do?

Anonymous said...

"First of all, I don't think APP families are so presumptuous as to stick their nose into the scheduling of classes."

Your child must still be in middle or elementary school. The AP parents at Garfield flood the email boxes of the school and building based staff come scheduling time, particularly if they percieve that a music class and an AP class may conflict.

Anonymous said...

APP is not the same as AP (re:AP parents).

I, too, find it hard to believe that one non-majority group of parents could rule a school. How could the majority of parents be so powerless?

Anonymous said...

I need some information. The waitlist for Spectrum at Whittier has been "disclosed" by a family who thought they were skipped over.
They were told it was an accidental administrative error (kids with same initials--the office staff thought it meant someone else). Does this really happen?
Second, another skipped-over family was told by Julie B. that once the
list is at Whittier the staff does not have to go in order of the list.
And the staff asked for a lower amount of boys-they find them harder-and asked that certain kids be allowed in over others.
I think this stinks!!! Could this really be true?
What should these two people do; is there anything they can do?
What should we who know about this do, even though it doesn't directly affect our kids? This seems so unethical and now I see where this animosity toward Spectrum and APP comes from.

Anonymous said...

In my expierence, no one is more willing to throw another family under the bus than a parent who wants a Spectrum seat for thier child.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Never heard of the list not going in order.

The issue with the boys has got to be absolutely untrue. My son was in Spectrum at Whittier for grades 1-5 and the entire time there were never more than 6 boys in the class (which meant at grades 4/5, there were 6 boys and 26 girls). The parents of the boys asked for some equity and were told no, they go in exact order of the list.

There may be confusion there because of the new principal; I'd check with Advanced Learning.

Anonymous said...

The school is allowed after the offical start date of the term to pick who they want off the waitlist. This is what I was told by the advanced learning office after I questioned why my son was not let in even though he had a low wait listed number. He was passed over by "easier children" who happen to be girls. I was told it was leagal because it didn't happen until the start of school.

The teacher's who have a lot of clout did not want a difficult class. My child is at Whittier and so the Spectrum teachers knew of him; I guess they didn't want him in the class.

I guess this is why there are more girls in Whittier Spectrum. Where as Lowell has more boys as they cannot manipulate the list (they don't know who are boys and who are girls, because children come from elsewhere).

Anonymous said...

Come on, this above post about the staff getting to pick who and what gender gets in Spectrum would be immoral, or illegal, or if nothing else highly disastrous for the school community.

Can you imagine? It would cause those hoping to apply to try and raise very compliant children, or for those with difficult children they would try and bribe the staff by volunteering, giving a ton of money, and doing whatever it takes to get there kids in (doesn't this favor stay-at-home moms and those with higher incomes?). They are the ones who have time to chair the Spanish committee, run the Chess Club, be on the PTA board, or whatever else it takes. (Look who runs the above, their kids are all in Spectrum.)

No wonder all the kids who get in Spectrum from the waitlist are the compliant types (or those who have tons of time to volunteer).


Anonymous said...

Please someone tell me the school doesn't pick who they want. Doesn't anyone see how this could breed corruption?

The test score data shows if you are in WHittier Spectrum vs. Whittier Regular you are preforming better in every catagory by fourth grade.

Everyone wants in, the waitlists are never ending.

And yes, there are stories floating around that once you are on the waitlist and it goes to the school you better hope the staff likes you.

Tell me this is just a very bad rumor? We have been waiting for three years, and we have a boy.

Anonymous said...

Wait list manipulation? I strongly suspected my daughter was a victim of this at John Stanford, but I didn't have enough to prove it.

The Whittier allegations reaffirm my decision not to move back to Seattle. We'll stay in the Northshore district. I don't have the energy to go another round with Seattle schools over enrollment and placement issues.

There are many things I miss about the last school my daughters attended in Seattle. (AE2 was a great school for them.) The things I won't miss are enrollment center staff and district planning staff who agree to disagree and tell the parents two or more different stories, and any principal who doesn't guarantee total transparency in their waitlist process.

Anonymous said...

"The issue with the boys has got to be absolutely untrue. My son was in Spectrum at Whittier for grades 1-5 and the entire time there were never more than 6 boys in the class (which meant at grades 4/5, there were 6 boys and 26 girls). The parents of the boys asked for some equity and were told no, they go in exact order of the list."

When were your boys there? Under Coberly? I doubt it. Can you imagine for just a moment that Whittier is not the same Whittier that you went to? The Spectrum teachers have much more seniority now; my children attend now and I think it is possible. I hope it is not true, but the current fourth grade class is mostly boys and each teacher has had a very difficult time with that class. I can see how they would not want anymore boys or high-needs kids in there.

Unless there are checks and balances regarding the list, it could be manipulated. Are there checks? No, the only check is a parent requesting to see the list, and then they could face retaliation. There needs to be someone who has nothing to loose to ask to see the list, to make sure it is followed in order. If it is not, or doesn't have to be, then that information NEEDS TO BE DISCLOSED TO ALL STAKEHOLDERS.

How can we fight to change a policy that no one knows whether it even exist. Haven't we all just assumed that the list was always followed in order. Of course we did, why else would we be given a number?????

Please don't defend a school based on the past. Ask more open questions, get more information, trust the here and now. See how you can help.

Anonymous said...

Boy, Julie has quite a mess to clean up. Is she willing to open up this can of worms? It would be a brave but risky venture.

Was she willing to disclose the list? It sound like she is passing it off as a clerical error...hmmm...

If I were her, I would be tempted to have this to stay out of the spotlight just now...

Anonymous said...

I think teachers and staff should get a say in the make-up of all the classes at the school.
Staff have to serve all students. Have you ever taught a class of 20 boys and 8 girls? Everyone looses; the boys really loose.
It is better to even out the temperments if you can.
Try not to think about your child, but think about the class(es) as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you ask for. I am part of a heavy boy class and I have grappled with leaving. I think the motivated students like mine are asked to babysit the hard ones.
That said, I sure hope they follow the order of the list. It should be a blind-list, and I thought it was.
Shame on Advanced Learning if it is not.
I think someone needs to give us the facts. I have a boy who will be tested next year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

So many anonymous thoughts and it's hard to know who to address.

One son was at Whittier under two principals (not Coberly) and my second son was there under Greg Imel and two years with Alex Coberly. i certainly believed had the tables been turned (26 boys and 6 girls) both teacher and parents would have not been so happy. When I asked parents in the class to sign a letter asking the principal to consider adding more boys, I was very surprised to have half the girls' parents say no. They said that's the way it goes, they thought it better for the overall class and some of them said they felt their daughters were happier being in a power position. (Yes, they actually said that.)

I am sad, though, to hear so much anti-boy rhetoric. Boys do tend to have a lot of excess energy but I don't feel boys are an evil as a majority (or even half) of a classroom. I would have sympathy for what I believe was a teacher saying it is hard; then stand up and get even numbers but don't just let it sway to girls because it makes it easier for you.

And to the person who chose to put down stay-at-home moms; it's really sad. We women need to support each others' choices. If all the volunteers at our schools didn't go for a week, you'd see schools start falling apart. I NEVER volunteered to get special favors. I never asked for special favors for my children from teachers. PTA Boards are open to whoever wants to run (at least that is my experience from Whittier and Eckstein). We had to go out and recruit people at both schoolsbecause we never had enough people step forward. You may believe that the list is manipulated (and likely wouldn't be wrong if all these replies are true) but it isn't because one person volunteers more than enough.

We need to support everyone who volunteers; it's the only way things get done.

Anonymous said...

As a stay at home mom, I do try and give back to the school as much as I can. Not for favors but because I believe in trying to help my neighborhood school. We moms and dads (stay at home or not)who take the time to head up a club or join the PTA are committed to public schools and believe in doing what we can for all the children at our school and not just our own child.

Hey Melissa,
I think the poster did not seem to be putting down stay at home moms, but just said that she felt she could be "overlooked" if the staff was able to pick who they wanted off of the list. I think she has a valid point. It is human nature to "like" the people you see helping out everyday-and stay at home moms often have more time to pop in during school hours.
Another reason why the list needs to be held at the District level.

Anonymous said...

"The test score data shows if you are in WHittier Spectrum vs. Whittier Regular you are preforming better in every catagory by fourth grade."

Say what? These kids got *into* Spectrum based on high test scores. Why would you be surprised at their continuing to have high test scores? Isn't it chicken and egg here?

They all ought to be passing the WASL, I'll grant you that, and the pass rates are too low for all programs in most schools. But having a higher rate of Spectrum students getting fours (especially on grade-level testing) is only to be expected.

I do think it's quite unfair to average the test scores for a school, and mask lower passing rates than you should have by hanging onto your high-scoring kids like grim death. That doesn't do anyone any good. Schools ought to be judged by students' individual progress, which would credit teachers far more accurately for differentiating their instruction, whether up or down.

Currently, teachers who move heaven and earth to get very low scoring kids up to only somewhat low scoring get no credit at all, and teachers who move heaven and earth to find a way to challenge their gifted students get credit only for their students being at grade level, which they probably would have been anyway.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

There has been some confusion regarding the Second Grade Spectrum waitlist at Whittier, but if it is true that the staff can pick who they want off the list, then it clears up my confusion about why my child was not selected even though he had a low waitlist number.
My partner and I are both teachers, are rarely able to give any volunteer time, and I am not part of the "in crowd" at the school.
I am mad but I can't even get a break during school hours to try and fight this policy or confirm whether it is true or not. I think it is harder for working parents, especially working teachers.

Beth Bakeman said...

I have a really basic question for the parents and teachers at Whittier. If there is such demand for Spectrum at your school and an ongoing waitlist, why don't you add another Spectrum class at each grade level?

Even if there aren't enough students to completely fill the class, it could be a blended Spectrum class with those who test in and others that teachers and parents identify as ready for additional challenge.

Anonymous said...

What I was told, way back in Greg Imel's time, was that there was no physical room in the building for any more classes. As it is, the money going towards decreased class size in the lower grades isn't used for Spectrum classes, which have frequently been at whatever the district maximum is for that grade level.

It's an artificial limit, and a nasty one. You can see it has bad effects. I have no idea why the district chooses to continue with situations involving long waitlists, when they could create other Spectrum sites.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"Say what? These kids got *into* Spectrum based on high test scores. Why would you be surprised at their continuing to have high test scores? Isn't it chicken and egg here?"

No Helen, the kids with the highest test scores, APP qualifying scores have no priority over Spectrum only scores. So many of the kids who tested in may not be in Spectrum. I know several APP eligible kids who are waitlisted and unchallenged at Whittier. Why don't the parents just pack up and go to Lowell? It is very complicated for each family that I know. Working parents, bus schedules, playdates.
That is why so many stay. It is a great school, and you always hope that you may be lucky the next year. If however it is not a blind list, then this is troublesome because instead of hoping that your lucky number comes up, you hope the teachers and staff like your child and your family.

Anonymous said...

For your information I know both the volunteers who run the Spanish Program and the Chess Club at Whittier.
All three of the volunteers do have boys but all were tested in Kindergarten for first grade. They all passed, and the first grade class was not full. So there was no waitlist for first grade, only 17 kids were enrolled by the District. So they were enrolled by the District, not by the Whittier staff or teachers. And so no "favors" could have been given to these parents.
I am sorry it looks this way; these parents just happen to be in Spectrum and just happen to run these two programs.

Anonymous said...

"I have a really basic question for the parents and teachers at Whittier. If there is such demand for Spectrum at your school and an ongoing waitlist, why don't you add another Spectrum class at each grade level?"

I have been told that an individual school cannot choose to have, expand, or get rid of Spectrum. All those choices come from the District.

Anonymous said...

"for grades 1-5 and the entire time there were never more than 6 boys in the class (which meant at grades 4/5, there were 6 boys and 26 girls). The parents of the boys asked for some equity and were told no, they go in exact order of the list."
Sounds like you are making the argument that the list is tampered with. How could it not be with those numbers?
They always say they want more boys in Spectrum but you know behind closed doors those with the seniority (the Spectrum teachers)fight to keep them out. Look closely, the longer the teacher has been teaching the less boys that teacher has in their class.

Charlie Mas said...

I have been told that an individual school cannot choose to have, expand, or get rid of Spectrum. All those choices come from the District.

This is officially true, but not actually true. Officially, program placement is determined by the Superintendent exclusively in a sort of top-down authoritarian way.

In actual fact, however, the placement of Spectrum programs is discussed among the principals in a cluster. In most clusters, none of them want it. So schools CAN choose to have Spectrum because if they say that they want it, they can have it. Take, for example, West Seattle-South. There is no Spectrum site there. The designated Spectrum site for West Seattle-South is High Point, a West Seattle-North school. High Point got it because the principal who was there three years ago, Cothron McMillan, wanted it. She never developed the program at all and now she is gone. The new principal has no interest in Spectrum and has essentially surrendered the program.

There was supposed to be an accreditation process for Spectrum programs (and all other Advanced Learning programs), but that process was abbreviated into a certification process, and has been abandoned. Now, the only requirement to annually re-certify a Spectrum program is to have an action item about Advanced Learning in your school transformation plan. Yet High Point chose not to meet even that minimal requirement.

A school can stop offering Spectrum - High Point has done it, Wing Luke, Lawton and Leschi are not far behind - and there is no one who can hold them accountable.

Anonymous said...

"No Helen, the kids with the highest test scores, APP qualifying scores have no priority over Spectrum only scores."

I never supposed they did. I don't quite get where you're going with this, or what it has to do with Spectrum classes having broadly higher achievement scores than regular ed classes. Are you saying that you've seen the Whittier scores broken down specifically for the students identified as Spectrum/APP eligible, and the ones who are in regular ed classes are not doing as well? I didn't realize that information was available.

I don't think the grade-level WASL is a very good way to rank achievement, anyway. It's way too close to a pass/fail test for that. Even the difference between a three and a four can be highly arbitrary, from what I've seen of the tests (I went and looked at my daughters' sixth-grade WASL tests recently).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"I have a really basic question for the parents and teachers at Whittier. If there is such demand for Spectrum at your school and an ongoing waitlist, why don't you add another Spectrum class at each grade level?"

I will tell you the reason why I think there is not a second program. Because the school community knows that the Spectrum standards are not even met by one third of the students in the first one. What I mean to say is that all though some kids tested in in kindergarten, many placements at Whittier are made by teacher recommendation (K and 1st), failing the test, and then doing an expensive appeal process. (Early readers were recommended, kids who I thought were highly capable (because I tutored them in other subjects and they were at least two grades ahead) where not recommended for testing.

An aside: Teachers who have no training in gifted education do a disservice by recommending some kids and not others. Not getting that teacher recommendation made two families who were considering testing change their mind in K.
Those two families finally got up the nerve to "parent nominate" in 1st grade when the list grows and now can't get in.

Already Spectrum has been watered down from when my first daughter attended. In my current child's grade the work in not as demanding as it once was.

Yes there are more Lowell qualified kids wanting to get in who could bring the level of the classes back up, but we have to assume the staff doesn't want them in (or at least under Coberly they were passed over on the list).

So in affect, Whittier has also chosen not to do Spectrum-at least the rigorous Spectrum that they used to. It should not be a surprise, Coberly was outright hostile towards it, and I think Ms. Breidenbach just wants to get back to Lowell.

My advice is that as soon as your child is ready to move from a small neighborhood school, and needs advanced work, go to Lowell.

We decided to home school some areas where Whittier has fallen off, and next year we will attend Lowell.

Anonymous said...

Just a question/comment as a long time SPS parent. I have seen standards fall as well - for both Spectrum and Regular program (had kids in both) since the combined forces of the WASL and No Child Left Behind acts kicked in, causing the district to lower standards for everyone (especially middle school, although it exists at the elementary level as well). Not having APP kids, I cannot speak to that.

Quite honestly, I think those two forces have done more to lower the bar in Seattle Public Schools than any changes Advanced Learning may have implemented.

I feel the real villain is not parents, testing, waitlists, etc, it is administrators and a district dumbing down cirriculum so that they don't lose federal funds.

Anonymous said...

Having to go through the appeal process does NOT mean the child was not qualified. Grade-level CogAT testing is a very flawed way to identify any kids, but particularly kindergartners. One of my kids jumped over forty percentile points between kindergarten and first grade CogATs. Subsequent individual achievement testing (by the district) put her in the top tenth of a percent. You'll find a lot of Lowell parents have similar stories to tell.

A great many parents send private test scores in with the original application, by the way -- so not having to appeal doesn't necessarily mean that the child got in based on the CogAT scores.

I'm actually kind of pleased to hear that the kindergarten teachers are nominating *any* kids (whether or not they're good at picking them yet). I don't remember hearing of any such nominations in my day, it all seemed to be up to the parents. I may just have been out of that gossip loop, who knows. But I can see how if you've heard that so-and-so was nominated and your child wasn't, that could be a bit damping.

Come to think of it, though it's been a long time since I looked at the documentation and I may be wrong, I thought anyone who knew the child could nominate them for testing. Anon, couldn't you have nominated the kids you tutored who seemed so bright?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

This whole discussion has not helped me. No where can I find if the list is blind. Why my daughter was not called up while others with high numbers were. Is it really bacause the staff don't like us?
There must be printed guidlines somewhere for how the list is followed, what to do if you think the list wasn't followed, what to do if you are getting the run around, and how to do all this without the fear of retaliation?
Please isn't there someone out there with real information on the waitlist procedure once it gets to the school.
Do not tell me that there is no set procedure, this has to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I have been checking back on this site for this same information. The Advance Learning Office told me they have no idea how the waitlist is handled. Vera said that would be an enrollment issue. Enrollment has no idea who at Enrollment would be in charge of this. They said they just send it on to the individual school with no check to make sure it is followed. And there is no procedure at the school to make sure the list is followed in order.
If you get a public disclosure on the list, you can't see anything. It is all blacked out. But I know my child was higher on the list than at least three other kids who got in this year.

When Julie was confronted with this (two other families have confronted her) she said they follow the list, but that an error was made but it was accidental and there is nothing that can be done.
I cannot believe that. So we are passed over. We did not retest because we knew our child was third on that list and I thought once the list was disclosed we would be vindicated. We just want the list to be followed in order, and since it wasn't we want someone to do something about it.
We parents are very disturbed of the rumor that the teachers wanted to keep the boys on the list out of Spectrum.

This has got to be illegal, but no one at SPS wants to fix this. All of you who read this site should care that certain kids are being kept out of a program that they fairly tested into, no matter your gripe with Spectrum, if a school can keep certain kids out this has got to bother you.

Where will it end? No boys, no spirited children (too dificult, I am near retirement), no wheelchairs (I don't want to change my desks around), no peanut allergy kids (too hard at parties), no parents who speak out at PTA meeting (you know why).

Beth Bakeman said...

As I mentioned in an earlier thread (Addressing Seattle Public School Concerns), if you have concerns at an elementary school that aren't addressed by your school principal, you should contact the elementary school director in charge of your school.

The Elementary School Directors are:

Michelle Corker-Curry..252-0055
Gloria Mitchell........252-0399
Patrick Johnson........252-0397
Pat Sander.............252-0393

I believe Gloria Mitchell is the one assigned to Whittier, but I'm not sure.

In this case, because your concern is around how the Spectrum wait list is handled, you should also contact Colleen Stump, the Director of Advanced Learning programs at 252-0134.

I would also recommend contacting Brita Butler-Wall, the chair of the Student Learning Committee at and/or go to her community meeting time at the Honey Bear Bakery every Thursday morning from 8 am to 10 am.

And if anyone at Whitter gets an explanation from anyone at the school or district office, I'd recommend posting it here for others to read.

Anonymous said...

One question - to the parents who feel the waitlist was manipulated - what do you see as the solution here? It seems to me that any solution would involve a lot of grief for everyone, but am curious as to what you would like to see done. How would your solution impact your kids, your school, and your relationships with other parents?

It seems that you got the short end of the stick, but I am also curious about how your children are doing where they are now? Are they enjoying school? Being challenged? Fitting in socially with their peer group?

I would hope the answer to the latter three questions is "yes", and they, and you can move on from this, and not let it color your entire educational experience.

I understand that this issue of wait lists is being re-examined for next year, and that checks and balances are going to be put into place. Certainly makes me come down on the side of removing Spectrum from the district completely, if this is what it breeds. Parent vs parent, parent vs principal, accusations, etc. All very sad, and take away from the real issues of providing a quality education for every child.

Best of luck.

Tricia King said...

In response to the discussions of gifted education, children with co-occurring giftedness and learning disabilities and waitlist manipulation at Whittier:
I have a pertinent resume for this discussion. Both of my children ( a boy and a girl) are in Spectrum, both have a disability, I am a former Whittier parent and I worked for Seattle Schools Enrollment services for 12 years. Here is my anecdotal expereince:
It is difficult to help educators and administrators understand the dichotomy of the gifted child with a disability. It is about the discrepency between how they CAN perform and the tools and support that they need to do so. At the elementary level, I have expereinced tremendous support for these issues. At the secondary level, in my experience, the system breaks down and it's every parent for him/herself in a fight to get what your kid needs. I do wish the district could make a deeper committment to gifted education that allows us as parents of ALL children to band togather to make what's equitable for all of us and all of our kids. I'd like to spend my considerable energy for this issue fighting for what's good for all kids, not just mine (regarding giftedness and disability).
I also had a child at Whittier through both Greg Imel and Alex Coberly. Mine was a boy child with externalizing behavior disorder. He took a lot of time and energy from all of us. I received support from all of his teachers (save one) and never experienced the rejection and exasperation I was so alert for. Yes, he was in a class of 26 girls and 6 boys, which was a bummer, but that was how the demographics broke those years.
In all of my years in enrollment, having worked closely with all of the computer software that controls assignment and wait lists, I can not imagine a time and way that waiting lists could be manipulated in the ways implied by some of these postings. There really are checks and balances both in the computer program (about the order in which students can be moved by ANYONE, school folks included) as well as in assignment services downtown. I find that these programs are often mystical stuff for building staff, whose jobs really are not to translate and interpret assignment rules and policy, so they aren't really aware of some of the finer points of the system. They have their hands full taking care of our kids!
Mostly, I feel sad that we are part of a culture that breeds such conspiracy theorism and pits us against one another. I can only imagine how powerful we as a group of parents of ALL kids in ALL schools could be if we had not been so successfully divided and conquered. Thanks for listening.
Tricia King

Anonymous said...

Trica King said:
"There really are checks and balances both in the computer program (about the order in which students can be moved by ANYONE, school folks included)."

What are the checks and balances once the list reaches the school? I have heard from enrollment that there are none.

Beth Bakeman said...

Thank you, Tricia, for your post sharing your experiences both as a parent and as a district staffer.

And thank you especially for your closing words:

"I can only imagine how powerful we as a group of parents of ALL kids in ALL schools could be if we had not been so successfully divided and conquered."

We can work towards overcoming the divisions and being a powerful force in Seattle for change.

Anonymous said...

"How would your solution impact your kids, your school, and your relationships with other parents?"

Yes, and to those of you who, fight for equal rights, women's right, to end slavery, etc... and fight to be treated fairly by your school system (or your government), did you ever think to answer these questions first?

Please don't make those around you pay for your "need to be treated without discrimination."

Thank you poster for reminding us that the larger issue is not fairness but how it impacts those who benefited by the discrimination.

Tricia King said...

To the anonymous poster about checks and balances once the wait lists have gone out to the schools:
The enorllment center staff have no more to do with the wait lists after they have been transferred to the schools, other than perhaps being able to view them. So it makes sense that their response would be that, for them, there are no more checks.
Fromo my experience and understanding, the computer program for moving the waitlists has been created in such a way that students are moved in order. My understanding from downtown enrollment as well as my friends who are staff in school offices and perform these tasks, is that moving kids out of order on the list takes a great deal of maneuvering with consultation (permission?) from staff downtown. There are very limited circumstances for this: for example, when staff are unable to successfully make contact with the fammily of a student on the waiting list. Telephone and letter communications are attempted, with a limited response time window. If no response has been received from the family within that window, the seat is then offered to the next student on the list.
I hope this helps de-mystify the process a little. I get that people don't trust the process because it's not very transparent. I just think it's a red herring to be talking about waitlist fraud conpiracies when we could be using our collective energy to get the district to do right by all kids. If we could use our voices to coerce the district to make a deeper committment to gifted education by making the program more accessible, we wouldn't have to squabble about waiting lists out of our frustration. Then, many of these problems might be resolved.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Trica King. It does seem like you believe there is accountability, but for my friends at Whittier, they seem to be getting none.
Sadly, this is an example of people being too close for it is a small community and everyone new everyone's waitlist number for that year.
So this is why people KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that it was not followed in order.
Does the enrollment center do a audit if so many people (three that I know of) were skipped over?

I know what you are saying about putting energy into making all of APP better, but it is not really fair for us to ask the parties that have been kept out unfairly to do that, until they get accountability and resolution or at least information about how enrollment ensures that favoritism doesn't exist in getting off the waitlist.

Anonymous said...

I try not to be sarcastic in my posts on this blog, because I do not think it adds to Beth’s spirit of open and productive discussion. However, Charlie, after reading your last post about High Point and other schools that are dropping Spectrum, all I could think was “Gee, based on what I have read here, why wouldn’t a school want to have a Spectrum program (insert eye roll)?”

As far as I can tell, the administrators don’t like, the teachers aren’t thrilled with it, the parents whose children qualify but cannot attend feel disenfranchised, the parents whose children don’t test in feel as if they are missing out on something, and the parents whose children are actually in have mixed experiences.

I have always heard such wonderful things about Whittier. However, based on the discussions here, I would be hesitant to become part of that community.

I think almost all of us can agree (Charlie – I know that you do) that every child in Seattle should be doing school work that challenges and excites them. Is Spectrum helping us to achieve this goal? Is there a better system? Maybe the High Point administration is moving in the right direction. What are they doing to serve the advance learners in their school outside the Spectrum program?


Anonymous said...

I like that people are trying to get things out in the open. I am part of a school community that no one would dare say anything negative about, for fear it will get worse-we are not a strong school like Whittier. The people in our neighborhood don't attend the school, they all go private.
I think the stronger a community, school, church, state or nation, the more people are willing to speak up and try and change the things they don't like.

Brita said...

i have asked central staff for clarification on the spectrum selection/waitlist issue and will post when i get it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brita,

Just to clarify, I do not think anyone is questioning the District's handling of the list; we all know that is a blind and unbiased process maintained by computer checks.

It seems people are questioning what happens at the school level, before school starts; after the list is give to staff.


The Spectrum class in question was full at 28 by the time I went to see if my child got in (One week before the list was posted on the outside of the school.)

Anonymous said...

Really, the best thing for Advanced Learning students would be to have their own schools. Have a K-8 Spectrum/APP school and a high school. Why? Not because it would be what parents of those students would necessarily want (I think a lot of them wouldn't) but because of the following:
-lack of equity of programs throughout the city
-lack of cohesion in the Spectrum programs from school to school
-no oversight on waitlists (clearly)
- mistrust, dislike and anger at these programs by parents whose students are not in them (from this particular thread -CLEARLY true!)

You could just put these kids off in their own school, they would go about their business quietly and not have to darken the door of any other school and perhaps, for those who so broadly oppose them, out of sight, out of mind.

One last thing; you need to cultivate really smart people and that includes kids. I'm not saying to give them more resources or better anything. But where do you think the major advances in science and medicine come from? A kid who recently won the MIT science competition designed a devise that can practically make a human a superhero by enabling a person to rapel a building or wall very quickly. He went to a gifted school. All the kids (to my knowledge) who win the Intel Science Competition or MIT Science competition come from magnet or gifted schools (or are homeschooled).

Anonymous said...

As someone with a boy in the class in question, I can see the possible perceived benefits to my child and to the teacher of having less boys in the class.
There is a fourth grade, mostly boys class at Whittier that I have heard is very difficult.
I feel my second grade child gets a great deal of attention in this class; we are lucky we do have a group of easy-going kids, boys as well as girls. And a group of incredibly committed volunteer parents who give a great deal of time helping in the class. Thank you moms and dads!

Nevertheless, I do not want my child benefiting from an unfair process, and I think all of the parents in the class would feel as I. I can't imagine one family at Whittier who would not be outraged if we found out that placements in our class were made out of waitlist order.

I am also friends with all the families that were on the waitlist this summer. And I also support them 100% in wanting to make sure the rules were followed.

I don't think wanting to make certain the rules are followed tarnishes our school in any way. Gossip and lingering doubts hurt schools, openness and finding the truth brings healing and allows people to move on.

CS-Whittier Parent

Beth Bakeman said...

Thanks to Brita's inquiry, I got a response from Tracy Libros, the Manager of Enrollment Services, at the district office, which Tracy said I could post here.

“Here’s how the process works: Waiting lists are kept for each grade and program. So a student could be #1 on the Spectrum waiting list for 3rd grade and not get in, while another student who was #6 on the Spectrum waiting list for 4th grade was admitted. … Waiting lists are to be moved following the sequencing generated by the computer during applications processing, which is based on tiebreakers. It is absolutely not true that a school can pick any students they want from a waiting list. But schools can and do decide which grade/program waiting list will be moved. As in the example above, students might be admitted from the 4th grade list but not the 1st grade list. This could be due to higher than anticipated retention or attrition at a particular grade or program, for example. And there could be seats available in a particular grade for special education and general education, but not bilingual or Spectrum.

In terms of an error being made – obviously, I can’t say that no one has ever made a mistake. If the person involved in that will contact me, I will certainly check and see what the situation was.”

So if you are one of the parents involved in the Spectrum waitlist problem described on this thread, contact Tracy Libros at or 252-0760.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, all of you. The correct person to contact and with a phone number; this is a gift.
Thank you to all of you who contribute to this site.